The Electric Car Imbroglio is About to Get Even More Expensive…

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In just a few months from now, it will be $2,500 easier to “buy” a new electric car. I put “buy” in quotes because in fact, other people will be paying a good chunk of the purchase price – to the tune of a $10k direct cash payment (it is euphemistically called a “tax credit”) per car, courtesy of The Man With The Plan. (But without much understanding of economics or engineering.)

A line item snugged deep within Barack Obama’s 2013 federal budget – which hasn’t passed yet and won’t be passed until after the (s)election this November – will up the existing electric lemon inducement from the current $7,500 per car to $10,000 per car. This means the subsidy payout alone on something like a new Chevy Volt will be almost as much as the total cost (without any subsidy) of a decent little economy runabout such as the  2012 Nissan Versa.

And the government giveaway  will be immediately available, too – dangled in front of “buyers” (cough) “at the point of sale, making it transferable to the dealer … allowing consumers (italics mine) to benefit when they purchase a vehicle rather than when they file their taxes.”

Well, yes, they will be consuming . . . other people’s money. A tremendous buttload of it. How much is a tremendous buttload, exactly? Well, if you assume 10,000 electric lemons, that’s $100 million bucks. And Obama’s stated goal is to “…put one million (italics mine) advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2012.”

You do the math.

Don’t want to? Here, I’ll do it for you: It’ll come to about $10 billion – if Obama’s goal of one million electric lemons is realized. That’s just under 10 percent (in inflation adjusted dollars) of what it cost to put Neil Armstrong on the Moon. Back in ’69, at least, the American people got something for their money.  After all, Apollo 11 did make it to the Moon – and back. Most electric cars can’t make it to the store – and back.

Problem is, even a $10,000 per car federal giveaway – $10 billion thrown into the wind – might not be enough to do the trick.

$7,500 per car sure hasn’t.

Each Volt – which has an MSRP sticker price of $39,145 –  costs GM about $89,000 to build. So GM is losing – roughly – $50,000 per car. That’s a helluva way to do business. It might make more sense just to build a fire with all that money. At least some heat – as opposed to hot air – could be gotten out of it.

Even with the existing $7,500 tax credit and sweetheart lease offers as low as $199 per month designed to “move product,” not much product has been moving. As of mid-September, year-to-date Volt “sales” have yet to reach 14,000 – just a bit shy of the projected 40,000 GM anticipated.

And how about those Obama Jobs the Obama Car was supposed to confect? GM has had to idle the production line where the Volt is (well, was) built – and “temporarily” lay-off 1,300 workers.

What’s shocking is that GM – apparently – wasn’t able to anticipate any of this. It does not require the proverbial rocket scientist.

So, are the guys in charge stupid? How else to explain their inability to anticipate that a car that costs more than $33,000 – that’s after the current $7,500 tax subsidy – and which will still cost $30,000 after the pending $10,000 subsidy or as much as an entry-level Lexus or BMW – might not be very appealing to people concerned about paying $3 and change for a gallon of gas?

People who, you know, are concerned about spending money – unlike GM and Obama.

Well, that may be just the point. They’re not stupid. It’s simply that it’s not their money. It’s yours. Always more where that came from.

So, they don’t care that the Volt – and the rest of them – suck ass, economically speaking. Functionally, too. Though interesting as technology demonstrators,  they still can’t go nearly as far – without lots of hassle – as the most humble non-electric new car.

Perhaps a car like the Volt will pay for itself down the road, in the form of reduced operating costs (well, except for the cost of electricity and that $2,000 charging station you”ll need to have installed in your garage). But even assuming the Volt and its kind are cheaper to drive, long term – and that’s by no means certain or even probable – they still cost Lexus-BMW money up front. Even with the $7,500 subsidy. Even with the pending $10,000 subsidy. And people in a position to buy a Lexus or BMW want… a Lexus or a BMW. Not a Chevy.

And those who aren’t in a position to afford a Lexus can’t afford this Chevy.

Same problem with the Nissan Leaf electric car. It’s not selling well, either. Could it have anything to do with the car’s $35,200 sticker price? Even taking $10k off the top, a Leaf still costs about $15k more up front than the Versa sedan – and the $10k-ish Versa can be driven 300-plus miles non-stop whereas the Leaf stops – for hours – after about 70 miles.

It’s an economic Catch 22 – and ought to be an obvious one.

If money’s tight, you don’t spend $30,000 on anything you don’t absolutely have to spend it on. Certainly not an indulgence such as a brand-new car. Even if it’s free to operate it, you still have to buy it. And if the car in question costs $30k – remember, that’s after the proposed $10k discount – that’s still $30,000 out of pocket. Anyone who got through sixth grade maff can see it’s probably smarter to buy a $10,000 new car like the Versa – or better yet, a perfectly serviceable $6,000 or so used car. If you’re trying to avoid the poorhouse, the last thing you want is a car payment for the next 5-6 years.

Unless, of course, you like being poor.

Hence, it’s no surprise – or ought not to be a surprise – that the typical Volt “buyer” (according to GM CEO Dan Akerson) is someone earning $170,000 per year. Someone, in other words, who doesn’t need to worry much about the cost of gas. Or the cost of cars. Someone, in other words, who can afford an expensive toy. Unfortunately for GM – and for us – there are only so many such people. The mass market GM needs to make a car like the Volt economically viable doesn’t exist – because it cannot exist.

It is an oxymoron.

People who need something affordable to drive don’t buy $30,000 toys. Which is why, Mr. President, the Volt and the Leaf aren’t selling.

The whole thing’s a disaster of Edsel-esque proportions.

GM has thrown more than $1.2 billion – remember, much of this is being our $1.2 billion, via the bailout – at the Volt. And GM can’t give the things away – literally. The two-year $199/month lease deal GM recently put on the table out of sheer desperation to get at least some of these things off the dealer’s lots – and maybe save a little face – means there are people driving around in $89,000 Volts for less than $5,000 for two years – on your nickel and mine.

And it’s still insufficient inducement to “move product,” for all the obvious reasons already discussed.

But unlike the Edsel fiasco, GM – and The One – insist on throwing good money after bad. And unlike Ford, which lost its own money on the Edsel, this time, it’s our money being squandered. (At least Nissan isn’t getting bailout money on top of the electric car subsidy money.)

There is apparently no limit to it, either.

When $10,000 per car proves inadequate – which it will – the subsidy will probably be increased, perhaps to $15,000. Maybe they will decide to just pay people to take the cars home. Nothing down – and nothing per month. Just hand them over to anyone who wants – and give these “buyers” a monthly stipend to cover the cost of electricity. Maybe then they’ll “sell.” The One will explain that he has “created jobs” and is “investing in the future,” too.

None of this, of course, would ever have happened if moral hazard were operative. If GM and Nissan and everyone else had had to put their own money (and their own corporate asses) on the line, the Volt, the Leaf and all the others would never have been produced. Not as production cars, at any rate. Maybe as concept cars – to show what might be doable and to gauge market reaction. But never in a million years would GM have put one billion on the line – except for the fact that the one billion was not GM’s to put on the line. Or at least, not GM’s to worry about losing. If the Volt fails – and so far, it has failed catastrophically – it won’t be GM left holding the bag.

It will be me – and you.

Throw it in the Woods?

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  108 comments for “The Electric Car Imbroglio is About to Get Even More Expensive…

  1. BrentP
    September 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I tend to see the down-the-road implications. To attempt to get a million electrics on the road so fast may be to undermine fuel taxes and then replace them with tracking systems. With so many out there it would give a way to leverage people against each other. ‘how dare these electric car drivers get away with not paying their fair share!’ and other such things. Then the ‘solution’. Some sort of system that tracks everywhere we drive and when. The people will then embrace it. Then comes the government trying to simulate market prices with congestion based pricing and other nonsense to really jack up the price of driving. It all goes together so nicely.

    BTW, The calculation to get to get the 89K figure for the volt has its problems. It’s the same math that says a new air force plane costs whatever how many billion dollars because they had a decade long development program and tooling and then bought 12 of them. GM won’t know how much of the tooling should be applied towards each one until they cancel it. Then again it is government motors so maybe that’s the best way to do it ;)

    The real problem with the Volt is the government bailout that turned GM’s ‘look at what we can do’ loss car into the vehicle that would save GM and its image. 40K a year had to be a ‘save the project’ figure someone pulled out of their ass or needed to create to keep their job or both.

    Now the car isn’t meeting expectations because the expectations were wrong. So it really looks bad.

    • Shep
      September 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

      You know what else goes nicely with all this? The so-called “smart grid” which is really another means of control over the masses.

      I have a friend who is an electrical engineer, as well as a father with well over 30 years as an electrician who will both tell you the same thing. Our electrical infrastructure is *already* creaking under the load we have now. What the hell do you think is going to happen when one million electric cars are plugged in at 5pm, assuming they even make the journey to and from work?

