[Video] Interview on Electric Cars with Shai Agassi - 'Time for Big Bets' and Disruptive Business Models

November 11 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2016   Rating: 2

Last week at the OReilly Web 2.0 Summit Tim O’Reilly interviewed Shai Agassi, CEO of electric car network startup Better Place.

This [30 minute] interview reflects a very different way of thinking about the future based on the potent combination of new technology platforms and disruptive business models.

The simplest translation of Shai Agassi’s disruptive vision ?
We should buy the car, but not the battery or fuel cell. Remove the cost and risk of owning energy storage systems out of the consumer equation. Instead consumers would subscribe to an energy infrastructure provider and ‘pay per mile’ (e.g. mobile phone minutes plan). They could refill at a local electric recharge station, or pull up to a station to ‘swap out’ an old battery (or depleted solid block of hydrogen) for a new container. Agassi believes this new business model could lower the barriers that prevent us from leaping beyond the era of the combustion engine.

How do we do it? Big bets, major infrastructure investments and new business models.

Why is this important to the future of energy?

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What powers the car of tomorrow? Batteries or Hydrogen fuel cells? [Hint: Both]

November 17 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

Just a short post to clear up a common mistake made by the media on the future of electric cars:

We do not have to choose between ‘electric’ versus ‘hydrogen’ cars. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles. The only alternative to the combustion engine is an electric motor. The question is – what should power that electric motor? Batteries or fuel cells? Why not both?

Good News: Electric vehicles are coming!
The good news is that stories on electric vehicles are popping up all over the web. Bloggers and mainstream media outlets are covering announcements for production volumes of electric vehicles that are coming from every corner of the world. Sooner or later a leader will step up a confirm our plans to kill the combustion engine-’.

Bad news: People confuse electric motors for energy storage devices
The bad news is that while trying to describe ‘the future’ most bloggers and journalist fall back on merely describing a snapshot view of today. Then they extrapolate it forward assuming the past will dictate the future. They see battery powered electric cars and assume this is the future.

Why not?
Cars are not iPods, and batteries alone cannot carry the auto industry forward. While there is no doubt that the first generation of electric vehicles are going to be built around advanced lithium ion batteries, next generation electric vehicles (circa 2015-2025) are likely to integrate three different energy storage systems- batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors.

So while bloggers and journalists often describe uncertainty about the direction of the auto industry by asking: Is the future car powered by a battery or fuel cell? – the answer is both.

Hydrogen stored as a solid, then converted in a fuel cell produces electricity.
Hydrogen fuel cell cars are electric vehicles.
A ‘hydrogen economy’ is an economy driven by electricity. H2 is just the chemical storage system.

Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com
Editor, Garry Golden 6 minute Interview PRI’s nationally syndicated The Takeaway

Related posts on the future of electric vehicles- including:

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MINI Brings Augmented Reality Into Print Ads

December 10 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

In the video above you are seeing the making of an augmented reality print ad.  If you print out the PDF file here, go the their website here and launch your webcam, a highly-detailed MINI Cabrio should appear on the page which you can manipulate and zoom by rotating the ad.  You'll need to download 3D plugins for the program to work which is daunting enough, but persevere and you'll get a 3D car on your paper.

You may have read a past article we did on augmented reality pop-up books for kids where people were working towards creating a commercially viable product involving augmented reality.  Although they said development would be years away, seems like MINI has gone ahead and shortened the deadline. There have even been cases where cellphones have been used to display augmented reality projections.

Using print ads and a webcam is just the first step, next year we'll be seeing goggles which will make the whole experience that much more exciting.

Accelerating the Auto Industry's Convergence with Energy & Software

December 18 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

Combustion Engine Cars

The auto industry is going through a long painful transition that will take decades to unfold.  

Why be optimistic about the future?

Because the two most profound industry shifts are wonderful platforms for growth and changing the world.

The Auto Industry is converging with the world of energy storage and software.

While we cannot ignore the short term pains, we should not lose sight of the opportunities ahead.

First, the pain.  In the past three days: Toyota has delayed plans to build a Prius factory in Missiissipi, GM said that the Volt will not have its own factory as it taps existing plants, and Norway's darling electric car maker struggling to stay alive.  Meanwhile suppliers and car dealerships are close to failing all over world.

What went wrong?
Everyone has their own reasons for why automakers are failing: Labor costs, oil, management, credit markets, et al. All have valid points. And, obviously there are multiple problems, not one issue.

But I have a very different theory and set of presriptions.

The problem isn't oil, it's the combustion engine and its legacy liabilties of intensive manufacturing, limited design and obsession with 'new car' sales paradigm.

Our great opportunity?
The problem is based on how we build and sell cars, not how we fuel them.  So let's focus on the platform of a post-combustion engine era of mobility.

How do we get there? You cannot summon the future on demand with band-aid solutions, you must enable it and wait for it to change.

Our priority should be to enable a multi-decade long transition that changes how cars are bought, sold, driven and upgraded.

21st Century Vehicles: Focus on Wheel-based Electric Motors, Energy Storage and Software...

