Who’s More Innovative When it Comes to Electric Vehicles? The Soviet Ministries of Ford and GM, or a Besieged Palestinian in Gaza?
Ford and GM are asking for subsidies to accomplish a fraction of what Fayez Annan has already done… under siege conditions. Never mind Think, Phoenix, Aptera and all the rest. Let’s look at Ford and GM vs. a man living under siege conditions to see who can produce a better EV.
Story 1: DOE Awards $30 Million for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Car Research
One has to wonder if this news is too little too late already but, Ford, General Motors and General Electric will split $30 million to develop and demonstrate Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles research projects over the next three years.
The Department of Energy said today the projects will hasten the development of vehicles capable of traveling up to 40 miles without recharging, which includes most daily roundtrip commutes and satisfies 70% of the average daily travel in the US. The projects will also address critical barriers to achieving DOE’s goal of making such cars cost-competitive by 2014 and ready for commercialization by 2016. Of course by then gas could cost so much people will be happy to push their cars.
Story 2: In Besieged City, Man Builds Electric Vehicle with 110 Mile Range
Fayez Annan turns the silver key to start the power, pushes the green button on the standard industrial jog-run-stop switch on the dashboard, and eases the white Peugeot 205 into the main east-west shopping street in Gaza City.
With traffic abnormally sparse, thanks to the acute fuel shortages caused by the Israeli blockade, he soon reaches the distinctly un-urban and pedestrian-scattering speed of 37 miles per hour (60kph).
But then Mr Annan is proudly trying to make a point that, while it might be electric, this Peugeot is no milkfloat. “It can do 100kph (62mph),” he says with a grin, as our knuckles whiten in the passenger seats. Whether or not Mr Annan’s friend Hesham Abu Sido, an electrical consultant, is justified in describing the electric vehicle as a “genius idea” which is “the most fantastic thing that has happened in Gaza”, it is certainly a case of turning adversity into opportunity.
It also proves that Gaza’s famous entrepreneurial spirit has not yet been snuffed out by the draconian economic blockade imposed by Israel after the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized full control of the Strip by force a year ago tomorrow.
Since then, Gaza has seen continuing conflict, ever-deepening poverty, shortages, unemployment and despair. Against that background, the white Peugeot has become a symbol of Gaza’s suppressed potential. “People who have seen it are even happier than we are,” says Mr Annan. “They see it as something to be proud of in Gaza, which they haven’t had in a long time.”
The electric Peugeot is the brainchild of Mr Annan, 42, whose family owns a white goods business, and his friend Wasseem Al Khazendar, 48, who runs the largest company in Gaza selling electrical motors and switchgear to industry.
“I had been wanting to do something like this for a long time,” said Mr Khazendar. “I wanted to make a car which was environment-friendly. Even if you aren’t adding cooking oil, diesel is bad for the environment and an electric car is much cheaper to run.”
As indeed it is. With desperately scarce petrol costing about £1 per litre – and more than three times that on the black market – a six or seven-hour charge provides enough power to cover 110 miles at a cost of just over 90p. And all you need to charge the batteries is a simple mains plug. “It is like charging your mobile,” says Mr Annan. “You can do it anywhere – even while you are shopping.”