Charging Ahead

Joe Sherman, Author Oxford University Press, USA $50 (240p) ISBN 978-0-19-509479-4
Science writer Sherman's report on MIT-trained inventor/engineer James Worden, whose struggling company Solectria builds nonpolluting, efficient electric cars designed to replace today's gas-guzzlers, has irresistible appeal as a story of David and Goliath. But it also makes for an objective and provocative critique of the ""Big 3"" automakers. Sherman (The Rings of Saturn) contends that GM, Ford, Chrysler and the oil industry, fearful of an emerging alternative vehicle industry that could steal jobs and profits from Detroit, colluded to squelch regulatory mandates for zero-emission vehicles-mandates that might have led to widespread production of nonpolluting cars using advanced batteries, electrochemical fuel cells, supercapacitors and solar panels. Despite Pentagon funding, Solectria's Sunrise car is still essentially a prototype, which Worden will mainstream only if he clinches a joint-venture deal with a large automaker. Now GM, Chrysler, Toyota and others are making electric vehicles (EVs), but Sherman believes that with the corporate giants in control of EV development, they will defuse the clean-car movement. While his narrative may be a promotional showcase for Solectria, it is nonetheless an exciting and important book about technology, environment and corporate politics. Illustrated. Editor, Herb Addison. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/26/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
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