A Distant Rumble

Imagine yourself lying in bed with the windows open, listening to the normal sounds of night.  Depending on where you are, you might hear the chirps of crickets, a distant train’s horn, or just the wind rustling the leaves.

This particular night you hear the sound of thunder far away. It rumbles at such a low volume that you have to strain to hear it. Over the course of the next few minutes, you continue to hear it and realize it’s getting closer and that, since you’re awake anyway, you might as well take the opportunity to go around your house and close the windows. You know that it’s just a matter of time before the storm arrives and if you don’t get up now, you’ll be running around the house banging into furniture as you try to shut the windows against the incoming mist of rain.

That moment before you get out of bed, where the distant rumble is just hinting at what is headed your way, that’s where we are today. Electric vehicles, an infrastructure to support them, and a new way of looking at transportation; it’s the storm that will soon be upon us.

You can see the signs of the coming storm every day: the Department of Energy loans millions to three auto companies to accelerate the production of affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles — Ford, Nissan and Tesla. One of the most venerable and historic annual motorcycle races makes room in its schedule for an exhibition race of zero-emission electric motorcycles.

And next month, at the Portland, Oregon Best Buy, they will begin selling the Brammo Enertia, a plug-in electric motorcycle designed and manufactured from the ground up in Ashland, Oregon.

This blog has been busy reporting on Brammo-related events, sometimes releasing three or four articles a day. It might be an article about the results of that historic motorcycle race, the TTXGP, or a link to a video of the Enertia appearing on Good Morning America during its New York City debut. But today has been pretty quiet, so far, and it has allowed me the time to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the approaching storm.

Storms can be deadly, damaging, scary affairs, but this one promises to be the kind of life-giving storm that a parched land seems ready to absorb. We are fortunate to be living at a time when we will witness this change in the rules, when a plug-in vehicle will eventually transform from a curious oddity into something ubiquitous.

It was before my time, but based on a recent book, the present seems a lot like 1959.
1959 was a game-changing year.  The space race began as the Russians launched Luna-1 toward the Moon.   Miles Davis releases “Kind of Blue.”  Frank Lloyd Wright’s radical design for the Guggenheim Museum becomes a reality.  Each of these events laid the foundation for what was to come in space and technology, in music, and in architecture and design.

Today may seem like a quiet news day, but I am trying to use this opportunity to prepare myself for the change that is bearing down on all of us.


Brammo TTR zips past a line of fuel canisters at the TTXGP, the world's first zero-emission motorcycle race, Isle of Man. (Photo courtesy of Amadeus Photography)


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  1. #1 by skadamo on June 23, 2009 - 1:44 pm

    I always liked listening to an approaching storm. 😀 Good analogy.

    Really liking that pic. The cans look kind of lonely. 🙂

  2. #2 by cWINFIELD on June 24, 2009 - 11:21 am

    Wow, fantastic analogy and well written! Speechless.

  3. #3 by brammofan on June 24, 2009 - 11:26 am

    Thank you, gentlemen. That’s what happens when it’s a quiet news day.

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