When we arrived at Sevilla to begin our honeymoon, Nicole and I were excited to get our rental car, which we assumed would be a typically tiny European car that is built to help people conserve fuel, not to expend a gas field every time they drive to work. So we were disappointed when we were presented with an Opel station wagon, American-size, that looked more like the Griswold’s family truckster in the first Vacation movie than the cars Clark, Rust, et al. rented in European Vacation.

Good Americans that we are, we complained to the Spanish Avis agents and, like magic, a shiny, tiny, non-fuel-guzzling Opel showed up that was about half the size of my first car, the king guzzler himself, the late, great 1984 Volvo station wagon.

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The car was awesome. It ran on diesel (remember diesel?) and handled great. Nicole kept remarking that she couldn’t understand why Americans wouldn’t go for a car like this. I think it’s because they’d have to ditch the all-too-perfect symbol of America’s self-imposed isolation from the world, and it’s continued blindness toward the results of its behavior–the SUV. What would perfectly embody our arrogance if we got rid of that waste of a vehicle?

Anyway, except for some difficulty cruising over 100 km/hr up hills (I put the petal to the metal a few times) the car was a dream.

So check out WorldChanging’s piece about European Micro-Hybrids:

minimobil.jpg"The 'MINIMOBIL' is a new vehicle designed by a joint Austrian-Czech team as low-cost, high-efficiency personal transport for the streets of European cities. As a hybrid, it has a longer range (and higher potential speed) than similarly-sized electric vehicles; it is capable of all-electric mode, too, for 30-50 kilometers, more than enough for typical city trips. As the image shows, it's tiny -- four can fit in a typical parking space -- and due to its size, it may be classified as a "four wheel motorcycle" in Europe. The MINIMOBIL is designed with flexibility in mind, with the rear section being able to hold various modules for additional seating, cargo, even lawn maintenance. The default set up allows for two people to ride, sitting tandem."

How cool is that?

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