Sep 17

Lutz: Gas Must Rise to $5 or $6 per Gallon to Allow Generalization of Volt Technology

 

For some of us interested in electrification of the automobile, it can’t happen soon enough.

The Volt is a great first step, though as GM says it is a car for most people, not a car for everyone.  Even considering the wide swath of those for whom it will be ideal, production volumes are expected to remain relatively low; 10,000 the first year, and around 60,000 in the second according to reports.

Since the Voltec propulsion system is so flexible and scalable, it seems reasonable to believe GM will eventually use it in other vehicle types and sizes. We have seen the Cadillac Converj concept though the car has not be approved for production. We have also heard that GM is at least studying putting a Voltec drivetrain into the upcoming Orlando MPV.

Clearly GM is proceeding with caution largely due to the very high cost and likely, some uncertainty, not too mention the high initial price for consumers.  Recently it was disclosed that the Volt will likely start at $32,000 after tax credits.

GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz was recently asked in a webchat whether he believes GM will generalize Voltec technology.

“The Volt technology is very exciting, but costs will have to come down before it can become generalized,” he said. “And US fuel prices will have to rise to world levels, meaning $5 or $6 per gallon.”

Larry Burns, who has been GM’s chief of R&D at GM for 11 years, and will retire on October 1st put it this way:

It is important to recognize that first generation technology in the auto industry, or industry in general, is usually costly vs. the mature alternatives that it competes with. The key is to kick off a generation-by-generation learning cycle that allows the new technology to reach its mature, high-volume potential. GM believes that Lithium Ion batteries at maturity and in high volume will be cost competitive for personal mobility. This is why we are launching the Volt, to kick off the commercialization dynamic.

So how long will it take for technology costs to come down or gas prices to get so high, and do we have time to wait?

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 6:10 am and is filed under Financial, Voltec. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 381


  1. 1
    RB

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:15 am)

    Excellent post, thank you. It allows us to understand better the thinking at gm’s higher management levels. I was afraid it was going to end with a “So we are postponing Volt production until…” but fortunately they did not say that about Volt, though in effect they did for Converj. So I am happy for now that gm is at least proceeding with the Volt despite their obvious internal misgivings about how many will be sold.

    The wild card in predicting the future is the upcoming change in CAFE/CO2 standards. According to stories in USA Today and elsewhere appearing yesterday, these standards will add $500 to $2000 to the price of cars, phasing in from the 2012 to the 2015 model years. Automakers were said to be responding by also trying to shift toward smaller cars.

    Will that help the Volt, or hurt it? Help, if it makes alternative choices more nearly the same price? Hurt, if it makes smaller cars more nearly a give-away item?


  2. 2
    dagwood55

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:26 am)

    (click to show comment)


  3. 3
    tom

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:44 am)

    Yes an excellant article which sums up GM’s thinking. It doesn’t make any sense to me their caution. After all we already had $4 gas before the world economic meltdown. So I assume their caution in moving faster is based on their astute knowledge that the world will not return to economic growth and that peak oil is a long way off.

    Of course if any combination of world energy demand increasing and world oil supply decreasing happens, gas prices will fly past $5 a gallon very quickly. If (when) this happens over next 3 years will GM be able to ramp up quickly to meet demand?

    This board had discussed the math many times that makes the EREV concept pay off. First Generation saves money already at $5 gas (the increase in your monthly car payment would be a LOT less than your monthly savings in gas for folks that could charge at work for instance).


  4. 4
    Jacksunny

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:48 am)

    I’m European and I can’t help thinking the Volt concept should work better here than in the US — at least on the paper: gas prices high enough, 220V outlet as standard, in general shorter commutes (well, I admit I have no backup to this last point).

    I’m only skeptical whether we can have similar tax credit like in the US.
    And then it will also be hard against the diesels, but still…
    Let’s see. I’m curious as hell.


  5. 5
    Herm

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:49 am)

    They sold trucks and SUVs because that was what the public wanted.. the cost of batteries and other components will drop as the cost of gas goes up, a BEV does not have to match the low cost of an ICE vehicle before people realize it makes sense to get one for the peace of mind.. but the cost penalty does have to come down a bit.


  6. 6
    ronr64

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:52 am)

    GM is (was) a private, for profit business. It is not in any way their responsibility to shape America’s fleet of vehicles in a way that pleases you or anyone else. Their job is to sell 1 vehicle to 1 person, and to do that many times over. “Policy” is up to our elected officials. Our current fleet of vehicles is the result of our govt policy and the individual needs/wants of consumers. Nobody put a gun to anyones head as they were about to buy a Prius and marched them over to a Chevrolet dealership and forced them to buy a Suburban instead.


  7. 7
    RB

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:56 am)

    Jacksunny –> You’re right, it seems to me, that at the moment Europe is a more attractive environment for the Volt, or maybe Ampera, at least from the viewpoint of the economics. There’s will be a lot of interest in the USA, but how much of that will convert to purchases we will have to wait and see.


  8. 8
    RB

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:58 am)

    tom —> pretty big ifs so I’d hate to have too much money riding on them coming to pass in the next few years. But as you say, these are things that might happen.


  9. 9
    RB

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:00 am)

    Herm –> I like your new avatar.


  10. 10
    Shock Me

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:01 am)

    The tech will be generalized at about the same time as I have saved enough for it. (Or I won’t be buying anything from them at all.)

    VOLTEC my Buick roadster baby!


  11. 11
    nuclearboy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:02 am)

    1. Its not and never has been GMs job to lobby for higher fuel prices. That makes no sense.

    2. Toyota has been making and trying to sell large gas guzzling trucks too. It must make some business sense.

    3. GM has made small cars, people just don’t buy them.

    4. The american public is not saddled by large trucks because GM makes them. Some people chose these vehicles.

    I like how the GM haters don’t talk about the Japanese fuel hogs. The bias is telling.

    Go to the Lexus site and look
    LX10 12/18 city/highway
    GX09 14/18
    RX 18/25

    sedans
    LS09 16/24
    GS09 17/24
    LS Hybrid 20/22 (a real green car for sure)

    At least those buying a Chevy truck and haul something and these vehicles have a utility.

    What is the utility of the LS hybrid sedan?

    GM actually has some pretty good mileage numbers. Especially in the car classes that the majority of people buy from. I agree that they need a good hybrid and a good small car at 40 mpg + but other than those niche markets, they are very good.


  12. 12
    RB

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:05 am)

    The really big item in today’s post may be hidden in there as Larry Burns, who has been GM’s chief of R&D at GM for 11 years, and will retire on October 1st…

    Bob Lutz has been the visionary and visible face of the Volt, but Larry Burns is the person who I think really made it happen. He took strong feelings and turning them into a real car with the EREV design. For Mr. Burns to be leaving in just a few days is a big big change for Volt fans.

    So all I can say is Thanks Larry and may everything go well for you.


  13. 13
    RB

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:11 am)

    dagwood55 –> You ask, sarcastically I think, whether gm has been lobbying for higher fuel prices. In actuality gm people have often said that it would be beneficial for the US to have a higher gas tax. Please give credit where it is due.


  14. 14
    tom

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:15 am)

    RB;

    You must work for GM if you think these are ‘pretty big ifs’.

    I think it is pretty much a given that one or both of my ‘IFs’ will happen and that demand for oil will exceed supply in the next 3 years.

    I’ll state it differently. For gas to stay below $4 a gallon for the next 3 years both the world will have to avoid economic growth for 3 years and Oil Production must somehow increase fast enough to replace the decline that is now occurring in it’s largest Oil Fields.


  15. 15
    Carcus1

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:21 am)

    (click to show comment)


  16. 16
    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:21 am)

    RB,
    Well said. I too noticed that he was leaving very soon. I can only hope that it doesn’t have anything to do with the Volt, and given all the other upheaval there are certainly plenty of other reasons to leave.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  17. 17
    Dave K.

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:22 am)

    I believe Mr. Lutz meant to say that $5 per gallon for gasoline will be best for the launch of the Volt.

    The Volt is the CAFE counter weight to NGMCO’s heavy trucks. How many trucks and full size SUV’s will sell with a $5 per gallon pump price?

    BTW:This mornings news…
    LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell toward $72 a barrel on Thursday after rising more than 5 percent this week as swollen U.S. distillate stocks such as diesel offset positive sentiment in other markets.

    =D~


  18. 18
    xed

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:23 am)

    Anyone know the “why” as to Larry Burns leaving? It strikes me as odd that the chief of R&D for 11 years would be heading out right as the Volt is picking up speed on the PR front.


  19. 19
    FME III

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:23 am)

    RB says: “…gm is at least proceeding with the Volt despite their obvious internal misgivings about how many will be sold.”

    Makes one wonder if GM’s misgivings are A: that not enough will be sold (not likely, IMO)
    or B: that they’ll sell as fast as they can make them, unfortunately, each at a loss….

    Regardless, it’s a necesary first step on the way to gen 2 and lower unit costs.


  20. 20
    nasaman

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:28 am)

    Well said, RB! And I want to add a couple of other thoughts….

    1) Lutz is absolutely right that gas prices in the US will be a MAJOR factor in the wide adoption here of Voltec (and of BEVs, for that matter)!

    2) GM’s retiring R&D chief Larry Burns may very well also be right in his belief that ultimately fuel cells may largely replace batteries as the best electric power source


  21. 21
    nuclearboy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:28 am)

    The gas tax is far better than the CAFE standards that our govt imposes IMHO. A gas tax would cut down on driving and make carpooling and mass transit more appealing to many. In addition, it allows the car makers complete freedom on what they want to build in a simpler system with less government regulation. Finally, we could use the money to pay off some government debt.


  22. 22
    nuclearboy

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:33 am)

    Our good friends in Russia would love to see oil at $200 a barrel. That would greatly help their economy. Perhaps that is why they are arming Iran. A nice little war near IRAN would close the straight of Hormuz. Russia would have to help out and boost its oil production.


  23. 23
    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:38 am)

    Jacksunny,
    Welcome to the site. I’m curious about the availability of logistically situated plugs in most European homes. Would that be a hurdle?
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  24. 24
    RB

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:46 am)

    FME III “At a loss…” means expenses exceed income. At the high initial price, it is certain that income exceeds the expense of the parts and assembly of the car, and in that sense the Volt is going to be profitable from the first sale. Now when “expense” expands to include general administration, advertising, legacy costs etc it may be that the first Volts are sold at a loss. However, even under this negative scenario, every Volt sold helps gm’s financial situation.


  25. 25
    Texas

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:46 am)

    lol. Fuel cells? They are four times more inefficient than the BEV system. The fuel cell is dead for passenger cars. The sooner people realize that the better. For higher energy systems like long-haul trucks and such, who knows. Fuel cells might find their niche.


  26. 26
    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:48 am)

    herm,
    What IS that new avatar? My old eyes can’t make it out.
    Thanks in advance,
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  27. 27
    Jason M. Hendler

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:51 am)

    I do think fuel prices will increase, due to high demand from emerging markets like China and India, so no one needs to wish for it – it is inevitable.

    Those, who cannot afford the Volt or similar electric propulsion vehicles, can always buy a very cheap and fuel efficient ICE vehicle and /or a hybrid / electric motorbike or scooter. The goal is to reduce petroleum consumption.


  28. 28
    Texas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:51 am)

    News flash, this is the price of gas in most countries around the world! If American’s can’t properly cost out fossil fuels then we will have to deal with that. If we are going down, might as well go out driving a Hummer. Right?


  29. 29
    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:53 am)

    nuclearboy,
    A gas tax hurts low income people the most – disproportionally so.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  30. 30
    kdawg

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:53 am)

    I think that a $5 or $6 gas would be the best thing to reduce foreign oil consumption. Price is such a great motivator. Small increases in gas price radically change peoples habits.

    Ok.. I’ll say it…. “Increase the Gas Tax”
    and I’ll clarify it by saying only gas for personal transportation vehicles, not for things such as semi-trucks.


  31. 31
    Texas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:56 am)

    He is fishing for more subsidies. Don’t worry, they are already deep into gen II design. He knows what they have and is trying to throw his competitors for a loop, I hope. ;)


  32. 32
    nasaman

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:58 am)

    I want to elaborate a bit on my point 1) above…. There is enormous political pressure in the US for added drilling (offshore, ANWR, etc), as I’ve said here before. Also, our politicians all know it would be political suicide to significantly increase taxes on gasoline. So as a near term effect of lower fuel costs in the US vs the EU, I predict the Opel Ampera will do much better in Europe than the Volt will do here!

    Also, in regard to my point 2) above, I agree with Larry Burns that fuel cells will ultimately prove to be a better source of electricity than batteries. And fuel cells should outlast batteries as well as remove the need for an ICE as a means of eliminating range anxiety. If the efforts GM, DOE and many other are supporting to produce cellulosic ethanol or methanol on a large scale are successful, the infrastructure is already here (our gas stations)! And ethanol fuel cell technology has already been proven practical, renewable and (almost) non-polluting. I’ll even take a leap of logic and suggest that research (probably classified) may find a way to extract pure hydrogen from ethanol/methanol on board vehicles. This could explain Burn’s belief (expressed in his chat yesterday)* that a “hydrogen economy is both real and practical”. This guy obviously knows something I don’t and I can’t believe he would make a fool of himself on the eve of his retirement!

    * http://green.autoblog.com/2009/09/16/chat-with-retiring-gm-research-vp-larry-burns-today-at-3pm-edt/


  33. 33
    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:58 am)

    kdawg
    Low income people will be killed by a gas tax (not literally, but you know what I mean). Middle income people may modify their driving if they can find work. Upper income people probably won’t be nearly as effected as a %age of their income. It’s a kind of reverse class warfare. As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of social engineering with the tax code. JMO.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  34. 34
    Texas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:00 am)

    ” I agree that they need a good hybrid and a good small car at 40 mpg + but other than those niche markets, they are very good.”

    Unfortunately, these are the only real markets going forward. Ain’t that a bitch.


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    EclecticDan

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:04 am)

    It the first gen is only going to have 10,000 made, of course they will be sold at a loss…. They have 5 years of intense R&D to recover.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:08 am)

    Maybe they want a little revenge for busting them during the Cold War?

    Even though you are off by the fact that even Russia can’t boost their production, the continued exclusive use of petroleum for our transportations systems should make Americans take notice. Russia peaked, just check their production graphs. Yes, they have increased exports a small amount lately but that was because their own internal use has dropped due to the financial crisis.


  37. 37
    Herto

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:15 am)

    Also being european (from France), I agree with Jacksunny.
    Today’s price for 1 liter gasoline in France is roughly 1.2 euros (1euro for diesel), more than 6$/gallon (thanks to our high taxes).
    According to Lutz, it would already be interesting.
    But there’s here yet much small cars (<4 meters-long) 50MPG-rated that are available (mainly diesels). And some volt-sized cars achieve such a fuel economy (with less hp than volt, typically 110). So 50MPG on ICE is not figured as extraordinary here.
    “Our” Volt, the ampera is forcasted to arrive about 1 year later than americans’ Volt, and as some have said, barrel price will certainly raise again until that.
    But It may still not be completely interesting, due to the high price expected for the Ampera : about 40K euros (what is the EUR/USD conversion rate at GM? Well that’s another story).
    When you may have either a 136hp-Diesel-peugeot 308 for 28K euros, or a 180hp-Diesel-Volvo C30 for 31K, having both great equipment (Automatic AC, wipers, full leather seats, and so on..) and a more-than-38MPG (44MPG for the 308) economy.
    Even with our high prices, it makes a long road to spend 10K euros in fuel.

    Let’s see. I’m curious as hell.


  38. 38
    Keith

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:16 am)

    Oh good , gas is $5.54 a gallon in Canada now .


  39. 39
    nuclearboy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:20 am)

    I agree that it shifts the burden some but…. The burden is alreay skewed highly away from low income people. Around 45 % of tax payers apparently don’t pay federal taxes. I think that reducing our need for oil is more important than sheidling low income people from a relatviely small tax. If necessary, adjust the 45% number to 50% by other means and then add the gas tax.

    Tax rates are arbitrary anyway. There are already many fees and sales taxes that low income pay in the same way that the wealthy do. These are “larger” taxes on the poor.
    I am simply saying that our dependence on oil might be a big enough problem that the additional burden on the poor might be more than compensated for.

    1. A little more tax on the poor.

    or

    2. the possibiltiy of more tax revenues, less debt, potentially lower oil prices due to smaller demand (ie: this shifts money from the mullah’s to our tax coffers), more use of public transporation, more carpooling, more efficient cars coming online faster, a smaller potential for war in the middle east, and most importantly (jk)… a greater demand for the VOLT.

    I don’t fall into the category of the poor thankfully, but we cannot be crippled in our ability to move forward (if we need to) by the possibility that the poor could be harmed. I have a general feeling that people are not as vulnerable as some people make them out to be. People are all very smart, in general, and will adapt to the conditions around them as necessary to survive and prosper. Low income people are no exception.


  40. 40
    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:22 am)

    If GM loses money on each Volt sold, it can’t help their “financial situation”. I must be missing something (again).
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  41. 41
    David K (CT)

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:27 am)

    Hi Tag,

    What is it with this avatar thingy…well I know about avatars, but how come some poster have them and some don’t (not even a blank one)?

    How do create one?

    Do you need to belong to some special group (Free Masons, maybe…just kidding)?


  42. 42
    Herto

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:31 am)

    I don’t know if it’s answering your question, but many houses have yet 220V/16A plug in the garage, for a washing-machine for instance. Anyway, as the whole house is using 220V, it’s not great work to get that to garage, even for a 24A or 32A plug (just a new wire from the meter).


  43. 43
    nuclearboy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:32 am)

    I guess I don’t see it personally or in my area. I still see the V6 models selling well and small SUV’s (I am in the Baltimore/Washington DC area where the recession has not hit). From my perspective here, the really small cars are still the niche markets.

    Hopefully GM will have these smaller cars (Cruze, Spark, Volt) ready when the next big oil shock hits.


  44. 44
    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:37 am)

    Nuclearboy,
    Although your post is well thought out the only important word that’s a bit subjective is “little”. As in a “little” more tax for the poor. $4 or $5 gas is a huge tax as a percentage of income. For some that’s nearly an hours work for a gallon of gas. Given your reasoning it’d be “better” to base the tax on a “miles driven” basis and then REALLY hit the middle income people – that’s where the money is (just based on a normal curve). I still think that any further govt manipulation of gas tax for WHATEVER good reasons is bad medicine (and will cost jobs).
    JMO.
    As I said your motives shoot for good outcomes. The means I’d oppose.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  45. 45
    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:39 am)

    Dave K,
    You have to know the secret handshake….. or go to Gravatar.com. It’s free and easy.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  46. 46
    Spin

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:40 am)

    They should offer this technology as an option in their other vehicles as soon as possible. As the price of oil increases, people will be more willing to pay a premium for more efficient transportation.


  47. 47
    pbennett45

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:40 am)

    Not really surprising news… personally I’m one who would pay *somewhat* of a premium (if I didn’t live in an apartment and could charge it… perhaps by the 3rd gen volt) for the technology. Even if I could charge it, I’ll admit, at current gas prices the 1st gen volt is beyond what I would pay for. But mathematically, the news isn’t surprising… I just bought a commuter car, and did the hybrid-math a hundred times… it always comes out to the same thing.. average of $5/gallon over the next 10 years will cover the premium for either a prius or an insight (insight is cheaper, but lower mpg, so they come out about the same). While I’m convinced gas will certainly reach $5/gall over 10 years, I don’t think we’ll average it (inflation taken out of the equation of course). So I went out and got a regular ole combustion engine 33mpg+ compact car for commuting. That being said … if the volt came to 25k after incentives (today’s dollars) and gas was at $3-$4 (also todays’ dollars), while it still probably wouldn’t mathematically make sense (depending how long my commute was, what electric rates were at that time, etc…), I’d pay the premium for it – especially if my commute was <60miles RT (i.e. 2/3 electric) and the range extender actually hit the 50mpg they’ve been saying. The part that GM doesn’t know and is probably why they’re sending out survey’s to find out, is how many people WOULD pay that premium beyond where it’s mathematically break-even and how much of a premium they’ll pay. Obviously the higher the premium over that break-even point, the fewer customers they have.


