back to article Israel electric car project aims to wipe out oil

Israel today announced backing for Project Better Place, intended to switch motor transportation from oil to electric, and by a massive coincidence one of the project's prime movers, Shai Agassi of Better PLC, was evangelising at the DLD (Digital Life, Design) show in Munich. His objective, he says, is to "take one country off …

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Anonymous Coward

Green? Schmeen.

They're not doing it to be green. They're doing it so that when they Nuke Iran they'll be energy-independent and can stick two fingers up at the Gulf-State oil embargo.

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Anonymous Coward

"Israel is the most chaotic nation he knows"

Doesn't travel much does he?

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Anonymous Coward

"wipe out oil"

As you point out, where are they going to get the electricity from to recharge the cars? And how are they going to store the electricity so it's on tap at the recharging stations? Or do you pass the strain down the system to wherever there generating power in the first place? Like a solar station that has problems ramping up production after dark.

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Anonymous Coward

lolzertron

Where do all the batteries go?

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Batteries

My biggest worry would be about all the batteries that would be required for this and the extremely toxic chemicals they are made from, would you end up switching from depending on relatively prevalent oil to an even scarcer and environmentally damaging set of fuels?

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Flame

Hmm

Israel-wide? I assume, as they lay claim to Palestinian land, they'll be providing the same cars and service to the Palestinian people.

*needs a shit-stirring icon*

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Black Helicopters

Interesting .....

Electric cars really aren't as green as they're painted, though. All they actually succeed in doing is displacing exhaust emissions from the nice, clean, modern engine in the car to the dirty, ancient, inefficient engine in the power station.

However, Israel is (1) the only bit of the Middle East with no oil, and (2) fundamentally at odds, religion-wise, with most of her neighbours. So it makes good sense for them to develop transport based on other fuels, especially if Israel or one of her allies manage to provoke a hostile reaction from one of the oil-producing nations.

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Anonymous Coward

Electric car

He might do well to look at a neat little car that is already in production in Canada - the ZENN - it stands for "zero pollution, no noise".

It is worth visiting their website - and no, I have no connection with them!

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Pretty good idea

Great idea- comparing it to phones so it seems familliar, and using the almost-constantly-charging model that gets rid of lots of the battery issues for electric cars- around town at least.

Also it'd be a good idea for in-town use as electric motors have a much better torque curve for that; far more torque lower down the rev range.

Now they just need to get rid of the G-Wiz from the face of the planet and get the Tesla Roadster out on the road and electric cars will take off for real!

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dirty power stations

Car engines are << 25% efficiency, and 0% efficiency while idling. Thermal power plants are usually between 33% and 40% efficiency, and can be cleaned up quite well.

Material supply for large quantities of batteries seems a bigger concern. The need for exchangeability in this concept also makes it difficult to adapt to new technologies or different size cars.

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A bit short sighted

What happens if they take the US off oil. It'll be harder to justify propping up Israel once the middle east is just a bunch of sand again.

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Gold badge
Coat

Mobile phone model.

OK, I'll bite. Exactly how *do* you get your car into the bin so you can claim you lost it on the insurance and get a new one?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Pretty good idea

I caught a Daimler presentation last night that was pitching far less horrid (were they Smarts? Think so) toys zipping around. They claimed they'd been running some around London for a while, and they'd be marketing them RSN.

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Re: "wipe out oil"

"As you point out, where are they going to get the electricity from to recharge the cars?"

Well, as they have had nuclear weapons for quite some time I would imagine that power stations of that ilk would not be a problem.

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Disposable cars

If they design the cars to be easily upgradable (skin, powertrain, features), then the cars as mobiles idea might actually work.

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Flame

It's called a Congestion Charge for a reason.

Making a car electric will do precisely nothing to solve the *congestion* problems of horse-and-cart towns and cities.

That's why it's called a *Congestion* Charge, not a Pollution Charge. The pollution isn't the problem; you cannot physically squeeze enough cars onto London's tiny, country-lanes-with-delusions-of-grandeur to create the pollution and smog levels of, say, New York or Rome. Both of those cities have more roads that are usually wider and predominantly arranged in a grid pattern, offering more alternative routes. For them electric cars are of more immediate value.

