Tag Archive for better place

Just In Time to Stick It to OPEC

The temperatures climbed into the sixties during the early part of the week, and I busted Lenore out of jail.

67 degrees means Lenore can come out to play!

How YOU doin', sexy?

She gets around 50mpg, so it’s just in time as gas prices spike up. We’re averaging $3.89/g around here, with some gas stations inside Peoria already hitting $4 or more. Surprisingly, Gas Buddy says prices in my old stomping grounds around the Chicago ‘burbs are about the same.

Now the pundits are saying gas may hit $5/gallon. They’ve threatened it before, but I imagine it’s got to happen some time. Makes me wish Better Place would hurry up and bring their cars out this way.

I understand they’re setting up charging stations around the Big Island of Hawai’i. If I ever get back out there, I’d like to rent one for at least part of the trip, or take a test drive.

In the meantime, I’ll be content with my motorcycle saving me cash.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Shai Agassi at TED

This video of Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place, is about 18 minutes long but is well worth watching:

The video explains how Better Place came to be, the plan for the cars, and the economics behind the Better Place plan versus oil over the next ten years.

Whether you think his plan will work or not, I’m glad to see he’s out there doing it rather than just letting Congress or panels of “experts” debate it until it’s too late. He makes some very compelling points and if I lived in one of the areas these cars were available, I’d be happy to look into owning one.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Drive-By Blogging

I ran into a few items today I thought were worth mentioning, but really didn’t merit a longer, dedicated blog post. So I’m just going to pile them up here.

After reading that the great state of Kentucky is officially relying upon God for their state security, I learned that the group American Atheists is suing to have that portion of the law removed. Normally I hate lawsuits, but this is one I fully support. Not just because I feel it crosses the line of separation of church and state but because I’m not sure where this one ends. Will God protect homosexuals, devotees of other religions, and atheists from terrorists? What happens when similar provisions are written into other laws, and these people are excluded? It’s a dangerous precedent, and allowing these people to write God into the law is taking us one step closer to an American Taliban. I have no problem with people living by their religion, so long as they do not force the rest of us to do it.

On a side note, I found the picture in the insurance ad accompanying the article strangely appropriate:

Next up, hot on the heels of their announcement to build infrastructure in the Bay Area, Better Place announces they’ll be setting up shop in Hawaii. Very, very cool. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. The potential is huge if they can pull it off.

Finally, Hollywood is on the remake path again, this time on its way to remaking the Carpenter classic They Live. Now, I do use the term “classic” loosely here, but I’m not seeing any reason to remake a movie featuring a five-minute fight over putting on a pair of sunglasses. Even scarier, however, is the closing line of the article:

Strike is also working on a remake of Carpenter’s “The Thing.”

You’ve got to be kidding. Like 1951’s The Thing from Another World, The Thing is an adaptation of a novella by Joseph W. Campbell called “Who Goes There?”, so some already class it a remake. Some of Carpenter’s flicks are very uneven to me (They Live being a good example), but The Thing is a true classic. It’s scary, it’s suspenseful, it has some great scenes and memorable lines, the effects aren’t half bad, and it’s an improvement upon the ’51 adaptation of the novella. What are they going to do to improve Carpenter’s film? Cast Shia LaBeouf as MacReady? Write in a sexy love interest for him to protect?

It boggles the mind.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Better Place Putting Up Rather Than Shutting Up

I’m happy to see the Better Place guys haved inked a deal with California mayors to build an electric car network for the Bay Area. The last time I talked about them, they were just getting rolling in Israel and Australia.

I’m not yet convinced they’re going to overhaul the auto industry, but I’m certainly not in agreement with the many detractors who dismiss it outright. The key here is they’re actually going out and doing it, not sitting in a board room and kicking around theories of why this will or won’t work. They also have timing in their favor with the oil problem and the major US car manufacturers facing bankruptcy.

Gas prices may be down now, but for how long? Now that people know $4/gallon was outrageous, they’re not going to be eager to pay it again. Truck and SUV sales are in the crapper, and unfortunately for the auto industry, that’s where all the profit is. A friend of mine just purchased a brand new Dodge Ram for $16,000 under sticker, and I just got a letter from my local dealership practically begging me to come in and look at their excessive inventory. They even told me how someone drove off with a brand new Jeep with $14,000 in rebates! A cash hemorrhage combined with the unlikelihood of a government bailout means the competition is going to be lower than ever for companies like Better Place to step in.

So again, good idea? Bad idea? We’re about to find out.

And better we do it now than in 20 years when the oil’s getting scarce and we have to scramble for other options.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Your Electric Car is Almost Here

I just finished reading a Wired article featuring Shai Agassi and his company, Better Place. It’s very much worth a read if you’re at all interested in electric cars, alternative energy, and weaning the world off the oil teat. Just a couple pages into the article I was ready to buy one of his new cars.

Yes, there are going to be bumps in the road; lots of whining and buts and I-don’t-thinks. But you know what? It’s like Yoda said: “Do or do not. There is no try.” You can read it all and come to your own conclusions, I have something else I wanted to talk about.

Agassi and his company are are changing the distribution model slightly, but for the most part it still follows the traditional pattern of the current petroleum infrastructure: you pull up to the charging station and top off your batteries. Better Place takes it a step further by having additional stations where you can swap out your entire battery when necessary, be it if you can’t get a full charge fast enough or if your battery is just wearing down. (By the way, with his numbers, annual swapping/charging costs are only a third of what you spend on gasoline at $4/gallon.)

Why not do away with charging stations altogether? Just have the battery swapping stations, not both.

The example they give is a person pulls into a charging station, plugs in (or a hydraulic arm plugs you in automatically), and tops off. Sounds familiar, right? Since we’re talking about electricity now, why not just move these charging stations to the customer’s ultimate destinations?

Whether you have to go shopping or sit down for breakfast, you ‘re going to be in the building for some time. Rather than letting the car sit idle in the parking lot, if Better Place sells/licenses/leases/whatever their charging stations to the company, you can plug it in and let it top off while you’re shopping. Employers and city garages could install them and run it off their existing power. Apartment complexes could do the same. (I can hear you now: strains on grid, blah blah blah. Go read the article. It’s no more far-fetched than what Agassi is already proposing. If people stop fighting wind farms and nuke plants, it wouldn’t be an issue.)

This solves another problem: because you’re constantly charging the battery, you don’t keep running empty. If I have to run to three different stores and can plug in at least one, I should be covered. If I can’t juice up at home, maybe all my other stops let me juice up enough that I don’t have to sweat it. And if not, there’s the battery swap station (which will no doubt also have charging available).

The charging/swapping combo is what you sell to the existing gas station owners. Now they don’t have to deal with gas brokers and speculation and refinery shutdowns, they just have to work with their local electrical utility. Gas stations that already have fast food joints in them are a no-brainer because now people can come in, suck down a coffee and a McMuffin, and return to a fully-charged car.

If I’m running a gas station without a restaurant, I’m ecstatic. Now the people who pay at the pump and drive off may come in and wait while their battery is charging because they don’t have to babysit the flow of gasoline anymore. Now I’m selling more impulse goods. Maybe I put in a small lounge with a couple seats, a newspaper rack, and a coffee machine in easy reach. Maybe I install a television. Maybe I install a wi-fi hotspot for the power broker who can’t wait five more minutes until he gets to the office. Anything to keep the foot traffic coming and giving me a chance to sell them something.

Or maybe I’m just having flashbacks to my retail days again.

UPDATE 10/23: A Better Place has just landed a deal to build an electric car network in Australia.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.