Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 30, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ENERGY IDIOCY....I'll confess that I'm a little tired of columns expressing outrage about our bipartisan temper tantrum over $3 gasoline where were these guys last year when Dick Cheney's energy industry giveaway passed? but there's certainly no arguing with the underlying charge:

Most Republicans, constrained by an ideological resistance to federal regulation, have always opposed tougher mandates. But achieving better fuel economy was once a passion of Democrats. In 1990, 42 of the Senate's 55 Democrats about three-fourths voted to require automakers to reach 40 mpg by 2001. That bill drew 57 votes overall, but failed amid opposition from President George H.W. Bush and a Republican-led filibuster.

Idiots. But then there's this:

Under pressure from the auto companies and auto workers, Democrats have retreated ever since. President Clinton didn't seriously try to raise fuel economy standards. Last year, a proposal from Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to require a 40-mpg average for cars by 2016 drew just 28 votes; only about half of the Senate's 44 Democrats voted yes. Those voting no included every Senate Democrat considering a 2008 presidential bid.

Idiots. Mileage standards work. If we had passed that bill in 1990, oil consumption in the United States would probably be 10% lower than it is today at virtually no cost to the economy and no inconvenience to consumers. That's a savings of about a billion barrels of oil a year and there are other things we could do to double that number with only modest pain.

(And ANWR? If Republicans were willing to act like grownups on the efficiency side, I'd say we should just open the damn thing up. It won't make a lot of difference, but at the same time, it also won't cause very much damage.)

Of course, the best time to have done those things was ten years ago. But the second best time is right now. It's not too late to grow up.

Kevin Drum 12:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (260)

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Comments

I started a discussion on MetaFilter with this post that, after some initial snark, prompted quite a good discussion.

Posted by: LeisureGuy on April 30, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Repubs are undeniably scum. But democratic leaders are gutless morons.

Posted by: lib on April 30, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

By and large I agree with you, but I beg to differ on opening up ANWR.

Go read the latest issue of National Geographic (hardly a bastion of liberal sentiment these days). The minimal amount of oil available, in the larger scheme of things, simply is not worth the tradeoff in environmental degradation.

I'm not a "nutcase greenie" either. I have actually rethought my position on nuclear energy and now believe it deserves a serious "re-look."

Posted by: Richard on April 30, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

But 10% of U.S. oil consumption is just a drop in the world bucket. Gasoline would still be over $3 per gallon, so nothing would have been gained.

Posted by: y81 on April 30, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Quit your whining and get a bicycle.

It is the single best thing you can do for your:

Health
Local community
Your nation
Your world

Posted by: Ben Franklin on April 30, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Again your hatred of markets. Commies!

Soon, Al will be by with more accusations to put you in your place. I'm sure some honest place like Heritage has shown mileage standards don't work and lead to more baby killings. Have fun answering all his charges!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on April 30, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Y81: Nope, not true. A 2 billion barrel decrease in global demand would make a big difference right now. Add some other policy instruments into the mix, and we could have delayed peak oil by a decade or two with only the tiniest amount of pain.

But we didn't.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 30, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Ben F -- next thing, you'll be spouting vegetarianism. "Save animals from cruel factory farms! Don't support manure lagoons! Benefit your health!"

Commie! If we don't eat all the animals, they'll take over the world! And we'll all become pussies like Chelsea Clinton! I know even hyper-liberal Kevin is with me on this.

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on April 30, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

But 10% of U.S. oil consumption is just a drop in the world bucket. Gasoline would still be over $3 per gallon, so nothing would have been gained.

Since one of our critical bottlenecks is US refining capacity, the 10% is very important.

Libs need to give on ANWR, but make the conservatives pay dearly for it. If there's oil in ANWR it *will* be taken eventually. Joe Sixpack will gladly say, "Screw the penguins, I want oil" when gas gets to some certain amount, and when they say that, ANWR's utility as a bargaining chip for what liberals/greens want will be zero.

But right now, it's value as a chip for extracting maximum amounts of what liberals want is at its highest. So use that leverage to ensure renewables and mileage standards are implemented.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

and there are other things we could do to double that number with only modest pain.

I presume you mean with a sizable investment, using money that the government "gave" away?

One of these days, you really should write your own survey of all the work that is being done, by government and by private industry. And you should balance it with an account of citizen obstructionism (e.g. Nantucket wind farm, and comparable opposition in other states.) I and other people here have provided links to good comprehensive recent reviews.

It is simply not true that we are victims of scurrilous Republicans (scurrilous though they may be, it isn't just Republicans, and we are not victims.)

The US in 2006 will approximately double its biofuels output. And double its (much lower, to be sure) output of solar power. Nothing will necessarily prevent their doubling annually for the next 10 years (after that, who can tell?), except obstructionism (NIMBY, "the precautionary principle", price controls, etc.)


Add to that, increasing number of products are made of carbides and nitrides (e.g. "graphite" golf clubs and hockey sticks): transmission gears, wheels, ball and roller bearings can all be made harder and lighter out of carbides and nitrides (resulting in less friction in actual use), but not yet cheaper. As costs of manufacture are reduced, the total weights of cars and trucks will be cut, over about 5 decades, to about a sixth of what they are now.

Now isn't the time to "begin", now is the time to "continue".

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

on ANWR -

Your willingness to trade on this represents exactly the kind of dynamic you are decrying in Dems' abandonment of fuel efficiency standards in response to Republican pushback. It's that willingness to give something up to have right decisions get made that has resulted in this stupid policy. Bad decisions are bad decisions and it never pays to agree to them just to get intransigent people to agree to good decision. You don't negotiate with terrorists, or the policy equivalent of terrorists, unreasonable lying demagogues. It only emboldens them.

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom Phuker
"hyper-liberal Kevin"
You told a funny !

Posted by: opit on April 30, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, so who's going to have enough balls to call for re-enacting the national 55 mph speed limit?

INSTANT and significant reduction in fuel consumption at near zero cost.

Americans surely won't like it tho... but it shows how 'serious' they are about both the economic and environmental problems they face.

Time cost? a 100 mile trip takes 15 minutes longer at 55 than 65.

Posted by: Buford on April 30, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

What have you done with the real Kevin Drum?

Opening ANWR? The deuce you say!

I demand an investigation into the disappearance of Kevin Drum. And an investigation into this impostor.

I'd gladly grant CAFE standards' increase if we could drill ANWR and open a new refinery or two.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

whew! a moderate Dem finally says what I've been thinking for quite some time. I'm a moderate lifetime Dem, and I agree on ANWR. But it should be done without government subsidy, for once. No more subsidies for oil company expansion with the kinds of profits they got going on. Play by market rules for once.

Posted by: mystery guest on April 30, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

whew! a moderate Dem finally says what I've been thinking for quite some time. I'm a moderate lifetime Dem, and I agree on ANWR. But it should be done without government subsidy, for once. No more subsidies for oil company expansion with the kinds of profits they got going on. Play by market rules for once.

Posted by: metaphoria on April 30, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Since you mentioned filibuster I looked it up(I was interested in the derivation not the meaning.) Seems a second definition is "freebooter" or foreign fighter and it is from this--Sp. filibustero--that English gets the word. But do any of your readers know how it made the transistion from the second definition to the first?

Posted by: lee on April 30, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: A 2 billion barrel decrease in global demand would make a big difference right now.

I agree there. But it isn't just modest cuts in demand that matter. Reportedly (this reference would take a while for me to track down) the thermal depolymerization process could eventually generate 10% of American fuel from the offal produced at factory farms, and from the carbon-rich trash that Americans now deposit in land fills and other places. Similarly, the US Army gets 6% of its fuel in the form of biodiesel. A few percent here, a few percent there, continuous investment year after year, that is what solves the problem.

The next "green revolution", already underway, will come from breeding crops (like the president's favorite switchgrass) that have higher biofuel yields than corn and sugar cane. Public-private coalitions are already working on this.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that congress has to pass higher CAFE standards before we can buy more fuel efficient is absurd. There are fuel efficient vehicles out there today--maybe not too many that get 40 m.p.g., but plenty that'll get thirty or better. If consumers will stop buying those gas guzzling vehicles that fill the car lots, Detroit will quit making them and develop more fuel efficient vehicles without orders from the government. We've got to downsize our basic vehicles if we want fuel efficiency--a 40 mpg SUV is a pipe dream with current technology, but one person driving to and from work in a SUV never made much sense anyway.

Posted by: sparky on April 30, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

There's only six-months worth of oil available at ANWR, the experts say the first barrel of oil would be ten years away from whenever you started drilling, and each barrel of oil would cost $80/barrel and higher given the higher costs of drilling through permafrost.

Drilling at ANWR is silly.
.

Posted by: VJ on April 30, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

"If there's oil in ANWR it *will* be taken eventually. Joe Sixpack will gladly say, 'Screw the penguins, I want oil' "

Thereby demonstrating Sixpack's ignorance of geology, economics, and geography all in one fell swoop. Maybe the greens should take advantage of this and say that - yes - we'll go along with drilling in ANWR, but *only* near the nesting grounds of known penguin colonies.

Posted by: anonymous on April 30, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

You are absolutely right--except we shouldn't drill ANWR. We're going to need that oil someday, and we shouldn't be squandering it on transportation now. Conservation is our first and highest obligation. We need to stop using 25% of the world's oil to propel the behemoths of 4% of the worlds population.

Raising fuel economy standards should have been done 10 years ago. Right now the Feds should be giving incentives to US car manufacturers to develop simple commuter vehicles that can get 100 mpg and costs less than $15,000 within five years. And then we should give incentives to citizens to trade in their bloated SUVs.

And I'll second Buford's observation that the US could conserve huge amounts of gas just by driving slower than 55mph. We could start conserving tomorrow, if the President would just say the word. But I suppose then Montana, Wyoming and Utah would turn against him and the whole country would be blue.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 30, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Check your tire pressure. Slow down. Plan your trips. Walk your kid to school instead of driving them. Quit using drive-thrus. Contact your city council and demand synchronized traffic lights. We can start doing all of these things today.

And on a larger level, the fiction that refiners have perpetrated for years that environmental compliance is too expensive so refinery capacity can't be raised has to be laid to rest.
They have the money, and they get huge subsidies on the extraction side of the equation already. I think that a windfall profits tax that was earmaked for refinery capacity upgrades would be hard for the lobbyists to fight.

And I think that the federal government needs to buy a mothballed refinery, bring it up to current regs and use it as a governer on the market, increasing output at those times when, for example, suddenly every plant is changing over to a summer blend and causing a price spike. How can we have predictable price spikes every year at the same time if it is truly a free market? This would keep everyone honest.

Posted by: Jim 7 on April 30, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

VJ,

Then oil companies won't do it without government subsidies, which is why I agree (in part) with what metaphoria/mystery guest said above.

No subsidies.

Then you Lefties could sleep easily knowing market forces would keep oil companies out of ANWR and I could sleep easily knowing you're wrong. Done and done.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

"If there's oil in ANWR it *will* be taken eventually. Joe Sixpack will gladly say, 'Screw the penguins, I want oil' "

Thereby demonstrating Sixpack's ignorance of geology, economics, and geography all in one fell swoop.

Politicians ignore the ignorance of their constituents at their own peril.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

ANWR is federal land; the implied federal subsidy in low-priced rights is the whole motivation for driling there.

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

ANWR drilling is not supported by the majority of Americans. It's only when people are exposed to dishonest industry-sponsored lies without counter that they become amenable to the idea, except for a 20-25% base of 'fuck the environment' idiot Republicans.

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I know I'm preaching to a moderate-to-liberal audience here, but LEGISLATION is not the answer.

Here's what will happen if Kevin got his wish:

1) Congress will dictate that automakers reach an average fuel efficiency of 40 mpg.

2) Automakers respond by producing inordinate amounts of smaller, slower, more fuel efficient, and lower horsepower cars.

3) Those cars sit on dealer lots, while Americans continue to purchase SUV's and faster, higher horsepower vehicles.

4) To offset the cost of being forced to produce cars that don't sell, the large automakers raise prices across the board.

As Americans, we are somewhat spoiled in that we want to reduce our fuel expenditures, but still enjoy all the aspects of larger and more powerful cars. Americans have a love affair with their automobiles, liberals and conservatives alike.

Artificially forcing change through more government is not the answer (and in fact, is almost never the answer).

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's not logically necessary that Congress pass higher fuel standards for fuel efficiency to improve, it's just a practical idea that we know would have an immediate positive effect. Practicality in policy matters; for too long we Americans have listened to people who put rhetoric in the place of practical reasoning.

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'd gladly grant CAFE standards' increase if we could drill ANWR and open a new refinery or two.

Domestic refinery capacity bottomed at about 16 million b/d in 1994, because of sustained low prices. It's now about 2 million b/d higher than that.

Also, there's no correlation between capacity utilization rates and gas prices. The rate was the same in 1999 (when gas was below $1/gallon) as it is today.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

If the average American automobile got 30 mpg, which is not that hard with todays technology, we wouldnt have to import a drop of foreign oil. It wouldn't require great sacrifice, but the right-wing would have you believe it does. But, what I really want Democrats to find out is why did all of these oil company CEOs lie about the secret meetings they had with Dick Cheney in 2001? Any bets they talked about invading Iraq and colluding to raise prices? Maybe if we win back the House in 2006, we can subpoena the crap out of these criminals and put them behind bars where they belong.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 30, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if consumers want vehicles with great gas mileage, they can shop around and buy them.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 30, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

a 40 mpg SUV is a pipe dream with current technology

The Ford Escape is rated at 36 mpg in the city and 33 mpg overall -- and that's with a first-generation effort. Real-world data is very close to the EPA ratings as well.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency nailed it!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 30, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I read the article about the new consertvative making a run for president of mexico. He is offering to set up welfare handouts to help the people and keep on the same trail as the FOX IN THE BUSHES. This country needs to get back to growing sugar cane and sugar beets to produce ETHANOL. Do something with the oil industry that is there . The people don't need welfare , they need jobs and the world needs ETHANOL. Look to
Brazil for your example to turn your country around .
The people of the southern U S A are at this very minute getting out their ole copper stills , they have been making ETHANOL for several hundred years .
Are you hearing this people o the U S A , how bout you CUBA?

Posted by: # T A H on April 30, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Those cars sit on dealer lots, while Americans continue to purchase SUV's and faster, higher horsepower vehicles.

You don't appear to understand how CAFE standards work. Also, the Camry hybrid averages around 40 mpg and pulls 0-60 times around 9 seconds.

I really don't understand how Americans all of a sudden don't believe in advancing technology and instead spend inordinate amounts of effort telling others why something can't be done, even when it's already being done.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if consumers want vehicles with great gas mileage, they can shop around and buy them.

They have some options now, but they certainly didn't just a few years ago. When gas was cheap, hardly anyone was making efficient vehicles.

This belief that the "consumer is king" is one of the larger myths of our time. People buy what they're given, and marketing convinces them about what their choices should be.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

BB,
If people buy what they're given how come the NYTimes and other big papers are hemorraging money and readership?
If people buy what they're given why has the movie industry been so moribund?

Fehh

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if consumers want vehicles with great gas mileage, they can shop around and buy them.

If they don't want them, they don't buy them. But we want them to buy them. So how do we make them want them?

- Penalty tax on gas hogs (government action)
- Higher fuel prices (market)
- Let hybrid drivers use HOV lanes (gov action, works in DC)
- Smaller parking spaces in malls
- Public shaming
- Knowledge
- etc.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

If we had raised fuel economy to 40 mpg GM and Ford could have survived and Toyota and Honda wouldn't be eating their lunch. Will no one tell the people that we have hit peak oil, it just costs more to get the next barrel out of the ground, more people than ever want it, and the era of cheap oil is over for us because we can no longer have as much as we want except at prohibitive prices. And the oil companies are laughing all the way to the bank. The only way to "punish" the owners of oil is not to use so much of it.

Posted by: Mimikatz on April 30, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

You don't appear to understand how CAFE standards work. Also, the Camry hybrid averages around 40 mpg and pulls 0-60 times around 9 seconds.

--------------------------------------------

It's you who "doesn't understand".

You're the guy who talked about the 'great' 33 mpg Ford Escape up above, right? Have you ever driven an Escape? What a piece of junk. Ford's bottom of the line SUV for those who want a real SUV but don't have the money.

Listen, improvements in efficiency technology ARE the answer for the automotive industry. But they have to be naturally driven by consumer supply and demand. Not artificially driven by big government.

I am an electrical engineer, so I naturally feel that good engineering design is the way for the auto industry. However, I don't think Americans are willing to give up power or comfort for efficiency. I think the challenge to engineers is that they need to improve on efficiency and fuel alternatives, while still delivering on horsepower. And I think they will meet that challenge in the coming years.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

This belief that the "consumer is king" is one of the larger myths of our time. People buy what they're given, and marketing convinces them about what their choices should be.

------------------------------------------

What a crock.

The free market economy is what makes America so great. If this were a Socialist society (which this guy would probably prefer), then perhaps this would be true.

In America, if you don't give the consumer what they want, someone else will.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79
Listen, improvements in efficiency technology ARE the answer for the automotive industry. But they have to be naturally driven by consumer supply and demand. Not artificially driven by big government.

Purely a feedback mechanism on the market?

I am an electrical engineer, so I naturally feel that good engineering design is the way for the auto industry.

As an electrical engineer, you probably have some sense of control theory. feedback is self correcting, yes. But depending on feedback, particularly with time delay, can lead to destabilizing behavior in circuits and in markets.

An ounce of feed-forward (proactive steps to be ready for the future) is worth a pound of feedback (Oh my gawd! Gas is $4.00 a gallon! Kill the penguins!).

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

If people buy what they're given how come the NYTimes and other big papers are hemorraging money and readership?

It's called the Internet. You're using it right now.

If people buy what they're given why has the movie industry been so moribund?

They're called DVDs.

In both cases, those are demand substitution. Automotive vehicles are not substituted for well, nor is there much selection relative to many other areas of consumption. Vehicles are also functional necessities whereas reading newspapers and watching movies are not generally, and specific choices within them certainly aren't.

If automakers don't produce a vehicle a consumer may want, then there's nothing that consumer can do. Information and entertainment aren't very analogous, though in each of those cases, there is still some residual supply domination, as consumers watch films or other video enetrtainment largely as a function of what they're given. They're not actively communicating demand preferences which are then followed by supply.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you Lefties mean caribou and not penguins?

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'll stand by my earlier remark, if they simply made some governmental fiat that all cars made from now on should burn ethanol, it would actually get done.

Posted by: cld on April 30, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike

Well yes, I can identify with some of the points you made in your earlier message, but not all.

