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Introducing the World's First, Fastest (and Only) Electric Log Car

The Pioneer "Cedar Rocket" holds a few titles. In addition to being the world’s fastest log car, it also happens to be the world’s first and only log car, at least as far as Road & Track knows. Its Guinness World Record is in a category unto itself, but that doesn’t mean the cruiser isn’t impressive. 

The vehicle was constructed by log house builder Bryan Reid Sr. (you might know him from the HGTV Canada show Timber Kings) and two of his friends, a mechanic and a turbine manufacturer. Reid had been considering a log car for a while, but the idea started to pick up steam when the three friends found themselves chatting at an auto auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Reid told Road & Track: “We're standing there, the three of us—there's a turbine manufacturer, a mechanic, and a log builder. Gerald started doing a little sketch, and pretty soon he had a fun-shaped log with tires and wheels. And then he sketches turbines on it. Gerald's doing this diddly-doodlin', and all of the sudden the idea comes."

The single-passenger car took more than 3000 hours of work to build. It’s made from a Western Red Cedar log (the rings suggest it’s as much as 240 years old) with repurposed parts from a Mazda RX-8. It’s an electric car powered by eight very heavy lithium-ion batteries, and weighs, in all, about 2200 lbs.

To achieve the world record, Guinness required the Cedar Rocket to make a run of 31 miles per hour within an hour, which it did, at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.

Reid told Autoblog that the builders briefly considered a fuel engine but, "Then we starting thinking, man, this is 2016, and that's why we went totally electric. We're glad we did. It worked out great."

The car will be auctioned off at the place where the concept initially came together: the Barrett-Jackson car auction. Until then it will be on tour, impressing onlookers and raising money and awareness for veterans groups.

To see more awesome photos of the world’s first, fastest, and only electric log car, scroll below, and check out the websites for Pioneer Log Homes and The Pioneer Cedar Rocket.

Banner image via Instagram // timberkingbryansr.

[h/t Digg]

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environment
Germany Wants to Fight Air Pollution With Free Public Transit
Michael Gottschalk, AFP/Getty Images
Michael Gottschalk, AFP/Getty Images

Getting people out of their cars is an essential part of combating climate change. By one estimate, getting people to ditch their two-car household for just one car and a public transit commute could save up to 30 percent in carbon dioxide emissions [PDF]. But how do you convince commuters to take the train or the bus? In Germany, the answer may be making all public transit free, according to The Local.

According to a letter from three of Germany's government ministers to the European Union Environment Commissioner, in 2018, Germany will test free public transit in five western German cities, including Bonn. Germany has failed to meet EU air pollution limits for several years, and has been warned that it could face heavy fines if the country doesn't clean up its air. In a report from 2017, the European Environment Agency estimated that 80,767 premature deaths in Germany in 2014 were due to air pollution.

City officials in the regions where free transport will be tested say there may be some difficulty getting ahold of enough electric buses to support the increase in ridership, though, and their systems will likely need more trains and bus lines to make the plan work.

Germany isn't the first to test out free public transportation, though it may be the first to do it on a nation-wide level. The Estonian capital of Tallinn tried in 2013, with less-than-stellar results. Ridership didn't surge as high as expected—one study found that the elimination of fares only resulted in a 1.2 percent increase in demand for service. And that doesn't necessarily mean that those new riders were jumping out of their cars, since those who would otherwise bike or walk might take the opportunity to hop on the bus more often if they don't have to load a transit card.

Transportation isn't prohibitively expensive in Germany, and Germans already ride public transit at much higher rates than people do in the U.S. In Berlin, it costs about $4 a ride—more expensive than a ride in Paris or Madrid but about what you'd pay in Geneva, and cheaper than the lowest fare in London. And there are already discounts for kids, students, and the elderly. While that doesn't necessarily mean making public transit free isn't worth it, it does mean that eliminating fares might not make the huge dent in car emissions that the government hopes it will.

What could bring in more riders? Improving existing service. According to research on transportation ridership, doing things like improving waits and transfer times bring in far more new riders than reducing fares. As one study puts it, "This seldom happens, however, since transport managers often cannot resist the idea of reducing passenger fares even though the practice is known to have less impact on ridership."

The same study notes that increasing the prices of other modes of transit (say, making road tolls and parking fees higher to make driving the more expensive choice) is a more effective way of forcing people out of their cars and onto trains and buses. But that tends to be more unpopular than just giving people free bus passes.

[h/t The Local]

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travel
Here's How Much Traffic Congestion Costs the World's Biggest Cities
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iStock

Traffic congestion isn't just a nuisance for the people who get trapped in gridlock on their way to work, it’s also a problem for a city's economy, City Lab reports. According to a study from the transportation consulting firm INRIX, all that time stuck in traffic can cost the world’s major cities tens of billions of dollars each year.

The study, the largest to examine vehicle traffic on a global scale, measured congestion in 1360 cities across 38 countries. Los Angeles ranked number one internationally with drivers spending an average of 102 hours in traffic jams during peak times in a year. Moscow and New York City were close behind, both with 91 lost hours, followed by Sao Paulo in Brazil with 86 and San Francisco with 79.

INRIX also calculated the total cost to the cities based on their congestion numbers. While Los Angeles loses a whopping $19.2 billion a year to time wasted on the road, New York City takes the biggest hit. Traffic accounts for $33.7 billion lost by the city annually, or an average of $2982 per driver. The cost is $10.6 billion a year for San Francisco and $7.1 billion for Atlanta. Those figures are based on factors like the loss of productivity from workers stuck in their cars, higher road transportation costs, and the fuel burned by vehicles going nowhere.

Congestion on the highway can be caused by something as dramatic as a car crash or as minor as a nervous driver tapping their brakes too often. Driverless cars could eventually fix this problem, but until then, the fastest solution may be to discourage people from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

[h/t City Lab]

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