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March 1st, 2008
The dream of climate-friendly, petroleum-free motoring is creeping closer - thanks to a clutch of breakthroughs in nanotechnology. Several recently reported lab findings promise to vastly improve the safety and performance of the high-capacity batteries that electric cars will need, at last making them a viable alternative to today's petroleum-powered vehicles.
Until now the odds have been stacked against the electric car. A typical petrol-driven car can run for some 500 kilometres on a tank of fuel and can be expected to travel 150,000 kilometres (about 10 years' typical driving) without a major overhaul. Today's electric cars don't come close on either count.
Even legislation to clamp down on gas guzzlers is not helping much, as the car industry is responding by making petrol and diesel engines more fuel-efficient.
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