03 Jul

Another article about the peak car idea

It could be recession. It could be that the middle class is paring back. It could be a change in attitudes. Either way, it’s happening, and if it continues over the next few years, will be a trend:

“When adjusted for population growth, the number of miles driven in the United States peaked in 2005 and dropped steadily thereafter, according to an analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, an investment research company.  As of April 2013, the number of miles driven per person was nearly 9 percent below the peak and equal to where the country was in January 1995. Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way. The next few years will be telling.

‘What most intrigues me is that rates of car ownership per household and per person started to come down two to three years before the downturn,’ said Michael Sivak, who studies the trend and who is a research professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. ‘I think that means something more fundamental is going on.’”

(Via The End of Car Culture – NYTimes.com.)

21 May

Mercedes-Benz shows off self-driving car, available now

Wow. I’m having a real living-in-the-future moment:

” the automaker showed off its ‘virtual chauffer’ technology in its new $100,00 S-Class in Hamburg, Germany — it’s a car that Mercedes-Benz says can steer itself in city traffic or keep it in its lane going over 120MPH on a highway, under the right conditions. It can also park itself, brake automatically to avoid hitting pedestrians or other cars, and can even tell when a driver is becoming dangerously fatigued. Mercedes compared it to a plane’s autopilot system, in which the plane can perform many of the routine tasks necessary to get it from point A to point B while a human keeps its eye on things to watch out for trouble.”

(Via Mercedes-Benz shows off self-driving car technology in its new $100,000 S-Class | The Verge.)

If you look at Mercedes, options that are available first in their S-Class cars eventually become mundane. This is a real signifier for me.

14 May

Tesla beating luxury car model sales

CNN takes a closer look at Tesla sales. This reminds me of early adoption practices in other key technologies, like cellphones. First they’re subsidized by the rich and out of our reach, and when are tech, are roundly drubbed by mainstream thinkers as being high priced tech toys.

Today’s electric cars are likely to future electric cars as cellphones in the late 80s are to today’s cellphones.


“You know the Tesla Model S, the $70,000 (and-up) electric car that ‘nobody can afford’? Well, evidently, more than a few people can afford it.

In fact, in the first quarter of this year, more people bought a Tesla Model S than bought any of the similarly priced gasoline-powered cars from the top three German luxury brands, according to data from LMC Automotive. About 4,750 buyers bought a Model S while just over 3,000 people bought Mercedes’ top-level sedan.”

(Via Tesla sales beating Mercedes, BMW and Audi – May. 13, 2013.)

04 May

A glimpse at Tesla’s future

Next Big Future highlights a report that suggests that Wall Street’s anti-renewables and political beliefs are shorting Tesla stock, and are getting it way wrong.

I’d say that about most renewables. There’s a lot of churn as the tech is sorting itself out, but man that field has been more interesting over the last four years than in all the time since I started following it in 1998 when I was in college.

Speaking of politics, North Carolina is trying to make it illegal for Teslas to be sold direct there.

A winning move from the state that has recently refused to follow basic democratic moves such as counting votes in order to repeal alternative energy investment and fighting to stop scientists from talking about sea level rises using legislature.