28 July 2001

it (ginger)

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Saturday morning with Gretchen and IT

Gretchen called me up this morning seeking company for a trip to the farmers market. Eh. It gave me a reason to get up at least. The farmers market was already packing up when we got there and nothing really stood out. Gretchen is getting ready for her trip to Panama, so she can't really buy any food anyways. We wandered through furniture stores as I imagined what I would do with my room in the condo if I were actually to spend money on things like furniture.

Then, on our way back home, we passed a corner lot with a couple silly looking golf carts. An excited and friendly guy was running around talking to people explaining the workings of this, that, and the other thing. As I poked around the car he came up and asked if I'd like to take one around the block. "Do you have a driver's license?", he says. "Sure..." as I reach for my wallet. "Oh, I don't need to see it.."

Gretchen spins around to the other side of the "vehicle" and I take the captain's chair. ExcitedGuy blurbles while pointed at the steering wheel, pedals, parking brake, etc etc. I wasn't really paying attention, but luckily Gretchen was, because when ExcitedGuy walked away I wasn't quite sure how to make the thing go. There's a three position dial in the middle of the console which selects Forward, Reverse, or "Indoor" which limits the car to 10-15mph incase the 25mph is too much. Gretchen reminds me that the parking brake in fact enables and disables the whole system. Down it goes, twink-twink-twink goes the turn signal and we're off. We literally when around the block. Out to main street, north, then back to Fourth, and back into the lot. Each time I turned onto the block I had an empty open road urging me to punch down the "accelerator", so I did. Each time I'd make it up to about 20mph by the time I made it to the end of the block. Luckily the brakes worked well, otherwise we might have been in trouble. I'm sure we could have flintstoned it, though.

So the car is cute but I think they have a long way to go. I helped build an automotive robot in college that was cooler than this damned thing, and it prolly had the same "Up to 30 miles" range. This think is obviously billed as a city car, but i dont' think 25 mph is safe to drive around on most of the roads in Ann Arbor, and it's not that big. And, I'm fairly certain the thing would handle like a hockey puck during the winter. I'm glad to see people making an effort in the alternatively-powered vehicle market and I hope they can con many old Ann Arbor hippies into forking over the $14k msrp.