The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - Turkey Lurkey Killed The Electric Car
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Turkey Lurkey Killed The Electric Car|
I had my heart broken by technology once. The $10 million department that I managed crumbled and fell despite my best efforts, simply because the wonderful things that programmers were creating just weren’t useful enough. So perhaps I’m a little bitter, but I know all too well how things can sound great on paper, and suck in real life.
Want an example? Electronic Cookbooks. They were going to be bigger than normal cookbooks, and the sales people sounded so convincing because they were utterly convinced themselves.
“You can have 10,000 recipes on a single CD-ROM!” they cried, in a day when the word “CD-ROM” was still something mysterious and new, a shiny piece of silver packed with infinite possibilities. “Imagine that! That’s twenty cookbooks, all in one disc!”
And they’d hold up the disc, beaming happily in your direction, just so you got the point.
“That does sound cool,” I said, and indeed it did. Hell, I was the New Media Buyer for Borders Books and Music, which meant that I’d staked my job on these electronic books being as cool as people said. I was buying these new CD-ROM educational books for one of the largest bookstore chains, because we were going to ride the wave of The Future.
“But that’s not all!” they said. “You can search by ingredient for what you want that evening! Do you have eggs, bacon, and some leftover pie crust to work with? You can just put those in – “ They leaned over, clacked some words into the keyboard - “And voila! There’s twenty-seven recipes, all using those ingredients!”
“Awesome,” I said in a hushed tone.
“And,” they continued, “You can filter all the results by calories, or by fat content. When you’re done, you can rank and bookmark the recipes you loved – no more stained index cards in some battered paper tray! It’s all at your fingertips!”
I went away convinced that electronic cookbooks would be our number one seller. As did my boss, and his boss’s boss. It sounded awesome.
They never sold.
Oh, some of them did okay (and they did even better when they tumbled into the bargain bin and went for $5.99), but all of the cool shit that electronic cookbooks did wasn’t a match for what people wanted.
Years later, I was across the hall from the woman who bought cookbooks for Waldenbooks, a sprightly cute blonde who always had thick red books stacked to the ceiling around her. And I asked her about that.
“Oh, people don’t buy books for recipes,” she informed me. “Well, they do, but for most people cookbooks are a way of dreaming. They want big pictures so that you can envision what they look like, and exotic recipes that you haven’t heard before – most of the die-hard cookbook buyers will never use a tenth of the recipes, but they like browsing. It’s like looking through a catalogue of clothing; half the fun’s in the exploration. It’s not the same, clicking.”
“Oh,” I said, crestfallen.
“Plus,” she said, “Most of our business is at Christmas anyway. Most recipe books are bought as gifts. If you’re looking to make actual food, all you really need is The Joy of Cooking; it’s got enough recipes to last just about anyone for a lifetime. Everything after that is just curiosity.”
“What about the ease of electronic cookbooks?” I asked. “Wouldn’t they be handy?”
She frowned. “I don’t have a computer in the kitchen,” she said.
“But you could print them off!”
“And then what? Put the printed recipes in a looseleaf binder? Oh, that’s just ugly,” she frowned. “Plus, there’s something comforting about having the books in your kitchen, ready to pull down – they’re big, you can get stuff on them and keep using them. I have cookbooks that my Mom gave to me, and her notes are in the pages….”
“All right,” I said, dejected. “I get it.”
Years later, after I began to cook myself, I finally understood what she meant. I myself have a laptop I can bring anywhere, and I still buy cookbooks. She was absolutely right; there’s the fun of looking, and the satisfaction of pulling that old James Beard cookbook down to figure out how to make the Peanut Sauce for my classic Thai beef. Printing and scanning and clicking isn’t the same when you’re cooking – half the satisfaction of cooking is tactile, and that’s gone when you’re mousing your way to a calorie-slim life.
In other words, the advantages that electronic cookbooks had to offer were largely illusory. They sound like things you’d want, but in practice? Nobody did. They didn’t fill a need that people were willing to pay money for.
