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Paul Perrone of Neil Young's Linc Volt Team on Folk & Beyond

Paul Perrone of Perrone Robotics
Repowering The American Dream
A Folk & Beyond Special Feature with Aer Stephen
Thursday, August 13, 2009, 6:00 PM

LincVolt Linc Volt Vision

“Our goal is to inspire a generation by creating a clean automobile propulsion technology that serves the needs of the 21st Century and delivers performance that is a reflection of the driver's spirit. By creating this new power technology we hope to reduce the demand for petro-fuels enough to eliminate the need for war over energy supplies, thereby enhancing the security of the USA and other nations throughout the world. We want to build a zero emissions automobile that eliminates roadside re-fueling entirely, a safe powerful automobile that is comfortable and economic on both long trips and the commute to work, an automobile that can generate power to the home when it is parked, potentially creating an income stream for the owner.”

Neil Young

When Neil Young was noticed watching Charlottesville’s Rick Olivarez Trio while dining at the C & O back in March, the question begged…… what is he doing here? No show, just the bus parked outside the Omni for a three day stay. What brings the man to Charlottesville? The reason was the Linc Volt, and a vist to Perrone Robotics for some software updates. Paul Perrone, founder and CEO, joined the Linc Volt Team after the serendipitous meeting with the rocker at the 2008 JavaOne Conference. Both were attending as speakers during keynote presentations. Neil Young was attending to introduce the prototype of the upcoming Archives that would be blazing new frontiers and made with Blu-ray discs, and how the technology powered by Java had helped make it possible for him to finally be happy enough with a format to complete the long awaited project. Paul Perrone, a regular player in the JavaOne games, entered the stage being followed by his autonomous car, Tommy Jr,. Paul’s robotics’genius is regularly awarded by JavaOne with the coveted Duke’s Choice Award - an honor which he has been awarded several times.


Neil Young had another project in the fire. Paul Perrone was just the man to tame the ghosts in the machine, and joined the Linc Volt Team as the software guru. The challenge to achieve 100 miles to the gallon for this 1959 Lincoln Continental Mk IV, the car of American dreams of old, with a new series-hybrid system to run on hydrous ethanol and electricity was a perfect fit for Paul. Perrone designs the sensors and the fusing of sensor data together into a unified, touch-screen control panel for the Linc Volt. The 2009 JavaOne Conference had Paul appearing with the Linc Volt Team, the “Motorhead Mesiah” Jonathan Goodwin (Chief Engineer, H-Line Conversions) and Larry Johnson (Producer - Shakey Pictures), and being awarded a Lifetime Achievement Duke’s Choice Award. Larry Johnson is filming the journey to produce a future Neil Young Documentary Movie. The conversation for this feature with Paul is peppered with songs from one of Neil Young’s 2009 releases, Fork In The Road - songs inspired by the Linc Volt adventure.

- by host: Aer Stephen -

LincVolt Crew (from left) Father of Java technology, Sun Microsystems' James Gosling, Johnathan Goodwin, Larry Johnson, and Paul Perrone

Some Linc Volt info:

A classic Lincoln becomes the framework for a radical re-think in hybrid design technology. Young says he wanted to do it with a real car, not some plastic pile of junk, and to do it in style. So he chose his favorite: the 1959 Lincoln. The car’s build and tinker phase was only five short months and it is now on the road, cruising America. The backbone of the car is a 150kW motor, a bank of lithium-ion batteries, and a small generator capable of running on cooking grease, biodiesel, vegetable oil, kerosene, or any combination of these. “It will even run on unleaded if you really want to,” Young laughs. (note: after several transitions, including the above and compressed natural gas, the fuel now being used is hydrous ethanol, and a process that will be creating/converting hydrogen on board). According to the project’s website, on which you can view the car’s current activity (power levels, whether the generator is running, speed, altitude, and more), the Linc Volt outperforms the Chevy Volt and the Chrysler series hybrids in miles per gallon and delivers more power than all of them too. The car’s chief designer is the car conversion legend Johnathan Goodwin of H-Line Conversions. In an interview, Goodwin says the greatest challenge was the five thousand pound weight of the car and making it move without a lot of power waste or a sluggish feel. Neil Young wanted a classic car that gets 100mpg and drives like a smooth dream. He also wanted it to be primarily electric, but to have a very long range, which meant a fuel source. That fuel source, he insisted, could not be gasoline and ideally would be a multitude of readily-available fuels. Both men came together and have achieved their wishes. After multiple hangups, a few false-starts, and a lot of work, the team Young and Goodwin put together now has a working model. “I consider this to be the prototype, running Generator 3.0,” Young says proudly in a YouTube video. “The new generator will be version 4.0 and by 4.5, we should have it perfect.” The Linc Volt website also points out, in its blog, that the car was designed and built without any government subsidies. Unlike the $25 billion the American car industry has received as a so-called “starter package” to retool and get on board with the non-petrol revolution taking place today. A movie about the transformation of the classic Lincoln to the new and improved Linc Volt is underway, having filmed during planning and construction. Young hopes to release that next year.

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