Global Warming Fears wane as People buy Cars with Powerful Internal Combustion Engines

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 25th, 2012

Week in Review

After the devastation of Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy those on the Left are asking with smug arrogance if we’re ready to address the issue of global warming seriously now.  Just as they did after Hurricane Katrina.  About 7 years earlier.  With relatively calm hurricane seasons between Katrina and Sandy.  Which wasn’t supposed to happen according to those on the left.  For they said there would be an increase in the number of Katrina-like events happening each hurricane season following the year of Hurricane Katrina.  Because of man-made global warming.  What they call a scientific fact.  Even though the facts appear to say otherwise.

So the majority of people ignore their warnings.  As they tired of these people crying wolf.  Proven by the type of cars we’re buying.  And the type of cars we want to buy (see 12 More New Cars Worth Waiting For by Michael Frank posted 11/25/2012 on Popular Mechanics).

Go back a few years and every new car shouted about mpg and economizing. This year, fuel efficiency is still important, but style is back for the new cars sporting 2013 and 2014 model years.

What do these new cars have in common?  An internal combustion engine.  That’s right, not a one of them is a hybrid or an electric car.

When the government bailed out General Motors and took an ownership position they pushed the Chevy Volt.  A hybrid that was going to help save the world from global warming.  There was only one problem.  Few people wanted to buy a Chevy Volt.  As people don’t want to pay more and get less in a car.

Based on the type of cars we’re buying it’s fair to say the masses aren’t wringing their hands over the warming they’re causing.  Because they don’t believe they are causing it.  For after being told that if we don’t do something right now it will be too late prevent the destructive damage of global warming for the last 20 years people start doubting them.  Besides, glaciers once covered the world.  They don’t now.  And it sure wasn’t man-made global warming that melted them away.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

GM doing well in China after the Taxpayer-Funded Obama Administration Bailout

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 23rd, 2012

Week in Review

President Obama saved General Motors (GM).  He bailed them out.  Instead of letting them go through normal bankruptcy proceedings where the creditors are protected and contracts are rewritten so the company can become competitive again.  The Obama bailout didn’t follow normal bankruptcy proceedings.  Nor contract law.  Secured creditors became unsecured by presidential decree.  They transferred ownership to the UAW.  And billions of taxpayers’ money propped up the UAW pension fund.  None of which improved GM’s competitiveness.  And the Obama administration poured more money into the Chevy Volt that no one wanted and few are buying.

But the president did all of these things to save US jobs.  Even though normal bankruptcy proceedings would have made GM more competitive and actually created more jobs.  In fact, under normal bankruptcy proceedings those new jobs would probably have been in the US (see GM opens China test track in effort to remain market leader by Ben Klayman posted 9/21/2012 on Reuters).

General Motors Co(GM.N) opened a new, large vehicle test track west of Shanghai on Saturday as part of its push to retain its leading market share in the world’s largest auto market.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker and its joint venture partners, including SAIC Motor (600104.SS), invested about $252.5 million to build what GM China President Kevin Wale called the country’s largest proving ground…

GM invests $1.5 billion annually in China.

The government still owns GM stock.  So that investment in China was technically made by a company the US government partially owns.  And some of those dollars invested in China were US taxpayer dollars.  So the Obama bailout of GM has allowed GM to invest in China.  And to create jobs in China.

GM is making the investment despite a slowing in the Chinese auto market because it is focused on the long-term growth prospects, Wale said…

GM, whose joint venture in China began building vehicles in 1999, sells under the Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Opel, Wuling, Baojun and Jiefing brands. Wale said GM had to continue to roll out new products as the market grows, including adding products in the SUV and luxury car segments.

