30 March 2007

Hybrids and diesels and shares. Oh my.

JD Power and Associates has come out with a new report on the future of the auto industry. The title gives away the thesis. It's called, "The Steady -- but Slow -- Rise of Hybrids and Diesels in the U.S. auto market."

The bottom line is a prediction that hybrids and diesels will reach a 9% share of auto sales by 2009, and that Toyota will continue to be the leading player in this market segment.

That's heartening news. I'm seldom in at the start of anything big in terms of technology shift. I'm not a gadget kind of guy. As I remember, though, I was one of the first on my block to buy a Nehru jacket back in the late 1960s when that was hot for a week or so. I was getting worried that my Toyota Prius would seem, in retrospect, a lot like that.

Yes, fellow fans of South Park, I've seen the episode. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smug_Alert!

Something will replace the internal combustion engine as the chief way in which people get around. I doubt that the "something" will be a move to mass transit in the U.S. We're accustomed to spread-out living patterns and go-when-you-want habits. Though buses and trains could conceivably amount to a larger share of the transportantion market ten years from now than they do today, I'd be willing to be heavily that it would be more than a doubling. And if they 'only' double those they carry, this wil still leave a lot of room for a revolution in the world of personal transport.

The two alternatives in the JD Power study are in effect jockeying in position to become the next Big Thing. There is also the possibility that engines will stay more-or-less the same, but that the big change will come in the area of fuel: ethanol.

Unfortunately, so long as the fuel use of ethanol involves taking corn away from food-related uses, there are limits to what could be done in that line. We can hope for a breakthrough in the area of cellulosic ethanol, which will mean we're re-cycling garbage into fuel. Here's a primer,

The news in that Motley Fool article is that a very respected figure in the Venture Capital world, Vinod Khosla, now seems to be on board the cellulosic-ethanol bandwagon.

Let a thousand entrepreneurial flowers bloom.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.