      Our grid is most vulnerable between 4-6PM, because at that time of day you have all the major uses of electricity active at the same time. Residential, business, and industry. Add to that already massive load the electric car charging, and you’ve got a recipe for rolling blackouts.

      The solution? Nah, don’t actually spend the money we’re wasting overseas on pointless wars that do nothing but ensure the hatred of our country around the globe on upgrading and fixing our infrastructure. Oh no. I’m positive it will be more our money being given to electrical companies to install ‘smart meters’ across the country. Even if I wasn’t horribly opposed to the invasion of privacy that this entails (use too much electricity cooling your house? They’ll just shut it off for you! .. or add yet another insane tax) it still doesn’t fix the root cause of the problem, which is an outdated, under-funded electrical grid.

      Of course the ‘clovers’ of the country will rejoice, saying it saves them money. However, when the time comes that they’re sitting at home, watching their ‘fuuutbahhlll’ game, and suddenly the power shuts off, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves for welcoming yet another shameless power grab (see what I did there? HA! I kill me..) right into their own homes.

      Shep

      • anarchyst
        September 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm

        The “smart meters” being installed for residences will make it possible for electric utilities to institute “time of day” pricing for electricity. In the near future, using electricity during “peak hours” (10:00 AM to 6;00 pm0 will become much more expensive.

  2. Eric_G
    September 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    And still no love for diesels.

    http://www.dieselforum.org/index.cfm?objectid=38BFC396-572A-11E1-B5BB000C296BA163

    And still no one is pointing out that for 6 or more months out of the year battery tech becomes woefully inadequate due to cold temps. Or that you can’t recharge the car in a reasonable time if you rent (offset by making sure you top it off every time it’s parked at home).

    And what happens to that $10K when you have to upgrade to a 400 amp service panel?

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/home-charging-for-electric-vehicle-costs-will-vary/

    But Richard Lowenthal, chief executive of charging company Coulomb, said those home wiring upgrades could increase charger installation to as high as $10,000 “if new service and panels are needed.”

    I’m not against electric cars, just the government picking winners and losers based on fashion instead of engineering and science. Engineers tell us we should be building nuclear power plants, fashion tells us solar panels are sexy. Engineers tell us baseload power is critical to keeping the grid stable, while fashion tells us windmills are the future.

    • September 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Ditto, Eric.

      In my area – SW Va, up in the mountains – it gets cold (really cold) for several months each year. I can only speculate – because so far, none of the car companies have given me an EV in winter – but I would expect range/performance to plummet under those conditions. I do know the Volt’s range on electric is about 30 miles – for me, here – in warm weather. After that, it’s running like a Prius – the gas engine running to provide juice to run the electric motors. And running this way, the Volt I test drove averaged about 35 MPG.

      A diesel Jetta easily does better – for much less money – and without the limitations and hassles imposed by the electric powertrain.

      • Bob Robertson
        September 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        Living in the snowy North East, I cannot have only an electric car, for exactly that reason. Cold, snow. Which means that if I wanted to go electric, it would have to be as a second car, which doubles insurance, registration, taxes, everything. Even if it worked.

        If I have only one car, it has to do everything, even if it doesn’t do any one thing particularly well. So I choose to economize by having a 4-wheel drive Rodeo, and trade all the money I’d spend keeping two cars, or a new car, for a bit more in gas and a LOT more in reliability.

        Of course, without government regulation, electric, diesel-hybrid, gas turbine, hydrogen, people could experiment with whatever they wanted. Airbags optional.

  3. RG
    September 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Of the 14,000 purchased this year, how many were purchased with a check directly from the feds?

    The real question, though, is: who is driving this policy?

    Obviously the people who try to secure votes for a living are the face of the movement, but the movement isn’t supported by rank and file voters. Global warming, climate change, the “green” movement rank at or near the bottom in voters’ concerns in every poll I’ve seen. So the movement is obviously being entirely driven by rent seekers. GM and the auto union are definitely not the driving influence. They know this path is economically untenable. Even though they are complicit in the crime, they are only in it for the gravy train that is backed by the feds.

    So who are pulling the levers? My guess is that GE is at the core of the movement, but would love to hear other thoughts.

    • Bob Robertson
      September 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Or, how many were bought by and -for- the feds?

  4. damon
    September 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    A couple of points.

    1) It’s really not the American tax payer that is paying for these “credits”. Tax receipts are generally flat. So any diversion of fund to this program is comming out of additional borrowing, meaning it’s the Chinese that are “paying for it”. And if it’s not them, it’s the Fed buying up the debt. The impact there is that the dollar decreases in value / there is inflation, but those impacts of the program would be lost in the overall devaluation/inflation from QE 1, 2, 3 etc.

    Now as to the car, I agree 100% Eric. I’m not dropping “new BMW” money on a car that doesn’t give me the same bang for the buck.

    Also agree with Brent re the total cost of these pigs. And god they are ugly.

    • September 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Yup –

      Let these things succeed – or fail – on their merits, without “help” from the government. I have no problem with electric cars as such. And hell, if they ever do build one that performs as well as a standard car (including range and cold weather performance) for a price that’s cost-competitive with conventional IC cars, I’ll sing its praises.

      It just annoys me that pinhead tyrants such as Obama believe they have magical powers and can “make it so” by legislative fiat.

  5. John G.
    September 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    “…After all, Apollo 11 did make it to the Moon…”

    Eric, it did not happen. Take an hour and read the series of articles here: http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/, ‘Wagging the Moondoggie.’

    You will especially enjoy his analysis of the Moon Rover.

    • Downrange
      September 12, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Oh, for the love of god – not this…

      Please educate yourself
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_landing_conspiracy_theories

      • September 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm

        I have a copy of “NASA Mooned America” somewhere around here….

        • John G.
          September 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm

          I had not heard of that book, and just read some brief reviews of it; it looks good and worthwhile, Eric.

      • John G.
        September 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm

        Friend, I quit relying upon Wikipedia for the final word after I saw how they allowed — obvious to me — ‘chemtrails’ photos on their ‘contrails’ page.

        Disinformation paid for by the Money Mafia, some of which is via their powerful agent, the U.S. government, is all around us.

        • Downrange
          September 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

          Wikipedia is vetted by US private joes, not the USG. But, don’t stop there – there are plenty of other places to get the truth – that’s just a pretty in-depth compilation.

          • John G.
            September 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm

            Friend, there are agent provocateurs who infiltrate private organizations on behalf of the FBI, CIA, and the like.

            Wikipedia is useful, but some of the material is ‘controlled’, seems to me.

            Odd, that we could land on the moon in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but that concerns over radiation prevent a manned return until the ’20s.

            Odd, that we can get stunning photos from Mars last month, but that we cannot get any photos of remnant flags, rovers, or landing vehicles from the moon.

            Odd, that the trio of AstroNOTs look like sheepish, lying children at their post-landing press conference, instead of hot-shit jet fighter pilots — with wartime and test pilot experience — who just accomplished the greatest feat that the world had ever seen (just watch the first five minutes):
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI_ZehPOMwI

          • BrentP
            September 13, 2012 at 2:32 am

            Think of late 1960s spacecraft technology like the race cars and muscle cars and sports cars of the era. Would any of them be permitted on the road or racecourse brand new today?

            No.

            That’s why the government can’t allow anyone to go to the moon. 1960s safety margins are just not acceptable today.

          • September 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

            Indeed.

            One of the most glaring differences, Then vs. Now, was the willingness to accept risk – lots of risk, sometimes – in the pursuit of something deemed worth achieving. “Safety” was at best a peripheral concern in that arguably manlier era.

            Imagine: Putting a manned capsule on the tip of what had been designed to be a ballistic missile…. madness! What about the chiiiiiiiildren!

          • Dutch
            September 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm

            Uh, no. Wikipedia is completely controlled. There are endless and epic accounts of world renowned researchers blacklisted and antagonized for attempting to post counterpoints to things like Global Warming and the Kennedy assassination. Search either one on Wikipedia and you’ll find the same sanitized scripts we’ve been reading for decades. Wikipedia is a fine reference for uncontentious topics. But when it comes to “official stories”, the age old disinformation is gospel, protected by the devil’s most unsavory tactics.

            As for the moon, all I can say is Google the video of the first orbiter take off from the dust covered lunar surface. Note that despite allegedly generating thousands of pounds of thrust, the orbiter blasts back into space without kicking up a single speck of dust. Furthermore all of this is captured by a camera still stationed on the lunar surface as the craft departs. Yet somehow the tape of it ended up back here on Earth. The fraud is so insanely obvious, it takes a willful suspension of all logic and reason to accept the story. Just sayin’…

          • September 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm

            Hey Dutch,

            In re: “Furthermore all of this is captured by a camera still stationed on the lunar surface as the craft departs.”

            I’m not saying I believe the landings were hoaxed. However, I remember wondering how the camera left on the Moon was able to pan upward as the LM blasted off from the surface. Was it remote controlled? Did they have the ability to do that back then? If not, I assume they didn’t leave a cameraman back on the surface to make the shot….

