Magnets very rarely come up in serious renewable energy discussions. But why? It doesn’t get more zero-emission than that! At least that’s the thought behind car designer Harsha Vardhan’s new Transporter TW: an electric vehicle propelled by magnetic fields.

The single-passenger car is technically electric — just like the Tesla Roadster or the impending Chevy Volt — but its electric engine drives magnetic fields instead of tires. Now why would that be advantageous — besides looking exactly as futuristic as people in the 80s thought things would? Apparently, according to Vardhan, the resulting ride would be whisper-quiet, incredibly smooth, and of course completely green.

The two gigantic wheels pictured above are actually filled with superconducting fluid, generating constantly-shifting magnetic fields that work to turn the wheels. They rotate around a small back-entry cockpit, complete with swivel chair and steering mechanism that looks like you could jump to hyperspeed at any moment.

A lot of people grumble when they see concept cars like this, thinking they’re a waste of time when there’s no way they’ll ever hit the road. But it seems like magnetic technology could be adapted to further electric vehicle innovations that have a chance of making it to market — clever Star Wars jokes aside.

[Image courtesy of Ecofriend. Click the link to see more.]