April 27th, 2009
It is about time! The first steps that President Obama took recently to open up the U.S. policy towards Cuba are long overdue. It has been clear to me for the past 15 years that the Federal Government’s policy on Cuba, instituted 50 years ago is a worn out relic of the Cold War era.
In the second half of the 20th century, at least until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Americans were raised and educated that the bad guys were communists and that these communists threatened the way of life of the country and all that wanted freedom. Well, for several decades that might have been true, but those times are long gone. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in the four years that followed, the eastern block collapsed and the global economy began. The number of potential consumers of the capitalistic way of live basically doubled. This led to economic upheavals that transformed China, Russia, South East Asia and Eastern Europe. It was generally accepted that the U.S. and the West, had won.
The world is getting ever more interrelated in all areas economic. It is getting ever more connected electronically. It is starting to realize that there are global problems that face us all. In such a new world, the idea that Cuba is a threat to the U.S, that Cuba is subversive is ridiculous. What could Cuba possibly do to the U.S? Let’s see, provide the …
April 15th, 2009
In the last column I wrote about the National Hydrogen Association annual conference and that it was both informative and generated unprecedented attendance from the public. One of the most exciting aspects of the conference was the opportunity to drive hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, a first for me. I drove three vehicles, and the experience was, in a word spectacular.
The first vehicle was the Daimler A-Class F-Cell from Mercedes. A small, compact car, the driving experience was incredible smooth, responsive and of course very quiet as there was no motor that needed muffling. It was unnerving to accelerate with no sound. The car handling was very tight and responsive. It handled like a dream and was the most fun I have had driving a compact car.
The second car to drive was the Equinox Fuel Cell small SUV from GM. While I am not a fan of SUVs this vehicle is wonderful. I pressed ‘pedal to the metal’ and the acceleration was immediate and silent. All aspects of handling, braking and acceleration were superb. When my test drive was over, I asked to have the hood lifted so I could actually see the fuel cell. Where the engine usually is in an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), there is a fuel cell about the size of a large beverage cooler. There are many fewer moving parts than an ICE vehicle which of course will, when the vehicle goes on sale, dramatically cut down on repairs and maintenance.
Currently the Equinox Fuel …
Hydrogen has long been looked at as the ‘fuel of the future’. The general impression is that it will be a marketplace fuel in the future but not for a decade or more. Well, surprise, hydrogen is coming into the fuel marketplace today, albeit slowly.
Last week I attended the National Hydrogen Association annual convention in Columbia South Carolina. In addition to delivering a short keynote address and moderating a panel, I was there to learn as much as I could about this future fuel. I was fortunate to spend discussion time with, and listen to presentations by, some of the best and brightest from academia, corporations and governmental agencies on the subject of hydrogen.
There is no question that hydrogen is becoming and will be an integral part of our energy equation. Right now the problem confronting this source of energy is one of scale. Scale of production, scale of the infrastructure for distribution and scale of production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It is the fuel cell car that has the highest profile in this new energy area and is also the product that consumers are most interested in, particularly due to the recent history of oil prices and the state of the automotive industry. There were several hydrogen fuel cell cars and even a bus that were available for rides at the convention, and I will write about the wonderful experience of driving three of the cars in my next column.
What I found interesting was how …
The automotive industry of the 21st century is making promises and delivering on them. As I wrote in a column four months ago, if the federal government is thinking about spending tens of billions to prop up the remnants of last century’s automotive industry, it should also spend billions to support the innovative auto industry of this century. Our investments should be towards birthing the future, not just on keeping the dying on life support.
In recent emails, Elon Musk, the visionary entrepreneur and founder of Tesla Motors wrote about the progress his company has made at it looks to the future. In early March Tesla sold its 250th roadster. The purchaser writes about it here with wonder and pride. Tesla is now manufacturing 20 roadsters a week and will shortly increase to 30 a week. It has a paid waiting list of 1,000 which means that it is sold out through October. This comes at a time when the Big Three are still trying to get 2008 model cars off their lots.
Granted, the Tesla Roadster is a car that costs a bit more than $100,000, has two seats and goes from 0-60mph in less than 4 seconds. The good news is that Tesla last week unveiled the Model S, a sedan that they say will seat 7 and will get 300 miles per electric charge. I am not sure about the size of those 7 people, but the Model S is a beautiful car. Orders …