    • methylamine
      September 13, 2012 at 3:09 am

      I’ve seen so much back-and-forth on this one that I’m still on the fence.

      I do hope most people here agree 9/11 was not at all as purported in the “investigation”?

      Yesterday was sickening. All the wailing and prostration, anger at “them durn Muslims” (no idea of course where on the globe we’re bombing them), etc.

      Over a patently false stage-play, with so many plot loopholes it would be laughed out of a B-movie theater.

      THAT one is the red pill. Understand false flags, and you understand the nature of government and the minds of the psychopaths who occupy it.

      • September 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

        But… but… the Libyans want democracy!

        • damon
          September 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

          Funny,
          I reember having a discussion with someone who said “but the afgans want us there”. I said “really? Since they don’t have a gov’t (we removed it) how would you know that? And even if they did want us there, that doesn’t give us the right or legal authority to be there!” She shut up.

          • September 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm

            Yup – it’s demented, isn’t it? The insane presumptuousness that we know best – and will impose it at gunpoint. But of course, they “hate us for our freedoms.”

          • methylamine
            September 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm

            Well we sure fixed THAT problem Eric…we just eliminated all the freedoms “they” hate us for!

            I love government.

            It comes to your house and breaks your legs. The next day it brings by a set of crutches and says “See!?! Without me, you couldn’t walk!”

  6. Downrange
    September 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Every point you just tried to make is scientifically and objectively refuted in the original wiki link I posted.

  7. Blake
    September 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Since we’re off topic anyway, I don’t care if a bunch of tax feeders did or didn’t land on the moon. Some can point to the moon landing as some great feat, but what did the collective “we” give up to get this “benefit?” Check Hazlitt’s broken window fallacy. The tailor got screwed. What might the market have to offer today if stolen booty was never diverted to some geeks who were otherwise uemployable?

    Who knows? Perhaps we’d have teletransportation by now (just watch out for flies).

    In fact – while our wise rulers were busy mandating 55 mpg by 2025, why not just mandate that pigs fly (or teletransportation) while they’re at it?

  8. John G.
    September 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Friend, the explanations are of the same quality as Santa Claus and Easter Bunny tales — yada, yada, yada, i.e., empty nothings — which I believed as a child but no longer as an adult.

    Google provides us with photos of naked women and car license plates from satellites 200 miles above the earth. NASA has moon probes that are 34 miles above the surface, and cannot provide us clear, convincing photos of the rover, flag, etc.?

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2011-12-31/nasa-moon-probe/52299620/1

    • September 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      I have to admit, I’ve wondered why there don’t seem to be hi-res images available of the landing sites – and the items left there. I don’t know enough about satellite capability vis-a-vis the Moon, but common sense-wise, I get your point. We have images from Mars that are as good as pics I’ve taken in my backyard. Mars is a lot farther away from the Earth.

      On the other hand, if current technology (especially consumer-available stuff, such as home telescopes with the ability to snap pictures) is capable of taking detail shots of the Lunar surface – wouldn’t the scam have been exposed by now? The coordinates of all the landing sites are public.

      Just wondering out loud….

      • BrentP
        September 13, 2012 at 2:32 am

        Most google ‘satellite’ images I found out are from aircraft. When you can’t zoom in good, that’s the satellite.

        Eric, I have a book of lunar photography called “Full Moon”. so if I want to see the hi-res I just pull it off the shelf. Somewhere I also learned about difficulty with photography on the moon. The moon dust is black and the light glaringly reflects off it because of the lack of an atmosphere. This is pretty much responsible for the claims of bad shadows and such.

        http://www.amazon.com/Full-Moon-Michael-Light/dp/0375406344

        • John G.
          September 13, 2012 at 3:37 am

          Speaking of high-resolutions photos, here’s one direct from NASA, of the landing module on the moon:

          http://www.apolloarchive.com/apg_thumbnail.php?ptr=618&imageID=AS11-40-5922

          http://www.apolloarchive.com/apollo_gallery.html
          Image AS11-40-5922, down near the bottom of the page.

          It’s a taped together contraption, made from construction paper, gold mylar, and cheap metal and plastic pieces from the hardware store. Just like in high-school drama class.

          The moon landings were a big Disney production.

        • September 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

          Thanks, Brent!

          Question: Are home telescopes available with sufficient power to see the Apollo sites in detail?

          • Mel Torme
            September 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm

            That’s not even close to possible, Eric. Anything that has to see through our atmosphere is limited in it’s resolution or “seeing”, in astronomy lingo, by said atmosphere.

            Even those big scopes here on earth can’t resolve more than something like 1/4 of a second of arc (one arc-second = 1/60 of an arc-minute, which itself is 1/60 of one angular degree). This is the smallest 2 points of light that can be seen as different from one point. So, at 250,000 miles, 1/4 arc-sec. is about 1/4 mile at the moon.

            It’s not even close, as I said. I don’t like this bullshit talk that disses the best mechanical engineers that the world has ever seen, and yeah, I put them way above the ones that graduate nowadays. When you realize what computer technology these guys didn’t have, it makes it an amazing feat, that only American (OK, and a few German) engineers could have done.

            Maybe no one will be as smart and clever as those guys were for the rest of life on this earth.

          • September 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm

            Thanks for the input, Mel –

            I’m not up to speed on the capabilities of home (or even professional) telescopes, so your explanation helps put the matter into perspective.

          • BrentP
            September 15, 2012 at 1:33 am

            No home telescope could do it. Just not possible. Not even the big telescopes could.

            The mechanical engineers of old could never make things as cheaply and with as low maintenance as we do today. Yes it’s clever, yes it’s durable if maintained properly but it’s hugely expensive. Even today it would be. Then again they were paid the equivalent of about $400K/yr back then in the early 20th century. Today we don’t get anything close to that. And remember the old saying, you get what you pay for.

          • BrentP
            September 15, 2012 at 1:36 am

            BTW, the 400K is a gold calculation.
            They made about $5,000/yr before WW1. put that into double eagles, calculate melt.

  9. John G.
    September 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Eric, the NASA photos of the landing site are a joke:
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/apollo-sites.html

    That is the best that we can get?

    Lowly Google gets much better pictures from much higher up:
    http://www.mydigitallife.info/naked-people-on-google-earth/

    NASA, like the TSA, is a bunch of lying bureaucrats.

  10. John Illinois
    September 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I went down to my local Chevy dealer today, looked at the Volt he had in stock, and asked how many people he had make an offer. He laughed. He said unless you really want to take it home, don’t make an offer, because we want to get rid of the floor plan costs
    on this piece of crap. I ran the numbers in my head about offering my 2003 Kia Sorrento, and $50 for it, but then decided that with luggage, I can hardly get my wife’s walker in the KIA, there is no way I could take her to the Doctor in the VOLT. It is a worthless piece of crap. I have no idea what the design parameters for the Volt were, but they certainly had nothing to do with real life people using it as daily transport. (Disclosure, I know the salesman, and he knows I am not about to buy it because he knows that it won’t make it into town, and back home on the battery).

    • dom
      September 13, 2012 at 12:38 am

      I’ve seen two volts (maybe the same one) in the past few months. Both times they were flying down the highway well over 75mph. They look pretty cool, but aren’t. You have a good friend! Friends don’t let friends buy electric cars! LOL

      • September 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

        When I tested the Volt, I ran it up to over 100 MPH – so it’s got plenty of speed. But, it also ran out of juice after about 30 miles. After this point, it needed the gas engine to run to provide the juice it needed to keep running. And when this happens, the mileage sucks. It’s nowhere near as efficient as a Prius – or even many non-hybrid new cars, several of which can do 40 MPG on the highway.

        I can see an electric car in a close-in, city-type environment, put-putting along at speeds under 40 MPH for short distances. But if you need to drive any faster – and for longer periods of time – they’re just not going to cut it.

    • September 13, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Another issue – for me, at least – would be cold-weather performance.

      In a bad year, we have brutal cold (single digits at night, low 20s during the day) for as many as two and sometimes even three months’ duration. How would such extreme cold affect the Volt (or the Leaf)? Unless they have figured out a way to eliminate the issue of reduced battery performance in extremes of temperature, I suspect the advertised range and the range you’d actually get would be pretty far apart. Keep in mind, too, that when it’s really cold out, you’d have the heater running – an accessory that draws power. Also, you’d be burning lights more during the winter months, when it gets dark much earlier in the day.

      Then, summer. High heat is hard on batteries, too. And of course, you’d be running the AC…

      • BrentP
        September 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        20s aren’t brutal cold, unless your talking 20s below zero F. Well maybe global warming will help the electrics!

        • September 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

          Speak for yo’ sef!

          20s in the daytime is cold to us!

          And overnight, this will fall into the low teens, single digits… which is pig bitin’ cold to us!