This is relevant because we just watched “Who Killed The Electric Car?” last night.
Who Killed The Electric Car? is mostly an honest documentary, but it’s also misguided. They do tell you the big problem with the electric car, but they also don’t seem to register it as a problem:
The electric car that was marketed could go a scant sixty miles before recharging. The recharging process was somewhere between forty-five minutes and twelve hours.
Now, as Electric Car points out, the average consumer drives about twenty-seven miles a day. That’s half of what the electric car can do, so clearly an electric car is useful and wonderful! But that’s bullshit. An electric car cost about as much as a regular car, but it had a drawback. Yeah, I don’t usually need to go more than sixty miles in a day – but on the days I do, it’s fucking inconvenient.
I just drove to Penguicon and back, which I could not have done in my cool electric car. And that’s not even an emergency – what if I’d had to go get a friend on the other side of the state? What if I wanted to drive to Connecticut to attend my grandfather’s funeral?
My electric car? Useless in those situations.
Plus, the whole “sixty miles” thing would terrify me the entire time. Okay, so I have sixty miles… But I also occasionally have screaming traffic jams. Not often, but it’s bad enough to be caught in one without having your car run out of juice in the middle of one.
Oh, and what happens if I do run out? I can recharge my fuel car in two minutes with a fill-up. The electric car? If I botch it and run dry, then I’m stuck for an hour - assuming I can get to a socket in time. That’s a little disconcerting.
“But you can have two cars!” they cry. “One for the short-hand trips and one for the long trips!” And yes, clearly, purchasing two cars to make up for the deficiencies of one is the way to go. (Plus, I wouldn’t particularly trust the long-trip car I’d left in the garage for the last three months to start up on command when I aroused it from its slumber.)
Sure, there are arguments to be made for families with two cars which do often have a long-term and a beater, but then you run into the whole issue of “Who are you trying to sell to?” These cars are more environmentally friendly (and easier to maintain, with lower repair bills, or so I’m told)…. But in terms of what they actually do, they’re not good enough. (You may, one day, need both cars to drive long distances simultaneously – what then?) One is actually less useful, making it a sacrifice to purchase the electric car.
Sadly, “Inconvenience yourself for the environment!” has never been a strong marketing point. We like little things. We can sort plastics and paper into boxes after we’re done buying the fifteen million excessively-packaged products.
The movie blames the consumers, the car companies, the government, and everyone except the damn batteries. They don’t seem to grok that the “advantages” they’re peddling don’t actually meet the needs of the consumers, just like I didn’t see how electronic cookbooks didn’t quite serve the niche we needed it to.
Of course, the environmentalists also claim the unlikely benefits of Mass Production (“If we make enough electric cars, they’ll be so much cheaper than real cars that it’ll be worth it!”) and super batteries (“This car, which we have not tested in production, goes for three hundred miles!”). And who knows? Maybe they’re right.
But it’s like the Apple Newton. Apple tried like hell to sell their palmtop computer, and the technology wasn’t ready yet. That fucker couldn’t do what you needed to, and all the coolness and the marketing dollars couldn’t move it out the door. There wasn’t a conspiracy to kill the Newton*; it just was too expensive, too big for your pocket, and not able to read what you wrote.
Then the Palm came out. That did it. And when your electric car can run five hundred miles consistently with a backup battery I can stow in the back for emergencies, talk to me.
Until then, nobody killed the electric car but itself.
* - Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that the car companies marketed it poorly (calling it the Impact?), and did strange shit afterwards. But these are also the same companies that can’t get their shit together to battle Japan, and are currently going bankrupt, so I don’t see it as a “conspiracy” so much as “short-sighted executives who don’t understand the first thing about making cars.”
Still, if the electric car was as good as they said it was, I suspect Honda would probably have something to say about it.
There was a market for the electric car, rich people in LA who already owned more than one car and wanted to make a statement.
