Monday, February 10, 2014

The problem of using market forces to determine the viability of implementing a new technology is a very old one and embodied very well in the electronic transmissions used in today's hybrid cars. The technology was originally designed in the late sixties and from the beginning few people believed in it, to the point that they couldn't get a patent for it until they attached a working version of it to a car and drove it around. Then even after over a decade of work, the entire project was deemed too expensive and complicated to implement and immediately mothballed. Similar technologies would be implemented using the same work decades later in the Prius hybrid car.
When you look at the market forces of the time following the patent of the technology in 1974 there is no reason that they couldn't have successfully implemented the technology in the 1970s as by that time the oil crisis was in full swing and more efficient cars were in high demand. With over 30% gains in gas mileage, had it been implemented this technology could have easily become wildly successful across the whole auto industry and saved a substantial amount of gas over the past forty years had they become even half as successful as they are today.
If there had been a central authority choosing the fate of this technology, then it easily could have become a standard feature in all vehicles that could have led to a wider acceptance by all car owners and commuters instead of being mostly isolated to environmentalists as is the case today. Also having a global authority promoting and pushing both consumers and manufacturers to adopt this technology could have have lead to a dramatic increase in the intensity of research into battery and electric motor technologies that have only advanced rapidly today with the growth of the mobile device industry. In all the failure of this technology upon its creation was due to the nature of industry always being in the pursuit of higher profits instead of looking at new technologies as ways to improve the impact of their products on the world.

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