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US battery companies form coalition for electric vehicles, playing catch up to Asia

December 19 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2016   Rating: 2

electric car plug in stupid

American Industrial leaders might be ready to reinvest in the country's industrial capacity to innovate and manufacture components needed to reinvent the energy and auto industries.

The keys to electric vehicles are electric motors, energy storage systems (batteries, fuel cells and capacitors) and drive by wire systems. 

The US has now formed a new coalition to pursue the biggest prize: Energy Storage!

Pride or Profits?
US playing catch up with Asian
What if electric cars didn't bring America and Europe 'energy independence'?  The public relations failure of trading 'foreign oil for foreign batteries', has motivated US business leaders to form a coalition to seek federal funding for securing a domestic battery industry.  

The Chicago-baesd National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacture will include 14 companies and the US DOE's Argonne National Laboratory. 'The Alliance' will be modeled around Sematech which helped the U.S. semiconductor indutsry play catch up to Asian manufacturers in the late 1980s

The founding members of the Alliance include 3M, Johnson Controls, ActaCell, All Cell Technologies, Altair Nanotechnologies, Dontech Global, EaglePicher Corporation, EnerSys, Envia Systems, FMC, MicroSun Technologies, Mobius Power, SiLyte, Superior Graphite, and Townsend Advanced Energy.

Short term vs Long view of 'Electric'
We have been writing for several months about the globalization of electric vehicle industry, and Asia's early lead in the first energy storage device lithium ion batteries. 

We have also suggest that the 'car is not an iPod', and that 'pluggin in' battery systems are not the default future of electric vehicles.  It is not certain that batteries can solve the energy storage problem.

Ask a lawyer or engineer if there is something wrong with this plug in picture!

Instead, next generation vehicles will integrate batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, and capacitors.   But industry leaders, politicians and the public seem only ready to take one step at a time, and for now talk is focused on first generation storage of batteries. So we will crawl instead of leap into the future.

Related posts on the future of electric vehicles

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US Fuel Cell Council proposes $1.2 billion to support Smart Grid & Electric Vehicles

January 02 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2012   Rating: 2

Fuel cell

The US Fuel Cell Council is now lobbying Congress for more than a billion dollar investment to accelerate America's manufacturing position around this important piece of the future energy sector.

Energy Storage - Sprint vs Marthon
Even though Asia appears to have won the sprint towards next generation 'batteries', the US could regain its position in energy storage and conversion around the marathon race towards fuel cells.

Fuel cells convert chemical energy (e.g. hydrogen, methanol, natural gas) into electricity.  They can be used for stationary power to reinforce the electrical grid with onsite generation, or to power portable devices and electric vehicles.

Fuel cells are not Dead, just Misunderstood
There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty and skepticism towards fuel cells among eco and energy bloggers.  The technology fell victim to the 'Hype Cycle' after the Dotcom Bust in 2000, but the energy conversion platform has been making steady progress in recent years. Their long term advantages in terms of cost per kilowatt, performance durability, scalable modular manufacturing are still complelling reasons to support fuel cells as alternatives to batteries and combustion engines.

USFCC's Recommendations:
Now, the USFCC believes the invesment could create an estimated 24,000 jobs and is recommending funds for: Deploying Fuel Cells ($100 Million), Supporting a Fueling Infrastructure ($65 million), improving Federal Fuel Cell Investment Tax Incentives, expanding applied Learning Demonstrations ($375 Million) building foundation for American Manufacturing Capacity ($100 Million), accelerating Research in Partnership with Industry ($350 Million), investing in Fuel Cell Transit ($180 Million) and including Fuel Cells in President-Elect Obama‘s Energy Initiative.

Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

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Wall Street Journal confirms our Case for Electric Cars: A Lower Barrier to Manufacturing

January 12 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2010   Rating: 2

BYD

The Wall Street Journal has finally reported on the real driver of change around the electrification of the world's auto fleet: Manufacturing.

Reframing the Problem
Our insights into the crossroads of energy and the future of the auto industry have reflected a very unique tone when compared to all major media outlets and bloggers.

We have been alone in pushing a few disruptive ideas about the future of energy and the auto industry:

Kill the Combustion Engine
While others focused on the problem of oil, we said it was the manufacturing legacy of the combustion engine. We have argued that it's how you build the car, not fuel it that matters most.

Skateboard chassis is Platform of the Future

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iPhone App Starts Car

November 25 2009 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2009   Rating: 2

Crap...did I lock the car?

No worries.  With the Viper SmartStart you can not only remotely lock and unlock your car but also start it and adjust the climate control.  From anywhere.

 

 

Another step forward in the smartphone as remote control for life.

 

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GM picks Korean LG Chem Unit to supply Volt batteries, bad news for startup A123 Systems

October 23 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2011   Rating: 1

Energy storage is the key to accelerating the era of electric vehicles powered by a combination of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors. Of these three, batteries are expected to be the primary energy storage device for the first generation of commercial electric vehicles like the GM Volt.