You mentioned a "penalty tax on gas hogs". That might have some positive effect. However, I don't think smaller parking spaces or public shaming will have any noticeable effect. In fact, if you place a "sin tax" on gas-guzzlers, it will likely become even more of a status symbol to own one, and make them even more desireable.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

This belief that the "consumer is king" is one of the larger myths of our time. People buy what they're given, and marketing convinces them about what their choices should be.

you got that fucking right and no more evidence is required than to look at the pharmaceutical industry since they've been allowed to market drugs to goober america. suddenly the cases of adult attention deficit disorder, restless leg syndrome and any number of maladies americans didn't know they had require immediate treatment only secured by the magic of big pharma.


Posted by: linda on April 30, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan-

You cite a sequence of events that 'would happen' if CAFE standards increased. Can you cite any actual historical data to back this up, or is it just policy Crichtonism, nonserious spew that can be safely ignored?

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

The free market economy is what makes America so great.

The "free market" is a theoretical constuct which doesn't exist -- certainly in the US.

If this were a Socialist society (which this guy would probably prefer), then perhaps this would be true.

Reaching for the "commie" boogeyman so readily? Do you think such simple-minded, misdirected garbage works on me?

In America, if you don't give the consumer what they want, someone else will.

Speaking of "crocks". Let's take a simple example. What choices do you have for gas and electric to your home?

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan-

You cite a sequence of events that 'would happen' if CAFE standards increased. Can you cite any actual historical data to back this up, or is it just policy Crichtonism, nonserious spew that can be safely ignored?

----------------------------------

Matt, you'd ignore it anyway. I've read your stuff. You and I don't have much in common.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, if you place a "sin tax" on gas-guzzlers, it will likely become even more of a status symbol to own one, and make them even more desireable.

You don't live in reality, do you?

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

All this talk of gas mileage ignores the obvious solution, DRIVE LESS. If you drive a 20 mpg 1/2 as far every day you are saving as much as driving a 40 mpg car. Americans drive huge distances everyday because of our sprawling development patterns, yet NO politician except Al Gore has ever addresssed sprawl. Americans don't need to give up their SUV's more than they need to give up their 4000 sq. ft. Mc Mansions, 1/2 acre yards and strip malls. Not to mention what could be done with time savings from ditching 2 hour commutes and 10 mile trips to the grocery store. Sprawl living also uses more energy for heating and cooling, creates longer trips for commercial traffic and paves over fields and forests that absorb CO2. Is sprawl some sort of third rail due to the huge number of voters living in the burbs?

Posted by: Adventuregeek on April 30, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan-

I'll consider that an unconditional surrender then, thanks for admitting you can't convince anybody who doesn't already agree with you of the validity of your point of view.

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

The way to think about ANWR, and to "frame" the discussion, is to stop calling it "ANWR" and call it the "strategic petroleum reserve -- the part that's already full." Whatever it's worth now, it will be worth lots more when it's the last oil on earth.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of "crocks". Let's take a simple example. What choices do you have for gas and electric to your home?

----------------------------------

Gas and electric are public utilities. What a horrible analogy! Talk about comparing apples and oranges. Wow, you really struck out with that one.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

So substitution explains why the first statement you wrote, and I quoted, was false.

Fine. So long as you know you were wrong.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's you who "doesn't understand".

I understand CAFE perfectly well. Sorry.

You're the guy who talked about the 'great' 33 mpg Ford Escape up above, right? Have you ever driven an Escape? What a piece of junk. Ford's bottom of the line SUV for those who want a real SUV but don't have the money.

There was no discussion about "great" SUVs. The assertion was that a 40 mpg SUV was a pipe dream. Fact is, it isn't. I don't know what the point of asserting something about "real SUVs" is, since if the standard is heavy-duty use, very few people need those capabilities. Very few people need the capabilities of an Escape for that matter. So your points have no relevance, as seems to be a pattern with you.

Listen, improvements in efficiency technology ARE the answer for the automotive industry. But they have to be naturally driven by consumer supply and demand. Not artificially driven by big government.

Perhaps you should wake up to the fact that automobiles and energy supply have very little to do with "naturally dirven" consumer supply and demand. And if you want to discuss "big government", it's the Republicans who have grown it the past 6 years. It shrunk as a share of GDP during Clinton's 8 years.

I don't think Americans are willing to give up power or comfort for efficiency.

As an electrical engineer, you should know that's not a tradeoff. People respond to price signals, and they adjust their wants accordingly.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "Of course, the best time to have done those things was ten years ago."

Ah, but we did begin it 27 years ago, and the following year the American people elected a grade B movie actor who promptly dismantled everything Carter proposed.

Kevin Drum: "If we had passed that bill in 1990, oil consumption in the United States would probably be 10% lower than it is today..."

Yes, and if we had followed Carter's energy proposal we would have been entirely free from dependence on ME oil by now. At today's price per bbl (>$70) we could be keeping over $200B (yes that's a "B") at home instead of sending it offshore. That kind of Real Money (Dirksen) could go a long way toward sustaining growth in renewables, conservation and just general well-being, not to mention that we would no longer need a military garrison in the heart of the middle east to protect our "interests."

But then if we had done that the price per bbl equivalent wouldn't be $70 in the first place. The middle east would be awash in oil they wouldn't be able to sell for much over $30 without their biggest customer (Us) keeping demand right up there. And we'd probably only be paying (ourselves) $30 for the home grown renewables plus domestic oil production (even sans ANWR).

Posted by: Oilcan't Harry on April 30, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'll consider that an unconditional surrender then, thanks for admitting you can't convince anybody who doesn't already agree with you of the validity of your point of view.

------------------------------------------

Matt,
I would not spend valuable time trying to reason with you.
In this very thread, you so much as called Republicans terrorists. You're just plain nuts.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Do you think such simple-minded, misdirected garbage works on me?" -- BB at 2:01

I think nothing would work on you. You've already decided.

If you promise to hold your breath and stop your feet until I agree with you I might concede. To. Your. Ignorance.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Gas and electric are public utilities. What a horrible analogy!

They are? My utility is a private, for-profit company traded on the stock exchange. Most people's utility is.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

ANWR drilling is not supported by the majority of Americans. It's only when people are exposed to dishonest industry-sponsored lies without counter that they become amenable to the idea, except for a 20-25% base of 'fuck the environment' idiot Republicans

It's supported by the majority of Alaskans, however. Something like 80%.

Posted by: metaphoria on April 30, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan-

Yeah, I guess I said some things that might offend the PC sensibilities of Republicans, comparing the wisdom of negotiating with them on legislation to the wisdom of negotiating with terrorists.

So you're going to cry like a pissy baby and refuse to engage my substantive points.

You're a loser.

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you Lefties mean caribou and not penguins?

Actually I'm a rightie, and I firmly believe the average american probably thinks they're penguins in the Arctic. Or there should be.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Alaskans support ANWR drilling out of economic self interest - it's a mechanism for them to capture disproportionate economic benefit from property they do not own.

Posted by: matt on April 30, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

If you promise to hold your breath and stop your feet until I agree with you I might concede. To. Your. Ignorance.

Wow - pointless insults. How creative.

I guess you've already ceded you can't discuss the issues at hand.

So substitution explains why the first statement you wrote, and I quoted, was false.

It's not false. You're playing semantic games. The issue is whether "consumer is king" is true, or whether we live in a world where, by and large, companies produce products and services then spend hundreds of billions of dollars convincing consumers to buy them.

If the consumer were really king, there really wouldn't be much if a need for advertising.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

As an electrical engineer, you should know that's not a tradeoff. People respond to price signals, and they adjust their wants accordingly.

----------------------------------------

First, in simple thermodynamic principles, power and fuel consumption ARE a tradeoff. That's just math, and there's no way around that.

However, I do agree that people respond to price, and adjust their wants accordingly. Invariably, they want the most they can get for their price point. With automobiles, they want power and comfort. Admittedly, that part is based on my opinion. But I look around my neighborhood in South Minneapolis (a somewhat affluent, very liberal neighborhood), and I still see everyone driving massive, high-end SUV's, regardless of gas prices. As yet, it does not seem that gas prices have caused anyone to change their behavior.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's supported by the majority of Alaskans, however. Something like 80%.

Well, it's federal land, so too bad for them.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

So I'm playing semantics when I point to your own admission of error? I'll keep that in mind.

Let's blame marketing? Yeah let's cut out the middle man! Good idea! Fehh

Well, right up 'til the point where you actually try to do it. Rubber meets the road and all.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

First, in simple thermodynamic principles, power and fuel consumption ARE a tradeoff. That's just math, and there's no way around that.

You're an engineer? Then how is it you can say something so clearly false? Hybrids are a perfect example of increasing fuel efficiency while either keeping power constant or even increasing it. All sorts of techniques have been used to make vehicles more efficient, simultaneously increasing efficiency and power (eg, the new Civic). And power mostly has relevance with respect to speed and acceleration, and certainly wind resistance, weight, and gearing have a lot to do with that.

However, I do agree that people respond to price, and adjust their wants accordingly. Invariably, they want the most they can get for their price point. With automobiles, they want power and comfort. Admittedly, that part is based on my opinion. But I look around my neighborhood in South Minneapolis (a somewhat affluent, very liberal neighborhood), and I still see everyone driving massive, high-end SUV's, regardless of gas prices.

"Everyone" is driving "massive, high-end SUVs" in South Minneapolis? You sure you don't want to amend your statement? Because I know quite a bit about South Minneapolis.

As yet, it does not seem that gas prices have caused anyone to change their behavior.

How things "seem" is very dependent on the observer. I tend to trust facts.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

So I'm playing semantics when I point to your own admission of error? I'll keep that in mind.

Let's blame marketing? Yeah let's cut out the middle man! Good idea! Fehh

Well, right up 'til the point where you actually try to do it. Rubber meets the road and all.

Let me know when you're ready to make a comment with substance instead of more insults, OK?

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Buying a hybrid doesn't always make much economic sense. Given their higher costs as compared to similar gasoline-powered vehicles, even with today's gasoline prices one normally has to keep them for over 100,000 miles before the fuel savings make up for the higher initial cost. And that's ignoring the time value of money, as well as the potentially high costs of battery replacement.
Whatever happened to telecommuting? That's been the Next New Thing for over a decade, and of course offers significant gasoline savings, but it never seems to have gotten anywhere.

Posted by: Peter on April 30, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

Right back at ya.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: Right now the Feds should be giving incentives to US car manufacturers to develop simple commuter vehicles that can get 100 mpg and costs less than $15,000 within five years. And then we should give incentives to citizens to trade in their bloated SUVs.

That's too much too soon. Think about a few targeted subsidies (aka "giveaways"): from government funded programs on advanced ceramics, subsidize the manufacture of ceramic/carbide/nitride ball-bearings; from government funded research on carbon nanotubes (buckyballs, buckytubes, etc), subsidize the manufacture of ceramic/carbide/nitride wheels; etc. these are proven technologies, but time and experimentation are required to scale up manufacture at competitive cost.

About 20 years ago the Japanes built a completely ceramic diesel engine. It works, but the parts don't last long. On the other hand, perfectly usable camshafts, driveshafts, transmission gears, valve guides and other such parts have since been made; carbide parts are used in racecars and experimental cars of diverse kinds (such as the college formula SAE competitions entered by about 125 college teams from around the world. Incidentally, the competiton is held in the Super Dome in Pontiac Michigan on the same day as the Indianapolis 500.)

Five years is not sufficient time to test whether any mass-produced parts have a longevity of even 1 year.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Buying a hybrid doesn't always make much economic sense. Given their higher costs as compared to similar gasoline-powered vehicles, even with today's gasoline prices one normally has to keep them for over 100,000 miles before the fuel savings make up for the higher initial cost. And that's ignoring the time value of money, as well as the potentially high costs of battery replacement.

Another myth that won't die.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hybrids are a perfect example of increasing fuel efficiency while either keeping power constant or even increasing it. All sorts of techniques have been used to make vehicles more efficient, simultaneously increasing efficiency and power (eg, the new Civic).

--------------------------------------

Note that I cited the thermodynamic tradeoff between power and CONSUMPTION, not efficiency. It's established scientific principle, and absolutely true. I won't waste time debating it here, no matter what your reply is.

The reason you can have increased power at constant consumption is because of increasing EFFICIENCY. Actually, it seems that you just misread my post, so enough about that. No harm done.

"Everyone" is driving "massive, high-end SUVs" in South Minneapolis? You sure you don't want to amend your statement? Because I know quite a bit about South Minneapolis.

Nope, my statement stands. I live right by Lake Harriett, and it's SUV central over here.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 30, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Buying a hybrid doesn't always make much economic sense.

buying a hybrid almost always makes more economic sense than buying something else of equal cost.

say you are interested in a $16,000 toyata Corolla (the net cost of mine). You might consider the extra $4,000 to get a Camry, or the extra $4000 to get the hybrid. Of the two choices, it makes more economic sense to get the hybrid than the Camry.

People freqeuntly start with a base car and add $4,000 worth of doo-dads of various kinds. Of all the kinds of doo-dads that you can add, adding the hybrid makes the most economic sense.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Any sensible policy on ANWR would involve an open collaborative exploration phase prior to lease sales. We deserve to know how much oil is there before opening it up. This was the policy during Reagan. Exploration tools are better now and it should be done again.

Posted by: toast on April 30, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I have been thinking about the transition to the hydrogen economy and the key breakthrough needed is improvement in the efficiency of electrolysis. The efficiency needs to be at least 25%, with an ideal efficiency of 50%. This is definately something that needs a great deal of government and private investment. Some promising ideas include plasma arcs of the kind that are used to produce Brown's gas. Don't know what the efficiency of these are and the carbon electrodes degrade rapidly. Another idea might be to run fuel cells in reverse. Also don't know what the efficiency would be and fuel cells still require platinum catalysts. More efficient, cheaper catalysts need to be developed.

Posted by: bblog on April 30, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I want cars that run on peace and love.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Listen, improvements in efficiency technology ARE the answer for the automotive industry. But they have to be naturally driven by consumer supply and demand. Not artificially driven by big government.

Consumers and voters are mostly the same people, so the government and the market overlap substantially. This idea that the market is always right or always wrong, or that the government is always right or always wrong, impedes problem-solving. The market is creative, but it makes mistakes; the government can also be creative, but it makes mistakes as well.

Right now Americans have not completely accepted the fact that fuel prices are high because of increased world-wide consumption and restrictions on supply. People like Krauthammer who point out the obvious are criticised by left and right as irrelevant. As Americans adjust to the idea that fuel has a high price, they will change their policy preferences and buying habits.

Meanwhile, we have simultaneous criticisms of the government for its "giveaways" to the fuel producers and calls for "subsidies" to auto manufacturers. People want to cut sales taxes on consumers and increase the tax paid by the fuel producers by an equal amount -- such a policy change will have either no net effect or a slight reduction in reinvestment, at a time when the fuel producers are planning to enlarge their refining capacity in the US.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Note that I cited the thermodynamic tradeoff between power and CONSUMPTION, not efficiency. It's established scientific principle, and absolutely true. I won't waste time debating it here, no matter what your reply is.

It's not worth debating, since it has no practical relevance. The issue is whether, in reality, fuel efficiency can be increased without sacrificing speed, comfort, safety, and other things, and clearly that tradeoff doesn't exist.

Nope, my statement stands. I live right by Lake Harriett, and it's SUV central over here.

You're full of doodoo. You first said "everyone" is driving "massive, high-end SUVs". That's false just on the face of it, but seeing as I know all about Minneapolis, I know you're just lying. Are there "massive, high-end SUVs"? Of course. Do they predominate by any stretch of the imagination? No. You're thinking Orono or Wayzata - maybe.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I want cars that run on peace and love.

I want cars that run on troll spew - a limitless resource.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

How much does the strategic reserve cost us?Why do we have to consume every last drop of crude oil ourselves, what gives us that right? Hogs! Let's just put ANWR into the reserve.

CAFE rules came about because we were too pussy to do what every other oil dependent western society has done which is to raise the price and allow market driven realocation of resources. They drive 40-50 mpg cars. US = approximately $3.5 billion GDP/million tons of oil equivalent. All western Europe better than $5 billion, Japan at $6.5 billion.

We are still hogs.

Posted by: notthere on April 30, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"say you are interested in a $16,000 Toyota Corolla (the net cost of mine). You might consider the extra $4,000 to get a Camry, or the extra $4000 to get the hybrid. Of the two choices, it makes more economic sense to get the hybrid than the Camry."

For your example to work, compare the hybrid Camry/Accord/Civic/Escape/Highlander/RX400 to the regular one and work the math, and don't forget the additional dealer mark-up Honda and Toyota dealers are famous for. If you can use the carpool lane or if your employer offers a subsidy to hybrid buyers, factor it in. As gas prices rise, the hybrid break-even point arrives sooner. Whether it arrives before you would normally trade-in your car? Well, your mileage may vary...

And if you really want to save money, find a 1990's era Suzuki Swift for an errand-runner. It'll cost you about a grand and it gets 45-50 mpg. But nobody's gonna think you're cool like a Prius driver, and you'll get a ticket in the HOV lane.

Now, somebody tell me why we haven't repealed the tax breaks for small business Escalades, Hummers and Excursions.

Posted by: Jim7 on April 30, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 :"However, I don't think Americans are willing to give up power or comfort for efficiency"

Everything you say is true in some parallel universe in which Americans have choices, but you are in denial. Try to accommodate the reality that the world is running out of oil. The oil companies themselves are telling us this. In a few years, Americans in Minnesota will be lucky if they can afford to heat their homes in South Minneapolis in January.

At the present time, the US is using 25% of the world's energy to fuel powerful, comfortable cars for 4% of the worlds population.

Your attitude reminds me of a cartoon I once saw. It showed a pack of dogs in a life boat, and at one end were many cartoons of dogfood. The captain dog is saying, "let's vote. Paws up if you want to eat all the food right now!" The caption read: why dogs never survive shipwrecks.

Denial. It isn't helping.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 30, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have been thinking about the transition to the hydrogen economy and the key breakthrough needed is improvement in the efficiency of electrolysis.

Not so. H2 can be made directly from water on solar power, using and re-using titanium and titanium dioxide. No new improvements in hydrolysis are necessary, and no new construction of electricty power plants. It will take time to upscale production and reduce cost.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Disincentives:

There was a crew -- can't remember what they called themselves -- going around theParis streets letting down SUVs' tires. Of course the Frenach also have a pasttime of burning vehicles. Whoa! Watch those insurance rates soar!

