Writing about the maybe-future means writing about a lot of concepts that have no basis in reality. Sometimes it means coming up with ideas of my own. What about an all-electric highway made for fast EVs like the Superbus?
Maybe it is just the spring air talking, or maybe I caught a whiff of whatever these crazy Dutch engineering students were smoking when they came up with the idea of a 23 passenger all-electric bus with a supposed top speed of around 300 kph, or 180 mph. What started out as a laudable concept has become a working, driving, well-appointed reality in a relatively short time (or at least since I heard about it.)
The idea of cruising around in a six-wheel electric Batmobile while recling in plush leather seats, sipping champagne and working on my supertablet is pretty damn appealing. That got me to thinking about the debate for high-speed rail in America, and the deep-rooted political debate at the heart of it.
You’ve got some conservatives arguing that an attempt to get Americans back on trains is part of some conspiracy to make everybody into share-everything communists who have no need for cars, guns, or freedom. I think that is silly, and while I am for high speed rail, I love me some automobiles. Given the option, my heart always leaps for the car, but on occasions like the New York Auto Show, trying to drive into NYC on a weekday during rush hour is pretty much the worst idea imaginable. So slow, old, ugly train it is (though Metro North has taken delivery of some new, very delayed train cars recently, so that is a positive.)
The problem is, despite all the advancements in vehicles making them safer, faster, and more comfortable, we’re not really getting anywhere any faster because there are too many roads, and our nation’s infrastructure is woefully out of date and in need of a major overhaul, especially our highways and bridges. We’ve got cars like the Corvette ZR1, which can go over 200 mph, but certainly not on public roads. Even the average family sedan can easily cruise at 85 mph, and Texas is considering raising its limit that high. But going faster on gas power means getting even worse gas mileage. So what if we made our roads straighter, wider, safer, and more efficient for high-speed driving, and throw in a wireless charging system for electric vehicles while we’re at it?
Imagine highways where your average automobile can reach speeds of 100 mph easily? Computer navigation systems linked to sensors in the road guide your car at high speeds as it travels over a river of electrons. The in-road charging system keeps the car’s battery system topped off, so when you arrive at the exit in a speedy fashion, you’re ready to resume control of a vehicle with its maximum range intact. There is room for non-electric vehicles on these roadways too, of course, but none of them benefit from the special high-speed charging lanes that sling futuristic EV’s past at speeds topping 150 mph. Who needs trains? Not America. We’ve got this gangster electric highway.
None of this is cheap, nor will it happen overnight with today’s available technology. With solar powered roads though, much of the energy could come from nature herself, and maybe even move away from asphalt roads to something that isn’t so fickle and in need of constant replacement. The idea seems like a win-win-win for everyone. America gets to boast of the best highway system in the world, again, people can still have their freedom preserved with individual (though often automated) personal vehicles, and electric cars have an infrastructure, so no more complaining about no where to charge.
I’m not the first person with this idea to be sure. Maybe I’m just the first one who thinks this could bring America back together, because the more we argue, the more we ignore the fact that our country is literally and morally collapsing. We need a big project, that everybody can get behind. Judging from the way most of your drive on the roads, damn near everybody but the grandparents and Prius drivers want to go faster. And we all hate waiting in traffic. It could spur the next generation of automobiles. Think Car 2.0; does the work for you or lets you drive yourself. Distracted driving would disappear overnight, and electric cars are far more appealing than they had been.
Anyway, here’s a new video of the Superbus driving along the track. It is probably a ways away from reaching even 100 mph, and even if it could go that fast, where would it go? Maybe one day, our superhighways. I believe the video is in Dutch. Can anyone translate and give us a gist of what’s happening? Because that’s what inspired this whole thoughtrant.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.