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markallyn
11-14-2008, 08:02 AM
For you cyclists out there, here's the big question the country's facing:

Should we rescue the Big Three?

The Big Three, I mean GM,Ford,Chrysler?

Or let them go and use the resources for more green transportation such as what we do here (cycling)?

Mark

Attornatus_Oregonensis
11-14-2008, 08:37 AM
In a word: No. No more corporate welfare.

Arem
11-14-2008, 09:31 AM
I can understand your reaction AO. However, there are some compelling reasons that they should get a helping hand to lift them out of the dirt, as Gov. Cozine (New Jersey) was speaking about this morning on the news. There should be come caveats to the deal that force these companies to move towards more effecient vehicles that are not dependent upon fossil fuels. Which we likely will not see action upon until the beginning of the Obama administration.
Allowing this entire industry in this country to fail miserably would have unintended consequences. Certainly there would be more bicycle traffic potential. However, the fall of these companies would put several thousand people, individuals, out of a job and potentially collecting unemployment benefits further taxing the states in which they reside. Not to mention it would have a cascading effect upon other companies that depended upon the clientele of the "Big 3" to keep themselves afloat. Plastics, metals, glass, leathers, other textiles, circuit boards and engineering firms would inevitabley flounder and potentially fail with the loss of business demand from the automotive production companies.
If the government extends a helping hand, there ought to be certain clauses attatched to guarantee that go forward in a different direction instead of continuing to use draconic and obsolete technology and that the government gets a return off of future profitability as an investment.

On yet another hand, it may be necessary to have them vanish to give opportunity to allow fresh companies to emerge that will start out with alternate power sources for vehicles and while the people in the country may have to address some serious sacrifice and suffering, it would indeed encourage more bicycle-centric travel amongst other related unforseeable outcomes.

wsbob
11-14-2008, 09:56 AM
Not rescue the Big Three? Doing that wouldn't just put the pinch on obscenely over-paid white collar execs. It would devastate the livelihood of working class people around the world. The American auto industry is a screwy one to be dependent upon for your livelihood, but that's just the way it is for many hundreds of thousands of people.

Bankruptcy will probably mean major layoffs. Where's the work for all those then unemployed people going to come from? Bankruptcy itself is a rescue. The burden of the rescue is shifted differently, but it's still a rescue.

What could help to reverse the downward spiral for the Big Three, is if they produced cars that were truly advanced, superior in quality, alternative fueled contenders to the leading alternative fueled, foreign motor vehicle...the Prius. I suppose it's possible, but it doesn't seem likely. The Chevy Volt that's coming out doesn't exactly seem like a head-turner.

Richard Seton
11-14-2008, 10:01 AM
I also think they should be bailed out, but!

1. Let them file for chapter 11 first.
2. Have every Vice President and above justify why they should remain employed. If half end up staying, then we were not strict enough.
3. Remove golden parachutes. Full stop! I don't want my money paying rich people to get richer.
4. Be very critical of their operations. Downsize ruthlessly where appropriate
5. Union contracts, pensions, etc, will have to be changed. The big three have this huge overhead that the other auto manufacturers don't. (I never understood why big business was against a national health or pension plan. That would remove a big burden from most of them, you would think?)
6. Combine where necessary. Chrysler probably just has to go.
7. Tax payers money should only be used on investments that will grow a viable operation. None of the big three are viable at present.
8. Fund the bailout with an increase in the gas tax. Pay as you go. I don't want to increase our already huge debt, nor do I want to increase my income taxes. Let the folks who bought the gas guzzlers pay the bigger share of the bailout! We'll all pay anyway. At least there is some sense that we can change our car behavior while we at it.

(Sorry for the rant. I don't know what came over me)

Attornatus_Oregonensis
11-14-2008, 10:11 AM
And I understand your reaction Arem. I have heard this argument before, as it is being made ad nauseum by the talking heads on the cable channels. It would indeed be a big economic hit. But what I think you and they fail to understand is that not providing massive amounts of public money to these businesses isn't "allowing them to fail." They've already failed. Again and again. For over 30 years, they've shown that they cannot surivive without public subsidies. Bailing them out is simply throwing good money after bad. It's incredibly ironic that all those so-called capitlists who worship the market are not willing to admit that manufacturing automobiles in America is a business that will not survive alone in the market. I say take the massive amounts of public money we would spend on proping up a failed business model and give it to the employees to re-train to do something that is actually in demand in our economy, or to retire, or some combination. The notion that we either provide the big three more corporate welfare or everyone starves is a false dichotemy. Put the people to work elsewhere and let the dinosaurs go extinct.

biciclero
11-14-2008, 10:18 AM
Here's what I want to know:

I just returned from a vacation to the UK, where we rented a Ford, yes, a Ford Fiesta, loaded it with luggage, a driver, and a passenger, and toured the whole island. The gasoline (not diesel) engine on our rented Ford Fiesta got us a combined (urban + extra-urban) mileage of 40 (forty) mpg. Forty mpg. One more time: FORTY mpg. Not 40 kilometers per gallon, 40 MILES per gallon. There are diesel models of vehicles available in Europe that get in excess of 50 or even 60 mpg. This is in a country where citizens pay road tax based partly on CO2 emissions, so emission control would appear to be a priority, yet with whatever emission controls those cars use, they still get 40 -50 mpg. And, I might add, have way more power (i.e., acceleration capability) than my Nissan Altima.

