Chicago (IL) - A father and son team from Oregon, Charley and Chuck Greenwood, believe they have reduced a car to what is absolutely necessary to get around town and ended up with the HumanCar. But perhaps this idea may be going just a bit too far.
The Greenwood’s founded HumanCar to prove that human energy (instead of biofuels) is the best option to power cars in future. Their Imagine_PS car is capable of seating four and every passenger needs to pitch in to power and steer the extreme lightweight (it weighs just over 500 pounds) vehicle.
The HumanCar is reminiscent of the Flintstone’s concept. The front two drivers steer the vehicle- meaning both parties have to be coordinated and on the same page. You steer the vehicle from your hips, much like when skiing.
Instead of using your feet, the car accelerates through pushing and pulling rowing-paddles. The inventors claim that four people rowing will get the vehicle up to what you will be able to achieve on your average bike. Of course, this concept only works in somewhat flat areas. If you plan on traveling in areas with hills, or require extra speed, the car offers an electric assist motor (1000 watt output) and regenerative brakes that allow the vehicle’s momentum to be funneled back into the batteries. The Greenwood’s claim that the vehicle can achieve a 100 MPG equivalent of energy efficiency.
The Greenwoods have plans to sell the Imagine_PS as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, which is defined by individual states and reduces the safety requirements- like airbags, or even a need for a drivers license in some places. In effort for the vehicle to qualify as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle the car will have a capped off top speed of 20 mph. The Greenwoods have stated that the vehicle is capable of handling speeds in excess of 100 mph.
The car is currently on display at the Wired Nextfest, which we attended last Friday, but we have to admit, we completely missed the HumanCar in the small tent that features two dozen or so exhibits. That does not mean that we did not see the HumanCar, we just figures it was a prop for the show and something you would put your children in, much like the amusement rides you find behind the checkout lanes of some grocery stores. The HumanCar at Nextfest had about the same plasticky feeling, which was probably the reason why we ignored it and felt it was not part of the exhibit. Our mistake.
But just in case you are interested in paddling over to friends or to your grocery store, you can pre-order the HumanCar for a $99 fee. The low mass vehicle engineering does not come cheap: Consumer models are priced at $15,500, while business-focused models may cost up to $50,000.
Summed up, it is efficient and economic and more importantly it’s an oil-free alternative “neighborhood race car”. But that is about it and brings up the question: Why not use a bike?