          • September 15, 2012 at 1:51 am

            LOL Eric. I run a cab company in Phoenix. It is officially cold at 60o farenheit. I wonder how long those Chevy Vomit batteries will last in 115o heat for days on end? (Oh it’s not THAT bad. Overnight, it dips down to below 100. And it’s a dry heat. Like an oven set on BROIL….) I know a standard 12 volt battery in a taxi lasts about two years before it gives up the ghost.

          • September 15, 2012 at 11:14 am

            My folks live in Scottsdale, so lawsee – I know!

          • September 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm

            cool. If your parents ever need a cab, have them call me. I will return the favor. If my parents ever need an auto reviewed, I will definitely be in touch.

          • September 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

            That sounds like a plan!

  11. Brad Smith
    September 13, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Yep I have been bitching at collectivists for the last few days about this one. It’s a lose, lose, lose. Taxpayers lose, GM loses, and even buyers lose.

    Oh and one more really big loser. The “environment” the amount of energy needed to build one of these losers will never be made up by the increase in fuel efficiency. They are not even close to being “green”.

  12. Jack Kenny
    September 13, 2012 at 6:09 am

    I don’t get it. If GM is losing about $50,000 on each of the Volts it produces, how does the transferrable $10,000 tax credit make it profitable. That would still leave them with loss of roughly $40,000 per car. What am I missing here?

    • September 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Hi Jack,

      GM can probably declare a tax write-off and ends up losing nothing in terms of their overall bottom line. Of course, the loss doesn’t just benignly evaporate. It is merely transferred in the form of things like government bail-outs of “too big to fail” companies, or higher taxes on us, or higher prices for cars to offset the losses, etc.

      • DD
        September 15, 2012 at 2:24 am

        “New” GM is tax exempt for the next 9 years…They got that in the bankruptcy…Losses carried over.

    • methylamine
      September 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Ah Jack–they may be losing money, but they’ll make it up in volume!

  13. Shep
    September 13, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I’ve wanted to mention this for a long time, somewhere.. but I’ve never quite found the right place, and since GM is one of the bad guys here, I suppose it’s as good a place as any.

    I firmly believe there is only one real, root cause to GM falling behind as a company. That reason is, drum roll please… the Corvette.

    Yes, I know, many faithful GM fans will bitch and moan about this, but it’s the damn truth. The Pontiac Fiero and the Buick Grand National were quite capable of destroying the Corvette in two respective categories. The GN in terms of acceleration, and the Fiero in terms of cornering. Not to mention, they were cheaper! Imagine that…

    GM has been so greedy when it comes to the Corvette, that they canned and buried anything that had potential. All over a flagship model. Now, I get it.. flagship models are nice to have. Audi has the R8, Ford the Ford GT (at least they used to), and Dodge with the Viper or SRT/10. Those cars are the tip top of the line, an example of just what can be done when they put their minds to it, price be damned, but GM doesn’t seem to get that you don’t kill off platforms with excellent potential JUST to preserve the name of the flagship..

    The Buick Grand National. How pathetic and shallow do you have to be to force one of your divisions to under-rate a motor to avoid being canned? It’s a colossal testament to mismanagement.

    GM had the technology, and the proven ability to make turbo six cylinder vehicles work, and work well. Imagine if instead of turning the Buick V6 into a FWD motor they instead went to the drawing board and worked out it’s problems? Re-design the head to make it stop throwing head gaskets, strengthen the bottom end, work out it’s oiling issues, further strengthen the abysmally thin cylinder walls, and they could’ve had a beautiful piece of work. Something that could compete directly with Japan’s turbo motors, and do it with increased reliability and better low end torque thanks to extra displacement. But they didn’t, and Corvette is the reason.

    Why do you think it was almost half a decade before that motor saw forced induction again, in the form of a supercharger? And in heavy FWD sedans no less? Could it be they were ‘anticipating’ market demand for FWD? Or was it out of fear that the beloved Chevy small block V8 might have been pushed off it’s throne, infuriating Corvette fans everywhere, by a Buick designed turbo V6?

    Then there’s the Pontiac Fiero. The 1988 Fiero GT is what was planned from the beginning, all the way back in 84, but GM decided not to put in the excellent suspension, decided not to put a higher rated V6 in it as standard. I mean really, an American mid-engined car with a four banger as standard? Are you seriously kidding me? Here we had a small, semi-affordable rear mid engine platform that could have really pushed the bar as to what to expect from an American sports car, and they killed it, long before it’s time. I’ll admit the engine fire issue is part of what drove people away, but I can almost guarantee what drove them away in droves was the terrible performance of the 84. To really see what the platform was capable of, you had to drive a final year, top of the line model. How many people do you know that have driven the 88 GT versus the rest of them?

    Now, I’ll admit, I am a fan of GM. I never liked many of Ford’s design aesthetics, nor Dodge, and most imports don’t do it for me, but I don’t look at my brand through rose-tinted glasses. I know GM has problems, and I for one wholly believe the main problem to be the Corvette, followed very very closely by terrible management.

    Shep

    • September 13, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Hi Shep,

      An interesting thesis!

      And I agree GM has a bad habit of mismanaging – then prematurely retiring – potentially excellent cars (the Cadillac Allante is another example).

      On the Buick V-6 thing, though…

      The problem here is that GM was retiring its entire line of RWD mid-sized coupes – the Grand Prix/Monte Carlo/Regal/Cutlass. The 3.8 engine program wasn’t killed off, but the RWD platform was – and the FWD platforms/transaxles GM had available at the time (late ’80s/early ’90s) weren’t up to handling 300 hp turbo/supercharged sixxes. Beyond just breaking these FWD transaxles – and thus leading to endless warranty problems – the power of the turbo Buick was simply such that these FWD cars would have been dangerously uncontrollable due to torque steer issues.

      Sure, GM could have put the 3.8 engine in the Corvette – but that would have been a disaster, probably. Even if the performance had been excellent, Corvette owners would not have been happy with a six – a Buick six – in their traditionally (for 30-plus years, at this point in the mid-1980s) V-8 Corvettes. I don’t see this as a conspiracy against the Buick V-6. It was CAFE, really, that killed off the GN and the Buick V-6 as a RWD high-performance engine. GM cancelled its mid-sized RWD coupes because of the general downsizing that was going on at that time, in order to meet CAFE.

      Now, here’s a definite example of Corvette-love at GM killing a potentially better in-house rival in the crib:

      When John DeLorean was in charge at Pontiac in the late ’60s, he desperately wanted Pontiac to have a two-seat sports car. He – unbeknownst to upper management – actually had two running prototypes built. It was the XP-833, or called Banshee. It was to be a fiberglass, two-seater with either Pontiac’s OHC in-line six or an optional Pontiac 326/350 under the hood. It was to be priced $1,000 below the Corvette (in ’60s money).

      The car was set to be on display at the New York Auto Show in 1968 – but was pulled off the floor and disappeared when GM upper management found out what DeLorean had been up to.Here’s some more on the Banshee: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_Banshee

      The Fiero thing was a tragedy. By the time GM got the “right” car into production, its reputation had been ruined – and then GM just gave up on it, leaving the small sporty car market to the imports.

      • Shep
        September 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm

        Hey Eric,

        I should have qualified my rant on the Buick V6 as it is probably my favorite motor, from my favorite GM underdog, so I’m quite biased there, I’ll admit. However, GM still had the Joe Average RWD platform of the F-Body to play with, and in fact the fourth generation F-bodies did get the RWD variant of the 3800 from 1996 on, but never with forced induction.

        Let’s also not forget the 1989 Turbo Trans Am. That thing was a real screamer! It totally fit with the ‘tech obsessed’ late 80s design. Digital dashboards, funky electronic music, a turbo v6. It was really starting to look like GM might actually understand where the youth were headed at that point, but instead they went down the ‘old school’ road of big V8s, as if they hadn’t learned their lesson that government was out to murder the V8.

        This sort of thing happens to the F-bodies all the time. Back in the 90s, yes you could get a Camaro or Firebird with an LT1. Trouble is, it’s de-tuned. Now a shade-tree mechanic can easily push that motor beyond what came from the factory, but the point is that the Corvette always has that artificially created edge over the rest of it’s GM cousins, and that frustrates me. It’s crushing creativity in the other GM divisions.

        Then you have the Typhoon and Syclone. AWD, turbocharged powerplant, and all on a truck frame! Think how many other models we would’ve had had GM stuck with it’s ‘crazy phase’ it went through from the mid 80s into the early 90s.

        If I worked at GM designing things, I would never design what I knew would work if I even thought for a second it would make whatever platform I’m engineering as fast as a Corvette, for much less money, because it would never make it into production. I often wonder how many brilliant solutions have been canned that we’ve never even heard about, because of their precious flagship.