The government has raised fuel economy standards and pushed the Chevy Volt.  So we would stop buying the cars we want to buy.  And start buying the cars they want us to buy.  Like the Chevy Volt.  While the Chinese are expanding the SUV and luxury car segments.  Making it easy for the Chinese to buy the cars they want to buy.  Thanks to that taxpayer-financed government bailout.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Amount of Loss per Chevy Volt Sold is in Dispute but what is Not Disputed is that Each Volt Sold Loses Money

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 16th, 2012

Week in Review

Some number crunching shows the Chevy Volt to be a disaster.  A Reuters’ article (see below) puts the loss per Volt sold as high as $49,000.  Which GM disputes.  Even former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz wrote an article in Forbes disputing this.  Criticizing the authors of the article for dividing the total Chevy Volt investment by the number of Volts sold to date.  And not the projected sales over the 5 year life of the vehicle.  But if you crunch the numbers over this 5 year period they still aren’t good.  And show a loss that may never be recovered (see Insight: GM’s Volt: The ugly math of low sales, high costs by Bernie Woodall and Paul Lienert and Ben Klayman posted 9/10/2012 on Reuters).

Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts. GM on Monday issued a statement disputing the estimates…

GM’s basic problem is that “the Volt is over-engineered and over-priced,” said Dennis Virag, president of the Michigan-based Automotive Consulting Group…

GM’s quandary is how to increase sales volume so that it can spread its estimated $1.2-billion investment in the Volt over more vehicles while reducing manufacturing and component costs – which will be difficult to bring down until sales increase…

The lack of interest in the car has prevented GM from coming close to its early, optimistic sales projections. Discounted leases as low as $199 a month helped propel Volt sales in August to 2,831, pushing year-to-date sales to 13,500, well below the 40,000 cars that GM originally had hoped to sell in 2012.

Out in the trenches, even the cheap leases haven’t always been effective…

It currently costs GM “at least” $75,000 to build the Volt, including development costs, Munro said. That’s nearly twice the base price of the Volt before a $7,500 federal tax credit provided as part of President Barack Obama’s green energy policy…

The car entered production in the fall of 2010 as the first U.S. gasoline-electric hybrid that could be recharged by plugging the car into any electrical outlet. The Obama administration, which engineered a $50-billion taxpayer rescue of GM from bankruptcy in 2009 and has provided more than $5 billion in subsidies for green-car development, praised the Volt as an example of the country’s commitment to building more fuel-efficient cars…

Before GM resorted to discounting Volt leases, sales were averaging just over 1,500 cars a month. A huge part of that reason was consumer push back over the price, according to Virag of Automotive Consulting.

GM forecasted selling 40,000 cars per year over 5 years.  Before the discounting leases they were selling only 1,500 per month.  At that pace that comes to 18,000 cars per year over 5 years.  If you divide the $1.2 billion by 200,000 (40,000 X 5) cars sold that comes to a projected investment recovery of $6,000 per car sold.  If you divide the $1.2 billion by 90,000 (18,000 X 5) cars sold that comes to a projected investment recovery of $13,333 per car sold.  So the projected loss on their investment based on the current pace of sales over 5 years is $7,333 per Volt sold.  Or a profit margin of NEGATIVE 18.3%.  And that’s without adding any production losses.  The longer it takes to meet sales projections the greater the losses climb.  And the less likely they will ever make money on the Volt.  Even with all the subsidies and tax credits.

The big question is what do the taxpayers get for this massive investment into a car that can’t sell?  It’ll help GM advance technology for the next generation of hybrid car?  But isn’t that something car companies are supposed to be doing anyway?  And should a company that is coming out of bankruptcy protection be experimenting in exotic new technology instead of focusing on selling what people are buying to return to profitability?  So they can raise their stock price so the government can sell their shares of GM stock without a loss to repay the American taxpayer?  GM, and the American taxpayer, would be better off if GM focused on selling their more profitable trucks and SUVs until they repay their taxpayer debt.  Then once they were on more steady financial ground they could explore the exotic technologies.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Chevy Volt is too Expensive unless you want to Drive in the Carpool Lane Alone

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 9th, 2012

Week in Review

The government rarely runs anything well.  Because few politicians have any business experience.  Which explains why the more they intervene into the private sector economy the more the economy suffers.  Case in point GM.  GM was losing money because they couldn’t sell cars at a high enough price to pay their bills.  Especially their retiree pension and health care costs.  Instead of allowing GM to go through the bankruptcy process to fix their problems so they could sell cars at prices that would pay their bills the government bailed out the UAW.  And did not fix their underlying problem.  What caused all of their problems in the first place.  High labor and retiree costs.  So it’s no surprise that GM did not emerge leaner and meaner from bankruptcy.  Like the airlines typically do.  Instead they left the problems in place.  And told GM to build the Chevy Volt (see The Chevy Volt: Dead or alive? by Brooke Crothers posted 9/3/2012 on CNET News).

