My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: All-Electric Vehicles and Jamaica - Downfall

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All-Electric Vehicles and Jamaica - Downfall

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Blake, the Tyger

First, a preamble, thus foist to my own petard. People, my fame may be on the move again to another plateau. I am now a guest writer for the up and coming blog Geezam, contributing similarly themed articles, only shorter and with inline hyperlinks. Geezam is an exclamation of surprise typical of Jamaicans as it relates to technology, as Kirk (, Geezam Administrator, can relate as it relates to Jamaican’s surprise at how technology adoption in Jamaica is now closely mimicking the development in United States of America.

Despite many complaints from my followers and readers, my main blog and its articles are not going this CNET-esque route of Inline Hyperlinks, though I may go the route of Wikipedia and create a reference page for all my Inline References at the end of my prose, much as I used to do at UWI for my Physics and Chemistry labs.

Inline References as opposed to Inline Hyperlinks are a rather helpful touch, but Inline References lends more ready reference credence and introduces an air of veracity, even if it makes my prose harder to read. To wit, having cruised easily past the two hundred (200) article mark on my blog and I may soon have enough articles to not only become a reference site on Google, as is the WiMax vs LTE Blog but aside from Google Adsense, I may eventually get into commercial free lance writing, a personal dream of mine.

Possibly publish my blog as a book or even better, start another blog, this time on my other passion, mainly Spatial 3D Geometry and MatLab 6.0 Programming Applications to solving such complex problems. The real big times would be a book. For now, Blogging is the grist for the writer’s mill to get a tech culture going in Jamaica to support our 100MBps “Usain Bolt” status.

But I would really hit the big times if after getting back employment, after having being offered a job at the AmazingPC located in the Bargain Village, May Pen, Clarendon, I could also see All-Electric Vehicles in Jamaica. This is despite the nay sayings of Kent LaCroix, President of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) as stated in the article “Is Jamaica ready for Electric vehicles ?”, published Friday, October 01, 2010, The Jamaica Observer, who like early opponents of my blogging activities, is dead set against the change that All-Electric Vehicles represent as opposed to his idea of cleaner Diesel from the local Oil Refinery.

This, I suspect, may possibly be because many older Jamaicans [baby Boomers aged 50 to 85] make the bulk of their ill-gotten gains not from the Automobile Industry, now down in the doldrums thanks to the explain-all-that-is-wrong-with-Jamaica Recession in the United States of America, but also recent Government of Jamaica policies that effectively limit the age of Pre-owned imported vehicles, now being hit with a very chronic spare parts shortage as stated in the article “Spare Parts shortage hits used-car Trade”, published Friday October 22 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner. A reduced servicing of vehicles, but from selling fuel.

So what are these “new” automobiles that Japanese are trading up? Used Car dealers are not letting the cat out of the bag, so I shall let him loose: All-Electric Vehicles. Remember folks, Japan is the largest producer of Automobiles, the favorite pet toy of CNET Executive Editor, Brian Cooley, so the Used Car Market, though not necessarily on his radar, will affect anyone in the United States of America and Jamaica as well who still is driving a Japanese Import, whether refurbished or not, that is over ten (10) years old.

Thus the Government of Jamaica policy to stop the importation of vehicles older than four (4) years old and American policy as it relates to fuel efficiency as stated in the article “Autos would have to get 62mpg under new plan”, published October 2, 2010 6:00 AM PDT, by Reuters, CNET News - Green Tech, look like it was, well, planned. But by whom, as this all seems a bit too coordinated and coincidental on a global scale to be the result of a G8 Summit? Guess we may never know who wear the Ring of Power and possesses the All Seeing Eye as in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of Rings (2001), conspiracy style.

Define Irony: Ten (10) year old automobiles on Jamaican roads that are Japanese throwaways thanks to a law implemented fifteen (15) years ago that taxed Japanese Automobile buyers who kept their vehicles longer than four (4) years breaking down due to a lack of spare parts, thanks to the fact that these vehicles are now being mopped up at higher prices in faraway locales as Africa and Australia.

