So! Tired of paying $2.50 a gallon at the pump? Want to have efficiency that would make a Prius owner blush? Forty-four MPG? We don't need no stinkin' gallons! How about Fueled by Rocks?
Let's put a few ideas together and see what happens.
1) Half of the homes in America contain two or more cars. (Make magazine vol 5, p.6) It'd be more interesting to know the number of cars owned per household, given that many homes don't have garages. ;) One of those cars is used primarily for local trips. We can build a nifty all-electric plug-in car to serve that need! For cheap!
2) Get yourself a nice high-mileage used car, for cheap. How about a New Beetle? Easily had on Ebay Motors for $5000. Who cares about the worn motor, we're gonna scrap that.
3) Let's keep things German. How about a nice Siemens AC-motor motor package? $7000, ten year warranty. metricmind.com
4) Batteries? Let's see, we have LOTS of choices here. Conventional lead-acid batteries for $2000. Off-the-shelf Ni-Cads are now available on the used market. Or then there are these nifty lithium-ion cells from A123 Systems. (Wired, March 2006, p. 034)
So what we end up with is a car for around $14,000 that will run for 10 years and turn its back on the gas station and middle eastern oil. Yes, we use electricity from a (probably) coal-fueled power plant. That route is still more efficient and less polluting than that 4-cylinder power plant we were using.
Nifty, eh? Where's my wrench....?