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    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:41 am)

    Herto,
    I was wondering more about what % of houses actually have a garage (or a spot very near the house) within which they could charge.
    Thanks,
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


  49. 49
    Carcus1

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:43 am)

    (click to show comment)


  50. 50
    Xiaowei1

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:45 am)

    if anyone in the US tries to change something at a federal level which has the potential to take away anything from a large group of people (especially corporations), you will see a 1000 lobby groups jumping up and down complaining with half the senate backing big business who sent the lobby groups as that is where their donations come from.

    Take for example the US health care system – whether you like if or not, the world see’s Americas health care system as a joke; defend it all you like, but that is the way the world see’s it… Now instead of actually trying to give the people something, if you even try and put a tax on fuel anything like what the rest of the developed countries, you will have x10 the difficulty.


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    Dave G

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:47 am)

    The quote from Larry Burns makes a lot more sense than what Lutz said.

    And if you believe the CEO from CPI (the company that makes the Volt battery packs today), battery packs should be 1/4 to 1/2 of today’s prices in the next 5-10 years:
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/02/profile-li-ion.html#more


  52. 52
    nuclearboy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:56 am)

    Tagamet,

    Points made and heard.


  53. 53
    nuclearboy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:58 am)

    When the price of oil triples, people can find creative ways to sell more of it if needed.

    Even if they did not boost production, a huge runup in oil prices would really help mother russia.


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    EVO

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:01 am)

    This is as March, 2005:

    http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/global_gasprices/

    Better start cranking those Voltec offerings out now, GM.


  55. 55
    MuddyRoverRob

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:05 am)

    Nope, you are not missing anything.

    If the Volt is seling for $40k as many predict for the Gen 1 car, then it’s quite likely that it actually costs GM $45k to build that car.
    The EV-1′s MSRP was $34k but it’s quite clear it cost GM nearly $80k per car to build them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_EV1
    This my friends is what killed the EV-1.

    GM has to move it on the Volt Gen 2 to make it profitable.
    This is why you KNOW there are engineers working their butts off cost reducing the Gen 2 car to a ‘slightly’ profitable $28k selling price.

    From Rob’s foggy crystal ball.


  56. 56
    Sam Y

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:05 am)

    Tagamet, I agree; gas tax would hurt the low income to lower end of middle income class and not really affect the rich. People keep talking about gas tax & talk about how the rest of the world is okay with higher prices.

    Well here’s a little piece of news! Do you who support gas tax (& are not rich sobs) ever been to Japan, Korea, France, Britain, Germany, etc? These countries may have much higher gas prices but they also have well developed transit systems like rapid transit subways & buses. I’ve been to a few Asian countries and we have nothing here compared to what they have. Same with Europe; my good buddy went over to Britain & France for an extended vacation and the first thing he noted was how everyone walk/use transit to go around & that in many ways it was faster to take transit instead of calling a cab. Another big factor is their cities actually have people in them instead of people commuting from the suburbs, and people do not need to make a ‘grocery run’ since they can walk to the local market/grocery store, buy stuff, take them home if it’s small/light or have them delivered at no charge (most of time) or in some cases minimal charge; I saw this happening in S. Korea & I was pretty shocked that they have it over there while in our much touted NA, we have diddly squat compared to that…I don’t think Wal-Mart/local market would give people free deliveries of their groceries. ;)

    Unless something is done to change the city dynamic here, Tagamet is right; if meaningful amount of gas tax is imposed, only the rich will not suffer…they’ll whine as if their livelihood depended on it but really the low to mid income class will bear the full brunt of it. But if people really wanna charge gas tax, they should really think & come up with a meaningful counter-measures to above problems. Not sure if this would work, but here’s an idea: impose ‘x’ amt of gas tax on reg.-grade gas (x being amount significant enough to affect behavior change while not being too high to ruin people’s livelihood), ’1.4x’ on mid-grade., & ’2.5x’ on premium? Just some random #s being thrown out here.

    Now I’m not saying tax the rich; I’m saying tax the ones who want high performance vehicles. Remember, driving is not a right, it’s a privilege. You want a machine with a lota torque & HP? Sure, you have freedom to do so but you also have to pay a bit more for that privilege. If I want a pizza from Pizza Hut, whatever. If I want Pizza from a so-expensive-it’ll-cost-arm-leg-and-then-some restaurant, I’ll probably have to sell an oran to pay for it. Same thing with cars. Oil is a finite resource & everyone in the globe has to share it. If you want a higher performance gas guzzler, be ready to pay for the initial cost as well as upkeep which includes premium grade gas. The rest of us will be fine with our regular/mid grade gas sipping vehicles that offers decent performace (really…who needs more than say 233HP? Only people with speed in mind).

    There! Now that was my ‘ramble o’the day’…see you all later.


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    EVO

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:07 am)

    kdawg

    Existing semi-trucks and real commercial grade vehicles (as opposed to poseur hobby ranchers and sub-contractor wannabes) use diesel, not gasoline, so tax gasoline as high as you want. I don’t care how high (or low) the price of gas is, cause my daily driver is a BEV, so I’m already protected not only from high prices but from price volatility, just as important, as well.

    :P


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    Ray

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:07 am)

    Hey all… Update on my 2010 Fusion Hybrid.
    Just filled up this morning….

    950 KMS (247 KMS left in tank till emplty)
    … 5.3 L /100 KMS .. 53 MPG Canadian…

    Life time average (just over 2 months)

    5.4 L 100 KMS ..52.3 MPG Canadian.
    Approximately 4500 KMS on car so far

    Worst trip 9.6 L/100 KM 29.4 MPG Canadian (drove really agressively for 80 KMS … city and highway)

    Best trip 2.6 L/100 KM 108 MPG Canadian (hypermiled)

    Still loving this car.. bigger than the Voit.. seats 5 and super milage.
    I still want my Volt but will keep the Fusion for the Family trips.


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    CorvetteGuy

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:08 am)

    The future of “VOLT Technology” could very well rest in the results of the next presidential election.

    His Majesty Obama will have a lot of questions to answer if GM and Chrysler are still needing bailouts and ‘loans’ while every other foreign maker is bringing out BEV’s and EREV’s for 25% less across the board.

    Yep. You don’t hear the phrase “Hope and Change” anymore around Washington. And as much as I would like to own a VOLT, it seems that my budget will force me to wait for the ‘lower priced’ EREV Cruze or Orlando, and they may not get here if Barack is not around to spend more of YOUR tax money to make it happen.


  60. 60
    Dan Petit

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:09 am)

    Gas at $3.50 a gallon would be plenty of incentive enough for the Voltec to expand, it seems to me, for at least the numbers-crunchers.

    Things we decide to do, especially big decisions like spending $40,000, are never only based on one motivation alone. It is multi-motivational logic that has many factors in a decision to buy, not just the price of gasoline.

    For very many, the decision is partly altruistic as well, at least in one of the motives so as to somehow contribute to the advancement for a wise set of changes for society and the planet.

    All the different motives have been discussed here in precise depth for everyone else to read. So, while the numbers-crunching for return on investment can be guessed at in a really vague manner in the form of an opinion, things like the Volt are also representative of a philosophy. That philosophy is under represented because there may not be sufficient ways to concretely measure it as an influence to buy Voltec.

    This is the valid problem that Bob and other execs have, where all the good interest in the World is spoken/written/posted, but how can that be translated into a concrete foundation of some sort where he can really count on any of it?

    Pre-approval & commitment logistics. That’s how. But no one else on this site is conversing about this to my knowledge.

    If all 50,000 people (while not at all likely, but as a start) on this Want List were to get pre-approved tomorrow from their financial institutions for some sort of credit-escrow-in-reserve, how far would that go to assure and convince both upper management as well as investors to go ahead and expand Voltec production facilities?

    I would be really unimpressed if a simple set of procedures like that would never be set up. REALLY UNIMPRESSED.
    To me, that would be a sign that there is not any “thinking out of the box” anywhere, including especially, outside financial institutions like banks, credit unions, and especially, the financing arms of the OEM’s. That, actually, would be pretty dysfunctional if not pathetic.

    Volt is not just a car, it is a philosophical benchmark that many of us will put a large part of our assets on the line for it’s purchase. GM has gone all out as far as possible to get us here to this point. Why is there not discussion on this site about what it might take to set up Voltec pre-approval AND FINANCIAL COMMITMENT methods, especially since there are these following abbreviations on this site every day?:
    “NPNS” “LJGTVOTR”


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    David K (CT)

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:11 am)

    Great. Thanks.


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    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:15 am)

    Xaio,
    Thanks for an individual’s world view. You ought to try Democracy. You might like it. Warts and all, it’s still the best system out there (just another individual’s opinion of a world view).
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Sam Y

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:25 am)

    Wow..now that sounds impressive! Can you tell me how the car handles, its performance characteristics, interior quality? If it’s really that good, I might lean towards this…from the looks of things I would not be able to afford a VOLT due to low production volumes & undoubtly high price gouging by the dealers.


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    Randy C.

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:25 am)

    Unfortunately Bob is going to get his wish. Gas prices are on the rise again for no good reason. Whatever the price is we have to pay it. It was so nice of GM to destroy is pre 2003 electric vehicle program! The lawyers said it was a good idea for GM irregardless if it was good for America. Now we are looking at a 10 year setback in vehicle electrification. We’ve seen what over-dependence on foreign oil can do for the US economy. Just ask businessman, you can not keep throwing large amounts of money out the door and stay viable.


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    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:26 am)

    Muddy
    Yes, we get sooo focused on getting those initial wheels on the road that Gen II and III seem a distant dream. Here’s hoping that their mentions form time to time about the parallel development process covers the second and third gen vehicles too. At the very best (and remember, I’m the resident optimist, I can’t see Gen II until 2012. I’ve been wrong before but rarely in a pessimist direction. Then again, my crystal balls (I have a spare) are pretty foggy too. (g)
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    vladg

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:27 am)

    There was an excellent proposition some times ago about “gas tax”. The idea is that government put a tax on gasoline, collect it to the dedicated fund that by the law must be evenly distributed to everyone. In short, the gas is $5/gallon, the real price is $3, $2 goes to the fund and it makes a monthly check from the government.
    This way people who do not use cars, or use fuel efficient cars suddenly get extra money, while gas-guzzlers drivers over a sudden face more expensive gasoline and only partial reimbursement.
    The nice part of the proposal is that low income people are not affected that much (unless they need to drive lot more than an average person in a fuel inefficient car) and everyone suddenly have an incentive to use more fuel efficient technology.
    OK, I remembered – the author of the idea is Michael McGraph, here it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7anhCgdiao


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    MuddyRoverRob

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:29 am)

    Texas,

    Your message is extremely consistant and I respect that.

    BUT, lets get real.

    Most grown-up people do not want to drive a tiny little car, my kid drives one of those.

    I’m firmly in ‘middle age’ and want a comfortable car to travel in. Generally speaking this means a ‘mid-size’ car.

    I currently drive a Malibu.

    I think the Volt with it’s 4 seats (giving more room for each passenger) will ‘just’ be roomy enough for my needs/requirements but I’m very unlikely to look at anything smaller than that as a daily driver.

    I’d consider a Lotus/Caterham Super 7 roadsport (which is a tiny car) as a toy though! Definately a weekend/dry road car.
    http://www.caterham.co.uk/


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    dc

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:29 am)

    The problem is not every can afford a $40,000 car just because.

    $6 gas wont change peoples habits just because.

    $6 gas doesnt mean people will just run out and buy a new car, or move, or get a new job – for 95% of people it will just mean more financial hardship. “We” still have the cars we have, the house we have, the job we have – now it will just cost us more to do the things we do.


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    NASA-Eng

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:30 am)

    I’m not sure I completely agree with Lutz thinking $5 – $6 gas is required. What if we had $4 gas in 2012 and the Volt Production cost was closer to $30 without out any rebates. And what if the government kept in some a $2k rebate/discount.

    Think about all of our mind set 2 years ago when we were paying $4 gas…. It shifted car buying habits ALOT.

    Either way… gas at $2.50 I conceed won’t cut it, but we may not be as far off as Lutz thinks…

    Todd


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    Mike-o-Matic

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:33 am)

    >> News flash, this is the price of gas in most countries around the world!

    That’s not quite the whole story. $5-6/gallon is the price of the fuel itself PLUS much higher fuel taxes than we pay here.

    Taxes, taxes, taxes…. that’s some people’s answer to EVERYTHING.


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    Mike-o-Matic

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:35 am)

    If not H2-consuming fuel cells, due to the infrastructure and H2 production issues, then maybe DEFC (direct ethanol fuel cells) may ultimately become cost-effective.

    That, coupled with inexpensive algae-formed (ex: Algenol) or cellulosic ethanol (ex: Coskata), may provide a bright spot in the pantheon of liquid fuels and electric drivetrains.

    Good GAWD, I just came –>| |<– THIS CLOSE to being an optimist. Forgive me.


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    RVD

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:37 am)

    what are you trying to say? you want somebody to pay you for your “altruistic” desire to get Volt? get a job!


  73. 73
    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:41 am)

    Mike-O re optimism
    Come on in the water is ALWAYS fine! (even if it’s not)
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    RVD

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:43 am)

    absolutely. Not to mention there will not be enough “good” cars, jobs and houses to move to. This will be devastating. And if middle and upper middle class think they can get over high cost of gas, think again. Middle class in US will die as we know it. Majority will go below poverty line, few rich guys will enjoy their lives no matter what.


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    DaV8or

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:44 am)

    They are taking a page out of Toyota’s play book. Develop new tech, hope it’s a hit with early adopters, hope gas prices remain high and the environmental issues stay in the news and then ten years later, start selling them at reasonable, competitive cost. Worked for the Prius, why not the Volt?


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    Koz

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:47 am)

    This is Lutz lobbying in the media for a gas tax in conjunction with rasing Cafe or EV requirements. Privately the pitch will be do this or don’t raise the requirements.


  77. 77
    RVD

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:48 am)

    … or stay at home and die.


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    Bruce

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:48 am)

    Even if gas is $5, you will still never recoup the cost of the Volt over a lower priced hybrid. If you compare something like a $20k Insight vs a $40k+ Volt, you just can’t recoup the difference in fuel savings.

    They can’t sell the Volt as a money saver with a $40k+ price tag. Sure I still want one, but not because I have any delusions of it saving me money.


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    dagwood55

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:52 am)

    Then go look at the actual number of SALES. Toyota’s car/truck mix is about 60/40 (and that includes “trucks” like the Sienna and Rav). GM’s car/truck mix has shifted a lot, lately, but topped out somewhere around 30/70.

    As for “It’s not GM’s business to lobby…” GM has lobbied for all kinds of things over the years. Why do you think we don’t have a decent fuel tax at this point, after foreign countries have repeatedly demonstrated their power to step on our strategic neck? After price shocks have repeatedly rocked our economy? GM pushed, and pushed HARD, for a CAFE system that could be easily gamed… and then gamed it. GM worked very hard for a legislative and regulatory environment that was very friendly to their gas guzzlers. The E-85 rules, for example, make the entire CAFE idea a complete joke.


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    Jim I

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:53 am)

    Huh????

    You want another government beaurocracy to give me back money they have taken from me in the first place???? And how much overhead will that take to produce 50 million checks per month????

    And the poor people are the ones that would get hit the hardest, as they drive the old used gas hogs, not the bright new shiny Chevy Volts, and Toyota Prius!

    Don’t make this a class warfare issue, and part of a liberal agenda to “redistribute” the wealth.

    If gasoline has to be $6.00 per gallon, then it has to be felt by all. But be prepared for the huge increase in price for everything we buy…..

    And what exactly will the government do with all that new “revenue”? If is is just to be wasted on some new program with no real benefit, except to get themselves re-elected, then I think I would rather keep my hard earned money and figure out how to spend it myself……

    They have spent way too much money that does not exist already. If we do not stop the madness, then our kids and grand kids will be living in a bankrupt country.

    JMHO


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:54 am)

    Dave K
    Looks like you GOT it!
    Congrats.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    dagwood55

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:56 am)

    And where has GM put its lobbyist money? Lutz has remarked that higher fuel prices will be what really propels small/fuel efficient cars in the market.

    Yet, all along, GM’s lobbyist and ad dollars have worked to promote bigger and bigger and bigger gas guzzlers. Not because people won’t buy small/fuel efficient cars but because GM hasn’t figured out how to produce them competitively and prefers to reap soft profits from a gas guzzler business that has, repeatedly, been hammered by oil price shocks.

    GM never learns and they work against our interests. The 10K units of the Volt due out in 2011 are a fig leaf and nothing more.


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    Jim I

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:57 am)

    Another scuba diver – cool!!!!

    I am NAUI Instructor # 19017.

    I hope all me gear will fit in the trunk of my Volt…….

    :-)


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    CaffeineBuzz

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:59 am)

    In response to nasaman’s statement: “I agree with Larry Burns that fuel cells will ultimately prove to be a better source of electricity than batteries. ”

    I’m confused by this. A fuel cell application INCLUDES a battery. Free electrons from the fuel cell are used to charge the battery. Could you clarify a bit?


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    nuclearboy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:59 am)

    Your post is right on. I just think it is a chicken or the egg analogy. Why do you think they have great transportation systems. This is partially because of the fuel tax. Gas has been high priced in Europe for many decades. People want the mass transit.

    If fuel taxes were raised here, more people would walk and take the bus. If fuel taxes were raised here, more people would shift their locations closer to the city or closer to work. If fuel prices remained high here people would demand and vote for better mass transporation options.

    We use CAFE standards to try and make people buy small cars. It does not work to well. A gas tax would have people clamoring for small cars.

    We have public transportation systems that are under used. From my office window, I can see the DC metro trains go buy. The tracks are not as busy as they should be. People are still driving to work with 1 person in the car.

    A gas tax changes peoples behavior and does not require any rules or regulations to do this. People change on their own at their own pace. Its definitely something our spineless politicians should consider.


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    LauraM

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:02 am)

    It’s not just about taxes. It’s also about the strength of the dollar. If the dollar goes down, the price of gasoline goes up. And vice versa.

    If you look at our trade deficit, the dollar is obviously still too strong–equilibrium would be neither a trade deficit or a trade surplus. It makes sense since it’s still, by default, the world reserve currency.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:05 am)

    I’m sick of government intervention in the market prices. Oil will be where it’s going to be–without Obama playing communist. Oh wait, he owns the means of production (GM). I think I’ll buy a Tesla.


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    CaffeineBuzz

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:10 am)

    The 2011 Chevy Cruze will fill the 40+ mpg category.
    http://www.chevrolet.com/future-vehicles/cruze/

    And it’s a good looking car, especially compared to it’s high mpg competitors.


  89. 89
    LauraM

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:11 am)

    They can use the money to reduce the deficit. We’re going to have to pay it off somehow. And just raising income taxes on the top 1% of the country won’t even begin to cover the bill.

