Archive for Auto Industry

Prius-Driving Bastards

What’d we ever do to you?

It is time to stop our green worship of the electric car. It costs us a fortune, cuts little CO2 and surprisingly kills almost twice the number of people compared with regular gasoline cars.

Electric cars’ global-warming benefits are small. It is advertised as a zero-emissions car, but in reality it only shifts emissions to electricity production, with most coming from fossil fuels. As green venture capitalist Vinod Khosla likes to point out, “Electric cars are coal-powered cars.”

[U]nlike the regular car, coal emissions are far away from the city centers where more people live and where damage from air pollution hits hardest.

However, new research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that while gasoline cars pollute closer to home, coal-fired power pollutes a lot more.

The researchers estimate that if the U.S. has 10% more gasoline cars in 2020, 870 more people will die each year in the U.S. from air pollution. Hybrids, because they are cleaner, will kill just 610 people. But 10% more electric vehicles powered on the average U.S. electricity mix will kill 1,617 more people every year, mostly from coal pollution. The electric car kills almost three times as many as a hybrid.

Put down the keys and step away from the Leaf. You’re under arrest.

PS: Okay, Priuses technically aren’t to blame. Hybrids are fine. But Prius is shorthand for all so-called green cars.


Excuse My Dust

The Global Warm-Mongers are stuck up to their nuts in ice while Americans laugh—all the way to the truck showroom:

Charging out the gate in January, the Ford F-Series pickup sped through 2013 as the U.S. sales-leader, selling 282,988 more units than the second-place Chevrolet Silverado. The Toyota Camry midsize sedan rounds out the podium.

Ford sold 763,402 F-Series pickups last year – a whopping 118,086 more units than in 2012.

While the Ram pickup was the third best-selling model in December, ahead of the Accord and Camry, it was the fifth best-selling vehicle in 2013 with 355,673 units sold last year.

While the stupid Antarctic exploring ship was encased in ice last month, pickup trucks—F-series, Silverados, and Rams—were leading American auto sales. Not Priuses, not Leafs, not Volts.

Most certainly not Volts:


The company’s dealers “delivered 2.8 million vehicles in the United States in 2013,” GM says. Retail sales rose 11 percent compared with 2012.

The company’s Volt hybrid vehicle finished the year with 23,094 sales, a drop of 1.6 percent from 2012.

Volt sales amounted to 3% of Ford F-Series pickup sales. I’m really sorry, Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and all you other Chicken Littles making good livings off scaring people (so do Wes Craven and M. Night Shyamalan), but you’ve lost. You still have MSM’s ear, but if you ever had the public’s, they’ve tuned you out. They can’t hear you over the Kenny Chesney blasting from their F-150’s bodacious sound system.

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Electric Lemons

Cheer up, Volt drivers! Your car will go green by the time you’re gray!

For proponents such as the actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, the main argument is that their electric cars—whether it’s a $100,000 Fisker Karma (Mr. DiCaprio’s ride) or a $28,000 Nissan Leaf—don’t contribute to global warming. And, sure, electric cars don’t emit carbon-dioxide on the road. But the energy used for their manufacture and continual battery charges certainly does—far more than most people realize.

A 2012 comprehensive life-cycle analysis in Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that almost half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially the battery. The mining of lithium, for instance, is a less than green activity. By contrast, the manufacture of a gas-powered car accounts for 17% of its lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When an electric car rolls off the production line, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The amount for making a conventional car: 14,000 pounds.

If a typical electric car is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the car will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Similarly, if the energy used to recharge the electric car comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will be responsible for the emission of almost 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every one of the 50,000 miles it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gas-powered car.

I suppose you could always tank up with non-coal-fired power sources, such as solar (snort!), wind (chortle!), or Aggie’s hamster wheel. Otherwise, it sounds like your Leaf, Volt, Fisker Karma, or Tesla roadster is just a complete waste of money and natural resources.

Just remember Bill Murray’s advice from Groundhog Day!

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23,461 Volts

That’s big if we’re talking about electric chairs.

For car sales, however, it’s barely a D battery.

Chevy Volt sales are cranking up. General Motors sold three times as many Chevrolet Volts in 2012 as it did in 2011, which was the car’s first full year on the market.

Woo hoo! Go Volt! (About 38 miles on a charge if you’re lucky.)

GM sold 23,461 Volts in 2012 compared with just 7,671 in 2011. While it’s an impressive jump, the Volt is still one of Chevy’s lowest-selling cars. However, the Volt greatly outdid the Corvette, for instance, of which only 14,000 were sold last year.