<RANT>
Why, oh why have cars like that not been available in the U.S.?? Our own car companies (Ford, anyway) can obviously produce very fuel-efficient vehicles, yet Americans can't buy them? In the US, Ford gets its butt kicked by Toyota/Honda because the Japanese hybrids available in the US are the only ones that get mileage comparable to the gasoline-only European Ford models. WHY? Do we truly impose such rigorous emission controls here that all power is drained from our necessarily gigantic engines?

Not that I want to encourage more driving, but geez, if we have to drive, why can't we drive an affordable, fuel-efficient vehicle made by an American company?
</RANT>

Richard Seton
11-14-2008, 10:21 AM
Biciclero, don't forget, the English gallon is bigger than the US gallon.

However, your point remains. We can do much better with efficiency here.

biciclero
11-14-2008, 10:35 AM
I don't believe the measurement used imperial gallons, but I would have to check.

My recollection is that we could go about 300 miles on roughly 27 - 30 litres of petrol. That would be
300 / (30 / 3.785411784) = 37.85 miles per US gallon to
300 / (27 / 3.785411784) = ~42 miles per US gallon.

My recollection could be fuzzy, but I still think that the mileage our dashboard computer showed us was per US gallon. If anyone knows for certain that this is not true, then my rant is deflated a little. :confused:

wsbob
11-14-2008, 10:58 AM
biciclero, re; fuel sipping diesel's in foreign lands: read a fascinating article in...I think, the NYTimes 2-3 wks ago. Why aren't cars like the Fiesta you rented, available here in the U.S.? According to a Ford or Chevrolet rep quoted in the article, Americans perception of and interest in the diesel is such that a market sufficient to make distribution here in the profitable, does not exist.

According to the Big Three spokesperson, Americans consider diesel's to be stinky-smelling weenie cars; they won't spend their money on them. They'd rather spend their money on a Suburban (not a bad deal with gas at $2/gal again), or, out of an irresistible submission to trendiness, the Prius.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
11-14-2008, 10:59 AM
Here's what I want to know:

Why, oh why have cars like that not been available in the U.S.?? Our own car companies (Ford, anyway) can obviously produce very fuel-efficient vehicles, yet Americans can't buy them? In the US, Ford gets its butt kicked by Toyota/Honda because the Japanese hybrids available in the US are the only ones that get mileage comparable to the gasoline-only European Ford models. WHY? Do we truly impose such rigorous emission controls here that all power is drained from our necessarily gigantic engines?

The big 3 execs have answered this question. They've told us that the R&D required to develop this efficiency would put them out of business and that Americans wouldn't buy these cars anyway. Yes, it's total BS. But that should give you an indication of just how stupid they think we are. Because they know their whining to the politicians they fund will inevitably result in more welfare for their failed business model.

Arem
11-14-2008, 11:48 AM
I understand your position AO, that's why I also mentioned some counterpoints to the said argument 'for' helping them we hear like some advertisment jingle you can't get out of your head. Allowing them to finally vanish would have some completely different consequences as far as the future is concerned with employment, transportation and so forth. Their business strategy has been for too long to take an old product, slap a shiny new cover on it and wrap it in a bow saying "Look at this! It is COMPLETELY different from the one we showed you last year!" The 'for' argument is mainly to continue the same path we are have been travelling for years. There would be some suffering all around if they simply vanished, for years likely, but coming out the other side of the tunnel may potentially be brighter and greener. Figuratively speaking...maybe literally as well.

The reaction is though to shield people from the potential suffering. It is somewhat a form of compassion; a bit twisted, but still compassion.
Hmm, I seem to have come to a philosophical conflict.

djasonpenney
11-14-2008, 11:55 AM
America has an obscene lust for the private motor vehicle.

If we remove oil and automobiles from the balance sheet, America is a net exporter of goods and services.

All that notwithstanding, I reluctantly feel that we should be setting up the Rust Belt for a soft landing, instead of a smoking crater, which is what's going to happen if the government doesn't intervene.

Starving people don't make good bicycle commuters.

Bent Bloke
11-14-2008, 11:58 AM
According to the Big Three spokesperson, Americans consider diesel's to be stinky-smelling weenie cars; they won't spend their money on them. They'd rather spend their money on a Suburban (not a bad deal with gas at $2/gal again), or, out of an irresistible submission to trendiness, the Prius.