    Other than that, I can think of a dozen other decent non-controversial uses for the money. Building decent public transportation comes to mind. Fixing the roads? Replacing the numerous bridges that are about the collapse? Fixing our worn out levees so we don’t have another Katrina? Providing companies with incentives to manufacture here instead of Asia. (The Asian governments do it. We have to too if we want to remain competitive as an economy.)?

    But, alternatively, they can use the funds to cut payroll taxes. They could make it deficit neutral. The point is to encourage people to reduce their gasoline consumption. Not to raise money.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:11 am)

    I agree with you. Sure, high gas prices will help adoption of Voltec, but there are other considerations that help reach the same goal of cost reductions.

    Time passing, improved supplier partnerships, increased public awareness, cost-saving R&D breakthroughs, government intervention and incentives… all of these will play a role, too.


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    MuddyRoverRob

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:13 am)

    To this end there is a tax on engines over 2 litres in many places including Europe.

    It has resulted in some very efficent (and powerful) small bore engines. Both gas and diesel.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:14 am)

    I don’t even have a car and I take public transportation. So, I’m “insulated” as well. But, realistically, if we tax gasoline, food prices will probably go up. And so will things like heating oil, airline tickets, etc.

    But these things should be more expensive. When they’re artifically cheap, we overconsume.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:15 am)

    Well, I can provide one possible answer.

    If *I* could retire two weeks from now, I would do so! Maybe he’s retiring simply because he can!

    Besides, there’ll always be something new coming down the turnpike. Gotta retire someday (or die trying).


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:15 am)

    So Far… fit and finish is excellent… It handles well… does not have any troubles getting up to freeway speeds for merging etc..
    Definetely not a sports car but handles adequately in the corners…
    The only thing that I have found to be a bit unsettling at first was the CVT transmission… The engine revs up when acccelerating (and you are waiting for a transmission shift that never happens)..and you watch the spedometer… it rises quickly and steadily til you acheive the speed limit. And when you ease off the pedal… the engine RPMs drop right off..
    Go to your Ford dealer and take one for a test drive…
    You will be impressed.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:20 am)

    Good question, CaffeineBuzz! Of course, fuel cells can’t be used to recapture kinetic energy as in regenerative coasting & braking. So what I mean is that a fuel cell can replace both an ICE in an EREV like the Volt or a plug-in hybrid as well as MOST of the large battery —a MUCH smaller battery and/or a capacitor bank should suffice— and I’m guessing from Larry Burn’s remarks yesterday that considerable (classified) progress has been made in generating hydrogen (perhaps even on-board vehicles) in an extremely economical and environmental-friendly way.

    / BTW, Frank Weber’s concern about ICE noise would disappear with a silent fuel cell ;)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:21 am)

    Tag, not to get into a debate on socialism, but gas is much higher in Europe and their low-income ppl seem to survive. Typically lower income ppl often have other means of transportation than an Hummer/gas guzzler. Many take public transportation. Many are unemployed and don’t drive that much at all. I dont think $5 gas would destroy low income ppl as much as you think, but I dont have any #’s I can show. What will low income ppl do when gas reaches $5 on its own? There’s also the debate of where the tax $ will go, and the possibilities of what could be done with it. I believe taxes are a necessity for any society, and should be used to benefit that society. Call it social engineering, but its the world we live in.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:22 am)

    It’s not brainwashed, it’s simple truth.

    The general public at large will not buy cars with great fuel economy unless gas prices skyrocket–and I’m not talking about Volts, either. When gas prices came down since last summer, small car sales have slowed, and truck sales have gone back up.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:22 am)

    Really? Then why is GM boosting production due to dealer demand for the Equinox, the Camaro, the GMC Terrain, Cadilac SRX, etc.?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125305886067314043.html


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:25 am)

    I understand the high price at first. IE:( New toy for the rich and a way for GM to recoup some money) But if you want the Volt to exceed, you will have to get it in the the mid to low $20,000 range and promote it as a way to say good bye to being held hostage by big oil and you will have a winner no matter what the gas prices are IMHO. I myself would have an all gas powered car and a Volt to deal with the ups and downs IE:(gettiing ripped off and not getting ripped off so much)of the oil markets and refineries. Get it affordable for 50% of the nation and tell us to buy it for the good of America and lets see what happens!!?? My guess is we would have a STAR of a car on our hands.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:28 am)

    Bruce;

    No one ever argued the volt would be a good deal at $40,000.
    We have to wait a few years for the price to come down.

    With the Tax Credit through, a $32,500 does pay for itself, even compared to an insight if you are a typical person that drives to work and back and can charge at work.

    Simple math, if 2 folks have $20,000 to spend. One pays cash for an Insight and another pays $20,000 for a Volt and gets a second mortgage for $12,500 for 10 years at 6% yielding a Monthly $138.78 payment.

    Then if you assume gas is $4 more then the cost of electricity for the same amount of propulsion, a volt driver needs to save 35 gallons a month which is 1750 miles of AER.

    I guess to equal a $20,000 car that AVERAGES 50 MPG,, you would have to have a one way trip of 35 miles to work, charge it there and then drive home to get 70 miles of AER on work days. And you’d have to schoot around town 50 miles per day on the weekends with a mid day charge as well.

    But as always what you are missing is the Volt is a much nicer car than an Insight, and that gas is going to average way more than $5 a gallon between 2012 and 2022, without a doubt.

    And of course you’d be doing a huge service to your country by pumping that money that would go overseas to buy the oil into our economy instead. That is a payback you will receive in lower taxes down the road and a better quality of life for you and your family.

    To anyone that looks at the ‘WHOLE PICTURE’ it isn’t hard to justify moving in this direction. It is just that the first few years the folks that should buy the car are the folks that have a long drive to work and can charge it there.

    When the prices come down in a few years everyone else can buy them.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:29 am)

    There are currently unused oil fields that become viable at higher oil prices. If gas prices go high enough–the last estimate I read was $10.00 a gallon, the oil shale found right here in the US becomes viable.

    So, yes, as price goes up, production also goes up. But that’s not a good long term solution. Our economy (and every modern economy in the world for that matter) requires cheap energy. We need to incentivize alternatives now. So that they’ll be affordable when the time comes that we really need them. (Not that we don’t already.)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:31 am)

    . . . with the exception of the True Believers who must act to save the planet, regardless of economics (or at lest, be seen as ‘acting to save the planet’).


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:32 am)

    While the article mentions that Larry Burns has led R&D for only 11 years, it doesn’t mention that he has spent a total of roughly 40 years at GM…. it’s just time for retirment. No need to read anything into it. It’s definitely not due to anything VOLT-related.


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    DaV8or

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:33 am)

    Agreed. Sadly, the way things are going now, the Volt may be the last product GM makes before shutting the doors for good. The public will not stomach another auto bailout. I don’t see any product on the lots or in the pipeline yet that is going to radically alter the public’s perception of GM cars in the next four years. Their current ad campaigns don’t help much either. They reek of desperation (which GM is) and people shy away from sinking ships when making big ticket durable purchases. Throw into the mix a group of traditional GM buyers who are boycotting them for getting a bailout in the first place. GM isn’t even in as good a spot as Chrysler because they don’t have a new leader with surplus money and delusions of grandeur.

    Their only hope of survival is to sell off assets as best they can to buy time and become the right size for what they now have become, a medium to small car maker and really work hard to get new, exciting, quality product out the door faster than usual. They are probably safe as long as Barack is around, but four years from now, they both may be gone.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:33 am)

    Meanwhile, look for gas to drop below $2 a gallon here, due to the soft economy (and attendant supply increases). Sure, it will go up again; but when? It took a hurricane bulls-eye on New Orleans to get it above $4.


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    Jim I

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:36 am)

    According to this article, Mr. Burns has been with GM since 1969. If he was 25 then, that would make him 65 now. I don’t know that for sure, but In any event he is around retirement age.

    So maybe he is not like Maximum Bob, and has no problem with retirement……..

    http://hydrogendiscoveries.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/larry-burns-from-gm-to-retire-leaves-legacy-as-rd-chief-and-hydrogen-advocate/

    Everything does not have to be a conspriracy!!!

    ;-)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:36 am)

    You seem to be in a worse mood than normal RVD.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:38 am)

    LauraM:

    Alas, that’s much too smart of an approach to ever find traction in this country, IMHO.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:38 am)

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:39 am)

    This would not be the best of ideas. Taxing gasoline and diesel at different rates just leads to the situation, found for example in Europe, where consumers buy diesel because the taxes are lower.

    If you want to go this route you could tax gasoline and diesel but not ethanol or bio-diesel. That might get you to where you want to go much faster.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:39 am)

    The recent “Stimulus” raised the deficit so high, that even if the government took every penny (and then gave us a 10 – 20% ‘allowance’), it could still take decades (maybe generations) to pay down. And this doesn’t address future spending plans which have been mentioned.

    Do you really believe that those guys inside the Beltway won’t spend any money they can get, as fast as they get it? Not playing partisan here, either: pork comes in two flavors.

    Consider that Social Security was supposed to be a “fund” we pay into with taxes, but the reality has been a kind of cash-grab ponzi scheme. Go looking for the SS “lockbox” and you’ll find a filing cabinet somewhere in Virginia full of IOUs.

    There’s a reason many of us are here, hoping that the Volt pans out; a technological solution has the potential of doing an end run around our dysfunctional government. Yes, that has already become a forlorn hope, following Government Sponsored Bankruptcy.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:41 am)

    As to “reaping soft profits from gas guzzlers”, GM is no different than any other manufacturer, period. Particularly Toyota/Lexus.

    If I’m not mistaken, Are not GM’s cars and trucks, IN GENERAL, the best fuel economy options in their classes? I think this is true, although I won’t swear to it. Aside from the halo Prius, of course.

    The definition and use of the term “gas guzzler” is constantly shifting depending on the agenda of the poster. How exactly do you define it, Dagwood?

    I do not understand at all the comment about GM “working against our interests”. Whos interests? Yours? Toyotas? GM-Volt.com?

    Your constant GM hatred on display begs the question as to why you are even here on this site.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:41 am)

    EVO:

    According to Jean-Charles Jacquemin, gasoline is taxed at a much higher rate than diesel in Europe, to benefit the trucking industry. As a result, there is a profusion of diesel cars in Europe to take advantage of the lower price.

    It’s like making rules for kids. They find a way around the rule befroe you even finish making it up, LOL.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:42 am)

    or maybe, just maybe, there might be other (lower cost, electric) alternatives besides the volt, . . . . hmmmmm?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:42 am)

    Tag, the gas tax proposals I’ve seen all give a credit on payroll taxes so that the “gas tax” also includes a “payroll tax cut” of the same magnitude, making the entire approach revenue neutral, meaning there is in effect no actual tax increase so long as you actually work,

    But there will be no gas tax. The Obama Administration has gone the Cap&Trade route.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:44 am)

    I agree that the tax would be a big deal for low-income people. However, I think the long run, they’d be better off since oil prices are going to inevitably go up anyway. And this way the economy in general will be more prepared for it. And, eventually, there will be good, cheaper substitutes.

    By the way, a tax on miliage wouldn’t work nearly as well. We want to encourage people to buy more fuel efficient vehicles like hybrids, BEVs, etc. Also, if a family has a truck and a small car, we want to encourage them to use the small car instead of the truck whenever possible. A miliage tax wouldn’t do that.


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    CaptJackSparrow

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:45 am)

    WTF!!!!!!!

    I said it before and I’ll say it again……

    IF I ONE CAN’T AFFORD A $43,000.000 CAR WHEN GAS IS $2/GALLON, WHAT THE PHUK MAKES YOU THINK ONE CAN AFFORD ONE WHEN IT’S $5 or $6 PER GALLON!!!!

    Is the car going to be less expensive if gas was highr? NO!
    Won’t “Supply and Demand” dictate the price? Yes (Per Mr. DonC)
    So where the hell does this justification of higher gas prices come from for GM to say is required for the car to be a success?

    Hey GM, WTF yall smokin cause that mus be some gooood azz sh|t and yall need to “Puff, Puff…..GIVE!!!” so I can see your ways too!


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    Douglas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:46 am)

    No new taxes, ever. I would like to understand why certain people want the government to take control and “make” them do everything. Make your own financial decisions wisely and you don’t need the government. If you want an EREV, fork over the money. I would if i had it, but I am lower middle class. If you don’t, then don’t. I don’t want the government deciding when I am going to purchase something by effectively hurting me with another tax that will bring revenue to a bureaucracy that does not know how to manage the money they have now. I have very conservative views on taxes I know, but why do I need the government to tell me when I need to buy a vehicle? I am already not happy that the government owns the company that is trying to sell me the vehicle. Too much government. But someone please explain why someone would so eagerly want to spend more of their income, whether it be on taxes or a 40,000 car? If gas to $6 a gallon soon, that doesn’t mean the price of the Volt (or any other BEV or EREV) is gonna come down at the same time, so you will be paying a new tax to uncle Sam, and buying a $30000 – $40,000 car. Makes no sense. Oh and for those of us that cannot afford both (or any new car over 20K) guess we will be stuck with a second rate econo box that only gets 40mpgs (if we have the money for a new car at all) and still have to pay $6 for gas. I have just finished paying off a basic vehicle with power nothing and it gets 23mpg combined and I bought it in 2004. I was not looking to purchase another vehicle for a little while, at least not until I saved for a few years. I work 40 miles from home. If gas hit $6, or even $4, I would be strapped and still would not be able to afford a new car. I am probably not the only one in this or a partial of this situation. Think about it.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:46 am)

    nuclearboy:

    The utility of the LS Hybrid sedan is as a highly effective ‘greenwashing” and PR tool. No more, no less.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:47 am)

    I doesn’t hurt them as much as you would think as low income folks often don’t have enough money to even have a car.

    Raise the fuel taxes and invest in public transport and we all would be better off.


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    MetrologyFirst

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:48 am)

    I didn’t realize the state of vehicle electrification in the world was the sole responsibility of GM.


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    CaffeineBuzz

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:48 am)

    Thanks for the clarification nasaman. I agree that the battery required as part of a fuel cell application is much smaller than that required of a PHEV or EREV application (and obviously a BEV as well).

    Regenerative braking aside though, the primary reason why a smaller battery is required as part of a fuel cell system is that there is no reluctance to enter charge sustaining mode, while in an EREV for example, there is. You want to avoid using the ICE as much as possible.


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    Jackson

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:49 am)

    “The Obama Administration has gone the Cap&Trade route.”

    … but so far, they’ve been fought to a standstill on it.

    They don’t want to tax the “goes-inta,” they want to tax the “goes-outa.” Ironically, the result of this would be an astronomical increase in the cost of electricity: the worst thing possible for vehicle electrification.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:49 am)

    I agree. When gasoline prices are reliably high, people invest in alternatives. That includes things like a)moving close to work, b)finding ways to telecommute, and c)building more and better public transportation.

    The availability of these things will make everyone (including those will low incomes) better off in the long run. The problem is that we’ve put this off for so long that it makes the transition much much more difficult. But the longer we wait, the harder it will be.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:51 am)

    +1 not because I approve, but because I think you are absolutely correct.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:54 am)

    Ooo boy…..


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    MetrologyFirst

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:55 am)

    Off topic comment:

    On the way to work today I passed a beautiful new blue Corvette on I270 in Maryland with the license plate that said:

    MYPRIUS

    After I got finished laughing and smiling I thought about that a little. This country was founded on freedom and choice.

    Lets hope is stays that way.


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    MikeG

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:55 am)

    Average miles driven per year is 12000. Assume 30 miles per gallon (overly optimistic, I know). That’s 400 gallons per year. Taxed at $3 per gallon, that’s $1200 per year in taxes.

    Cash for Clunkers was popular. If you take that program, you could fund cash for clunkers $1200 the first year, $2400 the second year, $3600 the third year and so forth. Add that to the $7500 for electric vehicles and you could start making real incentives.

    And those incentives would be paid for.

    Suppose you even go farther to incentivize the worst miles per gallon offenders. You could start the tax, and give the cash for clunkers a value of $3 per gallon that this owner has used, measured by the car’s mileage and it’s mpg. Then the person upgrading to an electric vehicle basically gets back the tax money they spent. This costs the tax payer nothing, but gives a good incentive for gas hogs to do better.


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    Texas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:57 am)

    Lower cost? Please let us know. Oh, it must have the same convenience of an ICE, like the Volt. The only other alternative I know of is Better Place. I’m for that as well. Well? What have you got? No, not a silly EV with 100 mile range and no way to charge it in a few minutes. That’s a toy. Prius plug-in? Yeah, that’s good too but you only get around 12 miles of AER. The batteries are expensive for EVERYONE, not just GM.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:57 am)

    Ray, thanks for the data bro!!!

    Keep em coming. Can you describe how you drove to acieve the 108MPG and how far?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:00 am)

    Dang dude…

    RVD, U & ME @ H( . y . )TERS for chicken wings and beer(s) matey.


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    Jackson

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:00 am)

    As I opined in yesterday’s thread, I think that EREV architecture will allow for many kinds of electricity production technology to be used; perhaps even a fuel cell.

    All technical considerations aside, finding a new, initially rare fuel will be much less painful if you can plug in to do 80% of your driving.

    I think liquid fuel reformed on-board is the likeliest route to automobile fuel cells (no more ‘how do you distribute / store on-board’ problems), but I believe that there will still be some work to do in reducing the cell costs significantly. Meanwhile, battery costs will be dropping, as performance improves. Could a small fuel cell augment plug-in electricity for an extended range?

    There is a lot of ‘room in the middle’ with an EREV for two technologies to meet. Just as the Volt serves as a bridge from ICE to electric, a future application of the architecture can serve as a bridge to fuel cells, or maybe something we can’t imagine now.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:00 am)

    Bob Lutz, LOL.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:03 am)

    IF, and that’s a big IF Mr. Lutz does not get peak oil or the fact that we need to move away from SUVs and other wasteful, fossil fuel burning vehicles look on the light side, he is very close to retirement.

    Just kidding Mr. Lutz! I know you are full joy on the Volt and Voltec. You are a smart guy, of course you get it.


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    DonC

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:05 am)

    This is Lutz acknowledging that they can’t work the price of the Volt down …This is Lutz acknowledging that “voltec” is not viable.

    These are valid points but perhaps overstated. As to your first point, I’d say that it’s an acknowledgement that GM can’t work the price of the Volt down “enough”. IOW if the goal is to make money at $30K without rebates then getting the car to $35 rather than $45 won’t hit the goal.

    As to the point about Voltec not being viable, I’d say that it’s an acknowledgment that unless gas goes up dramatically “voltec” is not a viable mainstream product. On the other hand, using this same thought process, you could make the case — and Lutz has — that hybrid technology is not a viable mainstream technology. The fact that where I live the Prius has to be the most popular car on the road, and that in the US the Prius is is a hot product — easily outselling the Camaro, suggests that perhaps his thinking on this point needs more refinement.

    People buy cars for many reasons. One primary reason is to be cool. It’s beyond me why Lutz thinks everyone would think it was cool to drive a Camaro or a Corvette (sorry Corvette Guy) but not to drive a Voltec vehicle.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:08 am)

    Actually it is just a car.

    You should never put a large part of your assets on the line for ANY car. That is financial suicide, plain and simple.

    No matter how great a car is, its not a necassary purchase for anyone, and you should never stretch yourself buy it.


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    Bruce

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:10 am)

    Its time to put down the kool aid and turn off Beck for a while…


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:11 am)

    Great points and thanks for elaborating further. But I have a question. You talk about fuel cells that run on ethanol. What would be the advantages of a set up like this? For $150 you can make any ICE capable of running on ethanol. Why put the ethanol into a fuel cell rather than an “ethanol tank”? Wouldn’t the fuel cell cost a lot more? And you wouldn’t get any less CO2. Particulate emissions? Other emissions?


