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ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future

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ZOOM takes listeners inside the global race to build the car of the future, as pioneers in Japan, India, China, and the USA tackle the challenge of creating automobiles that will run on cleaner energy sources. The authors write: "Oil is the problem. Cars are the solution." We are living in the midst of a Great Awakening in which environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and politi ZOOM takes listeners inside the global race to build the car of the future, as pioneers in Japan, India, China, and the USA tackle the challenge of creating automobiles that will run on cleaner energy sources. The authors write: "Oil is the problem. Cars are the solution." We are living in the midst of a Great Awakening in which environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and political leaders are forming new alliances to end our addiction to oil and create new technologies. The days of Big Oil and Big Auto are numbered, according to the authors, who show how we are in the midst of a major transformation from carbon-based energy sources to new fuels and technologies. ZOOM traces the history of the linked industries of oil and automobiles, and how the two have shaped domestic capitalism and the international landscape, creating both progress and peril. They explain how Toyota vanquished American competitors to become the world's largest automobile manufacturer and, more importantly, a leader in hybrid cars using electric power. They take us into the boardrooms of oil executives and show how some are boldly exploring new energy sources while others deny the dangers posed by oil and risk extinction. With wide-ranging analysis and a keen view of the key players in the intersecting worlds of energy and automobiles, authors Iain Carson and Vijay Vaitheeswaran tell the story of what may be the most important challenge facing the industrial world: How to make the transition from the Age of Petroleum to a cleaner and better future.


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ZOOM takes listeners inside the global race to build the car of the future, as pioneers in Japan, India, China, and the USA tackle the challenge of creating automobiles that will run on cleaner energy sources. The authors write: "Oil is the problem. Cars are the solution." We are living in the midst of a Great Awakening in which environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and politi ZOOM takes listeners inside the global race to build the car of the future, as pioneers in Japan, India, China, and the USA tackle the challenge of creating automobiles that will run on cleaner energy sources. The authors write: "Oil is the problem. Cars are the solution." We are living in the midst of a Great Awakening in which environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and political leaders are forming new alliances to end our addiction to oil and create new technologies. The days of Big Oil and Big Auto are numbered, according to the authors, who show how we are in the midst of a major transformation from carbon-based energy sources to new fuels and technologies. ZOOM traces the history of the linked industries of oil and automobiles, and how the two have shaped domestic capitalism and the international landscape, creating both progress and peril. They explain how Toyota vanquished American competitors to become the world's largest automobile manufacturer and, more importantly, a leader in hybrid cars using electric power. They take us into the boardrooms of oil executives and show how some are boldly exploring new energy sources while others deny the dangers posed by oil and risk extinction. With wide-ranging analysis and a keen view of the key players in the intersecting worlds of energy and automobiles, authors Iain Carson and Vijay Vaitheeswaran tell the story of what may be the most important challenge facing the industrial world: How to make the transition from the Age of Petroleum to a cleaner and better future.