Depending on who you believe, the Volt is either alive and kickin’ or in its death throes.

The most recent news about GM’s plug-in hybrid gives fodder to both sides. On the upside, GM said on Wednesday that it already has sold more than 2,500 Volts this month. That would be a monthly record, bringing the global total this year to about 13,000, according to reports.

But critics quickly jumped on another piece of news: GM’s suspension of Volt production for four weeks.

Dying or not this is not good news for the Volt.  Very few are buying these cars.  And those who do are not buying them because they are great cars.  They’re buying them to make a statement.  Or for some other reason.  And that is the problem for the Volt.  When a vehicle is selling well you hear the rank and file complaining about all of the overtime they have to work.  To keep up with demand.  While demanding their factories add another shift.  But when you’re only selling 13,000 a year (just over 1,000 a month) you can shut down for four weeks.  And no one will even notice.

But the completely electric Nissan Leaf has not fared well either. It has a goal of 20,000 units this year, which the Detroit News says is increasingly unlikely.

Another problem GM faces is competition. It’s no longer the only plug-in hybrid on the block. Ford has its C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid ($32,950) and Toyota is now selling a Prius plug-in hybrid ($32,000)…

GM says one in three Volts are now sold in California. And there are reasons for an uptick in Golden State sales. The Volt earlier this year finally qualified for the California provision that allows environmentally friendly cars to use restricted carpool lanes whether they’re carrying passengers or not.

And the Chevy Volt sells for $40,000.  People just aren’t demanding these cars.  Because they’re expensive, small cars.  And the people that are buying the most Volts are in California.  Just so they can drive in the carpool lanes.  Where commuters will pay almost any price to avoid that awful Californian gridlock.  Especially if you don’t have to drag along another body with you.

The federal government poured a lot of money into the Chevy Volt when they bailed out the UAW pension fund (aka the auto bailout).  This was the car of the future.  Because President Obama said so.  And proclaimed the new GM would sell a million Volts a year.  And GM would use the proceeds from these sales to repay the taxpayers.  Not only have they grossly missed the president’s sales target.  The government interference in the company (by making them build a car that no one demanded) has caused the stock price to fall.  While the government still owns a substantial amount of shares.  Pushing any repayment of the taxpayers’ money further out in the future.  If there is any repayment at all.

It just may not be time for the plug-in hybrid.  Based on these sales numbers.  So it probably wasn’t wise to make it such a big part of GM’s turnaround plan.  Or to pour so much taxpayer money into it.  Worse, GM is not positioned any better to compete in the market place.  Which is why their plug-in hybrid is the most costly one in the market place.  And will be for the foreseeable future.  Until they have a true bankruptcy reorganization.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jimmy Carter, Malaise, Ronald Reagan, Austrian Economics, Morning in America, Barack Obama, Keynesian Economics and Great Recession

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 4th, 2012

History 101

It was Morning in America again because Ronald Reagan reduced the Misery Index by 42.7%

Ronald Reagan was a supply-sider when it came to economics.  Of the Austrian school variety.  In fact, one of his campaign promises was to bring back the gold standard.  A very Austrian thing.  The Austrian school predates the Keynesian school.  When the focus was on the stages of production.  Not on consumer spending.  These policies served the nation well.  They (and the gold standard) exploded American ingenuity and economic activity in the 19th century.  Making the U.S. the number one economy in the world.  Surpassing the nation that held the top spot for a century or more.  Perhaps the last great empire.  Great Britain.

