Kickstarter is an amazing idea: let people with ideas pitch them directly to the masses with money. For alternative-powered vehicles, though, the website has not been too successful in bringing about people-powered change. Perhaps that's because the big OEMs are already providing the new and different cars that people want. Perhaps it's because the pitches simply aren't persuasive enough. Whatever the case, we went looking through the KS archives to see how alternative powertrains did there (most of these projects were attempted in 2010) and found, well...
The idea of an electric car music tour came close, receiving $30,000, or 60 percent of its $50,000 funding target. Thus, we never did see a journey to "promote our electric car technology and our music in the same tour ... to promote the conversion of automobiles from gas to all-electric – one of the themes in our environmental song and video, 'Our World.'" The "Frankencar" project, which wanted to build an EV that could go 200 miles per charge and recharge in 45 minutes that only got $637 pledged of its $14,000 goal. Another EV hope that died on the KS vine was the open-source Paxterra Photon S3. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea of a "self-sustaining electric vehicle" also went unfunded. Oh, where there was this: "Sorry, no results for 'hydrogen car,'" so it looks like H2 advocates have stayed away from KS for now.
The idea of an open source alternative-energy vehicle (admittedly, not the same as a crowd-funded project, but in a similar vein) has been tried before, and often with more success, from Riversimple's open-source hydrogen car to the diesel-powered Rally Fighter to the ChargeCar.
What has been successful on Kickstarter? No electric or biofuel or hydrogen vehicle projects that we could find, but the electric rollerskates called spnKiX (pictured) got twice as much money pledged as the project organizers say they needed, and the funding window is still open for another month. When it comes to battery-powered transportation, KS teaches us to aim small.