30 review for ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future

  1. 5 out of 5

    Max

    I had mixed feelings on this book. The future of energy is obviously a topic that I'm really interested in. And, as the authors both write for the Economist, I figured it would be well written, knowledgeable and informative. It was informative and fairly knowledgeable, but surprisingly poorly written. I think the main problem stemmed from the fact that it was written by two authors. The reason I say this is that the authors had an irritating tendency to repeat themselves (or, more likely, each o I had mixed feelings on this book. The future of energy is obviously a topic that I'm really interested in. And, as the authors both write for the Economist, I figured it would be well written, knowledgeable and informative. It was informative and fairly knowledgeable, but surprisingly poorly written. I think the main problem stemmed from the fact that it was written by two authors. The reason I say this is that the authors had an irritating tendency to repeat themselves (or, more likely, each other). Also, for the first 200 pages of the book, there is little that could be labelled a coherent argument. It is more like a haphazard lurch through the automobile and oil industries, with random anecdotes and interviews with the industries big names sprinkled in. Of course, while this is a bit frustrating, the authors are obviously well tuned in to the oil and automobile scenes, which makes these chapters informative despite the lack of arguments. The one other frustrating aspect of the book was the writing style. The Economist magazine prides itself on its objectivity above all; articles always attempt to look at both sides of the argument. This is an excellent quality in a magazine and a good quality in a book, but for the first two-thirds of the book I felt that the authors went a little bit too far in trying to present a balanced picture, to the detriment of presenting any actual opinion or making a compelling argument. Despite all of these complaints, I was glad to have read this book. The final 100 pages are more unified than the previous 200 and once the authors got to their point, I thought it was a good one. I learned a lot, more in anecdotes than in hard facts, but even so I feel like I have a better understanding of these issues than I did when I started the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is a good book on the future of fuel for our cars -- electricity, ethanol, gas, natural gas, etc. I was fascinated with the history of why we came addicted to oil, including when Franklin D Roosevelt went to Saudi Arabia to promise we will defend them if they promise to alway give us oil (at the end of WWII). I was amazed that Saudi Arabia can produce oil for less than $2/barrel. So when prices get to high and alternative fuels start looking good, they can drop prices. I learned that hydroge This is a good book on the future of fuel for our cars -- electricity, ethanol, gas, natural gas, etc. I was fascinated with the history of why we came addicted to oil, including when Franklin D Roosevelt went to Saudi Arabia to promise we will defend them if they promise to alway give us oil (at the end of WWII). I was amazed that Saudi Arabia can produce oil for less than $2/barrel. So when prices get to high and alternative fuels start looking good, they can drop prices. I learned that hydrogen is a long, long way away. But electricity is coming soon. I hope so for the sake of global warming.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sunlita

    Well, I really interested in 'future energy' and this book is absolutely in my shopping list. (I hope I can buy, or get it soon).. Looks like it's contain a 'pro-and-contra' stuffs, really fascinating and challenging to read. finally, I have bought this book at Kinokuniya, 209.000 IDR, worth the price, yes. I'll write some review about this book later, after I finish reading it. Well, I really interested in 'future energy' and this book is absolutely in my shopping list. (I hope I can buy, or get it soon).. Looks like it's contain a 'pro-and-contra' stuffs, really fascinating and challenging to read. finally, I have bought this book at Kinokuniya, 209.000 IDR, worth the price, yes. I'll write some review about this book later, after I finish reading it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    The subtitle of "The race to power the car of the future" is overcooked: this is a book largely about the oil, and largely about oil in the US economy. Like when you go to a comedy gig or concert and they announce the 'support act' - everyone groans - you ache for the first half of the book - history about oil and the US car industry - to be over, so that you can hear about thoughts on the future. It's frustrating. Overall, it's well researched and there are some interesting sections, but it's bee The subtitle of "The race to power the car of the future" is overcooked: this is a book largely about the oil, and largely about oil in the US economy. Like when you go to a comedy gig or concert and they announce the 'support act' - everyone groans - you ache for the first half of the book - history about oil and the US car industry - to be over, so that you can hear about thoughts on the future. It's frustrating. Overall, it's well researched and there are some interesting sections, but it's been badly organised and in places - like when the exact same half-page-length paragraph is used (word for word) in two chapters - poorly executed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Flowergarden24

    Oil and money. That's what drives the world. This was interesting even though written in 2007. Big companies don't care at all about climate change and doing what is best for the Earth. This book is a bit disjointed and not a page turner yet it was revealing to read about the car companies , the motivations and interrelationships between countries. I feel certain after reading this that there is no hope for a just world when great science and ideas are available yet ignored because they would d Oil and money. That's what drives the world. This was interesting even though written in 2007. Big companies don't care at all about climate change and doing what is best for the Earth. This book is a bit disjointed and not a page turner yet it was revealing to read about the car companies , the motivations and interrelationships between countries. I feel certain after reading this that there is no hope for a just world when great science and ideas are available yet ignored because they would disrupt the corrupt system already in place.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Quadradix