The words of Motor Repairs Association of Jamaica, Andre Hylton, express this best: “The Industry in Japan has grown to the extent that there are not enough cars being junked for parts, because used cars are better sold to lucrative markets in Africa, New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the Caribbean”.

Reading between the lines, it all has to do with the craze over All-Electric Vehicles, as Japanese, unlike our North American cousins, are Gadget crazy in terms of EVERY gadgets, inclusive of cars, not just computers, smart phones and the Apple iPad. Ever since the debut of All-Electric Vehicles such as the 2011 Nissan Leaf, which is predicted to be a hit when it lands in showrooms in the United States of America as stated in the article “Nissan Leaf projected to be in the black” published April 30, 2010 5:44 AM PDT by Reuters, CNET News - Green Tech.

This is possibly with a huge cash rebate of nearly US$6999 to US$9999 in the Summer of 2011 AD and slated to hit the Japanese consumer in the Christmas of 2010 AD, now more than ever having been improved to make some noise, a problem with a vehicle that is battery powered and literally is a quiet as a baby stroller as stated in the article “Nissan Leaf brings the noise”, published June 11, 2010 9:51 AM PDT by Wayne Cunningham, CNET News - The Car Tech blog.

Despite its improved 100 km range as stated in the article “Nissan Leaf has 100-mile range -  give or take 40 percent”, published June 21, 2010 10:43 AM PDT by Automotive NewsCNET News - The Car Tech blog, All-Electric Vehicles, such as the 2011 Nissan Leaf, may not be a hit with Jamaicans who commute outside of Kingston, which is practically everyone, as Jamaica is not that large, being as New York would gobble us up one hundred and fifty (150) times over.

For a vehicle of the type and class as the 2011 Nissan Leaf to even conceivably drive in Jamaica, a lot of charging stations, ever 100 km or so, would have to be installed, and they would have to be either powered by Natural Gas Generators as my original idea of Solar Power Generators, though novel, may be impractical due to charging voltages required for a quick charge in under fifteen (15) minutes which involves using the standard 500 V plugs now being installed in the United States of America

Then there is  the fact that these fast charging All-Electric Vehicles, a requirement for Jamaica due to our ill-tempered disposition in not wanting to wait very long to do anything, cannot use the traditional Electric Grid, as it would trip most breakers inside of the typical business place. It would have to be a separate installation from the entire Gas Station or building installed by a GEI (General Electrical Inspectorate) Certified Technician.

A possibly more preferably choice for Jamaican roads would be the 2011 Chevy Volt as stated in the article “GM Chevy Volt on sale now for US$41,000”, published July 27, 2010 9:01 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech, whose technology is based on that of a Range Extender as stated in the article “Chevy Volt's engine more than just a generator”, published October 11, 2010 2:32 PM PDT, by Wayne Cunningham, CNET News - The Car Tech blog.

This is effectively a mini Flex-fuel Generator that generates electrical energy to power the vehicle when the Lithium Ion batteries, rated to provide juice at lower RPM (Revolutions per Minute), are being pushed to their limit after driving more than 40 km.

Thus they have impressive range for All-Electric Vehicles: over forty (40 mi) miles on battery plus three hundred (300 mi) miles on the Electric motor, a total mileage of three hundred and forty (340 mi) miles, albeit mathematically as stated in the article “EPA negs Volt's 230 mpg fuel economy formula”, published July 15, 2010 11:15 AM PDT by Liane Yvkoff, CNET News - The Car Tech blog.

Whenever  the RPM increases beyond a preset level or the 40km range is exceeded, the vehicles switches over to the Generator, which not only powers the motors on each wheel but also recharges the batteries simultaneously so as to keep the car electronics powered, though in the future, Solar Power may be used to accomplish this end.

