TREE huggers and those who lament the use or abuse of non-renewable resources, especially in the generation of energy and power, should take a long hard look at the proposed technology that is being touted by Motor Development Inc. founder Guy Negre and his manufacturer of choice, Tata Motors. Yes, the same Tata Motors that has dared to bring forth the $2,500 car -- while purchasing high-end Jaguar and Land Rover from a sputtering Ford Motor Company. The car invented by Mr. Negre is powered by compressed air. A full load of compressed air that can presumably be available in many or most gas stations takes only a few minutes to load and will take the prototype car a full 125 miles (200 km). Now one has to take a long hard look at the Indian market and realize just how practical they are about their cars. The Maruti car company manufactures a local version of the Suzuki Alto which has a minuscule 800cc engine. This car may seat four or a maximum of five people anywhere else, but the intrepid Indians manage to shoehorn seven people in there! Imagine what they will do to a car designed for seven, as the first proposed model of the air car will do since it is supposed to perform yeoman’s chores as an everyday taxi. The first model is to be named the CityCat and will cost about $12,500 -- roughly the cost of a Corolla in most countries. It will run at a maximum speed of 68 mph (almost 110 kph) -- just enough to stay within most speed limits, but putting a damper on the speed demons out there -- which should get one from point A to point B in good time. Now, this is probably the best idea for a practical car there is today. It will not spew any dangerous fumes or probably create a large carbon footprint. And air is available anywhere at a pittance compared to either the stratosphere-riding cost of gasoline and other alternative fuels. Until a viable solar powered car comes along, this will be the technology to beat. Read about this amazing technology in the following threads. http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/03/21/a-new-agreement-between-tata-motors-and-mdi-bring-the-air-car-cl/ http://www.theaircar.com/acf/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_car http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/mar2007/bw20070319_949435.htm?campaign_id=rss_topDiscussed
June 2008 Archives
SOMETIME back, in one of my earlier blogs about microfinance in this country, I was reminded by a reader of the early pioneering work in this area by Dr Jaime A. Alip from Los Baños. Well, some interesting things happened since that blog. First, I got to meet Dr. Alip himself after he gave a talk before usually jaded businessmen and entrepreneurs in the Entrepreneurship Forum organized by the Asian Institute of Management. He mentioned in his talk that he started the CARD MRI network sometime in the mid-80s with the magnificent amount of twenty pesos! I mentioned to him that if I had met him in 1989 -- especially in that fateful meeting organized by the late Gasty Ortigas, then president of AIM, and Ernie Garilao (who was executive director of PBSP then) -- I would have very willingly rammed grant money down his throat. The donors and creditors who had tried to work through our fledgling government unit, the CCPAP, were willing to try and funnel a certain amount of funds directly to NGOs instead of through the ponderous -- and leaky -- government process. When I mentioned this chance encounter the same evening to my wife she exclaimed that her family, which has its origins in the municipality of Biñan, Laguna, used to go to the lanzones farm of a certain Dr. E. Alip, a best friend of my late father-in-law. A text message to the younger Dr. Alip confirmed that the person in question must have been his grandfather, Dr. E. Alip, the historian. Then, my wife pointed out Dr. Alip the historian to me in our wedding pictures. Interesting. Remembering that a classmate of mine in one of the big three banks was in charge of branch lending, which included loans to the microfinance sector, I asked him if my friend did business with him. He replied that my friend had just lent him (through the bank, of course) about P200 million that same day! In a later gathering of my college class to honor a balikbayan classmate, my friend confirmed that he had indeed lent that amount to Dr. Alip's CARD MRI network and that they were very good debtors. Another interesting point brought up by Dr. Alip is that his network is "grant-free," meaning, they don't rely on grants. They take out loans from commercial or development institutions and lend these out without taking a hit. Another interesting deviation from the model developed by Dr. Yunus is the fact that Dr. Alip's beneficiaries are expected each to be responsible for her (only women are subjects of the network) own obligation. Unlike the original microfinance model which usually has a group of five and only two people being able to borrow at a time, with the remaining three making sure the two pay up on time.
SOMETIME in the '70s, I got my hands on the seminal work by Rachel Carson entitled "Silent Spring." (Later on, I found the sequel titled "Since Silent Spring.") Reading this book marked my introduction to the very interesting world of environmental protection and conservation, a cause I have carried close to my heart ever since. Since that time, I have accumulated scores of books on different subjects related to the environment, not to mention a substantial collection of National Geographic publications and other books and magazines that highlight the beauty (or distress) of planet Earth. From that time till the fairly recent present, taking the cudgels for environmental causes, especially for those in the business world, was like taking on the mark of anathema -- a personal curse, if you may -- by the way colleagues and the public would treat such activists. Even to this day, the various battlecries such as "Save the Whales" or "Save the Trees" evoke much scorn or indifference from a public that still has to appreciate what man's encroachment on the environment has caused in terms of global warming and the depletion of natural and non-renewable resources. My son sent me a thread from a rock and roll website listing the iconic songs that affected us over the years. Not surprisingly for this aging baby boomer, many of the songs of the Beach Boys made it to the list. Their anthems were essentially highlights of the glamorous California lifestyle (girls, sun, surfing, cars….and yes, weed!). One of them, the fondness for Detroit metal with their gas-guzzling engines, was mitigated somewhat by the cutesy song about the little Honda that was just making its mark in those days. Little did we know that Detroit iron would become, in this century, representative of the massive waste of gasoline (in usage) and natural resources (in manufacturing), and one of the main causes of global warming. All of a sudden, small cars are in and so is the search for alternative fuels that are not hydrocarbon-dependent. Hopefully, too, this trend toward small, more efficient, cars using alternative means of motivation will not be a temporary one like what happened in the early and mid-70s. The greening of planet Earth is now fashionable. Tree huggers and Greenpeace are alone no longer as many more organizations and individuals join the bandwagon to save the planet from disintegration. Again, it is hoped that we have not yet quite reached the tipping point where the trend toward global warming becomes irreversible. Back to "Silent Spring." Ms Carson sounded the clarion call for stopping the use of poisons and chemicals that were essentially non-biodegradable and which polluted the earth (soil) and precious fresh water sources at the water tables. For example, it was the custom for many a homebuilder to poison the soil to "kill" termites, etc., and preserve the future homesite from this scourge. Anyone knowing how termites propagate and thrive would know that this method only served to poison the water table (rendering the water non-potable for centuries) and endangering the lives of those who would subsequently tap these for their water needs. Nowadays, many pest control companies use more environmentally friendly methods that get rid of these termites without destroying water sources or contaminating the environment in general. I personally can't stand flies, cockroaches, and rats… mainly because of the threat of diseases they bring with them. There are mechanical ways of getting rid of many of these pests (like the good old fly swatter for flies and cockroaches and glue traps for rats) that hopefully will not have the animal humane societies pounding down our doors. Hopefully, if some of you know of other effective methods of getting rid of these pests without endangering the environment, we would be glad to hear from you. For example, I have tried -- based on the suggestion of a friend -- using biodegradable detergent mixed with water to flush down termite mounds, resulting in the termination (!) of said colonies. It works!