Newflash to the Big Three Spokesperson: Americans aren't buying big, gasoline-powered vehicles much anymore, either.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
11-14-2008, 01:24 PM
Just to be clear, I'm not arguing that the government shouldn't intervene or that we should let all the good folks who have spent their professional lives building cars go broke. I'm arguing that doing the same thing that didn't work in the 70s, 80s, and 90s is bad policy and there are better ways to help people.

Arem
11-14-2008, 01:26 PM
On that, I completely agree. :)

poser
11-14-2008, 01:57 PM
if the all-mighty free market is so dang wonderful, why don't we let it do what it's supposed to do: punish, in Darwinian fashion, those companies not fit to survive.

The big three have proven time and again that they aren't interested in following the rules, they only like making them. They, and the Detroit lobby that they command, have been steering this country in the direction of giant, gas-guzzling metal sofas since the 50's. History bears this out: remember when seat-belts were introduced? They fight tooth and nail to make sure they were "options" instead of required features in every car - hired teams of social scientists to proclaim that Joe consumer would drive too recklessly if they thought there were no safety risks involved; but ultimately they were forced by law and public opinion to install these standard into their cars. These days, if you bring up global warming, they'll hire a team of mercenary scientists to call it a myth. (Did anyone see the CEO of GM on the Colbert Report hyping the new GM hybrid? He stated that global warming was a myth, but that GM was trying to service a sector of the market that believed that myth; then belittled them.)

They are allergic to innovation, thus, they should go the way of the dodo when the realities of a changing world render their antiquated thinking obsolete.

Other companies (Toyota being a fine example) embrace and pioneer new technologies. Precisely why they're an industry leader - and consequently not in need of corporate welfare.

You will rarely hear me sound like a republican - but just this once, I think we should let the free market do what it was designed to do. Bullying your market into thinking up is down and black is white is not a business model that can last in a real, free-market economy. It only works if we the taxpayers fund it. We just can't do that. I agreed with the $700B bailout on account of the tens (or is it hundreds?) of thousands of Americans that would have lost their retirements. I don't agree with this bailout. Jobs will be lost, for sure (before anyone points that out) but in reality, their being moved. Moved to solvent companies with real-world business models. That's how the free market works. Theoretically anyway (don't get me started on how it works in practice...)

...

Plus... single occupancy cars are so 1900's.

--

DogsBody
11-14-2008, 02:09 PM
You guys should see me rant on Softball Sites: The hardcore neo-con types hate me up in there.
None-the-less this post is probably the closest to what I would propose:
I also think they should be bailed out, but!

1. Let them file for chapter 11 first.
2. Have every Vice President and above justify why they should remain employed. If half end up staying, then we were not strict enough.
3. Remove golden parachutes. Full stop! I don't want my money paying rich people to get richer.
4. Be very critical of their operations. Downsize ruthlessly where appropriate
5. Union contracts, pensions, etc, will have to be changed. The big three have this huge overhead that the other auto manufacturers don't. (I never understood why big business was against a national health or pension plan. That would remove a big burden from most of them, you would think?)
6. Combine where necessary. Chrysler probably just has to go.
7. Tax payers money should only be used on investments that will grow a viable operation. None of the big three are viable at present.
8. Fund the bailout with an increase in the gas tax. Pay as you go. I don't want to increase our already huge debt, nor do I want to increase my income taxes. Let the folks who bought the gas guzzlers pay the bigger share of the bailout! We'll all pay anyway. At least there is some sense that we can change our car behavior while we at it.

(Sorry for the rant. I don't know what came over me)
I WISH the post below were true; but the fight against "Carnosaurus Wrecks" is still ongoing:
Newflash to the Big Three Spokesperson: Americans aren't buying big, gasoline-powered vehicles much anymore, either.
Let's be blunt: The denial Industry is going full-steam. And it is still being successful with what can only be termed as the head-in-sand-whitetrash-element.
And there are STILL far to many gas-pigs on the road.
-Even though factual evidence on Global Warming is being presented on a daily basis; there is still a large core of people that will not even listen to word#1 on the subject.
Theories as to the political motivations behind the "Global Warming Conspiracy" and how it is another attempt at Socialist takeover of the States abound; and the "Simple Man's" answer to it is to punch back by consuming/using as much as possible without any cares in the World...
Another issue for the big three is whether they designed a large or small vehicle: They were being out-classed in quality of engineering, and manufacture by every other Car Manufacturer in the WORLD (even friggin' Hyundai ffs); and people saw this.
-You guys must understand: I am a Canucklehead. We have just found out OUR Government has been approached by not only the big three; but Toyota, Nissan etc.
I have no personal stake in what happens to the Automotive Sector (I don't even have any links to it in my portfolio); but I understand the HUGE financial effect that we would feel if these businesses disappeared...
The thing that drives me NUTS is that Captitalism was/is sold to us on the grounds that businesses should only be viable if operated wisely:
Does anyone think that the present status-quo is being operated wisely AT ALL?
If I had my choice (which i know I don't): ALL the businesses that have BLOWN it in this economic meltdown should be allowed to die.
Why? Because for the most part it's THEIR own fault; AND they have been run by a bunch of crooks who have stolen from US.:mad:
(PS. REGULATION, REGULATION, REGULATION!)

djasonpenney
11-14-2008, 02:45 PM
Just to be clear, I have no sympathy for the Detroit auto industry.