Why do people drive SUVs? What is the point in dragging one or two people around in 5,000 to 9,000 lbs of metal and plastic when 2,000 lbs will do the same thing?

Posted by: notthere on April 30, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I guess BB's just playing semantics with his "nuh-uh, they don't all drive SUVs" argument.

Weird.

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

i can't believe you think opening anwar makes no difference. maybe it's because you don't have any kids.

Posted by: brkily on April 30, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat: "Five years is not sufficient time to test whether any mass-produced parts have a longevity of even 1 year."

One of the things I appreciate about WM threads is when people actually can contribute subject-matter expert knowledge to the topic. Thanks for that insight! I pick five years and 100 mpg as difficult but symbolic goals, because I believe we need a kind of Manhattan energy project urgently. I am so frustrated when all these changes are pushed off for 25 years, la-di-dah.

So what do you think an ambitious, but achieveable goal would be? 40 mph within 5 years?

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 30, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jim7 on April 30, 2006 at 3:02 PM

You missed my point completely. I did not say that a toyota hybrid is cost competitive to my corolla. I said that of all ways to spend an extra $4000, the hybrid is the most cost competitive.

You could buy fancy wheels, a sunroof, extra electronics and an automatic transmission. No one would even ask if you save the extra cost by reduced fuel usage. buy a hybrid instead and all of a sudden people point out that the hybrid might not save the extra cost. Yet the hybrid has much less net cost over the life of the car than the fancy wheels, sunroof, extra electronics, and automatic transmission.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why do people drive SUVs? What is the point in dragging one or two people around in 5,000 to 9,000 lbs of metal and plastic when 2,000 lbs will do the same thing?

People think they are safer. They can carry more stuff. If it snows, they often have 4WD. Status. Bunches of reasons.

Gas has been so cheap that economy didn't enter the picture. If economy is not important, why not?

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Offtopic, but here it is,

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws?mode=PF

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

. . .On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia, where the US military is advising the government in its struggle against narcotics-funded Marxist rebels.

After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is commander in chief.


You have to read the whole thing. There's no end to his presumption.

Has any reporter ever asked him what limit he does recognize?

But I suppose that would be cluing in al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cld on April 30, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Really, this is one powerful and clear sense of the word 'corruption',

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws?mode=PF

Posted by: cld on April 30, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Mileage standards can always be lowered back down; once ANWR is opened up, it's gone forever.

Posted by: TB on April 30, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not so. H2 can be made directly from water on solar power, using and re-using titanium and titanium dioxide. No new improvements in hydrolysis are necessary, and no new construction of electricty power plants. It will take time to upscale production and reduce cost.

That's cool. Do you know what the efficiency is? If it is acceptable, it makes it all the more puzzling why we are not moving much more aggressively towards renewables and the hydrogen economy. Producing hydrogen efficiently solves all the problems of transmission and dispatch.

Posted by: bblog on April 30, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I also know South Minneapolis well and BB and sportsfan79 are both right, more or less. I estimate that perhaps 60% of the vehicles are SUVs or trucks. That's not everyone but it is a lot. Why? Minnesota ice and snow, mostly.

I'll offer one reason why people are currently driving SUVs instead of switching to a Prius.

Math reasoning is so much fun:

You own an SUV, so you have no car payments, but you do have, say, $1200 of maintenance per year. You get 17 mpg. You drive 10,000 miles per year. Gas costs $3.00 per gallon. You use 588 gallons of gas a year, so gas costs you $1765 per year.

You are appalled by gas prices! You want to trade in your SUV on a Prius. You wait six months. Then you get your a car that gets 40 mpg. Now you use 250 gallons of gas to go 10,000 miles, and you pay $750 per annum. Wow, you use 60% less gas and have cash savings of over $1,000 per year! However, there's a downside. You also have car payments of, say, $360 per month. So, you end up paying about $200 a month more to purchase a new Prius versus hanging on to your gashogging SUV.

You care about the environment. You am worried about oil supplies. You want to do the right thing. But the premium of $200 per month is too steep for most Americans especially when the technology and options are apt to get even better in the near future.

I figure the breakeven comes at $10 per gallon. Then it will cost less to buy a new car with better fuel mileage than it will to maintain the behemoth.

In other words, if we want the "free market" to wrench American drivers out of their gashogs, we need to raise the price of gas to ~$10.00 per gallon. gulp.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 30, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: believe we need a kind of Manhattan energy project urgently. I am so frustrated when all these changes are pushed off for 25 years, la-di-dah.
...
So what do you think an ambitious, but achieveable goal would be? 40 mph within 5 years?

a. The Manhattan project produced an over-priced bomb. cost was no impediment because there was a felt urgency to get the bomb before the Germans could. In most respects, that is a terrible analogy for commercial progress.

b. Having lived through the past 25 years, and the 25 years before that, and expecting to live through the next 25 years, I do not think of 25 years as unrealistically distant. Cars are not even made the same way they were made 25 years ago, not to mention computers and atheletic shoes.

c. In the upcoming 5 years: (i) the manufacture of HEVs of all sizes will increase, and new fleets of vehicles will have 25% better fuel economy than vehicles of the same size now, and costs will be less than now; (ii) absent protests, the manufacture of PV cells will double 5 times, and the cost will be reduced to where PV cells are the most cost-competitive way to power home air conditioning in all parts of the US. This is under-appreciated. In most parts of the country, the electricity to power air conditioning is the most costly, the need is directly proportional to insolation, and the power from PV cells is also directly proportional to insolation. (iii) the production of biofuels will double 5 times as well. (iv) weight reductions from the use of the ceramic/carbide/nitride parts will probably take about 10% off the weight of cars and trucks. (v) the production of electricity from windfarms will double 5 times. (vi) there will be at least one large-scale demonstration project of solar-powered H2 generation, probably in Israel where the inventer lives.

That's with no new government initiatives.

The key is, one doesn't quit after 5 years, but does another 5 years worth of continuous technological improvement, and then another 5 years worth. This will happen unless there is undo citizen opposition: if there is ever demand for PV cells, there will be opposition to building the factories to make them. As biofuels spread through the economy, there will be opposition to builidng the factories to manufacture them. As the Nantucket windfarm shows, and other examples as well, there is opposition to building new windfarms. Shell is expanding its large refinery in Houston -- I doubt any oil company could get permission to expand a refinery in California.

I get my information from the journals Science (carbon nanotubes and biofuels) and American Scientist (ceramics/carbides/nitrides), from the Economist (commercial investments in biofuels), and from diverse web sites. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is at www.nrel.gov. You can get information on solar from utility consumers action network (www.ucan.org, then follow the links; also www.konarka.com and www.siemens.com). A few months ago I posted a link to a very substantial review at Winds of Change.

A last word about "peak" oil. We probably have a plateau, not a peak, and the plateau looks good to last at least 25 years. The US has sufficient coal to make synfuels to meet current US demand for about a century, and profitably at current prices. The real problem is CO2, not fuel.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever happened to telecommuting? That's been the Next New Thing for over a decade, and of course offers significant gasoline savings, but it never seems to have gotten anywhere.

Speak for yourself! I'm telecommuting full-time.

Posted by: me2i81 on April 30, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed a comment about reliability of battery technology in hybrids - I'm at 5 years on my 2001 Prius and have had no problems whatsoever with the battery or any of the drive train compenents. (BTW - the battery pack is standard lead-acid technology, modular so a failed cell group can be replaced without replacing the whole battery, and gauranteed for 10 years.)

The 2001 Prius cost about $23K with the options we chose. Our 2004 Prius also cost about $23K with fancier options (cruise control and a pretty good stereo), for a bigger car, with slightly better gas mileage.

Posted by: Butch on April 30, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

A last word about "peak" oil. We probably have a plateau, not a peak, and the plateau looks good to last at least 25 years.

The difference between a "plateau" and a "peak" is minimal; the essential effect is the same with rising demand and no rising supply for both the energy and the industrial products that depend on petroleum inputs.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 30, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

A last word about "peak" oil. We probably have a plateau, not a peak, and the plateau looks good to last at least 25 years. The US has sufficient coal to make synfuels to meet current US demand for about a century, and profitably at current prices. The real problem is CO2, not fuel.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006

The problem is that even a plateau will lead to shortages and massive price increases given increasing worldwide demand.

Posted by: tanj on April 30, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

BB:

This belief that the "consumer is king" is one of the larger myths of our time. People buy what they're given, and marketing convinces them about what their choices should be.

Fortunately, all that marketing doesn't work on the really smart people like you, right? Just all those dummies out there.

***

Car companies have been working the mileage problem steadily. The key is making improvements people will be willing to pay for. Most of the first reductions were done by reducing car size and weight. That worked, but now we have cars that have some structural issues. My van has about 160,000 miles on it, and the cooling system has a lot of plastic where there used to be brass and steel. It's disintegrating, and I have to keep ahead of it.

There was also a lot of work done on engines, ignition systems, fuel-burning technologies, and other things. It worked too.

I'm looking at an old 1970 Volkswagen Beetle brochure. 57 horsepower, 4 cylinder, air-cooled.

It brags about getting 26 miles per gallon, with a standard transmission, half payload, and at 3/4 top speed on a level road. A Beetle.

We have already come a long way. Short of getting past pure gasburners (hybrids, electric, etc.), or building tiny cars nobody wants, There probably isn't that much further to go.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 30, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

PTate:
I wonder what proportion of car owners has no car payment, and what proportion of those would be in the market for a new car or a car payment?

A fairer comparison is an owner with a payment who's probably way upsidedown in their rapidly depreciating SUV. From an economic and environmental point of view it makes more sense to replace vehicles as they wear out rather than just junk them. Unless the gas price goes stratospheric.

Posted by: notthere on April 30, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Congress can mandate a 40 mpg CAFE but it isn't going to happen. Physics is against it. The high end mileage cars top out aroound 30-33 mpg, which is a long ways away from 40 mpg. The cars that do make or exceed 40 mpg ar hybrids and cars like the Geo Metro. These cars are tiny, 2 seaters which claim to be four passenger cars, with tiny, under powered engines. Can you imagine a nation crammed into a bunch of Metros? I don't think so.

One way to reduce fuel use would be to reduce highway speeds again to 55 mph. Another would be to switch from an 8-hour 5 day work week to a 10-hour four day work week. One less day of driving to work (or school) would greatly reduce gas consumption.

Posted by: beb on April 30, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Fortunately, all that marketing doesn't work on the really smart people like you, right? Just all those dummies out there.

Since a weak insult is your response, I'll assume you acknowledge my statement to be correct.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN on April 30, 2006 at 3:40 PM

Pretty good, but:

1. the cost to manufacture HEvs will decline as the manufacturers work the kinks out of the process and as there are economies of scale;

2. eventually drivers will want to replace their SUVs no matter how much they like them, much sooner than 25 years from now;

so, about 10 years from now HEVs will dominate every weight class of vehicles, and everybody will be driving the same kind of vehicle they own now, and getting 35% better fuel efficiency (some from reduced weight).

Right now there are a few fleets of vehicles that run on H2 powered fuel cells. the fleets have the advantage that they all refuel at the same place every night. some meter maids, some delivery trucks, some school buses. It isn't inconceivable that 10 years from now UPS could have its entire short-haul ground fleet powered by H2 fuel cells. It's conceivable that in 20 years the entire bus fleet of LA County could be powered by solar generated H2 fuel made in LA. I don't expect it, but they replace their entire fleet about three times every 25 years, they have sufficient sunshine and rainfall (which they treat as a nuisance rather than as a resource), and they subsidize solar power.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

We have already come a long way. Short of getting past pure gasburners (hybrids, electric, etc.), or building tiny cars nobody wants, There probably isn't that much further to go.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 30, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Thank god for allthat home grown tech progress, right? Cars getting smaller? Look at the original CVCC and the Civic now. The original Accord? The Jimmy then and now. We love to upsize. Look at the cars the Urpeens are driving. Not the ultimate solution, but their diesel cars get 40-50mpg. And don't knock them unless you've driven them. They aren't your father's diesel.

Posted by: notthere on April 30, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I looked up solar hydrogen. The big flaw seems to be that it first converts sunlight to electricity and then hydrolyses the water. That means it can't be very efficient. Probably a better way would be to use a plasmonic catalyst that converts the sunlight into an electron wave, that in turn can produce intense electric fields which will act as catalysts to hydrolyse the water.

Posted by: bblog on April 30, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Congress can mandate a 40 mpg CAFE but it isn't going to happen. Physics is against it. The high beb: "The high end mileage cars top out aroound 30-33 mpg, which is a long ways away from 40 mpg. The cars that do make or exceed 40 mpg ar hybrids and cars like the Geo Metro. These cars are tiny, 2 seaters which claim to be four passenger cars, with tiny, under powered engines. Can you imagine a nation crammed into a bunch of Metros? I don't think so."

You know not of what you speak. Of course we could do with stopping upsizing ourselves too but the larger Euro compacts will seat at least 4 adults comfortably if not of the larger size we westerners (and others) are tending to.

Posted by: notthere on April 30, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Congress can mandate a 40 mpg CAFE but it isn't going to happen. Physics is against it. The high end mileage cars top out aroound 30-33 mpg, which is a long ways away from 40 mpg. The cars that do make or exceed 40 mpg ar hybrids and cars like the Geo Metro. These cars are tiny, 2 seaters which claim to be four passenger cars, with tiny, under powered engines. Can you imagine a nation crammed into a bunch of Metros? I don't think so.

I'm pretty sure they stopped making the Metro years ago. The Prius, which gets 61 in the city, has more rear legroom than a Mercury Grand Marquis.

Try again.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Americans and their cars. Here's a newsflash- the government already tells us which cars to buy. That's why there are lots of tiny cars in Europe and Asia, but none here- they have to pass "safety standards" to be imported.

And the auto industry spends a fortune to make sure you buy what they want you to buy. Look at who gets out of that "sports" vehicle- a person who could hardly bend over to pick up a tennis ball.

As for the cost of ownership, look what the NAPA guy is driving- a Geo metro. If anyone would know the cost of parts and get a good deal on labor, it oughta be them, so I'm guessing the Geo metro is the hands-down economy king on the American road today. They usually get over 40 mpg.

Slap a 55-mph limit on the roads, let car dealers import small foreign cars, and stop letting the car companies deduct advertising as a business expense, and half of us would be driving cars that get over 50 mpg. Something the automobile industry has known for half a century.

Posted by: serial catowner on April 30, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Sheeesh. I bought a '59 Morris Minor in '67. That car got 34 mpg. My next car, a '59 MB 180D, got 35 mpg on the highway.

If you want mileage, do your research on the web, and you can find models getting 45-65 mpg. These are cars that are legal to import to the US, not small cars you can't buy here.

Of course, the best economy trick is still to glue a block of wood on the underside of your gas pedal, so you can't floor it.

Spend the money you save on Viagra and floozies, and you'll still feel like a he-man.

Posted by: serial catowner on April 30, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79: Here's what will happen if Kevin got his wish: ... Automakers respond by producing inordinate amounts of smaller, slower, more fuel efficient, and lower horsepower cars. ... Those cars sit on dealer lots, while Americans continue to purchase SUV's and faster, higher horsepower vehicles.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is the sales weighted average fuel economy. While the manufacturer could simply institute an across-the-board price increase to offset CAFE fines, that is atypical; CAFE fines are a cost of goods sold, are a function of model sales volume, and any manufacturer with a modicum of financial savvy treats it that way (although it's not necessarily a perfect allocation, as high-end models tend to have higher margins).

In any case, with the exception of smaller manufacturers (e.g., niche producers such as Porsche), the industry did a good job of meeting CAFE standards, and did so over a relatively short period of time. The most notable change over the last two decades has been, using, e.g., 1983 and 2003 passenger car model years as data points (data here, NB Table II-4):

  • Weight has increase 8.8%; this dropped early on, and has shown a small but steady increase since about 1987.
  • Interior volume has held relatively steady.
  • Engine size has decreased 8.8%; this decreased significantly early on, and then flattened.
  • Power-to-weight has increased 53.8%; this dropped early on, and has shown a steady and significant increase since about 1981.
  • CAFE fuel economy increase 11.7%; there was a significant rise early on (CAFE standard 27.5mpg increased through 1990 and hasn't changed since), then it flattened, and it has risen again a bit recently.
In short, the history suggests that (among other things): manufacturers can and will meet increased CAFE standards; that the engineering to bring the power-to-weight ratio back up takes a bit longer, but not much; that engineering has focused almost exclusively on increasing power; and that the American market is more in love with "powerful" than "big".

Posted by: has407 on April 30, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Not only do mileage requirements work, they are extremely popular across the board and require no political courage to support as a result. Everyone supports improved avg mileage requirements, including Republicans, truck and SUV drivers, and voters in Michigan. Everybody except for the losers in Congress.

Posted by: The Fool on April 30, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Aptly named, The Fool.

Everybody supports it until they realize the consequences of an actual law passing.

"Everybody" also supports "the right to choose" and "the right to life" but there still manages to be a debate.

When will the Left realize that everybody agrees to nearly every platitude?

I support children and old folks! -- Who doesn't?

Posted by: Birkel on April 30, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, correction to previous post... "the American market" should read "the American passenger car market"; obviously SUVs/trucks sales indicates power is not the only factor for the market as a whole.

Posted by: has407 on April 30, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Everybody supports it until they realize the consequences of an actual law passing.

What are the consequences?

When CAFE standards were raised, fuel efficiency went up. Fatalities went down.

What's the problem?

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I see notthere got there first but:

Congress can mandate a 40 mpg CAFE but it isn't going to happen. Physics is against it. The high end mileage cars top out aroound 30-33 mpg, which is a long ways away from 40 mpg. The cars that do make or exceed 40 mpg ar hybrids and cars like the Geo Metro. These cars are tiny, 2 seaters which claim to be four passenger cars, with tiny, under powered engines. Can you imagine a nation crammed into a bunch of Metros? I don't think so.

The 2001 Toyota Prius is a four door sedan with decent trunk space - not a large car, but quite a bit roomier than a Geo Metro or (to compare to another hybrid) a Honda Insight. And my wife and I regularly get 50mpg (although it can peel rubber if you stomp it - but if you drive with a lead foot you definitely won't get 50 mpg). The 2004 Prius is considerably larger - one of our acquaintances is about 6'3" and is very confortable driving it - we get 52-54mpg in it. The 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid is also a 4 door sedan rated 49/51mpg.

The assertion that "Physics is against it" (higher than 40MPG) for anything bigger than a Metro is just bunk. Furthermore, as battery and capacitor storage density increases and plug in hybrid technology moves beyond the proof of concept stage, I expect we'll see significant improvements in MPG ratings for vehicles in the Prius/Civic size range and corresponding improvements in larger vehicles.

