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December 17th, 2009
04:09 PM ET

Honk if you want to Go Green!

Randi Kaye | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Someone I know once said to me, “You can ride an elephant down Fifth Avenue in New York City, and nobody will look. Nothing phases New Yorkers.”

Well, today I found out that isn’t exactly true.

My proof: the electric car I drove around the city for a story for Anderson Cooper 360°.

The car looks like a souped-up golf cart. They come in black, white, red, green, champagne and blue, but no matter what the color, they are all “green” because they are all electric. They run on battery power instead of gasoline.

I climbed into one today to test it out for our story. In the passenger seat was Colin Reilly, who owns the company, www.freeelectriccar.com.

Let me tell you, Reilly was pretty brave as I drove around Manhattan in our open-air electric car, weaving in and out of traffic, and trying to avoid pedestrians and fire trucks with blaring sirens that seemed to be gaining on us every few blocks. I don’t even drive my own car in this city!

But.. back to our story.

The cars are street legal and go about 25 miles an hour. In New York City, we couldn’t go much faster than that anyway with all the traffic so it worked just fine. Some communities have actually lowered their speed limits to allow for these electric cars since they can only go on streets with speed limits that are 35mph or less.

The cars are better for the environment because they do not add to the carbon emissions. All you have to do is plug them in. That’s right, plug the car’s battery in and you’re good to go.

The battery lasts about 50 miles which is plenty for most people who use these cars. They’re popular with people who run errands close to home. In fact, Reilly says, about 80 percent of travel takes place within 10 miles of our homes.

And if you’re wondering how much it costs to run these cars – not much! Colin says the cars cost about a penny a mile. A penny a mile!

By the way, if you’ve ever wanted to own an electric car, I’m told if you buy one of these before the end of the year the government will give you a tax credit on the full cost of the car, which is about $6,500. You get that money in the form of a tax credit because this is all part of the stimulus plan.

The model I got to drive was pretty snazzy. It had a walnut wood interior and it even had a stereo system (which we cranked up). It has a horn which came in handy. When I was driving down Columbus Avenue, a guy driving a massive truck came up beside me, gave me the thumbs up, and honked his horn. His horn woke up the whole neighborhood, but I tooted my little horn back (it’s not much louder than the old bicycle horns) and he got a good laugh out of that. We actually turned heads everywhere we went. Never have I been on the receiving end of so many “thumbs up” from strangers. It was hilarious.

You can come along for the ride on AC360°. Don’t worry, there are seat belts ... but be sure to hang on!

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Lisa Osterheld

    Of course these cars add to the carbon emissions! These New Yorkers are simply moving the carbon emissions to some coal – fired power plant so that they don't have to breathe and deal with them. The poor people around the power plants get to breathe the pollution. Simply moving the pollution doesn't eliminate it. There is no free lunch for energy.

    December 17, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  2. Cindy

    UMM..these things aren't really cars per se. We've had them here for ever and use them instead of cars in some communities. They are actually electric golf carts. And they are cheaper to use but they are not cheap to buy.

    Cindy..Ga.

    December 17, 2009 at 9:54 am |