Hot wheels

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

Whenever world events – such as the most recent invasion of Iraq and ongoing war – drive up the price of oil and therefore gasoline, people start looking around for alternative energy sources and ways to make their cars run on them. Electric cars are inevitably one of the options raised but as most industry watchers will tell you, the cost, a lack of style, short-term practicality and more importantly, guts, all conspire to make any self-respecting driver think twice about taking the wheel of a "golf cart".

Hybrid Technologies Inc.'s 2007 L1X-75 supercar and Tesla Motors Inc.'s Roadster are challenging the dowdy image that besets electric cars: The L1X-75 can go zero-to-100 km/h in 3.1 seconds, travel 160 kilometres on a single charge and hit a top speed of about 190 km/h. The Tesla Roadster's zero-to-100 time is about four seconds, travels 400 km on a charge and tops out at 210 km/h.

Of course, there is the price. Tesla's base model costs $92,000 US and a loaded rig is around $100,000, while pricing and production figures for the L1X-75 haven't been announced.

Still, the dream of a cool electric vehicle seems infinitely closer than that other science fiction icon of the 21st century. But I still want to know: Where's my flying car?