Tag Archives: Electric car

Driving to a better place

I read about Shai Agassi’s plans for electric cars in Wired last summer and while it is high profile, with big name partners including Nissan Renault, I just wondered whether it was another software millionaire playing with cars (see Tesla as exhibit A). His plans are set out in more detail at betterplace.com , including a high minded vision:

  • A world living free from oil.
  • A planet healing and thriving.
  • And our environment and economy brought back into balance with each other.

The video of his speech is found on TED and it is worth watching for the undoubted enthusiasm – oil free nations such as Israel and Denmark by 2020 is the dream – I am still just a bit cynical (surprise). Key aims are affordable and convenient, no new science, using existing battery tech. Charging points everywhere so you can always charge and easy battery swaps, like gas stations.  All good in theory…

What is interesting is the willingness to go with an open source, but standards based infrastructure approach. A lot of the solutions being supported by programmes such as the UK’s Technology Strategy Board  Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Project will play into the hands of monopoly suppliers.

BTW Wired are launching a new UK print version this month – how brave is that? I remember the short lived Wired UK from 1995, but then I was the only subscriber 🙂

Eco transport – before the crash

Ah, yes, time for the reviews of the year, and in our specialist area how does transport – general, green, any mode – fare in the analysis, especially in the economic context where eco innovation is:

  1. Our saviour, or
  2. Too expensive

The US transport top ten trends from Inhabitat includes the death of the SUV, green cars saving the industry, high performance sports cars saving the planet , (pedal) bikes are cool, etc. The view from over there suggests some naivety about what we achieve in Europe, however. Conclusions for 09: more mass transit and greener cars – thanks, I could have guessed that. Although for mainstream US of A that may be still too radical.

And imagine my disappointment when the electric  GM Chevrolet Volt concept car of 2007:

became the boring pre production car shown in 2008 (first deliveries in 2010, kids):

I was not the only one to be disappointed

But before I pour self righteous scorn on my brothers across the sea what have we identified as worthy of mention in the UK and Europe? What Car votes a turbo diesel Ford Focus as its green car of 2008 and Toyota for its technology. The Eden Project and the Co-op sponsored the sexy green car show in summer 2008. ..and er, that’s it, apart from a few comments on the “fuel crisis” in the review of the year in mags such as New Scientist.

PS thanks to Oxtran to alerting me to “Traffic Jam”, the review of the last 10 years of sustainable transport  – which ended up on my xmas shopping list (sad but true).

Who Killed The Electric Car Movie?

Although it came out in 2006 I have just seen “Who Killed The Electric Car” on DVD, which sets out to tell the tale of those few strange years when GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota “tried” to comply with the strict pollution rules (Zero Vehicle Emissions Mandate) being enacted by the State of California CARB (pre Arnie in the 1990s). The story may not be well known over here, particularly the EV1, although we did see Ford trying the Think concept in 2001 in Britain, which only lasted a year (now the UK original website has been pulled -http://www.thinkmobility.com/ but the new norwegian version suggests a revival).

Now its down to the EV1 fan club to keep the memory of the US experiment alive.

 GMs excuse is here – no, not sure I believe it either.

The sub text, particularly the (Bush) message that technology will be the answer and the backing given to fuel cell vehicles, is even more telling a couple of years later…

Is it me being paranoid or did the film disappear quickly off the radar because its an esoteric interest or because big advertisers didn’t want it to be seen on TV – I think its not been on terrestial TV in the UK, yet, for example, when a lot of 2006 movies have been – and its hardly minority viewing if docs by Al Gore, Michael Moore & Morgan Spurlock get aired?

Great voiceover by Martin Sheen, BTW.

So message to all of the petrolheads out there – that means you Dave – time to watch this movie.