Hybrids, Eat Your Hearts Out: It’s a Wooden Car

Talk about a “green” car. Dutch artist Joost Conijn has built an automobile not only made largely of wood (with a 1974 Citroën DS frame), but it also runs by burning wood! (This, of course, begs the question of whether, if push came to shove, he would tear off a door and burn it to power the car.) Wood is inserted into the oven in the rear of the car, where it’s converted into “wood gas,” a combustable fuel that powers the (non-wood) engine at the front of the vehicle. Conijn used the car in a two-month trip through the rural regions of several countries in Europe — Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldavia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Italy, France, and the Netherlands — which he filmed for a documentary called simply Wood Car.

As it turns out, wood gas cars were the status quo in Europe during World War II, when gasoline was in short supply, and some are even used today (though most are not actually made of wood). They technically can run on any organic material — such as coal or peat — but wood is the most efficient fuel source. Mileage varies by car, but wood gas cars reportedly require anywhere from about 60 to 100-plus pounds of wood to travel around 60 miles. Of course, this makes them somewhat impractical, even with the environmental benefit of wood over gasoline. (although the impact might actually be worse if too many trees need to be cut down to power the cars). So, it doesn’t look like wood gas cars will be sweeping the nation any time soon, but there may still be a demand for wooden cars, especially if they look like this:

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