The Cleantech Threshold
Sometimes change seems to happen in slow motion. A new technology or business model can be an ongoing topic of discussion, with little change in the market. The merits of e-book readers, for instance, were discussed over a period of 15 years. But when a compelling product—the $139 Kindle—hit the market at an attractive price, consumers pounced. Industry players that adapted early to the shift are the ones that survived (Barnes & Noble) and thrived (Amazon), while others (Borders) ended up leveled because they failed to develop a strategy for the change.
I believe we’re nearing a crossover point in a key area of cleantech—electric cars. Over the coming months, two leading e-car models, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, will expand beyond limited test markets. The global launches will be supported by new business models for creating a charging infrastructure.