Only The Electric Will Survive  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Bloomberg has an article on ex Intel chief Andy Grove and his push to electrify transport in the US (vai an alarming lecture titled "There could be blood") - Grove Invokes Paranoia to Prove Only Electric Vehicles Survive.

Andy Grove, the former head of Intel Corp., asked students in his Stanford University business school seminar last year to determine whether an electric car market could thrive in the U.S. Their conclusion: It can't.

That propelled the 1997 Time Man of the Year, now retired, on a personal crusade to reshape U.S. energy policy, take on the auto industry and attack America's leaders for risking the nation's security.

Grove, 71, who revolutionized production of devices at the heart of computers, is exploiting his name and ties to investors and politicians to jump-start a similar advance in battery-run vehicles. His idea is to refit millions of gas-guzzling autos to run on electricity part-time and convince carmakers to adopt so- called open source rules on advanced technology so that Americans can convert their cars.

``I came to a few conclusions that I was stunned by because they were so obvious and people don't seem to get it,'' Grove said in a July 8 interview in his office in Los Altos, California. U.S. dependence on oil may bring economic calamity and eventual conflict with China, he said.

Grove, who joined Santa Clara, California-based Intel in 1968 and built it into the world's biggest chipmaker with $38.3 billion in revenue last year, says electrifying cars is the fastest way to ease international competition for energy because passenger autos account for almost half the U.S. use of oil.

`There Could Be Blood'

His path to advocacy includes a disagreement with former Vice President Al Gore and an unreturned message to General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt.

While Grove's students said a failure of political leadership is what is keeping electric cars from the market, automakers and analysts say challenges include high costs, a lack of batteries sturdy enough for daily use, no recharging infrastructure, and harmful environmental effects if coal-fired plants are the main energy source.

``All these objections are absolutely valid in a peace state,'' said Grove, who entitled his 1996 book on management, ``Only the Paranoid Survive.'' ``What if we are approaching a state of war, whether it is literally shooting or just starving to death economically?''

In Silicon Valley, Grove is prodding venture capitalists to fund electric vehicle technologies with a lecture he's delivered to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Khosla Ventures titled ``There Could Be Blood.'' He's aiming to tap the entrepreneurial drive that led the region to dominate software and Internet businesses.

In his keynote speech tomorrow at the 2008 Plug-In convention in San Jose, he plans to outline his concerns. The closing slide in a draft of his presentation, Grove says: ``Motivation. Not Cost. Not Environment. SURVIVAL!''

In four years, Grove wants 10 million vehicles to be equipped with battery packs capable of powering at least 40 miles of all-electric driving before the gasoline engine engages. They'd be recharged with power from domestic sources instead of oil, 58 percent of which is imported.

In his speech, he'll call on the U.S. to offer tax credits or interest-free loans to retrofit vehicles and urge utilities to provide fee-free power to charge them for two years. Carmakers should adopt open-source policies to share technology and commit to honoring warranties when consumers do such modifications.

Continuing the theme of paranoia and survival, AlterNet says "With multiple crises on the horizon, survivalist views don't seem as marginal as they did before" - Massive Economic Disaster Seems Possible -- Will Survivalists Get the Last Laugh?.
They used to be paranoid preparation nuts who built bomb shelters for a place to duck and cover during nuclear dustups with communist heathens, but their tangled roots go back to the Great Depression for a reason. If you want to get sociological about it, survivalism started out as a response to economic catastrophe. And now, with a cratering stock market, a housing meltdown that has devalued everything in sight, and skyrocketing prices for food, gas and pretty much everything else, survivalists are preparing for -- and are prepared for -- the rerun. In fact, they may be the only people in America feeling good about the prospects of a major crash.

And the interesting thing about the once-fringe movement at this moment in history is that survivalism has now gone green -- at least in theory.

From peak oil and food crises all the way to catastrophic payback from that bitch Mother Earth, there are more reasons to hide than ever. Conventional society as we know it is already undergoing some disastrous transformations. Ask anyone ducking fires in California, floods in the Midwest or bullets in Baghdad. Maybe it didn't make sense to run for the hills, stockpile water and food, grow your own vegetables and drugs, or unplug from consumerism back when America's budget surplus still existed, its armies weren't burning up all the nation's revenue and its infrastructure wasn't being outsourced to a globalized work force.

But those days are gone, daddy, gone.

What's coming up is weirder. Author, social critic and overall hilarious dude James Kunstler tackled that weirdness, otherwise known as an incoming post-oil dystopia, in his recent novel, World Made by Hand, which has since become one of a handful of survivalist classics. And as Kunstler sees it, whether you are talking about gun nuts or green pioneers, at least you are talking.

"At least they're aware that we've entered the early innings of what could easily become a very disruptive period of our history," the Clusterfuck Nation columnist explains. "Most of them are responding constructively rather than just defensively. They're much more interested in gardening and animal husbandry than firearms."

Not that the gun nuts have gone away. Their ranks have just diversified.

"The gun nuts have been on the scene longer than the peak oil argument has been in play," he adds. "They were initially preoccupied with Big Government and its accompanying narrative fantasy of fascist oppression, which is why they adopted a fascist tone themselves. But peak-oil survivalists are different from the Ruby Ridge generation. They don't think that a bolt-hole in the woods is a very promising strategy. We have no idea at this point what the level of social cohesion or disorder may be, but if the rural areas, especially the agricultural centers, become too lawless for farming, then we'll be in pretty severe trouble because there will be nothing for us to eat."


Anonymous   says 1:31 PM

While the objective of having most cars being electric and petrol duel fuel, it seems impractical to retro-fit existing cars because of their weight, a shortage of batteries and will prolong the life of very poor fuel economy vehicles. Better to put all efforts into new EV's or PHEV's designed to get better than 5L/100Km on petrol or use no petrol

Agreed - I don't know why anyone would think converting existing vehicles is a cost effective way of going about this.

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