Different countries and societies will require different solutions. There will be no magic bullet, one-size-fits-all solution. Unless someone finally invents a viable flying car -- and all the necessary infrastructure to support it.

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Anonymous Coward

he failed to address one issue

he didn't address where the electricity comes from, so clearly the whole plan is bullshit.

the only plan we are willing to hear is an end to end solution that calls for no change or cost what so ever.

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Boffin

@AJStiles

> Electric cars really aren't as green as they're painted, though. All they actually succeed in doing is displacing exhaust emissions from the nice, clean, modern engine in the car to the dirty, ancient, inefficient engine in the power station.

There's some truth to that, but there is a significant gain in efficiency (rather than 1:1 displacement), because the amt of FF burned even at an ancient power station to drive an EV is considerably less than amt required to drive an ICE vehicle the same distance (I don't have numbers at hand, but this has been widely studied and discussed.) And this is transitional b/c the power station can be replaced with solar/wind/etc. w/o having to replace the vehicle fleet.

Electric trains are even more efficient so I expect that personal EV's are ultimately transitional as well, because the economics are going to push societies towards more efficient solutions to relieve the strain on GDP from the rising cost of operating personal vehicles.

Like other posters have pointed out batteries are the big problem here because battery technology is not where it would need to be to serve as power storage for personal vehicles with the same range and "refill" speed ppl are accustomed to with ICE vehicles. Unfortunately, we've got few options here if the economics continue to move in the direction they have been in the past few years, with demand for commodities growing even in the face of a looming global recession.

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So...

Get on with it already! It's time for action. I'll not suggest the arguments on both sides are not worthwhile - they are indeed - but sometimes when you need to study something so indepth and complicated as switching to electric cars for an entire population of people, you just have to go ahead and do it, then study as it happens.

There will always be something wrong with it - but by doing it, you can discover first-hand what those things are and work toward solutions, improvements or compromises as necessary.

2009 is immediate enough - unlike anything ever bantered about by anyone in North America - and that makes it worthwhile to look into from all angles simply because they may actually go through with it in short order.

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Coat

one of many

1. Im one of these chaotic people -- yes, i've seen worse.

2. there is no solution yet for the biggest question: how to make us consume less!-- surly making everything cost much more?! i thought that that's what we do in london now?!

3. RRR-- Recycle Reuse Reduce.

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Flame

Anonymous @1

Clearly this is a private initiative and not one from the government.

Secondly, the Gulf States and the Saudis are shit scared of nuclear Shiites (Iran is the only Shiite and non-Arab state - apart from Israel- in the Middle East and they are not so popular either), so if Israel did nuke Iran, (which it won't because operationally it's too complex, but it's certainly worth rattling sabres to stop them developing nuclear weapon capability) it would probably draw some polite applause from the Arabs.

Thirdly, Israel buys its oil from other places like Nigeria, Angola, Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, Norway, Russia, Kazakhstan, and some of the other -stans. Just Google for it.

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ICE less efficient then powerplants

1.) ICE's are not more efficient then power plants. Sorry.

2.) Many countries already generate substantial amounts of Base load with Hydro, geotherm, nuclear, etc. All Cleaner then FF plants which are cleaner then ICE.

3.) Regen Braking systems alone would improve efficiencies, never mind the transfer of generation load to power stations.

4.) Power transfer systems embedded in massively congested freeways would do a lot to minimize battery useage / charge cycles (read longer battery life). (picture along very heavy traffic routes embedded metal rails passing power to a deployable (perhaps self contained) reception apparatus (remember repair areas in F-Zero?)

5.) Battery research for cars is no where near saturated investment wise. Inorder to do so the return would have to be there. As it is now, its not. It's ther in small devices like cellphones, laptops etc. Once climate improves for ROI, then we can reasonably expect investment (read innovation) to increase. Until that point we can all sit here moping about the lack of cheap clean batteries for large scale application.

Remember!!!