The arguement could be made that for long hauls you could just rent a gasoline car but what they also do not mention is that the electric car's performance at the end of its 60 miles is not nearly as good as it is at the beginning. Also battery performance drops off in colder weather.
Your are right the technology is such that at this time its more of a novelty/niche market and automobile companies don't make much of their money in niche markets.
As someone who drives more than 60 miles every weekday (and loves taking multi-hundred-mile road trips, often in cold weather), the electric car (with its current restrictions) has never been more than a joke to me.
Of course, you fail to mention another reason why it's a joke: People assume that, just because they cannot see the electric car polluting, that there is no pollution being made. Same goes for those thrice-damned hot-air hand driers in public rest rooms.
Your electric car recharges by plugging it into an electrical socket. That power has to come from someplace -- and odds are, in my part of the country at least, that it comes from burning coal. (Thank you to all of the luddites who killed nuclear power in this country.)
Moving the pollution out of sight is not the same thing as eliminating it.
So then how do you explain the success of recipe sites like allrecipes.com? Is it because you get virtual notes-in-the-margin-from-mom through the review system?
And my two favorite cookbooks have no pictures in them at all... (Joy... and an old church fundraising cookbook).
It's not that there's not a need for such things, but if allrecipes.com cost you $10 a month, would it be nearly as popular? Like much of the net, it works because you can give it away and support it with ads.
Plus, I don't know whether allrecipes.com is actually a success. Some would say that HotS is a success, but we're barely paying for our bandwidth at this point. When it comes to cold hard cash, "popularity" !== "success" (though I suspect that given their Google rank, they're doing fine).
Honda has had something to say about it: backup gasoline engine. Actually, what Honda has had to say about it is "battery backup for gasoline engine".
People may drive an average of 27 miles a day, but how does that break down? In a stereotypical family, do both mom & dad drive 13.5 miles to work? How about the teenage driver? Hell, I drive 27 miles *one way* to work. A 60 mile range means running the risk of not making it home if I went out to lunch, or stopped for groceries. And forget about the part of my job which involves driving to jobsites, which has sometimes added 250 miles to my day.
Another factor - the electric car would go 60 miles. And maybe top out at 60 mph. That's no *fun* to drive. That's where the Tesla Roadster
people have done something right. It's an electric sports car. Sure, the range is only 200 miles, not the 300 which seems mostly standard for most cars, and it's small, but 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. Damn, I want to drive one.
The Tesla still has many of the same problems with batteries. The current batteries will not last ten years. They will start degrading miles and performance by three years, if not sooner. Those batteries run about $10k. That said, I still want one.
The Prius and it's ilk have overcome the range problem, but they still have a battery problem. The batteries are designed to be replaced after seven years. (Outside of the US, there is a battery only switch for the Prius, See Home Power about the prius plus, [about issue 110])
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)|| |
You make a good point. I remember when the electric car was talked about widely in school, and even then I saw the 60 mile battery as a bit of a drawback. My family loved to go on trips, how would we get there?
Not to mention that there are 7 people in my immediate family - those cars could never have fit us, and thus were impractical for large families for multiple reasons.
My family had seven children, for a total of nine. Simple physics tells us that the more weight the car has to pull, the more energy expended... and thus, the shorter the range. The sicty mile estimate was probably a best case scenario, involving 2.3 people in the car, good weather (as soon as you turn on the windshield wipers or any other extras, you're drawing more power and reducing your range), and relatively flat countryside without a lot of traffic or starts and stops.
But no -- it was all the evil car companies.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)|| |
I remember when they used the appeal of "hundreds of recipes at your fingertips!" to market the Apple II back in the 70s.
You didn't have the nice pretty pictures that a CD-ROM would provide you, but there was no shortage of software that could manage your enormous database of recipes handily stored on a 5.25" disk.