Posted by: Butch on April 30, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, as I recall, the Citroen 2CV gets about 55 mpg. Designed about 60 years ago so the farmer could safely carry a load of eggs to market, and roomy enough for DeGaulle to sit in still wearing his hat.

Posted by: serial catowner on April 30, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Incidentally, anyone interested in the history of high-mileage cars should check out "cycle-cars" from the 30s. They were small cars with wheels that resembled bicycle wheels, hence the name. If you remember Moon Mullin's cab, well- there actually were cars like that.

Some of them, like American Bantam, now have clubs that get together, so you can still see them in good condition.

The only thing new in the world is history you haven't read.

Posted by: serial catowner on April 30, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Will someone please explain why we want HOV privileges for hybrids? Hybrids are more efficient than other vehicles in stop-and-go traffic, so obviously we ought to encourage their purchasers, by making them specially exempt from exactly that sort of traffic. Am I the only person who thinks that's idiotic?

Posted by: waterfowl on April 30, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Since a weak insult is your response, I'll assume you acknowledge my statement to be correct.

No, it isn't.

I've been listening for years to pundits and others bewailing how there isn't any real "free market" because choices are dictated by the power of advertising. Of course, the next question I have is, "why aren't YOU succumbing to this?"

The answers vary, but usually fall into the same category: Because they're so much smarter than those poor proles out there.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 30, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

So what have automakers done with the increases in efficiency, power-to-weight etc. They build bigger and more powerful cars.

I bought a Honda Accord in 1984 that got 30-35 mpg and weighed about 1950lbs

I bought another accord in 1992; mileage 30-35 highway and it weighed about 2750.

The current model gets the same mileage and weighs about 3100.

I know some of the weight goes to safety, but this change weight is excessive. Try to find a small pockup nowdays, something like Toyota, Nissan and even the Ford Ranger that you could get 15 years ago. No way, everybody's got to have an F150, silverado, tundra or other macho overweight hunk.

Posted by: natural cynic on April 30, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

No one voted for the stupid 40-mpg bill because it is not possible to accomplish at a decent cost in a vehicle that is safe and that America needs and wants. There are about 50 30-mpg vehicles on the road. GM alone makes 30 30-mpg vehicles. That is not what America wants. If you made the 51st car, you would be stupid or going out of business.

The Japs have hybrids, to increase power, not fuel efficiency. Check the new ones vs. last year.

Why not let the market work? If we want gov intervention (I do) that have them support a true fuel cell development. Tens of billions of dollars a year to fignt a war for oil could have been better spent developing the fuel cell and infastructure it needs. And, by the way, save the lives of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraquis. We are getting to the point where Bush will be responsible for more American deaths than the 9-11 guys. He has also killed more Iraquis that Sadam. Just so his Republican Oil Buddies can get $.

After you take on the Auto industry, how about people who have large homes. Sports events at night. Auto racing? The answer is not how to stretch oil, but to get anouther source of energy. Got a better idea than fuel cells?

Posted by: Paul on April 30, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

No one voted for the stupid 40-mpg bill because it is not possible to accomplish at a decent cost in a vehicle that is safe and that America needs and wants. There are about 50 30-mpg vehicles on the road. GM alone makes 30 30-mpg vehicles. That is not what America wants. If you made the 51st car, you would be stupid or going out of business.

The Japs have hybrids, to increase power, not fuel efficiency. Check the new ones vs. last year.

Why not let the market work? If we want gov intervention (I do) that have them support a true fuel cell development. Tens of billions of dollars a year to fignt a war for oil could have been better spent developing the fuel cell and infastructure it needs. And, by the way, save the lives of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraquis. We are getting to the point where Bush will be responsible for more American deaths than the 9-11 guys. He has also killed more Iraquis that Sadam. Just so his Republican Oil Buddies can get $.

After you take on the Auto industry, how about people who have large homes. Sports events at night. Auto racing? The answer is not how to stretch oil, but to get anouther source of energy. Got a better idea than fuel cells?

Posted by: Paul on April 30, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Will someone please explain why we want HOV privileges for hybrids? Hybrids are more efficient than other vehicles in stop-and-go traffic, so obviously we ought to encourage their purchasers, by making them specially exempt from exactly that sort of traffic. Am I the only person who thinks that's idiotic?

So you think people would be encouraged to buy hybrids if they were "sentenced" to stop and go traffic for driving them? But if you want to get to work fast, drive a gas hog? DUH.

I don't know that being stuck in 20 MPH traffic isn't so fuel efficient anyway. Let the single pax SUVs rot in the slow lane. That's my opinion.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Paul
After you take on the Auto industry, how about people who have large homes. Sports events at night. Auto racing? The answer is not how to stretch oil, but to get anouther source of energy. Got a better idea than fuel cells?

Fuel cells still burn hydrocarbons, but in a different way.

I've thought a home run would be a car racing circuit for alternatively fueled cars. Imagine if NASCAR drivers lent their imprimatur to it. That'd be an opportunity for patriotism.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

"You could buy fancy wheels, a sunroof, extra electronics and an automatic transmission. No one would even ask if you save the extra cost by reduced fuel usage. buy a hybrid instead and all of a sudden people point out that the hybrid might not save the extra cost. Yet the hybrid has much less net cost over the life of the car than the fancy wheels, sunroof, extra electronics, and automatic transmission."

Republicrat, you are absolutely correct, a hybrid powerplant (when available) is a smarter automotive accessory purchase than spinner 22" dubs. Strangely you can't take your Town Car down to Pep Boys and have them install a hybrid drivetrain but you can get 22s all over town. Even though I don't think these two demographic targets have much overlap, I still love that show "Pimp My Prius".

When it comes to cars, logic can fly out the window pretty quick. Ever try to figure out with a friend what they should buy, only to watch them turn around and buy the car they were talking about when they asked you for advice? I have.

People sign on to a car purchase at different levels of commitment. Some Prius owners are lifestyle cultists (like a first-time Harley owner), where other hybrid drivers just own a car that gets good mileage through the addition of technology.

But I also think you're right that the market will provide a lot of choices of hybrids in the near (3-7 year) future. Still, I think that raising CAFE standards is a good idea. It will help us feel like we are taking control of our own destiny.

Now, will somebody PLEASE tell me why we haven't repealed the tax breaks for small business Escalades, Hummers and Excursions?

Posted by: jim7 on April 30, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only person who thinks that's idiotic?

Not as idiotic as paying one's way into the HOV lane.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

One of the things the idiots say against small cars/better mileage standards is: But SUVs etc. are "safer." Heh - the saftey increase for the riders is at least canceled by the increased danger to everyone else. That just figures for egoists, right?

Posted by: Neil' on April 30, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I've been listening for years to pundits and others bewailing how there isn't any real "free market" because choices are dictated by the power of advertising... Of course, the next question I have is, "why aren't YOU succumbing to this?""

Posted by: tbrosz on April 30, 2006 at 8:00 PM

The next question I have is this: If choices cannot be dictated, or at least influenced, by the power of advertising, then why is advertising used at all in the gloriously efficient free market? Corporations wouldn't throw all those advert dollars away if it didn't influence (a better word than the dramatic "dictate") consumers' decisions.

Posted by: cjdquest on April 30, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the next question I have is, "why aren't YOU succumbing to this?"

The answers vary, but usually fall into the same category: Because they're so much smarter than those poor proles out there.

Not sure why you're belaboring this, but the fact that I have strong critical reasoning skills and have studied how people are manipulated is unusual. Most people unconsciously accept all sorts of things (eg, the notion that the US is a free market economy). I have taken the time and the effort to not succumb to that kind of mental conditioning.

That I and others are exceptions proves the rule. I don't see you denying that there would be no need for advertising if the "consumer is king" notion were actually true.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

why is advertising used at all in the gloriously efficient free market?

to provide information rapidly to large numbers of people. coercion is a plus, but it works best on children.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

There are about 50 30-mpg vehicles on the road.

There are?

GM alone makes 30 30-mpg vehicles.

They do?

That is not what America wants.

The best sellng car in the US is the Toyota Camry. It gets over 30 mpg.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: I've thought a home run would be a car racing circuit for alternatively fueled cars.

Indianaplis 500 racers used to burn ethanol, as do the Formula SAE college competitions that I mentioned. Indy 500 more or less turned its back on high technology when they prohibited gas turbine engines in the early 70s: they said that they preferred the noise of the piston engines, and they thought the high speed of the Granatelli turbine cars was dangerous.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

I think the best would be hybrid car races. Allow any fuel, but require the wheels to be driven by electric motors and cap the max horsepower of the main engine. Make the race course of a sort that would reward a mixture of battery and hydrocarbons, with regenerative braking needed to ensure a competitive race. So a road course rather than a big Daytona-styled loop.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

The difference between a "plateau" and a "peak" is minimal;

I disagree: a plateau provides a long period of time for making adjustments. the combination of a world-wide plateau in supply with rising world-wide consumption does imply, I believe, a gradually increasing world price over the upcoming decades, the US and the rest of the world have substantial capacity to increase biofuels and coal-based fuels in the meantime.

This is one of those issues of semantically "framing" the problem. but underlying the semantic frame is the implied difference in time scales. If the plateau lasts 25 years, for example, that corresponds to approximately 3 complete retoolings of the automotive industries.

It's sufficient time to build hundrds of liquid metal cooled nuclear reactors. the liquid metal cooled reactors (lead, sodium) have primary coolants at such high temperatures that they can dissociate the H and the O in the secondary coolant water, generating H2 directly; of course, you need to separate the H2 and O2 before they can combust, but the dissociation absorbs more heat per kilogram than the boiling of the water absorbs.

It also provides the time necessary to learn how to manufacture entire automobiles out of ceramics/carbides/nitrides. Now these are mostly used in specialty applications like high performance transmissions. When the weight-bearing parts of autos are made of these materials, the autos will be much lighter than they are now.

Some of what I write on this topic is almost visionary, but all the technologies that I describe are well-tested. All that's needed is the scale-up to mass production. It's eminently doable in an energy plateau.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike on April 30, 2006 at 9:53 PM


Pretty good, but no cap on the motor horsepower.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Butch: The 2001 Prius cost about $23K with the options we chose. Our 2004 Prius also cost about $23K with fancier options (cruise control and a pretty good stereo), for a bigger car, with slightly better gas mileage.

It's another example of continuous improvement, in the commercial market.

Posted by: republicrat on April 30, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's another example of continuous improvement, in the commercial market.

And it's being spurred by high fuel prices, which government could have set with higher taxes many years ago.

Price signals are what matters with respect to demand responses, especially when it comes to autos and fuel.

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK
to provide information rapidly to large numbers of people. republicrat 9:29 PM
Only a child would believe that advertising propaganda is "information." The purpose of advertising is to make consumers desire overpriced products they don't need or want. Posted by: Mike on April 30, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: "The answers vary, but usually fall into the same category: Because they're so much smarter than those poor proles out there."

BB:

Not sure why you're belaboring this, but the fact that I have strong critical reasoning skills and have studied how people are manipulated is unusual. Most people unconsciously accept all sorts of things (eg, the notion that the US is a free market economy). I have taken the time and the effort to not succumb to that kind of mental conditioning.

That I and others are exceptions proves the rule. I don't see you denying that there would be no need for advertising if the "consumer is king" notion were actually true.

Like I said, only I didn't use so many words.

Advertising gets information to people, much like blogs do. And like blogs, you have to filter out the bullshit. I believe most people are pretty good at this, and don't need coddling by any elites.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 30, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Like I said, only I didn't use so many words.

No, it's not like you said, nor does what you say have any relevance to the point.

Advertising gets information to people, much like blogs do.

Have you worked in marketing? Because what you just said is ridiculous. Advertising is paying to put forth a custom-tailored message (which very often is divorced from truth) in order to get people to buy something. It creates demand -- it doesn't fill it, as the myth would claim.

Here's the four steps of direct marketing:
1) Benefit/message
2) Offer
3) Guarantee/deadline/special bonus (Give the person a reason to act today)
4) Call to Action

Of course, it's not the only form of advertising, but it encapsulates the basic premise which is to capture someone's attention with a pithy message, make an offer, tempt with something that makes it look like a good deal, then try to convince the consumer that there's some immediate need to act and make a purchase/spending decision.

This is completely divorced from the idea that people actively know what they want, communicate it to producers, who then supply them with what they asked for.

And like blogs, you have to filter out the bullshit. I believe most people are pretty good at this, and don't need coddling by any elites.

What kind of a sheep uses the terms "elites" as a derogatory term? Bush is an elite. Cheney is an elite. Everyone with any power in this country is an elite.

And if you believe people are good at filtering out bullshit, then you and I don't share the same reality. The wide viewership of Fox "News" pretty much lays that theory to rest, or the fact that a high percentage of people believe in aliens and angels (which result from the same weak-minded wish to be saved by unseen, powerful beings).

Posted by: BB on April 30, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: "I've been listening for years to pundits and others bewailing how there isn't any real "free market" because choices are dictated by the power of advertising... Of course, the next question I have is, "why aren't YOU succumbing to this?"

As others have pointed out, the answer is that they ARE succumbing to advertising. They just aren't aware of how they have been influenced. Psychologists talk about peripheral and central routes of persuasion. Some things you care about, you pay a lot of attention to. Other things not so much. When you are motivated, you want the details, the facts, you invest time and work the decision: you use a central route to persuasion. Advertisers give you the information you want and you end up thinking, I wasn't influenced by advertising even as you brag about the features of your new van which has safety doorlocks and can carry five children with ease.

When you aren't really paying attention, you can be captured by the superficial aspects of the message--the attractiveness of the pitchwoman, the recommendation of friends, the products fashionable lines and shiny surface. You don't even realize that you are being influenced. People like to think they are in control. But every 20-something woman I know wants a pink razor right now. They've all made rational decisions to buy the same phone?

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 1, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

And I think that the federal government needs to buy a mothballed refinery, bring it up to current regs and use it as a governer on the market, increasing output at those times when, for example, suddenly every plant is changing over to a summer blend and causing a price spike.

I happen to know of one abandoned by Amoco in the 80's that could be retooled. It sits in Sugar Creek, Missouri (between KC & Independence) and the locals are still bitching about the jobs that were lost two decades ago.

Posted by: Global Citizen on May 1, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

People would save so much money with fuel efficient cars, they could afford to have another kid. Whoops! There goes all pretense of being energy conserving. If there was the power to do it, you'd add an excise tax to petroleum products sufficient to reduce demand by about 10% a year.(Might as well reduce national debt anyway.) You might even stop building and importing any new cars, whatsoever. Or airliners. What we now have will last 30 years. (See Cuba). The big trouble will be that a petroleum-free economy will be like 1900. The sustainable population was about 75 million, and that was with a lot of coal burning. How are we going to gracefully decline to that level, and yet still defend ourselves from invaders?

Posted by: cdm on May 1, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

The big trouble will be that a petroleum-free economy will be like 1900. The sustainable population was about 75 million, and that was with a lot of coal burning. How are we going to gracefully decline to that level, and yet still defend ourselves from invaders?

Well, this wins the prize for inventive nutbag post of the day. US population was growing at 4% per year in 1900, and the population of India was already double the US's on comparable territorial mass. We weren't close to the sustainability level yet. But the real madness lies in the thesis that a non-petroleum-burning country that does have nuclear, solar, hydroelectric and wind power, as well as ethanol, would somehow retreat to 1900 levels of technology. Much of the country wasn't wired for electricity yet in 1900. Madness. If the choice comes down to living at 1900 living standards, or completely rebuilding society with smaller, denser communities linked by electric commuter trains (and electric cars) and powered by nuclear power stations, America will completely rebuild its society. No question about it. Nothing else is even imaginable.

Posted by: brooksfoe on May 1, 2006 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK
a. The Manhattan project produced an over-priced bomb. cost was no impediment because there was a felt urgency to get the bomb before the Germans could. In most respects, that is a terrible analogy for commercial progress.
To make "the bomb" required huge advances in technologies. Not just in physics to make it, but in refining technologies and in technologies to make the tools to make the stuff to make "the bomb." If it weren't for the Manhattan Project, the refining technology needed to make semiconductors never would have happened, so there wouldn't be transistors outside of the laboratory. No single company could have afforded to advance "basic" technology far enough to produce commercial semiconductors: not even Bell Labs.

Teflon was a curiosity before the Manhattan Project, but since it was useful for the rotating seals in the centrifuges used to refine Uranium, there was a push to learn how to make it stick to metal. That tiny technological challenge for the Manhattan Project lead to non-stick frying pans, which have saved countless hours of labor in the home.

These cars are tiny, 2 seaters which claim to be four passenger cars, with tiny, under powered engines. Can you imagine a nation crammed into a bunch of Metros?
When I'm commuting to work, I see roads full of cars with one passenger in them. Here in Denver, I also see lots of public transportation also. The capacity of cars is irrelevant for the majority of trips that people take: single passenger trips to the store, to work, to home. Posted by: Peter on May 1, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

> Congress can mandate a 40 mpg CAFE
> but it isn't going to happen. Physics
> is against it.

Honda would have no problem with producing a 40 mpg Accord (40 honest mpg; Hondas usually better their published numbers), and the Accord is not considered a small car anywhere in the world except the US. Their 1985-1990 models came close to this without any super-duper computerized engine controls or 5/6 speed automatics, until Honda was forced to join the Useless Horsepower(tm) race by marketing considerations.

And no, you don't need 275 hp to drive "safely". I drove a 65 hp 1978 Chevette safely on Chicago expressways for several years, including the real fun lefthand merges downtown. And no one is talking that kind of power/weight ratio today, not even at 40 mpg.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on May 1, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

> Congress can mandate a 40 mpg CAFE
> but it isn't going to happen. Physics
> is against it.

What's the status of research on "platooning"? Where you put your car on auto, and it joins a platoon of other cars drafting along at speed?

Can you imagine if in SoCal you could buy a car that would allow you to ride in a special lane that would get you anywhere within the LA basin within a set deterministic time plus or minus a few minutes? Think they'd sell?

Build it and they will come. The cities have immense power to shape this, as evidenced by the spike in hybrid sales once they were allowed HOV access. The time is ripe, as people are actually bringing fuel economy into their decision making equations now.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 1, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I love your site and your posts, BUT...

What part of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge do you not understand?

Can't we preserve at least some of the world's last wild places without having to spoil them by digging for oil? And don't believe them when they tell you it won't damage the environment. Especially don't say it here in Louisiana, where the oil companies' canals have contributed greatly to the erosion of our coastline, and where my house sat in 5.5 feet of water for over two weeks. This *might* not have happened if we had as many acres of wetlands below our city as we did in, say, 1920.

