Articles taggés avec ‘electric car

Electric cars and lateral thinking

Lundi 20 avril 2009

Shai Agassi, a former SAP Products and Technology President and now CEO of an Israeli startup Better Place, has a world-changing ambition: to liberate us from our dependency on oil. Better Place is designing the new electric car. The New York Times article Batteries not included describes the challenges Mr. Agassi is trying to overcome. The moment could not be chosen better: global warming, recent oil crisis, financial crisis leading to difficult times in the traditional automotive industry. And if Mr. Agassi cannot make us switch to clean cars, I don’t know who can.
One of the problems in owing an electric car is the need to recharge its batteries. But in an « aha » moment Mr. Agassi comes up with a paradigm change: « The auto industry’s conceptual error, he says, is in regarding the battery as a built-in component of the car, like a gas tank. Instead, you could think of the battery as more analogous to gas itself — an entity that goes in and out of a car as needed, owned not by the driver but by the company that sells you the fuel. »
If you like reading novels by great Russian authors of the 19th century, you probably know that before the railroads Russia had a vast system of horse-powered coach traveling. Russia being a big country one set of horses was not enough to travel from, say, your main house in St. Petersburg and your summer house somewhere in the country. For this existed a large network of mail stations, where passenger and mail coaches could change their horses, which were state property. The horses were fed, allowed to rest and got to ride the next coach. This system was commonplace in the whole of 19th century Europe and already existed in Roman times, the changing stations known as « mutationes ».
A truly good idea never runs out of batteries.