The LincVolt is one of Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young's pet projects, started years ago.

It's a 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV convertible that a team of smart people Young assembled converted to a plug-in electric hybrid. Young is using the LincVolt and his notoriety to raise awareness about what he perceives as dangers the world faces if alternative fuels aren't adopted more widely.

The project has had its fits and starts, including a fire in 2010 caused by a faulty charging system that Young said "burned it to the ground." But after several years of intense design, sweat labor and a lot of money, the boat is roadworthy.

Earlier this month, the LincVolt was on display at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show, an automotive aftermarket event held annually in Las Vegas.

Young presented a keynote address, Repowering the American Dream, extolling the virtues of plug-ins and the need to get off fossil fuels. He challenged American car manufacturers to go electric, and tipped his Panama hat to all the people and companies who played a part in transforming his Lincoln from gas-guzzler to green lightning bolt.

On the list of contributors to the regeneration of the LincVolt is UQM Technologies Inc. in Longmont. The electric-motor manufacturer's PowerPhase motor and controller system is part of the system that powers the 2.5-ton LincVolt down the road.

"We didn't give up any speed," said Young at the show. "This car goes like a bat out of hell. … It cruises at 80 miles per hour. It's faster than any other car its size."

Over the years, Young has amassed a sizeable collection of big-finned gas-guzzlers.

"I like the way they look, and I like the way they sound, and I like their speed, but I don't like their CO2," he said.

So, in his eccentric way, Young is on the electric-car bandwagon. He admits that electric cars are costly. He said $10,000 worth of batteries power the LincVolt, but he hopes to see the day when his grandchildren can drive an affordable electric car.

"We are delighted that Neil Young once again chose UQM for the electric motor and controller for this second-generation LincVolt," said Eric Ridenour, UQM's president and chief executive. "We commend him for using his considerable fame to reach an extremely diverse audience with positive messages about the benefits of vehicle electrification."

Aside from the LincVolt sideshow, UQM has been supplying systems for more practical efforts. Its systems are used in Audi A1 e-tron series plug-in hybrid, Hino all-electric city buses, Proterra all-electric composite transit buses, Boulder EV all-electric delivery vans, Electric Vehicles International all-electric medium-duty trucks and delivery vans and Zenith Motors all-electric shuttle vans.

Reports indicate that Young's newest ride can go up to 50 miles on electric power when fully charged; with a full tank of gas, the car can go a reported 400 miles with both power sources for an estimated 24 miles per gallon.

I'd say Young is rockin' in the free world.

Doug Storum can be reached at 303-630-1959 or