Following the stagflation and misery (misery index = inflation rate + unemployment rate) of the Seventies Reagan promised to cut taxes and governmental regulations.  To make it easier for businesses to create economic activity.  Easier to create jobs.  And he did.  Among other things.  Such as rebuilding the military that the Carter administration severely weakened during the Seventies (it was so bad that the Soviet Union put together a first-strike nuclear option.  Because they thought they could win a nuclear war with Jimmy Carter as president).  During the 1980 campaign Reagan asked the people if they were better off after 4 years of Jimmy Carter.  The answer was no.  Four years later, though, they were.  Here’s why.  (Note:  We used so many sources that we didn’t source them here to save space.  The inflation rate and unemployment rates are for August of the respective years.  The dollar amounts are annual totals with some estimates added to take them to the end of 2012.  The debt and GDP are not adjusted for inflation as they are only 4 years apart.  Gas prices and median income are adjusted for inflation.  There may be some error in these numbers.  But overall we believe the information they provide fairly states the economic results of the presidents’ policies.  (This note applies to both tables.))

Reagan entered office with some horrendous numbers.  The Carter administration was printing so much money that inflation was at 12.9% in 1980.  Added to the unemployment rate that brought the misery index to 20.6%.  A huge number.  To be fair Carter tapped Paul Volcker to be Fed Chairman and he began the policy of reigning in inflation.  But Carter did this far too late.  The only way to cure high inflation is with a nasty recession.  Which Volcker gave Ronald Reagan.  But it worked.  By 1984 inflation fell 8.8 points or 66.7%.  Even with this nasty recession the unemployment rate fell 0.2 points or 2.6%.  Which shaved 8.8 points off of the miserable index.  Or reducing it by 42.7%.  This is why it was morning in America again.  The Left to this day say “yeah, but at what cost?” and point to the record deficits of the Reagan administration.  Saying this is the price of tax cuts.  But they’re wrong.  Yes, the debt went up.  But it wasn’t because of the tax cuts.  Because those tax cuts stimulated economic activity.  GDP rose 12.6% by 1984.  And tax receipts even increased with those lower tax rates.  Because of the higher GDP.  By 1984 Reagan’s policies increased tax revenue by 28.9%.  And on a personal level the median income even increased 0.4%.  And this following a very bad recession a few years earlier.  Finally, gas prices fell 22.2%.  And the way Americans feel about rising gas prices this was truly morning in America again.

To Top off the General Malaise of the Obama Economy Gas Prices Soared while Median Income Fell

Barack Obama is a Keynesian through and through.  A believer in pure demand-side economics.  To that end his administration focused everything on increasing consumer spending.  Tax and spend policies.  Income redistribution.  Deficit spending.  Anything to make America ‘more fair.’  Raising taxes on the rich so the poor can spend more money.  With the Keynesian multiplier they believe this is the path to economic prosperity.  Just doing everything within their power to put more spending money into the hands of poorer people.  Increasing government regulation, fees and fines as well as taxes to bring more money in Washington so they can redistribute it.  Or spend it directly on things like roads and bridges.  Or solar power companies.  Even paying people to dig a hole and fill it back in.  Because these people will take their wages and spend them.  Creating economic activity.

So President Obama put Keynesian economics to work.  Beginning with a $787 billion stimulus bill.  Investments into green energy and the jobs of the future.  Like a Department of Energy loan of $528 million to the now bankrupt Solyndra.  Which was only one of many loans.  The bailout of the UAW pension fund (aka the auto bailout).  The government poured $528 million into GM.  And President Obama touted the Chevy Volt, boasting that GM would sell a million each year bringing his green goals to fruition (GM is struggling to sell 10,000 Volts a year).  A lot of malinvestment as the Austrians would say.  But a Keynesian sees any government expenditure as a good investment.  Because if all the people who receive this government money spends at least 80% of it (while saving only 20%) the Keynesian multiplier will be five.  Meaning that the net gain in GDP will be five times whatever the government spends.  So how has that worked for the president?  Well, here are his numbers:

The government spent so much money that the federal debt increased by $5.4 trillion.  Trillion with a ‘T’.  That’s over a trillion dollar deficit each of the president’s 4 years in office.  And his last year isn’t even a whole year.  Unprecedented until President Obama.  And what did all of that federal spending get us after about 4 years?  An unemployment rate 2.1 points higher.  Or 33.9% higher than when he took office.  Inflation fell but it did nothing to spur GDP growth which grew at an anemic 3.1%.  Which is less than a percentage point a year.  Which is why the Great Recession lingers still.  Meanwhile the Chinese are having a bad year with a GDP growth of 7.8%.  So all of that spending didn’t help at all.  In fact, it made things worse.  The economic activity is so bad that even tax receipts fell 2.2% after four years of President Obama.  Which has many in his party saying that we need to raise tax rates.  Contrary to what Ronald Reagan did.  And to top off the general malaise of the Obama economy gas prices soared 107.6% under his presidency.  While the median income fell 7.3%.  One has to look hard to find any positive news from the Obama economy.  And there is one.  Inflation did fall.  But even that really isn’t good.  As it may be an indicator of a looming deflationary spiral.  Giving America a lost decade.  Like Japan’s Lost Decade.

The Flaw in Keynesian Thinking is that it Ignores the Layers of Economic Activity above the Consumer Level

So there you have an Austrian and a Keynesian.  Both entered office during bad economic times.  Although things were much worse when President Reagan took office than when President Obama took office.  The misery index was 20.6% in 1980.  It was only 11.6% in 2008.  About half as bad for President Obama than it was for President Reagan.  It came down 16.4% under Obama.  But it came down 42.7% under Reagan.  Which is why it isn’t morning in America under President Obama.  Reagan increased tax receipts by 28.9 % by the end of his first term.  They fell 2.2% under Obama.  Adjusted for inflation Reagan averaged annual deficits of $348 billion.  That’s billion with a ‘B’.  Obama averaged $1.324 trillion.  That’s trillion with a ‘T’.  Or 280% higher than Ronald Reagan.  Gas prices fell 22.2% under Reagan.  They rose 107.6% under Obama.  Median income barely rose 0.4% under Reagan.  But it fell 7.3% under Obama.  In short there is nothing in the Obama economic record that is better than the Reagan economic record.

And why is this?  Because Obama’s policies are Keynesian.  While Reagan’s policies were Austrian.  Reagan focused on the stages of production to improve economic activity.  Cutting taxes.  Reducing regulatory compliance costs.  Creating a business-friendly environment.  A system that rewarded success.  Whereas Obama focused on consumer spending.  Tax, borrow and print (i.e., quantitative easing).  So the government could spend.  Putting more money into the pockets of consumers.  Which stimulated only the last stage in the stages of production.  So while some consumers had more money it was still a business-unfriendly environment.  Where tax, regulatory and environmental policies (as well as the uncertainty of Obamacare) hindered business growth everywhere upstream from retail sales.  From raw material extraction to industrial processing to construction to manufactured goods.  Where these Obama’s policies punish success.  For the bigger you get the more you pay in taxes and regulatory compliance costs.

The greatest flaw with Keynesian economics is that it looks at aggregate supply and demand.  With a focus on consumer spending.  And ignores the layers of economic activity that happens before the consumer level.  The Austrian school understands this.  As did the British when she became one of the greatest empires of all times.  As did America during the 19th century.  No nation became an economic superpower using Keynesian economics.  Japan grew to be a great economic power during the Fifties and Sixties.  Then went Keynesian in the Eighties and suffered their Lost Decade in the Nineties.  Some Keynesians like to point to China as an example of the success of Keynesian economics.  But they still have a fairly restrictive police state.  And their economic policies are hauntingly similar to Japan’s.  Some have even posited that it is very possible that China could suffer the same fate as Japan.  And suffer a deflationary spiral.  Resulting in a lost decade for China.  Which is very plausible considering the Chinese practice state-capitalism where the state partners closely with businesses.  Which is what the Japanese did in the Eighties.  And it hasn’t been great for them since.  As it hasn’t been great in America economically since the current administration.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami both Helped GM and Hurt the Economy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2012

Week in Review

Sadly for President Obama and GM the Japanese have recovered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  And GM has to face some formidable competition once again (see More Bad News for Obama: A Slump at GM by Rick Newman posted 8/2/2012 on U.S News & World Report).