Some dreams never die.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC)|| |
Slightly off topic, but I have watched a local place with "revolving restaurants" - Grand Opening, followed by scant business followed by closure, over and over. Someone should tell the people who are marketing this place that it is too hard to get in and out of their too-tiny parking lot and that five easier eating places are within a half mile. If the food were better or cheaper, maybe people would put up with the annoyance. Strangely, none of the potential new owners have asked why all the others failed.
|Date:||April 27th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)|| |
that sounds familiar
there's such a place just around the corner from my house. It's in a shopping complex which has designated spaces for all the units, and only has 5 designated spaces. meanwhile, there are at least 5 other restaurants within the block, all with full parking lots of their own (in three cases, parking lots bigger than the entire shopping strip's lot). and yet, there's a "soon opening" banner hanging on it again... this time it's apparently going to be an Italian place.
Hmmmm, maybe it's time to turn our attention to hydrogen fuel cells...
As long as they wait until they actually work before inundating us with hype and/or guilt trips to make us buy them.
and I have a large collection of cookbooks -- around 200 at last count. We use some of them a lot, a lot of them sometimes, and some as reading material. I agree with the Waldenbooks buyer that people like to look through cookbooks, see what things look like, read the cultural context, etc. (I don't agree with her comment that Joy of Cooking
is all you need; I like Joy
a lot, but it's lousy for Thai or Indian dishes. ;-)
But we also increasingly use Google to search for recipes, because Teh Intarw3b is searchable
, which our cookbook collection isn't. I wish we could OCR all our cookbooks in so we could find what we need even if it isn't in a cookbook we know well. I want the convenience of the Internet, with the specific information and photos of the cookbooks -- and no, CD-ROM versions of them wouldn't give me that, because I want to be able to search our whole library at once.
So the next killer application is a digital camera with OCR capabilities :-). Photograph your cook book page (people know how to use a camera!), and then have it break the page into text and pictures and OCR the text and send the resulting PDF/RTF/whatever via wifi to your home server/laptop ... add a small database application and you're set.
This will also sell to people with car magazines, guitar magazines, newspaper archives and anyone else with old printed material that isn't already online (science fiction fanzines, school yearbooks, old product manuals)
Pardon me, I'm off to make my millions!
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)|| |
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)|| |
|(Link)|The Hype About Hydrogen
is great reading on this. The author's conclusion in a nutshell: exclusively electric cars don't make sense, and fuel cell hydrogen cars don't make sense for a long list of reasons... but plug-in hybrids
The key difference between a stock Toyota Prius and a plug-in hybrid is that a plug-in hybrid can charge its batteries overnight off the electric grid, giving you the first 30-odd miles of the day without burning gasoline. After that, you start burning gasoline. Problem solved, pretty much.
Yes, you're burning whatever your local utility burns to charge the car, but that's cleaner than relying on your gasoline engine. It's also around 1/4 the price. And if you live where a lot of your electricity is from hydro, wind, nuclear, etc., it's a big win.
Toyota isn't producing plug-in hybrids yet, alas, although conversions have been done and there are kits available. I'm not suggesting that's practical for everybody at this point.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)|| |
You're so right, plug-in Hybrids are a great way to start implementing a serious change.
The thing that really made me mad in that movie, though, was the fact that the guy who invented the initial electric car battery either apparently had already invented a battery that solved the limited-mileage problem or was very close (I can't recall and it's been a few months since I've seen it, but there was talk of a 300-mile battery) and GM basically gag-ordered him so he couldn't market it or sell it to anybody else.
It seems to me that GM should have let the owners keep the cars. The people who liked them seemed not to care about the limited mileage - either they didn't NEED to drive more than 60 miles in a day, or they had a contingency plan for that.
After I saw the movie and started clicking around for more electric car info, I saw basically the coolest car ever - a Bradley GT that had been modded to be fully electric and could run, I believe, that same 60 miles on a charge. I don't even drive and I wanted to buy it. (But then, I've been obsessed with the idea of a REAL CAR you can BUILD since I was a kid.)
In the meantime, I have my subway, and when I'm feeling extra energetic, a zero-carbon-footprint option for making my 18-mile-round-trip commute - the good ol' two-wheeler.
