There are a growing number of workshop projects dedicated to increasing the performance of alternative engines popping up all over. Some things, like the huge increase in diesel performance mods, biodiesel dragsters, diesel motorcycles and the like, are continuations of work that has been around for years but now we’re seeing hybrid cars and electric cars and motorcycles going the same route.
Whenever new technologies appear, especially when they are very different from what we’ve known, it’s sometimes hard to see the possibilities. Early versions of slow electrics and hybrids start us thinking about the end of performance until someone out in their garage starts to tinker a bit with his hybrid or diesel or electric vehicle and a funny thing happens. You get a performance vehicle with something other than a standard 4 stroke internal combustion engine providing the only power.
Like many of you, I’ve been around cars and motorcycles for a lot of years and seeing this shift take place is sometimes exciting, sometimes astonishing but always interesting. It’s a necessary part of the process, too, because until you get people involved and excited about a technology, you’ll have a hard time winning over a large number of supporters. I don’t think you can rush it, either. Creative ideas flow when someone asks, “What if?” not when a crazed zealot is screaming about your SUV or your reluctance to change your life overnight according to their worldview. (Especially when some zealots are hypocrites.) But with time and technology, it looks like performance will always be around. The competitive nature of human beings and their toolmaking brains will guarantee that.