The downshift seems to have scotched any notion of the government selling its stake in the company prior to the November elections, since that would amount to a taxpayer loss of roughly $17 billion, and a major embarrassment for Obama. The government can hold onto its shares as long as it likes, and sell when the price is high enough to get all its money back. But the stock would have to hit about $53 for Uncle Sam to break even—a threshold that seems a long way off…

One reason GM has lost market share this year has been the resurgence of Toyota, Honda and Nissan, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disrupted production and temporarily boosted the market share of Japan’s competitors…

Funny.  For the 2011 earthquake and tsunami was responsible for America’s lingering recession.  According to President Obama.  And here it was propping up GM and all the economic activity it generated.  Which was why the government bailed out GM.  To save jobs.  And all of that economic activity GM created.  So if the 2011 earthquake and tsunami was responsible for propping up GM why didn’t it prop up the rest of the economy?  Like Japan’s Lost Decade helped Bill Clinton’s economy during the Nineties?  Simple.  Because President Obama’s economic policies are just that bad.

GM will probably regain some momentum in 2013, when it rolls out its next generation of large SUVs, which are usually highly profitable. Meanwhile, Cadillac is on a roll, thanks to the new ATS compact, the XTS large sedan, and improving quality ratings. Chevrolet has three new models out or on the way—the Malibu and Impala sedans and the Spark subcompact—and a refreshed version of the popular Traverse crossover is coming next year as well…

Nobody would like to see the government sell its stake in GM more than GM. CEO Dan Akerson has complained about the company’s unhappy status as a political football, and the toll that takes on sales and morale. But he’s probably going to have to put up with it for a good while longer.

The car President Obama wanted Government Motors, I mean, General Motors to build is not even mentioned in this article.  The Chevy Volt hybrid.  Which is conspicuous by its absence.  Instead they mention the things his administration opposes.  SUVs.  And large sedans.  Vehicles the American people want to buy.  Perhaps encouraging GM to build something the American people didn’t want to buy also had something to do with GM’s falling stock price.

Perhaps it would be best for the government to sell its shares now.  Even at a loss.  So GM can run the car company.  And not politicians who don’t know the first thing about running a car company.  Ending his war on the stuff that makes these cars run, refined petroleum, would help, too.  A lot.  By bringing the cost of gasoline down.  Helping GM to sell more of the vehicles people want to buy.  Doing these things would help the economy more than 2011 earthquake and tsunami helped it.  Now that would be smart government.  Sadly, something we just don’t see much of these days.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Luxury Tesla Model S impresses with Performance and Range

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 24th, 2012

Week in Review              

The Tesla Model S is some car.  And it’s electric.  With the performance of a gasoline-powered sports car.  Although without quite the same range (see Elon Musk: Tesla Model S Is About ‘Breaking A Spell’ by Hannah Elliott posted 6/22/2012 on Forbes).

The Model S is impressive. It fits seven people and will go 0-60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds at a cost of $49,900 after $7,500 in federal rebates (that’s with a 40 kWh battery and160-mile range). An $84,900 85 kWh Performance variant gives a 300-mile-range; a $97,900 Signature Performance version adds such niceties as Nappa leather interior, exterior carbon fiber and special wheels. Top speed on that puppy is 130 miles per hour, with a 4.4-second 60mph sprint time. Each variant comes with an eight-year, unlimited miles guarantee…

Well, that 4.4 sprint time will beat a 5-Series on the track. The sub-$100,000 MSRP will beat the Aston on price. The 300-mile drive range beats Chevy Volt’s 40-mile max. If production ramps up as much as Musk has promised—20,000 produced annually–this could be the start of something big. Stay tuned.

A 300 mile range is greater than the Chevy Volt’s 40 mile range.  But the Volt has something the Tesla Model S doesn’t.  A gasoline engine.  After that initial 40 miles the Chevy Volt hybrid can switch over to the gasoline engine.  And continue driving on the gasoline engine.  For a very long time.  And when it runs low on gas it can quickly refill the tank.  And drive again for a very long time.  Unlike the all-electric Tesla.