        As to torque steer problems and transaxles, yes, I totally agree there. There really was no place for that engine in a FWD platform. There wasn’t a transaxle around that would’ve handled the 300+ ft/lbs of torque that motor would’ve been capable of producing. Nowadays it is possible, with beefed up equipment, to push those engines well past 400hp, but you still have that torque steer problem, which really isn’t going to be conquered without some radical engineering to shrink the intake, raise the engine, and build a trans with equal length axles to (mostly) eliminate that little problem, but then you’d still have an engine sticking out of the hood, and with a V6.. that’s not exactly cool.

        I also think this is another reason why American cars in general don’t compete in the everyman segment that Japanese sports cars do, because of Corvette. If you’d have had the Fiero performing to it’s peak, it would have pushed Ford and Dodge to compete in the affordable sports car segment, which would have fueled innovation, and kept American cars competitive with the Japanese stock. Now this is a bit of theorizing, so I could be entirely wrong but, I really do believe had the Fiero been kept around, we might actually see kids today working on American cars.

        The youth are what drive new models, new design directions, and inspire manufacturers to put out affordable, well engineered platforms. A guy in his 40s isn’t going to buy a cheaper, fast car. He’s going for a Corvette, or if he’s really well off, a Nissan GT-R, or some other halo car. The youth are what take the cheaper variants and make them into incredible works of art. Without a cheap, well engineered platform to play with in America, they’ve moved to the cheap, and quite capable imports. I mean, I haven’t, as I love my Buicks, but if I had extra change? You bet your ass I’d have a Nissan S14 platform car in my driveway, right next to that turbo Buick sedan.

        Sorry if this post is a bit disjointed, I kinda jumped back and forth on it, adding and subtracting things here and there, so apologies there!

        Shep

        • September 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm

          Good stuff, Shep!

          And: Amen on the 20th Anniversary turbo Trans-Am. (And Syclone and Typhoon, too.)

          In re that: I always felt it was tragic that Pontiac was not allowed to develop the 301 V-8, especially the turbo 301 V-8. Like the early 3.8 Buick, the first turbo V-8s were plagued by problems; chiefly, trying to get the turbo to work with a carburetor and the limited computer controls of the time. But imagine what the 301 turbo might have become by the late 1980s, with EFI and a proper ECU….

          Instead, Pontiac “corporatized” Pontiac – cancelling the Pontiac V-8 and making Pontiac use Chevy V-8s in cars like the Trans-Am, which destroyed the Trans-Am’s identity and – in my opinion – led to the end of Pontiac, too.

          • Shep
            September 14, 2012 at 1:02 am

            Eric,

            Yeah, it’s really sad that Pontiac got snubbed with a lot of their ideas. I think the only reason Buick got away with what they did is because, well.. they’re Buick. They have this kind of ‘image’ of being for old people or ‘gentlemen’s muscle cars.’ So they were allowed to toy around from time to time, because nobody took it seriously.

            Pontiac, despite my bias towards Buick, has always been the true bread and butter of GM performance. Trans Ams, Fieros, the Banshee concepts, the Tempest, GTO, etc. There’s also the Grand Prix GTP of the late 90s to early 2000s, which was quite a capable mid sized FWD vehicle, if a bit bad in the twisties. Then the modern day with the G8, the new GTO.. I mean, they were really putting out some of the very best vehicles GM had, and put them right where they belonged, with Pontiac. Yet who got the axe? Pontiac, and that’s a real shame, because a new Trans Am, especially given the aftermarket kits that turn Camaros into modern interpretations of what it could’ve looked like, would’ve been a seriously sinister looking vehicle.

            Now I’m glad they didn’t kill Buick, but I’m glad for the wrong reasons. The Buicks I know and love are a distant memory, and this new Buick Regal GS isn’t half as capable as it could be if they’d stop this electric car BS and stuff in that AWD system that the Insignia gets over in Europe.

            GM is just so full of terrible management that it really makes your head want to spin! I’ll need to look into that 301, sounds like an interesting motor to study in my spare time.

            Cheers,
            Shep

          • September 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

            Hi Shep!

            Buick also lost its V-8 program; all GM divisions were effectively consolidated by the ’80s. Formerly, divisions like Buick and Pontiac and Oldsmobile and Cadillac each had their own in-house engineering operations and designed their own engines. This meant that even though a Buick GS and a Chevy Chevelle (or a Firebird and a Camaro) shared a basic platform, they were fundamentally different cars under the hood. My Trans-Am, for example, has a Pontiac 455. The same year Camaro has a small-block Chevy V-8. The two engines have very different characteristics – and so, the cars have very distinct personalities. There is a reason to buy one or the other that goes beyond just looks, or because “I’m a Chevy guy” (or “I’m a Pontiac guy”). But beginning in 1982, the Firebird has exactly the same drivetrains as its sister car, the Camaro. This means the “Pontiac” is nothing more than a slightly different looking Camaro. The definition of badge-engineering. It ruined the car by making it superfluous. Why build two of essentially the same model? (Imagine Toyota having another division – call it Superba – that hawked Camrys that were identical to the Toyota version in every way except for some slight exterior cosmetic tweaks…)

            Buick was allowed to continue building 3.8 liter V-6s – which as you know became the “corporate” engine for numerous GM models sold under the Olds and Pontiac and Chevy labels. In this respect, Buick lucked out because it was able to hold onto a Buick engine for longer – and build it in performance tune and so create a car like the GN and GNX.

            In my opinion, Pontiac should have been gracefully retired after the 1981 model year as opposed to the slow dying on the vine that happened. GM still has too many divisions. GMC, for example. Why does GM need two truck divisions? (Three, really, if you include Cadillac, which also re-sells gussied up Chevies like the Tahoe and Avalanche).

            The Japanese model is more sensible: Two major labels, one the mass-market stuff; the other the high-end luxury stuff.

          • BrentP
            September 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm

            Buick still exists because of China. Buick has a strong following in China.

            GM having too many divisions… they had too many divisions the moment they decided to consolidate everything. Before then they had distinctly different vehicles that broadened who they could sell to. If that was most profitable or not is another story. I don’t think I’ve ever met a car guy that didn’t agree that noting good came from their compromise cars. All the good stuff, the desirable good stuff, were distinct vehicles made by a particular division with their own engine.

    • BrentP
      September 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      It’s very true with regards to performance. GM doesn’t want anything roaming into the territory of the lower end corvettes and it hurts them. What it really should do is drop the affordable corvette if it wants the corvette untouchable. However it needs those to make the vette’s numbers look good… so it’s got a big marketing problem with regard to performance cars.

      On Fiero, the engine fire problems were directly to related to GM de-contenting and cheapening the car. My favorite was because the iron duke four didn’t quite fit, so they made the oil pan smaller… because the oil pan was smaller it held less oil so the engine ran hotter. Then the connecting rods were crap, like 25% of them… so iron dukes of the era would throw connecting rods through the block spraying hot oil out… resulting in fires. Now that’s one way they caught fire… there were others.

      • September 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm

        Corvette has become a de facto exotic, in terms of price. The least expensive version has a base MSRP just barely under $50,000 – and good luck buying one for that. $55k is more like it. Same ballpark as a Porsche Cayman.

        But unlike the Cayman, the ‘Vette’s still “just” a Chevy. In fact, even the ZR1 is still “just” Chevy. The guy who buys this six-figure car has to go for service to the same dealer that works on $12,000 Aveos and $17,000 Malibus. No nice waiting room; no special treatment. I see this as a real problem for Corvette because nowadays, people who pay $50k-plus expect (and frankly, are entitled to expect) a high-end dealer experience. Nothing wrong with Chevy – it’s just not a premium brand. It’s a bread and butter brand. Corvette’s presence in the lineup is anomalous.

        Some have argued – and I agree with this line of reasoning – that Corvette should be spun off and sold separately, as GM’s exotic performance car. Just “Corvette” – not “Corvette by Chevrolet.” Sell them in boutique dealers that cater just to Corvette buyers. This would enhance the car’s status significantly. And thereby, sales.

        Then, other divisions – including Chevy – could sell lower-priced, mass-market performance cars.

        A win-win for all concerned.

        • BrentP
          September 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm

          Except 50 grand isn’t so exotic any more. It’s a nicer nice car level. And that’s the thing, GM wants corvette, some sort of corvette, to still be available to the person who saves up for it.

          Ford made no pretense of that with the GT. Although Ford didn’t keep making them so I’ll never be able to pick up one used. Ones I see for sale are at MSRP or so and the wrecked ones are still like $70,000. Wrecked. as in totaled and needing lots of repairs that will cost even more over that $70K.

          • September 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm

            I agree, it’s not exotic in the sense that spending $50k on a car is not exotic these days. Still, I think the point stands that people who have $50k (really, closer to $55-60k) to spend on a car expect more in the way of status and exclusivity. Compare, for example, the ambiance of a Porsche store to that of a Chevy store.

