Over half a million people in Phoenix commute by themselves to work every day. Another 100,000 or so will commute with a friend or two, and an additional 100,000 find alternate means of transportation by walking or biking, taking a bus, or riding the light rail. But the number that most baffles me is the first one. Half a million people drive by themselves, to and from work, five or more days of every week. I wish I could find figures for the types of vehicles that people drive to work, but I wouldn’t hesitate to guess that a large portion of the vehicles are trucks and SUV types.
Another astounding fact is that a single gallon of gasoline will create nearly 20 pounds of CO2 when burned. At first glance this may seem impossible, since a gallon of gas weighs around 6 pounds, but the majority of that extra mass comes from the oxygen molecules in the air.
My drive to work (and back) is a bit longer than most commuters, and although I drive a small and efficient Volkswagen Golf, my little Vee-dubya is spitting out around 45 pounds of CO2 per day. After a year of commuting, not even counting any extra trips or driving on my days off, my car will birth the equivalent of an adult male elephant in CO2 emissions. That’s 12,000 pounds of CO2.
Now brace yourselves for a moment. Take a deep breath of that cool, clean, purified air you love so dearly. If we assume that each Arizonan who drives solo is averaging 25mpg, and with studies showing the average commute time in Phoenix is around 25 minutes long (assume 15-20 miles, give or take), the daily output of CO2 from the solo driver population exceeds 17 million pounds. And that’s every day!
That we have a problem, there is little doubt. How our problem affects our health, our food, our environment, and our planet is less well known, but it’s clear that tailpipe emissions don’t go about the world doing good deeds. Carbon sequestration, the process of removing harmful carbon from the atmosphere, shows promise for our future, but it’s by no means a long-term solution, nor is it cheap and easy to do.
It’s about time that we focus our efforts on preventative maintenance rather than Band-Aid fixes. One company is looking to challenge and change the way we think about commuting.
Lit Motors, based out of San Francisco, has created the C-1 electric vehicle. Picture a scooter that’s fully enclosed, balances itself with gyroscopes, seats two, and goes 200 miles on a single charge. That, my friends and fellow Arizona commuters, is a modern marvel. A major problem with many electric vehicles is the price tag, with most exceeding $40,000, making us question if we can afford to save money at the pump. The C-1 will cost around half that, putting it well within reach of most middle-class Americans. Finally, a zero-emissions vehicle that makes financial sense! What’s more? It’s actually fun to drive, stylish, and much safer than you’d think.
With so many commuters, and so little in the way of public transportation in our sprawling metropolis, an affordable electric vehicle like the C-1 is exactly what Phoenix needs. Let’s get rid of our failing bus system and put some of that wasted money into incentives for businesses and consumers to manufacture and purchase vehicles that will have a positive impact. Let’s move past the Band-Aid approach and create solutions. Phoenix has the technological resources, engineering expertise, and aerospace powerhouses. It’s time we draw on that potential and reinvent the world we live in.
The C-1 is scheduled to launch within a couple of years, and you can already reserve yours on their website www.litmotors.com/reserve.
Ryan Biggs is a regular contributor to Nerdvana, the East Valley Tribune’s popular blog for technology sci-fi, fantasy, TV, movies, comics, games and all things geek. Ryan’s passion is cars.