Leap of Faith

A month or so back, Austin’s mayor Will Wynn jumped off a bridge. Now he’s pushing Austinites to take an even greater jump; out of their pick-ups and into rechargable cars.

sprinter.bmpThe Toyota Prius brought hybrid cars into the mainstream, but its design still relies heavily on the combustion engine to supplement the electric motor. Some eco-driven tuners have pimped their rides into uber-efficient volt rods that plug into wall sockets and store energy in additional batteries. Manufacturers like DaimlerChrysler are slowly adopting this innovation, and the City of Austin wants to speed things up by promoting the new plug-in hybrids.

The “Plug-In Austin” campaign, officially launched today, commits to purchase such vehicles for government fleets (starting with one test unit in 2006), obtain participation from utilities to subsidize early plug-in adopters, and promote petitions and resolutions to stir greater manufacturer production. The plug-in hybrids are appealing because they get hyperbolic fuel economy and shift the cost / pollution / political burden away from oil into electrical powerplants which, in a perfectly green world, could be powered by wind farms, solar panels, or maybe someday even happy thoughts.

Having Texans give up fossilized 4×4’s in favor of Eveready Econoboxes might seem more like a leap over Niagara Falls than the Pfluger Bridge, but Wynn thinks the City can help jump-start demand. It’s a sweetly retro Keynesian plan, using the government to prod the private sector like some sort of New Deal for hybrids. I’ll bet those pinkos up in Dallas wouldn’t even try to pull off something like this!

Wynn has business on-board since there’s a local battery tech presence. The enviros dig the clean air possibilities. Even some of the Freepers like the idea of oil independence enough to get on board the hybrid craze. It’s a crazy coalition … so crazy it just might work. I’ve had enough of the Keep Austin Weird poser nonsense. But keeping Austin wired, from the car to the outlet, sounds pretty appealing.

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