They bought up the municipal streetcar systems in the early 20th century with the express intent of dismantling them.

These people brought us such...memorable...cars as the Chevrolet Corvair (of "Unsafe at Any Speed" fame), AMC Gremlin, Ford Pinto, and Chevrolet Vega. (Where was Chrysler during all this? They showed such a total lack of creativity that they just imported a Mitsubishi and called it the "Dodge Colt.")

During the same period of time that these atrocious American automobiles were being created, the Japanese stuck with a small number of models (such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and the Datsun 1200 (now known as the Nissan B210)), and spent their time improving quality, performance, and cost, while it seemed like Detroit was just playing with the cup holders and grille work.

When the fuel crunch hit in 1979-1981, the Japanese chewed the American competition into hamburger, and Detroit has never recovered, in terms of reputation, market share or technological prowess.

My only concern at this point is that the auto industry is the 600 pound gorilla in the Midwest economy, and shutting it off cold turkey will reduce the number of people who can afford to...buy bicycles.

We, as a people, need to figure out a way to redeploy this section of the economy into something that doesn't cause obesity, emphysema, lung cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and doesn't put money into the hands of foreign terrorists.

Sure, let's bail the auto industry out, but let's make sure the money gets spent in constructively dismantling the industry, instead of perpetuating it....

DogsBody
11-14-2008, 02:57 PM
Just to be clear, I have no sympathy for the Detroit auto industry.

They bought up the municipal streetcar systems in the early 20th century with the express intent of dismantling them.

These people brought us such...memorable...cars as the Chevrolet Corvair (of "Unsafe at Any Speed" fame), AMC Gremlin, Ford Pinto, and Chevrolet Vega. (Where was Chrysler during all this? They showed such a total lack of creativity that they just imported a Mitsubishi and called it the "Dodge Colt.")

During the same period of time that these atrocious American automobiles were being created, the Japanese stuck with a small number of models (such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and the Datsun 1200 (now known as the Nissan B210)), and spent their time improving quality, performance, and cost, while it seemed like Detroit was just playing with the cup holders and grille work.

When the fuel crunch hit in 1979-1981, the Japanese chewed the American competition into hamburger, and Detroit has never recovered, in terms of reputation, market share or technological prowess.

My only concern at this point is that the auto industry is the 600 pound gorilla in the Midwest economy, and shutting it off cold turkey will reduce the number of people who can afford to...buy bicycles.

We, as a people, need to figure out a way to redeploy this section of the economy into something that doesn't cause obesity, emphysema, lung cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and doesn't put money into the hands of foreign terrorists.

Sure, let's bail the auto industry out, but let's make sure the money gets spent in constructively dismantling the industry, instead of perpetuating it....
Good thinking here.
Funny thing: Germany is the first big western economy to declare "We are in a Recession".
-Germany (if memory serves: No time for web search) has become a world leader in renewable energy industry growth (I know their Wind Power sector is pretty damn big); and even with that "energy dependance shift" they have still run onto the rocks...

Tbird
11-14-2008, 03:32 PM
No No No No No

jgadamski
11-14-2008, 04:43 PM
I used to own a 1980 Fiesta. Here in Portland. the 40 mpg sounds about right.

It was peppy and perfect for my ( at that time) small family.

I miss that car.

Ford made it Germany( I think) and imported it here. it was one of the first 'worldcars'.

But they discontinued it here because it wasn't profitable enough. and the replacement we got, looking for fuel efficiency, got only half the mileage.

Psyfalcon
11-14-2008, 07:42 PM
I used to own a 1980 Fiesta. Here in Portland. the 40 mpg sounds about right.

It was peppy and perfect for my ( at that time) small family.

I miss that car.

Ford made it Germany( I think) and imported it here. it was one of the first 'worldcars'.

But they discontinued it here because it wasn't profitable enough. and the replacement we got, looking for fuel efficiency, got only half the mileage.

That appears to be the problem.

Profit margin on small cars is lower than low cars. American's still equate bigger = better, so small cars better be cheap.

Diesel is harder still. US regulations are different on those, and do make them more expensive. Remember VW being run out of the market by the CALIFORNIA emissions laws a few years back. Big pickups were big enough to not be included in the changes apparently.