    Some thoughts on Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future. This 2007 book is written by two correspondents for The Economist, and provides a US-centric view of the geopolitical and economic forces that link Big Oil and Big Auto, and of the potential for a hydrogen economy to resolve the environmental issues surrounding the burning of fossil fuels. The first six chapters provide a (rather disjointed) overview of the history of cars and oil companies, and the efforts that these industrie Some thoughts on Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future. This 2007 book is written by two correspondents for The Economist, and provides a US-centric view of the geopolitical and economic forces that link Big Oil and Big Auto, and of the potential for a hydrogen economy to resolve the environmental issues surrounding the burning of fossil fuels. The first six chapters provide a (rather disjointed) overview of the history of cars and oil companies, and the efforts that these industries have made to preserve their dominant positions. While interesting, the book really begins in Part III with a discussion of the growth of Asian economies and the impact that increasing car ownership will have on the environment and the oil supply. The following two chapters talk about clean fuels and smart cars, and of the need for political change in Washington to level the playing field and allow clean energy to develop. For some time I have been thinking about the role that business will play in solving the energy / environmental issues that we face today. This book presents the first argument that I have read for something which I believe is key – that the price of fuel needs to reflect its true cost to society, including externalities such as security, health, and environmental harm. It is ludicrous that the price of petrol is so low in the USA, but the true cost needs to account for more than simply the huge subsidies provided to highly profitable oil majors. Think for example, how much the price would rise if the cost of the Iraq wars were included (I must point out that while the authors do talk about the cost of energy security, they don’t suggest that the Iraq wars were about the oil!) Zoom proposes five points. 1. Americans need to pay honest prices for fossil fuels. The price of gasoline must reflect the true cost to society imposed by its environmental, geopolitical, and economic harm. This would level the playing field so that clean alternatives have a fighting chance. 2. The business of business is business. Don’t expect corporations to act out of goodwill, charity, or “corporate social responsibility” to tackle oil addiction. There is nothing immoral or surprising about oil companies selling oil or car companies selling SUVs. 3. Leave it to the market to pick the winners. History shows that it is disastrous to expect the government to back promising technologies. It’s best to leave this to the dynamism of markets and entrepreneurs. 4. Government must act. While bureaucrats should not push favoured technologies, there is a clear case for government intervention in energy and environmental policy due to the costly externalities involved in burning fossil fuels. 5. Individual action is the essential catalyst for change. The key to driving change in America’s political system is grassroots involvement. I am inclined to agree with all of these points. I was hoping to learn more about a potential hydrogen economy, but nevertheless enjoyed this book and was very interested in the economic arguments presented here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Some thoughts on Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future. This 2007 book is written by two correspondents for The Economist, and provides a US-centric view of the geopolitical and economic forces that link Big Oil and Big Auto, and of the potential for a hydrogen economy to resolve the environmental issues surrounding the burning of fossil fuels. The first six chapters provide a (rather disjointed) overview of the history of cars and oil companies, and the efforts that these industrie Some thoughts on Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future. This 2007 book is written by two correspondents for The Economist, and provides a US-centric view of the geopolitical and economic forces that link Big Oil and Big Auto, and of the potential for a hydrogen economy to resolve the environmental issues surrounding the burning of fossil fuels. The first six chapters provide a (rather disjointed) overview of the history of cars and oil companies, and the efforts that these industries have made to preserve their dominant positions. While interesting, the book really begins in Part III with a discussion of the growth of Asian economies and the impact that increasing car ownership will have on the environment and the oil supply. The following two chapters talk about clean fuels and smart cars, and of the need for political change in Washington to level the playing field and allow clean energy to develop. For some time I have been thinking about the role that business will play in solving the energy / environmental issues that we face today. This book presents the first argument that I have read for something which I believe is key – that the price of fuel needs to reflect its true cost to society, including externalities such as security, health, and environmental harm. It is ludicrous that the price of petrol is so low in the USA, but the true cost needs to account for more than simply the huge subsidies provided to highly profitable oil majors. Think for example, how much the price would rise if the cost of the Iraq wars were included (I must point out that while the authors do talk about the cost of energy security, they don’t suggest that the Iraq wars were about the oil!) Zoom proposes five points. 1. Americans need to pay honest prices for fossil fuels. The price of gasoline must reflect the true cost to society imposed by its environmental, geopolitical, and economic harm. This would level the playing field so that clean alternatives have a fighting chance. 2. The business of business is business. Don’t expect corporations to act out of goodwill, charity, or “corporate social responsibility” to tackle oil addiction. There is nothing immoral or surprising about oil companies selling oil or car companies selling SUVs. 3. Leave it to the market to pick the winners. History shows that it is disastrous to expect the government to back promising technologies. It’s best to leave this to the dynamism of markets and entrepreneurs. 4. Government must act. While bureaucrats should not push favoured technologies, there is a clear case for government intervention in energy and environmental policy due to the costly externalities involved in burning fossil fuels. 5. Individual action is the essential catalyst for change. The key to driving change in America’s political system is grassroots involvement. I am inclined to agree with all of these points. I was hoping to learn more about a potential hydrogen economy, but nevertheless enjoyed this book and was very interested in the economic arguments presented here.

