Tag Archives: automotive

Why Not Here?

Perpetual Notions
By Ronald Sitton

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 23) — So you’ve seen the pictures of Tata’s “Nano” and you’ve heard the unheard of pricing of $2,000 per car in India for an automobile without air conditioning, a radio or a passenger-side mirror. You may even be aware of the 50 mpg capabilities and the steering wheel on the right side of the car.

But would you buy it?

Perhaps it’s the boxy nature of this lil’ chunk of love. It somewhat reminds me of a cross between a ’74 Honda Civic and a ’76 Toyota Corolla, two examples of minimalist features but quality craftsmanship. Let’s say with shipping and handling, it ended up more around $3,000 a car. Would that much of an increase keep you from picking one up?

If it’s only money we’re talking about, I’d say those with some chump change and few long-trip necessities should consider it. But before writing that check, I think we should consider something else, i.e. if some folks in India are making a $2,000 car that’s supposed to revolutionize the market (and put more than a million folks behind fume-burners with the accompanying unintentional environmental consequences), why can’t it be done here?

Arkansas used to make cars at Climber Motor Corporation, only two of which are still in existence at Petit Jean’s Museum of Automobiles. I figured an Internet search would not uncover any independent motor corporations in the South — i.e. Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — but I was pleasantly surprised … OK, not astonished, but pleasantly surprised that I found an independent automobile manufacturer making an American car that gave me the shivers.

How appropriate can it be that Austin, Texas-based Ronn Motor Company is offering a green sports car, The Scorpion? It’s based on a system that adds hydrogen to fuel while driving, and from the clips linked on the site, it’s blowing people away. Granted, you only need $150,000 to get it.

I’ve found directions to build a hybrid 75-mpg car through Mother Earth News, but the article looks like it’s from July/August 1979. It would have only cost $1,500 to build back then. Anybody tried this?

Somebody’s got a lot of money to make somewhere.