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TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Too Big To Fail
TJ McDermott   8/17/2011 10:42:20 AM
NO RATINGS
I hate that phrase.  It's a cop-out; it says we're too afraid of the consequences, too lazy to prevent them.

If a corporate entity grows "too big to fail" and yet is in danger of failing, many, many people FAILED in management and in legal oversight.

 

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Too Big To Fail
Beth Stackpole   8/17/2011 10:57:31 AM
NO RATINGS
I would say it's hard to feel sympathy for the auto makers or the financial companies or the big oil companies or really any company in any major sector these days as average Americans continue to struggle.

Mandates like those around the zero-emission vehicle may be tough on auto makers, but without them, it's likely that there wouldn't be as much progress and resources directed towards EV engineering. It is a double-edge sword, though, and perhaps some day, the general public will have to entertain the idea of mandates or penalties for not embracing some of the more environmentally-friendly technologies, be it automotive or otherwise.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Too Big To Fail
TJ McDermott   8/17/2011 11:11:59 AM
NO RATINGS
Every struggling citizen would love a generous-term bailout when they encounter difficulties.

When I'm done here, I'm going to call AmEx, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover to let them know I am raising my credit limit.  Just because I'm spending more than I earn doesn't mean they should be able to put a cap on my credit lines, so I will be asking for a generous increase.

 

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Too Big To Fail
Rob Spiegel   8/17/2011 11:22:19 AM
NO RATINGS
While I can understand why the Obama administration propped up the automakers (fear of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the dealer network), they may have done the industry a disservice. The automakers have caved to their unions for decades, which put them at a disadvantage compared with foreign competition that carries a far lighter labor burden.

If the government had allowed GM to go into bankruptcy, there is a good chance the company could have scaled back its labor committments and emerged a healthier company -- while still paying good wages and offeirng decent benefits.

herbissimus
User Rank
Silver
Re: Too Big To Fail
herbissimus   8/17/2011 12:23:18 PM
NO RATINGS
perhaps you're right about the car companies not being tough with the workers in labor negotiations, but another factor that looms large is the relative age difference and the attendant costs of health care and pensions, which the foreign car companies with younger labor forces don't yet have.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Too Big To Fail
Rob Spiegel   8/17/2011 12:29:14 PM
NO RATINGS
Good point, Herbissimus. Part of the challenge the Detroit automakers face dates back to the days when they dominated world automaking. It's easy to give in to labor if you can pass those costs on to your customers with no blowback. Until competitors could challenge the cost of Detroit vehicles, management just said yes to the unions. The foreign competitive challenge came a coulple decades after the car boom hit full steam in the 50s. Thus, the workers at those foreign carmakers tend to be a couple decades younger.

sw555
User Rank
Iron
Re: Too Big To Fail
sw555   8/18/2011 10:24:23 AM
Yes! How's that for bucking the trend....

It makes little sense to require a company to produce what customers won't buy. In time, there will be no company and nobody wins.

CUSTOMERs buy big SUVs. Car companies didn't force them to buy. (By the way the big US SUVs are far more fuel efficient than most foreign makes.)

Come on people. This is basic supply and demand stuff. If you want to influence the purchase and use of efficient vehicles, EV's, etc., pass a tax to raise the price of gasoline or on high fuel consumption vehicles. One of the reasons car companies had trouble in 2008 is because gas prices went above $4 per gallon, people took notice, stopped buying the majority of what sold (and, therefore, the most profitable), and auto sales plunged 60%. If people only buy efficient vehicles, that's all the car companies would produce.

Comparing the past to today doesn't work either. When the first CAFE requirements came out, one could argue they were necessary. One could also argue that because the foreign companies already passed, they added a burden to USA companies and siphoned off R&D money needed to maintain competitiveness. It wasn't the US companies fault that people in this country bought big cars and Europe/Asia didn't. I won't even mention the pension costs that don't exist in the more socialized foriegn contries.

All companies build what their customers buy. If you want to influence fuel efficiency, cause people to change their purchase habits. The manufacturers will follow.

Why not call the California fine a tax for purchasing a non EV and list it as an additional fee on the window sticker? I suspect the latter is political suicide, while the former is the politically correct "stick it to those bad car companies". In the end the cost will get passed on.

