Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Better Place




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A couple of weeks ago, a friend showed me this video on TED.com, and I was very impressed by what Shai Agassi was saying all throughout his presentation - that all it takes to reduce car-related emissions to zero within the next decade is a bold step forward.

You can watch the full video after the jump.

What strikes me the most is that Agassi and A Better Place isn't trying to overcome the shortcomings of an automobile powered by something that doesn't respond from combustion. That's always been the biggest problem of electronic cars, from what I've heard my friends point out - just how will these perform when compared to what gasoline and diesel-powered cars are capable of today.

Agassi says that the only way to find out is to take that big step forward, and that's exactly what he's doing. If you look at his business plan, it's economically viable - you replace one expendable source of energy with another, which means that on the most altruistic POV you help the thousands of employees dedicated to keeping petroleum products available on the streets keep their jobs.

But to say that this is a 100% way of keeping the environment clean is still being too optimistic. I pushed the idea to an uncle of mine who used to sell automobiles in Canada, and his primary worry was that that would only create a completely new pollutant in the form of non-biodegradable and potentially toxic car batteries past their prime.

Of course, this is all just in my head. I'm sure elsewhere, the wheels are turning for this revolution in mobile technology, and given half the chance, Shai Agassi and the folks over at A Better Place might actually make this work. A huge part of me wishes that they do; I really don't like how much visible smog there is on the horizon every time you drive around Manila in the middle of the afternoon.

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