Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Future Looks Electric

Electric Car that is.

If you ever doubted the effect of political resolve in the direction of the US energy just look at the very recent and profound changes I'm seeing with the current Obama Administration and it's current "Stimulus" monies floating around.

In the span of a month electric cars and infrastructure went from a P.R. play thing for electrical utilities to an audacious effort by Oregon's Governor. Last week I started hearing rumblings of a big effort out of Oregon Department of Energy. It seems to be moving big in this direction with the announcement of a 500 recharging station goal in the next two years. More to the point is that in Oregon the cost looks like it will be under $2,000 to field your own recharging station with the grants, tax credits and other offerings in Oregon's planning.

Wired Magazine covered Shai Agassi's vision for an electric car infrastructure. It's talked about, glowingly received, brainstormed, and then just kind of out there. Add a few billion dollars of Federal political resolve and BOOOOM! The electric car is a reality.

Now lets just see if Tesla, Chevy, and Nissan can deliver their electric cars.

I am really intrigued and interested. I have a few friends who have been betting big on electric power-trains, battery controls, and importing foreign I.P. around this sphere. Before last week I never really thought about the market potential for electric infrastructure. Specifically recharging station.

That has now changed!

My gears have really been spinning about how this market development will need to take place and I'm fascinated. In particular how do you charge for the refill of the vehicle (which current technology will likely take 2 hours). You have a capital cost to recoup, the variable electric bill to charge for, the space (which takes hours per customer), and of course how do you scale a regional, national, or international system so an electric car owning fleet can recharge simply in NYC, LA, or PDX regardless?

This moves the business model away from just electric recharging stations (on a real scale) to be a business model that fits with a traditional regional petroleum jobber. Those wadding away from one-off customers to a wide deployment are now wadding into my waters.

Its really got me thinking about the future of the markets I serve and its an exciting subject. It really reminds me of dealing with early supply issues of Biodiesel and Ethanol. Where those without any fleet supply experience were trying to build businesses without any context or understanding of their market's needs.

Its going to be fun over this summer.

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