Electrifying News

September 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm | Posted in Economoney, Technology, Transportation | Leave a comment

There are lots of articles about new automotive technology floating around – from cars that run on water, to odd hybrids. Great ideas but nothing that will actually change anything enough to make a difference. The cover of the latest Wired magazine seemed at first glance to be yet another such story.

Driven tells the story of Shai Agassi’s journey from SAP into a company called Better Place. The goal is quite simply to completely change the transportation infrastructure of the world, from oil to electricity. He clearly saw that making a few electric cars was not going to cut it. There needed to be a complete infrastructure so people could charge up easily, swap batteries for a quick recharge, and save money doing it.

His vision was quite comprehensive and practical. But was it another pie in the sky? To create an entire infrastructure would need buy-in from large scale players, like the auto industry and government. Most remarkably, he’s got it. Israel and Denmark are on board, along with Renault. They’re building a beta system, complete with “AutOS”: “The system serves as energy monitor, GPS unit, help center, and personal assistant, packed into an onboard PC that will also hold cellular and Wi-Fi chips.”

And the cars are no flakes or downgrades.

Notable however is that the US is resistant. As Al Gore noted in An Inconvenient Truth, while the US is proud of it’s cars, they have actually fallen behind many other countries. Stories like the film Who Killed the Electric Car document how they have even back-pedaled on successful initiatives.

The article is well worth the read, if even in seeing how a vision can get built. This will be a story to follow.

David

Related articles can be found here.

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