“More than half of all Volt sales are in California,” said Alec Guitierrez, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book. The car has also been catching on in other markets, however, including Michigan and in the Chicago area, according to GM.

Besides the carpool lane stickers, the Volt has also been helped by aggressive leasing incentives offered in 2012. Last year, GM was offering the car for $289 a month with a $2,800 down payment. That was far less than a car with the Volt’s nearly $40,000 purchase price would ordinarily lease for, even factoring in a $7,500 plug-in car tax credit.

“The math on the Volt starts to make sense to the masses at those prices,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with the auto pricing Web site

Chevy Volt owners routinely report getting triple-digit gas mileage, according to the Web site

While even those fuel savings might not make up the car’s relatively high cost at full sticker price, the low lease rates made the Volt’s price more comparable to ordinary fully-gasoline-powered cars.

Following a full charge, the Volt can drive about 38 miles on plug-in electric power, according to EPA estimates, before a gasoline engine switches on to generate power for further driving.

So, with absurd sales gimmicks and government arm twisting, an electric vehicle can compete with the gas guzzlers.

Or not:

Regardless of the good news, Libby said, it still bears remembering that sales of the Volt, which is now the best-selling plug-in car in America, are still miniscule compared to most other cars. In 2012, Chevrolet dealers sold almost exactly 10 times as many of the Chevrolet Cruze, the gasoline powered car on which the Volt is based.

And the Toyota Camry outsold it by more than 17 times if we’re counting—neither of which come close to touching truck sales:

With sales of 645,316, its F-series pickup was the best-selling vehicle of any type in America last year.

The F-series easily outsold the Chevrolet Silverado, which with sales of 418,312 was the second-best-selling truck. Toss in the GMC Sierra, which is essentially the same vehicle as the Silverado but with fancier trim, and the Ford F-series was still ahead by about 70,000 units.

But that’s okay, Volt owners: the drive of a thousand miles begins with a singe charge (followed by 25 others).

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“There Will Be Blood”—And There Was!

I mean, how did he know?!

As the Michigan House debated a right-to-work measure today, a member of that august body warned of–or perhaps threatened–violence. “We’re going to pass something that will undo 100 years of labor relations and there will be blood, there will be repercussions,” WWJ-AM quotes Rep. Doug Geiss, a Detroit-area Democrat, as saying. “We will re-live the battle of the overpass.”

The station offers a refresher in labor history: “The battle of the overpass was a bloody fracas in 1937 between union organizers and Ford Motor Co. security guards. [United Auto Workers organizer] Walter Reuther was famously thrown down a flight of stairs and another union organizer was left with a broken back.”

So far this time there are no reports of violence or threats by management (unless you count Geiss, who is after all supposed to represent taxpayers, as part of “management” vis-à-vis government employees). But union leaders have echoed the violent rhetoric. WWJ quotes Terry O’Sullivan of the Labor International Union of North America, as saying at a rally, in reference to elected officials who support the right to work: “We are going to take you on and take you out.”

At least he didn’t say he was “targeting” victory or anything like that. Liberals hate violent language.

What they don’t hate is this:

“This is just the first round of a battle that’s going to divide this state. We’re going to have a civil war,” Hoffa said on CNN’s “Newsroom.”

The Obama administration came to the defense of democracy:

“The president believes in debate that’s civil,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today. “I haven’t seen those comments and I’m not sure that they mean what some would interpret them to mean. I just haven’t seen them.”

This regime was aware enough of a YouTube video making the Prophet out to be a pedophile to blame an entire failed Mideast policy on it, yet hadn’t heard—and then excused—a call for spilled blood?


“President Barack Obama launched an assault Monday on Michigan’s proposed ‘right to work’ legislation.” […] “These so-called ‘right to work’ laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics.”

Obama went on to laud Big Labor: “You only have to look to Michigan–where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry–to see how unions have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America.”

You mean Amerika, Mr. President:, a Michigan news site, reports that union thugs “tore down a large tent maintained by American’s [sic] For Prosperity Michigan, which reserved the space to support the right-to-work legislation”:

“We had been contacted by that group that they had three or four people that were actually trapped underneath the tent,” said Lt. Mike Shaw. “Two of them were in wheelchairs and there was also a propane tank in there. So we had to send troopers out, and naturally, the crowd was not too receptive.”

Well, if the El Presidente is against it (confession: I almost wrote “Der Führer”), and the rank-and-file are against it, it couldn’t have passed, right?


And the House just voted 58-52 for the bill affecting private workers.