            As far as “still be available to the person who saves up for it”… I think that used to be true. Today, it’s more the case that the Average Joe aspires to save up enough coin for an SS Camaro. The $55k-up Corvette is for all practical purposes an affluent person’s car now. Because when you add the cost of insurance and taxes to the $55k-ish real-world transaction price of a base model Corvette, there just aren’t many people who aren’t pretty well-off who can indulge such a purchase. Remember: Unlike a $50k SUV, which is at least plausibly practical, a primary car, a family car…the two-seater Corvette is inherently a toy, a second car.

            But a Camaro SS – which can be bought for $15k less – is doable. It’s not only muchmore affordable, it has back seats. Granted, they’re not fit for adults, but you can put kids back there. You could drive a Camaro as a primary car. That makes it easier to justify the expense.

          • BrentP
            September 13, 2012 at 6:07 pm

            I see a corvette like a boat.

            Congress thought boats were only for rich people. So they but a big luxury tax on boats. The US boat industry collapsed.

            Turned out boats were bought primarily by people who saved up for them (or got loans for them). That’s why there’s still a $50K vette IMO. Because without them Corvette dies.

            As to dealership experience, There’s a Chicago area Chevy dealer that sells a lot of Corvettes. Corvettes seem to be half their new car inventory from the street. (I am sure they keep all the vettes in front and the Cobalts out back) Their neighbor? A shuttered Kmart. Across the street? Advance Autoparts (formally a hardware store) Not sure what the Corvette buyer expects, but a regular Chevy dealership in a nothing special area sells a lot of them. They even advertise nationally.

          • September 13, 2012 at 6:44 pm

            Yeah, I agree there’s truth there, too. However, times have changed. Joe Middle Class is not in a position to save up for a boat – or a Corvette. Plus, I doubt GM makes much, if any, profit on the car. The volume’s pretty low: about 13,500 of them last year. Hard to make a buck on that. Probably, they make the real money by the draw, or halo effect of the car’s presence in GM’s inventory.

            But the price of the car has really upticked over the years.

            In ’75, for example, the base price of the convertible was 6,550 (see here http://www.corvette-101.com/specs.htm )

            That’s $27,892 and change in today’s dollars – about the same as a well-equipped 2012 V-6 Camaro LS.

            Back in ’75, a Corvette was expensive, for sure – but still within the reach of Joe Middle Class. Today? Not so much. Remember: Incomes have pretty much been stagnant for decades for the average working stiff. But the price of the Corvette is almost twice what it was circa 1975. Sure, it’s a lot more car now – but that’s not the issue.

            It’s become an exotic – and GM probably ought to adjust its marketing to reflect that.

        • MoT
          September 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

          A good idea. Then let them develop other models within the Corvette line. It’s funny, having lived in Japan, how many dizzying models there are that never were introduced here. These were cars and vans that I frankly thought would have kicked the American auto industry in the ass, and rightfully so. Perhaps that’s why they never were introduced so the paranoia here would not have kicked in. What I saw there were high end sedans and vans that simply blew my mind. There are no Acuras, Infiniti or Lexus in Japan because over there it’s simply Honda, Nissan and Toyota. I explained that to one of Americas Booboisie who listened with an incredulous look. Only in this country do you have to create another brand in order to push the “image” of quality while over there it’s simply expected. Disgruntled customers , on the lower end, can spread enough ill will to make your “diamonds” appear to be nothing more than Rhine Stones.

          • justin
            September 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm

            The price of EVERY car has doubled, not just the Corvette.

            In ’74 My father bought a new Caprice convertible with every available option including the 454 engine. It was the most expensive Chevrolet besides the Corvette, It cost $4,700

            Only Rich people and Poor people buy brand new vehicles.

  14. Ed
    September 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Reading about the Chevy Volt makes me think of the president’s cabinet in the movie “Idiocracy”. It’s easy to imagine one of them saying, “Volt helps the ‘virement AND the ‘commony. Win, Win.”

    • damon
      September 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

      “but it’s got electrolytes”

      • September 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

        “That’s what plants crave!”

        • methylamine
          September 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

          “Ow! My Balls!”

          OMG ROFLMAO!

          “Idiocracy” is one of my favorite movies.
          Thanks for the quotes guys.

  15. Kevin McCune
    September 13, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Eric you are so reasonable,I too live in the mtns of VA,bordering WVA I dont think the electrics are such a good idea here for many reasons-but I do the idea of regenerative braking.Let the Market decide whats,what or(Watt) the gummint has done some good things,but has been responsible for some massive boondangles too-Kevin

    • September 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks, Kevin!

      I’ve got no problem with any type of vehicle; let people buy what they want/need – and let the people who build them, meet those wants and needs.

      My beef is with government (organized force) interjecting its know-it-all-self, preempting the marketplace and the free choices made by individuals.

  16. david
    September 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Actually the logic of mr peters suggests the GM Volt is doing well. For example:

    1st volt sold cost GM 1.1 billion dollars per car
    2nd volt sold cost GM 550 million dollars per car
    3rd volt sold cost GM 367 million dollars per car

    So from 1.1 billion dollars per car from the first car sold to the current 89000 dollars per car seems to be progress.

    If the volt is ultimately a successfully car financially which is still to be determined, but never the less by the article’s author own logic progress is being made which goes against the premise of the article, ie technically true but highly distorted.

    • September 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Hi David,

      I assume (I hope!) you’re just kidding…

      • david
        September 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

        No, the example is accurate. No business except the most simplistic type of businesses make a net profit from their first sale. Business typically spread the initial costs over a number of transactions or in this case the number car sales.

        Whether the government bailout is good or bad, or whether or not GM is a poor company is debatable, but the supporting example of losing 89000 dollars per car at this current moment is poor support for your position as described in the initial example.

        • September 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

          The Volt has fallen catastrophically short of anticipated sales – even with massive subsidies to entice buyers. There is no parallel to market-driven products. Absent the subsidies, no car company would even bring to market a car such as this – a car it could easily foresee would incur massive losses for years, with a strong probability it would never turn a profit. And when they make an error in judgment and such a car does reach the marketplace, what happens? It gets cancelled.

          • MoT
            September 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

            It’s nitpicking, Eric. He’s arguing for arguments sake.

  17. Housewar
    September 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I’m with you, Eric, but it’s worth pointing out that the $89,000 “cost” per car is the average cost, which includes design and development.
    It’s not wrong to say it costs that much, but some people might be led to believe that it costs that much to manufacture each Volt. The marginal cost for the next car is much less than that.
    Of course, even if GM wrote off the $1B+ development costs, they still couldn’t sell the car at a price that covers the cost of manufacturing it.
    At least, that’s what I’ve read. I don’t know what the exact numbers are.

    • September 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Yup –

      Conceptually, if this is going to work, the car needs to be economical. Not just in terms of the energy (gas or electricity) it uses to locomote. It has to be economical (that is, profitable) for a car company to make – and for consumers to buy.

      Given that no electric car on the market has the range (or all-weather performance) to serve as a primary/everyday car for most people, the focus ought to be on making a low-cost, minimalist “city” or “commuter” car. Small, light and cheap. No more than $20,000 or about $5,000 more than a decently equipped conventional economy compact. This way, it could be justified as a second car, a commuter car.

      $40,000 per car is insane. $30,000 per car merely demented.

      • justin
        September 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm

        I think what would work for alot of people is having an electric car, like the Leaf, that when purchased, came with, say 200 days of rental on a gen set that could be mounted on the back, like those luggage haulers that pug into the trailer hitch.

        Nissan could have, say, Wal-Mart store them and install em on the cars, when the owner needed to take a trip that would exceed the limits of the battery.

  18. Joe Milligan
    September 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    http://www.treehugger.com/cars/how-much-does-chevy-volt-costs-make-bob-lutz-weighs.html

    According to this, the 89,900 price tag of a Volt is the tool-up costs divided by the number of units sold so far.
    This would be the case with any car that has sold as few units as the Volt. It doesn’t negate your point (since it WON’T sell more units) but they’re not exactly taking a $50k spanking on every unit.

    • Joe Milligan
      September 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      Sorry, didn’t see this was covered already. ;)

  19. Kevin Beck
    September 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    It seems the Government Motors moniker for GM is no longer applicable. The name should be changed to Government Morons…but that’s redundant.

    Having been an accountant in a previous life, I must say that the numb-nuts in Washington don’t understand fundamental economics, like the idea that throwing good money (don’t get me started on the Federal Reserve) after bad doesn’t change people’s minds about useless products. The reason gasoline works as a motor fuel is because it can be stored and transported on the car, and the energy density results in higher efficiencies than do car batteries. For the onlookers that don’t understand automotive engineering, this means that you can travel almost 500 miles on a tankful of gasoline, but can barely go 40 miles on a good day on a fully-charged battery.

