Look who I found eyeballing a cutaway of the Chevy Volt?

Martin Eberhard (second from left) of Tesla Motors and Chris Paine (center) of "Who Killed the Electric Car" traded notes on the unique powertrain arrangement as the Detroit Auto Show press days started winding down. That's Chelsea Sexton there on the right. Pulling Eberhard aside, I asked him if Tesla engineers considered a self-generating concept. The answer was a quick "no." The long explanation was that the company could avoid crash testing for fuel-tank safety and EPA emissions requirements. The short explanation was that such a move would be a wasted effort.

"We're going for the finish line," Eberhard explained. "We think eventually cars will be electric, period."

I also asked Eberhard the possibility that electric cars could be penalized for pollution generated by electric plants that supply the grid.

"I've never heard of any such thing," he answered. "If you want to skirt that issue, when you buy an electric car you buy solar panels for your house at the same time."

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