Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: Jolt! The Impending Dominance of the Electric Car and Why America Must Take Charge

In this expressive and compulsively readable book, James Billmaier makes a strong case that electric cars should and will be the vehicles of the future.

Superficial first impressions: the book is very prettily formatted, with short and snappy chapters preceded by memorable quotes, helpful graphs and diagrams to illustrate the mathy parts, and a font that’s very easy on the eyes.

The argument: The first section explains the importance of energy independence. Billmaier gets cute with the invented term “electriconomy” to argue that America needs to seize this chunk of the alternative energies market while we’re still ahead.

A big theme is that electric cars transcend political boundaries, and in service of this Billmaier brings out the big guns: ten interviews with power players like Bob Lutz of GM, Mike Tinskey of Ford, and Secretary Steven Chu of the U.S. Department of Energy, who come from very different ideological standpoints. This isn’t the typical token reference to bipartisanship.

Last words: The book closes with a head to head comparison of the cost of owning gas and electric cars and a timeline until electric car dominance. Billmaier predicts that they will make up 60 percent of new car sales by 2030, which dramatically exceeds typical expert predictions. I don’t quite buy it, but we’ll be in a prime position to see how it pans out: he expects the Pacific Northwest to lead the revolution.

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