Thus fitting future All-Electric Vehicles with solar panels is in the pipeline. It may be as simple as integrating them into the roof of vehicles using flexible solar panels as stated in the article “SoloPower trumpets certification for flexible solar modules”, published September 7, 2010 8:30 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News.

Even just spraying them on into the nearly five thousand (5,000) coats that a typical car gets when being spray painted based on a recent development by Solexant, a company that pioneers sprayable solar panels based on nano-particle technology as suggested in the article “Solexant funded to print thin-film Solar cells”, published June 4, 2010 8:50 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

Even the windows and their tint can be made into solar panels, courtesy of this sprayable solar panel nanotechnology breakthrough by Solexant as stated in the article “Spray-on films turns glass into Solar panels”, published August 19, 2010 1:09 PM PDT by Juniper Foo, CNET News - Crave.

The Alternator to charge car batteries may be completely eliminated and made obsolete from motor vehicle design if Solexant’s and SoloPower’s Technology can be licensed to Automobile manufacturers, a simple design change achievable before the Summer of 2011 and easily adaptable to any motor vehicle, resulting in a dramatic increase in the mileage of most motor vehicles, as a huge of the load is taken off the power train by its separation from the car’s internal electronics.

All-Electric Vehicles in the Jamaica landscape is not only possible, but a necessity, especially as our Caribbean neighbors, such as the People’s Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as stated in the article “Trini Govt looking into glass, solar panel plant”, published Thursday September 30 2010, The Jamaica Observer appear to be accelerating their Renewable Energy plans.

Barbados is also pushing ahead with IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) funding Renewable Energy Plans as stated in the article “Barbados turns to renewable energy with IDB help”, published Friday, October 01, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

How can I even forget the United States of America and their installation of Solar Panels on the White House as stated in the article “White House to install rooftop Solar Panels”, published October 5, 2010 5:19 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech and Energy Secretary Steven Chu words during his speech to the Green Gov Symposium a talk shop for the White House Council on Environmental Quality at George Washington University, went on to assert that, and I quote: “Around the world, the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy. It should also be a symbol of America's commitment to a clean energy future”?

Even moreso, it is feasible, especially as a ready supply of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) will be available in Jamaica as state in the article“US$3-B infrastructural upgrade coming with Natural Gas - Robertson”, published Sunday, October 03, 2010, The Jamaica Observer, making the idea of Diesel Vehicles seem rather uninspiring.

Unless of course it is Bio-Diesel and E85 made from organic waste processed by algae as stated in the article “Joule to make diesel at solar fuel plants”, published April 27, 2010 8:07 AM PDT, by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech or genetically modified bacteria as stated in the article “Researchers coax bacteria to make biodiesel”, published January 27, 2010 3:59 PM PST by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

All those old vehicles in Jamaica can have their engines changed out for flex fuel engines that are capable of utilizing any fuel, irregardless of origin. Jamaica should have gotten out of the spare parts business a long time ago, as it effectively was maintaining the image of sophistication when in fact technology was always moving forward and now, the technology story, as we Jamaicans are wont to say in our colourful patois prose, “cum to bump”.

Kent LaCroix, President of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) argues not for the future of the Automobile Industry or efficiency; he argues on a plateau of self preservation of a dying technology based on older decaying Otto Cycle Engines that the Japanese have themselves abandoned. What will he have us do when the only spare vehicles after the four (4) years period is up available from Japan are older model All-Electric Vehicles?

The Government of Jamaica must act fast to enact policies to push for All-Electric Vehicles, Flex Fuel Vehicles as well as development of an active Bio-Fuel Industry or face a crisis that will literally see a visage of ten (10) year old Otto Cycle vehicles being abandoned on the road – unable to more – permanently, akin to my all time favorite movie showing the dying days of the Nazi Third Reich, aptly title Downfall (2004). Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining, where are you on this matter?

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