In 100 years, when people look back on us, they are really going to shake their heads.

Posted by: Trent on May 1, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

In 100 years, when people look back on us, they are really going to shake their heads.

In 100 years, after the oil has been removed, there will only be rusted artifacts to remind us why we were ever there. Much of what is now wilderness in the US, particularly on the east coast, had been totally logged and settled into submission. Shenandoah National Park, for example.

Reality is, that oil will eventually be extracted. The idea is to make the powers that be pay dearly for it in terms of alternative energies and smart policies, etc. It's called negotiation. But if both sides only see lose/lose, we'll just keep on keepin' on like we are right now, and then we'll be in complete react mode. Which sucks.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 1, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Peter: To make "the bomb" required huge advances in technologies. Not just in physics to make it, but in refining technologies and in technologies to make the tools to make the stuff to make "the bomb."

True enough, but it is still a terrible model to follow for commercial development. Two better models for commercial development were the first auto revolution by Henry Ford and the second auto revolution with industrial robots in the 80s.


If it weren't for the Manhattan Project, the refining technology needed to make semiconductors never would have happened, so there wouldn't be transistors outside of the laboratory. No single company could have afforded to advance "basic" technology far enough to produce commercial semiconductors: not even Bell Labs.

Since most advances in semiconductors have in fact been commercial, including Sony's big investment in transistors and Intel's and Motorola's fantastic achievements in microprocessors, that comment is clearly irrelevant. No single company produced the hi-fi revolution or the computer revolution, but the most important advances were non-government funded, and occurred steadily over 25-50 years. Government funded DARPA net, but the internet and the world wide web are commercial developments.

Posted by: republicrat on May 1, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

> and the second auto revolution with
> industrial robots in the 80s.

You mean the one where General Motors bankrupted itself investing 10s (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars in industrial robots, while Toyota focused on improving their design engineering, industrial engineering, and plant floor control (human control, that is, not robotic control) systems?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on May 1, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by BB:
I have strong critical reasoning skills and have studied how people are manipulated is unusual. Most people unconsciously accept all sorts of things (eg, the notion that the US is a free market economy). I have taken the time and the effort to not succumb to that kind of mental conditioning.

Someone sure has a more than healthy dose of self-esteem!

Posted by: sportsfan79 on May 1, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Someone sure has a more than healthy dose of self-esteem!

Would you rather I wrote with false humility?

Objectivity is objectivity. I'm not bragging about myself, just answering the question.

The vast majority of people "think" in a conditioned manner. This is obvious.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Can you imagine if in SoCal you could buy a car that would allow you to ride in a special lane that would get you anywhere within the LA basin within a set deterministic time plus or minus a few minutes? Think they'd sell?

Yeah, I can imagine it. At a minimum, it's decades away. And of course, "anywhere within the LA basin" wouldn't actually mean anywhere within the LA basin. It would only mean, at best, "any freeway exit." A fully automatic car that could drive itself from any point A to point B within the LA basin isn't even on the drawing board yet.

Build it and they will come.

Or, they will stay.

The cities have immense power to shape this, as evidenced by the spike in hybrid sales once they were allowed HOV access.

Hybrid sales are about one-half of one percent of total auto sales. Only about 1 car in 1000 on American roads is a hybrid. Even the most optimistic projections do not expect hybrids to comprise a substantial fraction of new auto sales for at least 10 years. Even if and when most new cars are hybrids, it would take decades longer to turn over the U.S. auto fleet. And newer hybrid models are more adding power than about saving fuel. The only real full hybrid is the Prius.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin says "mileage standards work" and cites a National Academy of Sciences study that found that raising CAFE standards improved the average fuel economy of the U.S. auto fleet.

What Kevin neglects to mention is that the NAS also found that raising CAFE standards imposed substantial costs, including an estimated additional 1,300 to 2,600 traffic fatalities per year (and a much greater number of additional injuries), and deprived new car buyers of amenities they clearly value, such as faster acceleration, greater carrying capacity and reliability. The NAS also concluded that there are alternatives to raising the CAFE standards that "could accomplish the same end at lower cost, provide more flexibility to manufacturers, or address inequities arising from the current system."

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

GOP
RSM: The cities have immense power to shape this, as evidenced by the spike in hybrid sales once they were allowed HOV access.

Hybrid sales are about one-half of one percent of total auto sales. Only about 1 car in 1000 on American roads is a hybrid.

I'd be curious to know how those numbers skew where hybrids get access to HOV lanes, or other bennies. DC area is the only one I'm familiar with.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

What Kevin neglects to mention is that the NAS also found that raising CAFE standards imposed substantial costs, including an estimated additional 1,300 to 2,600 traffic fatalities per year (and a much greater number of additional injuries), and deprived new car buyers of amenities they clearly value, such as faster acceleration, greater carrying capacity and reliability.

Hmmm, CAFE gave incentives to car makers to "uparmor" their vehicles and make them heavier and subject to more lenient economy standards, thereby making them more dangerous in collisions with smaller vehicles. And now most SUVs, which fall under the light truck category, are really just big station wagons used for lugging people around. Those SUVs have worse safety records due to rollover and control issues, and are not good for anyone else to run into.

The idea that CAFE would reduce reliability makes little sense.

If true, the substantial costs of CAFE are due to its being poorly written, not due to some fundamental physics-based inverse relation between mileage and safety.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 1, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hybrid sales are about one-half of one percent of total auto sales.

They were 1.2 percent of all vehicle sales in the US last year.
http://www.hybridcars.com/sales-numbers.html

Only about 1 car in 1000 on American roads is a hybrid.

There's about half a million hybrids out of around 200 million vehicles registered, so it's more like 2.5 out of 1000.

Even the most optimistic projections do not expect hybrids to comprise a substantial fraction of new auto sales for at least 10 years.

"The most optimistic and forward-looking prediction comes from Booz Allen Hamilton, a global strategy and technology-consulting firm. They predict that hybrid cars will make up 80 percent of the overall car market by 2015."
[see same link]

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

BB

Your link is to a website that promotes hybrid vehicles. It gives no source for its "1.2 percent of all vehicle sales" figure. J.D. Power puts the share of "vehicle models utilizing a hybrid-electric powertrain" at 1.3 percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales in 2005. This is obviously higher than the percent of all vehicle sales.

Even hybridcars.com acknowledges that "hybrids as a percent of all vehicles in use will remain modest for a long time," quoting an estimate of about 2% of all vehicles in use by 2011.

If the current trend of using hybrid technology more to boost power than to improve mileage continues, improvements in fuel economy attributable to hybrids will be even more modest than these numbers suggest.

It's not that hybrids are a bad thing. But their proponents are massively overselling their likely impact.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

An item of "news" or "advertising".

70 MPG in 3 years? We'll have to wait and see.

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/04/27/005036.html

Posted by: republicrat on May 1, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

What Kevin neglects to mention is that the NAS also found that raising CAFE standards imposed substantial costs, including an estimated additional 1,300 to 2,600 traffic fatalities per year (and a much greater number of additional injuries)

Let's look at the data, shall we?

CAFE Standard for Automobiles (mpg)
1978 - 18.0
1985 - 27.5 (same as now)

Total traffic fatalities
1978 - 50,331
1985 - 43,825

Fatalities per 100,000 people
1978 - 22.61
1985 - 18.42

Fatalities per 100,000 licensed drivers
1978 - 35.74
1985 - 27.94

Fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled
1978 - 3.26
1985 - 2.47

http://cta.ornl.gov/data/tedb24/Edition24_Chapter04.pdf
http://www.informedforlife.org/NHTSAtrafficSafetyFatalityReport2004.pdf

What's interesting is that fatalities and fatality rates hit a first bottom in 1983, one year after the CAFE standards became a two-tier system (ie, lower standards for light trucks), then peaking in 1988, one year after light truck standards hit 20.5 mpg (only 0.2 mpg less than it is currently).

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Also, the Camry hybrid averages around 40 mpg and pulls 0-60 times around 9 seconds.

EPA ratings for the 2007 Camry Hybrid are 43 city/37 highway. The highway mileage is only slightly better than the mileage of the non-hybrid Camry (34). And like most EPA figures, these ones should be taken with a large grain of salt. This reviewer found that his real-world city-driving mileage was only 30 mpg. Still very good for a car of the Camry's size and power, but nowhere close to the EPA rating.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Your link is to a website that promotes hybrid vehicles. It gives no source for its "1.2 percent of all vehicle sales" figure. J.D. Power puts the share of "vehicle models utilizing a hybrid-electric powertrain" at 1.3 percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales in 2005. This is obviously higher than the percent of all vehicle sales.

Criticize the data, not the source. Do you dispute their sales figure numbers? Apparently JD Powers has similar numbers, as you've shown. "Light vehicle" means automobiles and light trucks, or what most people consider "cars" or "vehicles". Anything outside of that category is primarily large, commercial vehicles (ie, execeeding 8500 lbs GVWR).

Even hybridcars.com acknowledges that "hybrids as a percent of all vehicles in use will remain modest for a long time," quoting an estimate of about 2% of all vehicles in use by 2011.

I was merely disputing your claim about the "most optimistic projections". You were wrong about that, as you were about current market penetration of hybrids. Total vehicle fleet for the US is arond 230 million, with light vehicles making up 200-210 million of that.

If the current trend of using hybrid technology more to boost power than to improve mileage continues, improvements in fuel economy attributable to hybrids will be even more modest than these numbers suggest.

Every hybrid option on current vehicles boosts efficiency. It goes ftom 32% increase for the Accord Hybrid, 43% for the Lexus 400h, all the way up to 53% for the Escape Hybrid 4WD. These are huge improvements. And the lower the baseline fuel efficiency, the greater the effect a given percentage efficiency gain has on total fuel consumed.

It's not that hybrids are a bad thing. But their proponents are massively overselling their likely impact.

Well, you decried the site promoting hybrid cars (hybridcars.com), yet said they said "hybrids as a percent of all vehicles in use will remain modest for a long time". How is that "massively overselling" them?

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

EPA ratings for the 2007 Camry Hybrid are 43 city/37 highway.

Which is about 40 mpg combined - exactly what I said.

The highway mileage is only slightly better than the mileage of the non-hybrid Camry (34).

People don't spend 100% of their time on highways. This is why combined mileage is the proper standard.

And like most EPA figures, these ones should be taken with a large grain of salt. This reviewer found that his real-world city-driving mileage was only 30 mpg.

Outliers exist for any distribution. Real-world databases with large datasets show people getting below EPA for hybrids (as is true for all vehicles), but not 25% below as your random example would like to convey.

Fuel efficiency is highly dependent on driver behavior, upkeep of the vehicle, mix of driving conditions, climate, and the like. Be honest and acknowledge that plenty of people do BETTER than EPA. Someone who cared about this would be curious as to how they do it so it could be replicated, instead of focusing on people who are obviously jackrabbiting and leadfooting it.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Comparisons of raw fatality numbers and rates are not a meaningful indicator of the effects of raising the CAFE standards. The long-term trend is to a lower fatality rate through incremental improvements in safety. The relevant question is what the fatality (and injury) rates would have been absent the CAFE standards. The National Academy of Sciences study reports that:

"All but two members of the committee concluded that the downweighting and downsizing that occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, some of which was due to CAFE standards, probably resulted in an additional 1,300 to 2,600 traffic fatalities in 1993."

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Camry - 158 hp, 27 mpg
Camry Hybrid - 192 hp, 39 mpg

Power up 22%
Fuel economy up 44%

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Which is about 40 mpg combined - exactly what I said.

Only for a driving pattern evenly split between highway and city. And as I said, these are just EPA figures, which are notoriously inflated.

People don't spend 100% of their time on highways. This is why combined mileage is the proper standard.

Depends entirely on the user's driving pattern. Many cars are used primarily on highways, for long daily commutes between work and home. The mileage improvement offered by hybrids in general, and by the hybrid Camry in particular, for this type of driving pattern is minimal.

Outliers exist for any distribution. Real-world databases with large datasets show people getting below EPA for hybrids (as is true for all vehicles), but not 25% below as your random example would like to convey.

I'd like to see your evidence for this claim. And by the way, the reviewer's actual, real-world mileage was not merely 25% below the EPA estimate, it was about 30% below (30 mpg actual vs. 43 mpg estimate).

Fuel efficiency is highly dependent on driver behavior, upkeep of the vehicle, mix of driving conditions, climate, and the like. Be honest and acknowledge that plenty of people do BETTER than EPA.

What proportion is "plenty?" Again, I'd like to see some evidence.


Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Comparisons of raw fatality numbers and rates are not a meaningful indicator of the effects of raising the CAFE standards. The long-term trend is to a lower fatality rate through incremental improvements in safety. The relevant question is what the fatality (and injury) rates would have been absent the CAFE standards. The National Academy of Sciences study reports that:

"All but two members of the committee concluded that the downweighting and downsizing that occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, some of which was due to CAFE standards, probably resulted in an additional 1,300 to 2,600 traffic fatalities in 1993."

And if you go to the study you'll see a footnote about those two dissenters and the fact that they wrote the explanation for their dissent in Appendix A of the study.

http://darwin.nap.edu/books/0309076013/html/117.html

Correlation is not causation, of course, but I see the correlation of reduced average vehicle mass, increased fuel efficiency, and lower fatalities in the actual data. This is indisputable. To claim what might have been otherwise is purely speculative.

I have shown before that the more weight = greater safety assumption is a fallacy, simply by showing how a Honda Civic has lower fatality rates than a Ford Excursion -- which is nearly 3 times its size.

Safety is not solely a factor of mass.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK
Since most advances in semiconductors have in fact been commercial, including Sony's big investment in transistors and Intel's and Motorola's fantastic achievements in microprocessors, that comment is clearly irrelevant. No single company produced the hi-fi revolution or the computer revolution, but the most important advances were non-government funded, and occurred steadily over 25-50 years.
No, that is false. The purity required for semiconductors was several orders of magnitude higher than pre-Manhattan Project technology could provide. And a by-product of the technology needed to refine uranium, plutonium and some of the other stuff needed for nuclear weapons. One example, is to imagine a railroad car full of sugar. Now, add 1 grain of salt. Doing so adds more impurities to the sugar than are acceptable in semiconductors. Intentional impurities, the N or P doping, involves adding carefully selected, equally pure atoms back in, to give very carefully selected physical properties. The base/bulk silicon needs to be refined to where less than 1 in 10^15 atoms is something other than silicon. That's just physics. Without the massive government spending of the Manhattan Project, that technology would have never been born. No single company could have afforded to invent all the machinery needed to refine semiconductors to the required purity. Yet that technology exists only because the Manhattan Project needed it to exist.

MOS was "invented" back in the 1920s over in europe. But chemistry wasn't sufficiently advanced to refined the stuff to the purities needed to actually make the products. If even 1 atom of sodium, per trillion atoms of silicon dioxide, are present, the material is useless.

Furthermore, the driving force behind miniturization of semiconductors was the defense industry (smaller radios for missiles and satellites) and the space race. You can't change a tube on a satellite, so you need to send stuff up there with far greater reliability than a tube (valve for our British readers).

...but the most important advances were non-government funded...

It was massive government spending that allowed the semiconductor industry to evolve to the point where it became commercially viable for consumer goods. When transistors were first developed, only the government could afford the huge cost of the item (hundreds of dollars per transistor in the beginning of the 50s to single dollars in the 60s to pennies in the 70s), and only the military could afford to throw truckloads of dollars at the problem of getting them smaller in size and reliable enough. Affordability is the by-product of making them smaller and more reliable. Integrated circuits, the internet, affordable consumer electronics all came from those massive government spending programs. And 20+ years of heavy government subsidies to make those "fantastic achievements" appear. OpAmps (operational amplifiers) are a building block of analog design. In the early to mid 60s, they were clunky blocks larger than a pack of cigarettes, costing $1000 or so, and only the military could afford them. By 1970, they had shrunk to integrated circuits, about 1/3" by 1", and were a dollar, and were affordable enough to be used in consumer electronics.
"If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

Someone had to jumpstart the industry. It would never have made economic sense to start by itself. If you want to pretend that the PC, or the Walkman spontaneously appeared on the marketplace, then you're carefully ignoring what really happened. And carefully ignoring what technology had to be invented in order to allow such technology to be invented. But that is a by-product of an ideological stance which pretends that nothing good can possibly come from government spending: it requires ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
...including Sony's big investment in transistors...

Sony licensed the transistor from Bell Labs when most companies thought it was a nice, but expensive, gimmick. $50,000 might have been a "big investment in transistors" back in the 1950s, but today, there are automobiles that cost more than that.

The internet is another example of a technology started by government spending, that took decades before it was commercially useful. Developed by ARPA funded research in the 60s, it took until the 80s when modems and personal computers were ubiquitous enough for the technology to take off. Now, it is everywhere.

Some people like to believe that the US has UFOs hidden out in Area 51, or some other spot, and is making some. A simple back-of-the-envelope analysis would show that such things cannot exist. UFOs, as described in the literature, differ so wildly from existing knowledge of physics that an entirely new set of physics would exist. Entirely new machinery would have to be invented. The machinery to make that machinery would also have to be invented, and every step along the way would require whole new industries to be built to make the tools to make the tools to fix/make UFOs. Entire new industries would spring up as by-products of such necessary tooling, as the semiconductor industry sprang up as a by-product of the Manhattan Project. The USAF might be making some pretty sophisticated craft, but none are flying saucers that make 90degree turns at supersonic speeds (the g-forces involved would turn flesh and bone into pudding). Any "anti-gravity" or "inertial damper" involved would require entire new physics, and entire new industries, and there are none: there are no new industries based on physics that are outside of physics that Einstein would have understood 60 years ago. I'm not as smart as Einstein. I'm just an electrical engineer that went to school to make integrated circuits. I wish UFOs could exist, but they don't. And wishing won't make them exist. Nor will a marketplace of millions of people waving fistfulls of dollars make such products automagically appear. No amount of "invisible handwaving of the marketplace" will make such products appear.

There isn't any other industry where there have been such improvements in reliability, cost, performance and reliability as in the semiconductor industry. Computers have gone from taking rooms full of vacuum tubes (hollow state devices) with MTBF (mean time between failure) of tens of hours to MTBF measured in hundreds of thousands of hours, from a few thousand tubes to the tens of millions on today's pentium chips. The improvements are like 6-10 orders of magnitude in every dimension of measure. All made possible by mountains of government driven research and development.