So why can Honda and Toyota sell these things at a profit and Detroit cant?
1. Unions. There are forklift operators being paid $100,000/ year. I've seen hourly averages around $70/hr. Thats about $20-30 more per hour than the imported cars, and honestly, way out of line for the type of jobs most are. Similarly educated people in other sectors are making $30/hr.

2. Reputations. The imported cars are better, but perhaps not as much as the public thinks. Toyota had some major engine problems, Honda's ignited themselves in people's garages, and VWs are electrical nightmares. But they sell based on a somewhat better package, and much better reputation.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
11-14-2008, 08:26 PM
So why can Honda and Toyota sell these things at a profit and Detroit cant?
1. Unions. There are forklift operators being paid $100,000/ year. I've seen hourly averages around $70/hr. Thats about $20-30 more per hour than the imported cars, and honestly, way out of line for the type of jobs most are. Similarly educated people in other sectors are making $30/hr.

2. Reputations. The imported cars are better, but perhaps not as much as the public thinks. Toyota had some major engine problems, Honda's ignited themselves in people's garages, and VWs are electrical nightmares. But they sell based on a somewhat better package, and much better reputation.

Why can't Americans just face the simple fact that they make an inferior product? Is it "patriotism," or "national pride" that produces *DENIAL* of the fact that they have made shitty vehicles for 30 years and the market has made its decision? From the Plymouth Duster to the Ford Taurus, they're crap. From the first Datsun to today's Lexus, the Japs just simply make better cars. And when America wanted and *needed* the Prius, they gave us a Hummer.

It's time to stop rewarding Detroit's incompetence and irresponsibility and put those folks to work building the green energy economy that America needs for so many reasons.

jr98664
11-15-2008, 01:08 AM
http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2008/11/14/a-defense-of-the-gm-bailout

Other than keeping the workers employed, that's the only reason I could support bailing them out. We need to be totally revamping to companies with the money. If they need the money so bad, they should be willing to submit to finally making cars as fuel-efficient as possible. According to Sightline, improving a Hummer's mpg rating from 15 to 18 would save as much gas as doubling the mpg of a Prius. That's where the focus needs to be.

Don't give them the money to continue their failed practices. Use the money to stimulate the creation of the next generation of fuel-efficient autos.

Alternatively, if all they care about is keeping those jobs, somehow retool the companies and their factories to build the pieces of our future, low-carbon economy.

Or just leave them to the free market. It's not like we're communists and socialists now, right? ;-)

wsbob
11-15-2008, 03:07 AM
American auto makers don't seem to understand that though American consumers like big cars, they don't like only big cars. Foreign auto makers have consistently rubbed Big Three's nose in the dirt with the small car concept since the famous and deservedly well loved VW bug. That's because the foreign guys have always been ahead of the curve on the U.S. consumer's interest with respect to this concept.

Big Three auto makers have made some good solid small cars but they never seem to have one that's better or more advanced than those made by foreign automakers.

So we have the same situation today. Toyota has been steadily building a loyal market with the Prius for ...how many years now?...two to three at least. Chevrolet still hasn't got the Volt ready to go. Great. But even when it does, how many people really think the Volt is going to sweep the Prius, or its new version, which I believe I read is coming out next year, or, another even more modern, more exciting offering from another foreign auto maker?

The big three has to do more than produce small alternative powered cars. It has to produce small alternative powered cars that the American consumer will prefer, and buy, over the ones made by foreign auto makers.

I'm sure relatively higher American labor costs make it more difficult to keep retail costs down, but that alone doesn't explain the consistent failure of the Big Three to produce a car, ahead of the foreign auto makers, that is superior to foreign cars.

The big three needs better decision makers. How do you get them with a rescue/bailout? This notion of attaching strings to a bailout, forcing them to make 'green' cars, and so forth...Wonder what the chances of that working are.

Tait
11-15-2008, 05:30 AM
Politics... always guaranteed to get a lot of posts and plenty of passion. Try as I might, I can't put a bicycle spin on this, though djasonpenney did pretty good. (Well, Hummer was going to make bicycles...) So instead, I'll just cut the 900-word analysis and get to the summary statement: it's real hard to predict whether the public costs of letting them go bankrupt (lost pensions, health insurance, dealerships, tax revenue, ...) are greater, or whether the costs of saving them (trade auto company debt for Federal govt. debt) are greater. And that means it's a coin flip what we should do. With lame ducks in DC and an incoming Democratic flood, I'd bet we end up saving them, though.

Why, oh why have cars like that not been available in the U.S.??
We can produce light-weight, small, fuel-efficient cars, or we can produce large, heavy, 5-star-safety-rating cars. In the US, the market has demanded size and safety over efficiency. Foreign cars do well here because of their quality and features moreso than their efficiency. Emissions is a secondary concern everywhere except California (where it is harder to get diesel vehicles, by the way).

