The real problem is: Even if we can make very efficient vehicles with radical new designs, how do we get them on the road? How do we make the transition from our current breed of heavy metal machines to small aerodynamic composite-materials hybrids (and fuel cells) without having both types share the pavement?
The faster that happens, the best it will be for all of us, but the way things are going, it will probably unfold in North-America is like this: oil will keep getting more expensive, SUVs sales will keep going down, cars will progressively slim down (Small Japanese Cars Are Coming to North-America, Again) and hybridizing until North-America catches up to Europe and Asia in vehicle size. Then it will be a lot more realistic to envision a move to such cool vehicles as the concept-hybrid mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Thanks to ::Green Car Congress for the info on the Aptera.
Accelerated Composites, a San Diego, California-area startup, has designed a two-seat, three-wheel parallel hybrid—the Aptera—to achieve up to 330 MPG and sell for less than $20,000. [...]
The production powertrain will consist of a 12 hp (9 kW) diesel engine with a 25 hp (19 kW) permanent magnet DC motor. (Accelerated Composites is designing the prototype with a gasoline engine for cost.) The electric motor is coupled through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT); when the engine is off the car can run on the electric motor alone. [...]
The Aptera weighs 850 lbs and is made almost entirely of lightweight composites, based on Accelerated Composites’ Panelized Automated Composite Construction (PAC2) process. It accelerates from 0–60 mph in 11 seconds, and has a top speed of 95 mph.
::Accelerated Composites, ::A 330 mpg Car For Everyone (pdf)