Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Paving over constraints...

This morning, I was commenting over on Innovating to Win in reference to a recent New York Times article covering the latest re-think on the automotive industry.

Shai Agassi is lining up venture capital firms to the tune of about $200 million to invest in modifying the current electric grid with an intelligent battery charging and replacement infrastructure, on the idea that most of the major car manufacturers are already well down the road to mass-production electric cars.

Any engineering design involves tradeoffs. In my comments over on Innovating to Win, I pointed out that a petroleum sourcing problem which the automotive industry is clearly facing, will be replaced with a toxic waste disposal problem.

It made me think about a recent (and I'll go out on a limb and say one of my all time favorite) example of innovation, constraints, and trade-offs, which recently aired on the BBC's "Top Gear" program.

This is a speed test of the Bugatti Veyron, which is one of the fastest production cars in the world. What I find so entertaining in this piece are the tradeoffs apparently required to push the Veyron to sustained speeds of 250 miles per hour (including a fuel to tire lifecycle ratio that approaches 1, and a straight stretch of road that disappears over the curvature of the earth).

A note to anyone who might be in sales at a growing company (say perhaps, of innovation software) - If your CEO sponsors a contest for the top sales executive of the year which includes a new car "to be determined", suggest the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 (and let me know how it goes).

More likely, if your company is operating under tighter fiscal constraints, you could still do very nicely to suggest this politically correct, hip, and environmentally savvy Peel P50 that was apparently way ahead of its time in 1963.

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