Are Free Cars On the Horizon?


How would you like to have an alternative fuel car?

I know, thoughts of expensive cars that can’t be driven too far from home are flooding your mind. Plus, why pay so much more for an electric or hydrogen car when you can have a traditional car that runs on relatively cheap and widely available gasoline?

Alternative fuel cars can be a tough sell. But what if you could have one for free?

Automotive News has a story about the possibility of Japan offering free hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to its citizens. Could that be what’s needed to convince people to go green?

Japan already offers some pretty convincing incentives to subsidize alt-fuel vehicles to early adopters. The thinking is that doing so will increase the momentum for zero-emissions vehicles. There’s even talk of the government throwing in free fuel and exclusion from tolls for good measure.

No one knows for sure what the odds are of a “free” car actually happening, but Toyota will start sales of its first production fuel-cell vehicle, tentatively called the FCV, next spring in Japan with subsidies of at least 40 percent. Automotive News said:

But the main question should be: If a technology is still so pricey it needs the government to cover more than 40 percent of the cost plus extras, is it really ready for prime time?

Or are the Japanese government and Toyota forcing the issue prematurely?

That’s a valid question, but Japan isn’t the only government considering a radical new transportation idea.

Auckland, New Zealand, is considering a proposal that would put a revolutionary electric car in the hands of its citizens. The Tango electric car doesn’t look like anything else on the road, but a group called Project Microcar hopes to change that by convincing the city to buy 15,000 of the little EVs from Commuter Cars and then lease them to drivers for just $55 a week.

Tango EV lanesplitting

The goal is to reduce congestion and pollution while giving citizens another option for getting to and from work everyday.

New technology often needs a jumpstart to get off the ground, and governments in Japan and Auckland are taking steps to make it happen. I don’t see how that can be a bad thing.

Should governments make it easier and cheaper to drive alternative fuel vehicles?


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