So when Gov. Snyder signs the bills, as he’s promised he will do, workers in the public and private sectors will no longer have to pay to join a union unless they want to.

It will be the 24th “right-to-work” state.

So, the two elected bodies of the Michigan legislature passed the bill; the elected Governor of the state will sign the bill; Michigan will join almost half the rest of the country in such legislation… and Obama denounces it?

Isn’t this the same process that reelected him—by a lesser percentage, I might note?

Maybe this is why Aggie and I are so dispirited. In the rest of the country, people who share our politics still have a voice in their state and local elected bodies. Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, those bodies are cold and stiff.

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California, There You Go

I was going to pass on this story, until I came to one paragraph. See if you can spot the one:

This year was supposed to be the year of the plug-in car but, as 2012 draws to a close, it looks like the electric car market still isn’t fully charged.

By the end of 2012, most major automakers will have a plug-in car of some type on the market, but plug-in cars still make up just one tenth of one percent of all cars sold in America. So have automakers gotten ahead of themselves and produced too many?

Promoters of electric cars say no. They acknowledge that while there are many types of electric cars out there, they’re not available in enough places or in large enough numbers.

A big reason for there being a small supply of electrics but many models has to do with regulations in California. Rules there require that automakers that want to sell any cars in that state — A.K.A., every automaker — must also sell a certain number of so-called zero-emission cars there. That has led many automakers to produce “compliance cars” that exist solely to meet California’s requirements.

Okay, I kind of gave it away.

We conservatives are often associated with states’ rights, and rightly so: they are enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

There are, of course, many exceptions. You may have heard of our Civil War, for example (if our education system still teaches it, that is). I’m not qualified to discuss the history and interpretation of the 10th Amendment, but I do think it is as deserving of respect as all the others (especially the Second—kidding!).

That said, when California—and you knew it had to be California!—enacts a law that has an impact well beyond its porous borders (one argument at a time, BTL), has it not voided that right? We may disagree with many of California’s laws, but most of them are the headache of California itself. This one is everyone’s headache. It’s not a law, it’s extortion.

This will be news to the legislators of California (and the buffoons who elected them), but you could let consumers decide what kind of cars they want. As the article makes abundantly clear, they don’t want what amounts to an appliance.

PS: I desperately wanted to use the Liberal Fascism tag, because extortion is one of the hallmarks of fascist governments. But I refrained… oops.

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But They Make it up on Volume!

A car only government could love:

Reuters reports that General Motors “is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds.” This is no shocker, but it should be an alarm to voters who think this president deserves another term.

A little more than two weeks ago, the Obama administration released rules mandating a near-doubling of gas mileage standards for cars sold in the U.S. The mandate will not be met at no expense.

The industry can’t magically build fleets that average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 without steep cost increases just because politicians and bureaucrats demand that it does.

If automakers are to comply with the more restrictive rules, they will have no choice but to build more electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid that gets 60 miles a gallon.

While that might satisfy the environmentalist lobby and most Democrats, it isn’t practical.

If GM is losing nearly $50,000 on each Volt it makes, how much will all the carmakers be required to lose when Volt-like cars have to be the main models in their fleets in order to obey strict, new mileage standards?

Or, more appropriately, how much will taxpayers be forced to lose to subsidize the administration’s unwise but politically correct fuel economy rules?

We should note that GM disputes the figure:

GM denied the estimate, calling it “grossly wrong, in part because the reporters allocated product development costs across the number of Volts sold instead of allocating across the lifetime volume of the program.”

GM has never released exact numbers on development and production costs for the Volt, in part because many of the components used to make it are shared with other vehicles, including its platform and internal combustion engine. Nevertheless, even before it went into production the automaker admitted that the first generation of the car was not likely to turn a profit.

GM’s response to the Reuters article further states that “every investment in technology that GM makes is designed to have a payoff for our customers, to meet future regulatory requirements and add to the bottom line. The Volt is no different, even if it takes longer to become profitable.”

I suppose the history of manufacturing is riddled with products and services that were not profitable at first. (How long did it take But to me it sounds like government will make electric cars the spinach of our automotive lives. We’ll have them whether we like them or not.

Reuters notes that “Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi have been struggling to sell their electric and hybrid vehicles.”

Put the Volt on that list. A record number were sold in August. But those sales numbers were inflated by: Two-year, $5,050 leases for a car that costs about $89,000 to build; loans to risky buyers, which GM is offering in a desperate effort to boost sales; and a $7,500 federal tax credit for the Volt that’s part of the administration’s green energy initiative.