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    Texas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:11 am)

    If gas reaches $10 per gallon you will be surprised how fast your buddies will be looking for small and efficient vehicles. Just because we are use to SUVs and huge ego trucks does not mean they are what we actually need. Just ask most other “adults” around the world. Funny how the rest of the world doesn’t need such heaps of metal, nor the McMansions we lust over. School is about to begin.


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    Larry McFall

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:16 am)

    What is this word “Generalization”. Isn’t the new GM seeing the world in love with the new Volt? With this attitude or notion that it will take a raise in fuel prices to make the EV technology viable, you will never get one on the road.

    It hasn’t been that long ago when the fuel raised above a dollar a gallon and people jumper up and down as if they were going to stop driving their automobiles. At 5 or 6 dollars the public would probably adjust and of course the oil industry will just keep raising the price.

    Bob Lutz is old enough to know better than this idea.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:17 am)

    Dave, this is just a FYI thing, but under the new CAFE rules trucks and cars are in different segments, and each segment must meet separate CAFE standards. So GM can’t use the Volt to offset sales of SUVs or pickup trucks.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:25 am)

    While this has been discussed on this site extensively, the real problems are:

    What happens if you put down a large deposit, and GM fails? Are you willing to take the chance that your $5K or $10K deposit might be lost to other creditors of GM?

    And what if you do not like the car after you get to see it and give it a test drive? Are you going to expect to be paid interest on the deposit that GM was holding for those two years?

    Would you expect Lyle to take the liability of holding the deposits?

    These are not small sums of money and if you are talking about 10,000 people, the problems become very large to deal with.

    I went to my local dealer to talk about pre-ordering, and they were not interested at all at this time. The only thing they would do is to start a “Volt Interest” folder, and put my name, address, and telephone number as #1 on the list.

    But I have to say that I told them I would not buy another vehicle until it had E-REV technology. For a business that looks at weekly sales figures, that statement pretty much lost their interest…..


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:26 am)

    Dear Carcus1,

    It’s been said, time and again, that the only reason why gas is so cheap in the US is because we are not accounting all the costs in the price.

    Taxes, although impopular, are an effective way to change the behavior of customers.

    If the price of gas goes back up to a more normal level (the current price is certainly not ‘normal’, it reflects how slow the US economy is; it will not last), or rather WHEN the price of gas goes back up, the Volt will make economic sense.

    It will all be for the better.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:26 am)

    LauraM, you don’t know any truly poor working people, do you? I would love to see you try to convince a single working mother of 3 that higher gas taxes are a good thing. Especially when she has to make a decision between food on the table, and gas so she can keep her 2 jobs.

    But I guess, in your little world, that the poor should just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”. After all, they have no one but themselves to blame for being poor. Yeah, right!

    Instead of a gas tax, how about an electric tax, huh? Let’s make electric cost $1.00 or more per 100 watts. That would get rid of those incandescent light bulbs, quick. Ohhhh…did I just step on the toes of the Volt fanbois? I did? The Volt would cost over $50.00 to fill up? TOO BAD – suck it up and get over it ! That is exactly what you are telling the poor to do when you want to raise gas prices. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

    If you raised gas taxes on the top 5 percent of the rich (over $250,000.00 a year), I could go along with that. Other that that, keep your filthy hands off of America’s wallets. You want more of what we don’t have enough of right now – money.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:27 am)

    Sometimes it’s inconvenient to look at what reality actually is.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:32 am)

    Laura: Your ideas are wonderful.

    Unfortunately, Noel, and Jackson are closer to being realistic, IMHO….


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    tom

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:33 am)

    I just answered this in post above here. Read #17 answer, and realize there is little doubt between 2012-2022 gas will average WAY over $5 a gallon. Also no one will buy the car for $40,000. Those are the folks that get the $7500 back. And GM is acting going to be as negative as they can to get as much rebate money from the government as they can. Then the car will drop to $30,000 when the rebates are done, and by then the incremental costs of the car will more than be covered by the gas savings.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:35 am)

    Better Place’s battery switch stations sure sound like a great idea…. but I wonder just how it will work without turning the auto industry upside-down. With the most costly component of a vehicle’s propulsion system continually kept fresh, a BP car would be able to last a lot longer than standard ICE vehicles. And with people keeping their cars longer, auto manufacturers would be faced with a shrinking market. Given that less volume = higher cost, cars would become more expensive to purchase and there would be fewer manufacturers able to keep their heads above water.

    In the end, the Better Place approach might make owning a car more costly for everybody.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:39 am)

    But, the income for each car will be greater than the cost to build that car in terms of parts and labor, so gm’s financial situation is improved with the sale.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:41 am)

    yeah, I am getting aggravated…
    need a vacation :-)


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    EVO

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:41 am)

    Are you saying that most Americans are fat, compared to the rest of the world, which increases our health costs?

    Checking google…. ohhh, apparently, so.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:42 am)

    You are right on several points there.

    The ~$40k Gen 1 car isn’t for the mass market and the production numbers reflect that.

    I believe that the Gen 2 car will come in near $28k. With the resulting lower fuel bill from driving electric a lot of the time this should make the car attainable without a great hardship to a greater number of people.

    There is not perfect solution of course but it’ll be a step in the right direction.

    As for your government comments, I’m a Canadian so our idea of ‘less government’ STILL looks like communisim to you without a doubt!


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:42 am)

    Whatever you say.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:44 am)

    Where I live if you sell cookies you are going to have to work from a certified commercial-grade kitchen. The cost to build or lease such a kitchen is substantial. That leaves the cook in the following situation — each cookie sold makes money, in that it can be sold for more than the cost of the cookie dough and labor involved. Each cookie may still lose money, if the price is not high enough to additionally pay for that cookies’ proportional share of the kitchen. However, every time a cookie is sold, the financial situation of the bakery improves, because there is marginal income that can help cover the cost of the kitchen.

    This is the situation we have with the Volt, purportedly. The price is certainly high enough to cover the costs of parts, battery, assembly, and sales, but it may not be high enough to cover the ‘overhead’ costs, divided porportionally, because volume is low. However, every Volt sold improves the financial situation.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:46 am)

    How about no taxes on anything? I’ll still be using my BEV, regardless. Since my point was that I have no opinion on gas taxes since I use a BEV, I’ll stop now while I’m so far behind.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:48 am)

    they may not get here if Barack is not around to spend more of YOUR tax money to make it happen

    Perhaps you can explain to me why some people get so upset about the $50B spent on saving the US auto industry — of which some part will be paid back — while ignoring the trillion dollars completely wasted on the war in Iraq. This seems to make as much sense as worrying about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while ignoring the risks from ice bergs.

    This is a serious question. I just don’t get it. It just seems obvious that one is considerably more important than the other, and yet there is an obsession with the one of vastly lesser importance.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:49 am)

    you are right, but let me market forces do the work here
    It is stupid from GM to ask for gas taxes to justify its bad decision (Volt)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:50 am)

    DaV8or, absolutely and well said!!!

    I.
    Carpocalypse is now!

    II.
    I think you understand that which is beyond understanding. GM will take a lot of criticism until Voltec is profitable or canceled. I hope it’s profitable. The auto business OEM’s are looking at a golden age of innovation. Hope they are ready. As you point out, Toyota showed them innovation can be profitable. It will be interesting to watch and see who the winners and losers are in the midst of the upheavals to come.

    III.
    Big bureaucratic companies are not the best location for innovative idea incubation.

    IV.
    Perhaps new cars, platforms, drive trains etc. should be spun off into independent entities to protect shareholders from catastrophic losses. But only if the projects themselves can even gain enough support to be viable in organizations that have some independence from OEM’s. It’s said success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:54 am)

    “Lutz: Gas Must Rise to $5 or $6 per Gallon to Allow Generalization of Volt Technology”

    I hate to break the news to you but if we had $5-6 dollars a gallon in the next 2 years we would be in a great depression, whats left of the economy and recovery would be gone.

    So for the near term all the automobile manufactures need to press hard on new technology. The Europeans are wrong with their assumption that small Diesels are the answer its that and much more.
    Whats interesting about this 100 year change going on is that it opens the door to small companies and technology allowing them to compete with the big companies. Right now everyone is on a level playing field so ideas and patents are going to drive the next successes. I dont think the big auto manufactures will be able to buy these patents and will have to pay a high royalty cost on the new technology which say one thing these cars wont be cheap.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:55 am)

    RB,

    That really is not known one way or the other.

    I suspect they will be ‘upside down’ on the Gen 1 cars meaning that they will be taking a loss on each car.
    (Just like Toyota did with the Prius)

    Which is why they will get the ‘slightly’ profitable Gen 2 car out ASAP.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:55 am)

    Dan, this is completely non-responsive to your post here, but I wanted to share this story with you yesterday when you were talking about the advantage of maintaining GM vehicles and didn’t get to it.

    Last week my neighbor asked me for a jump for his M3. When I pulled in next to him, his hood was up, and he proudly explained to me that “BMW thinks of everything” because, while the battery is in the trunk, there are battery terminals under the hood in the spot where the battery would normally be (there seemed to be space for the battery). My reply was “yeah, they’ve thought of everything, including how to sell you a $75 battery for $750!”.

    Thought you might get a kick out of this.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:55 am)

    So kdawg gets a +8 for suggesting we tax gasoline (private vehicles) but not diesel (semi-trucks) and I get a -1 and repeatedly lectured against for explicitly pointing out that that’s what kdawg did but otherwise having no opinion on the topic?

    Great thinkers on this blog.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:58 am)

    Nasaman, would’nt a battery also capsure overproduced energy from a fuel cell. I mean can it stop the combining of elements in an instant?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:00 pm)

    This is why I like the Volt.
    It is also why I like diesels.

    You CAN have the cake AND eat it.


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    CaptJackSparrow

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:00 pm)

    “..between 2012-2022 gas will average WAY over $5 a gallon..”

    lol, Nostradamus, is that you?
    How can anyone speculate this up to 2022? Do you really think OPEC will increase prices when demand is low? What’s the rule of economics here? If demand is low prices go down. Isn’t that what happened in the very recent past? Remember when gas was $4/gallon? Demand went down and prices dropped proportionately. Sure it will go up again and just as it went up it will go down. That our roller coaster and that shouldn’t be the determinig factor of the sucess of a product. The Volt has to just perform as designed and last as a quality product. That’s what sells, not gas prices. Claiming gas prices is a factor as a bullsh|t backdoor for GM to cop out if something goes wrong.

    As for the $7500 rebate, just as I have always said it, it does nothing when you purchase the car. The selling price will be $43,000.00 plus tax licens & doc fees minus your down and will never indicate a MINUS $7500. This means you are financing EVERYTHING including that $7500. So when I say if one can’t afford a $43,000.00 car when gas is $2/gallon, then one can’t afford it at $5 or $6 per gallon, that’s the honest truth. No fuzzy math can prove this wrong on the year you purchase and sign on the lines to buy and drive off in the Volt.

    So now what happens when the rebates are all gone? I gaurantee you that the rebates will get used up before the second year the Volt is out because of the many other BEV’s and PHEV’s comong in 2010 and 2011. Battery cell costs will stay stagnant for a while because there really is no competition for the LiMn cells the Volt uses. This and the performance characteristics (of the cells) binds GM to LG and LG really has no incentive to drop the prices till 1 week before the contract is over. GM can b|tch all they want for LG to drop the prices but they are both commited to buy/deliver an XXX amount of cells per year for how ever long the contract is.

    NOTE:
    No spell checker was harmed in the writing of this post. So don’t flame on the grammar.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:05 pm)

    ” am probably not the only one in this or a partial of this situation.”

    You’re not. There are many in the same boat. See post #20


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:07 pm)

    If we’re going to truly let the ‘market forces’ do their work, then in addition to not taxing gas more, we could stop heavily subsidizing it.

    Look at all the places we put the miliary to protect foreign sources of oil. That all comes with a hefty price tag that’s not reflected in our prices at the pump.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:07 pm)

    That wasn’t the point I was trying to make–it was more about the indirect uses of gasoline.

    But since you brought it up….In case anyone else is interested…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/opinion/10pollan.html?scp=1&sq=big%20food&st=cse

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/business/17soda.html?ref=health


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:09 pm)

    Laura has a good point though. The value of our dollar is largely maintained by it being the default world currency. Organizations such as BRIC are pushing for that to change, and if it does, our dollar will hold a more representative value based on our surplus and deficit. This would, in turn, cause gas prices to increase.


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    Rashiid Amul

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:09 pm)

    There is an alternative to raising gas to $6 – $7 a gallon.
    Price gas at $1.00 a gallon and make all cars and trucks get a mileage of 2 miles per gallon. ;)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:09 pm)

    I don’t think it’s on the front burner. Until health care is finished not much will happen with Cap&Trade.

    On the cost, if you ignore the partisan studies, the serious studies put the cost per household at about $10/month, though admittedly there are many interactions and substitution effects which makes estimates difficult. This isn’t what I’d call “astronomical”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Clean_Energy_and_Security_Act#Criticism


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:13 pm)

    I’d say increasing the minimum wage would address this fairly directly.

    Just rememeber that YOUR expenses go up to support the higher wage for those lower income folks.
    I’m not against them getting fair compensation but you need to keep in in perspective, the money has to come from somewhere.
    Lower income jobs are almost always ‘service’ related, so we the ‘middle class’ will pay.

    As has been mentioned gas is ALREADY $5.50 a gallon here in Canada and people get by.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:21 pm)

    Huh? You make no sense, Gas is already $3.15 where I live and we haven’t even fully recovered from the recession. This time next year gas will be well over $4.00 a gallon easily. Gas below $2.00 is a pipe dream.


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    LRGVProVolt

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:22 pm)

    Wake up! China is currently making deals to insure that has the fuel oil it needs for its economy. With China’s and India’s huge populations, the demand for petroleum will cause to price to reach or exceed $5 or $6 sooner than you think. Visit PickensPlan and watch the recent video on our August usage of petroleum:

    http://www.push.pickensplan.com/

    355 billion barrels at $25.2 billion for August and with the trade deficit for July at $36 billion! The dependence of foreign oil is bankrupting our country. We need to and can end this dependence now.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:24 pm)

    Tom,
    “Yes an excellant article which sums up GM’s thinking. It doesn’t make any sense to me their caution.”
    _________________
    I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been in a position to lobby my company to bet my career on a $4 billion dollar start-up project that I know will lose money for years to come. Seems like I would be cautious too.

    I’ve also never been in a position to tell my board, after my company loses $50 billion dollars, to hand over 4 billion more for something that we have never tried at scale before and then hand it off to production people who will have to take a loss on every vehicle built.

    I have never taken the risk of setting billions of machinery in motion to take a known loss on every unit. Then beyond those losses take the risk of being so successful (at producing at a loss) that I put myself out of work by spending billions just to return continuing losses to the company.

    Success means having to call the Ren Cen (or alternatively Dearborn) and say, “yes every thing is going according to plan – we’re taking a loss on every unit”; and possibly having to say, “by the way if we’re ever going to increase sales and lower costs, we have to get a new $1 billion dollar drop forge” (or any number of other tools and resources), “and I need that approved by Monday.”


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:25 pm)

    I have to disagree, it’s not like all of Europe is in shambles because they pay $5.00 per liter. That argument doesn’t hold water. The amount of foreign oil we consume is literally draining huge amounts of wealth OUT of the country, that has far more of an impact on American daily lives than the price of gas.


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    LRGVProVolt

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:26 pm)

    We don’t need a gas tax to


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:26 pm)

    That’s how the Europeans ended up with so many nice little diesel cars!

    When I visited the UK in 2005, they’d just started taxing diesel so that it was the same price as gasoline — both fuels were running about one pond per liter, and it was about two pounds per dollar, at the time, so the gas was costing us around $8/gal. On the other hand, what would have been a $5 lunch in the US was about 5 pounds, so it’s hard to make a really meaningful comparison.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:27 pm)

    I like how lobbying is always blamed for bad government decisions and no energy policy. GM does not vote on CARB, congress, or any state legislatures. If those who do vote are swayed by lobbying, they are either corrupt, stupid, or else the lobbyist was right. In all choices, it is the legislator who has the final call. Don’t blame business for government’s failures.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:29 pm)

    Commie.
    jk…

    I think you’re $28K for Gen 2 is off a little. I think it will be more in the range of $35,000.00 and no rebate.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:30 pm)

    Actually, I do know some truly poor working people. But I live in NYC and they tend to take the subway. (They can’t afford a car.)

    I understand that that’s not an option in most places in the country. But I believe that higher gas prices will lead to more investment in public transporation (like they have in Europe). Then they won’t need a car or gasoline to get them to those two jobs. That will ultimately reduce their cost of living in the long run. It’s the transitional period that’s the problem.

    I also understand that the poor cannot “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” That’s why I want to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. So that they can get jobs that will enable them to afford more than just food on the table.

    As far as your suggestion of just taxing gasoline for the top 5%? How exactly would that work? It sounds like an administrative nightmare.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:30 pm)

    Toyota was losing money on Prius for almost 10 years. When demand for them spiked with higher gas prices, Toyota didn’t want to meet the demand because they would have to build an additional factory, increasing losses. In the end they caved in and now, many years later they are finally making money.

    The same will happen with the Volt, except the Volt is the technology for the next 20-30 years.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:33 pm)

    Well actually inflation alone would almost account for an average of $5 from 2012-2022, the time period of my hypothetical loan so that you could in effect prepay your fuel costs by financing that portion of your VOLT purchase price. Then you’d be making monthly payments on the Volt less than what you’d pay for gas.

    And inflation will eventually catch up to us because of our unprecedented deficits unless we start growing the economy at a very fast rate (which would drive up oil demand).

    I guess if most people are uninformed about the future prospects for fuel costs, then I guess those folks won’t be the early adopters will they.

    If you do any real research on the subject, it isn’t arguable that the ‘easy’ oil has been found and that the cost of getting oil out of the ground will rise much faster then infliation. The demand for energy will continue to grow. The price for OIL will continue to rise faster and faster. There will be spikes up and down based on wars, hurricanes and recessions, but it isn’t hard to predict that electric cars will have a lower cost of ownership than gas cars, probably by 2015 even if gas were $4 a gallon then.

    I don’t discount that gas could be that cheap, but I don’t think those scenarios are all that great. Like perhaps some huge pandemic kills off 2 or 3 billion people, then demand for oil will drop a lot.

    The economics are in place now to move forward and get through the first generation of electric vehicles and on to the future where EVs will pay for themselves.

    And as most people recognize there is a huge benefit to our society that justifies continued and expanded government credits to move this process along.

    This isn’t a dead end where in 5 years they’ll realize batteries won’t work.

    This is a process that is needed to restore a manufacutring base and help change our economy so we spend our money here.

    Can you imagine the harm to our economy if OIL was at 200+ a barrell and we had no alternatives to gas cars. All that money going out of the country to buy OIL.

