james debate
james debate

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Well whatever twisted method of motivation my taskmaster of a driving instructor employed in teaching me to drive has clearly worked. James Debate is now legally able to drive, and it's about damn time.

Now begins the long and painful deliberation of what car I want to get. Thinking about what I will be using it for in the near future I guess the most crucial thing is to get something small and easy to drive and park around central London, which as any driver knows is a real pain in the ass.

On top of this everyone knows of my liberal tendencies when it comes to the environment, and as such a car which produces less pollution is appealing. It is even more appealing when you realize that owning such a car makes you exempt from the London congestion charges, one of the more evil inventions of the British Government in recent years.

It recently occurred to me that a good way to meet both these wishes would be to jump on the electric car bandwagon. Indeed the industry has been gathering pace in recent years with the increasingly common realization around the world that switching to such green cars are very important for our future, both for reasons of the environment and in decreasing our dependence on drilling or procuring foreign oil.

electric green car

But despite this the idea of buying an electric car still has not quite caught on in the general public for a variety of reasons. They have a limited capacity for distance traveling, they can be expensive and require frequent recharging and buying of new batteries. And quite frankly, I live in a 3rd floor flat, how the heck am I going to plug my car into the mains and charge it up?

Well Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place thinks he has a plan that will see an electric car in every driveway within the next few years. How will he accomplish this?

The plan, taken straight out of the cellular provider handbook, is to sell electric cars with a monthly fee that will cover the cost of the car and the energy to fuel it, signing up for a certain number of miles per month.

Project: Better Place, for which Agassi has raised $200 million to fund, hopes to create a world where charging stations are installed in parking lots and other locations all over the roads so drivers can leave their car to charge when not in use. Further more he plans to introduce exchange stations which allow for quick and easy switching of dead batteries for fresh ones.

This setting up of an electric grid for cars will enable anyone to own one easily and relatively cheaply and will address the key limitation of electric cars, their short range.

With this plan the hope is that we can look forward to a reduced dependence on oil, and a vastly reduced output of pollutants and waste, all in the fairly near future. On top of this it will be affordable, more so than other forms of alternative energy like hydrogen fuel, especially as the infrastructure for distribution of electric charing points is already in place from our current household electrical grid.

While the system may not be perfect yet, this has certainly given me something to think about, so don't be surprised if you see me cruising around in my wholesome green car sometime soon.

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