Gasoline Is About To Get Digitized. Maybe. Actually, Definitely.

Optimism is infectious.

It feels good to hope. It lifts your mood. It straightens your back. It heals what ails. We hope our sports teams will win, that our politicians will change the world for the better, and that life has meaning. Ok, that’s perhaps a bit grandiose, but it’s hard not to let it sweep you away, especially when it really strikes a chord.

The automobile industry is the most publicly scrutinized way in which we consume oil. Sure, it’s also on our Greek salads, but that’s not what gets people in a huff. Gasoline pollutes. Pollution cause climate change. Climate change causes erratic weather that destroys ecosystems, devastates infrastructure, and displaces people from their homes. A little scrutiny is warranted. Understandably, governments, particularly European ones, are taking strong action in this vein to curb vehicle emissions, thereby increasing fuel economy and lessening our consumption of that gooey black goodness evil. These new regulations are having a profound effect, particularly on the vociferous enthusiast community (like right here, except not here, oh who am I kidding!), as once blissfully intoxicating naturally aspirated engines are giving way to vacuum-cleaner-imitating turbocharged and supercharged ones. Forced induction isn’t inherently wrong, but it’s generally perceived to reduce the character and soul of a vehicle, basically robbing it of its enthusiast appeal.

If that trend weren’t enough to scare the bejeezus out of our enthusiast community, we might want to turn our attention to the 747 flying 30,000 feet over our heads as gasoline gets motherfucking digitized. Shai Agassi, founder of Better Place and speaker at last week’s 2011 APEC Transport/Energy Ministerial Meeting in San Francisco, brings us up to speed in his talk.

I listened to it mainly out of curiosity, maybe even out of fear for my beloved V8, but rather than walking away distraught, I was filled with a sense of unbridled optimism. And not only optimism, but also determinism. I’m really not one to believe in fate, or destiny, or even in anything after this life, but Agassi is so powerful that I fully believe that battery-swappable electric cars are an inevitable future. Now we just need to make electrons more fun…

Listen to it here, turn it up, and feel the optimism course through your entire body.

A video explaining the Better Place initiative is below.

For those of you with an investor’s bent, now seems like an awfully good time to get a position in the metals and rare earths that all those batteries are going to need. Having just finished the must-read Wealthy Barber Returns, taking the long view on mining companies and throwing in some dollar-cost averaging sounds mighty smart right now.

[Audio via TTAC]

[Video via Better Place]

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