    This is something we need to move on now before it is too late. It isn’t just a matter of the average guy having to pay more for gas, just like those few month in 2008, it is the average guy sending his money straight overseas to our enemies instead of keeping his money in our economy. When consumer spending slows our economy collapses.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:33 pm)

    Well said. You add in commonality parts between the Volt and Cruze, as well as the selling of other “cookies” in the kitchen and the financial situation does indeed improve.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:33 pm)

    Getting any equity from you house nowadays is gonna be none. That’s not an option for many folks. Doing so isn’t even really a good idea, unless you want to stay in debt longer in your lifetime.
    Personally, I think that’s the worst thing you can do.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:35 pm)

    I agree.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:37 pm)

    I support cap-and-trade (although I would prefer a straight carbon tax–I think it’s simpler and easier to administser.) But I still don’t understand how it substitutes for a gas tax. Personally, I think that cap-and-trade increases the need for a gas tax. We want to retain the cost incentive for electric cars versus ICE.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:39 pm)

    The problem with hydrogen being used as a fuel on any personal vehicle, is the fact that hydrogen must be stored at 10,000 psi. At that storage pressure the tank becomes extremely dangerous should it be ruptured. That is why such vehicles are designed completely around the tank. Not to mention the battery life of fuel cells is like 14,000 miles. I have quite a few friends of mine working at UC Davis that are dealing with these very same problems. Fuel Cell is a long way away from being ready for commercial use.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:45 pm)

    The same can be said of laptops, tv’s and mountain bikes.

    People WILL buy what they want necessary or not.

    If their purchase does a little to make the world a little bit better place then why not.

    Once again I firmly believe the ~$40k price will drop dramatically for Gen 2.


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    Voltair

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (12:55 pm)

    Noel, the higher gasoline tax has encouraged people in Europe to buy diesel cars to avoid the extra cost in fuel. I believe that is on purpose. By encouraging diesel, it gets people to invest extra money in a more efficient technology that has a higher up-front cost…treasure out the country to oil producers goes down, and spending (and Gross Domestic Product) to make the diesel engines (often domestic in Europe) goes up.


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    Black Gold

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:05 pm)

    Another 200 billion barrels of oil found off the coast of West Africa yesterday. That makes almost a trillion new barrels of “easy oil” found in the last year or so. No way is oil even close to running out. Big oil can keep gas under $2 a gallon and make plenty of jack while stunting the growth of electrics. IMO Big Oil hold all the cards in this game. Consumers are little bitty pawns who are so easily manipulated by their governments. The consumers have virtually no say in their future. Sad but true. :-)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:08 pm)

    I filled up over lunch at $2.15 a gallon. Where the heck do you live, Hawaii?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:09 pm)

    Thank you Ray, that was very good info there. I’m glad that after initial lustre/new car smell fades away, the car is still of a good quality & its performance is still very good.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:11 pm)

    Not gonna happen. You can pick up your Doofus Award at the checkout desk of your asylum.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:12 pm)

    DonC:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/09/15/taking_liberties/entry5314040.shtml

    At best, there appears to be some discrepancy in the non-partisan studies & conclusions.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:14 pm)

    ClarksonCote:

    Exactly right. +1

    In addition to $TRILLIONS for military adventures, there are many other “externalized costs”. These include, but are not limited to, the disastrous health impacts of air pollution, particularly from diesel exhaust, the very serious health impacts of noise on people living and working adjacent to higways and busy streets, and the ever looming multi-trillion dollar cost of deferred maintenance on our street and highway system.

    That’s not even counting the urban sprawl typified by SoCal, and the disastrous land use and liveability impacts on communities of being cut up by freeways and arterial streets.

    The used to be a blogger here who called himself jbfalaska. he was retired military. He always said that, if you factor in the externalized cost of military adventures alone, the true cost of gas in the US is something like $10/gallon. Add in all the rest, and who knows what it really is.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:14 pm)

    That’s why GM should bite the bullet and make all light trucks 2-mode.

    It would save a lot of fuel and put them way ahead in the average fuel usage per vehicle.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:15 pm)

    I agree
    But what would you do with Iraq and Afghanistan now? Quit?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:16 pm)

    I am a fiscal conservative that hates the government getting involved in things. But they already spend a lot more money on things like making us get our healthcare from our employers (tax credits), subsidizing children (tax credits) and WARS (TRILLIONS), then the small amount I’m talking about to save our economy.

    The next time Demand(world economic growth) exceeds Supply (peak oil) we will see oil prices spike much higher than the $147 of last year. And we’ll be spending a trillion a year or more to import our oil. And we aren’t moving fast enough to deal with this. Certainly $7500 credits for a million EREVs at a cost of 7.5 Billion will do a whole lot more than ‘Cash For Clunkers’ (3 Billion) or any other misguided idea. With Cash for Clunkers we threw money into the economy but with no long term gain. Credits for EREVs, BEVs is a REAL piece of the long term solution to our energy problem. 10 million cars with this credit would cost 75 billion, a tiny fraction of what will leave our economy to buy oil over the next 10 years. This is what is called making an investment in our economy. Like building infrastructure. Much better money spent then just giving money just to give money like the trillions spent by OBAMA this year. This money will help us change over our cars before the next OIL shock (200+/barrel) puts us down for the count.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:19 pm)

    I do not understand why do you limit choices down to “raising gas to $6 – $7″ and “Price gas at $1.00″? This is ridiculous, how do you know what the price should be? That is what market is for, any other artificial price adjustments will not survive in the long run.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:21 pm)

    the guy above me suggested this logic:
    “who cannot afford the Volt or similar electric propulsion vehicles, can always buy a very cheap and fuel efficient ICE vehicle and /or a hybrid / electric motorbike or scooter”
    I am just appending last piece in his chain.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:23 pm)

    EVO & LauraM:

    Laugh all you want, but I read a serious study some years ago that concluded that, if overweight American drivers lost an average of something like 10 pounds, it would save a substantial portion of our oil imports.

    As an amatuer race car driver I have learned quite forcefully that it is a lot cheaper to take weight out of people than it is to take it out of cars.

    Now that I think about it, how about a gov’t program to incentivize drivers to lose weight? Don’t panic, just kidding, LOL. I think. Or maybe an overhaul of the health care system, with more emphasis on preventitve medicine, will help CAFE?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:25 pm)

    Business is more often the victim of government than the beneficiary.


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:32 pm)

    The war on Iraq is most definitely a bigger waste of money (and lives) but sadly, it was ol’ Bushy that bet his presidency on the war. Obama bet his on stopping the war; fixing the economy; nationalizing healthcare; and more… After spending or committing the U.S. to over 9 TRILLION dollars of debt, and not one of these things are fixed or improving… Who do you feel worse about electing?

    To put that into perspective: You would have to spend $8,523.29 EVERY MINUTE of every day of every year since Jesus Christ died to equal 9 Trillion dollars, or about $511,397 per hour. Obama has spent that much in just the first few months of his reign.

    But this site is about cars. I hope GM can get the VOLT on the road soon. That’s more fun to think about than all the reasons I can’t afford one this year.


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    Shock Me

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:34 pm)

    Nice. A Jim Jones reference. I suppose it depends on which side of the looking glass you live on, but it seems to me that many people respond to empty platitudes and unfulfilled promises from our current President. His hold over his supporters and their sometimes loud and violent suppression of those that disagree has more in common Rev. Jones, than the rantings of a conservative broadcaster who, by his own admission, is a clown.

    So back away from the keyboard. Learn to hold your leaders responsible for their action and inaction, and whatever you do DON’T DRINK THE LATTE!

    BTW it is NOT racist to prefer Black Cherry Kool Aid. mmmmm Kool Aid.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:35 pm)

    I don’t believe that it is practical to provide European (or Japanese) style public transportation on a scale that would truly serve North America. City centers are one thing, but what about the poor who live out in the country, or smaller cities and towns? All would be taxed for the benefit of relatively few. There are limits to what can be funded by taxes, and the US deficit we have at this moment is already far too high.

    Aren’t most of us posting here in the belief that the US would be better served through the electrification of private transportation? Didn’t this thread begin by speculating on the government’s proper role in that endeavor?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:35 pm)

    ;-)

    Captain,

    This is one of those points where we disagree but since we really have no idea one way or the other there’s no sense in fighting over it!

    That beer sounds good…


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    That would require an unqualified monoploy sized success story for “Better Place”.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    DonC:

    Don’t forget Afghanistan. It’s going down the same toilet, IMHO.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:41 pm)

    “The 10K units of the Volt due out in 2011 are a fig leaf and nothing more.”

    If you’re going to invoke a metaphor from the plant world, it would be far more descriptive and accurate to choose a seed rather than a fig leaf.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:41 pm)

    I think our friend Rashiid Amul was making a ‘funny’.

    I laughed!


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:44 pm)

    its just an example to give apples to apples comparison.

    But it also is something to consider for future BEV/EREV car owners.

    Currently when you buy a car, if you keep it for 10 years you may pay 22,000 up front, but over the next 10 years you’ll pay $5,000 for insurance, $5,000 for maintenance (Oil Changes, Tires, other repairs) and $12,000 for gasoline.

    So even if you pay cash for the car 22,000 up front, your cost of ownership has like 22,000 more over the next 10 years.

    If you could buy a volt for $30,000 with rebate, but save $8000 in fuel costs (including electricity), then you’d be in exactly the same position by financing $8000 and paying $22,000 down as you would be with your conventional $22,000 car.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:45 pm)

    If you didn’t have a job you wouldn’t need vacation! ;)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:49 pm)

    This is a true statement.

    In Europe $6 gas is $4.50 taxes to their government.

    In America $6 gas means 1.2 Trillion of OUR DOLLARS going to OUR ENEMIES. They would just start a war to get us to invade the middle east again and wring the last penny out of our economy.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:50 pm)

    Good grief, who would ever want gas prices that high? That means diesel is that high. That means your food prices skyrocket, your clothing prices skyrocket, and you goods that sit in a truck skyrocket.

    So, you might get a Volt (and lose money doing it for the next 5 years) everything else you buy will increase in cost making a $40k MSRP car even more unaffordable. Awesome planning GM! No wonder you went into a fascist version of Ch11.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:52 pm)

    This is actually for anyone reading this who owns a Ford hybrid:

    When you purchased your car, how plentiful were they; and what sort of dealer markups (if any) did you pay?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:53 pm)

    Tom,

    I agree! Go to:

    http://www.push.pickensplan.com/

    355 million barrels of foreign oil in August equal to $25.2 billion! There is where the trade deficit can be reduced significantly: GM must realize that total production of the Volt should be based on demand. Based on what we all see here there is a greater demand than 10,000 vehicles. The sooner we convert over to electric transportation the better. IMHO, I don’t see how the country can survive with gasoline going back up over $4.

    I live in an area where there are many truck drivers in my neighborhood. One of them, a friend, complained about the cost of diesel for his truck. he was hauling loads on goods to Houston and Alabama for FEMA. He said, if he doesn’t get paid soon, he would have to sell his truck. And his buddies were having similar problems.

    When, not if, the price of gas reaches $5 or $6, we can kiss the American way of life good-by! We need to be prepared for that day!!! That GM has been working on the Volt for years and will be releasing them for sale in November 2010 is important. We can thank GM for that because the cost of petroleum should be among the most important being addressed by this country. Congress will be voting on the Natural Gas Act in October. Pickens beleives that it will solve the problem in five years. He points out how China is working diligently to tie up world oil.

    Natural Gas is a temporary fix to our energy problem; it is estimated that we have 150 years supply of Natural Gas locked in shale fields around the nation. It is a much cleaner burning fuel than petroleum or coal. It is available now and can be used to power our big trucks while the current state of battery development will power our cars. Technology is developing better batteries and new energy devices which will become our source of energy supply for the future.

    As has been said in comments in this post, a gas tax, IMHO, is not workable means of lowering gas consumption here in the United States. It works in other countries because cars are not the only means of transportation and their gas tax doesn’t not have a hugh
    e impact of the populous. It will only make the pending problem worse when high gasoline prices return.

    I hate the gloom and doom scenario! But the writing is on the wall; the failure of GM can not be accepted as normal business in present situation. We need the capability of producing an electric vehicle, here in this country and now. GM is fulfilling that need. I hope that their sales of the Volt will meet the demand of envision and that GM will up that anticipated production!

    No happy trail to you on this post unless GM increases production beyond 10,000 vehicles come November 2010.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:55 pm)

    “ignoring the trillion dollars completely wasted on the war in Iraq”

    … or the greater amount spent on the “stimulus” which was largely wasted on pork projects.

    Government overspending is an equal opportunity disaster.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    Gas is about $2.50 in Wisconsin, FWIW.

    You can get a feel for what prices are around the country, by looking here:
    http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_gastemperaturemap.aspx


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    I was using the EPA and CBO scoring. The big difference is that the cited discussions were based on a theoretical bill that sold or auctioned the credits whereas the actual bill mostly gives away the credits. Big difference since if you give away the credits then there is no tax increase like they’re talking about.

    But, yeah, there are many moving parts so it’s a guess. It also depends on how you want the numbers to come out. For example, if electrical costs go up, do people use the same amount or do they turn off the lights? The CA example indicates it’s the latter but you can score it using the former.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:58 pm)

    Why can’t the goal of the Volt to be competitive @ low gas prices? Since you will never see high gas taxes across every state, Lutz must be hoping for high oil prices… that would destroy the economy even more than the statists have done over the last 100 years.

    People, it is time to face it and realize the Volt is a rich person’s car but made like a Chevy. That doesn’t equal success. It equals more tax payer bailouts due to further GM failure…


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (1:58 pm)

    This is the price you pay for being a genius and far ahead of the rest of us!

    But yes, the “+” and “-” ratings are frequently bizarre. No explaining the ratings.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:00 pm)

    It is funny how so many quickly demonize the oil companies but let the government run all over them. The majority of the problems we have today is because of a powerful federal government. I could care less if oil is the fuel of choice as long the fuel used maximizes my profit making ability for me, my family, and my future generations.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:02 pm)

    In the pic above….
    Is it just me or does he look like he’s lifting a cheek to rip a hot one?

    lol
    :-P


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:04 pm)

    Yes, you are right… but many here don’t care about that.

    I will say we face a great future fuel debate over the next 5 years. Hydrogen is making huge research leaps right now and has the backing of the majority of top tier economic countries. Natural gas is very plentiful, and electric cars have a few major hurdles left themselves.

    I like hydrogen because you can combine cars with house power systems to be nearly truly independent of a federally regulated grid and your own time.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:04 pm)

    . . . so, in 15 years, give or take, oil may start flowing from these new finds, with emerging economies growing over that whole time.

    It’s not going to be cut-and-dried no matter what they find under the ground, or in a research lab. Real markets tend to be very complicated, and none more so than the strange world of Oil. I predict that the road to vehicle electrification is going to be bumpier than some here might think, but I don’t think it will turn out to be a dead end like a few others seem to.

    It seems to me that the worst thing us “little-bitties” can do is sit in our living rooms and say: “There’s nothing I can do.”


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:05 pm)

    “That beer sounds good…”

    Speaking of, it’s miller time here in CA.
    SAKI bombs and Sushi today.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:05 pm)

    I wasn’t laughing. If we could get Americans to eat less, it would solve a lot of problems. For one thing, if you’re a normal weight, small cars are comfortable. If you’re obese, you’re more likely to want an SUV.

    But even aside from that, our factory based agricultural system uses a lot of oil to produce fertilizer, and to transport grain to feeding lots. It also emits massive amounts of various pollutants, and is unsustainable in terms of water consumption and soil depletion. Time magazine wrote a really interesting article on this last month.

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458,00.html

    On a cost basis, our bad eating habits and obesity epidemic are bankrupting our health care system. That was the point in the article I linked above. If we didn’t have to pay those costs, there would be more money left over for other things.

    Personally, I stopped eating beef about two years ago, and I buy organic whenever it’s available. But that’s hardly a long term solution. What we really need is for the government to reform our entire agricultural system. But good luck getting that through congress.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:06 pm)

    I have a job and I still can’t afford a vacation. Unless you count Hooters and a basket of Buffalo Wings.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:09 pm)

    So Tagamet , what are you going to do when gas hits six dollars a gallon ?

    Go out and buy a poor person a Volt .

    I can’t remember the last time I lost any sleep over a poor persons ability to pay for gas or anything else for that matter.

    The government should put a floor price on gas of $5.00 a gallon so that the manufacturers know what kind of vehicles need to be manufactured .


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:09 pm)

    You are correct, sir. — I still don’t get where they are coming from when they use that analogy. They seem to confuse “needing a high-mpg vehicle” with “being able to afford one”. Those two concepts are not interchangeable.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:10 pm)

    Oil prices are set by OPEC and the countries the oil fields sit in. OPEC doesn not directly equal BP-Shell-etc…

    When oil hits $5-6 a gallon every you buy deliveried by truck also increases in price. So remember that if fuel ever triples in value, so will shipping costs and those are passed right on to the consumer. Last year some companies had layoffs and other cost cutting measures when gas hit $4/gallon. Can you imagine the depression the economy would go into if $5 or $6/gallon gas-diesel hit? Don’t ever hope for such a thing. What about airplane fees? Military spending would increase because of fuel prices.

    Think before you type, the world needs oil right now. The point of the Volt should be to compete @$2.50/gallon not some depression level fuel price.


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:10 pm)

    God Bless America!


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    tom

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:11 pm)

    A ‘new’ find takes decades to get everything in place and get it all out. And the West Africa find was 200 million not billion, about 3 days worth.

    There is a lot of disinformation going on out there. But fields are running out faster than they are being replaced, thats a fact.

    Now certainly if oil prices climb and stay up there then more money will go into developing new fields.

    No one said we will ever run out of oil. What every honest person know is oil is going to get more and more expensive and we are in BIG TROUBLE. This trouble is masked by the world recession.

    But if we don’t start replacing OIL and fast we’ll have perpetual recession since the world needs affordable energy to drives growth.


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    Jackson

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:12 pm)

    I was just thinking that the pic made Lutz look a bit like a doofus. Any editorializing in that choice of photo, Lyle?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:15 pm)

    Hey, RVD; why so tense?

    Maybe you should consider decaffeinated coffee . . .


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:21 pm)

    Adding to my own post.

    There are plenty of what we would call ‘mid size’ cars in Europe that return excellent economy and comfort.

    Fiat Chroma
    Renault Megane
    VW Jetta (you knew that one already, right?)
    BMW, MB and Audi have small diesels as well.

    I have missed many others that would fit this size class.
    Most if not all run on small diesels.

    I’d like to have one.


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    Jackson

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:21 pm)

    “China is currently making deals to insure that has the fuel oil it needs for its economy.”

    And bauxite (the ore used to make aluminum):

    http://www.clarksons.net/markets/feature_display.asp?section=&news_id=26802&title=The+Logic+Behind+China%27s+Booming+Bauxite+Imports

    … and probably a whole lot of other industrial resources, too.

    Meanwhile, they threaten to shut down their exports of certain rare earths necessary for high tech items (including hybrids):

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/6082464/World-faces-hi-tech-crunch-as-China-eyes-ban-on-rare-metal-exports.html

    Wake up, indeed (Pickens aside). We’re asleep at the switch, as the Eastern giant prepares for it’s new century.


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    Shock Me

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:22 pm)

    Are you saying you can afford the mountains but not the valleys?
    ;)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:24 pm)

    And God and everybody know that Dan does!

    Friendly nudge!


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    Gary

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:28 pm)

    Gas in Canada, when converted from liters and Canadian Dollars is over 4 U.S. dollars a gallon today. Last summer, it was in in the $5 per gallon range.

    I think we need the Volt in Canada more than in the U.S. :-)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:31 pm)

    Hi Adrian.

    I think the goal of the Volt IS to be competitive in the market.

    Here’s the catch, the Volt has a LOT more parts than a ‘regular’ car.
    So its; harder (but not impossible) to get the price lower.

    The Gen 1 car will be bought by those who search out the leading edge at the higher price.

    I think the Gen 2 car will be priced competitively with the market and will be quite a success.


