Note to readers: In this new series, we will suggest worthwhile reading material on a variety of topics, not all of which will be related directly to investing. We anticipate several posts per month consisting of five to ten suggestions
One of the major obstacles standing in the way of widespread adoption of electric vehicles is the limited range offered by current battery technology. Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place, has an approach that may be gaining some traction. Better Place is promoting the concept of automated battery swapping where drivers will pull into a service station and exchange their depleted battery for a fully charged unit. The concept is similar to conventional refueling and reportedly takes less than one minute. However, the capital required to build this infrastructure will be massive and battery ranges must still improve in order to make the process viable for long road trips. Read this article for more details.
General Motors has announced a starting price of $41,000 for the Chevrolet Volt, the company’s first move into the nascent market for electric vehicles. Buyers may be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Volt is advertised to offer “up to 40 miles” of driving on an electric charge with a range extension feature that uses a gasoline generator to provide additional electric power for up to 300 more miles. Read this article for more information.
Bill Gates recently participated in a $23.5 million round of financing for EcoMotors to further develop its Opoc engine technology. The company states that its goal is to demonstrate the automobile industry’s first five passenger car capable of 100 miles per gallon based on the EPA’s highway mileage standard.
Warren Buffett met with students from Rice University’s graduate school of business yesterday. Each year, Mr. Buffett meets with several groups of business students and provides advice on business and investing topics. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, Mr. Buffett made some comments regarding peak oil and the prospect for electric cars. Read this article for more information.