Can American ingenuity save our ass? Like a real-life version of 24, the race is on and the technology exists to make history of the gas combustion engine. Or else it is going to make history out of us. Not only have Japan and Detroit received the message loud and clear, entrepreneurs -- the heart and soul of the capitalist economy -- are on the case as well developing alternative energy vehicles that could help turn the gas guzzling Titanic we're on around.
- Like many Silicon Valley engineers, Martin Eberhard loves cars, especially fast ones. But the self-described "closet gearhead" didn't feel comfortable buying a hot rod that guzzled gas from the Middle East or some other troubled region.
So three years ago, Eberhard and friend Marc Tarpenning launched Tesla Motors. Their goal: to design a sports car that would go as fast as a Ferrari or Porsche, but run on electricity.
With about 80 employees, Tesla just raised $40 million from high-profile investors including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It plans to start selling its first model next year.
- With no doors, roof or windshield, a drive in Wrightspeed's X1 feels like a roller coaster ride and can leave passengers wind-beaten and queasy. It accelerates from zero to 60 mph in three seconds, making it one of the world's fastest production cars. Last year, Wright's X1 beat the fastest Porsche and Ferrari models in head-to-head races. (video above)