Posted by: Peter on May 1, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess mileage standards "work" at least in some sense. They "work" to increase the number of traffic fatalities by making cars lighter and smaller. They also "work" to encourage people to drive more - people have budgets for transportation, and if they get better mileage, well, they just use that budget for an extra trip to visit Grandma. If you have any evidence that mandated mileage standards result in less overall consumption, well, let's see it. The only statistics I've seen is that thousands of people have died since the Government forced them into lighter, smaller, less crash-worthy cars.

What's wrong with letting the market work? At $70/barrel, there are hundreds of billions of barrels of oil locked up in oil sands in Canada and shale in the Rockies that becomes economical to extract. People who want great mileage can already by cars that get 40-50 mpg. What possible reason is there for the Government to get involved?

This whole brouhaha about energy prices is ridiculous. I find it hard to believe anyone is taking it seriously.

Posted by: DBL on May 1, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

When transistors were first developed, only the government could afford the huge cost of the item

I got my first transistor radio in about 1958, and it didn't cost any hundreds of dollars.

Posted by: republicrat on May 1, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed that several folks have asserted that consumer choice is a myth and that consumers are brainwashed into choosing what to buy by corporate advertising. This was a theory popularized by the late John Kenneth Galbraith. He wrote at a time when General Motors's market share was over 50% and he concluded that giant corporations like that didn't have to compete since they controlled consumer demand through marketing.

Well, Galbraith died the other day, his theory died many years ago, and GM's market share, last I looked, was below 30%. I guess consumers have some ability to decide for themselves what they want and don't want, after all!

Posted by: DBL on May 1, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Only for a driving pattern evenly split between highway and city.

Well, if you actually knew what you were talking about, you'd know that it's based on 55% city and 45% highway

And as I said, these are just EPA figures, which are notoriously inflated.

"Notoriously inflated" is a myth. Go to Greenhybrid and take a look at real-world data and compare it to estimates. Also take note of how many people exceed EPA estimates.

Depends entirely on the user's driving pattern. Many cars are used primarily on highways, for long daily commutes between work and home. The mileage improvement offered by hybrids in general, and by the hybrid Camry in particular, for this type of driving pattern is minimal.

Then I bet someone who is considering purchasing a vehicle for long highway commutes would know this and buy a Civic Hybrid, an Insight, a Prius, a Jetta TDI, or something with really high highway MPG ratings.

I'd like to see your evidence for this claim.

Go to Greenhybrid and see for yourself. EPA estimates are available at fueleconomy.gov, and they have a limited amount of real-world data there as well. I hit near EPA with my vehicles and I drive in a normal fashion.

And by the way, the reviewer's actual, real-world mileage was not merely 25% below the EPA estimate, it was about 30% below (30 mpg actual vs. 43 mpg estimate).

So? He's one driver driving a limited number of miles with a test vehicle. It's statistically meaningless, as you should know.

What proportion is "plenty?" Again, I'd like to see some evidence.

With the Prius on the Greenhyrbid site, it looks to be about 30 people. You're free to go see for yourself.

I expect you'll claim they're all lying or all driving in strange ways. This is the normal form of denial.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I was merely disputing your claim about the "most optimistic projections".

Okay, I should have said, "most optimistic reputable projection."

You were wrong about that, as you were about current market penetration of hybrids.

You didn't show that my figures are wrong, you just provided an alternative claim. For an authoritative answer, we'd have to compare actual figures of national sales and registrations. Who maintains those? In any case, it's largely a quibble. The basic point is that hybrids represent only a tiny fraction of all vehicle sales, whether it's 0.5% or 1.3%.

Every hybrid option on current vehicles boosts efficiency. It goes ftom 32% increase for the Accord Hybrid, 43% for the Lexus 400h, all the way up to 53% for the Escape Hybrid 4WD. These are huge improvements. And the lower the baseline fuel efficiency, the greater the effect a given percentage efficiency gain has on total fuel consumed.

I'm not sure what you mean exactly by "efficiency." If you mean something like "fuel consumed per unit of vehicle weight," or "fuel consumed per unit of vehicle power," then efficiency isn't the only relevant issue with respect to the effect of hybrids on U.S. auto fleet fuel economy. Given the choice between a bigger or more powerful hybrid vehicle that uses about the same amount of fuel as the non-hybrid baseline, and a hybrid vehicle that is about equal in size/power to the baseline but that uses less fuel, consumers may choose the former rather than the latter, and thus hybrids may have little or no effect on the overall fuel economy of the U.S. auto fleet, even though they provide significant improvements in efficiency.


Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

You mean the one where General Motors bankrupted itself investing 10s (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars in industrial robots, while Toyota focused on improving their design engineering, industrial engineering, and plant floor control (human control, that is, not robotic control) systems?

The entire auto industry incorporated industrial robots. GM's main problem is its large "installed base" of pensioners.

Posted by: republicrat on May 1, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

They "work" to increase the number of traffic fatalities by making cars lighter and smaller.

Despite the facts presented which demonstrate the exact opposite.

They also "work" to encourage people to drive more - people have budgets for transportation, and if they get better mileage, well, they just use that budget for an extra trip to visit Grandma.

People drive more because of sprawl and cheap gas. Average fuel efficiency has been stagnant for a long time, and average vehicle-miles per household keep increasing. Strike two.

What's wrong with letting the market work?

Probably because the notion of a "free market" in energy prices is perhaps one of the most laughable notions there is.

At $70/barrel, there are hundreds of billions of barrels of oil locked up in oil sands in Canada and shale in the Rockies that becomes economical to extract.

Great - so the US spends rougly a $300 billion annual premium over the supposedly preferred price band of the Saudis ($22-$28 per barrel), of which 60% goes overseas, all for the economic justification of ripping up mountains and sand pits?

People who want great mileage can already by cars that get 40-50 mpg. What possible reason is there for the Government to get involved?

The government's already HEAVILY involved in automobiles and petroleum.

This whole brouhaha about energy prices is ridiculous. I find it hard to believe anyone is taking it seriously.

Then either you're rich, don't drive, or don't pay your heating bills.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I should have said, "most optimistic reputable projection."

That's nice - increase the subjectivity, move the goal posts. Booz Allen is a 3.5 billion dollar company with 17,000 employees. So they're not reputable because...?

You were wrong about that, as you were about current market penetration of hybrids.

Despite the fact I provided a reference to the data (which you didn't) and the numbers YOU quoted from JD Power corroborated my numbers. OK.

You didn't show that my figures are wrong, you just provided an alternative claim. For an authoritative answer, we'd have to compare actual figures of national sales and registrations. Who maintains those? In any case, it's largely a quibble. The basic point is that hybrids represent only a tiny fraction of all vehicle sales, whether it's 0.5% or 1.3%.

Yeah, it is a quibble, and 1.3% of total registrations may be small, but it's a new technology. Things don't change like magic overnight, especially when there's very little selection of hybrids as it stands.

I'm not sure what you mean exactly by "efficiency."

MPG. This isn't rocket science.

Given the choice between a bigger or more powerful hybrid vehicle that uses about the same amount of fuel as the non-hybrid baseline

No such vehicle exists. The lowest improvement in MPG is over 30%, as I showed. So your conclusions based on this non-existent vehicle are erroneous.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

And if you go to the study you'll see a footnote about those two dissenters

The key word in that sentence is "dissenters." All but two of the NAS committee members concluded that the CAFE standards probably had an adverse effect on fatality rates, as described in the quote I provided.

Correlation is not causation, of course, but I see the correlation of reduced average vehicle mass, increased fuel efficiency, and lower fatalities in the actual data. This is indisputable.

It's also irrelevant. As I said, the relevant question is what effect the CAFE standards had on fatalities (and safety more broadly). You cannot draw any reliable conclusions about that effect just by looking at changes in fatality rates over time. There is a long-term trend of lower fatality rates due to incremental increases in auto safety--things like increased use of seatbelts, airbags, anti-lock brakes, better lighting, etc.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

Well, if you actually knew what you were talking about, you'd know that it's based on 55% city and 45% highway

If you actually knew what you were talking about, you'd know that actual driving patterns vary considerably, and that you can't assume a 55/45 split.

"Notoriously inflated" is a myth. Go to Greenhybrid and take a look at real-world data and compare it to estimates. Also take note of how many people exceed EPA estimates.

No, it's not a myth. It's widely accepted that EPA figures significantly overstate actual mileage for most drivers, and the EPA is looking into changing its procedures to try and make them more accurately reflect real-life driving patterns and conditions. Here is an article from edmunds.com, which conducted its own extensive fuel economy tests on six models representing the range of vehicle types. In every case, the average fuel economy achieved by the testers was lower than the low end of the EPA estimate.

Then I bet someone who is considering purchasing a vehicle for long highway commutes would know this and buy a Civic Hybrid, an Insight, a Prius, a Jetta TDI, or something with really high highway MPG ratings.

Well, anyone would be a fool to take that bet. Car-buying decisions are not based solely, or even primarily, on fuel economy. Size, power, styling, reliability, price, safety and other features are also important considerations. The point with respect to the Camry is that a buyer who is considering a Camry and whose driving is mostly on highways has little incentive to buy the hybrid model, because the fuel savings are so modest.

Go to Greenhybrid and see for yourself.

It's not up to me to look for evidence supporting your unsubstantiated factual claims. That's your job.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

No such vehicle exists. The lowest improvement in MPG is over 30%, as I showed. So your conclusions based on this non-existent vehicle are erroneous.

I don't understand the "no such vehicle exists" comment. The point is that when it comes time to replace their existing non-hybrid vehicle, instead of buying a hybrid vehicle of comparable size and power but better fuel economy, consumers may instead choose to "trade up" to a bigger and more powerful hybrid. The increase in size and power may offset any gains in fuel efficiency from hybrid technology, and the buyer may end up using just as much gas as he did before. It all depends on consumer preferences. Given the clear demand of American consumers for size and power in their motor vehicles, it is plausible that the widespread adoption of hybrid technology will lead to an even bigger and more powerful U.S. auto fleet, rather than a more fuel-efficient one.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

> Size, power, styling, reliability,
> price, safety and other features are
> also important considerations.

Safety, number of seats, and cargo volume I will give you. All the rest of the considerations you cite depend on huge volumes of cheap oil, a circumstance which I suspect no longer exists.

Do we want convenient, reliable, on-demand transportation? Or do we want penis substitutes? I have a bit of an objection to seeing fellow citizens dying so that we can have the latter.

My late grandfather lived through the transition from horses and mules to tractors and pickup trucks on the farm. He loved motorized vehicles; thought they were 100x better than horses. And he should know. But his 1962 Chevy pickup with the 225 cu in V-6 did all the work he needed it to until he sold it in 1988 (for more than the original purchase price in numerical dollars; wish I had bought it). And it got 25-30 mpg depending on how he used it. I guess I just don't see why the V-10 Dodge Rams that get 12 mpg are really "vital" to our lives.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on May 1, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

The disappointing recent sales figures of hybrids are further evidence that they are being oversold by their proponents. Sales of the Prius remain strong, but sales of hybrid models more generally have been flat, despite sharp increases in gasoline prices. The anomalous success of the Prius may be due to the fact that it appeals mostly to a niche market of "green" consumers who are more interested in making a symbolic statement about their committment to the environment than whether the car makes sense in practical terms.

From MSNBC: Hybrid sales mostly slack despite gas spike

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

The key word in that sentence is "dissenters." All but two of the NAS committee members concluded that the CAFE standards probably had an adverse effect on fatality rates, as described in the quote I provided.

So? It's still speculation, whereas the actual data we have show a trend counter to that.

It's also irrelevant. As I said, the relevant question is what effect the CAFE standards had on fatalities (and safety more broadly). You cannot draw any reliable conclusions about that effect just by looking at changes in fatality rates over time. There is a long-term trend of lower fatality rates due to incremental increases in auto safety--things like increased use of seatbelts, airbags, anti-lock brakes, better lighting, etc.

If your theory were true, then explain why fatality rates went down after CAFE standards began, then up, then down. ABS and airbags weren't even in the picture in the time frame being discussed.

If you actually knew what you were talking about, you'd know that actual driving patterns vary considerably, and that you can't assume a 55/45 split.

Ah, the digression again. You said the numbers were based on 50/50, and you were shown that is false, so you bicker about something else instead of admitting you were wrong and leaving it at that.

No, it's not a myth. It's widely accepted that EPA figures significantly overstate actual mileage for most drivers

Key words - "widely accepted". It is also "widely accepted" that Saddam was behind 9/11 and that angels sit on our shoulders and protect us. However, in the world of factual reality, we see vehicles hitting MPG numbers not far off of EPA estimates. And we also know that people can achieve more than the estimates. You yourself acknowledge there is a RANGE the EPA publishes. They don't set those numbers as absolutes but as standards by which to compare vehicles among one another. The only relevance this 10,000th digression of yours could have is if hybrids deviated from EPA estimates more than other vehicles. Luckily, there's a large amount of empirical data out there showing us how they actually perform. And apparently you think all those people are liars.

Well, anyone would be a fool to take that bet.

Another irrelevant tangent.

Car-buying decisions are not based solely, or even primarily, on fuel economy. Size, power, styling, reliability, price, safety and other features are also important considerations.

And the sky is blue. So what?

The point with respect to the Camry is that a buyer who is considering a Camry and whose driving is mostly on highways has little incentive to buy the hybrid model, because the fuel savings are so modest.

Again - so what? In the real world where MOST people tend to have a mix of city and highway mileage, the Camry will get them 40 mpg, or 44% more than its nonhybrid counterpart. Dance around that all you want, but that's fact.

It's not up to me to look for evidence supporting your unsubstantiated factual claims. That's your job.

Well, you just proved your a troll, then. You asked for evidence, I told you where it is, and you refuse to go there and see. Whatever it takes to ignore the facts for you.

it is plausible that the widespread adoption of hybrid technology will lead to an even bigger and more powerful U.S. auto fleet, rather than a more fuel-efficient one.

Considering they get 22% more power and 44% better mileage with a Camry Hybrid (which are typical numbers), then again you're describing a tradeoff which doesn't exist. As long as gas is expensive, the US vehicle fleet will become more efficient, as that's what people will demand. It's simple price signals. Everything else you're saying is smoke.

And in case this leads you to say, "Aha - so we should let the market work", I would say that now we're used to these prices we should take the opportunity to keep them stable instead of being unpredictable. A price signal is a price signal - doesn't matter what it's composed of.

Unless you have something factual to say, I don't feel like belaboring this further with you.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

The anomalous success of the Prius may be due to the fact that it appeals mostly to a niche market of "green" consumers who are more interested in making a symbolic statement about their committment to the environment than whether the car makes sense in practical terms.

Start with your idiotic ideology and works backwards - that seems to be your approach. It explains how you can dance around facts without dealing with them and make all kinds of ridiculous assertions (eg, Booz and Allen isn't reputable).

Well, at least you wasted my time. I'm sure that gives you satisfaction.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Safety, number of seats, and cargo volume I will give you. All the rest of the considerations you cite depend on huge volumes of cheap oil, a circumstance which I suspect no longer exists.

How do reliability, styling and price depend on huge volumes of cheap oil? Conventional vehicles have a substantial price advantage over hybrid models, by the way.

Do we want convenient, reliable, on-demand transportation? Or do we want penis substitutes?

Both. Cars are important symbols of social status and lifestyle. Americans choose their vehicles in part to make a statement about who they are. That isn't likely to change.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Average price of gasoline by month, 2006:

January 2.36
February 2.33
March 2.47
April 2.82

Watch the sales data for April onwards if gas prices stay at current levels or higher.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

So? It's still speculation, whereas the actual data we have show a trend counter to that.

No, it's not "speculation," it's a conclusion from evidence. And the trend you note isn't "counter" to that conclusion, it's independent of it.

If your theory were true, then explain why fatality rates went down after CAFE standards began, then up, then down.

I don't need to address possible explanations or implications of your claim ("fatality rates went down after CAFE standards began, then up, then down") until you have substantiated it.

Ah, the digression again. You said the numbers were based on 50/50, and you were shown that is false, so you bicker about something else instead of admitting you were wrong and leaving it at that.

Whether it's 50/50 or 55/45 is irrelevant. The point is that your 40 mpg figure would only apply to owners whose driving pattern matched the EPA split, even if the EPA figures were reliable in the first place, which they're clearly not. You're trying to divert attention from the fact that you're wrong on the important issues by quibbling over details.

However, in the world of factual reality, we see vehicles hitting MPG numbers not far off of EPA estimates. And we also know that people can achieve more than the estimates.

The fact that it is possible to match or exceed the EPA mileage estimates does not mean that those estimates are accurate reflections of real-world mileage for most drivers. They're not. They're substantially inflated.

Again - so what? In the real world where MOST people tend to have a mix of city and highway mileage, the Camry will get them 40 mpg,

The Camry will not get them 40 mpg unless their driving patterns and conditions exactly matched the EPA's, which is extremely unlikely.

You asked for evidence, I told you where it is

I'm not interested in digging around a website for evidence that may not even be there. You made the claim. Substantiate it. If you cannot substantiate it, admit that you cannot.

Considering they get 22% more power and 44% better mileage with a Camry Hybrid

Again, this is based on your false "40 mpg" claim.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

Start with your idiotic ideology and works backwards

No, I start with evidence. The evidence in this case is flat sales of hybrids despite rising gas prices. Consumers are able to see through the massive overhyping of hybrids by ideologues like you.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

The EPA mileage figures for the Prius may be the most misleading of all hybrids. The EPA estimate for the 2004 Prius is 60 mpg city/51 mpg highway. In Edmunds' long-term vehicle test (a year of driving, a variety of drivers, 20,000 miles), the Prius's average mpg was 41.2, dramatically lower than even the low end of the EPA range.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Last word! I win!

Posted by: Last Word on May 1, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

No I have the last word. *I* win!

Booga booga!

Posted by: The Real Last Word on May 1, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hot off the presses.

"Ford hydrid vehicle sales up 50 percent in April"
http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/05/01/005341.html

Other automakers' sales results should be out tomorrow. Want to place bets on whether hybrid sales are up or down? Put your money where your mouth is?

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

What you don't mention, of course, is that the sales increase occurred after Ford offered "aggressive incentives" on its hybrid SUVs, incentives that were necessary because hybrid sales had been so disappointing.

"Ford began offering interest-free loans for up to 60 months to consumers nationwide in April on its Escape hybrid and Mariner hybrid sport utility vehicles. In addition to rebates, Ford is also spending on advertising campaigns, featuring Kermit the Frog, that tout the company's commitment to hybrids."