ICE is only as good as it is because of the massive time and money investments to make it so. It wasn't so long ago that the horse beat out those innefficient dirty, smelly, loud ICEs.

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Coat

Like mobile phones? . . .

Cue, Nokia ring tone......

"HELLO.."

"I'M IN AN ELECTRIC CAR..."

"NO, IT'S RUBBISH!....."

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Dead Vulture

So that's why

they cut off oil supplies to Gaza. They want the Palestinians to go green.....

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Coat

re: he failed to address one issue

@chris: and doesn't involve fossil fuels (scarce), nuclear (scary) or renewables (kill birds), and doesn't involve us not driving (scary again).

Yep, that's a pretty neat summary of all the discussions on this topic at El Reg.

Mine's the fleece.

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Everyone's so focused on the green crap that they forget

It's not all about going green. It's about getting out of a dependence on a finite energy source. Oil will not last forever with some estimates giving it 30-35 years at our current and rapidly growing rate of global consumption. Some things will be incredibly difficult to take off of oil but the automobile is a complete possibility. Sure there isn't an infinite supply of coal or uranium either but that's why we'r ealso working on renewable sources of fuel. Oil will run out sooner than anything though and it'd be nice to get the world off of that before that day comes.

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Happy

London as a market?

Come on, there's no way Red Ken would go for it (if he's still clinging to power then), firstly because he can't continue treating the car-driving public like mobile wallets, and because he has too many extremist Muslim friends that would tell him it's all a cunning plan from them crafty Joooooooooos! Mind you, it doesn't stop the nutjobs using Intel CPUs designed and manufactured in Israel when they want to dump their mindless drivel on the Web.

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Oil's reserves

@Shroudy: "Oil will not last forever with some estimates giving it 30-35 years". It has ALWAYS been around 40 years of proven reserves. It was that way 40 years ago, and guess what, we found more of the black goo. Israel just doesn't want to enrich its evil neighbors so it goes on. Nuclear power is OK if you can build the plants correctly and have competent people running them. As for disposable vehicles and having a plan like mobile phones will that mean that "Can you hear me now" will translate to "Can I haul my stuff now" or some such.

If you really want to be green, ride a bicycle, it worked quite well about 100 years ago.

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Paris Hilton

TGV

a glass of champagne and sex in a private compartment as the countryside whizzes past at ~350km/per hour on a train with equally fast wifi all powered by the smooth hum of nuclear-electric....

since i moved to France my days of traveling long distance distance by car are over.

paris : because she likes to ride up and down the eiffel tower.

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J
Joke

Bad...

"a cunning plan involving the Negev desert, huge mirrors and solar energy"

That line immediately reminded me of Baldrick, which can not bode well for any plan...

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Go

Congrats to F-Zero ref.

- There's a whole lot of work being done on Lith-ion, lith-poly and the more exotic batteries which is making them much more efficient- maybe not quite Moors Law, but not too far off (I run a company selling lith-battery products). So the main argument against the electric vehicles will dwindle away as tech improves.

- Im still waiting for the Hover Car too, although somehow el reg's infamous villain, Moller, is unlikely to deliver one soon.

-No way Ken will support cars, even electric ones, with some kind of connection to Israel- unless they were Palestinian made, and then there would be massive subsidies for them... he's fair like that lol.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Herby

We cannot maintain confidence that we'll continually find new oil at the same increasing rate at which we use it. COnsider the masses in less developed countries that will be needing quite a lot more transportation in the next few decades, as well as the general population growth on the planet.

As for riding a bike instead, great idea if only you get all those cars off the road since many places have rideable paths only for automobiles, it would be more difficult to create parallel roads for bikes than to create the infrastructure to recharge electric cars.

For too many reasons to list it's often the case that bikes and cars can't share the same roads.

Ever ridden a bike anywhere along a road and had teenage automobile drivers veer over and blow their horn after approaching behind you? Situations like that make me wish I'd had a paintball gun (and a backup real gun).

