Neil Young and Johnathan Goodwin.
Neil and Johnathan are working together to convert Neil's '59 Lincoln Continental convertible to an all-electric car that never needs refueling, only recharging.
Neil has this to say, (courtesy of NewEnergyNews): "Johnathan and this car are going to make history…We're going to change the world, we're going to create a car that will allow us to stop giving our wealth to other countries for petroleum….And we're going to do it right here in Wichita, a great place that I now love, where people know how to make things, and make things happen."
Why is the veteran rock and roll star geared up about this project? 2 reasons. First, because he loves his cars: "…people are saying we should go to small cars, but I love big American cars with power…I asked Johnathan that first day if we could take a huge American car like this, 2 ½ tons, 19 ½ feet long, and make it so you could drive it without ever refueling. Something practical…And Jonathan said 'Yeah.' And that's what we're going to do."
Second, because his motivation hasn’t changed all that much since 1971. He’s still trying to use his success to make the world a better place: "…I thought long ago you could change the world by writing songs. But you can't…Oh, you can inspire a few people, get some of them to change their thinking about something. But you can't change the world by writing songs…But we could change it with this car."
Johnathan was profiled in Fast Company in November of '07. Here's an excerpt:
Goodwin's work proves that a counterattack [on Detroit] is possible, and maybe easier than many of us imagined. If the dream is a big, badass ride that's also clean, well, he's there already. As he points out, his conversions consist almost entirely of taking stock GM parts and snapping them together in clever new ways. "They could do all this stuff if they wanted to," he tells me, slapping on a visor and hunching over an arc welder. "The technology has been there forever. They make 90% of the components I use." He doesn't have an engineering degree; he didn't even go to high school: "I've just been messing around and seeing what I can do."
All of which raises an interesting possibility. Has this guy in a far-off Kansas garage figured out the way to save Detroit?
America's most revolutionary innovations, it has long been said, sprang from the ramshackle dens of amateurs. Thomas Edison was a home-schooled dropout who got his start tinkering with battery parts; Chester Carlson invented the photocopier in his cramped Long Island kitchen. NASA, desperate for breakthroughs to help it return to the moon, has set up million-dollar prizes to encourage private citizens to come forward with any idea, no matter how crazy. As the theory goes, only those outside big industries can truly reinvent them.
Goodwin is certainly an outsider. He grew up in a dirt-poor Kansas family with six siblings and by age 13 began taking on piecework in local auto shops to help his mother pay the bills. He particularly enjoyed jamming oversized engines into places no one believed they'd fit. He put truck engines inside Camaros, Grand Nationals, and Super Bees; he even put a methanol-fueled turbocharger on a tiny Yamaha Banshee four-wheeler. "We took that thing from 35 horsepower to 208," he recalls. "It was crazy. We couldn't put enough fins on the back to keep it on the ground." After dropping out of school in the seventh grade, he made a living by buying up totaled cars and making them as good as new. "That," he says, "was my school."This past November, Neil's post in the HuffingtonPost, outlined his ideas on how to retool the American auto industry:
We need forward looking people who are not restricted by the existing culture in Detroit. We need visionary people now with business sense to create automobiles that do not contribute to global warming.
It is time to change and our problems can facilitate our solutions. We can no longer afford to continue down Detroit's old road. The people have spoken. They do not want gas guzzlers (although they still like big cars and trucks). It is possible to build large long-range vehicles that are very efficient. People will buy those vehicles because they represent real change and a solution that we can live with.
The government must take advantage of the powerful position that exists today. The Big 3 are looking for a bailout. They should only get it if they agree to stop building autos that contribute to global warming now. The stress on the auto manufacturers today is gigantic. In order to keep people working in their jobs and keep factories open, this plan is suggested:
The big three must reduce models to basics. a truck, an SUV, a large family sedan, an economy sedan, and a sports car. Use existing tooling.
Keep building these models to keep the workforce employed but build them without engines and transmissions. These new vehicles, called Transition Rollers, are ready for a re-power. No new tooling is required at this stage. The adapters are part of the kits described next.
At the same time as the new Transition Rollers are being built, keeping the work force working, utilize existing technology now, create re-power kits to retrofit the Transition Rollers to SCEVs (self charging electric vehicles) for long range capability up to and over 100mpg. If you don't think this technology is realistic or available, check out the Progressive Insurance Automotive X prize. Alternatively, check out Lincvolt.com or other examples.
A bailed out Auto manufacturer must open or re-purpose one or more factories and dedicate them to do the re-power/retrofit assembly. These factories would focus on re-powering the Transition Rollers into SCEVs but could also retrofit and re-power many existing vehicles to SCEVs. These existing vehicles are currently sitting unsold at dealerships across America.
Auto manufacturers taking advantage of a government bailout must only sell clean and green vehicles that do not contribute to global warming. No more internal combustion engines that run exclusively on fossil fuels can be sold period.
No Big Three excuses like "new tooling takes time". New tooling is not a requirement for SCEV transition rollers.
Build only new vehicles that attain the goal of reversing global warming and enhancing National Security.
Government legislation going with the bailout should include tax breaks for purchasers of these cars with the new green SCEV technology. The legislation accompanying the bailout of major auto manufacturers must include directives to build only vehicles that attain the goal of reversing global warming while enhancing National security, and provide the financial assistance to make manufacturing these cars affordable in the short term while the industry re-stabilizes.
Eventually the SCEV technology could be built into every new car and truck as it is being assembled and the stop gap plan described above would have completed its job of keeping America building and working through this turbulent time.
Detroit has had a long time to adapt to the new world and now the failure of Detroit's actions is costing us all. We pay the bailout. Let's make a good deal for the future of America and the Planet. Companies like UQM (Colorado) and others build great electric motors right here in the USA. Use these domestic electric motors. Put these people to work now. This plan reverses the flow from negative to positive because people need and will buy clean and green cars to be part of World Change. Unique wheel covers will identify these cars on the road so that others can see the great example a new car owner is making. People want America to win!
This plan addresses the issue of Global warming from our automobiles while enhancing our National Security and keeping Detroit working.
Neil Young and Johnathan Goodwin: getting it done, making it happen.