AC induction motor. It also has a 100-mile range at 60 mph, although the company notes that "making frequent use of the performance capability of the car can drop the range to 50 miles."

Key to broadening the appeal of electric vehicles is making it easy for drivers to charge their cars batteries, the company says. AC Propulsions "reductive charger" allows owners to use the existing electric power infrastructure to recharge the tZero. Motorists can plug into any existing outlet, from common 110V/15A household sockets, to existing electric-vehicle conductive wall boxes, to 240V/80A commercial welding plugs. At its maximum power rating, the reductive charger provides a full charge in just one hour.

While that zero-to-60 acceleration is impressive, the tZero really smokes when it accelerates from 30 mph to 50 mph -- which takes a mere 1.4 seconds. This sort of performance wont come cheap, though. Initial plans call for the car to be ready for delivery in 2002, and the sticker may indeed shock some people: The car will sell for $80,000, plus tax.

E-VILLAGE PROMOTES TELECOMMUTING AND TECHNOLOGY

FRESNO, Calif. -- A diverse team of experts is designing an electronic village as part of a master-planned community being built in the heart of the Central Valley.

The premise of the e-village is to create a community for telecommuters and their families. Representatives from the California State University at Fresno, Chawanakee School District, Edison Utility Services, Sierra Foothills Public Utilities District, Caltrans, Nortel Networks and the Property Development Group are working together on the project.

CSU Fresno is applying for a grant from Caltrans to create a definition of a telecommuter village. The university also will study how a telecommuting community affects road congestion and traffic trips, said Tom Wielicki, a CSUF professor of information systems.

In addition, the university will use the e-village as a pilot to test online delivery of CSUF courses, he said. Planners want to build a community-learning center that will provide coursework from the preschool level to the university level.

While the learning center and the e-villages attention to telecommuters are both beneficial, Wielicki believes other considerations may be more important.

"If I were to describe how important the e-village is for the overall lifestyle and economy of the 21st century, I would say the concept of telecommuting -- making location irrelevant to what you do -- is going to revolutionize our lives, much more than the Internet and all the dot-coms put together," he said. "This will change the lifestyle of people in that work isnt going to be where you go. Its going to be what you do, regardless of where you are. E-village is a vehicle that will make it possible, more than all of the telecommuting programs weve had in this country."

The task of wiring the village will fall to Nortel, which will design, install and support a high-speed voice, video and data network for an initial 500 housing units.

UK GOVT. GIVES AWAY 12,000 PCs

LONDON -- The British government launched in mid-March a 10-million pound plan (US$15 million) to give away 12,000 computers and peripherals to low-income households.

The giveaway builds on an "alpha pilot" project launched last year in the Kensington area of Liverpool, in which several hundred families were offered a refurbished computer, printer and modem free of charge. The project, operated under the auspices of the governments Wired Up Communities program, aims to tackle the digital divide and will be paralleled by an initiative to give free PCs to needy schools.

Citing research showing that professionals are three times more likely to use the Internet than those from semi-skilled or unskilled family backgrounds, Michael Wills, the governments learning and technology minister, said the gap between these citizens must be narrowed if Britain is to create a fair and prosperous society.

The PC giveaway is not confined to inner-city areas; it also includes rural regions where low-income citizens need access to the Web.

Computer distribution under the program will include Newham in east London, 750 households and a primary school; Framlingham in Suffolk, 1,500 homes and a school; east Manchester, 4,500 homes and several schools; Blackburn, 2,500 homes and five schools; Alston in Cumbria, 1,200 homes, isolated farms and three schools; and Brampton-upon-Dearne in South Yorkshire, 1,500 households and laptops for 265 primary school children.

Wills said the government wants to avoid the development of a technology underclass. "That is why we are piloting innovative ways of getting technology to the most deprived sectors of society," he said. -- Newsbytes