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    LauraM

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:33 pm)

    I agree that truly effective public transportation system would cost more than we can afford to spend right now, or maybe ever. And building one that could replace cars completely in the United States is basically impossible in the United States (or anywhere for that matter.).

    But high gasoline prices will also incentivize people to live closer to their offices. They may move out of houses and into apartments and into communities that have public transportation (or can be served by public transportation). The public transportation will improve and then more people will move there in order to take advantage of it. It’s a “virtuous cycle.”

    Of course, this won’t replace cars or eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. The more public transportation we have the better, it’s not an all or nothing thing.

    And, yes electricifying private transportation is why we’re all here. And, yes, it will make things better. But that takes time. And subsidies as well. But investing in BEVs doesn’t mean we don’t also need more good public transportation!

    At the end of the day, there is no free lunch. But if we do nothing, gasoline prices are eventually going to go up anyway. By taxing it in the meantime, we smooth the transition. And incentivise all investments in alternatives–electric cars and public transportation. This way we don’t have a crisis every time we run into an oil shock. It also helps us prepare for when we finally do hit peak oil. Whether that’s 1 year from now or 30 years from now, it’s going to happen eventually if we don’t take preventative measures.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:33 pm)

    I agree. It is definately not for the “Masses” or as we call “Pat Q Public”.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:34 pm)

    This is even better, too bad North America isn’t likely to get it:

    http://jalopnik.com/5361693/euro+spec-chevy-cruze-gets-a-second-diesel-engine


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    MuddyRoverRob

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:35 pm)

    Laura for Prez!


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    Jackson

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:38 pm)

    “No-name!” You’re very late!!

    Toyoda-san called, and said you aren’t being paid for today.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:40 pm)

    If utilitarian little transportation-appliances full of techno-gadgets are cool, than I am one cool guy! :-)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:44 pm)

    Hopefully, GM will keep prices down for it’s upcoming Cruze and Spark models, which do not use the expensive electric technology. If HCCI pans out, it will have immediate mileage benefits for relatively little initial investment.

    It is going to take quite a bit of time for electric anything to get below $20K to purchase, batteries included.

    NO EVO, I do not include an electric scooter or motorcycle in “anything.”


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:46 pm)

    When did you ever meet a Democrat who won’t raise your taxes and then spend it …and more? Raise gas taxes and they will just SPEND it on some useful (?) left wing cause.

    Like save the endangered Lousewort? Or save the temperature from climbing a half degree in 2200 AD.

    All for a mere tax increase of another Trillion or two of Taxes today


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:46 pm)

    Don’t the fuel cell and the ICE require fuel from a non-preferred source?

    I get that the ICE has some startup and cool-down time, but working its duty-cycle into the control algorithm is a separate from avoiding the use of the ICE as much as possible….

    I don’t get why Nasaman thinks that separating hydrogen from ethanol onboard the vehicle matters in any sense broad enough to say “hydrogen economy”. I still put ethanol in the tank, right, and CO2 still comes out of the exhaust — so how is ethanol->hydrogen->power different from just burning the ethanol in an ICE?


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    CaptJackSparrow

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:49 pm)

    After reading a few posts, Adrian’s especially, I recall back when gas was $4/gallon in the news about how grocery prices of Milk an stuff had to go up because of fuel prices. It was all over the news. Now when the gas prices dropped, did the prices for groceries drop too? I highly doubt it.
    I think higher gas prices will cripple our economy whether it was artificially inflated by state/fed taxes or if OPEC balooned the prices.
    GM should not even consider fuel prices as any form of metrics for the Volts success. What makes a success is a qulity product that delivers what it indends to.


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    Van

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:49 pm)

    Completely Off Topic:

    It has been reported that the Plug-in Prius has a 4.5 kWh battery. No word yet on the size of the gas tank.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:57 pm)

    There have been, within the past couple of years, “huge” new finds; one off the coast of Brazil:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=aBUoYKhu7PWk&pid=20601086

    … and another in the Gulf of Mexico (which has recently been called into controversy, read article for details):

    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/20140

    This does not in any way mitigate what you said, tom; but it does show that we are not talking in simple graphs, here. We can generalize about the future of oil prices and supplies, but the detailed future is likely to be much more complex.

    The real trouble with oil in the next several decades is not it’s true reserves or costs, but it’s volatility. I think many will make a personal case for EREVs and BEVs based solely on insulation from the unexpected.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (2:58 pm)

    “the Volt has a LOT more parts than a ‘regular’ car.
    So its; harder (but not impossible) to get the price lower.”

    That’s why GM should come out with a BEV version the same time. Just ommit the Gensest and allow a deeper DOD for a 100mpc.
    There should’ve been two products BEV & EREV.


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    James

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:03 pm)

    How is GM thinking the Volt is “a car for most people”?

    The average US salary is $48,023

    If you consider the general financial rule that you shouldn’t buy a car that cost in total more than 1/3 of your annual salary: that means a car that costs $15,800.

    The minimum priced Volt is 153% higher priced that what most people can afford. There is a very small percent of the population that can afford a Volt.


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    GM Volt Fan

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:03 pm)

    $32,000 (after tax credit) for the Volt in 2011 is not that bad for a car with all new technology. Of course, the Volt would be a SMASH hit if they somehow got the price down to $28,000 or less though. A Toyota Prius with a good option package is around $27,000 or so. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the government bring back “Cash For Clunkers” in 2011 … especially if gas prices are surging over $4 a gallon then. Then you could buy your 2011 Volt for $27,500. The first 10,000 Volts would probably be PRE-sold before some people even get to test drive one. :)

    In 2011, cars like the Volt are going to be like HDTVs in the early 2000s. The “lucky people” with a little extra money will buy them and everyone they know will want to check it out and start saving up for one.

    There should be PLENTY of people in 2011 who will want to grab one of the initial 10,000 Volts that come off the assembly line. Especially if the Volt is getting excellent reviews from the automotive press and the usual reviewers like Consumer Reports, JD Power, etc.

    That’s why I keep coming back to this blog every day or two. I want the Volt to be a smash hit right from the beginning. A really good all around vehicle that just happens to run on electricity and uses very little gas at all unless you drive on long trips every day.

    I want GM to work HARD on Volt 1.0 so that there is a big surge of enthusiasm and momentum for electric drive vehicles. I want people to be bragging about how nice their new 2011 Volt is. If the first Volt model is a hit, then it’s “surf’s up” for electric drive cars for probably the next 10-20 years. LOTS of growth like we’ve seen with the Internet in the last 15 years or so.

    Unlike our health care issues which we never seem to resolve, we’ll actually be DOING something about our problems of being dependent on foreign oil from petrodictators and fat cat Middle East oil sheiks. We’ll be DOING something to deal with our environmental problems. It’ll be nice to know that your 2011 Volt which you enjoy because it’s a good product will ALSO be helping to solve these other societal problems at the same time just by buying one and driving it.

    You’re helping the auto industry EVOLVE sooner rather than later. Cars like the Volt are like the Model T that helped us leave the horse and buggy behind. I can’t imagine commuting into town every day looking at a horse’s arse and seeing crap all over the streets like back then. Progress is a GOOD thing.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:06 pm)

    They could make them in China and sell them for $23,000 in USA and make money from every sale .
    Oh no , we dont want to buy a foreign car made in China , we would sooner buy a car from Korea or Japan . Yea , that is real smart thinking . (They are going to be built in China but not exported to USA , just to Canada)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:06 pm)

    “I think the Gen 2 car will be priced more competitively with the market and will be quite more of a success.”

    FTFY

    IMO it will take until Gen III or later for Volt to competitive on a strict cost basis. That’s not to say that things won’t continue to improve, allowing more people to buy them.


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    Amazed

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:08 pm)

    Your math is a little too simple “pays $20,000 for a Volt and gets a second mortgage for $12,500 for 10 years at 6% yielding a Monthly $138.78 payment.” So what do you tell the dealer? I’ll pay you $32,500 now for that $40,000 car, please bill the gov’t for the extra $7,500. Let me know what dealer accepts that deal, they’ll get my business too.


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    LRGVProVolt

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:11 pm)

    It’s the ‘dysfunctional’ government, that made it possible for the GM corporation to survive. If the Volt is a success that allows GM to regain its former world leading automoltive position, it will because of Stimulus package. Without government intervention there would be no GM!


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:12 pm)

    The prices certainly didn’t drop in my grocery store!

    I DO see why GM see’s fuel prices as a factor in the success of the Volt though.

    Really, for any super efficent car to be well received there needs to be a push to make people to WANT it.

    The Prius is selling fast right now because of the fuel ‘scare’ last year. If gas prices were to stay low for a couple years demand for it would ‘tank’.

    The Volt will arrive too late to ride the ‘green sales wave’ of the previous oil run up but it may well be in place in the market in time for the next one.

    GM’s real challenge IS the sales price of the car.
    I’d personally save about $100 in fuel a month with a Volt which I would see as an offset to the ‘car’ payment.

    However, the lower the sticker on the car the better it will be for adoption of the car by “Pat Q Public”.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:18 pm)

    I agree that the war on Iraq was a huge waste of money and, worse, lives. I also think that George W. Bush was one of the worst presidents we ever had. He may even have been the worst–it’s hard to say.

    But you can’t use that to justify every expenditure that the US goverment makes from now to eternity. I happen to think that rescuing GM was a national necessity. And I’m still hoping that it will turn out to have been a good investment for our future. But that’s not the point. Every expenditure has to be evaluated on its own merits.

    Our fiscal situation is what it is. It doesn’t matter what (or who) got us here. What matters is what we’re going to do to rectify the situation. Personally, I’m hoping that we can invest our way out of it. The Volt will, hopefully, be part of that…


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:18 pm)

    That is a very sound and wise rule to live by.

    Thank the gods very few people live by it or the car dealers would all go out of business, followed by GMAC, Chrysler & Ford Motor Credit.

    The entire finance industry was created so people could buy what they desire without having saving for it, and millions are employed because of it.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:21 pm)

    It’s all going to be a process.

    First, stop being so dependant on oil and send money offshore that, unfortunately, support terrorism. Without means ($), terrorists couldn’t do much to harm us.

    At this time, leaving Irak and Afghanistan would be a mistake. We must live with the unwise prior decisions. But we must learn and not repeat that same mistake again.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:23 pm)

    There you go!

    A diesel Cruise!

    I’d like to see that one up close…

    Give us a try in Canada GM!
    People will buy!


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    Jackson

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:24 pm)

    Hydrogen?!

    Oh, the Humanity!!!


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    stas peterson

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:37 pm)

    When have you ever met a Democrat elitist who isn’t happy to raise taxes, and then spend it all… and More.

    When have you ever met a Democrat elitist who is willing to terminate a government program either because its a success and no longer needed; or a failure that didn’t solve the problem that it was created for?

    Government programs are Forever.

    Cap & Tax is a method to re-invigorate the sale of toilet paper “derivative securities” that is based on the intrinsic value of nothing but Air. The creators of and traders of “derivative security” toilet paper, all Democrat elitist political insiders, who raped the Wall Street governmental organizations that they got themselves appointed to head, but paid lots of protection money to elite Democrats,while creating the Great Recession.

    This Recession was precipitated by the collapse of toilet paper “derivative securities” of securitized mortgages, with the gangsters safely protected in the bowels of the White House, as “advisors” instead of being prosecuted like Enron leaders were.

    Now they want a repeat. Of course, doubling or quadrupling the price of electricity will CERTAINLY help to convert to electric cars, won’t it?

    What a perfect government program that supposedly discourages CO2, but actually encourages more CO2, for them to complain about our greed to use CO2 generating vehicles…


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:38 pm)

    Super-capacitors are being used now to store the recovered electrical energy upon deceleration or stopping of the vehicle. Then the energy is used when the vehicle speeds up. The need for a battery is eliminated.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:38 pm)

    Come now… everything BUT wages have gone up over the last ten years.

    It’s rediculous to demonize GM for a systemic problem.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:40 pm)

    You are right on the money!

    I have been saying the gen 2 Volt needs to be $28k for a while now.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:41 pm)

    A bitter truth, for sure. It would be the “one thing not like the others” in my comment; assuming that your “IF” is correct (which is what we all hope).

    In fact, the future is not written. Let’s hope that this is the ‘exception that proves the rule,’ rather than yet another example of the truism that government does nothing well (which is why it should do as little as possible).

    Or, if you prefer,

    “That government is best which governs least” — Thomas Paine


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:48 pm)

    Washington, D.C. is the place where the rich young folk are gathering. This might be the reason why for see all those V6 models. They have the money to spend so why not. I think they should be looking more to the future but then again we are Americans.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:49 pm)

    Well, in my case it went down for me, income that is.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:51 pm)

    LRGV
    There wouldn’t be a GM, but there WOULD be a Volt. Some enterprise would snatch it up and carry the ball down field.

    Overall, my views are pretty close to Jim I’s and Jackson’s. That and $6 will get you a gallon of tax supported er, coffee.

    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:52 pm)

    I think it’s clear that while Bush was no genius, the earnest and soulful JImmy Carter is the worst of our post-world war 2 Presidents. His mishandling of the mid-east (and especially Iran) is still delivering pain to us today.

    Invading Iraq twice outlines the failure of the collective security that is the chartered purpose of the United Nations. That the UN was subsequently subverted by oil money just adds insult to injury.

    The great Iraqi nuclear bluff was only necessary as a counter to its powerful Iranian neighbor. The fact we couldn’t take the chance that it WAS a bluff, will leave the new Iraqi regime vulnerable to nuclear threats from its neighbor once Iran finishes its own atomic device.

    IMHO, Jimmy Carter was the author of ALL of it.

    But in fairness, not one of the succeeding administrations did anything to respond effectively to the starkly demonstrated strategic vulnerability of our dependence on oil.

    With a portion the money spent on war and entitlement programs since 1973, we could have had a Volt or Tesla in every garage for a decade now. And GM could have had a HUGE piece of that pie.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:53 pm)

    ” Unless you count Hooters and a basket of Buffalo Wings.”

    Hmmm….
    I take too many vacations.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:58 pm)

    I honestly think the BEV market is much smaller than the EREV market, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

    Most of the cost is of course in batteries and other electric drive stuff so I’m not sure how much would be saved by going BEV.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (3:59 pm)

    No generalization without representation — that’s what I say! … no, wait. That was the other guy. ;-)

    But seriously.

    I think we have all been taking the article as “Bob sez gas has to be uber expensive for the Volt to work,” when in fact, he said gas would have to be $5 – $6 a gallon to for voltec to be generalized … as in made a brand-wide commodity. As in making an EREV option for every model. Hey, there’s as much evidence for that interpretation as some I’ve been reading, here.

    Looked at in this way, Lutz is, if anything, a bit optimistic.

    Optimistic!

    Imagine that.


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    CaptJackSparrow

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:01 pm)

    I wonder how much of the rebate the new Prius Van mentions will be allowed. Anyone recall how the formula went? The Saki bombs at lunch have numbers twirling around in my head.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:02 pm)

    FYI – Lutz flies around the Detroit area in a gas turbine helicopter. When he’s not out flying his little Alpha jet.


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    Tagamet

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:04 pm)

    LauraM,
    Then you’ll need to cut back on that electricity use.

    Everyone: Nice healthy and civil discussion of a potentially incendiary topic.
    Congrats! I love this place.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:04 pm)

    The Prius is selling because it’s here….lol.

    I talked to a few 2010 owners and they said it is much stronger and “spunkier” than las model. I also asked them how musch they paid an it averaged $31K.
    Funny, where the hell is the $22,000.00 version they say it starts at? I have yet to see one. Does it exist? I dunno……


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:05 pm)

    This is such basic money managment that I didn’t think I had to answer it.

    Ideally you buy the car in December and get your refund in March. But if you can’t handle the loan to yourself for a few months, then you might have to plan this in advance.

    Lower your Federal Withholding starting in January and save up the unpaid taxes towards buying your car later in the year. That way you can borrow the money from Uncle Sam who will just tell you to keep the loan when you do your taxes the following year.

    The bigger problem is folks that don’t pay $7500 in federal taxes in a year, it seems this subsidy is just for the rich. I think it should be a $7500 credit to the manufacturer. They didn’t make the cash for clunkers folks wait till the following year to get their $4500.

    This all might change in the 2 years before there are enough of these cars out there to actually buy. Hopefully by then gas isn’t already over $5 a galllon


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:06 pm)

    The need for a battery is eliminated. <<<Not entirely. Just as with an ICE, the traction motor power demand fluctuates dramatically. If the fuel cell were sized to supply large “spikes” in electrical current demand rather than average demand it would be much larger & more costly. A large-enough battery and/or super- capacitors reduces the cost & size of the fuel cell needed just as it reduces the size/cost of the Volt’s ICE.


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    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:07 pm)

    EVO,
    Don’t be offended by a single “vote” here and there. The trolls sweep through and give all my remarks a minus one from time to time. It doesn’t hurt.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Jackson

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:09 pm)

    statik for veep! No wait, was he born in Canada?


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:14 pm)

    Oil is going up fast and soon (next few years) and there isn’t anything to stop it other then keeping the world in a deep recession.

    Thats why we need to deal with these problems not hope they go away.

    Electric cars, Renewable energy is part of the solution.

    So is Natural Gas powered Semis, and replacing fuel oil in homes.

    We’ll also need to use trains more.

    Planes are SOL, and the military will just have to stop fighting overseas. but thats ok, we won’t need the oil any longer.

    We only have 2 choices, stay in perpetual depression, or move on and build the new economy. I choose the latter.

    We are talking 20 years here not 20 days.

    But moving 5% a year to replacing our ICE Cars and Diesel Rigs and building out Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Hydro, Nuclear will keep our economy humming. I thought that was going to be OBAMAs focus, not health care and Afghanastan and defending ACORN.

    We have a 20 year job to do and then our kids will have free energy and cheap transportation. Thats the world I want to leave behind.


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    LRGVProVolt

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:15 pm)

    Only in America, where the size makes a statement about who you are; where we drive miles to a mall to buy groceries, and clothes, etc; where we drive everywhere we go; where we are overweight because we don’t walk and exercise enough ( i.e. drive to the store, etc.). In Europe, they live in the city; walk to the corner grocery store, etc.,etc. Plus they are more conservation minded. Size inversion is at work. Even their refrigerators are tiny little boxes. They buy what they need to eat for the day at that grocery store that they walk to daily. Our society is based upon fast moving; fast foods; and the fast life. of course all of this does not apply to the poor and destitute who understand the principles of conservation. This is why we are consider ugly Americans by the rest of the world.:(

    Just look to the East: China burns so much coal in its factories that a concerted effort by others to curb CO2 will be meaningless. They are becoming what we were and are (ugly)! Look at the air pollution at the Olympics; at the polluted rivers running through their country. In their rush to change from an agrarian society to an industrial one, they are now the leading polluters of the world. they are insuring their future by locking up as many natural resources throughout the world as possible. The United States of America will be more dependent upon its own natural resources to maintain its current society. It’s time for American to become more conscientious about conservation!