    When I hear government statists complain about freedom-lovers like me saying that I am entirely against government because (insert your favorite program here) will not get funding, I say you are only partly right. The complete answer is: If you really believe in your stupid statist dreams, just keep them to yourself. If you believe in electric cars, then buy one yourself, instead of asking me to cover a part of the price for you to buy it! You can certainly buy it much more easily than I can, and you are much more willing to buy it than I am. And if you want to support your stupid government dreams, then you and I should get to pick and choose every spending option there is, with one caveat: Only those that vote for a program are required to pay for it.

    • BrentP
      September 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Convincing people to do something is difficult. Forcing them is relatively easy because those in government are more than happy to oblige in many cases.

    • Mike in Spotsy
      September 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      Really like your post, Kevin. Couple of follow-up points:

      The lunatics in the DC asylum are certainly ignorant about economics. For example, how else could they keep claiming that government creates jobs? Bastiat exploded that one about a century and a half ago. And I won’t get you started on the Fed if you don’t get me started first. lol

      They also seem totally unaware of accounting principles. I heard John Williams, of shadowstats.com, saying today that based on GAAP* the real deficit for this fiscal year is on the order of $5 trillion. And the actual national debt is way more than the $15 trillion they admit to: I’ve seen estimates ranging from $42 trillion to almost $200 trillion. Best case: totally hopeless.

      I like the idea of “you vote for it, you pay for it.” I always wondered, for example, how many homeless people Ted Kennedy put up in his DC mansion while he was blathering about their plight. The liberal/progressive seems to take great pleasure in being compassionate, while not realizing that their “compassion” consists of nothing but forcing other people at gunpoint to do what the liberal/progressive wants them to do. That is the extent of their actions…no personal commitment, just using gummint power to force others. If they really care about a situation, they should be the ones paying for it

      A similar principle should apply to war. If you want war, go fight it and pay for it. Leave the rest of us alone.

      * Generally accepted accounting principles, which businesses are required to follow, but which the government can’t use without letting the people know what’s really going on.

      • methylamine
        September 14, 2012 at 2:12 am

        Mike–right on.

        In fact I think it was Gary North who exposed the fact that the actual deficit each year is closer to $11 trillion.

        This he calculated by including the increasing indebtedness of social security and medicare/medicaid. When accounting for those unfunded liabilities, we arrive at those larger numbers you mentioned–40 to 200 trillion. That’s the current net amount owed over the life of the baby boomers…

        And that amount increases by $11 trillion a year.

        It’s totally insurmountable.

        And it’s *designed* to be.

        It’s how the whole scam works; first, introduce fiat debt-money. Second, lend, lend, lend, and lend. Third, once they’re in so far it’s totally hopeless–take control. Take control of the people. Rob them of their land; it’s collateral after all, just as the people themselves are chattel (cattle).

        Great scam, eh? Because the money you printed was worth nothing to begin with–it’s the ultimate robbery! Convince the sheeple that a “dollar” is money. Lend them until they’re broke. Take them, and their stuff.

        It is utterly amazing to me that people don’t understand this.

  20. September 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Hello Eric,
    I have translated this article (good, by the way), and if you don’t mind I’m going to post it on my blog.
    Thank you,
    Best.

    • dom
      September 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      I’m sure Eric don’t mind as long as you link back.

    • September 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Yup – it’s ok with me – and, thanks!

  21. Todd
    September 14, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Keep
    Up the great work Eric. These government goons are out to strip us of every penny we have and hand it over to these dimwitted loser car companies and other leaches on society.

    • September 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Thanks, Todd –

      Consciously or not, the end-point goal appears to be the systematic impoverishment of the great majority of the population, which can then be controlled more efficiently. Some will accuse me of paranoia for stating this, but the evidence is abundant. Americans are among the most controlled and manipulated people on earth – and an essential component of this is the undermining of their economic security. Desperate – and largely ignorant – people – will always succumb readily to even more control over their lives by those who promise “solutions” and “have plans.”

      • September 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

        Yes, but Eric, you’re assuming that those in charge actually have a plan. I don’t debate that we are headed toward economic ruination, and control by our elites, but I do not think that the elites are planning this in any way. What I think is these people are under incredible pressure to “do something”, yet they are ignorant of basic economic principles, and at the same time so arrogantly full of themselves that they do know what they are doing, and they are leading us down a path toward totalitarianism; a path they never truly intended to embark upon. The scary thing to me is that these people think they know what they are doing, think they are making the world a better, freer place, and are in fact doing the exact polar opposite. You see, planning takes intelligence, foresight, and competence which are all skills sadly lacking in anyone in government. Stumbling off a cliff, however, doesn’t take much planning at all; merely an arrogant belief that one knows what the fuck one is doing.
        Take for example Ben Bernanke. Does anyone seriously think this drone is some part of a nefarious plot to overthrow the government and rule the world? He strikes me as the kind of person who can’t find his own ass with both hands in his pockets, a map and a flashlight. I highly doubt he is part of some secret cabal hell bent on world domination. Rather, I think he is bumbling us on into a total disaster. While the results are the same, the causation is very different. It is an important distinction, because one must react very differently to cold calculating intelligent criminals than one does to utter fools.

        • BrentP
          September 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm

          The ruling class, the so-called elite, do have a plan IMO. One world company town. Their utopia where they run everyone’s lives.

          The mechanism isn’t a conspiracy where they get together with minions and plan things, it’s influence. They set up the schools, they set up the policy orgs, they set the messages in the media, and so on. it’s influence. it’s training people in their vision. They create the illusion, the perception. With all these things people carry out the vision of the elite on their own without instruction, without conspiracy. It’s what they are trained in, it’s what they believe is right. They have no other frame of reference.

          It’s all set up that if you want to get ahead in life you believe and do what is best for this so-called elite. Follow your own ideas? Follow a different school of thought? Your career will suffer. Do your research and find out something like a facet of climate change is BS? Better just trash it… publish it, if you can and your career will be trashed.

          That’s the system. go along to get along.

          • Rick
            September 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm

            To BrentP,

            It will be the insurance co’s that will be doing the running. Look what was done with the DWI laws.The drugs laws. Free enterprise. The market place all controlled by the insurance co’s.

          • September 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm

            Rick,

            Insurance companies would be powerless without government force backing them. What we have is the essence of fascism: Big business in bed with Big Government. The insurance cartels are still legally private enterprises – and make profit (lots of it). But they make their profit using the government to compel people to buy their “services,” either directly or indirectly.

            Exactly like Krupp or Bayer or Daimler AG during the Nazi era, incidentally.

            If there were no way for insurance companies to compel people to purchase insurance, the concept of “socialized costs” (and its corollary, prior restraint) would largely disappear. If people could say, “no thanks” to insurance – and if insurers could decline to “cover” those who impose unacceptable costs or who pose unacceptable risks – the cost of insurance would go down tremendously.

            As always, it’s collectivism and coercion that’s the real problem here.

          • Rick
            September 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm

            Eric,
            What? In a past post you told me that people confuse Fascism with Nazies, now you are telling me that Fascism is the same as Nazies?

            Fascism is the merger of the GOV and companys with the gov in charge.

            Non-clover world is when the “free market” runs the GOV. Which we almost have.

            When Mitt and his buddys get in the Gov will be totally controlled by wall street and the “free market”.

            The insurance co’s do not need the GOV.
            The” Pinkerton Agency” got their start in company towns as knee breakers.

            The insurance co’s decided that is was cheaper and less messy to get the gov to pass the laws.

            Just follow the money.

            And they are greedy.

            Rick

          • September 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm

            People often confuse the racial element of Nazism with fascism – and believe that without the racist element, it can’t be fascist. The Nazis were, however, practitioners of fascism – just as the United States is a practitioner of fascism.

            Fascism is not the “merger” of business and government. In a fascist system, businesses remain nominally under private ownership. But they work in concert with the state (government) to maximize their power (and profit).

            Your statement, “The insurance co’s do not need the GOV” is silly. If the government did not threaten me with violence for non-compliance, I would not buy car and motorcycle insurance – at least, not for several of my rarely-used vehicles. I currently do not buy heaf care insho’ance. Because no one forces me to do so. But thanks to Obama and the Supremes – thanks to the government – I will soon be forced to buy insho’ance.

            You write: “When Mitt and his buddys get in the Gov will be totally controlled by wall street and the “free market”.”

            Your in quotes sarcasm (“free market”) destroys the point you were trying to make – and makes mine for me. That is, we don’t have a free market. We have a corporatist – a fascist – system.

            PS: Please try to learn to spell or at least use a spell checker. Your prose is atrocious.

          • BrentP
            September 17, 2012 at 2:42 am

            Rick, the government has the upper hand. The insurance companies teamed up with the government for easy profits. However the government is going to exert itself.

            In driving they operate symbiotically. But cracks already exist. In Illinois the government established traffic school and supervision to get easy fine money by cutting the insurance companies out of the loop. But the symbiotic scam pretty much continues. However, in health care it’s going to lead to government running everything.

