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GM, Bring back the Electric Car


Since seeing Who Killed the Electric Car?, a film that focused on the demise of GM's electric car, the EV-1, I've been left with one single question: Why doesn't GM just bring it back? GM is on the verge of their 100 year anniversary, and I'm sure they're hoping to be around another 100 years. Do they honestly think in the next 100 years they'll never release an electric car? I'd be shocked if there isn't another GM electric car in the next 15 yeas. They should just bring back the EV-1 and get it over with. After all reviving an innovative product that inspired some of the most astonishing customer loyalty imaginable could be exactly what the company needs.

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iTunes Subscriptions (Reprise)


After Apple announced that videos would be available on iTunes, I wrote about the need for a subscription plan on iTunes. Now that Apple has announced the iTV, a subscription service is even more necessary, as the iTV and a video subscription plan would be able to compete with services like Netflix. In fact, if the iTV does have a built-in hard drive, a iTunes subscription plan will almost certainly be available. The big question is how would it be priced: based on the number of videos out at time like Netflix does? Or would they just offer a single "all-you-can-download" subscription. The latter seems more likely as there's such a varied amount of content on iTunes. After all it would really suck if the movie you wanted to watch didn't download because you forgot to delete a music video, or SNL sketch.

Of course, in a perfect world, Apple and Netflix would partner and to deliver access to the entire Netflix library via the iTV. As convenient as Netflix is, I hate having to wait for my next DVD to arrive by mail...

The iPod Needs a Trashcan


Everyone once in a while, when I'm listening to my iPod on shuffle a song comes on that I really hate or doesn't play right. The problem is I never remember to actually delete the song. If the iPod had a trashcan, I could just add the song to the trash, which could be automatically emptied when I sync. Or better yet, I could empty the trash on the iPod itself.

Trashing a song could be done through the rating interface, by adding a trashcan icon before the stars. That way rolling all the way counter clockwise would mark it for the trash. This even makes intuitive sense, as if the song really sucks (i.e. low rating) it should probably be deleted. Of course, that would make it hard to trash a song and keep it's rating...but hey that's for Apple to figure out.

10 Product Design Failures of the Zune, and 10 product design lessons

First let me disclose that I’m a happy iPod owner, and I’ve never touched a Zune, so if either of those facts are a problem for you just stop reading and continue with your day. My main reason for writing this is that it annoys me to no end when companies release lousy products, and it infuriates me when the company has absolutely no excuse. The Zune is lame, and it’s created by Microsoft, one of the richest companies in the world with some of the best minds in the world. Building a portable audio player isn’t rocket science, but it does take, for lack of a better word, empathy and some understanding of customer’s values. With the Zune, Microsoft has demonstrated that it has neither.

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LoveCraft Bio-Fuels: veggie fuel kickassery


LoveCraft Bio-Fuels, based in LA, converts diesel cars to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO), straight vegetable oil (SVO), or bio-diesel. LoveCraft is founded by Brian Friedman, who invented and patented the devices used in the conversion. What makes a LoveCraft conversion so unique is that it uses the existing fuel tank; most conversions require a second tank to be installed for the biofuel. LoveCraft has converted about 900 cars, and continues to convert about 4-5 a day. While they focus on older Mercedes, they've also done VW Bettles, Ford PowerStrokes, and probably a lot more. After the conversion the cars can run on WVO from restaurants. This works out well for the restaurants too, as they'd normally pay about $1/gallon to have the waste cooking oil hauled away. In fact, Friedman reports that now many of his customers are restaurant owners. LoveCraft has(?) recently opened a biofuel refueling station, for those who don't want to deal with collecting and filtering WVO themselves.

Tesla Roadster


Tesla Motors, based in San Carlos, California, is hell-bent on destroying every misconception about electric cars, and their Tesla Roadster does just that. It was designed by talent borrowed from Lotus, it goes 0-60 mph in about 4 seconds, and can travel up to 250 miles on a single charge. Did I mention it looks frickin' sweet? Anyways, it costs around $100,000, which is actually reasonable for a car with this kind of performance. In fact they're already sold out for the 2007 model year, and are taking reservations for the 2008 model. The Telsa Roadster is also whisper quiet, can be charged at home using the included charging device, or on the road using a standard outlet. The company plans to work their way down the car "food-chain" and release a sports sedan next.

Wired Magazine has a great article on the car and the company.

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