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Don't crash into Sun CTO's car

Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Scott McNealy, a Detroit-area native and the son of the vice chairman of American Motors, is prone to car industry analogies, so vehicles assume more importance than is usual for Silicon Valley companies populated with Porsches and BMWs. So it might come as a surprise that the server and software company's chief technology officer drives a lowly Honda Civic.

Well, OK, maybe not a run-of-the-mill Civic. Greg Papadopoulos drives a model fueled by compressed natural gas, he said at a conference Tuesday devoted to wrangling with computing industry's electrical power problems.

"I have a CNG car now, which is a lot of fun," Papadopoulos told the audience. "I go to PG&E. They have great refill stations. You have to go through training to make sure you don't blow yourself up when you fill the car."

The natural gas is stored at a pressure of 3,000 pounds per square inch in a tank in the trunk of his Honda Civic GX. "Don't run into me," he joked.

He drives it in part because he has an image to maintain as CTO of a company concerned with energy efficiency, he said in a later interview. Even though it's a no-frills 100-horsepower fleet vehicle that lacks the amenities of his BMW M3, Papadopoulos asserts he has a gas driving it.