Such a Deal!

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Toyota might want to consider packing up the plug-in version of its Prius hybrid and sending it off to the Land of Unwanted Toys.deal 2

Though the regular Prius is popular, the plug-in variant languishes. Despite being able to go much farther – and lot faster – on just the batteries, the plug-in has been idling on dealer’s lots, taking up floor space and costing everyone money.

Hence the decision – artfully packaged – to dramatically cut the 2014 Prius plug-in’s price by more than $2,000.

“It just got a little easier for drivers to maximize their fuel savings and be environmentally responsible,” reads the release from Toyota corporate announcing the base price of the 2014 plug-in Prius.

It’s now $29,990 – vs. $32,000 last year (2013).

Mind, this is the cherry on top of the $2,500 federal tax credit buyers of this vehicle (and any other plug-in hybrid or pure electric car) are eligible for. California buyers can lop off another $1,500 via the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program.

That’s a $6,000 kickback!deal lead pic

Yet, despite of these financial inducements – and in spite of the car’s ability to deliver the equivalent of almost 100 MPG (the average of its mileage on just the batteries plus the mileage it gets when the onboard gas engine is running, divided by two) – people are not lining up.

How low will Toyota have to go?

Probably, to in the ballpark of $25k – the base price of the regular Prius. Which, rumor has it, Toyota sells at a net loss per car – amortized by the money made from the sale of Corollas and Camrys. It would be very interesting indeed to learn what the non-subsidized, non-cost-shifted price tag of each Prius – standard or plug-in – actually is.

My guesstimate is around $27k for the regular Prius – and probably about $35k for the more technologically elaborate plug-in, which has (among other upgrades) a sophisticated lithium-ion battery pack as well as more powerful electric motors, such that it is capable of achieving – and maintaining – close to 70 MPH with the onboard gas engine not running at all – and of maintaining that for several miles. deal 3

The problem isn’t that hybrids (and plug-in hybrids) don’t work. They actually work quite well. I’ve road-tested all of them – including the plug-in Prius (see here) and do not take issue with their functionality.

It’s the economics that give one pause – including, notably, the manufacturers of these cars.

Would any hybrids exist – other than as engineering demonstration projects – absent the political pressure (and subsidies)? It’s a fair question. And the answer is – probably not.

This isn’t about being “for” or “against” alternative forms of propulsion. It’s about whether there is an economically legitimate alternative to internal combustion. Here a quick detour through the history books is in order. deal 4

100 years ago, internal combustion engines had to claw away market share from electric and steam-powered cars. Which they did on the merits – not as a result of political machinations. At first, the electric (and steam-powered) automobile was superior technology. Electric cars were “get in go” – whereas the first IC car engines had to be manually cranked (a dangerous operation that not infrequently resulted in broken wrists as the crank handle snapped back on the person attempting to rotate the engine by hand) and had difficult-to-operate manual transmissions that required mastering the art of the double-clutch if one wished to avoid grinding the gearbox into an early grave.

But no one gave thought to paying people to buy those early IC cars – despite the promise of the technology (including the prospect of much greater driving range based on the portability of the fuel and the ease/quickness of the refueling process). It was left to the engineers – and those who backed them financially – to sort the bugs and get the IC engine civilized enough to be economically viable on its own two feet (so to speak). women in car

Within a few years – and especially after the introduction and widespread adoption of the self-starter -  the IC car  was clearly superior, functionally, to both the electric and the steam-powered car. It made a case for itself. People freely bought them – at market price. And it was the market that egged on their natural development, which provided the incentive to make them economically viable. That is, to make them profitable to make – and thus, worth making.

The problem with subsidizing the manufacture of not-yet-economically-viable hybrids (and so on) is that – ironically – their natural (efficient) development is stymied – or at the least, it is misdirected. It is arguably why there exist oxymoronic creations such as the luxury-sport hybrid. A vehicle made to approximate the performance capability of an otherwise equivalent vehicle with just an IC engine – while delivering a 10-20 percent (typically) increase in MPGs . . . for a price tag that’s (typically) 10-20 percent higher than the otherwise equivalent, gas-only vehicle.

In the absence of political pressure – and artificial financial inducements – such automotive Catch-22s would not exist, except perhaps as extremely low-volume curiosities. photo posted on post-gazette.com

And absent these pressures and inducements, the engineers would be focused on designing a hybrid or electric (or some other) propulsion system superior to IC propulsion – functionally as well as economically. No design would be offered to consumers before then – because it would not make economic sense to do so.

Wouldn’t that be preferable to the excuse-making (and cost-shifting) evasions necessary to prop up functionally inferior (and economically unjustifiable) “alternatives” to the IC engine?

If these technologies really do have the potential to do to the IC engine what the IC engine did to the early steam and electric cars, then it will happen naturally and inevitably. And if not, then why torture ourselves with false hope – and copywriter hype?

Throw it in the Woods? 

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  92 comments for “Such a Deal!