Without the aggressive incentives and advertising, Ford's hybrid sales would probably have been no better than Honda's or Toyota's:

"Honda has said it may cut production of its Accord hybrid after weaker-than-expected sales in its first four months on the market. The Accord hybrid sat 90 days on average on dealer lots last month, while Ford's Escape hybrid took 61 days to sell on average. Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX400h hybrids sat on the lot for over a month, according to Power Information Network."

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

This month, Consumer Reports analyzed the economics of six hybrid models:

"In our analysis, only two of the six hybrids we have tested recovered their price premium in the first five years and 75,000 miles of ownership (see Hybrids vs. all gas). The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid provide a savings of about $400 and $300, respectively, over that period. But that is only if buyers are able to take advantage of limited federal tax credits. Extra ownership costs over five years for the other four models ranged from about $1,900 to $5,500, compared with those of similar all-gas models."

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I didn't think you'd take the bet. But I thought the consumer had "wised up".

In our analysis, only two of the six hybrids we have tested recovered their price premium in the first five years and 75,000 miles of ownership

Cars last far longer than 75,000 miles. And the Consumer Reports model assumes far lower mileage than EPA, higher insurance for hybrids (even though some insurers discount for it), $2.58/gal gas, and absurd price premiums.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I didn't think you'd take the bet. But I thought the consumer had "wised up".

It's a stupid bet. If Ford decides to throw money at the consumer in the form of 5-year interest free loans, that obviously changes the economic equation from the consumer's perspective, but it doesn't make the product Ford is trying to sell any better.

Cars last far longer than 75,000 miles.

The issue isn't how long cars last, but whether hybrids make economic sense for the typical consumer. They don't. And in fact, over the longer term, hybrids have another huge cost disadvantage over conventional vehicles, which is the cost of replacing the battery pack.

And the Consumer Reports model assumes far lower mileage than EPA,

It doesn't "assume" this. It discovered it. Consumer Reports measured the fuel economy of 303 vehicles, and found that 90% of them got lower mpg than the EPA estimates. And hybrids had some of the biggest disparities:

"Be skeptical of EPA ratings. The EPA sticker can help you evaluate relative gas mileage among vehicles, but not absolute mpg. Until the EPA ratings are made more realistic, discount the EPA sticker numbers for city travel as follows: conventional cars and trucks, 30 percent; larger hybrids, 35 percent; diesels, 36 percent; smaller hybrids, 42 percent."

These findings are consistent with those of Edmunds.com and other independent testers of vehicle fuel economy. The EPA ratings are basically a joke. They're not even close to real-world fuel economy values.

Posted by: GOP on May 1, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's a stupid bet. If Ford decides to throw money at the consumer in the form of 5-year interest free loans, that obviously changes the economic equation from the consumer's perspective, but it doesn't make the product Ford is trying to sell any better.

Oh, so you placing all your emphasis on some article about demand slackening was just another little side trip that failed and now you want to dismiss all the credence you put in it? I laugh. If you believe demand is slackening, let's bet right here and now about April sales data before it's released. I say hybrid sales will be up, not just Ford's. You don't want to take that bet, showing you don't believe your own BS about the consumer "wising up".

The issue isn't how long cars last, but whether hybrids make economic sense for the typical consumer. They don't. And in fact, over the longer term, hybrids have another huge cost disadvantage over conventional vehicles, which is the cost of replacing the battery pack.

This is pathetic. First of all, how long a vehicle is owned has no relationship to the payback period. If I sell a vehicle, the ability of that vehicle to save gasoline has value to the purchaser, which can be quanitfied, and it will be reflected in resale. Again, if you actually understood simple finance, that wouldn't need to be explained to you.

The battery thing is a red herring - not a single one has been replaced yet out of several hundred thousand on the road. Nor do you know how long they will last and how much replacement will be at the time. Keep grasping at all the predictable straws.

The EPA ratings are basically a joke. They're not even close to real-world fuel economy values.

Do you think if you keep saying that I'll ignore all the real-world data available that proves that to be false?

It doesn't "assume" this. It discovered it. Consumer Reports measured the fuel economy of 303 vehicles, and found that 90% of them got lower mpg than the EPA estimates. And hybrids had some of the biggest disparities:

Test cars, limited test periods, few drivers. It's useless information. Again, anyone with a background in statistics would know this.

How long will you keep usng the "appeal to authority" fallacy?

So, are you saying that all the real-world data at Greenhybrids is made up? Or are you going to do the "see no evil" routine and refuse to go there and see the numbers for yourself?

Now troll me some more with more of your useless spew.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Using the data on Greenhybrid, with 1800 cars and 26 million miles in the database, the average hybrid got 93% of its EPA rating, with values ranging from 86% for the current Prius, RX400h, and 2WD Hihglander, to 103% for the first generation Civic hybrid with a manual transmission.

This results in a discrepancy of 33 gallons per year on average between EPA and real-world mileage, which is $97 at current prices.

These differences are pretty much in line with all vehicles, as any sane person would expect.

Posted by: BB on May 1, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

Oh, so you placing all your emphasis on some article about demand slackening was just another little side trip that failed and now you want to dismiss all the credence you put in it?

I'm not sure what "placing all your emphasis" is supposed to mean. I cited a news report stating that hybrid sales have been slower than manufacturers expected, and that Honda is considering cutting back production of the Hybrid Accord due to lack of demand. If you dispute these claims, produce your evidence.

The article you cited does not dispute mine. It says that sales of Ford hybrids have risen in the past month, in response to "aggressive incentives" to consumers by Ford. Ford would not have had to offer those incentives to stimulate sales if there were a healthy demand for its hybrid products.

First of all, how long a vehicle is owned has no relationship to the payback period.

So what? How long a hybrid vehicle takes to recoup its premium price is most definitely relevant to whether it makes economic sense to buy one.

If I sell a vehicle, the ability of that vehicle to save gasoline has value to the purchaser, which can be quanitfied, and it will be reflected in resale.

Differences in resale values are incorporated in the detailed analysis CR made for each type of vehicle. I guess you missed that too. You miss a lot.

The battery thing is a red herring - not a single one has been replaced yet out of several hundred thousand on the road.

The "battery thing" is completely relevant. The manufacturers only warranty the batteries for 8 years. When the battery fails after that period, the owner is liable for the full replacement cost--thousands of dollars. I don't know how many hybrid batteries have had to be replaced so far, but the number is obviously likely to be low because hybrids are still so new.

Do you think if you keep saying that I'll ignore all the real-world data available that proves that to be false?

You haven't provided one iota of "real-world data" on the issue. I have provided links to two independent testers of vehicle fuel economy, Edmunds.com and Consumer Reports. Both companies performed extensive real-world testing of vehicle fuel economy, and both companies found that EPA fuel economy ratings substantially overstate mileage for all classes of vehicles. Even the EPA itself admits that its tests do not simulate real-world driving patterns and conditions.

Test cars, limited test periods, few drivers. It's useless information. Again, anyone with a background in statistics would know this.

You don't know what you're talking about. They weren't "test cars," they were actual production vehicles. The Edmunds tests lasted a full year, used a variety of drivers and driving patterns, and covered 20,000 miles per vehicle.

As I said, even the EPA acknowledges that its tests do not simulate real-world driving. Its testing uses a pristine vehicle, often a prototype, driven on rollers in a lab at a constant temperature, and without using any accessories. This completely omits the massive adverse effect on fuel economy from wind resistance (drag), from variations in temperature, from hill-climbs and carrying heavy loads, from the use of gas-guzzling accessories like air conditioners, and from lack of maintenance--everything from underinflated tires to dirty injectors. In addition, its tests assume a top highway speed of 60mph and average of 48, which aren't remotely accurate either. For all these reasons and more, the EPA ratings are basically a joke.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

I've lost track of what my point is. I guess I just like to bicker for no reason.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

My fantasy is to crush all Republicans under the wheels of my hybrid.

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

I am completely full of shit.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

Bicker bicker bicker.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

The "battery thing" is completely relevant. The manufacturers only warranty the batteries for 8 years. When the battery fails after that period, the owner is liable for the full replacement cost--thousands of dollars. I don't know how many hybrid batteries have had to be replaced so far, but the number is obviously likely to be low because hybrids are still so new.

The cool thing is, 8 years from now battery technology will have improved tremendously. It is undergoing explosive growth right now, and economies of scale will become important.

I believe all current hybrid owners deserve kudos for being early adopters. Hey, someone had to pay for MS Windows 3.0.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 2, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'm getting all confused because I'm finding myself agreeing with GOP in some respects, and Red State Mike has been making a lot of sense lately.

I think no one can dispute that the EPA fuel ratings are always inflated. They are supposed to be used for comarison purposes only. In all the cars I've ever owned I have never come close to the EPA rating, unless maybe for a medium length trip on the highway when I traveled 60 MPH and had a helluva tailwind.

I trust Consumer Reports more than I trust the EPA ratings.

I've also got concerns about the batteries. My understanding is that they are standard lead-acid and would cost about 3K when replaced.

If they are truly lead-acid then what advances are being made in that very old technology?

Posted by: Tripp on May 2, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I think no one can dispute that the EPA fuel ratings are always inflated.

Of course that can be disputed. Some people get higher than EPA. Others get lower. Some get the same. From the 26 million miles logged in the Greenhybrid database, people are averaging 6% below EPA, and there are plenty of people getting above EPA.

If you go their site, they explain very clearly the common sense concept that "your mileage will vary" and that they clearly publish a likely MPG range on their labels.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/why_differ.shtml
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/ratings_description.shtml

And none of this is actually relevant to this discussion, unless one is making the assertion that somehow hybrids are magically performing differently relative to EPA ratings, even though actual empirical evidence over 1800 vehicles and 26 million miles of non-test, real world, everyday driving indicate people using hybrids tend to get about 6% below EPA ratings, with plenty of them able to achieve numbers superior to EPA ratings (indicating the possibilities of the technology and the influence of driver behavior on improving efficiency).

In all the cars I've ever owned I have never come close to the EPA rating, unless maybe for a medium length trip on the highway when I traveled 60 MPH and had a helluva tailwind.

So that's your PERSONAL experience. Maybe you just don't drive in a way that promotes high fuel efficiency. Maybe you don't take care of your vehicles well. Maybe it's just dumb luck. But one example doesn't make for a pattern, which is the issue -- the overall pattern. I almost always get at least EPA with my vehicles, and certainly know how to make improvements (I like to drive fast). But I don't confuse my specific results with actual empirical data from a dataset of 1800 vehicles and 26 million miles.

I trust Consumer Reports more than I trust the EPA ratings.

That's not the issue, either. Any test is exactly that - a test. What matters is real-world results. It's common sense that someone testing a vehicle for a car magazine would tend to hash the vehicle. I hash vehicles when I test drive them. Everyone does. But no one would go to a test drive vehicle in a dealer's parking lot and consider it a reliable model of real-world fuel efficiency. That's why real-world databases of people going about their normal business, then tracking the mileage, is the most useul information. And luckily we have that kind of information available to us about hybrids.

I've also got concerns about the batteries. My understanding is that they are standard lead-acid and would cost about 3K when replaced.

They aren't lead-acid. They are NiMH.

Here are answers to your other concerns:
http://www.hybridcars.com/faq.html#battery

So, they have long warranties and there are still no reports of a battery replacement ever occurring, even under warranty. Andrew Grant, the famed "Prius cab driver", has logged 240,000 miles on his Prius (as a cab no less) and the batteries are fine.

http://www.hybridcars.com/blogs/taxi/other-savings

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

BB,

Are you saying there is a database of self reported mileage that you expect to persuade me?

Geez man. First off this is probably a group that in general wants to get great mileage. Second most people lie about their mileage anyway.

My test for car mileage in Southern Minnesota is highway driving at 70MPH with the AC on, either for summer driving or the AC on with the defrosters in the winter.

Any test that has no wind resistance is faulty. Wind resistance increases with the square of the speed, for goodness sake.

I think time is more important for battery failure than mileage would be. If the cabbie drove the 240,000 miles in a year then so what about the batteries?

Here is what your website said about battery replacement cost:

There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced.

If they are never replaced why isn't the warranty longer than 8-10 years? Why isn't it a lifetime warranty? Also does the warranty cover full replacement or a depreciated value? That should be common knowledge, right?

Listen - I've never owned an SUV and when the weather permits I ride a Zuma 50CC scooter. I maintain my cars. I wish hybrids were a magic bullet but I'm still skeptical. I want to know real world mileage with the air conditioning on and I want to know what it costs to replace the batteries and what the battery warranty costs.

Posted by: Tripp on May 2, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

Geez, I skimmed the www.hybridcars.com website and it agrees with me.

It claims the EPA for the Prius is City 60 Highway 51, but These figures represent EPA test numbers, which are commonly 10 - 20 percent higher than real-world fuel economy for hybrid and conventional vehicles.

Under winter driving it states:
All vehicles, machines, and peoplenot just hybrid carsget less mileage to the gallon on cold winter days. By most accounts, the drop-off in efficiency is somewhere between 10 and 20 percent.

For AC they say:

The latest results from an ongoing evaluation of hybrid cars indicate the use of air conditioning has a dramatic effect on hybrid's fuel economy. "The hybrids we tested got 15 to 27 percent lower fuel economy with the air conditioning on,"

And for "aggressive driving":

"We fool ourselves to say that any car has a specific miles per gallon. But the general rule is the more aggressive you drive a hybrid, the more your high fuel economy will suffer when compared to conventional cars. It's all relative."

Like I said, to get the most from a hybrid you need to drive slow, accelerate slow, not drive in the winter and not use AC.

Well golly, I bet if I did all those things in a conventional car I'd get pretty good mileage too.

Bottom line I think hybrids cost 5K more and with 'normal Minnesota' driving deliver slightly better mileage at best.

Posted by: Tripp on May 2, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Are you saying there is a database of self reported mileage that you expect to persuade me?

Everyone is self-reporting. Consumer Reports is self-reporting. Edmunds is self-reporting.

Geez man. First off this is probably a group that in general wants to get great mileage. Second most people lie about their mileage anyway.

1800 people lied? That's your argument? But you point out something true - "this is probably a group that in general wants to get great mileage". Correct. People who buy hybrids are obviously keen on fuel economy, so logic would dictate that they would probably get CLOSER to EPA ratings with their vehicles compared to the average driver. As the data from 26 million miles and 1,800 people shows, they're only off 6% collectively. But it's all a grand conspiracy of lies, right?

My test for car mileage in Southern Minnesota is highway driving at 70MPH with the AC on, either for summer driving or the AC on with the defrosters in the winter.

Well, you're atypical then. EPA ratings are for a mix of 55 city/45 highway at or below legal speed limits. EPA ratings are not supposed to reflect one person's specific driving situation -- again, this is why they publish a likely range of results one should expect to get.

Any test that has no wind resistance is faulty. Wind resistance increases with the square of the speed, for goodness sake.

So those 26 million miles logged in the Greenhybrid database were done in space? In a vacuum? And do you honestly think EPA test procedures and formulas ignore wind? That's nuts to think that.

I think time is more important for battery failure than mileage would be. If the cabbie drove the 240,000 miles in a year then so what about the batteries?

Batteries lose performance with the number of charge and discharge cycles.

Here is what your website said about battery replacement cost:

There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced.

If they are never replaced why isn't the warranty longer than 8-10 years? Why isn't it a lifetime warranty? Also does the warranty cover full replacement or a depreciated value? That should be common knowledge, right?

I really don't know. Why do manufacturers typically have 3 year/36,000 mile warranties on their vehicles? Does that mean it is likely one should have to complete replace a vehicle after 3 years or 36,000 miles?

Listen - I've never owned an SUV and when the weather permits I ride a Zuma 50CC scooter. I maintain my cars. I wish hybrids were a magic bullet but I'm still skeptical.

I don't know anyone who believes they are a "magic bullet". I certainly don't believe that. But I also don't reflexively ignore that they make radical improvements in fuel efficiency without sacrificing power and easily pay for themselves at current gas prices -- and even quicker with tax breaks factored in.

I want to know real world mileage with the air conditioning on and I want to know what it costs to replace the batteries and what the battery warranty costs.

The only way you'd know the real world mileage for your specific driving behavior and conditions is for you to do it yourself. What you do know is plenty of people are doing just fine with their hybrids. You're free to ask any of them what their driving conditions are, how they drive, and so forth, if you're actually interested in seeing how they perform. But I don't ever see people really doing that. If they're skeptical (ie, pessimistic) they focus on the low-end outliers. Me? I look first at the general pattern then want to know how the high-end outliers got their MPG, as I actually am curious how to get the highest efficiency.

As for battery costs, contact the manufacturer. The regular 8 year/100,000 mile battery warranty comes with the vehicle.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, here's a Prius owner in Minnesota with plenty of information on his experience.

http://john1701a.com/

If you're really interested in the technology in your climate from someone with lots of experience with it, look at his website then drop him a note.

These figures represent EPA test numbers, which are commonly 10 - 20 percent higher than real-world fuel economy for hybrid and conventional vehicles.

OK. Then they're saying that hybrids don't differ form EPA any more than other vehicles do, so if one is asking economic questions about whether it's "worth it" to buy a hybrid, then you just shift the numbers in the assumption. But standard objections overstate the difference for hybrids and understate them for "normal" vehicles. You can get hung up on whether it's 6% or 10%. As long as hybrids aren't different than other vehicles, it's a moot objection. I really don't care if the final EPA estimate matches real-world numbers. Of course it doesn't -- people drive like crap and don't take care of their vehicles. I drive well and take care of mine - and shock of shocks - I pretty much hit EPA numbers.

Like I said, to get the most from a hybrid you need to drive slow, accelerate slow, not drive in the winter and not use AC.

All cars do better by driving smoothly, at normal speeds, with the AC off. And all cars do worse in the winter than the summer.

Bottom line I think hybrids cost 5K more and with 'normal Minnesota' driving deliver slightly better mileage at best.

Well, you may "think" that but facts contradict your beliefs. And apparently you're more interested in holding onto those beliefs than actually examining the available evidence.

Which is fine. It just shows you don't really want to find out that they are worth the money, for whatever reason. You'll come around eventually when the technology is ubiquitous.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

deliver slightly better mileage at best.

The average hybrid improves MPG by 44% and saves 209 gallons of gasoline every 15,000 miles. If you consider that "slightly better", then you have pretty unrealistic standards and should stick to your scooter year round.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp,

BB is the only person I have ever come across who seriously claims that EPA mileage ratings are a reliable measure of real-world fuel economy.

Even BB's own citations contradict him. From greenhybrid.com:

"EPA estimates are made under ideal controlled circumstances and do not reflect the true driving habits of American consumers. As automobiles have evolved, the EPA has not adjusted its test to consider speed limit increases, air conditioning, technological evolution and other factors."