Another sign that the Volt is a problem for GM: With Chevrolet falling well off the pace to sell its target of 40,000 cars this year — only about 13,500 have been sold — GM has shut down Volt production for the second time this year. The latest stoppage begins Sept. 17 and will continue for four weeks.

Someday the automakers will be able to build plug-in hybrids, such as the technology-filled Volt, and make a profit off of them.

But that day is far off in the future. The Reuters analysis says it “still could be years before GM sells enough Volts to bring the cost down to break even.”

Until then, taxpayers should not be saddled with the massive costs of a pet political project that has a history of bursting into flames.

We noted the other day that the Nissan Leaf is making the Edsel look like the Mustang. But all that could be put into reverse if Obama issues another presidential fiat (heh).

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Collector’s Item

This item is so rare, when one last sold… uh… I can’t actually remember when one of these last sold. I think Johnny Carson was on TV and Eisenhower was in the White House, but who remembers? Or cares?

The headline for a recent Detroit News story has it that the “20,000 sales target [is] unlikely” for the Nissan Leaf. But “unlikely” is probably understating things. It appears as if Nissan won’t get halfway to its 20,000-Leaf target for 2012, nor will it top last year’s mark of 9,679 units sold—which was itself a disappointment.

Thus far in 2012, Nissan has sold 4,228 all-electric Leafs, a decrease of 31.5% compared to the same period last year. Last month, 685 Leaf purchases were made in the U.S., a 50% decline compared to August 2011.

[O]ne would expect that even if Leaf sales weren’t going gangbusters, they’d at least not be on the decline. That is, these are the expectations one would have if they believed the Leaf had a decent future ahead of it.

Even when gas prices spiked to nearly $4 per gallon in early 2012, electric car sales struggled. Just 478 Nissan Leafs sold in February, a month when gas prices were soaring around the country, especially so in California—a state where energy-conscious drivers are more inclined to be open to EVs such as the Leaf to begin with.

It’s not like we’re not buying stuff. Stick an i- in front something like phone or pod or ce cream, and we snap it up. I bet the iLeaf would increase sales by 50% over the i-less Leaf.

The article does say that the Chevy Volt is selling all right, but it, too, is way below estimates.

Lest ye despair of the planet, however, know that sales of the Prius are still going strong. You can’t miss ’em around here, plastered as they are with Elizabeth Warren and Obama stickers.

Maybe we can get that old biddy who led the ban of bottled water in Concord, MA to go after the internal combustion engine. I don’t doubt she could do it, and if you think water is bad for the environment, what about gasoline?


Wanna Get Reelected? Make [Bleep] Up!

You could argue that bailing out the US auto industry was worth it, whatever the cost. You might be wrong, but at least the position is arguable.

Or you can just lie like a rug:

[R]eality threw a wrench into the works yesterday, as Treasury reported that the losses on the bailout for taxpayers have grown an additional $3 billion:

The Treasury Department says in a new report the government expects to lose more than $25 billion on the $85 billion auto bailout. That’s 15 percent higher than its previous forecast.

In a monthly report sent to Congress on Friday, the Obama administration boosted its forecast of expected losses by more than $3.3 billion to almost $25.1 billion, up from $21.7 billion in the last quarterly update.

The report may still underestimate the losses. The report covers predicted losses through May 31, when GM’s stock price was $22.20 a share.

On Monday, GM stock fell $0.07, or 0.3 percent, to $20.47. At that price, the government would lose another $850 million on its GM bailout.

The government still holds 500 million shares of GM stock and needs to sell them for about $53 each to recover its entire $49.5 billion bailout. At the current price, the Treasury would lose more than $16 billion on its GM bailout.

So Obama is doing a victory lap for losing almost half the investment (when the gold dust settles)? I guess that’s not too bad when you consider they usually lose their shirt (see Solyndra et al ad nauseam).

What’s that draft? Oh [bleep], that’s right—it’s our shirt they’re losing!

This was reported in the press, the Detroit press, which has a vested interest. How widely will the truth be reported, however? The received wisdom is that we made out like bandits on the deal when in truth we bought a lemon.



Obama swings and misses:

Now, because of these new standards for cars and trucks, they’re going to — all going to be able to go further and use less fuel every year. And that means pretty soon you’ll be able to fill up your car every two weeks instead of every week -– and, over time, that saves you, a typical family, about $8,000 a year.

Except it’s not true.

The new White House CAFE standards would save owners about $8,200 over the life of the car in 2010 dollars, with the per-year savings in the high hundreds – nothing to sneeze at, but not quite eight large a year.