  8. 5 out of 5

    E

    Why you want to run your cars on something other than oil Authors Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran depict “Big Oil” and “Big Auto” as the engines behind much of the world’s climate problem. Rather than condemn both, they look ahead and describe how China or the U.S., with the help of major car manufacturers, could lead the way to an oil-free future. They understand that personal transportation is too beneficial to dismiss out of hand, but that it must change. They acknowledge that the worl Why you want to run your cars on something other than oil Authors Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran depict “Big Oil” and “Big Auto” as the engines behind much of the world’s climate problem. Rather than condemn both, they look ahead and describe how China or the U.S., with the help of major car manufacturers, could lead the way to an oil-free future. They understand that personal transportation is too beneficial to dismiss out of hand, but that it must change. They acknowledge that the world will not run out of oil any time soon, but caution that the remaining concentrations are in the hands of countries that are unfriendly to big oil companies and the West. Moving away from foreign oil, requiring greater fuel efficiency and using biofuels look like the right first steps, they explain. The authors expect the batteries, fuel cells and even hydrogen – their particular long-term dream – to dominate in the future. They note alternatives to their vision, but express their opinions quite firmly. You may bristle if you disagree with a point or two, but getAbstract finds their overall emphasis on weaning cars from oil and driving into a prosperous postcarbon future quite interesting, along with their plea to readers to become part of grassroots movements for change.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristian

    I was hoping that this book would be an insight into all that is happening in alternative fuels and into what we can expect from automobiles in the near and distant future... instead it was mostly a history of the American Automobile and Oil industry... It was worth my reading considering my interests and desire for knowledge in these areas, however, it was fairly redundant and basically regurgitating of facts and economic figures. If you really care about cars and alt. fuels this might be worth I was hoping that this book would be an insight into all that is happening in alternative fuels and into what we can expect from automobiles in the near and distant future... instead it was mostly a history of the American Automobile and Oil industry... It was worth my reading considering my interests and desire for knowledge in these areas, however, it was fairly redundant and basically regurgitating of facts and economic figures. If you really care about cars and alt. fuels this might be worth your while just so you have a base to move forward from, but if you have been into these things for a while, you probably don't need to read this... also, it will quickly be out of date.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    I very much enjoyed this read. The authors, who are writers for The Economist, generate a great overview of the history of the oil and automobile industry... and their interdependecy. They appear to not have a particular axe to grind. And they let us know why were are where we are in terms of dependence on oil. They give good insight into the option going forward as oil and gas have reached hisorical highs and the fact that we may just have reach peak oil production. They certainly reinforce long I very much enjoyed this read. The authors, who are writers for The Economist, generate a great overview of the history of the oil and automobile industry... and their interdependecy. They appear to not have a particular axe to grind. And they let us know why were are where we are in terms of dependence on oil. They give good insight into the option going forward as oil and gas have reached hisorical highs and the fact that we may just have reach peak oil production. They certainly reinforce long standing opinions of mine. And given me data to us. One example is the silliness of using energy to move a 4,000 pound metal auto to transport a 150 pound human. I highly recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Listened to the abridged audio version of this and really enjoyed it. The book offers a balanced look at the history behind our addiction to oil, some glimpses of amazing new technology and an optimistic(!) yet cautionary conclusion and call to arms. It is narrated by one of the authors, Vijay Vaitheeswaran, and I enjoyed his presentation. Plus, I met Vijay a couple of years ago when he was on campus for a faculty event and I had my picture taken with him - how cool is that? :) Listened to the abridged audio version of this and really enjoyed it. The book offers a balanced look at the history behind our addiction to oil, some glimpses of amazing new technology and an optimistic(!) yet cautionary conclusion and call to arms. It is narrated by one of the authors, Vijay Vaitheeswaran, and I enjoyed his presentation. Plus, I met Vijay a couple of years ago when he was on campus for a faculty event and I had my picture taken with him - how cool is that? :)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tin Wee

