Andy Grove Preaches the Gospel of the Electric Car

John Horner
by John Horner
andy grove preaches the gospel of the electric car

Andy Grove, the man who led Intel to dominance, has a new cause: The Electric Car. Ken Thomas of the AP interviewed Grove on his new passion and found a true believer. Grove notes that "the beauty of electric power is its ability to be produced through multiple sources such as coal, wind and nuclear, and its 'stickiness' — it can be transported only over land." Typically the ability to transport stored energy by sea is considered an advantage for coal, oil and the like. But Grove touts the fact that electricity cannot be readily traded on the global market. Coming from the former leader of the quintessential modern multi-national, Intel, this is quite a surprise. Indeed, Grove says that the inability of the US to export electricity to voracious China means that electricity prices can be kept lower than they otherwise would be. He may have a point. Back in the 1960s a crash in US automotive sales would be paired with plunging steel prices, but not now. Grove's other hot button is the promotion of aftermarket plug-in conversion kits for hybrid cars. He sees parallels between plug-in conversion kits of today with the way hobbyists and home users got the whole personal computer industry up and running a few decades ago.

Join the conversation
4 of 11 comments
  • 97escort 97escort on Jun 30, 2008

    The electricity grid in nearly overloaded now. Theoretically if millions of plug in cars where added to the load, the grid would fail. Natural gas which is used in many newer electric power plants is on the verge of peaking just as oil is doing at the moment. And the infrastructure to import it is not ready, at least on a large scale. Opposition to nuclear power still reigns and coal is deemed so dirty that many oppose that too. That leaves wind. Despite very fast growth especially here in Iowa and a few other states, wind is still a small percentage of electric output and insufficient in the near term to support plug-ins on a large scale. That leaves ethanol and we know how unpopular that is at TTAC. Welcome to the Post Peak Oil world.

  • Faster_than_rabbit Faster_than_rabbit on Jun 30, 2008

    mel23: it's not quite that clear cut. Yes, Intel got lucky -- as did Microsoft -- but -- like Microsoft -- they had to be in the right place at the right time. Intel was really good at marketing themselves. You'll note that Motorola, which had a new, technically extremely superior chip, didn't get the call from IBM. The world would look very different today if Intel hadn't been as aggressive and Motorola hadn't been as passive as they were. But, yes, they screwed up on Itanium, big time, and (arguably) on the Pentium 4 to a lesser extent. And they've had some difficulty with other architectures .

  • AJ AJ on Jul 01, 2008

    I would be all for electric cars if more nuclear power plants were built. But unless that happens (I'm doubtful), then I can't see wind or solar will ever produce enough electricity to ever replace oil. Wind and solar are just green buzz words, as even Ted Kennedy opposed a wind farm near his estate on Nantucket. LOL

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jul 01, 2008

    97Escort: the federal gov't has done studies and they say that our existing power grid can support several million plug-in cars. In the near future we'll need some grid upgrades like a smarter grid that can better load shed in times of crisis for a future with mostly EVs and which can better handle input power from home solar or wind. We also need to invest in solar and wind and nukes for example to gather up some additional power. Imagine solar on the roofs of the big box retailers and factories. If 25% of their load was powered by their solar installations then that mean there is that much more in the grid of air conditioning the rest of us. I'd much rather give out a bunch of tax credits to move solar and wind forward to business and commercial rooftops than invade Iran or another Iraq to "better position in regional politics to ensure our security" - read "grab oil" and thus get a few thousand of our boys and girls killed in war. Fed-Ex has taken a bold step forward. Would be wise to get some of the daytime loads off of the grid or using much less power so there would be more fossil fueled capacity at night or when weather conditions are not helping us make electricity. I am hoping that SOMEBODY comes forward with EVs and retrofit-kits and I don't care if it's not Detroit who I consider to be out of date and backward thinking. Detroit is part of the establishment that has gotten us where we are now and I doubt they can lead us towards anything smarter or better b/c their method usually involves lame compact cars or SUVs and empty promises of an advanced future that never arrives.