Just take a hit of that breathalyzer, Barack, and you’ll be fine. File under “fuzzy math”. Or maybe not fuzzy so much as gory:

The evidence is overwhelming that CAFE standards result in more highway deaths. A 1999 USA TODAY analysis of crash data and estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that, in the years since CAFE standards were mandated under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, about 46,000 people have died in crashes that they would have survived if they had been traveling in bigger, heavier cars. This translates into 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained by the standards.

Yes, but wouldn’t a greater proportion of those deaths likely be liberal do-gooders eager to help the planet?

I’m just trying to help…

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The Sadim Touch

The opposite of the Midas touch: everything turns to [bleep].

Five days ago:

Speaking to a raucous crowd of United Auto Workers, Obama recalled a 2010 visit to the General Motors Hamtramck plant near Detroit, where he slid behind the wheel of “a new Chevy Volt fresh off the line.”

“Secret Service wouldn’t let me drive it,” Obama said.

“But I liked sitting in it,” he added to laughter. “It was nice. I’ll bet it drives real good.”

“And five years from now — when I’m not president anymore — I’ll buy one and drive it myself,” Obama said to thunderous applause. “Yes, that’s right.”

It sounds like Obama had his folksy voice on (what Harry Reid calls his “Negro dialect”), so it probably should have been transcribed as “But I liked sssittin’ in it”.

And the glove compartment is big enough to hold all the parking tickets you can ignore, sir.

You probably think I’m going to make a snide comment along the lines of his being free to buy one a lot sooner than that. But you’re wrong.

He may never be able to buy one at all:

General Motors Co. is suspending production of its Chevrolet Volt electric car for five weeks amid disappointing sales.

A GM spokesman said Friday that the company will shut down production of the Volt from March 19 until April 23, idling 1,300 workers at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

The Volt was rolled out with great fanfare in late 2010 but has since hit bumps in the road. Sales have fallen short of expectations, and its reputation was bruised by an investigation into a possible fire risk.

It carries a high price tag — around $41,000 before a U.S. tax credit of up to $7,500. Rising gasoline prices should boost the Volt’s appeal, but there are plenty of other less-expensive cars that also get good mileage.

GM sold 7,671 Volts last year, below its original goal of 10,000 cars. The company stopped publicly announcing sales targets last year. It sold 1,023 Volts in February and 603 in January.

Our Edsel of a president announces he wants to buy one, and a couple of days later they shut down production, putting another 1,300 workers on unemployment? Why does it fall to me to point these things out? Where’s the MSM making the connection?

And why are we bribing ourselves with $7,500 of our own money?

But the parallels with Carter proliferate. His was the Ford Pinto administration; Obama’s is the Chevy Volt.

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Green Economy Taking Off!

For some people, anyway:

A123 Systems, an electric car battery company once touted as a stimulus “success story” by former Gov. Jennifer Granhom, D-Mich., has laid off 125 employees since receiving $390 million in government subsidies — but is still handing out big pay raises to company executives.

“[T]he company has laid off 125 employees and had a net loss of $172 million through the first three quarters of 2011,” the Mackinac Center for Public Policy reports, observing that the company’s primary customer, Fisker Automotive, is also struggling financially. “Yet, this month A123’s Compensation Committee approved a $30,000 raise for [Chief Financial Officer David] Prystash just days after Fisker Automotive announced the U.S. Energy Department had cut off what was left of its $528.7 million loan it had previously received.”

This month has seen significant pay boosts for other A123 executives, as well:

Robert Johnson, vice president of the energy solutions group, got a 20.7 percent pay increase going from $331,250 to $400,000, while Jason Forcier, vice president of the automotive solutions group, saw his pay increase from $331,250 to $350,000. Prystash’s raise was 8.5 percent, going from $350,000 to $380,000.

“It looks like they are trying to pad their top people’s wallets in case something really bad happens,” Paul Chesser, associate fellow for the National Legal & Policy Center, suggested.

I don’t think Obama’s right about the future of high-speed trains, but I will concede he is the world’s foremost expert on the gravy train. Stimulus money went either to unions (who laundered it back into Democratic coffers in the form of contributions), or to “green” energy companies (all of which are curiously in the red), the employees of which (those who still have jobs and got raises) will undoubtedly find ways to show their appreciation.

Talk about relationships built on self-interest! Substitute “green energy hucksters”, “union thugs”, “Democratic National Committee”, and the “‘I’m So Awesome I Amaze Myself’ Fund” in those little boxes.

Maybe this is why Biden described him as “clean”: one hand washes the other; you wash my back, I’ll wash yours.


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