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Average net price of a new vehicle in the US in 2004: $25,750
http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/press/103766/article.html

That price adjusted for inflation = $27,240

"True Market Value" (ie, real price) of a 2006 Prius, according to Edmunds: $22,849

Tax credit for Prius = $3,150

Net price of a 2006 Prius = $19,699

Savings on Prius compared to average price of a US vehicle = $7,541

Average MPG of US light vehicle fleet: 20.1 mpg

Average MPG of a Prius: 47.5 mpg

Difference: 27.4 mpg

Average miles per year, new vehicle: 15,000

Gallons used per year by average US vehicle: 746

Gallons used per year by average Prius: 316

Annual gallons saved by Prius compared to average light vehicle: 430

Average price of gasoline: $2.919

Cost of gas savings of Prius compared to average US vehicle: $1,255

So, compared to the average light vehicle, a Prius saves $7,541 upfront and $1,255 in gas costs annually.

How irrational it would be for someone to buy one.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

BB is the only person I have ever come across who seriously claims that EPA mileage ratings are a reliable measure of real-world fuel economy.

Hi, trollboy. Putting words in my mouth again?

I never said they are a reliable measure of real-world performance. But, hey, you can't debate for squat (and can't apprehend facts), so making up a strawman would be par for the course for you.

The question is, and always will be, how do hybrids do relative to EPA, and how do "normal" vehicles do? We have 26 million miles and 1,800 vehicles showing hyrbids to be 6% below EPA. So, unless you can show "normal" cars doing better than that (and you claim they don't), you're just blowing more troll air.

Can't wait for that sales data to come rolling in today. Too bad you were too cowardly to stand by your belief that sales are flat even though gas is going up, and that this somehow indicates people are "wising up" and buying a hybrid is only done by "irrational lefites".

Funny, considering how clearly irrational you're being by screaming "I can't hear you!" when the facts are actually presented to you.

Please continue with your trolling. I'll be back later to rub April sales data in your face.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

So, they have long warranties and there are still no reports of a battery replacement ever occurring, even under warranty.

Er, there are reports of battery replacements by hybrid owners at the website you yourself cited, greenhybrid.com.

As I noted before, the battery warranty provided by hybrid manufacturers is only around 8 to 10 years. If the battery fails after that, the owner is liable for the full replacement cost--thousands of dollars.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Ford, Chrysler Decline in April; Honda, Toyota Gain"
http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000006&sid=aKw.BJ7dA2PE&refer=home

"Rising fuel prices caused 62 percent of consumers to say they may rethink what vehicle they buy, the highest level since August 2005, a few weeks before gasoline reached a record, according to a study by Harris Interactive and Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research released last week. Nineteen percent were considering a small sedan, up from 15 percent in March."

Detailed numbers should be coming out later today.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

there are reports of battery replacements by hybrid owners at the website you yourself cited, greenhybrid.com.

Really, liar? Where?

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

Hi, trollboy. Putting words in my mouth again?

Hi, ignorant lying moron. No, I'm not putting words into your mouth. You're just a bald-faced liar. You've been proved wrong on EPA estimates, but rather than admit you're wrong, you're now pretending you never made the false claim in the first place.


"Also, the Camry hybrid averages around 40 mpg [the EPA rating]
--BB, April 30, 2006

"Real-world data is very close to the EPA ratings as well."
--BB, April 30, 2006

"I hit near EPA with my vehicles and I drive in a normal fashion."
--BB, April 30, 2006

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

No, I'm not putting words into your mouth. You're just a bald-faced liar. You've been proved wrong on EPA estimates, but rather than admit you're wrong, you're now pretending you never made the false claim in the first place.

Poor, Donny. Still lying?


"Also, the Camry hybrid averages around 40 mpg [the EPA rating]
--BB, April 30, 2006

That's me stating what it's EPA rating is, making no assertion that it's a real-world number. You lied.

"Real-world data is very close to the EPA ratings as well."
--BB, April 30, 2006

That's me saying it's very close to EPA. I consider 6% very close. You lied again.

"I hit near EPA with my vehicles and I drive in a normal fashion."
--BB, April 30, 2006

That's me sharing my personal experience, which I have said numerous times is a single data point indicative of nothing about general trends. You lied again, trollboy.

The hybrid sales data should be out soon, which will kneecap your belief that people are rejecting hybrids.

Continue whining and lying, trollboy.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Donny/trollboy - I have a question.

Did you lose your job at DH Griffin of Texas, or are you wasting your employer's money by posting from work?

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/press/103766/article.html

Gosh, you're really flailing around now, aren't you, moron? That link is to an article from 2004 that has nothing to do with the economics of the Prius, or of any other hybrid model. It doesn't even mention hybrid vehicles.

This month, Consumer Reports published a detailed study of the economics of hybrids. It found that only two models recovered their price premium after 5 years and 75,000 miles, and then only if the costs factored in a federal tax credit that are is being phased out. Without that credit, no hybrid vehicles recovered their price premium.

With respect to the Prius, factoring in the tax credit, the total cost of ownership after five years and 75,000 was a modest $406 less than for a comparable non-hybrid model (Toyota Corolla).

Without the tax credit, the cost of owning the Prius is a whopping $2,744 more than for a comparable non-hybrid.

And for other hybrid models, the results are even worse. For the hybrid Toyota Highlander, the additional cost is $7,708. For the hybrid Honda Accord, the additional cost is $4,913. For the hybrid Ford Escape, the additional cost is $3,833.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Let's review:

1. According to Edmunds.com, Consumer Reports, and other independent fuel economy testers, hybrids don't get anywhere close to their EPA mileage ratings. The EPA tests are artificial and outdated and do not come remotely close to simulating real-world driving conditions.

2. According to an extensive study of hybrid economics by Consumer Reports, only two of six hybrid models recovered their price premium after 5 years and 75,000 miles, and then only if a federal tax credit is factored in. Without the tax credit, all hybrid models cost thousands of dollars more than their non-hybrid equivalents. The federal tax credit is being phased out as of Jan 1, 2006.

3. Hybrid vehicles have an additional long-term cost for battery replacement that wasn't even included in the CR study. The cost of replacing a hybrid battery is thousands of dollars.

4. Sales of most hybrids were flat during the first 4 months of this year, despite rising gas prices. Honda is considering cutting back production of its hybrid Accord in response to the lack of demand.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Last word! I win!

Posted by: Last Word on May 2, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

You hurt the green side when you behave as you do. It doesn't do any good to hype a "green" solution.

In the long run real data is what will rule the day. I'm trying to figure out your angle. Do you sell hybrids?

I'm pretty "green" but I want to make sure that the changes I make actually have an effect. So far I think the hybrid has been hyped too much. It could be an ideal fit in certain limited applications but it will not solve our fuel crisis.

Posted by: Tripp on May 2, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

You hurt the green side when you behave as you do.

Behave how? By finding objective data and analyzing it?

It doesn't do any good to hype a "green" solution.

Using objective data and analyzing it with the proper tools is not "hyping" anything.

In the long run real data is what will rule the day.

Yet you reject 26 million miles logged on 1800 vehicles. When will there be sufficient data for you? Statistically speaking, the uncertainty level around that large data set is very small.

I'm trying to figure out your angle. Do you sell hybrids?

"Angle"? I believe progress is a good thing. I also believe in using objective data, applied with proper statistical rigor, and running the numbers according to the standards of finance. I also readily acknowledge that uncertainty exists with anything, but eventually one has to make decisions despite that.

I'm pretty "green" but I want to make sure that the changes I make actually have an effect.

The only effect that actually occurs is personal -- and that boils down to economics, enjoyment, conscience, and a whole host of very subjective factors. Whether you personally buy a hybrid or not won't change a thing about the environment nor about the trends in adoption of the technology. This is also a statistical reality/

So far I think the hybrid has been hyped too much.

And I think the terms "hybrid" and "hype" have been forth with such regularity by people who want to demean the technology, that good people like yourself have succumbed to the conditioning and lies put out about it. The "hype" is that hybrids are hype. Do a search for those two words and see for yourself.

It could be an ideal fit in certain limited applications but it will not solve our fuel crisis.

I didn't say it would solve our fuel crisis. In discussing this with many people over time, I have never encountered anyone who believes that, either. That is more "hype about hybrids being hype".

Even if the batteries fail after you sell the car you will be affected because that cost will be reflected in the resale value.

As no failures have yet occurred, and resale is healthy, apparently the market has judged the probability low and thus the expected cost low.

Unless you can find someone really stupid to buy the car for a high price. Some sucker who gets stuck with the (Consumer Reports) $3K cost of replacing all the batteries.

You drive a car long enough, pretty much everything will fail. If and when we start seeing hybrid batteries fail, and how much it costs to replace them, then we'll actually have data to work with. Until then, it's just speculative, just like all the other phony concerns about the technology (like emergency workers getting electrocuted or blind people getting hit by them, among the countless red herrings I regularly hear).

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

You still don't understand my skepticism about the 'self-reporting' of fuel mileage?

It doesn't matter if a gazillilion people self-report, those figures are still anecdotal. I much prefer a controlled test such as the one Consumer Reports runs.

And if somebody tells me "We have no idea how much this battery costs" that seems strange to me.

Posted by: Tripp on May 2, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

You still don't understand my skepticism about the 'self-reporting' of fuel mileage?

Of course I do. But you're dealing with 1800 separate reporters -- many of them reporting very low MPG numbers. If lying is possible, it's equally possible for a skeptic to fudge numbers down as it is for a fanatic to fudge them up. But the larger the data set, the less likely that is. Unless you believe there are a huge number of people making false reports, which is a kind of cynicism I can't really argue with, as I don't buy into it, or the incredibly low probability that it's true.

It doesn't matter if a gazillilion people self-report, those figures are still anecdotal.

Again, that's you assuming that all those people are sloppy and dishonest, and that the site is dominated by people lying up instead of lying down.

I much prefer a controlled test such as the one Consumer Reports runs.

Are you interested in real-world data or results from a specific kind of test from a specific entity? If that's the case, then you're simply expressing a bias for Consumer Reports methodology compared to EPA methodology.

And if somebody tells me "We have no idea how much this battery costs" that seems strange to me.

THEN DON'T BUY A HYBRID CAR. OK? I'm not asking you to buy one. If you have doubts about it, don't buy it. It's pretty simple.

Nothing in life is certain. All things are this way. It's ridiculous to hold hybrid cars to some absurd standard that nothing else needs to abide by.

Heck, the whole notion that car buying or adding options has to meet some "economic rationality" filter itself is an absurd notion. No one ever gets into heated debates about the payback period of leather seats - probably because no other option on a vehicle EVER PAYS FOR ITSELF.

But, yes, let's get all worked up about the hybrid option and how many pennies difference there is between competing financial models. It's ridiculous.

Hybrid premium = 4 grand
Tax credit = 3 grand
Net premium = 1 grand
Gas = $3
Payback = 333 gallons

This is the basic situation at the moment. Even if a vehicle were only going from 20 mpg to 22 mpg, it would still break even in about 75,000 miles.

If you want to be extremely anal about this whole thing, then there's an inordinate amount of messy details to consider and a heap of variables with wide degrees of uncertainty about them. And I've gone into these details very deeply with people before, and it doesn't really matter. What matters is one's bias beforehand, and the degree of determination to adhere to that bias. No amount of objective discussion of it will change that.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

And another thing on self-reporting, as long as you keep going back to it.

People normally are skeptical of it, and rightly so. We tend to hold inaccurate views of reality (which GOP demonstrates very well for us). If a group of 100 people were asked to self-report how smart they were, how happy they were, and the like, these are subjective issues to a one degree or another and people may tend to report towards a certain direction away from objective reality.

However, calculating fuel economy oneself is completely objective. You have an odometer (objective) and the gas pump (objective). As long as someone records that data accurately, the fact that it's so-called "self-reporting" is irrelevant.

Which then means that if you object to the data, you are saying that people are lying, and lying in large numbers in favor of making hybrids look good.

And as I said, if you believe that such a grand conspiracy exists and people would falsify that open database so extensively, then that's just deep cynicism, especially considering a jackass like Donny could just as easily go in there and put false data as well.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

And maybe this is just me, but I find it to be a moral decision about where my money ends up. I'd much rather send my money to Japan or keep it in the US than send it to Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Donny? Oh, Donny?

"US Hybrid Sales in April Back Over 21,000; Second Highest Month Yet"
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/05/us_hybrid_sales.html

and I quote:
"Sales of hybrids in the US climbed to a combined 21,566 units20.7% more than in March 2006, and 3% higher than April 2005s 20,974 units. The results are the second only to August 2005s 23,307."

Here's what you said yesterday, Donny:
"The disappointing recent sales figures of hybrids are further evidence that they are being oversold by their proponents."

Last month (you know, the one with the big spike in gas prices over March) was the second best sales month for hybrids, and both an improvement over March of this year and April of last year -- despite Prius sales being up only 300 units from last month and lower than last April. And lo and behold, last August (the best sales month) there was a huge price run up as well. Lookie there.

So now that the evidence shows increasing popularity, what happened to your whiny conclusion that only feel-good hippies are buying them? Up in smoke, along with the rest of your nonsense.

The fork is stuck in you - you're done.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp to BB,

You still don't understand my skepticism about the 'self-reporting' of fuel mileage? It doesn't matter if a gazillilion people self-report, those figures are still anecdotal. I much prefer a controlled test such as the one Consumer Reports runs.

Oh, I think BB understands it perfectly well. He's just in denial. The people sending in their claimed mileages to greenhybrid.com are obviously not representative of the general population. They're hybrid enthusiasts. They're probably both trying to maximize their mileage through unconventional driving patterns, and exaggerating the mileage they really get. There's no system of verification, so for all we know many of them are just be making up their numbers in an effort to promote the technology.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

BB, oh BB,

From your URL. I guess you missed this:

"The Prius turned in its best result of the year, with 8,234 units--up 3.9% from March, but down 27% from the 11,345 units sold in April 2005."

"The Rx 400hwhich has now been in showrooms for one yearsold a total of 2,247 units in April, down 9% from March and down 4.2% from April 2005."

"Accord Hybrid came in with 614 units sold--up 5.7% from March, but down 69.6% from April 2005."

The article is from a hybrid-promoting website and is clearly trying to spin disappointing hybrid sales in as positive a light as it can. It makes no mention of the aggressive financial incentives offered by Ford to stimulate sales of its hybrid models, nor does it mention that Honda is considering cutting back production of the hybrid Accord due to lack of demand.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

Hybrid premium = 4 grand
Tax credit = 3 grand
Net premium = 1 grand
Gas = $3
Payback = 333 gallons
This is the basic situation at the moment. Even if a vehicle were only going from 20 mpg to 22 mpg, it would still break even in about 75,000 miles.

Tee hee hee. Yes, why use real numbers when you can just make some up out of thin air.

The closest hybrid vehicle that matches your made-up numbers is the Hybrid Civic. The Consumer Reports analysis assumes that gas prices rise to $4/gallon over the five-year period of the comparison. Under that comparison, the hybrid Civic saves a modest $317 after 75,000 miles with the federal tax credit, and loses a whopping $1,783 without the tax credit. The government started phasing out the credit in January of this year.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the troll moves the goalposts.

You, yesterday: "The disappointing recent sales figures of hybrids"

Reality, today: "Hybrid sales have second highest month ever in April - also higher than March 2006 and April 2005"

The issue, troll, raised by YOU, was how are hybrid sales, as a whole, doing. April was the second best month ever, and better than April last year and March of this year -- contrary to your assertion and in line precisely as I predicted it would be.

You were wrong. Dance all you want, trollboy.

Not that this will preclude you from attempting to win by attrition instead of reason or actually adhering to your own standards.

You are now ignored, dickless. Get in the last word. I command you to do it.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

You, yesterday: "The disappointing recent sales figures of hybrids"
Reality, today: "Hybrid sales have second highest month ever in April - also higher than March 2006 and April 2005"

Your "reality" is a one-month upward blip in total hybrid sales due to aggressive advertising and financial incentives on the Ford models. Obviously, if you throw money at potential buyers, as Ford is doing, sales are likely to rise. As your own citation shows, sales of hybrid models that were not subsidized with generous financial incentives are down compared to the same month last year, despite a substantial increase in gasoline prices. The sales trend since the beginning of this year is also flat.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

The sales trend since the beginning of this year is also flat.

You're irresistable, dickless.

Here - look at this chart.

http://bioage.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/hybrid_sales_apr06_2.png

Now explain how that steep line upwards is flat.

Seriously - you can tell me if you're a troll. No one is so blatantly and shamelessly stupid as to think a steep line is flat.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Bicker bicker bicker.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Prius; It's not a car, it's a religion.

Posted by: Jim7 on May 2, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Prius; It's not a car, it's a religion.

Religions rely on faith. No need for faith when we have plenty of data.

The religion I see is that "whatever The Left likes must be wrong". Talk about blind faith.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the link again.

http://bioage.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/hybrid_sales_apr06_2.png

Simply reposting your dated articles means nothing. Tell me how that line that dips from January to February, then steeply inclines from February to April, is by any stretch of the wildest winger imagination... flat.

You have reached the end of the absurdity rope if you can sit there and deny the obvious shape of that chart or its underlying data.

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

BB,

http://bioage.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/hybrid_sales_apr06_2.png

That link doesn't work either. The page seems to start downloading, then just hangs. Do you have a chart or not?

Simply reposting your dated articles means nothing.

"Dated?" They were written on April 24, 2006.

As the theautochannel.com article states:

"Honda has said it may cut production of its Accord hybrid after weaker-than-expected sales in its first four months on the market."

"The Accord hybrid sat 90 days on average on dealer lots last month, while Ford's Escape hybrid took 61 days to sell on average. Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX400h hybrids sat on the lot for over a month, according to Power Information Network."

"Jackson and other analysts said the Prius has been a hit because its distinctive styling immediately identifies it as a hybrid -- conferring a kind of halo effect for its drivers."

"The lack of broader sales momentum has prompted some automakers to offer discounts on hybrids."

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Repetition is truth.

Blather bicker blather.

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

I am off my meds!

Posted by: BB on May 2, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Last word! Last word! I have OCD! Projection in progress!

Posted by: GOP on May 2, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

BB, if you seriously think that EPA numbers on fuel economy come anywhere close to being accurate, you have no freaking clue what you're talking about.

Posted by: ahem on May 2, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Last word! I win again!

Posted by: Last Word on May 2, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Forget ANWAR, if you want oil then start drilling offshore in Florida.

Posted by: Todd Wellman on May 3, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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