In the world of electric cars there are very few new ideas. Mostly it revolves around Prius type of cars. The Tesla is in a different strategic direction (focus on power and performance) and may be a good one.
Well, Ian Wright comes up with another good strategic direction. Neal Dikeman at Cnet writes about his discussion with Wright.
Wright knows something about this topic, as he was formerly an executive at EV start-up Tesla Motors, and is now the founder and CEO of Wrightspeed, a Silicon Valley-based start-up whose first car is going to be a high-performance electric supercar, price tag just shy of $200,000. And as it’s electric, Wright expects it should out-start, outrun, out-turn, and generally outperform anything in its class.
I am known among my friends as being a real skeptic when it comes to EVs, but behind Wright’s business plan he got my attention with two ideas that are worth repeating: payback and plug-ins.
Putting expensive hybrid and EV technology in the small car not only has a worse financial payback–compounding the perennial problem of EVs being too costly, but the same 20 percent efficiency improvement does very little to reduce overall fuel consumption for society compared to the same efficiency gains in a big truck that drives a heck of lot of miles.
So Wright asks, if we want to both find a way to save car owners money, and save the world–wouldn’t we focus on applying technology to where the problem is the worst and the returns are the best?
To deal with this issue, Wright isn’t all about the all electric. He’s pushing plug-in electric hybrids, PHEVs, aka gridable hybrids…Wright’s vision also addresses one of the long-running Achilles’ heels of electric cars–the lack of fueling infrastructure. Regardless of your feelings on the matter, it’s generally bad business to try to bet on an expensive infrastructure rollout. And if it means slower and lower uptake of fuel-efficient vehicles, then calling for infrastructure change that’s not going to happen is bad for the environment, too.
Wright is asking a very good question. His focus on payback and through plug-ins using the current “fuel infrastructure” may be a great strategic bet that will potentially payoff.