In spite of the efforts of our fossil fueled legislative leaders in North Carolina, our state continues to be fairly innovative on the alternative energy front. The latest innovation is a must see solar and pedal powered bike-car called the “Elf.” The Elf is made in Durham by a company called Organic Transit and I encourage you to take a peek at what the Elf is all about at www.organictransit.com. I first caught wind of it in The Triangle Business Journal.
For those not from here, the Triangle is short for Research Triangle Park that sits between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, home to NC State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina and countless other schools. The purpose of the Research Triangle Park was to spawn innovation and research which it has done over the years since first founded in the 1960’s. For example, I mentioned Semprius in several earlier posts. Located in Durham as well, Semprius makes the world’s most effective photovoltaic solar panel. So, in spite of our legislators who want to “take our country back,” there are some innovative things going on within 30 miles of the state capitol.
In the next 90 days measured from when I first saw the article a few weeks ago, 75 of the Elf will be rolled off the assembly line. They will be for urban transit and young as well as the old are interested in the vehicle that costs $4,000. The body is made of solar cell receptors which feed a battery that will hold the charge. The “driver” and one passenger can both pedal the vehicle if the charge gets low. Rob Cotter, its founder and owner, will be exhibiting the Elf at a trade show called CeBIT in Hanover, Germany next week. So, it will be attracting wider attention.
Organic Transit has also partnered with an Ohio based chemical company called Michelman to make a lighter, stronger body for the bike-car.They are also making an electric delivery vehicle called the Truckette and one called Otto that will permit the delivery of lighter packages The polycarbonate shell of the Truckette includes the same solar cell receptors as the Elf.
I encourage you to check out the Elf at the site noted above. They are beginning a cult-like following, including Jerry Seinfeld, and my guess is it will take off. What I love about it is the innovation and elegance. This is precisely what we need in this country as it will spawn other ideas that are both scalable and can accomplish more. The other thing we lose sight of is innovation creates jobs within and peripheral to these companies like Organic Transit. When I read about solar farms, for example, usually there are three to five companies noted as helping with the development, installation and maintenance of the farm.
I mention this as when the fossil fuel industry speaks of jobs it creates, it usually does it in an exclusive manner which implies that alternative energy does not. That is far from the truth and we need to know facts as we debate our alternative energy future that must expand. Yet, for the moment, please relish in the fun of the Elf – a solar, pedaled power bike-car. And, as you do, you will find an elvish grin on your face.