The Tesla is no doubt a gorgeous car but it’s not for traveling the country in.  At least, not without a lot of planning.  And a lot of rest times scheduled for recharging.  Limiting a stress-free day-drive to about 125 miles one way.  Depending on the speed limit that might be about an hour and a half of driving.  This should get you back without a recharge.  If you want to take a chance of being without transportation for awhile to recharge you could go closer to that 300 mile range.  If you’re willing to pay an additional 70% for the extended range, of course.  If not you’ll have to settle for that 160 mile range.  Or a round trip to someplace about 60 miles away.

The all-electric car is really only for short commutes.  A short drive to work.  Plug the car in.  A short drive to lunch and back.  Plug in the car.  And the drive home.  Where you will, of course, plug in the car.  If that’s you this car is for you.  If you want to pack the family into the car and travel cross-country you may be better off in a hybrid.  Use the gasoline engine to get where you’re going to.  Then putter around when you get there on the battery.  With a full tank of gas.  Just in case.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Californians hate their Environmental Policies so much they buy Chevy Volts to Cheat the System

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 9th, 2012

Week in Review

Buses are cheaper than trains.  Because all a bus needs is fuel in its tanks and firm ground to drive on.  A train on the other hand is very expensive.  Because wherever a train goes you need a dedicated road (i.e., railroad tracks).  A massive infrastructure wherever that road goes.  And an army of people to maintain and operate it.  Subways are even more expensive.  Because they are underground.  Which makes everything more costly.

California has spent a fortune on their trains in the greater Los Angeles area.  So let us compare a few statistics on both buses and trains.  Buses are more numerous.  They have 183 bus routes covering 1,433 square miles.  While they have 5 rail lines for a total of 79.1 rail miles in service.   Their buses have average weekday boardings of approximately 1,125,840.  While their trains have average weekday boardings of approximately 319,883.  (These numbers are approximate because one train line’s boardings are included in the Metro Bus ridership numbers for some reason). 

It is clear their trains are not moving anywhere near the number of people their buses are moving.  And for all that investment it hasn’t even helped to remove cars from the road or cut pollution.  Because the roads are still so congested that they have High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or car pool lanes on their expressways.  To encourage people to save the planet.  By jamming as many people into a car as possible for their commutes to work.  For if they do they can take the less congested HOV lanes and cut an hour or so off of their drive time.  Well, it turns out that not only do Californians hate taking the bus and train they also hate car pooling.  Enter the Chevy Volt.  The answer to all of their dreams (see Volt sales surge in California thanks to car-pool access by Peter Valdes-Dapena posted 6/7/2012 on CNN Money).

Sales of General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt plug-in car, which had been dwindling in recent months, are enjoying a big resurgence in California, a state with some of the highest gas prices in the nation.

But the uptick in Volt sales isn’t about saving gas; it’s more about saving time.

Despite being incredibly fuel efficient, the Volt’s emissions when operating on gasoline weren’t clean enough to qualify it to drive in California’s car-pools lanes, relegating Volt owners to the whims of grueling California traffic.

But now, thanks to some new engineering tweaks to fix that issue, 2012 model year Volts sold in California can drive in those free-flowing HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes — even with only one person in the car…

California car buyers will jump at any opportunity to drive in HOV lanes.

Those lanes flow much more smoothly than other traffic-choked lanes on California highways, especially at rush hour, O’Dell said.

O’Dell owns a car with an HOV-lane sticker and says that when he’s driving that car, he gets to work in about an hour. When he’s driving a car without the sticker it takes him from two to two-and-a-half hours, he said.

In addition to HOV-lane access, the Volt is also eligible for a $1,500 state tax rebate in California on top of a $7,500 federal tax credit. Some local governments in California offer additional benefits for plug-in car buyers, as well.

The Chevy Volt allows these people do what they want to do.  Stay off the buses.  Stay off the trains.  And drive their cars.  Alone.  And it has nothing to do with saving the planet.  They just want to drive in the HOV lanes and save a couple of hours driving each day.  And they’re willing pay more to be able to do that.  For time is money.  And life.  Time lost sitting in traffic and waiting for a bus or a train is time that we can never get back.

