Post Tagged with: "Electric"
By Peter Dushenski
Forecasts are rational, useful, and necessary. Right?
Whether it’s 2013 US car sales forecasts made by Edmunds, Audi’s ambitious sales forecasts, population forecasts made by the UN, or inflation forecasts made by the Federal Reserve – everyone’s in on the forecasting game. But not all forecasts are created equal.
Listening to the weatherman for a week and comparing his predictions with climatological outcomes would show you how tough the forecasting game really is. And weather systems are far simpler than most of the systems we try to make date-specific predictions about. Is it really any wonder that everyone from Audi to the United Nations revises their forecasts until prediction and predicted merge seamlessly, like an outfielder catching a fly ball?
Forecasting of complex systems is nearly, if not completely, impossible. So why do we keep believing them?
The Chevy Volt.
Ah yes. The very embodiment of the Obama Administration’s public appeasement after GM’s bailout in 2008. For years thereafter, the Volt wrapped itself in the untouchable US flag and became a symbol of innovation, risk-taking, and taxpayer dollars. But now the dust has settled and the car is here: for sale at your local dealership, miles away from the world of partisan bickering, if not public relations spin. It’s been four long years since we were promised a revolution. Has the wait been worth it?
Much like the President, I had high, but not foolishly untempered expectations of this American. With its 16-kWh battery and 60km all-EV range, Chevy claims the Volt will ferry 78% of us to work and back without a single drop of Alberta’s famous bitumen. Of course, since it only seats four people, each family will need their own, but you get the idea. General Motors, the profligate statue of American excess, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer us complete freedom from oil. Not quite. For those “once-in-a-whiles” – those fishing trips, those trips to the farm, and those trips to the mountains – there’s an 83hp 1.4L “range-extender” (read: engine).
As an igloo-dwelling urbanite with no plug-in at home or office, the Volt isn’t for me. But that just makes its forbidden fruit that much sweeter. While in Vancouver recently, accompanying my fiancée on a “continuing education” getaway (not as miserable as it sounds), I sipped the extended-range-electric nectar and indulged in a “once-in-a-while”. But enough quotation marks.
[Read part 1 too!]
by Peter Dushenski @carenvy
Driving up to the cylindrical two-story Experience Center north of Tel Aviv, bordering a lifeless ocean of unsold French cars, we parked our Mazda5 next to a pair of electronic Renault Fluence ZEs. At a normal car dealership, we would’ve waltzed in unannounced only to be molested by a pimply salesman with an ill-fitting suit. Since this was the “Experience Center”, however, the Better Place website encouraged us to book a tour in advance despite not having any clue as to what such a tour might entail.
We were penciled in for 3:00pm that Friday but Israel’s road network had other ideas. We got so dazzlingly lost trying to find the damned place that we started to wonder if the Byzantines called really complex crap “Judean”. As such, we were a solid 45 minutes late. As we tardily strode into the airy building, we were found the reception desk, explained the situation, and were promptly signed up for a private tour at 4:00pm. With a few minutes to kill, we acquainted ourselves with the spotty (but delicious) cappuccino machine. Before we knew it, we had individualized name tags and the fun was set to begin!
By Peter Dushenski @carenvy
In the birthplace of monotheism – where the scriptures that formed the foundations of western culture tell of divine intervention and retribution – lays a truly heavenly assortment of desert flowers and blushing greenery, beautifying the once-lifeless landscape.
On our recent family trip to Israel, the vibrant flora was an ever-present reminder of the power of human will. Although Israel finds itself atop a Mediterranean desert, it’s lush and unexpectedly well shaded. It was only when we returned home to the bursting Canadian spring and the dense layers of Edmonton’s river valley succession that Israel’s precisely placed plantings looked so retrospectively sparse. Israel might have tall trees and dazzling flowers, but the majority of the country’s lawns seemed confined to the steep-as-a-double-black-diamond Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. That the country’s vegetation felt as natural as it at the time did speaks to the the desire of the Jewish people to bring as much of Old Europe to their new home as possible.
Had you visited Israel without visiting the tree-lined cities, and never seen the Bedouin-dotted patches of crusty rock that nestled between lemon and olive plantations, you’d never notice the unforgiving wasteland that lies beneath the Jewish civility. In the cities, thick, vine-covered trees shade popular streets, like Tel Aviv’s boutique-lined Dizengoff where my fiancée found her wedding dress. Between every building palm trees hide, boxed in though they are by graffiti and wrought iron window bars. If the past six decades had accomplished no more than vegetative abundance in the middle of the desert, dayenu. But there’s so much more.
