Posts Tagged ‘Better Place’

Cars and the NYTimes

Ok, so maybe cars and Tom Friedman and Henry Ford 2nd.

Sunday’s Times featured an excellent column by Friedman. I know I’m constantly referencing him, but the guy’s won three Pulitzers. Anyway, his latest has to do with electric cars, as in banking on them. And who does he quote? Shai Agassi of Better Place and Kevin Czinger of Coda Automotive. Both companies I’m proud to say were represented on the panel of the Washington Auto Show’s Green Car Summit on electrification in the auto industry. Here’s a shot of the panelists in the beautiful Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building last year.

The man speaking is Scott Becker, Sr. Vice President, Administration & Finance of Nissan North America Inc. To the right of Becker is Kevin Czinger, CEO of Coda Automotive. All the way to the right is Jason Wolf, VP of Better Place.

Here’s the column:

Meanwhile, the Times also had an interesting section devoted to celebrating the 40th anniversary of the op/ed page. For the occasion, the paper highlighted some remarkable comments over the years, including this very prescient quote by Henry Ford 2nd more than 30 years ago. Enjoy:

Op-Ed Contributor

Nov. 28, 1973: Life With Cars

Published: September 25, 2010

The trouble with cars, to adapt the old saying, is that you can’t live with them or without them. We in Detroit are told that we produce an extravagant luxury that can no longer be tolerated. We are admonished, on the other hand, not to push up the price of one of life’s necessities.

Even before the Arab oil embargo, policymakers and editorial writers were concluding that one part of the solution to the energy crisis, the environmental crisis and the urban crisis is to build mass transit with highway funds and to persuade drivers to walk, ride bicycles or take a train. 

New car sales in the United States, on the other hand, have increased by more than a million a year during the past two model years. Nearly one-third of all American families now own at least two cars, and 95 percent of all urban traveling is done by car. 

Cars and mass transit are both here to stay, but neither one is the best possible answer to the important travel needs of today’s cities. For all its flexibility, the car is not the most efficient way to get to or move around in very busy places. For all its efficiency in carrying large numbers of people along busy corridors, mass transit is not flexible enough. 

What we need are new kinds of vehicles and systems designed to carry people quickly, conveniently and efficiently where neither cars nor conventional transit can do the job as well. As these new systems are developed and built, cars will become more useful than ever because they will be used where they work best. 

HENRY FORD 2nd was the chairman of Ford Motor Company from 1945 to 1980. He died in 1987. 

The preceding was excerpted and adapted from a previously published Op-Ed article, for inclusion in a 40th-anniversary issue.


This just in: GM and Better Place have announced a partnership to advance the EV dream.

In other news, GM and ABB are working on ways to find new life on the grid for old Chevy Volt batteries.

And while we’re on EVs, did you hear? Coda Automotive, whose CEO, Kevin Czinger, spoke at the 2010 Washington Auto Show Green Car Summit on Capitol Hill, has announced the price on its 2011 sedan: $45k:

Lesson from Portugal

“Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago,” so says The New York Times.

It also says “Portugal expects in 2011 to become the first country to inaugurate a national network of charging stations for electric cars.”  I thought Israel would lay claim to that win à la Better Place. 

A bigger question: How will America stack up in the race toward a clean energy economy?

The Times cites Cambridge-based IHS Emerging Energy Research, which says that by 2025, Ireland, Denmark and Britain will power 40 percent or more of its electricity from renewable sources. 

“The United States, which last year generated less than 5 percent of its power from newer forms of renewable energy, will lag behind at 16 percent (or just over 20 percent, including hydroelectric power), according to IHS.”

In Search of a Better Place

A world that powers cars by electricity can be discovered in San Jose next week at Plug-In 2010.

And if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s worth it to swing by the San Jose Convention Center Tuesday night, the 27th, when the show opens to the public.

Among the sponsors are Better Place, whose visitors center in Israel I had the privilege to explore a couple of weeks ago. When I say explore, I mean you literally get to drive the electric cars on a sandy track and let me tell you something, the car just glides.

Here are some photos of yours truly at Better Place.

 And here I am driving:

The fact that I veered slightly off the road has to do with my driving, not the engineering. Hey, at least I admit it.

And here you can see how the battery recharging works — a process that takes only a few minutes for the depleted battery to pop out and a charged one to take its place:

The facility is a very cool sci-fi experience that spans from the virtual to the real thing, as you can see.

The virtual experience is showcased in a film watched from sporty car seats designed for Better Place’s newest model. And Shai Agassi, the company CEO, materializes in 3D form through a thin screen to welcome us into this brave, new world.

I wish him the best of luck in this worthy endeavor. EVs are certainly a key element in the solution to move off oil and use our resources wisely.