America’s love affair with scooters lasted about a minute, if that. As companies like Lime, Skip and Bird roll out their pay-per-minute electric scooter rental programs, cities across the country are dealing with the fallout, and it’s not pretty.
In California, where electric scooters have become part of the high-tech industry’s impact on urban culture, the scooters are being vandalized and destroyed—and those doing the damage are bragging about it. On the most exhibitionistic corners of the Internet, scooter abuse is being documented and proudly displayed. The Instagram account Birdgraveyard, which has more than 24,000 followers, features images and films of scooters that have met their tragic demise by being burned, tossed into the sea, festooned with dog doody bags, and otherwise desecrated.
For some time, few people took the notion of an electric bus seriously. In 2011, Chinese automotive manufacturer BYD Co. revealed an early model at an industry conference in Belgium, and was met with laughter.
Isbrand Ho, managing director of BYD in Europe, remembered the laughter from that day directed at BYD for “making a toy,” but continued, “And look now. Everyone has one.”
The electric car is picking up speed as consumers and governments around the world embrace these greener, cleaner high-tech vehicles. Battery technology has evolved to the point where the top-performing EVs can operate for 110 to 150 miles on a single charge — a very respectable range for a commuter. But for someone who is traveling an extended distance, finding a place to recharge remains a challenge in many places.
A countrywide EV charging infrastructure is slowly rolling out in commercial and public places. Drivers in many places can now charge their car while they are getting groceries or get a quick charge at a gas station. (How quick? The world’s fastest charger gives drivers 120 miles worth of energy in just 8 minutes.) In Sweden, however, drivers need only change their route.
Picture it: February 2018, Florida. The largest commercial rocket in the world sits upright on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center awaiting its first journey into space. The Falcon Heavy rocket, eventually intended to deliver large payloads into space, is built by SpaceX, one of many privately-owned empires built from the ground up by visionary and entrepreneur Elon Musk. But this mission is far simpler: launch the Falcon Heavy into Earth’s orbit to test its systems together. Of arguably more importance is the Falcon Heavy’s theoretical ability to propel space-bound humans well beyond the limits of the Earth’s atmosphere to previously unexplored destinations, beginning with Mars.
On this day, the Falcon Heavy payload isn’t part of a future space station, a highly-classified satellite for the government, or humans reaching far to “touch the face of God.” The payload is Elon Musk’s own first-generation electric Roadster, a groundbreaking all-electric car made by Musk’s car company, Tesla.
Despite the Trump administration’s plans to expand oil pipelines across the U.S. and expand drilling practices into the National Parks system, fossil fuels may be rendered obsolete sooner rather than later — leaving industries (and countries) that don’t prepare for innovation in trouble.