    This book gives a good history of how the oil and automobile industry first developed almost in sync in the US, and later how the oil industry started its decline when the US became a net importer. The car industry however continued its progress until the Japanese companies entered the picture. Leaner, innovative, and less hobbled by unions, the Japanese have more or less dominated the global car industry. Going ahead. the book argues that the production of green cars will move the world away fr This book gives a good history of how the oil and automobile industry first developed almost in sync in the US, and later how the oil industry started its decline when the US became a net importer. The car industry however continued its progress until the Japanese companies entered the picture. Leaner, innovative, and less hobbled by unions, the Japanese have more or less dominated the global car industry. Going ahead. the book argues that the production of green cars will move the world away from dependence on oil, and also substantially reduce greenhouse emissions worldwide. Interesting and coherent read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alison Prendergast

    The authors of this book have written for the Economist for a long time. I saw the book on a table and picked it up, and then let a friend borrow it (a friend who, I'm sure, will never read it **sigh**). I just heard one of the authors on the NewsHour and he was really interesting. For example, he talked about how there "is no real scarcity of oil." fascinating. enlightening. tell me more Mr. Vaitheeswaran. Here's the interview: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/busine... The authors of this book have written for the Economist for a long time. I saw the book on a table and picked it up, and then let a friend borrow it (a friend who, I'm sure, will never read it **sigh**). I just heard one of the authors on the NewsHour and he was really interesting. For example, he talked about how there "is no real scarcity of oil." fascinating. enlightening. tell me more Mr. Vaitheeswaran. Here's the interview: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/busine...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allen

    There are many new ways to think about the way cars will eventually change. Oil (gasoline) and the market that is shaping or driving (no pun intended) the development of personal transportation is really open to many paths. Really sheds some light on different aspects of the problem and how different countries, corporations and energy producers are dealing with it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ellis

    I read this book within the month, and I already barely remember it. What does that tell you? (Hopefully it doesn't tell you that I'm dumb and have no long-term memory. Wait, that IS it.... Crap!) I read this book within the month, and I already barely remember it. What does that tell you? (Hopefully it doesn't tell you that I'm dumb and have no long-term memory. Wait, that IS it.... Crap!)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Umit Batmaz

    A good work about the automotive industry and its future depending on the energy dilemma. I have got many interesting and amazing informations about the new techniques and developments from his studies.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I listened to this as a Bot as well as read it in book form. Found it to be interesting,insightful and covered a wide range of developing transportation technology. This is an area I know little that it gave me a nice background in this area.

  18. 4 out of 5

    jon

    I particularly loved the suggestions for creating a society that relies on alternative energy solutions especially for automobiles.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I thought that I would find this subject matter interesting, but I confess I didn't make it all the way through this book. I bet I'd love it as a documentary! I thought that I would find this subject matter interesting, but I confess I didn't make it all the way through this book. I bet I'd love it as a documentary!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sara Phelps

    Very interesting and informative, though it felt like a textbook at times.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Very informative book on oil, and the ties between the auto and oil industries and what is next for powering cars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Mcdermott

    Good book if now a little outdated. Good overview but much has changed in the energy sphere that would have some effect on the conclusions from this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Stephens

    yep. it was about oil.yep. pretty boring. i learned a bit about the history of the auto industry which is the only reason this didn't get a lower rating. yep yep. it was about oil.yep. pretty boring. i learned a bit about the history of the auto industry which is the only reason this didn't get a lower rating. yep

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike Frazier

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nuno

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mikael Larsson

  28. 4 out of 5

    David Lee

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Duncan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gail

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