The Silent Revolution

Michael Hackleman

Almost two decades ago I discovered a wonderful machine. I was busy plowing through new and old technologies — full of windmachines, solar panels, biogas containers, and waterwheels. One of the things I found was a way that I could make a car plug into a windmachine. A car that could run on the wind energy I was generating on my farm. It was the electric car. I wrote a book on what I found. And I went on with my journey, other discoveries, other books, other fields.

Years later, I came back to electric vehicles (EVs) Like a parent looking for a lost child in the blankets, I was surprised a little that the EV hadn't taken off by itself. It was such good technology. A natural for the planet. Something that fixed a lot of problems with such a low-tech solution. Its silence shouts its efficiency. It works well even without transistors! As basic propulsion beyond human power, it was good.

In my workshops, I sometimes tell the story about my first wild ride on an electric. It was a runaway. The modified golfcart didn't act like one at all! Up to then, the technology had been bridled, held back. It was better than it looked at first glance. With me, it has survived the test of time.

When I started looking for more information on EVs, I found it. Written material buried deep in the library system, one hundred years old. The discovery was intense. So, I had no problem identifying with Richard Orawiec's passion in "Relaunching the Esther. Electric vehicles have proven themselves in many applications over time. Electric cars, electric buses, and electric

trains offer some of the most benevolent technologies — all ready for us to use. "And the plug for it is in the sky!" says Richard, standing on an electric boat.

Driving an electric car daily has taught me some humility. I feel more thoughtful of the way I use transportation. I don't just mindlessly power myself about. I plan trips. As a Solar Eagle teammember (see "Racing Solar Panel Design"), I grew to appreciate how little energy it takes to move ourselves about. I discovered that EVs weren't the handicap I thought they would be. It's true that knowing how much electricity I have on board is a challenge. And yet — it's not. Again, I'm thinking about it.

Another discovery is something that electrics have that engines won't until they're screaming. Low-end torque. With utmost efficiency and quiet elegance, you can beat almost any other car off the line at the traffic light. Indulging yourself or not, it's nice to know that you can do it.

I felt something this past year that I haven't felt before, relative to EVs. A feeling of success. Electrics are going to make it. They have some distance to go. A lot of refinement. Rick Proctor's "Catching the Dream" is proof that many are accepting the challenge. Education is important. Mingling with professionals, even competitors, maintains perspective, as indicated in "The REDI Report." Listening to the voice of experience, as with Shari Prange's "Electric Car Speed Control Systems," assures the driving public that EVs are safe and reliable.

Driving an electric has taught me about addiction. If your day doesn't happen without a car, then you're dependent on it. Willfully engaging in a transportation system that kills 50,000 people in the U.S. each year in accidents alone, is either crazy or addictive behavior. Which one is yours?

It's a scary time. Changes abound. Breathe! I believe the saying that fear is excitement without breath. Part of the belief system with GoPower is that non-abusive transportation is possible. Electric transportation (not necessarily cars) is a piece of the puzzle. Electricity is magic. It's a nice way to move energy. Like my words on a screen. The print you read. Positively electric.

GoPower is for you. When you're ready to do something relative to transportation, I want to help make it happen. As Michael Leeds says, "If you want your dreams to come true, help make other people's dreams come true." If you are already doing something, share it with GoPower's readers. I want pictures and words. You don't have to be a good writer. Don't worry; I'll make you look good. If you describe also what did not work, you warn others of the pitfall. Effort is important. Ask questions. Suggest answers. The future belongs to all of us.

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Author: Michael Hackleman, c/o Home Power, POB 520, Ashland, OR 97520

A note on the photo on page 49:

This is a commercially available, electric commuter vehicle made by Doran. See ad index for access. ^

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