 

OtherThoughts
User Rank
Silver
Frankly, no
OtherThoughts   8/17/2011 11:11:19 AM
I hardly think the automakers deserving of sympathy in all this.  Given their resistance to being asked nicely in the past to reduce fuel consumption, given that CAFE numbers have been falling rather than rising for the past two decades, it's time for some actual consequences to be attached to a necessary action that the automakers clearly have no interest in addressing.  The fine is not a given - it will only apply if they continue to knowingly evade the issue.

Further, I for one have no sympathy for people who apparently think their freedom for an abundance of vehicle choices outweighs someone else's freedom to live in a world with breathable air and a stable climate.  Part of being a responsible adult living in a community with others is to compromise for the greater good - a lesson that parents should ideally be getting across before children leave the home.

 

Mike C
User Rank
Iron
Evs in California
Mike C   8/17/2011 11:15:25 AM
The contiuing efforts of State and other Local govenments in thes nation to "Control" consumer action , choice and interstate commerce is what is incorrect. There is no justification for California to impose a mandate on EVs. There is no justification anymore for differing AQMD regulations for differing parts of the nation. All one has to do is check the air quality records of the past 30 years to see the dramatic improvemnts YET >>>the areas with worse Air QUality are nearly the same now as then noting the higher controls yeaild nothing, because for the most part the issues are due to geography.

Detriot built AND CONTIUES to build on the whole, sub standard quality and value products. As far as the bailout is concerned ..mostly that got the manufactures out of contract driven costs that had little to do with product demand and such.

I am an engineer and would like to buy US product and I do. but they are built by Toyota, Honda and Kawasaki. All made in the USA by USA workers Designed by USA engineers. WHY can't Detriot do the same? Read the Car and Driver , Roadd and Trackks etc. They call all the time for exciting cars. Too bad dull and boring are what make the money. Camrys, Civics, etc that is the bread and butter of the industy. If you do not sell those...well guess what..you are a slave to fashion which changes.

 

As far as the SUV craze...folks do the research.Large SUVs fit into the Accellerated Depricaation cycles allowed originally to help farmers with this beinfit for vehicles over I think 6500 labs GVWR. SO any small businees sees a doubles Depreciation rate, that reduces the tax burden and ...well ya migth as well grab it. SO the IMBALANCE of the vehicle mix that became poison with 5 buck a gallon gas was....WASHINGTONS DOING!!!. SO MAYBE WASHINGTON HAD A RESPONSIBILTY TO HELP???

Does this sound confused? I hope so. here is no simple answer except a good longterm business stratgy managed by people with a close eye on sustainable business growth and a carfeul hand at the wheel with no emotional attachment to the business.

 

Common sense
User Rank
Gold
Re: Evs in California
Common sense   8/18/2011 11:11:59 AM
And so the wisdom of Forrest Gump shows again, "Stupid is as stupid does."  CA is probably one of the worst environments in the U.S. to even use EVs, with abnormally long daily commutes, and they import the energy they use.  It makes no sense.  The people of CA have dug themselves into a deep hole of ecomomic disaster by continuously voting in these liberal Democrates.  None of the automakers can survive by selling cars at zero or negative margins, and will not just absorb a $5000 hit on each none EV they sell, and non-EV will be 99.9% of what they sell.  In a fair world we would go back to having CA only cars and 49 state cars, and the poeple in CA can enjoy a $5000 up charge in all of the cars they buy while the rest of us are unaffected by this nonsense.  Unfortunately, I anticipate the automakers will spread this added cost across the board, so that all of us get to pay extra for this foolishness.  Basically all that is happening is that CA is in such a financial mess that they are charging a $5000 tax on each car sold in CA, and everybody in the country will be paying this tax to CA.  As for the new milage standards that have come out of Washington, this is ample evidence that nobody in the EPA, or the Whitehouse, knows anything about simple physics or chemistry.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Sympathy for the automakers:
William K.   8/17/2011 1:33:34 PM
NO RATINGS
Beth, please do not include the automakers in the same realm as thosempirates running the banks and financial institutions. When you purchase a car, you own it, and can use it as you please, within traffic law limits.