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:18 pm)

    Honestly, Don I can’t answer your (good) questions (perhaps because I don’t have the clearance level or the “need to know” that I think Larry Burns must have). Most of what I’m GUESSING at here is based on Burn’s comments during his chat yesterday and my assumption that he wouldn’t want to look like an idiot in his parting shot with the media.*

    * See the footnote/link in my post at 7:58 AM above


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:19 pm)

    Nasaman,
    Are you talking about generating the H2 “on the fly” as it’s needed? Or would the H2 still need to be pressurized enormously to carry it onboard the vehicle?
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Loboc

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:21 pm)

    We have a long history of repeating the same conflicts over-and-over. Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, etc. I don’t see us getting out of the middle east any time soon.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:25 pm)

    This is what I hope for; let GM see what the demand is for the Volt. If the demand at the dealers showrooms reflects this belief, they can increase production. since the battery pack plant has a capacity to make 70,000 batteries, they can increase production to meet demand instead of waiting an year or two. AS they ramp up output at their plants, they become more efficient; the general overhead of factory operation is prorated over sales and cost of operation drops per vehicle. This is really how GM will show a profit: by selling more cars.
    What company would turn away customers? All the surveys hopefully show them that demand is greater than 10,000 Volts. It may be they will wait for the sure sign of more customers entering the dealership to order the Volt. They would be wise in the mean time to measure the potential demand. I believe this is what is going on with the surveys.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:26 pm)

    Are you talking about generating the H2 “on the fly” as it’s needed?<<<Tag, I honestly don’t know the answer —although what your question suggests is a tempting, hopeful idea. As I’ve said above, much of what I’m guessing is based on the chat Larry Burns did yesterday and on the assumption he wouldn’t want to make a fool of himself right before retiring (see the footnote/link in my post at 7:58AM above).


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:28 pm)

    Not to steal a reply from nasaman, but it is theoretically possible to turn a carbon-containing fuel such as methanol into hydrogen for a fuel cell (releasing CO2). Yes, horrors, the DEADLY POLLUTANT. The advantage, though, is that it’s so much more efficient to make electricity this way than burning it in an engine to turn a generator. Also, you don’t get soot, NOX, CO, SO2, unburned fuel fumes, etc etc like you do with Internal Combustion.

    There was, maybe 20 years ago, an announcement from Chrysler that a fuel-cell car could be made to run on gasoline (hey, you’d be able to find it, right?). After the laughter died down, they quietly shelved the concept.

    Historically, the problem with such cells was that solid carbon would end up deposited on the innards, gradually reducing efficiency to uselessness. Other commentors have recently posted links to research which claims to have solved that problem (but I wasn’t really paying that much attention and didn’t follow the links :-( ). Perhaps nasaman (or one of those other folks) could post that again for us.


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    Van

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:31 pm)

    Hi CJS, I think the formula is $2500 for 4 kWh, plus $471 for each additional kWh, up to a max of $7500. That would yield about $2700 for the Prius. Now if we assume the existing 1.3 kWh battery costs $1500, and the new lithium battery costs $750 per kWh, then the battery pack should add about $3200. Thus one would expect the PHEV would cost about $25000 (vice $22,000 for the non-plug in) and get at least a $2500 tax credit. I think a whole lot of folks will be able to spring for the Plug-in option. Time will tell


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    James

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:34 pm)

    No one is demonizing GM. Its just riduculous to make the Volt sound like its an “everymans” car or for the mass population, when in fact only the top 5% of wage earners can afford it.

    My only beef if that. I’m all for the Volt, as I happen to be one of the lucky few who can afford it.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:34 pm)

    What will pay the government dept off is the use of less and less foreign petroleum.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:34 pm)

    Keith,
    I’m more likely to buy a poor person a coat or a ham sandwich than a Volt, but the point is that I do so by my choice – not some govt fiat.
    Try it, you might like it.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    DonC

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:34 pm)

    If you look at the data the concern about the national debt is somewhat exaggerated by the nominal numbers. As a percentage of GDP, which is a much more accurate measure, it’s half what it was in 1950:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USDebt.png

    Two points are worth mentioning. One is that Bush and the congressional Republicans missed the opportunity to run up some surpluses by cutting taxes and going to war. That completely turned around the trend line which would have had the deficit at a very small percentage of GDP. Two is that, going forward, even this fiscally irresponsible action matters less than Medicare and Social Security expense (notice the divergence between the red and black lines). Everything else combined is no big deal.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:36 pm)

    Just because millions are employed in an industry, doesn’t make it good or right. History is littered with examples of this.

    I doubt all car dealers would go out of business if people stopped buying above their means. People still need cars, just not expensive ones. Let’s be honest, a $10K Kia will get us back and forth to work just fine, but we want a $50k Escalade.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:40 pm)

    nasaman and Jackson,
    Messages received and understood.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Jackson

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:48 pm)

    “Planes are SOL”

    There are at least three reasons to disagree on this point.

    1) Oil from Algae (if it works)

    2) Hydrogen is an almost ideal fuel for aviation turbines (if you can figure out how to carry it safely). LNG wouldn’t be out of the question, either (same caveat).

    3) Hate to burst your bubble, but the Air Force has been quietly working to certify artificially made oil fuels from coal for it’s entire fleet; from wheeled runway support vehicles to bombers (same oil making chemical process the Germans used in WWII).

    There’s hope for airplanes, yet (and armed confict too).


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:50 pm)

    I can live with those numbers as well as the 12.5AER we talked about in the other thread.
    I have low requirements. my commute is 9.5 miles one way and we have sockets in our parking lot. I’m a minority if you will.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:51 pm)

    I don’t think you can ever “invest” your way out of a hole. You have to look at both sides of the ledger — at both growth and costs. Looking at growth engines, I think that the Obama Administration is right to look at energy and education. But in order to be able to make those investments and not explode the deficit, not only is it going to have to allow the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire, it’s also going to have to contain Medicare and Social Security costs.

    For the overall economy, the two underperforming sectors would be health care and education. Those are two areas where we’re spending way too much money and getting far too little in return. Not surprisingly, these are two areas where consumers spend “other people’s money”.


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    Ray

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:55 pm)

    For the hypermiling drive…. 27 KMS in semi rush hour … also a large traffic jam…. average speed was 35 KPH in stop and go traffic on level to slightly down hill tarrain… So most of the time I was basically coasting and using light acceleration to keep up with traffic. As long as you are moving (in EV mode) … the milage rate just keeps going up and up !!

    As to the purchasing of my 2010 Fusion Hybrid… At the time of my purchase… there were 12 units available through the various dealerships within a 1/2 hour drive from my home.. Got the Employee discount… ($2400.00) off the sticker price….
    a 5% interest rate (less than my line of credit rate)


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    Geronimo

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (4:59 pm)

    The average price for a gallon of regular in the U.S. is $2.55 today.
    The highest state average is in Alaska, at $3.409, the lowest state average is in Missouri, at $2.259.

    http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/
    http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/sbsavg.html

    Your price of $2.15 must be in some County with one part-time cop and kids all home-schooled. Reminds me of my visit to Burundi… very low taxes, but you have to purify your own water.


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    LRGVProVolt

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:09 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow

    I believe that Lutz is just recognizing that the Volt will become the norm among vehicles only after the price of gasoline reaches such astounding prices that electric propulsion will be the only recourse. When the price was around $4, it made it difficult for all to maintain prices at their existing levels; everything became more expensive.

    I haven’t done a study of commodity prices to see if they have dropped back to the level they were before the gasoline spike, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they hadn’t come down to where they were when say the price of gasoline was at $2.50.

    I would bet that Lutz sees the day when gasoline will reach such high prices. I would go so far as to say, “He’s set you up so he can say I told you so!” Then we can all bow down and say thank you, Mr. Lutz. But all kidding behind, it will take the next few years to see if gasoline reaches $5 or $6, when it happens everyone will want an EV of some kind.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:10 pm)

    This doesn’t burst my bubble. I am happy with anything that replaces imported oil, as long as we aren’t burning our food (burning waste is ok).


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    Geronimo

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:11 pm)

    …or just allow Israel to attack Iran.

    That will have the price of gas at $7 or $8 a gallon PDQ.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:13 pm)

    MetrologyFirst writes, “As to “reaping soft profits from gas guzzlers”, GM is no different than any other manufacturer, period. Particularly Toyota/Lexus.”

    Bzzt. As I said, go look at actual SALES. Certainly, the crunch has shifted things but GM was HEAVILY tilted to trucks in actual SALES. Toyota sells more cars than trucks. Get the facts.

    “If I’m not mistaken, Are not GM’s cars and trucks, IN GENERAL, the best fuel economy options in their classes? I think this is true, although I won’t swear to it. Aside from the halo Prius, of course.”

    They are not, although GM likes to think so. Their “wins” are narrowly defined. And “aside from the halo Prius…” means what? The “halo Prius” EXISTS (where the halo Volt does not). The “halo Prius” has sold nearly 20K copies/month,. GM would like to have a “halo” like that. You can’t push it aside, Toyota did the work and got a 50mpg car on the road, in mass quantity. Toyota LEADS with the Prius.

    GM can’t touch the Yaris, either. So, why don’t you try, “aside from the Yaris and the halo Prius?”

    And on paper the Cobalt XFE (manual tranmission ONLY) beats the Corolla. On the street… check actual results on the EPA.GOV website. The automatic 1.8L Corolla (I’ve driven it, it’s a nice car) is within 1mpg of the much-ballyhooed XFE Cobalt. The automatic Cobalt loses to the auto Corolla by 6mpg.

    What’s the take rate on that manual Cobalt? 10%? Woo-hoo. GM’s sure doing their part to reduce oil consumption. Not.


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    Xiaowei1

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:17 pm)

    I’m Australian, so I do live under a “democracy” banner, thank you. Though Zimbabwe also has democracy, so that really doesn’t say if you have democracy written into your constitution, you actually live in one…. They have a great bill of rights too… whilst the US has not been denigrated to the plight of the average Zimbabwean, if you can never listen to criticism, you will never improve. I was simply stating fact – try and have something changed in the US, and there will be many groups with loud voices crying “tradition” or “don’t destroy our choice” (usually saying this with an alternate motive). If you have any understanding of democracy, you will understand it does not mean equal treatment for all; it should, but it does not. It is far from equal treatment especially when a minority turnout can still decide who the leaders will be. How do you think policy is made? Where do you think our legal system came from? They serve the rich because the rich lobby for change and employ people who actually understand it, and ultimately if you know the rules you will benefit the most. If you don’t believe me, try thinking about what it costs to just defend a law suit, or even to bring one to court. It’s not like Boston Legal where every other case seems to be pro bono and happens within a couple of days. It’s VERY expensive and can drag out for years. This is not justice, democracy, or the social contract serving the masses at a level one would expect from a system supposedly based on true equity.

    Don’t just say America is great because that is what I was told in school, look out the window and find out if it is true (i.e. look abroad and compare).


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:19 pm)

    Hey Jim,

    No deposit at all. I am thinking of an escrow (where there is not any danger to your assets if there is not a delivery.)

    It could be just a statement of “line of credit in reserve” certification from your favorite credit union or bank. No money goes to GM, but a letter of “credit available”, so to speak, where, especially for that amount of money, you are not at risk to loose anything, but at the same time, a letter of credit line reserved for that particular purpose in a very formal sense. That might be just enough if there are tens of thousands of them for GM’s execs and investors to consider for a decision for expansion or faster expansion.

    The higher you aim, the higher you land.

    Someone suggested I need a vacation . So very true. I was thinking that last night as a matter of fact.

    I sure appreciate everyone here. (Even when they are in a bad mood, it’s ok. Everything gets us to rethink some things when we need to reconsider something sometimes.)


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:28 pm)

    Hey DonC.

    Very real situation in the upscale Euro Luxury cars, and, that is for just the 12 volt battery. Definitely got a kick out of that one. Thanks.


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    Wolfdoctor

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:34 pm)

    I think the government should increase gasoline taxes by 25 cents every year for the next 20-30 years. Every penny of tax revenue taken in by the government should then be returned in the form of rebates to buyers of EREVs and BEVs. This is the easiest and least painful way of changing buying habits.


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    LRGVProVolt

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:39 pm)

    Seriously consider solar arrays on your house. The technological advances made on solar cells is making it competitive with coal burning plants. I heard somewhere that enough sunlight hits the Earth to power everything for a year. when solar installation becomes economical, it will be the rave. Free energy from the sun. Most likely a small dependence on the electric grid, say to charge your Volt overnight. Solar devices are static; no moving parts, and require no fuel of any kind. There broad use would cut the production of CO2 by practically eliminating the need for coal burning plants which like the internal combustion engine are inefficient energy converters.


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    dagwood55

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (5:51 pm)

    Since there aren’t any actual Volts on the road, yet, isn’t it a little premature to say that generalization of Volt technology would actually be desireable?


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    Koz

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:05 pm)

    Slowly raising the gas tax won’t hurt the poor that much, if at all. Everybody has the ability to adjust their use to offset slow increases, even the poorest of the poor. Carpool, bus, walk, move, switch cars, lighter on the gas/break pedals, bike/moped, combine trips, etc. There are a lot of ways to do it. This is mostly an excuse by people that tax haters and will never support any tax in any circumstance. The poor don’t generally live far from work, out in the suburbs. If the poor is such a concern for the people that fight a gas tax, then raise the minimum wage the equivalent of $100/year to offset the gas tax. This is 5 friggin cents per hour. Is that going to kill Walmart and McDonalds? NO, it clearly won’t. This is a lame excuse not to enact a stepped in gas tax.

    I agree with KDAWG 100% that commercial freight companies should be able to receive a portion or the “oil tax” back as a credit. They have options to reduce consumption too. Foreign oil is a shared burden that our entire economy suffers from and we need comprehensive action to wean ourselves off as soon as possible.

    The “oil tax” should not be budgeted into ANY government program. It should go straight to pay down the deficit. This is something that we will all benefit from in the long term. If the deficit goes away then the tax will automatically go away but I think reduce gasoline consumption is much more likely to diminish the “oil tax” first.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:08 pm)

    How were your profits when the price of gasoline was around $4?


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    Koz

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:38 pm)

    DI4-Cyl engine tuned for Volt, 53KW generator, genset control, range extended control development, gas pump, gas tank, emmissions equipment, emmissions testing, 10yr battery warranty requirement in CARB states, gas tank, gas door/cap, motor mounts, NVH engineering/materials. Did I miss anything?

    This is about 400-500lbs of manufactured equipment, 100s if not 1000s of parts. This costs more than you think and certainly more than the distorted $2000 that GM’s Frank Weber latched onto in his effort to try to distort the argument.

    I wouldn’t argue that 100mile BEV’s are a smaller market than even moderately more expensive EREV’s, but they are a market. This market will grow faster with product understanding and benefit even more from each improvement in battery tech. GM can jump in quickly but they will have lost some in the waiting. They could turn BEV models around a LOT faster and this will be a missed opportunity IMO.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (6:55 pm)

    Could you afford a 52 inch TV when they first came out? But today they are inexpensive. Be patient as GM ramps up production, the price will come down where it is affordable for most people. And on the other hand, it may be the only car anyone can afford when the cost of gasoline skyrockets.


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    CorvetteGuy

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:14 pm)

    Jim,

    I’ve got a nice 21-speed bicycle that will get me to work too, but that’s not what I want to drive. Sure, I would be healthier, but as Billy Crystal used to say on Saturday Night Live: “it is better to look good than to feel good…. You look marvelous!”


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    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:27 pm)

    Xaio
    Wow, nice rant. I said warts and all and that’s what I meant. How’s that gun control working out for you down under? I could sit and pick apart your statements , but I’m certain you’d be unmoved and it would waste my time.
    Thanks for your kind concern for our country and have a nice day.
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Timaaayyy!!!

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:39 pm)

    DonC said: “People buy cars for many reasons.”

    YES!!! GM sounds like they haven’t yet figured out the Volt’s product positioning–they better not market the Volt on operating cost benefits alone. It’s currently a $35k-$45k vehicle, and needs to be marketed as such. Entry level luxury cars and many SUV’s are in the same price category as the Volt, and THEY often have huge differences in appeal. The Volt can, too. Will rely on a change in consumer perception of what’s valuable, though, which is always a bit of a gamble and will take some time, but that’s ok, since Prius sales help confirm that ‘the times they are a-chang’n', and production volume will take some time to ramp up, anyway.

    I wonder if GM should have added a bit more traditional luxury–even ‘basic’ SUV’s that are up in that price category have some of the luxury trappings, probably because $40 grand requires at least some of it, even with other literally giant benefits.

    Also nice that GM will have more diversification in their product portfolio–if gas reaches those numbers and higher, they may have a ginourmous hit on their hands.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:51 pm)

    “Not to steal a reply from nasaman, but it is theoretically possible to turn a carbon-containing fuel such as methanol into hydrogen for a fuel cell ”

    Its not theoretical , you can actually buy these devices.. some of them large enough to power a building by using diesel with no actual combustion.

    Disadvantage of solid oxide fuel cells is that they run very hot, 500-1000 deg C.. so startup is slow, but this is ok for use as a range extender.. just make sure the device is well insulated. No platinum catalysts are used. Efficiency is much higher than any ICE genset..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_oxide_fuel_cell


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    Herm

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (7:57 pm)

    Ethanol made by biological processes needs to be distilled and re-distilled at great expense to remove water, otherwise it will not burn in an ICE or you cant mix it with gasoline.

    Fuel cells can be made to run very well on “wet ethanol”.. fuel cells tend to produce lots a lots of water anyways.


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    Herm

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:00 pm)

    its a closeup of a nebula, one of my hobbies is astro photography.

    http://home.att.net/~hermperez/


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    EVNow

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:11 pm)

    No need to fret. Peak Oil will take care of that. Jeff Rubin says $7 gas is on the way.

    That will lead to a recession and the gas prices will fall a bit.

    Then recovery happens and the gas goes up even further than $7 next time ….


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    Herm

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:12 pm)

    Volkswagen seems to have finally beaten down the American driver’s distaste for small diesel cars.. and also has achieved an economical but effective way to meet CARB pollution requirements… cost is not bad either, only $5k to get the diesel engine option. Check the specs on the TDI model.

    http://www.vw.com/jetta/completespecs/en/us/

    Personally I dont want one due to maintenance and reliability issues of Volkswagen.. these are not cars that you want to keep past 100k miles.


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    Dave G

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:14 pm)

    If gas does go down below $2/gallon and stays there for a while, this could essentially kill many alternative transportation efforts. Cheap gas scares away investors.

    But when gas prices go up, this hurts the economy in general, and high gas taxes on top of high oil prices would be a double-whammy.

    So that’s why I keep talking about a floor tax. If gas goes below $2.50 per gallon, add enough taxes to bring it back up to $2.50. Or they could do it for oil in general, say around $65/barrel. This way, when oil prices rise, we don’t have the extra tax burden, but when oil prices fall, the floor tax keeps alternative transportation investments stable.


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    Dave G

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:24 pm)

    The recession is over. The economy has grown for the last 2 quarters.

    Yes, we are still suffering from the aftermath, but the economy is relatively strong and growing again, and this was with gas prices of around $2.50 per gallon.

    So it seems obvious that a floor tax at $2.50 per gallon would not hurt the economy…


  332. 332
    Jackson

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (8:58 pm)

    The fastest-growing and most populous county in the State, in fact. Every State does not tax gasoline the same way.

    Statistics: A conspiracy to pretend that exceptions can’t exist.

    … I also get 3 cents off a gallon for using my “Kroger Plus” card.

    :-)


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    Jeffhre

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:01 pm)

    I think vehicle sales taxes and registration fees could in part be based on relative vehicle weight, aero drag and fuel consumption. Rebates could go to buyers of light weight, low drag, low fuel consuming vehicles. BEV’s would then qualify for the best rates and big energy users would pay for their higher external costs.

    Without being regressive, (hitting the poor and optionless worst) if it was started for new vehicles first and phased in for the existing fleet over time.


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:06 pm)

    Hmmm … maybe insulate it in a unit with Sodium Sulfur batteries which operate at similar temperatures …


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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:08 pm)

    Yes absolutely right $28K. Carrot and stick method will work best.

