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McGreen and friends built a prototype for an electric vehicle that is not a car, that is not yet in mass production, that is assembled from parts used by early VW, electronics from Silicon Valley, lithium batteries from China, and a motor invented by Nicola Tesla in the 1890s. A vehicle design that raises an important question about the future of electric transport. Is the automobile as we know it really the only model for personal electric vehicles? Are there lighter, simpler solutions that use less power but might remain impossible if traffic is dominated by cars that weigh 3,000 lbs and more and shoot along at murderous speeds?
McGreen, is the principal inventor of the Switch Vehicle, an electric three wheel motorcycle, an open crash cage design with up to four seats. Adaptable with a loading deck to carry equipment, or as many as 12 people for off road use, it is highway legal and easily reaches 55 miles per hour. The smallest available battery pack gives it a a range of about 50 miles.
McGreen is motivated by his concern and detailed knowledge of the danger of climate change. He has acted on his beliefs as an engineer since the early 1990s. First he pioneered electric bicycle design and production, then he became known as the inventor of the Zappy, a two wheeled electric scooter. He lost his company ZAP in a takeover by the board of directors and now is developing this simple open Switch vehicle that he hopes will be copied here and abroad.
This talk was recorded in his workshop in Sebastopol, CA, on May 17, 2013. The program is part of TUC Radio's Going Home series - presenting Northern California inventors, visionaries and caretakers.