Thursday, July 9, 2009

The kid who should be CEO of GM

"Who Killed the Electric Car?", the 2006 documentary that took us through the story of the creation, limited commercialization, and subsequent destruction of the battery operated electric vehicle in the US, (specifically the GM EV1). When I saw that documentary only recently, I was really saddened.

During the years 1999 and 2003 I worked for a company called Verplex Systems. During that time, I covered the eastern US region and Canada. It was during that time, I went to visit one customer at Lucent in Ottawa. There I met the first guy who had created his own electric car. His name was Bob Lawrence. When heading out to lunch one day, he suggested to me and my colleague that we take his car (A Volkswagon Jetta). When we drove around that car was nearly silent with just a soft humming noise. When we found out that Bob himself had put that together we were blown away. He had a big batteries in his trunk. An electrical charging cord that came out the front of the vehicle. Recently I found out that he gave up that electric car for a Prius hybrid. I am sure he's making it a plug in as we speak.

However I wanted to take a moment to talk about this kid, a teenager who claims he can't even change the oil in his car. He instead went on the internet found the instructions and converted an old Ford Escort car into an electric car. Why is that normal ordinary people can go and build an electric car, but the big-3 could never build one?

I am sure that one day another documentary will come out with the accusatory finger pointing to the oil companies being responsible for the death of the early electric car. But those conspiracy theories are for another day. Right now, I am so excited that there is a movement toward going completely electric. I wrote about Shai Agassi's plan the other day. I can't wait for the day when I can drive a car for which I don't have to add fuel.

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