'One Thing I'd Change About Taiwan'

by Trista di Genova, The Wild East

Originally published in The China Post, Foreign Community page 10, 30 Nov 2008

Kyle Sveinson, 28, is from Winnipeg, Canada. He teaches English for a living, and is the producer and a member of the hip-hop crew THC.
KYLE: I would change how the environment is managed. Taiwan has the highest concentration of motor scooters in the world, and there’s the illusion that scooters are more eco-friendly, but they pollute four times as much, for their size, it’s ridiculous.

A big part of the air quality problem would be solved if people switched to electric scooters. I’ve lived in Yunghe for a few years, and the air quality is such that you could smell, taste and almost feel the air pollution during the day; at night-time when the traffic was down it’d be nice and clear. But not anymore. Now it smells like exhaust all the time. And in the past couple of years, it doesn’t seem to go away.

Plus, I very much want to get off gas and I’m tired of my bike breaking down. And I hate bio-fuels, that’s the dumbest idea ever. That just creates food shortages as farmers dedicate their crops to it. Electric vehicles are 90-95% efficient. Gas-powered vehicles are only 16-18% efficient. What you spend in upkeep and fuel, and time every day, is almost the same as buying a new scooter every year.

So when I come back from Canada in January, my business partner Chris Simmons (from Portland, Oregon) and I are going to order the parts to convert our scooters to electric. Right now we’re looking at Chinese and American/European companies for batteries. Japan and Korea have the best batteries in the world right now, unfortunately — not Taiwan. In fact, we’re having a really hard time finding a distributor in Taiwan for what we want to do. I haven’t been able to find ANY here; they don’t have what would be available in any Home Depot at home in Canada, they won’t order it for you here, and they only want to sell parts in bulk.

Taiwan should also look to the example of the air car in France and Australia. That technology is getting better every day.

Kyle can be reached at vast.productions@gmail.com