Is Green The New Black?
Henry Ford was famous for saying that you cuold have a car in any colour “as long as it was black.” Maybe now that phrase needs updating in line with ecological demands to “any colour as long as it is green?”
Many people regard green-coloured cars as unlucky, but when it comes to the emissionary position, green cars are often on top!
Cars such as the Twizy and the Chevrolet Volt, and awards for Green Car of the Year (2012 winner: Honda Civic Natural Gas) are gaining kudos for their environmental protection and low fuel costs with electricity emerging as the new currency.
But these are not the first attempt at Green travel. Since time immemorial we have managed to travel without harming the atmosphere – or at least reduce the effects of what we are using on said atmosphere.
Starting off, there is the oldest eco vehicle of all. It’s a complex machine that works through an intricate series of cogs and chains, and is powered not by fuel but by the perpetual extension of two membrum inferius. In layman’s terms, it’s a bicycle.
Then, in 1828, Anyos Jedlik, a Hungarian Benedictine priest, invented the first ever electric car. As you can see from the picture, it wasn’t the best looking contraption, but it was powered by an electric motor, and it worked.
But it didn’t sell, if it ever went on the market! Priests tended to keep themselves to themselves in those days.
Onto the era of ‘real’ cars, and the man behind VW and Porsche – Lohner Porsche – invented the first ever hybrid car called the Lohner Porsche Mixte.
This was at a time when the worldwide popularity of eco cars started to spread, and the USA dominated the market – which actually collapsed at the first attempt. Nice hats though!
Then in the 70s, eco-conscious people could buy the Citicar which promised trendy mobility for the urban warrior – until those who considered buying it realised that it looked like it had been designed by someone who was an expert in Origami.
The Vanguard Citicar was America’s answer to the oil crises that were happening in 1973 and around 2600 were made. It could be considered The Twizy’s grandad.
Into the 80s, and Sir Clive Sinclair should be famous for inventing the world’s cheapest computer (at the time.) Instead his name is giggled in many circles as the inventor of the Sinclair C5 – a one-seat electric (sort-of) car. It was a commercial disaster despite its being actually a good idea at the time, but it probably the time that killed it off. Sir Clive launched it in 1985 in the winter when there was snow on the ground and freezing temperatures – not the best time for what is essentially an electric tricycle.
And the British safety Council said it was unsafe, so that didn’t help either.
I actually drove one along the corridor at work at the time (it was an advertising agency who were trying to advise Sir Clive) and crashed it into the side wall as it fell over as I approached 15mph. It got damaged, whereas only my pride suffered! (That isn’t me in the photo, I must add! I had better style than that back then)
And then the daddy of them all: the Toyota Prius. Coming from the Latin word for “before”, it certainly was. The hybrid went on sale years before environmental awareness was even a phrase that had been invented, let alone used, and it was very quickly adopted by celebrities keen to be seen to be eco-friendly. In 2011, Toyota sold over 2 million of them.
So, next time someone mentions Green Motoring, you can tell them that it’s all old news.