Friday, May 31, 2013

Shut Up And Drive Forward

Change is not always something our staff members enjoy.

The Chicago Sun-Times committed one of those stupid acts of senseless change on Thursday, as they made one of the most idiotic moves we've seen in years, in either business or journalism, when they fired their entire photography staff. That's saying a lot, considering some of the less-than-brilliant choices made by former employers and clients our staff members have had.

So with that frustrating thought about change percolating in our heads, we thought it more important than ever today to focus on a story about change that might actually give our readers a bit more hope for the weekend, and beyond.

We found that story, thanks in part to our resident tech geek, who pointed us towards a fantastic announcement by Tesla Motors on Thursday. With another roadtrip looming on the horizon this weekend for one of our staffers, we weren't exactly looking forward to playing the blame game with the gas pump again.

The most recent chapter of this story, in case you missed it, began last week when Tesla Motors - the all-electric, all-American car company helmed by SpaceX founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk - paid back it's half-billion dollar U.S. government loan nine years early. Unsurprisingly, some of our media colleagues on the right instantly found the found dark cloud under the silver lining, insisting Tesla paying back the money early was a bad thing, that America could have made more money on the loan.

Of course, as Brad Plumer of Wonkblog and Jonathan Silver of Thirdway pointed out, those detractors don't seem to get what the Federal government's clean-energy loans are supposed to be for.

At least one reason those loans exist became crystal clear on Thursday, when Mr. Musk and his company used the Wall Street Journal's "D: All Things Digital" conference as a venue to announce one of the most ambitious expansion programs for electric charging stations in the nation. Within six months, owners of a Tesla automobile should be able to drive all the way across the country, from New York to L.A. Within two years, drivers should be able to cover the entire country, and even into Mexico and Canada.

What's more, Musk confirmed his company's plans are on target to have an affordable, all electric car - priced around $30,000 - within three to five years.

Tesla isn't the only one racing forward.

Hybrid gas-electric cars are also making huge inroads in the U.S., with old-guard companies like Ford making evolutionary changes to how they make products and conduct business - while earning huge gains in sales. All of these advances in technology, and the secondary effects these new kinds of vehicles will have on alternative energies, reduced pollution, better transportation, and job creation only make us smile more, even as we're about to hit the road again.

We can all imagine, in the not-too-distant future, being able to hit the road for a long weekend drive, and not having to worry about gas prices at all.

When it's done right, change isn't a bad thing.