Their business strategy has been for too long to take an old product, slap a shiny new cover on it and wrap it in a bow saying "Look at this! It is COMPLETELY different from the one we showed you last year!"
That was true 10, even up to five years ago. It's not true anymore, but so many people automatically discount US car-makers that the change has largely gone unnoticed (much to the frustration of Ford in particular).

Germany (if memory serves: No time for web search) has become a world leader in renewable energy industry growth (I know their Wind Power sector is pretty damn big)
The world leader -- by far -- in energy development of any type (both renewable and otherwise, and wind in particular) is China. The US makes the most wind energy of anyone, but the rate of development is fastest in China. They correctly understand something that the US will realize only too late, that with high standards of living comes high energy consumption.

poser
11-15-2008, 01:06 PM
We can produce light-weight, small, fuel-efficient cars, or we can produce large, heavy, 5-star-safety-rating cars. In the US, the market has demanded size and safety over efficiency.

Tait - your repeating a myth that the big 3 created. Size = safety. That may not necessarily be true.

Check out this article from the New Yorker. (http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html)

Europeans think the opposite: smaller, responsive, more maneuverable cars are safer. You can skew the stats to support either argument, but I'm going to go with the Euros on this one.

Here's a quick, more articulate blog post on the subject. (http://bridger.us/2002/12/16/CrashTestingMINICooperVsFordF150/)

Most Americans believe that if they wrap themselves in more metal, they are safer. But too often it's not other cars you hit, it's stationary things (like telephone polls, guard rails, etc.) that you end up hitting. In that case, the large amount of metal becomes the thing that kills you as it implodes upon itself.

This myth is only convenient for the auto-makers who build large cars - and the big 3 have been all too willing to overlook competing opinions on this subject.

--

Psyfalcon
11-15-2008, 02:25 PM
We could debate the crash tests for a few days, but they do not measure accident avoidance. In a side impact test, we have engineering (mostly) and size (some) being measured. A large car might have more distance to crumple if it was designed properly. Notice the difference between the deaths in Avalons vs Civics (much of that could be demographic though).

The key part of the New Yorker article is where it talks about how people have given up accident avoidance (not measured by the tests but 3000 vs 6000 lbs should be apparent to anyone who has passed middle school physics) for the extra passive safety.

And to relate it to bikes, this is THE problem. People are so overwhelmed with driving that they choose large cars that are more dangerous to other road users. This is very much true compared with a bike. Incredible active safety. At moderate speeds at least bikes stop faster, could outhandle sports cars and have much better visibility than cars. We also have better road feedback. Unforunately we have no passive safety except for a styrofoam hat. Use your head and that active safety while you can.

q`Tzal
11-16-2008, 11:05 AM
The Government bailout now seems to include some controlling interest.

Retool the plants that are not directly profitable RIGHT NOW to industries that are in demand: Wind generators, solar power and so on.

The general consensus seems to be bailout on not the American auto industry has been failing a while. Should the workers suffer: no. Will the workers have suffer: most likely.

Even an unrealistic optimistic solution to this failure of our "Heavy Industry" sector will see massive job losses. Whether these losses are layoffs or retraining ultimately will determine how the economy will recover.

A simple infusion of cash will only help to encourage the Big 3 to maintain their policy of band aids over leaking wounds.

Allowing a complete collapse of the Big 3 will most likely cause the immediately collapse of the secondary support industry (what CAN you do with all those skeezy car sales guys; they’ll be like nuclear waste ). The secondary and tertiary support industry layoffs will be much larger than what the UAW losses will be. Realistically, if a company’s entire business model is built around supplying a unique part for the auto industry then that company will evaporate within days. Unless they are smelting their own metal and making their own plastics these incremental failures will severely cripple most other industries.

If the manufacturing capacity is retooled to support a broad range of energy projects, more than just the Big Greens like wind and solar, then the manufacturing diversity will be more robust and support a better national solvency as we find our selves able to dig out of this recession we have no one to blame for but our selves.

Government control needs to be rescinded as soon as any particular segment shows profitability; the government doesn’t have any clue what to do with profit. Maybe spin off the parts in to more nimble smaller companies that are better able to adapt and change in a recessionary environment.

All this comes back to change. The US auto industry has had no interest in change and is thus ensuring its own extinction. We can only hope to prevent it from killing off the rest of the economy as this Raphus cucullatus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo)dies off.

markallyn
11-16-2008, 03:19 PM
As the original poster of this question; I would like to thank you for a good discussion.

Originally, I had thought just to let the fail and let other, more adept companies take the lead in the transportation industry.

I had not counted on the size of the peripherary industries that would be taken down upon a big three failure (or even just one of the big three failing).