... not quite the same idea, but when they were launching the SMART car one of the potential applications would be that every airport would have a lot full of Smart cars, and when you drove your car to the airport to catch a flight, you'd leave yours there and when you arrived at the far end you'd collect one of the waiting ones and continue on your way, and ditto on the way back (though you might not get back the car you first arrived in!) ... of course this contradicted entirely with their Swatch based "make the car look the way you want through pop off interchangeable panels".
But in a Pony Express style, if when your battery car started to fade you could pull into the next rest stop and trade the car (or at least the battery pack) for a fresh one, then that would be sort of ok.
But of course it wouldn't. People get attached to their cars. They don't want strangers driving them. They don't want strangers thrashing the engine and wearing out the brakes. They don't want to swop their brand new battery pack for one that's been recharged 1,000 times and has 4 minutes of storage left. They don't want to swop their car for one that smells of onions, cheese, sweat, baby sick or fake pine tree.
So those ideas were nearly bound to fail.
The only way the Smart car airport thing would work is if you drove *to* the airport in a Smart car that wasn't yours ... so a hire company either drops it off to you, or you leave your car at the hire car company's lot and drive to the airport in the Smart and then continue the rental at the far end. Then it wouldn't matter how the car was treated or who drove it or getting back the same one, as it would just be a standard rental car
"People get attached to their cars. They don't want strangers driving them."
Not all of us mind that. I'm a member of a car club and have been for nearly three years now. I have three cars located in marked parking bays within ten minutes walking distance (one is parked directly opposite my house) and it's rare that they're all out when I need a car. Although it certainly was a bit of an adjustment at first, I have adapted just fine to sharing cars.
There are rules about not smoking in the car, leaving it clean and tidy for the next user and not leaving it low on petrol etc, but once I was used to it, I didn't find any of that stuff restrictive. My experience has been that the other users are generally very courteous and responsible. It's extremely rare that I've had a problem with the cars smelling - they're checked and maintained regularly by the company and are far neater and tidier than any of my own previous cars. They're also far newer and in better condition than the old bangers I used to drive.
I can book online, by phone or in the car itself for as little as an hour or for days at a time. I can extend my booking as long as no one has the car booked directly after me. If I break down or have a problem the car club sorts it out (there's a 24 hr helpline). Basically, I have access to a car when I need it without the financial, practical and emotional responsibility of running a car - the car club maintains the cars, I don't ever have to get it serviced and I never get stuck with a huge garage bill, I don't have to deal with insurance companies or worry that the government is going to increase the annual car tax.
Certainly it's changed my relationship to car driving but it's mostly been in a positive way. I'm far more likely to consider whether I really need to make a journey by car or if walking, a taxi or public transport might not be a better and cheaper option. I do have to plan my car use a bit better although as I say, it's rare that I can't get access to a car.
Of course car sharing wouldn't work for everyone - it's not financially viable if you need a car on a daily basis for a regular 9-5 commute or if you're an emergency worker and instant access to a car is vital. It also probably wouldn't work if you're the sort of person who invests a lot of emotional or status significance to your car. But if you live in a city where a car can be more of a liability than an asset and only use a car a couple of times a week then it can be an excellent choice - apart from the lack of hassle involved, we're also saving a lot of money annually.
"The only way the Smart car airport thing would work is if you drove *to* the airport in a Smart car that wasn't yours"
You're absolutely spot on here, the key thing with the car club is that none of the cars are 'mine'. Although I pay a monthly subscription fee and then petrol and an hourly rate if I take one out, I haven't paid for an individual car itself, so I'm not emotionally attached to it. And believe me, I used to be really territorial about my cars and had difficulty sharing it with my partner, so it's clear that this does make a huge difference.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)|| |
This is why all Toyotas will be hybrids starting in model year 2011.
The other things that continue to kill new car technology are Urban Sprawl, making it necessary to commute further and further. Artificially low gas prices at the pump. And the notion that driving is a right rather than a privilege.