            Each election from 2016 on out it’s going to be what elected office holders can get for people for ‘free’. Of course premium increases will not be allowed. What is currently very profitable for the insurance companies will over time become an impossible business model. They will fail and the government will take over. The short term profits will be huge. By the time things get bad all those who voted for Obama care and those that lobbied for it, the current executives of the insurance companies should all be retired by then or so close to it that they won’t be hurt.

        • methylamine
          September 17, 2012 at 2:44 am

          @Paul:

          I’ve gone back and forth on this point too, Paul. But the planning is so obvious, and so out in the open, it’s impossible to deny.

          Please read Carroll Quigley’s “Tragedy and Hope”; or at least read a summary…it’s long, about 1400 pages and tedious as hell.

          But the basic idea is that the Elite have planned world government for at least 150 years. The banksters have planned it for 300 years.

          It’s not a top-down hierarchical control system; you and I both know that doesn’t work for large systems.

          It’s circles within circles.

          Look at the fringe organizations–those about two or three rings outside the core Round Tables, such as the Council on Foreign Relations. All socialist, one-world idealization. Its members include C-level execs from just about every Fortune 100 company; especially the media. Almost the entire cabinet of most administrations–CFR. Heads of banks, almost all. Etc.

          Bilderberg Group–again, the Elite; in the case of the royalty like Beatrice and Queen Mum, the real Elite’s inner circle.

          They set agendas; not necessarily specific marching orders, but directions.

          Here’s the real secret: what if you own central banks (and there are less than a handful of countries that don’t have one), and you can print money in almost any quantity? Do you think you can exert some pretty awesome pressure and offer some irresistible enticements?

          You bet.

          Now–what if you convince your minions, who don’t know they’re minions, that one world government is a good idea, that it will promote peace, end war, and be good for people and good for the environment? Better yet, what if you send the right messages to the right groups, each concerned for their particular cause–environment for the environmentalists, charity for the welfarists, peace for the peaceniks?

          They’ll put their passion into it all by themselves, without every knowing the larger agenda.

          Are the politicians basically stumbling around in the dark? Absolutely. But they operate in a frame of reference that doesn’t let them deviate from the overall plan. If you have no principles, it’s easy to be swayed in the general direction of an agenda without ever seeing it for what it is.

          Ben Bernanke? I suspect he’s just a malleable, confused, arrogant academic who actually believes his own bullshit. Just as, by the way, Keynes designed his system. Keynes KNEW it would fall apart; he was paid to write his inscrutable thesis by the every interests that would profit most by it–the banksters.

          Nonetheless, everything he’s doing profits the extremely rich, keeping them quiet, while indebting the nation and making it vulnerable to a takeover…just like Greece.

          What’s the collateral on those loans? The country itself, and US, the cattle on the ranch.

          Does it matter if it’s accident or conspiracy? Only in the aftermath, when we’re looking for people to punish for putting us through hell. Right now, what matters is:
          1) getting honest money back in play
          2) getting honest PEOPLE back in play–getting our morality back. And by that I mean reviving the old American values of “live and let live”, “Hey so what, it’s a free country, let him be!”…and so on.

          When people accept those old simple values, suddenly tazering people for not wearing seatbelts becomes unthinkable again. And from that kernel of truth, all else flows.

          Prosperity and peace come only through individual liberty.

          • September 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

            Hi Vicki,

            I agree with you that at some point it will probably be necessary to physically defend against further assaults on liberty (self-defense). The question is – when? A revolution in thought must occur before a revolution in fact is even conceivable. As an example from history:

            The American colonists circa 1750 in general loved being colonists – and English subjects. A Samuel Adams or Tom Paine would have been looked upon then as a kook, as an outlier – and generally reviled. Physical resistance would have been pointless – and led straight to the gallows, with most of the public cheering the executioner. The authority of the King was looked upon as rightful. Thus, the English Crown’s American possessions were absolutely secure.

            In 25 years’ time, much had changed – and change became inevitable. Though a large percentage of the colonists were still Clovers by 1775, a critical mass were not. They rejected the moral right of the English monarchy to rule over them. They were passionate – and they were right. In the end, they won.

            Of course, change can go in the opposite direction as well – when a critical mass of people have fallen sway to evil doctrines – such as, for example, National Socialism, or Marxism… or the Demopublican mish-mash of both those authoritarian philosophies most Americans seem to at least implicitly support today.

            Ideas are powerful – ultimately, the most powerful tools in existence. For good – or ill.

            The object of my work is to spread what I look upon as the most important idea of all, the NAP. It can be – it ought to be – the basis for all human interaction. I realize this makes me an idealist. Exactly so. It does not mean I am any less willing to defend my ideas than the coercive collectivists (and their unthinking minions) are prepared to use violence to stomp all over the NAP – and me and anyone else who wants to live and let live.

            On “women’s rights”: There’s no such thing. There are only human rights, which all humans, irrespective of their genitals, possess equally. I’ve stated my views on this at length, so probably you know that I am not in agreement with Benjamin. For example, the franchise. It only becomes a problem when people may vote to take away other people’s property, or infringe upon their liberties. It is not a problem that women have the right to vote. The problem is men – and women – who vote to steal from other men and women. I am no less abused if my oppressor has a penis – rather than a vagina. Focusing on the sex equipment of one’s oppressor is twaddle.

            How’s that?

  22. Alex ++
    September 15, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Everything government touches, turns to crap.
    The free market would bring electric vehicles out in a timely manner if they were desired, at the appropriate time, and be more effective than this hothouse effort that’s looking like egg on the faces of both GM and the Prez. I knew the Volt was a money pit, but did not realize it was as bad as the figures Eric puts out – better that baby had been stillborn.

    On a side note, I got a chance to ride an older Ninja 250 two days ago. I’d always figured a 250 would be too small to be fun, but it was a blast to drive around town and you can even wring it’s neck and take it on a freeway without problems. Instead of buying an electric vehicle and going $40,000 into debt, get a 250 scooter or Ninja for $1,000 and save some serious gas and insurance money – that at least makes some fiscal sense.

    • September 15, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Yup –

      I’ve mentioned before the ’83 Honda Silverwing GL 650 touring bike I bought for $1,400 two years ago. 50-plus MPG, easy – and that’s on the highway, at 70. This bike could be ridden cross-country, no problem.

      If you really want to be tight, get a single cylinder 250 like the one you mention. I have a dual-sport Kaw KL250 that is capable of 80 MPG on street tires. It’s not something I’d want to try to ride from here to DC on I-81, but it absolutely has enough power to get on the highway for short (if not so pleasant) hops.

      As I mentioned to Paul the Taxi Driver, one of the big problems with the Volt, Leaf and the rest is the over-reach and dishonest marketing. None of these EVs is viable as a primary car, year-round, for people whose driving requirements include regular highway use and regular trips of more than 30 miles one way.

      • Alex ++
        September 16, 2012 at 2:24 am

        Yep, Eric, the KL250 would be a fine city bike, wouldn’t even have to sweat potholes – as far as dual sports go, I really like KTM – the Duke 690 really turns me on, and the older models are rock solid if cared for, and as I have so few expensive vices, don’t smoke, only drink socially, don’t care about clothes, cars, etc… so I can afford one if I find one and decide to pull the trigger.

        I was just surprised how well the little Ninja handled – and it had some wind protection so freeway driving was not bad. I hear they’re coming out with a 300cc for 2013 which is even better, though 400cc would have been best – I suppose they couldn’t do it because it would affect the sales figures of the 600cc.

        Anyway, at this point in time, getting in debt for $40,000 over a car is nuts, and electrics are just not ready for prime time anyway.

        • September 16, 2012 at 9:27 am

          Amen to all that!

          My only issue with the Ninja 250 is that it’s way too small for me. One of the things that’s missing from the current bike lineup is smaller cc bikes not made for smaller riders. If you’re 6 ft 3 and over 200 as I am, a Ninja 250 (or Rebel 250 or Nighthawk 250) isn’t going to work very well. But a dual sport 250 has the seat height/ergonomics for taller riders. I’d also like to see more standard and touring-type bikes in the 500-650 CC range.

  23. September 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

    There are certain cases where electric vehicles do make sense and are actually working. For example, here in Arizona, many old folk use electric golf cars in Sun City for running errands. In OLd Town Scottsdale, golf cars are used as shuttles between bars on weekends. And of course, maintenance workers on large apartment complexes use them all the time. Golf cars are street legal here in AZ with some obvious restrictions. But the Volt and the Leaf are just plain stupid.

    • September 15, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Agreed.

      My take on this is that (leaving aside the issue of government interference) the car companies way overshot. They should have tried for a small, cheap runabout – a commuter or city car specifically marketed as such, with no pretense made about it being highway (or long range) capable. Price it at around $15,000 or less.

      Consider: The early IC cars like the Model T weren’t “highway capable,” either.

      And they never would have become highway capable, either, if Ford had over-sold the car, claiming it had capabilities it didn’t – and expecting people to pay far more for the privilege than a good pair of horses and a wagon cost them!

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