If the state of California is really serious about reducing vehicle pollution, the veryfirst thing they must do is forbid the use or posession of automotive air conditioning, followed by ruling against remote starters that allow cars to be started and run producing 100% polution, since at that point they are not doing anything useful. The next step would be to make changes to get rid of traffic jams, which are another source of pollution, cars idling and not going any place.

The problem with California laws is that too many of them are based on emotions instead of correct information, and have very little, if any, thought given to the unanticipated results that occur later on. 

If the auto companies were able to work with each other they could all act in unison and respond to California that there would be no new cars available. Unfortunately, the auto companies are unwilling to do that, because some company would cave in, I am sure. But it would certainly be fun for those of use who used to depend on the car companies for income to see those people having to give up something in support of what they claim to believe in.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sympathy for the automakers:
Ratsky   8/18/2011 11:16:08 AM
You got it almost right; Just delete "California" in front of "is that too many..."  Our so-called 'lawmakers" ignore the prime law: the law of Unintended Consequences.  This is true from the highest level (US Congress & Senate) to the lowest (local governments, school districts, etc.)  Combine that with the corruption that is endemic (both "official" criminalized kinds and structural types like special-interest laws and loopholes), and I'm ALMOST ready to revert to my youthful romance with anarchism!  The bloated bureaucracies that constitute the vast bulk of the Executive branch have long abandoned the legitimate purposes for which they were ostensibly created.  In the automotive industry, the NHTSA has created an incomprehensible amount of gobbledygook posing as "Safety requirements" that in MOST cases doesn't even properly define the goal of the regulation or specify the technical requirements!  See my recent post about airbag disablement for passenger seats for an excellent example.  That took up 500+ pages of the Federal Register for a totally ineffective regulation that hardly anyone has implemented properly in the sense of meeting the intent (but every car passes the test....).  Regardless, I have little sympathy for the US auto industry as a whole; a very good case can be made that it has been on a downward slope for nearly 50 years.  The fault lies heavily on generations of inept, arrogant management whose long-term planning horizon was measured in fiscal quarters, while the foriegn competition generally worked on 10 and 20-year plans.  Unfortunately, arrogance knows no nationality, and Jpanaese and European automakers have been infected as well over vthe past 10 years.

ddamato31
User Rank
Iron
Boo Who?
ddamato31   8/17/2011 2:09:37 PM
First, it is important as a society to objectively determine if this transportation soulution is "better" for our safety and environment and/or leads to the development of technology that will enable an ideal solution.  Beyong that...

Leaded paint, Leaded Gasoline, Drop Side Cribs ban, Smoke Alarms, Asbestos Floor Tiles, Cigarettes, Food Labels, Building Codes, RoHS, Seat belts, Airbags, smoking on planes or in resturants, etc.....

The government has stuck its hand in all of these areas...for what?  OUR SAFETY!

If "you" disagree with what California is doing, then please paint "your" kids room with the hightest lead content paint on earth.  Let them sleep in a drop side crib with bars spaced just right for their little heads.

Don't install fire alarms, and by all means let unqualified electrician install "your" electrical to close to your shotty leaded water pipes.  Smoke at your dinner table, and dump "your" used oil in little Tim's sandbox.  Turn off "your" air bags and don't wear "your" seat belt, and by all means let little Tim ride on Mom's lap in the front seat, while "you" text and drive.  Why? Because the sooner "you" and "your" offspring leave this planet the faster the smarter people on this planet will become the majority!

Then we can vote politicians into office that will enact reasonable changes for our safety, environment, and long-term well being!

Note: "you" and "your" is not directed at the author or fellow posters.  It is used in general.  There is a basic axiom of governance.  The best way to change behavior is through economics.  I view this as government trying to change the behavior of the auto manufacturers for our well being.

Tim
User Rank
Platinum
Lack of sympathy
Tim   8/17/2011 10:20:31 PM
NO RATINGS
Government intervention is not always best, but sometimes it is necessary.  The penalties that are proposed by California may seem harsh, but at least it may force some hands in the auto industry. 

vandamme
User Rank
Silver
Re: Lack of sympathy
vandamme   8/18/2011 9:28:12 AM
NO RATINGS
It will do them good to bicycle to work.

dnolek
User Rank
Iron
Sympathy
dnolek   8/18/2011 9:29:45 AM
I have no sympathy.  There are no technical reasons why the automakers cannot provide safe, quality cars within either the MPG madate or the EV mandate.  The market has not self-incented the automakers commercially to do this on their own, so it is just for it to be legislated.  

