Fill it with Chardonnay

Lotus Exige 270E Tri-Fuel

According to recent news reports, Lotus has a car in development (the Exige 270E Tri-Fuel, to be precise) that is capable of running on some interesting alternative fuels. The car can be powered by an ethanol mix made from wine that is not up to drinking grade—which encompasses a huge category, after all—as well as whey, a byproduct of the cheese or chocolate-making process. Simply put, this thing will run on wine and cheese.

Does this sound familiar? At the recent royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, the couple drove off after the ceremony in an Aston-Martin lent to them by Prince Charles. At the request of the Prince of Wales, the car had been modified to run on a fuel composed of 85% ethanol—made from surplus British wine. Thus, Charles was both being environmentally conscious and helping the British wine industry at the same time. The car is reputed to get about ten miles per gallon, or 4.5 bottles of Chardonnay.

While this innovation may seem way off in the future, it can’t come soon enough for most of us. The California wine industry is in peril, with a glut of wine at virtually every price point. What better use can we possibly make of those oceans of Central Coast Syrah? Rather than stumbling over shopping carts full of marked-down wine that no one wants, you can use the stuff to actually power your trip to the supermarket. Don’t worry about how to charge your runaway Prius overnight—simply fill your tank with the leftovers from last night’s dinner party, and drive off into the sunset.

Of course, this dream scenario is still years away, and it will not be cheap. Howard Walker knows more about this than I do, but it seems that a new Lotus Exige—the regular model—carries a price tag of around $65,000. If you decide you want the version that will burn Kendall-Jackson, it will obviously cost you.


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