Sept. 30, 2008 SDF Transportation

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On September 30, 2008 in San Francisco, SDForum and Astia held a Clean Tech Breakfast sponsored by Nixon Peabody and Moss Adams on “Innovation In Transportation”. Derek Dowsett of Moss Adams moderated panelists Dania Ghantous of Lion Cells, David Horning of Palo Alto Investors, Paul McGrath of RideSpring and Max Scheder-Bieschin of Barefoot Motors. Text from DJCline.com

Dania Ghantous of Lion Cells obviously thinks lithium ion batteries are the key to alternative transportation. The goal is a forty-mile range without a recharge. The question is whether is enough lithium in the world or whether some alternative can be found. She sees a huge domestic demand for batteries that could drive a return to domestic manufacturing. It may soon be cheaper to make batteries in this country than ship them from China. Text from DJCline.com

David Horning of Palo Alto Investors said the alternatives in transport are to consume less oil or consume something else. Control costs with more efficiency. Electricity holds the most promise. The success of electric cars depends on creating energy density equal to gasoline. Hybrids make the most sense as a transition to completely electric cars. Beyond efficiency is the competitive cost of replacing batteries versus gasoline. Even at seventy dollars per barrel, electric cars are much cheaper to operate per mile. Innovation cannot always accommodate regulation. If a hybrid plug-in gets 100 miles per gallon by driving 40 miles on electricity, can it compare with straight gasoline vehicles to conform to federal CAFÉ standards? Also, entrepreneurs developing for government programs risk losing control of intellectual property, something private investors loathe. Text from DJCline.com

Paul McGrath of RideSpring thinks improvements in Web 2.0 services will help employees get to work through carpooling and public transportation. This is a software solution that requires alternative thinking as much as alternative energy. More participation means using less energy. Text from DJCline.com

Max Scheder-Bieschin says the technology is much farther along than you might think. Sixty five percent of forklifts are already electric. He says the Barefoot Motors “mule” off-road prototype is a cleaner, and more powerful ride than the existing gasoline-drive alternatives. Their market includes farmers, ranchers and the military. He says that traditional vehicles are not well designed with a tendency to put on a bigger gas tank. New electric vehicles can make efficient use of materials and energy. Text from DJCline.com

Alfred Tom of GM’s Advanced Technology department started asking questions. After the news that Tesla will be building cars in San Jose it is no surprise that Silicon Valley has gotten their attention. According to some venture capitalist, two-thirds of the battery research in the past two years is in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately Tom did not have a Chevy Volt parked outside. Text from DJCline.com

The forces of energy supply, environmental damage and ordinary market forces continue to drive innovation. It is a struggle against physical, social, economic and regulatory limits. Text from DJCline.com

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Copyright 2008 DJ Cline All rights reserved.