Monday, December 31, 2012

Thomas Friedman’s Battery is Flat





The British call a dead battery a flat battery.  Thomas Friedman claimed the earth was flat.  When it comes to thermodynamics Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is flat out wrong.  He opined in September 2010 in an article “Their Moon Shot Or Ours” that the Chinese were going to beat us in getting  to the moon by proliferating  electric cars on the road.  In the article Thomas also loved CODA and he thought Shai Agassi was the coming of the E messiah.   I quote Mr. Friedman:
The electric car industry is pivotal for three reasons, argues Shai Agassi, the C.E.O. of Better Place, a global electric car company that next year will begin operating national electric car networks in Israel and Denmark. First, the auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class. Second, the country that replaces gasoline-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles — in an age of steadily rising oil prices and steadily falling battery prices — will have a huge cost advantage and independence from imported oil. Third, electric cars are full of power electronics and software. “Think of the applications industry that will be spun out from electric cars,” says Agassi. It will be the iPhone on steroids.”
The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000). It is a win-win start-up for both countries.“

Thomas Friedman the futurist was flat out wrong.  His world may have been flat but he hit a flat F note when opining about the future of electric cars.  Sadly his employer the New York Times continues to hype the gangrene green crowd.  I have blogged that they hyped the stock of Kior.  They love the Bloom Box.  They worship Al Gore.  They kiss the ring of John Doerr and they still think Steven Chu is Stevie Wonderful.

Fast forward to today, we now know the US leads the word in plug in cars with a miserable 54,000 such crappy expensive and subsidized vehicles sold in 2012.  The Chinese market won’t even reach 50,000 of plug in vehicles a year of sales till 2015.  We also know that CADA is Coda Blue and that Shai Agassi is now Very Shy Agassi and radio silent after he was fired from Project Better Place. 

You may ask who had it right in September 2010?  Of course yours truly the Green Machine who studied thermodynamics at Iowa State had it right.   To assert my claim of getting it right I quote the following from my archives:

February 2010 Outside Witness Testimony To The US Senate - “Conclusion: Lithium batteries are and will remain best suited for items as small as a cell phone and as large as a bicycle. The cost relative to performance or these batteries will likely not improve by much in the coming decade. Although some standard hybrid vehicles may use lithium batteries with low capacity, plug in vehicles with larger than 10 mile range of travel on batteries will likely not proliferate. Given the likely scenario that plug in passenger cars and trucks based on lithium battery technology will not reduce US consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel in large measure, I am asking the subcommittee to limit the funds that the US government will appropriate for research and development of this technology.”

March 2010 A123 will never make it – “Of course neither A 123 nor Tesla has positive gross margin. But they promise investors they will bring down costs by increasing the volume they produce and bring down costs by the learning rate. I have explained at length in my letter to the US Senate that the learning rate will be painfully slow. What this means is A 123, Tesla, Fisker, and other want to be plugged in vehicle car companies will simply loose the money investors and our government (we the people) gives them.”

December 2010 after watching Shai Agassi on Charlie Rose – “If one set of lithium ion batteries for a plug in vehicle is not a dumb enough idea some guys have come up with the brainwave that multiple sets of lithium ion batteries should be used for a plug in vehicle. Why the need for multiple sets of batteries? So that one can pull up to a service station that has a robot that quickly extracts the on board battery pack and replaces it with a freshly charged pack. Forget that the first battery pack was unaffordable we can quickly change out that unaffordable pack for the next doubly unaffordable pack.”

January 2011 Coda will be Coda Blue – “To be fair and balanced the Republicans are also cleaning up on the clean energy boondoggle. Hank the take us to the tank Paulson who let us slide into deep recession and his team at Coda will soon be importing their battery car from China. They hired an ex GM guy as CEO. My prognostication is the Codas will all be painted blue and we will soon use Coda Blue as the hospital code for calling AAA to resuscitate cars with dead batteries that have a flat voltage line at zero.”

Mr. Friedman here is some news for you.  The world is not flat but your battery car is flat, your printed newspaper is flat on its back, Shai Agassi is knocked out flat, and Coda Blue is flat lining.  Perhaps if you had a clue about thermodynamics you could actually play a role in setting energy policy.  Sadly our Department of Entropy mistook flatulence for shale natural gas and our debt is now anything but flat.  Mr. Friedman studied Mediterranean Studies not thermodynamics at Brandies University.  I have no doubt that Humus is a chemical precursor to methane.

What is even more outrageous is the earlier op ed in the NewYork Times from Friedman of December 10, 2008, when Bush was busily trying to save the auto industry.  Friedman starting hyping “Better Place” in this op ed and called the saving of the auto industry as “our bailout of Detroit will be remembered as the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order-catalogue business on the eve of the birth of eBay. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into the CD music business on the eve of the birth of the iPod and iTunes. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into a book-store chain on the eve of the birth of Amazon.com and the Kindle. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into improving typewriters on the eve of the birth of the PC and the Internet.

Wow I wonder if Friedman voted for Romney???  So much for this guy being a guru!!!

For the record my favorite quote on flattery is “baloney is flattery so thick it cannot be true; blarney is flatter so thin we like it.”   Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen


Peace The Green Machine 


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