Automakers can easily decide to leave the CA market, or the North American market for that matter if they don't want to meet the challenge.  Keeping a firm stance such as this would incent the nessessary investments in R&D and engineering required to make the leap.  Many automakers ALREADY have the talent and expertise to develop these vehicles, but they dont because of the market conditions.  I see these mandates as a great way for government to advance technology without much taxpayer expense.

sparky
User Rank
Iron
No sympathy for California Consumers
sparky   8/18/2011 9:46:20 AM
A $5000 penalty for every EV not sold. I can see it now at the local dealer showroom...

"So Ms Jones, I see you need to buy a delivery van for your business. Unfortunately, those are all fossil fuel units and I'm above my quota on those. If you will pay the $5000 penalty or buy one of our new EV's in addition to the vehicle you need, I will be glad to sell the deivery van."

 

Really, I don't care how many fines the California legislature puts on the auto makers, just so all of the costs are paid by the California public. Just don't pass the silliness off to the other 49 states.

Rocky-Ricoco
User Rank
Iron
Re: No sympathy for California Consumers
Rocky-Ricoco   8/18/2011 10:17:12 AM
NO RATINGS

The auto makers complain that any requirement that increases the cost by $10 will break the industry.  At the same time they are installing accessories resulting in thousands of dollars in costs (radios, TVs, GPS, power locks, power windows, sunroofs, mag wheels, tinted windows …). 

To date, most of the emission controls are used to control the engine, without the oxygen, MAF and other sensors the computers would not be able to control the fuel mixture.  Without these electronics we would still be using carburetors and we would be servicing the vehicles every 20,000 miles.  In reality, the cars are now maintenance free for the first 100,000 miles and the cost savings to the consumer outweighs the initial investment.  This is progress

The emission controls also have environmental benefits.  Today the CO emissions from vehicles are so low that it is almost impossible to asphyxiate yourself with auto emissions. 

Remember the removal of leaded gasoline they said it would cost too much.  Look what that has saved us.  


coledhl
User Rank
Iron
Electric Cars & California pollution
coledhl   8/18/2011 10:25:53 AM
NO RATINGS
Batteries for EVs are made from rare earth elements mined in China.  That mining pollutes hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.  How many Chinese children die of cancer every day so CA can brag about driving an electric car?  The batteries aren't even made in the USA so electric cars support job creation overseas.  Every electric car requires a power plant to generate the electricity to charge the batteries.  If CA had approved diesel cars we could have 50% diesels like in Europe & have met mileage standards years ago.  Diesel is also a cheaper fuel. I'm also still waiting for CA to pay those states east of CA for the pollution caused when they burn their forests in CA.  CA has done more damage to the environment than any other state, its hard to imagine.  But they have a different agenda & its not the environment.

coledhl
User Rank
Iron
Electric Cars & California pollution
coledhl   8/18/2011 10:26:16 AM
Batteries for EVs are made from rare earth elements mined in China.  That mining pollutes hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.  How many Chinese children die of cancer every day so CA can brag about driving an electric car?  The batteries aren't even made in the USA so electric cars support job creation overseas.  Every electric car requires a power plant to generate the electricity to charge the batteries.  If CA had approved diesel cars we could have 50% diesels like in Europe & have met mileage standards years ago.  Diesel is also a cheaper fuel. I'm also still waiting for CA to pay those states east of CA for the pollution caused when they burn their forests in CA.  CA has done more damage to the environment than any other state, its hard to imagine.  But they have a different agenda & its not the environment.

diskguy
User Rank
Silver
Re: Electric Cars & California pollution
diskguy   8/18/2011 12:46:49 PM
NO RATINGS
I would recommend you re-examine your knowledge of EV batteries with the help of Google or Bing.  For a start consider

http://www.plugincars.com/rare-earth-elements-arent-actually-necessary-evs-or-hybrids-107194.html

