Plug-In Cars: A Venture Capitalist's Perspective
Besides the litany of problems facing the America including an economic crisis, energy security, and climate challenge, there is a fourth one in Ray Lane's view: U.S. competitiveness.
"It is an opportunity for leaders to 're-up' and be leaders in new technology," he explains. He notes that the IBM of the 1960s was not the same as the IBM of the 1970s and certainly not the IBM of today. Leading companies have to continually re-invent themselves. Change also opens up the opportunity for new players to emerge.
"We spend a trillion dollars on energy. We spend a trillion dollars on devices that use energy. This is a big, big deal, and the automotive industry is by five times the largest manufacturing industry on Earth. So, the stakes are huge here to get this right and not just pick the trend of the day."
Ray points out that while China is the world's large emitter of green house gases and now vies with the US in its dependency on imported oil, it far outpaces America in its investment in renewable energy. He provides some interesting comparisons:
- China requires its cars to be one-third more efficient that those manufactured in the U.S.
- China is investing 10 times what America is investing in renewables on a GDP basis
- China is committed to deploying 120 GigaWatts of wind power by 2020; 5 times the U.S.
- China is now abating 350 million tons of CO2.
"They get it," he states. "They really understand it and I think we can expect to live in a world where in the next 10 years China will out spend us in order to invent the technology."
He warns that unless America ramps up its investment in future energy technologies, we may find ourselves buying it from China.
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