I would like to see gas at about 10-12 bucks a gallon, at that point we'll actually be forced to reevaluate our transportation choices. Adversity is the best catalyst to innovation.
I agree that Electric Car V1.0 is sucky. I think that's a terrible reason to stop trying at it. It would not be difficult to have extra easily portable battery packs to plug in and out on longer trips, for example. Also some of the modern hybrid technology like shutting the engine off at idle could be readily applied to electric vehicles.
Gee. So you're going to make sure that everyone can afford housing within walking distance of work? Or you'll make sure that they can get to school by way of bicycle? (I wouldn't ride to the grocery store, much less work, in San Antonio because I'd never make it home again.) You'll make sure that everyone can walk their kids to the daycare or to school?
Even in Germany, where public transportation is accessible and convenient people keep cars for a reason. The prices at the pump didn't seem to slow too many folx down. In fact, when my husband was stationed there, he was constantly asked for rides, because the trains didn't go where they wanted to, all the time.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)|| |
I've always thought that the thing needed to make an electric car useful is an infrastructure like we have for gasoline cars. If you could pull into a station, pay a fee, and then swap out your run down battery for a battery that's charged up and ready to do, while the station starts charging up the old battery to be ready for someone else to take in an hour or so, then the concerns about range go away.
It's a catch-22 though. You can't get stations like this without market saturation, and you can't get market saturation without stations like this.
|Date:||April 28th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)|| |
An Electric car infrastructure is already in place - it's called gas stations with electrical service to them. Installing a quick charger and charging a premium on the electricity at just one brand would instantly put them on the forefront and also give the electric car manufacturers a lot better sales position.
Of course, no one wants to stop every 50 miles for a charge, and spend hours charging - so they need a battery/capacitor system of some sort that can charge in 5 minutes or less and drive at least 150 miles. Or trickle charge over night - which would likely lead to motels metering electricity to their rooms.
I've got dozens of cookbooks. I've read them all, some of them, like Alton Brown's books, I've read more than once. The only one I ever use recipes from is The Joy Of Cooking. 9 times out of 10, if I need a recipe, I'll look up a few online, mix the best parts into a single recipe I scratch onto a notepad, and then use that.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC)|| |
I have a lot of cookbooks, both new ones, mostly purchased by other people, and antique ones I mostly buy for myself. A fair number are kosher because I keep kosher.
I almost never open any of them, and when I do, it's to read. The antique ones are fun because of the ideas and recipes that no one uses today, and the current ones are pretty and even the non-kosher ones can inspire me to cook something different.
If, however, I want a specific recipe, I go to the web, which functions pretty much as that cookbook cd-rom you were marketing.
The Electric Car is not quite dead yet
200 miles per charge, 4 hour max. charge time, 0-60 in 4s. I'd seriously consider one, especially since that would work with a commute from Akron to Cleveland and back with some miles to spare...
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 04:22 pm (UTC)|| |
Hmmm...a base price of $92,000 with a minimum $30,000 reservation to wait in line to buy the car in 2008...
Definitely a cool car, though.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)|| |
A completely useless comment.
I am doing a lousy job of reading the comments, so someone probably already said:
My mom wants me to do the same thing, where she puts all her favorite recipes on the computer. Of course, she then wants to publish it as a book. My mom understands that computers do great things. But much more basically, she cooks and cookbooks make more sense to actually cook from. A computer would be better for indexing, but once that's done... maybe we could make a cookbook that comes with a little computer index so you could look up things like fat grams per serving....
And I agree about the electric car. I have high hopes for the new hybrids.
Mass production could have lowered the price, as it tends to for technology. Early adopters always pay the penalty for R&D, amoritized over the first year or two of sales. But once that's paid off, the tech trickles down into cheaper cars, or the once-expensive cars themselves get cheaper. An example is in the downward drift of features in cars today. I just bought a car for $24k with features that, five years ago, I would have had to buy a $50k BMW to get.
