Tuesday night the PBS science program NOVA will feature an Earth Day look at "the Car of the Future." WGBH, the Boston PBS station that produces NOVA sent us an advance copy of the show to take a look at. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who are perhaps better known to fans of the NPR show Car Talk as Click and Clack, travel the world from Iceland to China and back to their alma mater at MIT. The "Tappet Brothers" are definitely an acquired taste and not everyone is fan of their shtick on the radio show. However, those who have not acquired that taste need not worry as their presence in Car of the Future is actually fairly minimal. John Lithgow does most of the narration tying the various segments together.
For those that are regular readers of our little corner of the web, most of what is discussed in the show will be familiar territory. Nonetheless the show is still a good primer on all of the various technologies that are being worked on including cellulosic biofuels, batteries, plug-in hybrids, weight reduction and more. The guys visit with Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute, Martin Eberhard at Tesla (while he was still there), Andrew Frank at UC Davis and plenty of others. During a segment filmed during the introduction of the Chevy Volt last year, Tom and Ray speak with GM VP Energy and Environment Beth Lowery about choice. Keep reading after the jump.
Update: Check your local listings for time, but NOVA typically runs at 8 or 9 pm on most PBS stations.
The "choice" subject is often raised when carmakers display highly efficient concepts like the Volt adjacent to 500hp Corvettes, GT-Rs and LF-As. Carmakers talk about needing to give consumers the choices they seem to demand, and offer a full range of vehicles. While there are those who feel that more efficient vehicles should be mandated by government and produced unilaterally by automakers, Amory Lovins gets it right: "Ultimately as citizens and as consumers we are responsible for the world we create. If we don't like the way it's turning out, let's change it." Car companies are businesses trying to make money. Many among us may not like it but that's the way it is. Only when the masses decide that they want and are willing to pay for different vehicles will the manufacturers follow. Looking at the car market today, it's starting to change. But the alternatives have to be affordable to the masses to really make a difference.
Don't forget that PBS has an Open Content section of the Car of the Future site where they have posted much of the raw footage used in the production of the show. Users can download the clips and re-mix it to produce their own version of the show. You can post it on YouTube or elsewhere and submit the link to the NOVA site and they may feature your version on the site.