"Oil is the problem. Cars are the solution." Those two simple sentences by the authors of Zoom define the scope of their illuminating and important book, an examination of a transformation in business and culture that is occurring before our eyes.
We are living in the midst of a Great Awakening. People are seeking environmentally-sound alternatives to gas guzzlers. Detroit's reign is over. Oil companies, despite their billion-dollar profits, could be on the brink of extinction if they don't adapt. And citizens, all too aware that these industries have lobbied politicians into gridlock over energy policy, are mobilizing to support leaders who advocate new policies.
In Zoom, Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, award-winning correspondents for The Economist, show why and how geopolitical and economic forces are compelling the linked industries of oil and autos to change as never before. Drawing on years of industry research-including dozens of interviews with motor and energy executives, top policymakers, and latter-day Fords and Edisons-Carson and Vaitheeswaran explain:
-How Toyota became the world's largest automaker through innovation and superior performance. -Why American politicians have, for decades failed to address our energy issues and global warming-and how grassroots movements, along with individual entrepreneurs, innovators, and outsiders, are making real reform possible. -How these Green revolutionaries are creating new products powered by hydrogen, electricity, bio-fuels, and digital technology. As political leaders debate our energy, environmental and economic future, Zoom offers a lucid and visionary portrait of what that future could be. Anyone planning to vote will find compelling truth in its assertions and conclusions.
black & white illustrations
black & white illustrations
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Two Economist reporters teamed up to write Zoom. That shows. The book takes a good look at cars, their past and their future. But it reads more like a series of magazine articles than a book. That makes the book somewhat simple and superficial. Nothing deep or meaty.
That being said, Zoom does provide a good read. The authors like to talk about people as much as things. And they are good at little character sketches. Stan Ovshinsky. Henry Ford. Bob Lutz. Elon Musk. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Larry Burns. Lee Raymond. Thomas Edison. Amory Lovins. James Woolsey. And tens of others. Probably a hundred people altogether.
The authors do well with people. They do not do so well with the technology. A few (not many) out and out errors. (And again like a magazine but unlike a book, not a single footnote or citation to let us check on sources.) But mostly the book takes just a quick look at technology, not the close look that would have helped...
Zoom is not what I expected. I thought I'd get a survey of the various alt-fuel vehicle approaches that are being pursued today. Instead what I mostly got is an examination of all that's wrong with Big Oil, Big Auto, and Washington DC. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. I certainly learned a lot.
The book does seem a bit rambling and unfocused, certainly in contrast to the laser-like focus of Cool It. Some have criticized it for including large tracts of text from earlier articles that appeared in The Economist. Well. . . I don't subscribe to The Economist, so this was all new to me.
As we are led down this winding path, we get a schooling in how Big Oil and Big Auto have corrupted the political process. We see how dependent the world has become on the Middle East. We find that both Big Oil and Big Auto -- squabbling partners, like siamese twins who detest one another yet can't be separated -- are facing serious problems in the coming decades. The authors...
Almost entirely a history of everything that's "bad" about cars and the auto & oil industries. Very little OF SUBSTANCE about what they could become and HOW TO GET THERE. Also, the book could have been 1/2 it's final length if the authors hadn't kept repeating things. Disappointing.
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