  1. Eric_G
    December 11, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I’ve been giving this sort of thing a lot of thought lately. The electric car, nuclear power and fiber to the home all seem to face a similar problem: They disrupt the existing markets to the point that the near-monopolists who control the market will do whatever possible to keep them from the pubic.

    Nuclear power for electricity generation easily trumps any other technology in nearly every way, yet we continue to debate and hand wring over the dangers and scariness of the technology. If people would take a day or so to educate themselves they’d realize most of what they’ve been told about nuclear power is a complete fallacy. I’ll leave it to the reader to educate themselves, I won’t get drawn into a debate in this post, nor should I, as I’m a layman. If you want to debate please go to http://www.atomicinsights.com and argue about how Fukushima is killing us all over there.

    Fiber to the home (and gigabit Ethernet) should be everywhere and ubiquitous as well. Other countries have ultra fast, ultra cheap Internet (Gigabit for $20/month), yet we’re still poking along in slow motion. The reason is, of course, you can’t compete with free. The existing players are intrenched (literally) with their hybrid copper/fiber networks, giving out just enough bandwidth to keep the Internet working, but not so much as to risk having to reinvest more in their networks (not to mention maintaining their grip on other services like telephone and video). Like OPEC, the incumbent players make sure to keep their pricing in the sweet spot, not too high, not too low, so that any new player has to be able to bleed cash for decades while fighting intrenched players who have little to no capital outlay to maintain service (and can simply “open the taps” a little more when speed does become a sticking point). Meanwhile, they attempt fiber to the home projects themselves, pricing them at a rate that fits their message to Wall St, that the business isn’t viable.

    Imagine having your daily commuter charge up overnight. You hop in, turn the key and there’s a fully charged battery, ready for you to drive to work. The majority of us only drive a few miles to the office, where the car sits in a parking lot all day, then we drive home. Imagine never having to wait in line for fuel, or drive around looking for the best gas deal (and waiting even longer). Imagine never having to change the oil, or do any of the other routine maintenance ingrained in our lives. There’s more to it than cheap “fuel.” Yes, they likely aren’t the panacea I’m creating, at least not when it’s -11F outside, but in the south and other temperate climates they can work very well.

    Getting to my point, I really believe there’s a campaign being waged every day against electric cars. It’s being done in subtle ways, mostly through the 24 hour news channels, which are dependent on big oil companies and walking-dead car manufacturers for ad revenue. Every time a Tesla catches fire it’s national news. Earnings calls from Tesla get a special mention and as much attention as Ford or GM. Why is that? Tesla isn’t much of a business, still mostly a boutique car manufacturer, but so much attention from the media. Everything that happens to a Tesla is front page news, much like Fukushima.

    I might be overstating the impact of the advertiser on content, but I have no doubt that a media desperate for revenue (and seeing their relevance declining), will do whatever they’re told to keep the money coming in. We already know they can create controversy where none exists (IE gun control) to support their own politics (and get angry (emotional) responses and page views), who’s to say they don’t do the same thing to keep advertisers happy?

    • BrentP
      December 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Automakers and oil companies have never gotten along. Oil companies want to make cheap crappy gasoline and automakers want nice, clean, tightly controlled well manufactured gasoline. Historically speaking if automakers could find a way to use something else they would.

      Electrics are still dealing with the technical problems that caused them to fall to the wayside a century ago. Yes they are better, but the fundamental problems remain. Yes they are good enough for a lot of people now, but it doesn’t come for cheap. The real electric car premium buys a lot of gasoline and a lot of oil changes.

      As to the media, they pick on anything made domestically. Have been doing it since the 1980s at least. An import recalls a few hundred thousand cars for fires? A small blurb in automotive publications. Ford, GM, and Chrysler have a small limited problem recalling a few of one model? National TV news. And if it’s a big recall with fire…. well the it goes in the national news cycle. Tesla Motors might have a decent product now, but the idea of buying a product from a billionaire who has to have my money, taken from me by government so he can have a car company just pisses me off too much to ever buy his products. I can’t access his money to have a car company.

      Yeah I know all the major players get my money too the same way, but it just irks me more when an individual with the private capital to do what I’d like to do has to have me taxed annoys me considerably more than typical corporate welfare for companies where their founders are long dead.

    • eric
      December 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Eric,

      While I prefer IC cars for subjective reasons (I like engines more than motors) I have no beef with the idea of the electric car – per se. If it works, great – I’m all for it.

      But, I’ve been a car journalist for more than 20 years and have driven literally every EV, every hybrid, made during that time (since the ’90s) including the EV1/Impact and the Ford Ecostar (sodium sulfur battery). While interesting, they all had serious functional liabilities as well as economically prohibitive “up front” costs that made them untenable as mass market consumer products. That was as true back circa 1994 as it is now, on the cusp of 2014.

      I honestly hope the technical (and economic) issues will be overcome as it would be good for all concerned. Consumers would have more – and better – options, including better IC cars.

      What I object to is politics dictating design. I’m opposed to mandates, cost-shifting, subsidies. If the idea is sound, it will sell – on its own.

