The Voyage: Roz Savage
Who Killed The Electric Car?
06 Aug 2006, San Francisco, California

General Motors must be worried about the adverse PR they get in the film I saw tonight - worried enough to buy an ad that appears at the top of the page if you Google on "Who Killed The Electric Car?" Try it. For EV afficionados (EVicionados?) the film must make distressing viewing. An EV snuff movie. Pristine, shiny GM EV1's are repossessed, shredded and crushed (see above).

Chris Paine, the director and writer, clearly has an axe to grind, but the case for the prosecution is presented in an entertaining and informative way, much as Bowling For Columbine did. It helps his cause that he has some surprising statistics at his disposal.

Did you know that 100 years ago there were more electric cars on the road than gas cars?

Or that a gallon of gas releases 19 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere?

Or that the US consumes almost 9 million barrels of gasoline daily, representing 43% of the total global daily gasoline consumption?

By switching to the most efficient models in each vehicle class, Americans could save 13.1 billion gallons of gasoline annually.

And as for flying, the amount of fuel that a Jumbo Jet can carry would drive an average car four times around the world.

Click here for more facts from the film.

It makes thought-provoking viewing, and is well worth seeing. It contains some marvellous quotes: [The American consumer says] "You're asking me to drive a small car. You're asking me to keep my house cold. Basically, you want me to live like" [pause for shocked expression] "a European".

And Mel Gibson's startling beard (see below) deserves a title credit all to itself.

The film concludes on an optimistic note. As one of the interviewees says: 'This was David against Goliath, in a big way. But if you get lots of Davids, you can beat Goliath.' Public awareness is the key to gathering those Davids, and this film does its bit to enlighten as well as entertain.

Click here for reviews

Alexandra Paul, Baywatch actress, drives an EV

Movie trailers available on the Apple site

The official movie site

THAT beard: Mel Gibson

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Electric Dreams: The Zero-Emissions Sports Car
05 Aug 2006, Palo Alto, California

This morning about 9am I picked up an email from a friend, marked URGENT. 'There is a meeting TODAY 10-12am in Palo Alto of the East (SF) Bay Electric Auto Association featuring Tesla Motors'. My eyes popped - my dream car! Cute, curvy, convertible, and totally electric. So after a double-quick dash around Wunderlich Park (even dream cars don't get to interfere with my new exercise program) I hopped into the Mini Cooper and zipped down to Palo Alto to check it out.

[For a better quality version of the video click here]

The conference room was packed - about 200 people - sandals and facial hair abounded, but there were some normal people there too. By the time I got there JB Straubel, Chief Technical Officer of Tesla Motors, had finished his presentation was taking questions. A forest of hands waved in the air. Yes, the car could do 250 miles between recharges. Yes, it only takes 3.5 hours to fully recharge the batteries. And yes, yes, yes, it can do 0 to 60mph in 4 seconds.

The questions were getting increasingly geeky so an EBEAA officer stood up to rescue JB and to make the announcement seemingly everyone had been waiting for: 'The car is here'. The hall emptied in only a few seconds more than it takes the Tesla to reach 60.

And there it was, crouched alongside the curb outside, like a sleek black panther. Electric cars used to look like this:

A quirky oddity, but hardly practical, having a range of only 20-40 miles between recharges and a trunk the size of a briefcase. The Tesla is taking the electric car in a new and exciting direction. It looks as if rumours of the death of electric vehicles (I'm off to see the movie Who Killed The Electric Car? tonight - review to follow) may have been much exaggerated.

Links to further info:
- LA Weekly
- LA Times
- USA Today

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101 Uses For Duct Tape: Parts 1 to 3
04 Aug 2006, San Francisco, California

Use 1: Atlantic Row Day 48 - my fourth and last oar broke. I wasn't even halfway across the ocean. I was determined to maintain my unsupported status so rather than calling for replacements, I had to make do and mend using only what I had on board - a telescopic boathook and duct tape. I used the boathook as a splint, and bound the whole thing tightly in duct tape. I would row with these cumbersome, patched-up oars for the next 1500 miles. [Illustrated above: note stylish silver duct tape on oars on both sides of the boat.]

Use 2: Duct Tape Wallet - if you should happen to find yourself in need of a wallet, and for some reason you don't have access to a wallet shop but you do have access to a duct tape shop, here's what to do.

Part 3: Duct Tape Case for your iPod Nano - no problem!

Hard to imagine the need arising, but you never know. Duct tape and cable ties - surely the most versatile DIY kit ever.

Oar before the repair

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Putting the Atlantic in Perspective
03 Aug 2006, San Francisco, California

The Atlantic is 2935 miles across (although with all my meanderings I probably covered many more miles than that). That's the distance from New York to San Francisco. I've tried to find a comparable distance in Europe, but even London to Athens is only a measly 2112 miles. So try this one...

Look at your hand. If that hand is an average hand it will measure about 7.5 inches from wrist to fingertip. If that hand was my boat, the distance I rowed across the Atlantic would be the same as the distance from Oxford to Cambridge. Imagine 'walking' that distance (80 miles) by putting one hand wrist-to-fingertip in front of the other.

Kakadu Golf Gloves have just renewed their sponsorship with me. I wore out 5 pairs of their kangaroo skin gloves crossing 3000 miles of Atlantic, so will probably need 15 pairs to cover 9000 miles across the Pacific. That must be almost an entire kangaroo's-worth. And if you were 'hand-walking' from Oxford you'd probably be glad of them too.

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