I had thoght that the parts suppliers could retool and adept to other car companies (Toyota, Nissan, or whomever takes the leadership in volume upon a big three failure) or rely on their already existing business with other companines.

For example, a company that make locks can make locks for Toyota just as they do for GM/Ford/Chryler.

Now, I guess this is not true and from the sounds of some of the postings, I hear that the failure of even just one of the big three can hemmorage to a multi-millions job loss in the US?

Wow.

Mark

DogsBody
11-17-2008, 09:38 AM
Tait - your repeating a myth that the big 3 created. Size = safety. That may not necessarily be true.

Check out this article from the New Yorker. (http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html)

Europeans think the opposite: smaller, responsive, more maneuverable cars are safer. You can skew the stats to support either argument, but I'm going to go with the Euros on this one.

Here's a quick, more articulate blog post on the subject. (http://bridger.us/2002/12/16/CrashTestingMINICooperVsFordF150/)

Most Americans believe that if they wrap themselves in more metal, they are safer. But too often it's not other cars you hit, it's stationary things (like telephone polls, guard rails, etc.) that you end up hitting. In that case, the large amount of metal becomes the thing that kills you as it implodes upon itself.

This myth is only convenient for the auto-makers who build large cars - and the big 3 have been all too willing to overlook competing opinions on this subject.

--
Here's a point in regard to crash safety (and I think this should apply to ALL driving):
The big vehicle is fine for the person occupying IT.
And very-well might protect THEM better.
But what about the person in the other vehicle?
The mentality that says "If I drive a TANK I'm safer" completely disregards the safety of your fellow citizen who is ALSO traveling on Public Roadways.
In my opinion: When you are on/in a Public Space your responsibility is not only for yourself; but for your fellow "Users" as well.
If more people thought like that; and were TAUGHT(with Traffic Laws/Fines to back it up) like that: Our roads would be a lot safer.
It's "Shared Space" ffs...
-Notes on Safety: Volvo has made their mark on the Industry for DECADES by being #1. And they do not build behemoths.
-Note on VW Diesels: The latest models now can get 1000 KM on a tank; AND they are allowed to run Bio-Diesel under WARRANTY.
(pure question) We now have a growing retail re-cyled (reclaimed veg oil etc.) Bio-Diesel fuel provider up here: Have you guys got that going on down in there?
I have grave concerns concerning growing food for cars; but the reclamation/recycling option does make sense (at least until people realise fast food is killing them;)).

biciclero
11-17-2008, 02:08 PM
Until we can counter the notion by cowboy wannabes that driving a small, efficient car makes you weak/poor/a girl, there will be a market for big cars/trucks. Also, the kids would probably be a lot safer if they were allowed to walk and ride bikes or the school bus to school, rather than get dropped off amid a parade of SUVs.

vincentpaul
11-20-2008, 10:05 AM
Personally, I think the notion that electrical vehicles will be necessarily be smaller, and therefore less convenient, is unnecessary. There is no logical reason that a small vehicle will be more environmentally sound than a large one. Neil Young (yes, the singer) is currently involved in a well-funded project that has converted a 1957 Lincoln, one of the the largest autos that Detroit ever produced, into an electrical hybrid. The goal is a refurbished vehicle that achieves in excess of 100 mpg. The car as currently configured achieves 65 mpg. One of the most salient features of the project is the realization by the projects engineers that the volume available in large vehicles means that new systems can be added or subtracted as technology changes, and that materials that are bulky but environmentally sound can be used in the vehicles various systems. The current mass-production hybrids are an environmental nightmare because of the materials used in their construction, particularly the battery systems. Large cars can use materials that are bulkier, but less harmful to the environment. One of the singular aims of the project is that the design goals include that the finished vehicle have what in practice would be an infinite life span. The car's drive train is now much more powerful than the V-8 that it came with. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

igerould
11-21-2008, 07:55 PM
If anyone has ever been to Detroit, you would know it's not the most public transport/bike friendly city around..You're pretty much limited to sidewalks(which are dilapidated/missing in a lot of areas), sporadic bike trails that don't really go anywhere important, a decent bus network with scary people on it, and the people mover downtown which is totally useless pretty much. I come from Detroit, I happen to know quite a few people who work for the Big 3, specifically a ford plant in Wayne, MI, which is the largest employer in the city. A lot of my friends families depend on that plant for financial support, and it's in danger of being shut down which would pretty much ruin a lot of peoples lives there. That said, just remember that this is much more than greener technology, renewable energy, ect. I fully support the bailout.

Apologies if any of this was repeated, I only read to page 3. Computers being icky tonight.

Tait
11-22-2008, 03:19 AM
Tait - your repeating a myth that the big 3 created. Size = safety. That may not necessarily be true...