    Stick – All 50,000 on wait list refuse to buy until Volts are 28K before rebates.

    Carrot – Pool money together and send GM a check with a half billion dollars and a note that says. “Do it now!!!


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    Xiaowei1

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:10 pm)

    Actually the gun control is working out rather well, going by the number of robberies that DONT involve a gun. Domestic violence with guns is right down too. Can’t say I’ve heard of any violence with a fully automatic weapon either – genearlly speaking, if someone is shot in Australia or even has a gun draw on them, it will probably make the national news. If you REALLY want to get a gun, you probably could get one, but it would be though illegal means, expensive, and not really available at every Walmart.

    I don’t dare bring up gun reform with Americans – some agree, some disagree, and others would shoot me if I said guns help facilitate violent crime. I don’t get the gun culture some Americans have and you wont understand why I cant. So we perhaps should not touch that one.

    I will have a nice day, as should you.

    I will share one sentiment -LJGTVWOTR!!


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    Jeffhre

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:15 pm)

    Edit…If people can’t afford to buy new cars to avoid fees when they phase in, there are inexpensive modifications they can use to become exempt from new registration fees. ( http://www.lowimpactliving.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/aerocivic-600×4491.jpg ) :) :) :)


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    Tagamet

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:17 pm)

    Xiao,
    To that we can share a toast.
    LJGTVWOTR!!
    Be well,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get The Volts’ Wheels On The Road!!**********NPNS


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    Khadgars

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:18 pm)

    I live in Berkeley, and in Orange Country during the summer. The two highest populated areas in California, both with nearly identical gas prices.

    By summer time of next year gas will be well into $4.00, trust me.


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    vincent

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:18 pm)

    50 Plus MPG Euro Spec GM Diesel Chevy Cruz. Why not here?

    http://jalopnik.com/5361693/euro+spec-chevy-cruze-gets-a-second-diesel-engine


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    Texas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:20 pm)

    No, BP is building an OPEN network and wants many companies in the mix, to keep the prices low and the competition high.

    The other poster that said it would turn the current industry in it’s ear? Yes! EVs are cheaper to make, cheaper to maintain, last longer, use energy more efficiently, produce less pollution and noise. How does this sound bad to you?

    Also, the cost of EVs (cost per mile) will go down every year for the next 20 years or so. What about your old fossil fuel vehicle? Yeah, I have no idea as well. I expect a not-so-fun rollercoaster-like cost curve.


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    koz

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:24 pm)

    Sq. foot of pavement coverage too. For rush hour, in bumber to bumber traffic, it makes a big difference.


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    Khadgars

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:25 pm)

    Exactly, what needs to be done is a combination of increased gas taxes, increased taxes on the top 5% to not only balance the budget, but begin actually paying it off.

    Clinton did this when he first came into office after 12 years of Republican over spending and tax cutting that created more debt than the country had incurred in it’s entire history combined. He eventually balanced the budget and created a surplus for the first time in decades.

    We just went through 8 years of Republican’s massive spending and taxes cuts, a war that was never paid for that is just now showing up in the budget.

    People need to stop pointing the finger at Dems as the wasteful spenders. Almost the entire national debt has been accrued under Republican administrations. Dems are high spenders too, but they generally spend it on something here in the States, Republicans just cut taxes and increase military funding for war.


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    Jackson

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:27 pm)

    In other news, your mother wears Army shoes.


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    Old Swindler

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:31 pm)

    Bob Lutz is a guy full of crap, a 100% swindler, his reputation was terrible among engineers when I was working there. Now I am working in defense sector. Here is another old swindler, whose last contribution happened when Richard Nixon was the POUS. That is more than 30 years ago, when my elder brother just came back from South Vietnam. Nothing said here is based on truth, and everything based on hypes and frauds. Our tax money is funneled to fund this kind of third-class researcher. This swindler has NOT published any significant work for over 30 years. Check out what he has to say:
    http://www2.binghamton.edu/news/inside/news.html?issue=2009sep17&id=1


  346. 346
    Red Hat Gnome

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:31 pm)

    Two Words…
    “NO STUPID”


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    Jeffhre

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:37 pm)

    Black Gold,
    Anything found off the coast rules out “easy oil” by definition.


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    Texas

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:38 pm)

    Yes, we get our taxes other ways. Everyone pays. You don’t think we get our roads maintained for free, do you? The road fairy? Wait, that does not sound very good. ;)

    The point is, when the consumer is faced with that $6 per gallon and then has the CHOICE to pick the vehicle they wish to use they get a smaller more efficient car. It’s really that simple.

    If gas is $1 per gallon yet we are all paying for the infrastructure anyway, why not get the biggest, baddest Hummer and show how cool you are? It’s cheap, right? Well, actually, that Hummer cost just gets passed around to even the VW bug owner.

    That’s like putting a bag of candy in the middle of a classroom and telling the kids to respect their health. lol. OR you could give them a candy budget and price the candy just high so they don’t hurt themselves. What is the overall result? The kids are more healthy, productive AND less candy is consumed. Imagine that. It’s a win-win-win situation.

    It’s all about proper incentives used to move our country in the best direction so we can have the highest wealth and standard of living. Of course we can just let the Wild West mentality rule the day. Those with the biggest guns win.


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    Jeffhre

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:44 pm)

    Solar won’t be competitive with coal for a good long while. But using it in place of grid electrons beats the heck out of parking money in a money market account. If you were planning on using the money for fancy cigars, cheap alcohol and loose women, you’ll be way way ahead, financialy if not in quality of life :) Better for you to have the money than your utility Co.


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    Texas

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (9:50 pm)

    Adrian, the point is, gas is going to go that high, whether we do it or mother nature helps us.

    You are right that rising fuel will act as inflation. That is true. However, alternatives exist and more will be developed and used. Eventually, this helps us in the long-run.

    If fossil fuels remain inexpensive, like over the last 30 years or so, no alternatives are developed or used. Look where we are now. Imagine if we just put a tiny but increasing fuel tax on fossil fuel burning that started way back during the last oil embargo. If we then took that tax revenue to invest in alternative energy systems we would not be importing any energy today. It’s really that simple from an economic and technological point of view. However, from a political point of view, things are not that simple.

    You see, it’s all about the politics and power position and our current energy policy has little to do with technology. It’s a complicated world out there.


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    Loboc

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:22 pm)

    GM went through bankruptcy. All previous cost of development of the Volt was absorbed by the investors losing their investment.

    Even if they spent 5B vs the reported 1B, it doesn’t matter. They started from square one when they exited bankruptcy. (Actually better than square one since WE gave them a couple (lol) billion in loans which will turn out to be a gift.)

    GM is back to the point where the actual cost of production is the actual cost of the vehicle. R&D is water under the bridge.


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    LauraM

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:30 pm)

    I agree that they need to allow the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire. Personally, I would allow all the tax cuts to expire. And I also agree that we need to contain Medicare and Social security costs. We also need to cut a lot of other waste out of the system. Basically we can’t afford it anymore.

    But that probably won’t even come close the deficit. Much less start to pay off the debt. (Which I think we need to try to do.) Ultimately, we’re going to need to grow our way out of most of it. That’s what people do when they start a business. They take out a loan. Invest the proceeds. And, if it works out, they pay off the loan.

    As far as investment spending–yes, energy and education are great areas to start. Although I’m not sure spending even more money on education will necessarily help the situation. But we also need to invest a lot of money in infrastructure projects. We’ve been under-investing in infrastructure for years. And that’s coming back to hurt us. Right now, American labor is “worth more” because it has a great infrastructure to back it up. The last thing we need is to turn a competitive advantage into a competitive disadvantage.

    http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005/index.cfm

    I also think we should invest more money in public transportation, and in creating manufacturing jobs. Other countries are basically paying our companies to locate their manufacturing plants in their countries. We need to bring the manufacturing back here. And that’s going to cost money.

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_38/b4147046115750.htm

    Sidenote: Social security still pays for itself, and will for a very long time except that, of course, the government is “borrowing” the surplus, which means that as social security costs rise the government is going to have to find a new lender so that it can pay back what it owes the social security “trust fund.”


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    dagwood55

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:31 pm)

    Oh, I feel so put down.

    Not.

    Where I work, we prove something works before we put more resources into it. But, then, our aim is to make money.


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    Dave K.

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (10:33 pm)

    hi Don .. you get the point.

    GM would love to produce heavier 20 mpg vehicles and make lots of money doing it. The CAFE standards are forcing their hand away from heavier 20 mpg vehicles.
    The Volt concept started out as being a visually stunning vehicle. But, as GM moved forward things like cost, aerodynamics, cost, appeal to wider buying sector, and lastly cost forced changes. Mr. Lutz is not in the global warming camp. He is interested in developing flashy cars that make money for his company. The Volt is something NGMCO is uncomfortable living with and that NGMCO can’t live without.

    NGMCO could be creative with the Volt and find interesting ways to generate profit and low cost advertising. One obvious winner is a offering a Lutz Pink (metallic) special edition Volt. Another is offering several lower VIN number Volts in a gm volt dot com raffle. Sell 20,000 tickets at $10 each for a chance to own a new Volt. One raffle per month throughout 2010.

    *Must be registered at gm volt dot com to enter. With a maximum of three entries per person per month.

    Think of the publicity this will generate. Not to mention the 200K per Volt.

    yes we can?

    =D~


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    Geronimo

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:06 pm)

    Exception ?

    Burundi is the fastest growing country in its neighborhood, too.
    Only Niger is growing slightly faster in all of Africa. I guess their taxes are even *lower*.

    Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true.
    — Homer Simpson


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    Loboc

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:23 pm)

    The government does not do accounting like a business. Assets (such as buildings, roads, etc.) are counted as expenses (deficit).

    It’s not apples to apples.

    China is hoping (worried sh!^less) that inflation won’t wipe out their loans as well. That’s why they can’t get the world off of dollars as trade. Dollars will be worthless.

    If the USA totally collapses financially. The major consumer in the world. Everything is lost and everyone knows it.


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    Jeff

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:33 pm)

    I agree too…the answer to $5-$6 per gallon gas for people that can not afford a $40+K car is NOT an EREV…the answer is driving less. If raising the price gas makes things more affordable, please raise gas to $100 per gallon. :)


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    Luke

     

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    Sep 17th, 2009 (11:34 pm)

    How wet are we talking?

    They sell hydrous ethanol in Brazil, and people talk about “steam power” in ICEs when the steam expands along with the burning fuel — but the Wikipedia article says that Brazillian hydrous ethanol is 5% water and 95% ethanol (though it’s not clear if that’s by volume or by mass).


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    ccombs

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (12:02 am)

    I live in LA and it is $3.20 here. It was even more back in Silicon Valley.


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    Luke

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (12:07 am)

    I don’t buy those Japanese fuel hogs, either.

    It’s just that the Japanese vendors don’t intentionally make their smaller cars undesirable, in a misguided attempt to make me buy a bigger car that I neither need, nor want.

    So I can buy a Honda Civic or a Toyota Prius that the same size as the Cobalt (or Caviler, which is the car I was looking at when I formed this opinion), without looking like I’m a college kid or poor.

    The historical reliability of GM’s small cars is the other issue. The “perception gap” isn’t the problem — the issue is that my stepmom is still driving around in a 1998 Honda Civic with something like 200k miles on it, and she’s reasonably happy with the car. An apples to apples comparison of historical reliability would be to compare the 1998 Civic with a 1998 Caviler. Civic wins. The new Malibu is a johnny come lately, and a midsize car, and it wasn’t even out the last time anyone in my immediate family purchased a brand-new car.

    So, over my most of lifetime, GM wasn’t selling us the cars we wanted, and appeared to be trying to force us to buy what they wanted to sell. Hence buying the correct car for our needs, from a competing vendor.

    It’s really that simple.

    Hopefully the new lineup (especially the Volt) will change all of that. But since cars easily last 15 years, the used cars are the best predictor that us mortals have to guess what the shiny new cars on the lot will look like by the time we’re done with them. These reputations are made and destroyed over decades, not model-refresh-cycles.


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    Sep 18th, 2009 (12:26 am)

    Yes, but the transition can be painful.

    In the rural county in western Virginia where I grew up, most people drive 45+ minutes to their jobs.

    The apparently-sensible thing to do would be to move closer to work, even if it were just to shorten the work-day by an hour and a half or two hours. But a lot of these people have have century-long family ties to a particular area, and they’re often living on a house built on family-land. As you can imagine there are a lot of personal and economic benefits to living on free-ish land a few minutes walk from relatives who can offer child-care and other assistance.

    So, while I agree in principle that increasing gas prices will drive people toward efficient behavior, there is a subset of people who will continue to fight tooth-and-nail to keep the commuting lifestyle. And, given the resources available and constraints of their lifestyle, it’s probably the economically-rational thing to do.

    I don’t have a good answer, but I hope I’ve made the problem more interesting. :-)


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    Sep 18th, 2009 (12:41 am)

    Nobody seems to be talking about the volatility of gas prices.

    As a Prius-driver and a driver of a more normal 25mpg vehicle, I can tell you that the roller coaster is half as crazy with the Prius.

    Being about to get off the roller coaster for everything except road-trips is something that’s worth a premium to me.


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    MaynardKeenan

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (2:54 am)

    Very right! Just one example from the “country of cars” Germany (where I’m from). One litre of “super” gas (95 octane) costs around 1,30 Euros. That would be 4,9 Euros per gallon, which equals $5,87.

    Over 60% are taxes. And in my opinion it’s much to less – I still have a high power car and drive over 200 km/h (125mph) on the Autobahn :-)


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    koz

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (3:25 am)

    If lobying doesn’t have an effect, then a LOT of businesses are wasting many billions of $ each and every year. This doesn’t mean each lobbyist and each lobbying effort is bad or excuse politicians for making poor decisions based (or partly based) on these efforts. The reality is that it is a huge industry and does have great influence. And lobbying can take many forms. It’s not just done directly by dedicated lobbyists.


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    Rashiid Amul

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (5:42 am)

    Yes, my friend. I was clearly joking. I’m glad you found in funny.

    RVD, like Jackson said, relax man. I wasn’t even close to being serious. Did you notice the wink after my last sentence? :)


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    Herm

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (6:09 am)

    50-70% water is ok, probably.. you will easily do better than that on the first distillation pass on the fermented mash, perhaps you could even just filter it and really save energy and $$.. getting that last 1%-5% is the expensive part.

    Fermented corn will produce about 10% ethanol, fermented cellulosic stock will produce about 5%.. the rest is water and waste.


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    PeteVE

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (9:02 am)

    imho, i don’t think iraq was/is a mistake. i do think the reasons politicians stated weren’t the truth as to why we went there. the public can’t handle the absolute truth in most matters. never have and never will. i believe we went there to ensure american oil contracts didn’t stop. remember that before we went there, iraq signed up with russia and china and was about to cancel the american contracts. this would have put america into serious depression. you think things have been bad the past few years, lol, in no way were they what they could have been if we didn’t go into iraq and ensure our contracts.

    so the way it fell out was america went in and took over to ensure we didn’t falter on supply. and now that the funds for the military are lessening, so the funds are being diverted to science to get to a point where we don’t needs as much and don’t have to take over other nations energy resources. to be independent from other nations changing their minds on liking us or not.

    from a management view of our great nation, i’m proud to say, our leaders have done us a great service in our current path.

    (1) secure current needs
    (2) then work on making our needs change
    (3) then work on optimizations and fix what we broke in this process

    management of an entire nation is why this decade is where it is.

    +1 to our leaders


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    MarkinWI

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (11:24 am)

    It would also make American manufacturing more competitive, saving jobs. We may well have to choose between permanently higher unemployment, and permanently higher costs of living. Assuming that we haven’t exported our manufacturing capability by the time that our currency is brought to reality.


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    Texas

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (11:59 am)

    So true about the IOUs! lol. Reminds me of a very funny movie called Dumb and Dumber.


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    Texas

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (12:03 pm)

    OR, you can start two wars AND cut taxes. Yup, that works great! We just print more money. Do these guys take even one finance course before taking office?

    The Republican that just made that tax remark while not owning up to the past decade clearly represents the true problem of America today. Point the finger and run.


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    N Riley

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (12:42 pm)

    Good report, Lyle. Seems to follow the thinking expressed by many of us on this site in the past.


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    kdawg

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (1:15 pm)

    I would tax gasoline and diesel the same, but if your a commercial truck driver, you would have a way of opting out of this tax (insert whatever technology you want here). My idea was to tax personal drivers (even ones that use diesel) without taxing semi-truck drivers who are hauling items. This would help keep the cost of consumables down, so it doesn’t suddenly cost $10/lb for apples.


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    Tom Harwick

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (2:12 pm)

    Any time a politician tells you his plan will slash CO2 80% and end global warming, but not require significant sacrifice, it is time to be sceptical. We are dependant upon energy, and all workable substitutes (other than nuclear) are much more expensive than carbon-based fuels.

    So a painless transition, without resorting to nuclear, is a pipe dream.


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    Paul

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (2:14 pm)

    Lutz is paving the way in case Volt does not sell well.


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    DaveP

     

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (2:24 pm)

    Well, gas is definitely going up and the economy doesn’t even have legs, yet. Just paid $3.30/gal for premium (regular was about $3.10) yesterday. And that was at the discount place. :)

    What I don’t understand was months ago when gas was approaching these levels there was a lot more talk (panic?) about it and “would it hit $4/gal” and all that. This time gas is going up and I haven’t heard hardly a peep about it.


  376. 376
    Tom Harwick

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    Sep 18th, 2009 (2:40 pm)

    Volt economical at $6 gas?
    Lutz just started talking without doing the math.

    You can buy a $25k Prius and run it 12,000 miles on 240 gallons. At Bob’s hypothetical price of $6/gal, that would set you back $1,440 per year.

    After the rebates expire, you would spend $39.5k on a Volt. For the $14.5k premium you would save under $1,000 per year, for a pay back of 15 years or more.

    To get they payback down to 4 years, gas would have to sell for $20 per gallon.

    Conclusion: Unless and until GM gets the price down, the Volt will be a niche product.


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    Mark Wagner

     

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    Sep 19th, 2009 (3:53 pm)

    I’m glad the low gasoline prices in the U.S. and their impact on driving behavior is getting attention.

    The U.S. should tax gasoline and bring it’s costs up to the level that most of the world pays. This would immediately reduce our dependancy on foriegn oil and our global warming emissions. It would also create demand for better mass transit which over time would benefit lower income families (who might be hurt most in the short term by higher gas prices).

    Technology is not the problem. Consumer desire is not the problem. The problem is (and always has been) political will to do something unpopular, but necessary like raising the tax on gasoline.


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    Mark Wagner

     

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    Sep 19th, 2009 (3:56 pm)

    The cost payback for an efficient vehicle should not have to be gained over the 3 or 5 years that the original owner might keep it. The payback should be over the life of the car, because subsequent purchasers also benefit from the fuel savings and should also be willing to pay a premium for this savings. This has been the case with resale values of Toyota Prius’ and other efficient cars — especially when the price of gasoline is relatively high.


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    LRGVProVolt

     

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    Sep 19th, 2009 (4:24 pm)

    I bet solar will be competitive in a few years, not a good long while.

    Happy trails to you ’til we meet again.


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    Peter M

     

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    Sep 19th, 2009 (6:57 pm)

    +1

    I’ve often thought something like this would be a great idea. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    Peter M


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    Business Gas Prices

     

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    Sep 22nd, 2009 (8:16 am)

    This is a very interesting article, indeed.