SOLO by Noel Perrin


Life with an Electric Car
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 The joys of joyriding in a battery-powered roadster (``EV'' for short), by Perrin (Environmental Studies/Dartmouth; Last Person Rural, 1991, etc.). Perrin decides to go electric after being grilled about his commuting methods by an ardent student-ecologist. He flies to California to take proud possession of an electric commuter-car--a Ford Escort converted through the addition of 18 batteries and a set of solar panels--and, in a moment of heady exuberance, decides to drive his EV the 3000 miles back to Thetford, Vermont. Perrin makes it as far as the Sierra Nevadas before the car's tiny range (sixty miles maximum between recharges) and sluggish pickup foil his plans. Undaunted, he leases a truck to tow his EV home. From then on, this amusing excursion into alternative energy doubles as a low-keyed road adventure. Instead of Thelma and Louise, it's Noel and Solo (``quite suddenly...I realized that this car was not an it but a he, and that his name was Solo''). Car and driver visit a flying-saucer factory, countless truck stops, and a car museum that houses an EV from 1899. Most people Perrin meets seem indifferent to Solo, although a few EV fanatics cross his path, as well as dissenters who worry that EVs simply displace pollution from the oil well to the electric power plant. Once home, Perrin tootles around in his clean, friendly machine; outwits a faculty member who accuses him of stealing Dartmouth's electricity; and looks forward to facing his environmental-studies class with a clean conscience. A needless digression on the evils of pollution; notions for improving an EV's range (gas/electric hybrids, better batteries); and a list of EV dealers, associations, and consultants wrap up the short, smooth ride. Laid-back EV propaganda that makes electric cars seem as much like pets as machines. We sense a film in here somewhere.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1992
ISBN: 0-393-03407-0
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992


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