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Alert

1 ICE = 10 EVs

For all of you unaware, a petrol fired ICE car is about 15% energy efficient while a DC Electric Vehicle is typically 85% efficient and for an AC EV with regeneration, where the same electrical energy is recycled every time the vehicle slows down, can be up to 150% energy efficient.

Therefore for the same amount of fossil energy that has to be processed to run one petrol powered ICE down the road you can power up to 10 Electric vehicles. These efficiency gains effectively wipe out any question of directly transferring the same quantity of pollution from tailpipe to large power stations. I'd also point out that you can't run a petrol ICE on Nuclear, Hydro, Coal, Gas, Wind, Geothermal, Solar, Tidal, Biomass .... only highly refined oil! An EV will run on all these!

One more point, electric motors, like most electric/electronic components last about 100,000 hours. Driving a car at 60 kph for that long gives you a motor life of 6 Million kms. That should last the average motorist 300 years so I don't see any reason why this story proposes a high replacement rate for cars and then factors manufacturing into the green equation. There are over 1 Billion ICE cars on the planet to be replaced with EVs, that should keep manufacturers busy for a while without having to resell a 2nd of 3rd time to the same customers.

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E

The real reason...

Is that Israel gov't finally realized it can't make the Arabs go away with helicopter gunships and bombs because it offends to many people elsewhere, and those Arabs have all that oil.

So the smart thing to do is remove the Arab country's economic underpinnings. Make oil obsolete and no-one will care about the Arabs. It's perfectly fits the crypto fascist underbelly of Israeli right wing politics: not "nobody cares about the Jews", but turned on it's head: "nobody cares about the Arabs".

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efficiemncy etc

Electric power plants may be more efficient than ice, but what about the electric power plant -> transmission line -> battery -> electric motor ?

OTOH, yes, it's "always been" 40 years, and then we found more of the black goo, but 40 years ago we had not already scrutinised every inch of the earth's surface. Sure, there's proably more under the deeper oceans. But the problem isn't that the oil will run out, the problem is that it will become increasingly uneconomic to extract.

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I'm Jealous!

Imagine eliminating the need for 100's of millions of dollars required to pay for health care costs from respiratory illness. Go Israel!

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Anonymous Coward

End of oil

I have this sad suspicion that it's not going to matter what happens to most of us once the oil has run out since the the US, China, India, Russia and probably everyone else will nuke each other into self-lit parking lots over that last few drops...

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Go

Re: 1 ICE = 10 EVs

Wonderful comparison! But theres more to add to it -

Manufacturing an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) with tens of thousands of moving parts and intricate complex assemblies which require far more effort than manufacturing electric motors and their associated power electronics.

Consider the environmental cost of manufacturing the thousands of components of an ICE + its assembling costs + maintenance costs + replacement costs. They are enormous when compared to simple electric motors which need almost (almost) no maintenance at all!

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Bronze badge

Oil extraction costs

Assuming continued demand, it's not the economic aspect that will cause problems. There's an energy requirement to extract oil as well - as difficulty of extraction increases there is a theoretical point where the energy required to extract, refine etc. the oil is more than the energy that can be extracted from it. At that point oil just stops, regardless of how much money you have available to throw at it. No point in spending 100KWh to get 90KWh.

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Sheeesh!

Just gotta love the "EVs are bullshit" brigade - if the oil supply were as reliable as the average "EVs aren't GREEN" whiner, there'd be no need for EVs.

OK, Who said "disposable" cars? - just because the marketing is akin to mobile phones, does not mean the car has to be dumped in a landfill.

The batteries today are recyclable (Li-Ion, nano-titanide etc) and there's no reason the other components of the cars can't be recycled, too - it's merely the laziness and stupidity of consumers that prevent proper recycling of ICE car components to date.

A proper battery ***replacement*** (extra highlighting for the clinically unobservant) programme would ensure the old batteries wind up in recycling to make a new set of batteries while the motorist has a shiny new battery pack in the EV.

Yes, there will be teething problems with moving to a totally EV environment, but that's why we (as a species) get out and do things - to find out the problems and find solutions.