It's what will likely get the solar market moving. Early adopters and prestige purchasers will create the market, encourage competition, and demonstrate the availability of a viable return on investment for companies doing the expensive R&D. The rest of us are going to benefit when it drops the price of a rooftop solar system far enough that you and I can afford one to power our homes, and have enough leftover to juice up the Tesla Roadster in the driveway.
Incidentally, GM's plug-in hybrid Volt prototype that they unveiled at the Detroit auto show is probably an answer, especially if they can get the 100 miles to a charge that they claim.
Don't look to home solar dropping in price anytime soon. There isn't enough manufacturing capacity to meet demand right now, even if they could get enough Silicon to operate at capacity. The plants are run like giant labs, setup to produce small runs of product, at best. The solar industry needs a good mindset overhaul, greater capacity, better technology, and greater access to the Silicon it needs before the prices will start to inch lower. The first is the show stopper. Give it a decade, or more.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)|| |
Heard Lee Ioccoca on "The Long View" on NPR this morning say that he thinks the Hybrid plug-in (as in, hybrid car like it is PLUS the overnight-plug-it-in-the-socket-in-the-garage) car is ramping up right now and will surge in the market in the next couple of years.
The more things change...
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)|| |
I bought a ton of those CDs with recipes on them. Well, maybe not a literal ton. But I know I have ten of them sitting in a box.
The problem was, they sucked. In order to fill them up ("10,000 recipes!"), they just grabbed as many recipes from as many sources as possible. You were just as likely to get your co-worker's crappy cheese chili recipe as you were to get a classic from Jacques Pepin.
I find a lot more enjoyment from cuisine-based cookbooks that explore, for example, Lebanese cuisine. Seeing a hundred related recipes really gives you a feel for what ingredients they think go together. A random sampling cookbook is not very useful.
And this has nothing to do with the gist of your post, just the preamble. But there were people who bought those electronic cookbooks.. and were simply unhappy with them.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)|| |
The thing is- and I have yet to see this figured into anyone's equations- the very act of manufacturing an electric car, a hybrid or any other new car is that the creation of the new car itself is a grossly polluting set of acts.
I wonder which is worse for the overall ecology- building
an electric car and driving 50,000 miles or driving an existing
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado the same distance.
I know which is more pimpin':
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)|| |
What you're talking about is called Sustainability by the engineering in-crowd. Similar back and forth has happened with styrofoam cups vs. reusable plastic containers, for instance.
The concept of existing equipment and infrastructure as a sunk cost is the position of the neo-classical economist in the argument. I'm not saying it's wrong (at all), but I do acknowledge that typically the argument is rooted in its position while the sustainable defender would say that the process of building an electric car can be made better with more research and design experience.
|Date:||April 26th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)|| |
And with any luck, it'll catch fire and you'll burn painfully to death, leaving behind only a smoky carbon smear as your final emission.
If you'll remember, at the end of Who Killed they discussed the battery technology improved after the first prototype came out, allowing for a life of close to 200 miles per charge. Then Exxon bought the battery company and killed it.
The electric car was not perfect, but there are still some on the road today. (Ford only killed the EV-1.) The auto manufacturers made fleets of EV cars and only Honda and Ford killed one version of their prototypes. I saw an EV just the other day.
They weren't perfect, but they were a start. Had the technology been supported there would have been evolution, and we'd have the "Palm" version of an electric car. My home state has been trying to increase this technology and make cars more fuel efficient, and the auto manufacturers, instead of addressing these issues, has chosen to sue the State of California to keep these improvements from happening.
The documentary was not perfect, but it was trying to make a point. We modify our behavior for all kinds of things. Just look at free wireless web access in so many public places for laptop users. If technology is supported it thrives, and if it's not it dies. Palm is now second fiddle to the Blackberry, which has an entire network of its own to support it.
If there really was a battery technology revolution, as stated, that technology has yet to appear in any electrical product to date. I suspect that the patent is expired by now, somebody would have made it.