And it really is a carriage: He’s taken a former Amish buggy and built solar panels into the roof to feed batteries that power an electric motor capable of whipping it along at 14 mph, flat out. The buggy has been lengthened and widened and now, measuring 10 feet long and 61/2 feet wide, will hold six passengers in comfort in its green crushed velvet interior.
“No, that’s original, that’s how the Amish buggies are,” explains Yoder as a visitor registers surprise that the seemingly spartan Amish clip-clop around in such comfort. “This is a real Amish buggy.”
Except for that solar-fed 1 horsepower motor replacing the one live horse power critter that was intended to be pulling things up front, of course. Yoder has also added cruise control and a GPS system just in case his natural wanderlust takes him too far from home (the buggy has a range of up to 50 miles.)
And then we’re off on a test spin, which is a remarkably pleasurable experience on a warm, sunny day that’s yielding plenty of juice for the rechargeable batteries. With no equine rear quarters obstructing the view up front and the front window popped out for natural air conditioning, the vista is wide and the breeze is sweet as Yoder deftly steers with a kind of tiller system he dreamed up to replace the reins.
“Everybody is like, ‘Whoa,’ when they see this,” says Yoder’s wife, Pat. “And, oh yeah, everybody wants a ride. Everybody.”
Which includes the ever-curious Amish. The Yoders like to spend part of the winter in Florida, and they live in an area close by Amish families who have joined them to chase the shouting wind along in fun horseless carriage excursions. Pat Yoder even entertains ideas that her husband’s invention could be the perfect retirement vehicle for older Amish who don’t have the physical resources to corral live horses anymore for their transport needs.
“I guess it’s all up to the Amish bishops, if they would allow it or not,” says Pat Yoder. “But a solar-powered buggy could be a nice alternative for them.”<< previous 1 2 3 next >>