Well, some of us do. Others seem to prefer to whine about how there are going to be unpredictable problems so it's best to stick with the known problems of the status quo.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the phasing out of ICVs and replacing them with EVs - the reliability, longevity, ease of maintenance, quietness etc of the EVs make them far superior to ICVs. Also it'll be so nice to know, when sitting at the lights or stuck in traffic, that my vehicle will not be consuming any "fuel" - electricity - other than what is necessary to run the "low voltage" (12VDC as opposed to whatever voltage the motor uses) systems I'm using - unlike an ICV where the engine is chewing up fuel while you're going nowhere.

And as to the bleating about the inefficiency of powerstations and transporting the power (power lines) has it occurred to any of you ICE-apologists that petrol and diesel require electricity (from said "inefficient" powerstations) in order to be extracted from the crude oil and then diesel-powered trucks to transport the fuel overland to the petrol-stations? Nope, didn't think so, too busy bagging electricity and preferring to pretend that refined petrol just materialises at the bowser as it looks better for your cause. Then you need huge ships to transport the barrels of crude oil unless you're living in an oil-producing nation or across the border from one.

Not only are ICVs less efficient than EVs, the transportation of oil-based fuels is less efficient than the transmission of electricity.

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Stop

Bad batteries

The battery is the most expensive part of an EV. Consequently nobody in his right mind would want to swap his new battery for someone else's old fscked up battery. So battery exchange systems will never work.

Another interesting point is that all Israel's electricity is produced from coal and they have a permanent shortage of that.

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Boffin

@ herman (Bad batteries)

If you want to go more than 200 km, and not wait a few hours for your batteries to recharge, swapping batteries is really the only option. If you don't like the batteries you get (in swap) - you can always swap them again...

The old stagecoach systems in the US (and probably Europe, but I don't know) used the same system, except people swapped tired horses for fresh... The difference in quality of horses must have been a bigger problem in those days than batteries will be now - for one thing you can test a battery, for another you can recycle it or replace old parts. And you never need to call the vet...

Perhaps we need to think of the 'batteries' as 'fuel carriers' rather than as 'parts of my car' - at that point swapping the batteries is like filling up with gas - you don't know what quality of gas you are getting but there are measurable and enforceable standards for the gas - I am sure that batteries will have the same. Batteries which are not up to par would be sent for repair or be replaced by the station, so they would be out of the loop quite fast (like old banknotes...).

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@ Sandeep

"Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)"

Thank you!!! I'd been struggling with that for quite a few posts.

Reminds me of a conversation at work...

"They're trying to avoids using TLAs"

"What the hell's a TLA?"

"Three Letter Acronym!"

*slaps head*

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@herman too

Fully agree with Chris.

Battery exchange system would work, because you don't care about your battery: you'll have a different one each day anyway.

Plus, you probably wouldn't even own your battery, you'd just rent the right to have a battery at all times, and the battery is some company's responsibility. whenever you change it, as said, it's controlled and sent for repair/replacement as needed, so you only get quality batteries.

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Ever heard of the Edison electric car?

He had a working prototype and planned to put battery exchange stations along the roads. Sadly, the electrical network was essentially non extistent back then, but everybody had petrol for their lamps. His motor went into Ford's model-T as it's starting engine/generator and the car could run from its battery for a few dozen miles without petrol. This is why the Toyota prius used the same gear and motor aligment of the model-T. (with the embrassing backing on slopes bug also copied in first models)

This 'new' idea finally implements the electric car conect as it was intended around a hundred years ago. For power source, you could use clean nuclear stations (peeble beds are good, because all waste can be recycled into weapons or fuel), hydro, geothermal or anything you want. For distribution, you could charge batteries at recharge stations. So a user has the chance to charge or swap.

About the car's lifetime, I have very positive experience with electric vehicles. Some 25+ year old electric buses are still operating perfectly in eastern europe, despite lack of maintenance and notoriusly bad roads. The same can be said about the old 60 years old trams that were built after world war 2 and still running regular service or the old electric undgerground line of Budapest where the first upgrade was performed roughly 80 years after it started operating. (it was constructed in the 19. century, being the second line after London and the first fully electric with electromechanical program controlled automated train control built-in) In short, electric vehicles simply don't break too often or get old.

