Announcer: Right now it’s time to invite Luis Alvarez, the President and CEO of the Alvarez Technology Group to show us what’s new and exciting in the world of technology. Luis, what do you have for us today?
Luis Alvarez: How are you doing Bill? How’s the show going today?
A: Pretty good, you know it’s interesting to fill in for someone and use a completely different show format than the one I’m used to.
LA: I understand that.
A: So technology is pretty wide. What’s in the news this week?
LA: Well, one of the things that makes the American experience so unique is our love of cars. Are you a car guy Bill?
A: Is the Pope Catholic? Oh yeah, I love cars!
LA: Well, just this month, Automobile Magazine announced the 2013 Car of the Year, and for the first time ever an electric car was the winner. The Tesla Motors Model S, the car company’s all electric sedan. Despite the criticism that alternative fuels and the cars powered by them get, this is a real world validation of the growth and success of those technologies. It follows the trail blazed by the Toyota Prius which has been out there for a while. This represents a real shift in the public’s acceptance of electric cars that can only bode well for our nation in the future.
A: An electric car Car of the Year huh? That’s kind of hard to believe when you consider that most of those little electric cars are small and slow and not really pretty.
LA: Well, I have to agree there’s plenty of those out there but the Tesla Model S is a luxury sedan that goes from zero to sixty in 4.3 seconds. I’m sure you can appreciate that and it smoked the BMW M5 sedan on which car can get to 100 miles per hour first. You know, the fact is those really frumpy, bare bones electric cars are a thing of the past. Tesla was one of the first companies to re-imagine the electric car as a luxury vehicle that could compete with the best out there. And they’re not alone; BMW, Infinity and Cadillac are planning on rolling out their luxury electric cars in the next couple of years. You know, these cars aren’t cheap, they start out at forty thousand dollars and up so targeting the luxury car market where buyers are more affluent and environmentally aware makes a lot of sense.
A: What about those of us who care about the environment but can’t afford a luxury car? I know that there are electric car alternatives for us but are we out of luck really?
LA: Well you know, electric cars aren’t just for rich people anymore. Ford for example has the Focus which is an affordable electric car that’s becoming increasingly popular with commuters and Chevy has the Volt which just today Consumer Reports announced topped their annual customer satisfaction survey with 92% of owners saying that they would buy it again. There’s also a bunch of hybrids now that fall into that category. They’re not all electric but they’re very fuel efficient and very environmentally friendly.
A: Luis, let me play devil’s advocate for a minute here. When we talk about alternative fuel vehicles aren’t we over-hyping it a little bit? I mean, they represent a pretty small number of cars on the road don’t they?
LA: Well, there are over 150 million cars in the US on the road right now and alternative fuel vehicles represent less than 10% of those so it’s still a very small but significant factor. Significant enough that the International Energy Agency estimated that by 2030 the United States will be completely energy independent. Something that is only possible largely due to the fact that we’ve doubled the fuel efficiency of our vehicles largely because of electric cars and hybrids. It’s only going to get better over the next few years. Since the early days, development of the technology that powers electric cars has led to lowered costs and better performance. Right now the cost of an electric car is heavily subsidized by various government programs that offset the true cost of the cars with tax credits and other incentives, but that’s not that unusual in the history of our country. We all know that the internet wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the billions of dollars that the government poured into the research and development of the internet through DARPA, the agency that developed the internet’s predecessor.
A: So what do you think? Do you think we’ll ever have an electric car that will be affordable without government handouts?
LA: Oh absolutely, and sooner rather than later. The momentum for electric cars is picking up steam, pardon the pun, especially with several new companies joining the party. Tesla for example, started in 2003 and it took them five years of testing and development to produce their first car, the Roadster which was the first production electric vehicle to use lithium ion batteries, and cost over $100,000. It then took Tesla just three years to develop the Model S which costs half as much. So you can see that the development timeline is getting better and the cars are getting cheaper as the technology improves. Don’t be surprised if in the next couple of years you start to see more electric cars on the road than those old internal combustion cars that we are used to seeing. Electric cars aren’t a fad, they are the future.
A: OK, you’ve convinced me. Now, can you hook me up with a Tesla?
LA: No, there’s a limited number of those bad boys and I think most of them are already spoken for.
A: They are pretty little cars, I tell you what! And to go that fast zero to sixty is pretty impressive.
LA: Yeah, they’ve done a great job and they’re making the technology more fun and really appealing to that American psyche that says “I want a fast car and one that looks pretty damn nice.”
A: Well listen, when you get your Tesla can I have a test drive?
LA: I will be happy to let you drive it around town, I promise.
A: All right! Well Luis, as always we appreciate you coming on the Costa Report and Rebecca will be back next week to talk to you directly but I appreciate your update. Thanks.
LA: You are welcome Bill. This is Luis Alvarez of the Alvarez Technology Group reminding everyone that when it comes to technology, forewarned is forearmed.