The Epiphany That Started A Long, Strange Trip

By November 15, 2020Food For Thought

I’m a car guy. I have to admit it. I’ve been a car guy since I was 7 or 8 building car models with my friend Steven in his mom’s basement. We built many a Monte Carlo, Lincoln and Cadillac, (his favorite). One year, the model maker company cut corners and didn’t make the small change to the grille of one of their models, which had been an update by the car manufacturer that year. Steven, all of 8 years old, wrote a customer complaint letter threatening to sue and the company sent him a whole case of models to make amends. Actually this happened again and they sent him another case of car models. I believe they sent Steven so many car models; he may still be making them.

My first, true car was my dad’s BMW 2002, which was a hit at my college with all my friends and me. I loved the car and kick myself all the time for letting it get shabby and finally selling it. The 2002 was truly a cool, European car, when in my opinion BMW’s were still cool. When I graduated, I “graduated” to a Nissan 300Z. For some reason, I was taken by this flashy, airhead, over the classy, intelligent 2002. The 300Z was the kind of car a middle aged man with a toupee would buy. Eventually, I upgraded to a much better version – the 300Z Twin Turbo. That was a great car and I loved it, but…

Then one day, sometime around 2000, I had an epiphany. Why was I putting money in the hands of petro dictators and malevolent, gigantic oil companies? What’s the point of a big, gas engine? So what if you have 300, 400, 500, or 1,000 horsepower? You still can’t go 200 mph on the highway and you’re not likely to drive to Indianapolis and pull onto the racetrack during the 500. It’s just about power projection, which is sad that so many of us choose wastefulness, just to satisfy our need to project power; myself included.

For about 10 years after my epiphany, I dreamt of a vehicle that was clean, fun, fast, efficient, pedal driven, weatherproof and safe. A vehicle that would use your own power input to make it crazy efficient. Then I actually had a literal dream of the Raht Racer one night. I began to write descriptions and look for someone to help me visualize it. Luckily I met another car guy, Lyon Smith, a great artist who drew dozens of sample sketches, (the first one at the top of this post – I told him I wanted something that looked like Darth Vader – isn’t it great?).

A few people in the electric car club I was a member in told me that a human/electric hybrid vehicle is irrational, impractical, dumb; human beings can only contribute a small fraction of the power necessary to make the vehicle operate (150-200Wh in a 13kWh system). To that critique I say, “so what?”  Like stated above, people satisfy their egos every day by buying sports cars capable of going 200 mph that will never go 200 mph and expensive SUV’s that are designed to go off the road that will never be taken off the road. Like those kinds of vehicles, the Raht Racer will appeal to people’s emotions and desire for power. Unlike those vehicles, the Raht will appeal to emotions about the environment and emphasize the power of the self. In our homes, we recycle a very small amount of material in the overall waste stream, but it adds up and it makes us feel better to do our part. Driving the Raht will also help us to feel we’re doing our part.

I’m still a car guy, just not a fossil fuel car guy.

Rich Kronfeld

Author Rich Kronfeld

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