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Re: @ herman (Bad batteries)

Interesting thought. So at the "charge station" you buy the amount of energy contained in whatever battery you are handed, you don't trade in your own (presumed good) battery for someone else's (presumed bad) battery.

But if it is up to the infrastructure provider (be it governmental or commercial) to take the initial financial hit of establishing a large battery pool, then I assume that the cost of batteries need to decrease considerably before this will really happen?

Also, I wonder whether there will actually be enough batteries to act as the energy buffer needed by most renewable energy sources, e.g. wind, wave or sun - so that the batteries can be charged in the peaks of the energy source, and used at the more predictable pace of modern-day commuting?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TGV

Ah yes, the joy of arriving at a town in rural France in the middle of the day with no transport, sweating like a pig as you lug your bags the mile or two to town, the gentle hum of your T-Shirt (if you haven't had to take it off) the phenominal rip off as you hire the only taxi driver in town still sober enough to drive after a 3 hour lunch, the gently ache in your arms as you heft the bags in and out of the broken down taxi (Renault of course) and into another one (Peugeot, drivers finally finished his lunch)..

Finally reaching your little place in the country, now, just the shopping to get done...

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Rod

WTF - no oil......

Set aside the green/anti-consumerist thang and also the Crypto-fascist Jew/Arab/Amercian (delete as necessary) thing and think on this. One day, Oil reserves will fall off (either in fact, or become uneconomic to develop). At that point, biofuels only slow the pain, not remove it (not enough land to grow food and fuel see?). When that happens, how do we travel? No planes, no cars, no trains etc on petrol/diesel or AvGas.

Provided you got a prime mover (hydro/tidal/wind/nuke) you can generate electricity. You can either stuff it into batteries, or use it to power a process to make combustible liquids/gases (i.e Hydrogen). However, you need some tech to make it into transport.

The benefit of this type of venture is to challenge the status Quo and thrash out new tech. We need smaller, greener, faster charging batteries. We need stronger, lighter and more tractable motors ( and vehicles to put them in, from trains to cars) and we need to work out how to make money out of these things (hey, we're not talking eco-greenie socialism here!).

If you can't be assed then you can't be assed, fair enough. Personally, I think this type of thing is great - making money and getting ready for when fossil fuels cough and die. What's not to love?

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Black Helicopters

That will stick it to the Yanks big time

Presently just about the entire value of the USD$ is propped up by the price of oil. Oil is traded on the open market in USD$ and as a result anyone who wants to purchase oil on the global markets needs to purchase USD$ to do so.

As the price of oil skyrockets past $100 per barrel the US needs to print more and more USD$ to keep up with demand for more USD$ to sell to people on the world markets so that they can buy oil. This demand keeps the value of the USD$ up (although it has been tumbling recently) and allows the US government to print/create more USD$ to keep it from going bankrupt as it spiralling national debt increases.

If the global demand for oil suddenly dropped and the price of oil tumbled (or people around the world started trading in Euros for oil) then the value of the USD$ would plummet like a stone as there would be a massive surplus of USD$ on the international money market and there could be a real danger of hyper inflation in the US and the US economy could completely crash. If that was to happen then it is likely that it would default on the present massive debts it has and take the rest of the global economy down with it in a bang that makes the great depression look like a bad day at the office.

The rich oil producing nations in the middle east know that this is inevitable at some point in the future and that the oil is going to run out which is why you will notice that countries such as Saudi Arabia are investing their oil revenues and diversifying their national industries away from a dependence on oil production and moving towards a more service based economy that involves shuffling lots of paper and huge amounts of money about and taking a slice off the top.

It is a great irony bearing in mind how Israel owes its existence to the US, that it is Israel that is the country that is starting the ball rolling on kicking the worlds dependence on oil, a process which will knife its greatest ally in the back big time.

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Anonymous Coward

"not enough land to grow food and fuel"

Well, if you let half the population starve to death, bingo, enough land.

An alternative could be birth control of course, but that would cost money and upset the religious types.

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