A Finnish internet community is seeking to apply the collective approach taken by online collaborators like the authors of Wikipedia to start converting used petrol-fuelled cars to electric ones, with the first roll-out due this year.
The Finnish-language forum, “eCars – Now!” claims to be first of its kind in the world, and wants to provide an alternative to what its members perceive as foot-dragging in the oil and auto industries.
The group is working in the tradition of “open source” projects laid down by information technology – like the Linux computer operating system which was started by a Finn and challenged Microsoft’s dominance.
“If we succeed very well it will create similar projects across the world with whom we can share what we know,” said project participant Jukka Jarvinen, adding that a similar scheme was launching in Denmark.
“We’re hoping to create a global movement.”
This kind of approach is what could eventually be one of the ways that modes of production will change to as we move towards system wide renewable energy systems. There will always be large corporations but there will need to be an open source alternative that nearly by definition will be small and voluntary but that will drive innovation that the large companies will have to follow. Some of the small organisations will scale up in size, while some of the larger organisations that can’t keep up collapse under their weight. There are life-cycles. The Rudd election promise of tech centres in schools may be too narrowly focused. There may be a case for publicly managed high tech centres or technology parks where technology can be booked by the public and business on the merit of the project and under a subsidised rate, and where specialised production machinery in particular can be produced. An open source model may work for this. A scheme similar to HECS could also be considered for the technology produced, so that if the results are profitable then the costs could be returned to the centre. Or an alternative could be that open source remains open source to an extent. These tech centres would not just be eleborate workshops. They could be places where production machinery is used to create other kinds of production machinery. It might not work now, or for this generation, and the business models still need to be thought out and worked through. But that’s another wait and see proposition.