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Published on December 13th, 2008 | by Alex Felsinger

‘Flintstones’ Car First to Combine Pedals, Solar, & Battery

December 13th, 2008 by  
 

Students at San Jose State University have created a new type of hybrid—or perhaps tribrid?—that makes use of human pedal-power, solar panels, and a strong battery. They’ve dubbed the car the ZEM, or Zero EMissions Vehicle, and say it could be mass-produced for a mere $4,000.

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The vehicle gets moving with pedal power for the first 30 seconds until reaching 5 mph, when the battery kicks in to bring it to its top speed of 35 mph within another 30 seconds. The car, which requires two people to pedal, carries silicon batteries which can be charged by the four solar panels—three on the roof and one on the hood—or by AC outlet.

The car’s four batteries can run up to 40 miles, but don’t start getting in line yet. The target market will be large cities in Mexico, China, and India, where traffic would make pedal-power alone sufficient to get around most days. The team also hopes the United States Postal Service will replace their gas-powered neighborhood vehicles with their ZEM.

San Jose State won a $15,000 grant for the project in 2007 from the National I2P (Idea-to-Product) Competition for EPICS and Social Entrepreneurship at Princeton University in 2007. At that point, the prototype vehicle looked more like a go-cart.

Check out this local newscast about the project for more information.

Photo courtesy of San Jose State University’s engineering department.





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About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.



  • fred flintstone

    pointless, its a messed up bicycle all in the name of ‘zero emissions’

    if university people can’t do better than this, its time to close them down

  • fred flintstone

    pointless, its a messed up bicycle all in the name of ‘zero emissions’

    if university people can’t do better than this, its time to close them down

  • Melanie

    They want the USPS to replace their neighborhood vehicles with this.. but yet it requires two people to pedal to get going.

    Sorry, but I don’t believe the USPS is going to hire double the people (or combine two routes) just to have lower emissions. Their business model is built around carriers working independently.

  • Melanie

    They want the USPS to replace their neighborhood vehicles with this.. but yet it requires two people to pedal to get going.

    Sorry, but I don’t believe the USPS is going to hire double the people (or combine two routes) just to have lower emissions. Their business model is built around carriers working independently.

  • Ryan

    What do you get when a prius crashes into a hotdog stand?…

  • Ryan

    What do you get when a prius crashes into a hotdog stand?…

  • fred flintstone

    yabba dabba ….don’t

  • fred flintstone

    yabba dabba ….don’t

  • xavo

    the quality of university education has really taken a beating.

  • xavo

    the quality of university education has really taken a beating.

  • Kaushik

    You can’t require two people to pedal. Scale down the size a little bit.

  • Kaushik

    You can’t require two people to pedal. Scale down the size a little bit.

  • What happened to just sticking with a bicycle or even a scooter? Back to basics, guys….come on… LOL

  • What happened to just sticking with a bicycle or even a scooter? Back to basics, guys….come on… LOL

  • James Woods

    Wow, I would say you are on to something there.

    jess

    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  • James Woods

    Wow, I would say you are on to something there.

    jess

    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  • All that’s missing:

    San Jose Students: It’s a living

  • All that’s missing:

    San Jose Students: It’s a living

  • Laura Houston

    Cool idea for inercity travels.

    However, for the american post office I think it would be much cheaper to use a pack-animal/small cart to carry/pull that neighborhood delivery mail. Much more healthy and green aswell.

  • Laura Houston

    Cool idea for inercity travels.

    However, for the american post office I think it would be much cheaper to use a pack-animal/small cart to carry/pull that neighborhood delivery mail. Much more healthy and green aswell.

  • DAN

    the quality of university education has really taken a beating…

  • DAN

    the quality of university education has really taken a beating…

  • the quality of university education has really taken a beating…

  • the quality of university education has really taken a beating…

  • yabba dabba ….don’t….

  • yabba dabba ….don’t….

  • Doug

    http://archive.cardesignnews.com/features/2004/050429hongik-show/index.php

    See this is what a good student would create in the world of EV’s.

  • Doug

    http://archive.cardesignnews.com/features/2004/050429hongik-show/index.php

    See this is what a good student would create in the world of EV’s.

  • What do you get when a prius crashes into a hotdog stand?…..

  • What do you get when a prius crashes into a hotdog stand?…..

  • amanda

    I hope that its powered cause i wouldnt be pushing that thing to move that be too hard unless im working out

  • amanda

    I hope that its powered cause i wouldnt be pushing that thing to move that be too hard unless im working out

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