There are rare-earth materials used in the LEAF's motor just like the hard drive in your computer.

missnoitall
User Rank
Iron
live with the system
missnoitall   8/18/2011 10:51:55 AM
issues tabled here remind me of the story about the gardener with an elephant in his garden asking 'what's the best kind of vegetable to plant along my garden fence?'  Throwing together the past, present and future directions of a global auto industry with the current economic state of the nation and adding in issues of global energy consumption and global warming makes for a difficult issue to talk about!  I fear that no bandaid approach is going to get rid of the elephant.  After all, this country went out of its way to build a giant infrastructure of wide roadways while during the same period we promoted urban sprawl and killed off public rail transportation.  Now the country is complaining that people won't accept more expensive, smaller cars with less range?  A textbook example of ignoring systems engineering!  The best thing we can do to promote change is, today, before it is too late, promote our teachers and educators to the highest status we can and make sure our children get a decent education in reason and above all else, science.  Maybe then our children will not make the same mistakes we have.

applegrl
User Rank
Bronze
California has lost it!
applegrl   8/18/2011 11:38:27 AM
The state is overflowing with people who are willing to settle for the status quo. 

They are drowning in people who don't belong there who have swamped the "system".  Then they vote for wing nuts who don't do anythig about it.

If everyone was required to do and pay their fair share, then money would not be a problem and neither would pollution because the deadbeats would have to leave.

They even settle for having unconstitutional gun laws pushed on them.  No wonder they are up to their necks in gangs and thugs.  Only the outlaws have guns!

Wake up people...we incorporated the governments to do look after our business...Not to tell us what to do.  It is time to take government back....all of them!

The day is coming...Be Prepared! 

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
In the end the New Car Buyer decides.
MIROX   8/18/2011 11:57:53 AM
No matter how many mandates, rules and regulations, ultimately the consumer and to be specific the New Vehicle Buyer, makes the ultimate decision.

BMW, Daimler, and few others have for years paid millions in EPA/NHTSA fines for not meeting the CAFE Standard, and their vehicles are still selling well and are desirable.

Attempts like the SMART to convince Americans that they need such a vehicle have been the ultimate failure for Automotive "midas" like Penske.

Every SATURN ever made was sold at loss of about $900 per vehicle, in an attempt by GM to gain market share. (GM disclosure during the bankruptcy)

The previous CAFE mandate only moved people from cars and station wagons into pick-ups and SUV, while the over all MPG average actually declined by about 1 MPG in 20 years.

Safety features to save speeding drunk drivers that refuse to wear seatbelts from certain demise increased the average vehicle weight by almost 1,000 lbs, that requred more engine power which in turn used about the same amount of fuel per mile driven, but with lot more computerized and expensive technology.

If everyone in USA would drive the Japanese style Kei-car, then overnight we would reduce our fuel consumption by 40%.

But the hope for that is the same as declaring that all World's problems will be immediately solved if all people adopt the "same" religion.

In theory it works, in reality it will never happen.

But ultimately people do NOT have to buy a "new" vehicle, and of about 1/2 the price of a current "new" car, they can restore 20 to 30 year old "classic" and drive it almost "forever".

The biggest benefit is that the old restored car will keep its value and will not depreciate (or can actually appreciate).

Plus the side benefit for the tree huggers, it takes lot less energy and resources to restore 25 year old car, than to make a new one!

 

 

 

 

horsefeathers
User Rank
Iron
Re: In the end the New Car Buyer decides.
horsefeathers   8/18/2011 12:20:22 PM
What a load of right-wing claptrap.  Might as well be a Rush Limbaugh site.

The bosses of US automakers deserve no sympathy whatsoever.  They have dug their own grave over the last several decades by pushing one nonsense after another onto ordinary working folks, both employees and customers.  Trouble is we get shoved in their grave and they (the bosses) waltz away with their golden parachutes.  Now California tries to whap them on the side of the head to make them wake up and take some responsibility for our future.   Does not work though.  They just call out the disinformation army again.

