Sunday, October 15

Who killed the electric car?

Just finished watching this eye opening documentary, and I am choke-full of pity & disgust. Pity for the pettiness with which science & technical jargons are paraded to mask the truth & serve short term economic interests, and disgust for the big behemoths who do so with impunity. People might call this documentary conspiracy theory, but I have seen enough of corporate culture to know that it is not. Let me write a summary for you.

Technology for electric car was born in 70s. Like all technologies, this was a serendipitous discovery built in a garage and was disruptive. Disruptive because it gave a new option to the people, which was in long term interests of the environment, in short term interests of people using it for its speed, mileage & convenience. Disruptive also because it would change many games in town, games in which auto companies & big oil would probably loose, and who likes the loosing games? Hence they decided to stop the game.

As long as these cars increased the pie of sold cars, everything was hunky dory. But as soon as California enacted law to made it mandatory for auto giants to go more aggresive on sales & sale certain percentage of total cars sold as electric vehicles; the car & big oil sensed trouble. They understood that increased sales would come at cost of gas vehicles and economy of oil distribution. They twisted all the knobs they can. Decreased the supply by creating artificial shortage, creating waiting lists, tried to decrease the demand by creating dismal ads, dissuading people on the waiting lists, overemphasizing limitations of the car and by increasing price, all of which worked to create illusion of decreased demand. The perfect anti salesmanship!! To downplay long term environmental benefits of EV, they paid lobbying groups, politicians, pseudo environmentalists to campaign against it. (very very similar to people who claimed global warming is an hoax) and they killed the electric car. An invention which very good for people & nature was forced to go in oblivion because it was simply too good to be profitable in short term. That is economics & I understand it, but the way institutions which bear the responsibility to serve long term interests, namely courts, governments & public perception were compromised by lies, bribary & twisted logic is despicable...

Now EV is making a comeback in terms of hybrid vehicle. Partly because some companies like Toyota decided to stand up for it, and offered hybrids, which saved some part of the pie for the big oil economy. And understanding that they cant stop the game, auto giants decided to play by its rules. But still the importance & media hype given to hydrogen/fuelcell hybrid compared to gas/electric hybrid, smells to me of conspiracy. They might be deliberately discouraging expansion of electric charging stations to keep oil distribution system intact, while faking long term public interest by pointing to this pie in the sky of hydrogen economy, enough to keep people distracted; hardly denting the bottomline.

What is it about American organizations that makes them so ruthless & evil, and
unmindful of long term public interest? Or is that curse of all big corporations? Company like Google whose motto is 'do no evil' is an admirable exception so far. But can easily fall prey if they are not absolutely clear as to 'What is evil'.

1 comment:

tmww said...

Your writing is very insightful and it fuels my thoughts on capitalism, huge corporations, US of A, etc. Rather it confuses me more :)

I especially liked this post and the one prior to this. It does make me thoughtful when I meet people who after having worked for 20 years in a manufacturing company are suddenly thrown out because the company has found cheaper alternatives.

You may want to read this..
http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/Einstein.htm

Also I do remember reading about Charlie Chaplin - Mahatma Gandhi. It was Chaplin's belief in socialism or the one preached by Gandhiji that made the meet possible. I belive this photo is also available in the book "Freedom at Midnight".

chal yeto..
Abhinav