Monday, December 1, 2008

Bailout? What for?

Once again proving that she's a maven in keeping a finger on the pulse of the automotive community and what the buzz is within it, Ari sent me a link to a recent webpost on today. The article deals with the upswing in VC interest in automotive startups focusing on how a lot of investment has been made in companies that are looking to improve energy efficiency of conventional vehicles, rather than the development of one-off vehicles costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several of the companies mentioned we have already been following and/or have visited including A123 Systems, Achates Power and Geo2 Technologies.

The article also makes note of something that Ari, Jay and I have mentioned several times in our blogs, whether it be the Life, Vision, or Engineering blogs respectively:


The agility to recognize what the multitude of startup companies in our field are accomplishing and quickly and effectively incorporate those technologies that fit our ethos, as well as that of our customers. This is why it is so important to stay on top of all the innovations that are being made on a daily basis within our field, and never turn a blind eye to any technology that could be a fit for the Rally Fighter, or even for several designs down the road that we haven't yet begun to so little as create a sketch on a napkin for. To repeat myself, this is something that the large auto manufacturers have an inability to do, and is a huge reason for the proposed "Bailout", as referenced by one industry professional in the article,

"Bill Klehm, CEO of Fallbrook Technologies, a San Diego startup which itself has raised some $25 million to help it develop a gearless transmission, says he laughs when he hears Detroit auto executives fret about competing against China's low-cost manufacturing. "Nobody should be worried that the Chinese are coming," Klehm says. "But the U.S. automakers should be concerned that the U.S. entrepreneurs are coming."

He also goes on to state,

"Companies and small businesses that operate delivery fleets are searching for ways they can retrofit their trucks and vans to reduce fuel costs, which were acutely painful when gasoline was more than $4 a gallon, Klehm says. At Wal-Mart, for example, Klehm says a 1 percent improvement in fuel economy is worth $52 million. 'Ford is talking about improving the fuel economy of next year's lineup,' he says. 'Fleet operators need solutions today. They don't need promises for the next year.'"

The Rally Fighter (and any of the other vehicles we will roll out) is far from "conventional" in it's design, but could be an excellent platform for many of the technologies mentioned in this article, positioning us as the market leader in several categories within the green movement. Certainly the coolest looking and best performing vehicle, I think. Therefore, expect to hear more from us on companies such as those mentioned in the article.


Ari said...

Andy showed me this article! I'm exited to see more interest in INNOVATION and not topical diagnosis of problems. Great post :)

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