There’s Israel’s automotive future. And perhaps ours as well.
Since we were down for maintenance on Monday, we’re bringing you a special Friday edition post. Enjoy!
It doesn’t matter who you blame, it’s all the same in the end.
With the successful launch of the world’s first mass-produced all-electric car – and reigning World Car of the Year – tucked under CEO Carlos Ghosn’s Levantine belt, Nissan’s very first semi-electric foray into motoring should be a straight-forward application of now-familiar technology.
Battery + Motor + Luxury = Infiniti M35h
Optimism is infectious.
It feels good to hope. It lifts your mood. It straightens your back. It heals what ails. We hope our sports teams will win, that our politicians will change the world for the better, and that life has meaning. Ok, that’s perhaps a bit grandiose, but it’s hard not to let it sweep you away, especially when it really strikes a chord.
The automobile industry is the most publicly scrutinized way in which we consume oil. Sure, it’s also on our Greek salads, but that’s not what gets people in a huff. Gasoline pollutes. Pollution cause climate change. Climate change causes erratic weather that destroys ecosystems, devastates infrastructure, and displaces people from their homes. A little scrutiny is warranted. Understandably, governments, particularly European ones, are taking strong action in this vein to curb vehicle emissions, thereby increasing fuel economy and lessening our consumption of that gooey black
goodness evil. These new regulations are having a profound effect, particularly on the vociferous enthusiast community (like right here, except not here, oh who am I kidding!), as once blissfully intoxicating naturally aspirated engines are giving way to vacuum-cleaner-imitating turbocharged and supercharged ones. Forced induction isn’t inherently wrong, but it’s generally perceived to reduce the character and soul of a vehicle, basically robbing it of its enthusiast appeal.
If that trend weren’t enough to scare the bejeezus out of our enthusiast community, we might want to turn our attention to the 747 flying 30,000 feet over our heads as gasoline gets motherfucking digitized. Shai Agassi, founder of Better Place and speaker at last week’s 2011 APEC Transport/Energy Ministerial Meeting in San Francisco, brings us up to speed in his talk.
I listened to it mainly out of curiosity, maybe even out of fear for my beloved V8, but rather than walking away distraught, I was filled with a sense of unbridled optimism. And not only optimism, but also determinism. I’m really not one to believe in fate, or destiny, or even in anything after this life, but Agassi is so powerful that I fully believe that battery-swappable electric cars are an inevitable future. Now we just need to make electrons more fun…
Listen to it here, turn it up, and feel the optimism course through your entire body.
A video explaining the Better Place initiative is below.
By Peter Dushenski
It’s definitely a Hybrid.
A minor affliction, to be sure, but a blight upon any car enthusiast worth his salt. Hybrids are for eco-weenies and hollow shells of men too insecure not to be seen caring about the environment. They’re for Greenpeace protestors and farmer’s market frequenters. Hybrids are driven by people as an excuse to wrong the world in other ways, like driving really, incredibly slowly or not recycling. The electric motors that eerily propel Hybrids can’t possibly replace the lost displacement. Nothing can. We’ve been taught this by our fathers, who were taught this by their fathers before them.
by Peter Dushenski
Car enthusiasts, at least people who like to call themselves such, don’t much care for hybrids. The whole concept of prioritizing fuel economy is so contrary to The V8 Wagon Doctrine that the Prius is frequently and unimaginatively scapegoated and fear mongered into the petrolhead equivalent of Mao Zedong. Fear the purge of all that is culture!
But what is culture? It might be the foundation and history of motoring, frequently littered with heroes and icons, or it might be an idea – that idea being emancipation from fixed location. It’s a powerful idea, a liberating one. It’s the kind of idea that people fight for because it so completely captures the human imagination.
So is that what’s really feared? Not a battery-based technology to improve fuel economy, but the loss of our freedom? Quite possibly. Fear is an intoxicating emotion. One of the most obvious case studies of this is George W. Bush’s “weapons of mass destruction” argument. The Former President took his nation to war based on pure dread of the unknown.
Similarly, enthusiasts of “all” that is motoring (except batteries, of course), have blindly shunned hybrids, and by extension, 100% electric vehicles.