[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.
Electric cars are being hailed as the future. No, it’s not 1901, but 2011. Over a century ago, gas-powered cars fought for early adopters of horseless carriage technology against electric-powered cars. Yes, what’s old is new again. Except gas won last time. Now, it’s all a bit murky.
Half-upstart/half-vapourware shillers like Tesla and Fisker, as well as old guards like Morgan, are tripping over themselves to electrify your driveway. Despite compromises such as limited range, heavy batteries, and tortuous charge times, car makers (with a little nudge from government regulators) aspire to wean us off petroleum and reduce the carbon emissions from our tailpipes.
And it’s easy to see why. It’s where the money is. Governments are investing in the crucial infrastructure needed to charge the hobbled beasts by installing electric charging points and giving out massive loans to companies who promise to build electric cars in their country. The government has picked a side, which means that you will too.
But there are alternatives, and not just corn-based ethanol – that grotesque shell game that subsidizes American farmers so that they can grow fuel that would otherwise make perfectly good food – but Hydrogen. Yes, it’s a bit combustible (see Hindenburg) and it requires extremely high pressures to be kept stable, but it also allows for refuelling in 5 minutes, a lot less than the 5 hours an electric car currently needs. If Hydrogen received the same kind of government support, it could prove to be a more viable alternative to plug-in electric power. The only way to find out is to invest. Just like these companies are…