 

sandman
User Rank
Iron
Re: In the end the New Car Buyer decides.
sandman   8/18/2011 3:22:19 PM
While my father worked for a large auto manufacturing company I had to wait until I was over the age of 12 to tour the plant he worked in. I was a little older than that when I finally entered the soul killing dark greasy plant. I could not believe how the smell of machining coolant hung in the air, that no light came through the windows, and how hot it was. My father had 10 brothers and sisters working at the 4 various plants in the city. He asked witch one of my relatives I would like to visit first I asked to see one of my uncles. I said Uncle Roy he replied that he was playing cards at this moment. I then asked to see another relative and he said that person was sleeping. I asked well who is working. He said lets go see Fred he is working, my uncle Fred was working in quality control. As we got to Fred’s work station he was busy counting to 25 then throwing one of the transmission parts into a failed box. I noticed he had a working unit in the test station that he would whack with a hammer every now and again and it would start working for a short while after he hit with a mallet. He explained that none of the unit’s worked as designed but when he failed them all the administration would come down on him hard. The management claimed that the engineers predicted a one in 20 fail rate at the most. Thus about every 25th unit he put into the failed box. That was interesting to my teenaged self. We went to my father’s work station he was a tool setter. He set the tools in the multiprocess machines and was very good at it. That really impressed me because my father had dropped out of school during the 8th grade because the large family needed some of the children to support themselves at that time in our history. I asked my father how long he trained to do his job he replied about 3 months to do the job but you had to do this job for about a year to get good at it and fast enough to suit the company. We roomed through the plant with him explaining the operation and introducing me to just about every person on the production floor. Finally he took me to a break area to wait for him to finish his shift. Once in the car he said well what do you think? I told him I didn’t want to hurt his feelings but I never wanted to work there. He laughed and said that was the purpose of the trip and he would like to hear my plan to escape his fate. I told him that I was going to be a carpenter so I could work outside. He liked that idea and asked what else I had thought about the plant. I blurted out that if part of the crew was sleeping and other playing cards while getting paid that I thought someone speaking Japanese would have their jobs one of these days. His face turned red he clinched his jaw trying to control his response. Then he started telling me that I knew nothing of what it was like working there and dealing with corporate greed. He tried to explain the give and take of the worker, the union and the corporation. He made some pretty good points. Then I tried to explain how it would take me years to learn how to build a house and earn less than him that took less than a year to learn his job. At that point I realized I should stop arguing with my father and just learn and one day show him.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Sympathy for the devil
Dave Palmer   8/18/2011 8:12:33 PM
NO RATINGS
Honestly, no, I don't sympathize with any corporate executive who whines about having to obey the law.  We live in a nation of laws, and we all have to follow them, whether we agree or not.  As a matter of fact, the way laws are made in this country tends to (strongly!) favor corporate interests, since politicians rely on their money to win re-election.  So corporate interests should have the least right to complain of anyone.

Maybe automotive executives are not literally lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills, but they aren't exactly struggling either (regardless of what happens to their companies).  If I were looking for someone to sympathize with in this economy, they wouldn't exactly top my list.

The new California law may not be the most effective way to protect air quality, and there are probably more intelligent ways to achieve the same goals.  But I'm not going to stay up at night crying about its effects on automakers' profits.

Thinking_J
User Rank
Platinum
Why does anyone really care who I give simpathy to?
Thinking_J   8/18/2011 8:23:09 PM
NO RATINGS
Simpathy to automakers.. ? what would be the point? Does my simpathy (deserved or not ) actually change anything?

For California laws .. it is between the consumers and the legislature.

It is not between consumers and automakers.

And in California.. they get what they asked (voted) for.

 

As for zero emissions? there are no such thing/item.

 

John
User Rank
Gold
just a comment
John   8/19/2011 10:21:37 AM
NO RATINGS
Personally, I don't think EVs are the answer to a greener earth.  Not currently.  They require batteries that contain many more pollutants, electric motors are not yet that all efficient, and turning the country side into giant windmill farms is not my idea of beauty.  Besides, the rest of the world drives tiny 5speed diesels and if they are starting there industrial age, they are probably polluting more than the US did in it's industrial age.

I think new EPA mandate only shoots the consumer in the foot and to loose American automakers would be a very sad day in our country's history.   

The moajority of oil companies in the world are government owned and operated.  Who's getting rich?  Kings and Sultans?  Our government has a sizeable tax on gasoline and even healthier one on propane.  Propane was $0.65 one year and next year it climbs over a dollar to rest at its current price and nobody said a word.

