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Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
It was a rocky road, with ever changing rules, ever changing demands, ever changing requirements, and of course - underfunded participants. Jason Fagone, who fortunately for all readers is not a car or racing fanatic, visited and followed them as they designed and built, tested and ran their exceptionally green vehicles.
Even the grand prize money got halved, as additional categories were included later. The winner received $5 million, intended to help commercialize the winning design, but of course almost all the money went towards backfilling the gaping pothole the project created, and the car has yet to see anything like production.
The hands down outstanding character in this drama is Oliver Kuttner, a man who continually defies characterization, let alone stereotyping. He is many things to many people, and his actions, reactions, attitudes and demeanors can never be assumed. His passions run deep, his skills are many, and his team deservedly wins, thought the victory is at best bittersweet (which for spoiler reasons is all I can say). He is fascinating.
That a bunch of guys (and the occasional spouse) in places all over the country can design and build cars that get four times the mileage of the major manufacturers says lots. Not to dwell on the negative, it says we still got it. We can summon up the ingenuity and desire to creatively destroy an industry - if it weren't such a monster.
Ingenious reads like a reality show, cutting back and forth between the teams, focusing on individuals and moving on. Our culture in a nutshell.
The book is well written, and the author has a good handle on both the human aspect and the technological aspects of the challenge for efficiency. Many proponents of alternative energy powered cars don't quite get the basic laws of physics - just running your car on ethanol or solar isn't enough. Gasoline is one of the highest density for weight fuels available, and the challenge is largely based on car design in general. In fact, the winning automobile was gas powered. It's not just about alternative energy.
A few times in the book, the author lets his style get away from him and he leaves the proverbial rails. For instance, while talking about poorer students who are working on efficient automobiles, he surmises that poor people "care more" about global warming because they can't move to higher ground when the cities on the East coast get flooded like richer people can. On it's face, this is a bit of a ridiculous claim. Alternative energy cars are largely playthings for the wealthy - most of the poor can't even afford these cars. Most support for these initiatives come from the wealthier segments of society anyways. I think the motivation of poor students to innovate has to do with achieving and building something, rather than fear of their neighborhoods getting flooded.Read more ›
The book is an interesting mix of personal stories, interesting technology, and one great big race for the prize. It's well told, and you can tell the author dedicated many years to getting to know these teams and follow their exploits. My biggest complaint is that there aren't way more pictures. When you're talking about unfamiliar technology, or when so much rides on innovative and unfamiliar designs, it would be really helpful to actually see what he's talking about, instead of having to search online for pictures of the odd-looking machines he describes. There are a few snapshots, but not nearly enough. But that doesn't take away from a this book. It's a good read, and an interesting one. Enjoy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a disappointment to me, as it could have been about innovation, instead it was like one of those contemporary National Geographic documentaries, which instead of... Read morePublished 21 months ago by charles Bugni
I have a friend that is doing his PhD program at Clemson focusing on automotive engineering. I got this so that we would have something to talk about. Read morePublished on May 12, 2014 by Jennifer Miller
This is a facinating, fast-moving account of the competition to invent a mass-produceable, mainstream car that can achieve 100 MPG equivalent that began in 2007. Read morePublished on May 6, 2014 by Amazonian Consumer
This book can be read in one sitting. The author introduces us to all the parties involved in the X prize race. Read morePublished on May 1, 2014 by Himri
"Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America" is a well written and researched book. Read morePublished on April 24, 2014 by Wilhelmina Zeitgeist
This book is covering, more of less, three different topics:
1) automotive history in the US
2) The history of the X Prize
3) Four very different teams as they... Read more
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