Big Auto turns to Big Chem
According to a Reuters report General Motors has selected Compact Power Inc a Detroit-area based unit of South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd to supply lithium-ion batteries for its Chevrolet Volt which the company expects to produce 10,000 vehicles in 2011 before scaling up.

The decision supports GM’s intentions. of electrifying its transportation fleet and trying to shed the manufacturing and design liabilities of the combustion engine. Electric cars are coming, but energy storage remains our greatest challenge!

The Future of Energy Storage Startups
Many energy pundits had hoped that General Motors might go with new nanostructured lithium ion batteries from start up A123 Systems. That news would have been welcomed by cleantech energy investors hoping that at least one start up might break into the energy storage sector. But now it appears GM has gone to a bigger, more established chemical company and industrial battery maker. This is a harsh reminder to startups that ‘scaling’ matters and incumbents are likely to hold that advantage.

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The Race for the Electric Car is very confusing! [Video]

October 25 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2012   Rating: 1

Electric cars are coming, but most people are still confused about how easy it will be to transform the world’s largest industries – transportation and energy. And there is still much debate over what benefits we can expect beyond the hype.

When thinking about the future, we tend to overestimate (and hype) the rate and impact of change in the short-term, but underestimate its transformational power over the longer term. Electric cars powered by a combination of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors are no exception.

In an effort to clear up the confusion, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired ‘The Race for the Electric Car’ with correspondent Lesley Stahl surfacing some of the more complicated issues surrounding the emergence of electric vehicles. [12 min video]


In the weeks ahead we will look at the future of the electric car and explore core assumptions of how life might be different beyond the hype.

What if electric cars do not end our dependency on fossil fuels?

What if electric cars make nations even more dependent on each other? (e.g. Chinese batteries for US/Euro cars)

Related posts:
Detroit to World-Nobody Killed the Electric Car
GM picks Korean battery company for Volt
Warren Buffet invests in Chinese battery maker
Could China launch age of electric vehicles?
India’s Tata to produce electric cars for Europeans
France to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure

Eye On The Prize: $10 Mil for Car that Does 3,000 Miles per Fill-up

October 27 2008 / by Will / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

Cross posted from Where There’s A William (with edits) by Will Brown.

I would like a concensus, should I submit this to the X-Prize Foundation for official consideration?

The Singularity Summit was held this past weekend. X-Prize Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis confirmed that there is something in the works leading to what he termed a Singularity University, prompting Alvis Brigis to ask:

“Might this be a first step toward a Singularity X-Prize? :) What do you think a “Singularity University” might consist of?”

I address these questions directly in comments, but all of the foregoing inspires me to suggest a future X-Prize for the good doctor’s consideration: The Island Hop Challenge.

Here are the terms:

A $10 million prize to the first vehicle that can travel from Staten Island in New York to Coronado Island in California, within a six day period and using only the fuel carried by the vehicle at the start of the challenge (plug-in recharge of electric vehicles is forbidden, but an on-board mechanism to re-fill the internal fuel storage is permitted if such is powered from the vehicles on-board power system).

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McKinsey Report: China could lead the world in Electric Vehicles within 20 years

October 30 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: Beyond   Rating: 1

A recent McKinsey & Co publication titled “China Charges Up” believes that China should expand its capacity to build electric vehicles in the next two decades to avoid issues related to energy security and emissions.

Reuters provides highlights from the publication- ‘within twenty years China could create a world-leading industry and a domestic market alone worth up to US$219.4 billion, even if less than a third of drivers go electric.’ Not only is it plausible that China could emerge as a leader in this new industry, the report suggests is it the ‘Realistic Choice’ given expected constraints of oil supplies and carbon emission regulations.

Could rhetoric of ‘Independence’ fade, as Electric Cars go global?
We have written on several occasions (below) about how electric vehicles, based on the integration of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors, are quickly becoming a globally integrated industry.

McKinsey does not need a crystal ball to conclude develop a forecast that China could tap its manufacturing might to lead the world in development of low-cost energy storage systems needed to transform the auto industry.

China’s real opportunity- Killing the combustion engine?
The world’s strategic opportunity is not to move beyond oil, but to kill the combustion engine platform which makes oil’s monopoly possible. Shifting to electric motors creates opportunities for ‘all’ energy inputs to create transportation fuels via electricity and hydrogen. (e.g. Today, you cannot put solar electricity into a combustion engine that uses liquid fuels) Domestic energy resources are only valuable to the transportation sector in a post-combustion engine and liquid fuel era.

Now we will see if this McKinsey & Co report brings a new way of thinking to a larger conversation dominated by the rhetoric of ‘energy independence’ that is not aligned with the reality of our global economy. The real upside of global economic interdependence might be the accelerated development of electric vehicles and industrial power provide by China.

Related posts from The Energy Roadmap.com
Detroit to World, Nobody has killed the Electric Car
GM plans to kill Combustion Engine
Electric vehicle industry going global as Asia invests in Energy storage
Hyundai releasing fuel cell car in 2012
India to produce electric cars for Europe
Warren Buffet invests in Chinese battery & electric car maker

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