SixtyMinusTwo
User Rank
Silver
No sense in California
SixtyMinusTwo   8/19/2011 10:24:26 AM
NO RATINGS
It is supply and demand..  You cannot *make* someone want a fuel efficient car.  Typical of the idiots in California, they want to *make* you purchase some not-yet-invented car, with some crazy expensive technology that only exists in a lab.  People have to *want* one.  If California wants efficiency so bad, tax the heck out of gasoline, like in Europe.  People will either WANT a fuel efficient car, or willingly pay the taxes.  When gasoline prices shot-up,  people *wanted* a more fuel efficient car.  People bought smaller cars, trucks and SUV's sat on the lot.   The automakers build what people want to buy...duh!

Speaking of technology, lets look at the Fiat 500.  A teeny-tiny car that contains some of the newest technology in gasoline engines that is not even used in many engines yet.  Direct injection, MultiAir, 101HP, 1.4liter engine.  Rated at 40 MPG Hwy, however, real life is under 40MPG w/manual trans.  If the technology existed, it would certainly be used in Europe where fuel costs are several times the cost here.  How to achieve 54 MPG?   

Alot of hateful comments against domestic makers too.  Everyone loves bashing them.   This article was not directed only to the domestic makers.  ALL automakers!!

bobk
User Rank
Iron
Current Technology Limits
bobk   8/22/2011 10:48:08 AM
NO RATINGS
There is no inherent reason why we cannot manufacture automobiles that get near 50 mph with an IC engine and 100 mph as a hybrid without loosing perfromance.

My 1983 Nissan Sentra averaged 44 mph!  My 1992 Nissan Sentra average 38 mph and moved over for no one.  My wife's 2008 Malibu Classic gets 37 mph on a mixed highway/suburban 150+ mile jaunt.  These are all plain vanilla cars with 4 cylinder engines and 4 speed transmisions.

With current off the shelf 6 speed dual clutch automatics and direct injection, 2.5 liter and smaller engines in compact to midsized cars will easily get 40 mpg.  An example is the Chevy Cruze and the Hyundai Elantra.  The VW and BMW 1 series will get near 50 mph with a 6 speed dual cltuch atomic and a turbocharged 4 cylinder diesel.  Today.  Smaller displacement versions get over 60 mph in the EU.

The Prius Hybrid currently gets about 50 mph with a 1.8 liter gas engine and a 1.2 kW-hr battery pack.  Change the enging to a turbodiesel and the milage approaches 100 mph with todays technology.

This is all accomplished without resorting to a pure EV or plug-in hybrid which only fits the urban life style.  A typcial 50 mile+ surburban commute or a 200 mile sales day does not work with most EVs, and the cost premium doesn't make economic sense either.  A pure EV with range of 50-100 miles may make sense in the city, and as a second car in the suburbs, but is doesn't make sense for 50+ mile commutes, and should you mess up on the distance estimate, or get lost, you're on the roadside dead.  Plug-in hybrids are only marginally better.  Case in point is the Chevy Volt versus the Chevy Cruze.  They are both on the same basic chassis, but the Volt costs twice as much.  A $21K Eco Cruze get 42 mpg vs the $42K Volt that runs on its batteries for 20 to 40 miles and then burns fuel averaging ~42 mph when doing so, and  $21K buys a lot of gas.   A simple, lighter hybrid Volt would only cost a few $k more than the Cruze, and get ~50 mph due to the weigh reduction. 

Probably the only solution to CA is for the big boys to stop selling cars there.  Mandating what type of car they have to make, and penalizing the manufacturer when they don't sell is absurd.  The only solution that makes sense in CA and the rest of the US is to make good, reasonably priced, higher milage cars that perform well, and the polution problem and the high energy consumption problems go away.

jamit
User Rank
Iron
Do I sympathize with the Automakers? No
jamit   8/22/2011 10:48:41 AM
NO RATINGS
The big three all spent government funds back in the 1990's developing hybrid and electric drive systems. They even built a fleet of test vehicles that were extensively tested and performance data was collected to determine how to build an economical car. In one case Chrysler built and tested hybrid diesel neon that obtained 90+ miles per gallon of fuel. Once the program ended they walked away from the design and went back to building the same ICE as always.