Thanks for the links. It's interesting reading. You're of course correct to point out that vehicle safety has a lot more to do with engineering than just mass, but the New Yorker article supports my point all the more. American car makers were responding to market demand, and you just can't fault a commercial business for doing that. It's fundamentally how commercial businesses operate. (Well, the successful ones operate that way.) Small or no demand equates to no product being made.

I can't say why GM pried EV1s out of the hands of consumers who would gladly have paid to keep them, but the design cycle for a new vehicle -- especially something that's as completely different from previous generations as a hybrid or electric car -- is many years long. There's a significant lag between what happens in the world and changes in consumer demand, and an even longer lag between that and changes to Detroit's production lines.

About that active safety thing... lots of motorcycle drivers make that claim, and they're certainly right that a crotch rocket can outmaneuver just about any motorized thing out there. But no motorcycle salesman gets you to buy a Hayabusa because it's the safe thing to do. Nobody transports their kids in a car seat strapped to their Ducati 1098.

In a panic situation, it's an uncommon driver that can keep their head about them well enough to actively steer (but not oversteer) and not just slam the breaks and close their eyes. So people aren't entirely deluded when they express a preference for greater passive safety.

I guess the point is, if we do want to rescue them, Detroit appears to have better products in the pipeline and coming to market. They have gotten significant benefits concessions from UAW going forward. The better products just didn't get here fast enough, and an intervening financial crisis might mean they never do.

wsbob
11-23-2008, 12:27 AM
Article in the NYtimes:

GM's latest great green hope is a tall order (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/22/business/22volt.html?ref=automobiles).

The Volt is two years away from release. 40 mile range/electric only...640 mile range with assist from the gas motor. Projected cost: $40,000. Lot of bucks. Interesting gimmick though....gas motor isn't connected to the wheels...it powers a generator. So GM's arguing that it isn't a hybrid, but rather, an 'extended-range electric vehicle'.

Meanwhile, look at what Mini (maker of the Mini Cooper)is doing:

Mini E concept (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/automobiles/autoshow/mini-e.html?em)

Early next year, this automaker is planning a for lease test release of this electric version of the mini. 150 mile range per charge. Same lithium-ion type battery as the Volt. Read the short article; sure, it's not as practical as the Volt stands to be, but there's benefit to be had in getting the product out in the public eye asap. GM should have kept the EV-1 on the road all this time.

The Volt should be on the road now. Leased to a test market like the mini will be soon. This is one of the big three's problems...they're always behind the curve.

canuck
11-23-2008, 08:19 AM
Electric only cars are not the future unless we get battery technology to a point where you can get 300 miles on charge and it takes 5 minutes to get a full charge on the battery.

I've lived in urban settings for years. How exactly to you get your battery charged at night if you don't have a driveway or a garage. Many times I've had to park two blocks from my apartment in the city. That requires one heck of an extension cord. Then even if I could get a spot in front of my building there was alternate side parking.

So for those living in the city with a need for a car there's going to have to be one heck of an infrastructure change if we don't have electric filling stations. Sure Lake Oswego has a charging station that's free. But it handles 2 cars and it still takes 8 hours to charge. Right now it's free, but how do we handle this when there are thousands of electric cars on the road.

Until that is fixed we are stuck with fossil fuels and cars like the Volt.

Did you know that they have approved tax rebate for the Volkswagen diesels because they are high mileage cars? Same rebates as went to the other hybrids. Sure they cost a little more but they aren't going for $40K like the volt will and they are available now.

vincentpaul
11-24-2008, 12:48 PM
-Notes on Safety: Volvo has made their mark on the Industry for DECADES by being #1. And they do not build behemoths.


Volvo produces vehicles that are ATTROCIOUS on fuel consumption. Volvo's most fuel-efficient vehicle for sale in North America (S80) is 82nd among mid-sized cars for fuel efficiency. Among 4wd vehicles, Volvo's best (XC 70) is 79th for fuel efficiency. Eight of the top 20 most fuel-efficient 4wds are made by the Big Three US producers. Ford and Mercury hybrid SUV's are in top 3.
http://www.mpgfacts.com

DogsBody
11-24-2008, 02:38 PM
Volvo produces vehicles that are ATTROCIOUS on fuel consumption. Volvo's most fuel-efficient vehicle for sale in North America (S80) is 82nd among mid-sized cars for fuel efficiency. Among 4wd vehicles, Volvo's best (XC 70) is 79th for fuel efficiency. Eight of the top 20 most fuel-efficient 4wds are made by the Big Three US producers. Ford and Mercury hybrid SUV's are in top 3.
http://www.mpgfacts.com
I retract my previous statement then.:D

K'Tesh
12-03-2008, 03:33 PM
How about this method?

Non Sequitur
http://picayune.uclick.com/comics/nq/2008/nq081203.gif (http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/)
12/03/2008

That might work... ;)

Rubberside Down!
K'Tesh

Attornatus_Oregonensis
12-03-2008, 04:21 PM
Best idea I've read yet!