California has the strictest environmental laws in the country.  But when it comes to living with the consequences of these laws the people will look to cheat.  As they are with the Chevy Volt.  Which will reverse all the progress the environmentalists have made in restricting people’s freedoms in California.  By placing such a high opportunity cost on driving a car alone.  Painfully long commutes.  But thanks to the Chevy Volt Californians can do what they’re always wanted to do.  Drive their gasoline-powered cars.  In the fast lane.  Hell, they may never plug in their hybrids.  And pretend they’re driving real cars in the fast lane.  Just to relish the knowledge that they’re putting one over on the environmentalists.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Government Spends up to $250,000 per Chevy Volt Sale, but we choose GM’s Full-size Pickup Trucks

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 24th, 2011

Week in Review

The Chevy Volt may not be flying out the door but GM’s full-size pickup trucks are (see GM sets 21-week idle at truck plants for factory updates by Craig Trudell, Bloomberg News, posted 12/23/2011 on The Detroit News).

The largest U.S. automaker has said it boosted profit this year by building supply of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, two of its most profitable models. GM is idling pickup factories for updates and renovations so that they’re able to assemble the automaker’s next-generation trucks…

GM had 202,720 full-size pickups in inventory at the end of November, 105 days supply on a selling-day basis, the company said Dec. 1. The company has said it’s targeting year-end inventory of about 200,000 full-size pickups, or about 90 days supply.

Note that GM’s most profitable vehicles are two full-size pickup trucks.  And if you do the math that 105 days of inventory equals about 58,000 trucks sold each month.  And that’s with no government incentives or rebates.  Because the government hates these trucks.

Compare that to the car of GM’s future.  The Chevy Volt.  How many are they hoping to sell?  About 10,000.  In one year.  And at a cost to taxpayers of about $250,000 per Chevy Volt.

People want full-size pickup trucks.  They don’t want the Chevy Volt.  Yet our government will pay a quarter of a million dollars per Volt to help make us buy what we don’t want.

What’s wrong with this picture?

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , ,

A Cell Phone Lithium Ion Battery Overheats and Catches Fire on an Airplane

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 3rd, 2011

Week in Review

It looks like the Chevy Volt isn’t the only thing with a lithium ion battery catching fire (see iPhone 4 Explodes Midflight on Australian Airline by Lauren Effron posted 11/28/2011 on Good Morning America/Yahoo! News).

While on Australian flight Regional Express ZL319 Friday, a passenger’s iPhone 4 (not the iPhone 4S, which is Apple’s latest model) suddenly started “emitting a significant amount of dense smoke, accompanied by a red glow,” according to a Regional Express statement.

The plane, which was flying from Lismore to Sydney, was in the midst of landing when the incident occured. “In accordance with company standard safety procedures, the flight attendant carried out recovery actions immediately, and the red glow was extinguished successfully,” according to Regional Express’ statement…

Exploding Apple products are rare, but explosions have happened in the past, mostly related to the devices’ lithium ion batteries overheating.

The European Union launched an investigation in 2009 after multiple instances of iPhones and iPod Touches exploding or catching fire midflight were reported in the U.K., Holland, France and Sweden.

Apple also  recalled its first-generation of iPod nanos sold between September 2005 and December 2006 because the battery would overheat and “pose a safety risk,” according to the company’s website.

These fires are rather rare.  And they usually happen when the device is being used.  So the smoking and bursting into flames is readily detectable.  Not so with a car parked in a garage.  And these electric cars have far bigger batteries than our cell phones.  Which means there are a whole lot more chemicals to overheat and burst into flames.

A recent Chevy Volt fire has been blamed on the car battery cooling system.  Probably just a minor defect and nothing to really worry about.  At least not as much as wondering whether or not if you have enough of a charge to make it back home.  But it should be noted that cell phones don’t have cooling systems.  Apparently because they’re not as much a fire hazard as the lithium ion batteries in these electric cars.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

« Previous Entries