What will it take to get mass production of hybrid electric cars? Is it $5 per gallon cost? Nope. Is it $10 per gallon? Nope. Is it the public surveys indicating the desire? Nope. Is it when some third world manufacture starts building and selling hybrid electric cars? Nope. How about the government regulating fuel economy? Nope.

Try, there is a stoppage of crude being shipped to the USA and no one can fill their gas tank and sales are headed for zero. Then and only then will the industry realize it’s time to build and sell something else. It may be too late by then!

 

Steve Heckman
User Rank
Gold
Re: Do I sympathize with the Automakers?
Steve Heckman   8/22/2011 11:40:26 AM
NO RATINGS
If the "voters" are pushing politicians for these changes, why are they not voting with their dollars? For the government to make this change, it assumes at least half the voters are for it. And if that many REALLY back such changes, would a law really be necessary? Automakers would have such a backlog of small cars on order (yes, you can order a car vs just settling for something on the lot!) that the market would be fundamentally different. So I always find it ironic that the gov't pushes such requirements, when most of their said supporters refuse to purchase the current efficient vehicles already available.

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Do I sympathize with the Automakers?
Jack Rupert, PE   8/23/2011 12:09:55 PM
NO RATINGS
Absolutely, Steve!  The govenment has gotten to the point on this issue where think the consumer is too stupid to know what they want.  Every engineer knows that every feature requires a tradeoff on some other feature (including cost) and here they are telling the people which features they want.

Sir LAncelot
User Rank
Bronze
Symathize w automakers
Sir LAncelot   8/22/2011 12:54:05 PM
NO RATINGS
The government apparently feels they have not done enough "regulating", "oversight", taxing,  and threatening to destroy every private enterprise in the US and the jobs that once were provided by them so now they are automotive designers now too. Incompetent, Marxist leaning, pols, backed by radical 60s left overs have done more damage to this country than any gasoline motor ever did. They need to be thrown out or you wont need any cars - hey... thats the REAL goal.   

d_c_weber
User Rank
Bronze
Obama micromanaging
d_c_weber   8/29/2011 3:33:55 PM
NO RATINGS
I believe in free enterprise.

The last time we had a gasoline crisis, the Federal government tried to reduce our usage of foreign oil by manadating CAFE. The intent was to reduce of usage of foreign purchased automotive fuel. The result was the usage of automotive fuel went up - because people figured out that they could drive further in $.mile. So, they moved further from work and took longer vacations and drove singally (not in carpools), etc.

Now we want to further reduce fuel usage, because our country is going bankrupt with our lopsided balance of trade and going into debt to pay for the government largess.

The result will be more oil usage.

The real solution?  :

1. Eliminate CAFE

2. Put a 100% tax on all petrochemical automotive fuels

3. Put zero% tax on electricity for automotive fuel and CNG for auromotive fuel

BobGroh
User Rank
Platinum
RE: Do I sympathize with automakers
BobGroh   9/2/2011 11:29:08 AM
NO RATINGS
Answer: Not really. 

Look, we have to do something about energy consumption, the environment, etc. California (with it's somewhat unique geographical constraints and high population) has all those problems in spades. So if California goes ahead and holds the auto manufactuer's nose to the grindstone, it is (IMHO) all a good thing. People will still buy cars regardless.

The $5,000 penalty? It just means the auto manufacturer's will have to discount their products a bit (well, maybe a bit more than a 'bit') to sell what they need to. Big whoop.

Certainly the lessons learned to trying to make these aggressive performance goals will net benefits in the long run.  As the old adage says "..if you're given lemons, then make some lemonade).

 

rfisher
User Rank
Iron
RE: Do I sympathize with automakers
rfisher   9/21/2011 7:30:54 AM
NO RATINGS
people can always keep their old cars.

 

with smaller cars comes higher accident fatalities.  that would help Social Security and Medicare. 

 

with less fuel sold comes less highway taxes. 

 

where are the thinking people; certainly not in governments. These people in legislatures and governments apparently couldn't qualify for a productive job;  who would hire people that think that way ??



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