Electrifying America

Question: Do you think America can lead the transition to electric cars?

Felix Kramer: Right now America is in danger of lagging behind other countries in the race to electrify vehicles. Thomas Freedman and others have talked about this at length and they’re saying ET is the new… electric technology and energy technology are the new IT of the next coming decades and other companies are further along than we are… and other countries are further along than we are, so we have some catching up to do, but Detroit remains a real powerhouse, tremendous amount of work on batteries and plug in vehicles is going on in Michigan and in other parts in the Midwest and we think there is still a lot of possibility for the United States to be a leader in plug in vehicles.

Question: Which countries are currently leading in this field?

Felix Kramer: Right now China is showing the signs of becoming the leader in plug vehicle technologies. They’ve got demonstration programs going on in their 13 largest cities and they are moving ahead in batteries. They… A Chinese company BYD became the first company the sell a plug in hybrid in modern times and they’re very aggressive and now recently when President Obama went to China they announced an agreement for a US, China plug in vehicle initiative and that’s a cooperative program between the two countries and we think that there is a lot of possibilities for collaboration on design, on components, on assembly and there is hundreds of millions of vehicles around the world that can be fixed by these two countries and others as well as building new vehicles.

Question: Do you see a change in America’s attitude toward electric cars?

Felix Kramer: People are finally realizing that plug in cars are practical for them. Maybe when the first hybrids came in the carmakers had to say you don’t have to plug this vehicle in and plugging in was bad, but now we’ve come for ten years where we’re all accustomed to plugging in our cell phones and we just do it. It’s not a big deal and now plugging in is good and people are understanding that. When I… I’m the world’s first consumer owner of a plug in hybrid and when I used to drive around and they say my… people saw my car with hundred plus miles per gallon on the side of it they said, “What’s that?” And a few years later they’d say, “Oh, that’s a plug in hybrid.” “How do I get one?” And then a few later, a few years later they said, “Well when are they going to be available in the dealers?” So there has been a progression and surveys recently are showing that half of Americans would like to have these cars.

America is already lagging well behind other countries, most notably China, in the effort to create a more sustainable path to transportation. Is it possible to catch up?

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Increased air travel may decrease the chances of a global pandemic

The closer together we get, the argument goes, the healthier we'll be.

Surprising Science
  • The more exposed we are to each other, the less surprising a pathogen will be to our bodies.
  • Terrorism, high blood pressure, and staffing issues threaten to derail progress.
  • Pursuing global health has to be an active choice.
Keep reading Show less