      The excuse often trotted out that EVs just need a little “help” to make it to market-viable doesn’t fly with me because we’re not talking about a new technology. People have been trying to make EVs viable for 100 years, at least. So far, it hasn’t happened. Maybe it will in the future. I hope it does.

      But let the development occur organically – not at gunpoint.

      • dc.sunsets
        December 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

        Hi Eric, I concur with you that political dictation of market decisions has a disastrous track record (the railroads, anyone?) and is yielding the same catastrophe for all transportation (air, rail and road).

        I happen to like my 2012 Camry hybrid. I get an honest close-to-40-mpg (I keep every fuel receipt and am guesstimating the mean, but I’m probably close) with northern Illinois winters which hamstring hybrid performance (closer to 36 mpg when it’s cold) and a job that puts me in mostly highway driving, which also hurts average fuel economy on a hybrid. In the absence of CAFE and myriad other political interventions, I applaud an engineered recapture of coasting/braking energy otherwise completely lost to entropy.

        What “sold” me on the car was ultimately range. Believe it or not, it’s my “bug out car.” Why? If some sort of man-made or natural catastrophe forced me to gas up and try to make a run for the Gulf Coast I could do so even in massive traffic jams and with empty gas stations the whole way. No other vehicle that I know of (short of driving an OTR truck with big saddle tanks) could do this. It’s the perfect car for those living in hurricane zones, too.

        One of my sons is an engineer for a major industrial manufacturer. Right or wrong, he informs me that the sophistication of engineering in autos is largely deemed low compared to similar industries like heavy equipment or aerospace. This alone suggests that political intervention is likely “walmarting” consumer-grade transportation, and is another brick in the wall that bodes ill for the common man’s future.

      • Ernie
        December 12, 2013 at 10:34 pm

        An excellent piece Eric, as usual, lol! Driving 2-300 miles per day during the week typically I have encountered my share of the “electric” cars & hybrids. I have yet to see one running the interstate at anything better than around 50 mph. Considering the rest of us are running at 75 to 80 typically this is a real safety issue in my mind. I have actually spoken with some of these drivers at truck stops when I have encountered them. They indicate to me that the vehicles are not capable of running interstate at normal speeds for any length of time without major degradation of fuel economy. Essentially it seems to me these are glorified in town golf carts. I would never voluntarily buy one. I suspect I am not the only driver noticing this. But as you pointed out, with its future being politically driven rather than market driven, there is no incentive to even admit the problem, much less fix it.

        • eric
          December 13, 2013 at 6:56 am

          Thanks, Ernie!

          I can vouch for what you’ve heard from the owners of EVs and hybrids – having driven literally all of them (excepting the new Porsche). Range on the batteries plummets if you accelerate briskly or operate at sustained high speed. And when I use the word “plummet” I mean literally. You think something along the lines of a mid-70s Trans Am with a 7.4 liter (455 cube) carbureted V-8 uses a lot of gas? Forget about it! No matter how aggressively I stomp the loud pedal, the gas gauge needle does not visibly move left. But the little LCD battery range indicator in a hybrid or EV? Floor it – and the gauge immediately begins to slide toward empty. Keep it floored (work the drivetrain) for 10 minutes or so and it will be empty.

          The vaunted performance of the Tesla? Drive it at 75-80 and it’ll be dead by the side of the road within half an hour. The Tesla is very quick – but in more than just one way. Test its WOT 0-60 capability two or three times in succession – and the car will become 4,400 pounds of inertness. I am not making fun of the car. I am relating the facts about the car.

          Nissan hasn’t been able to send me a Leaf electric car. Because I live 200 miles from where the press pool cars are – and the Leaf is not capable of making the trip in one day. It might take three days to get here – because at highway speeds, the Leaf’s real-world range is maybe 40 miles. Maybe.

          In summer.

          In winter – with the need to use the heater (and defroster) and the added gimp of batteries being less efficient in cold weather – the whole thing becomes a 1492 Columbus-esque level expedition. Better pack lots of salted pork and shoe leather to eat.

          At least with the hybrids, you’re carrying around your electrical generator to feed the batteries. You know, that awful, mean-spirited, planet-raping infernal internal combustion engine. The handicapable hybrid is only mass production viable (though not economically viable) because of pistons going up and down and atomized hydrocarbon fuel being consumed. People can hate on IC all they like – their likes (and dislikes) are neither here nor there as far as what works.

          And doesn’t work.

    • clover
      December 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Editor’s Note: Someone beat me to this one, but I have bolded the relevant portion of scrumptious Clover’s post. Enjoy!

      I really had to laugh at that Eric_G. You say the media is desperate to say anything for revenue. I guess that includes this site. There are 100s of thousands of electric cars on the highway in the USA. Saving millions of barrels of oil. Any idea what that does to the price of gas that you and I buy? If you do not know then there is little hope for those that do not understand. Clover

      Eric is all about controversy. How else does he get his bills paid? It is not from reviewing a few cars. He is always reactive not about prevention. Let us all pay 10 bucks a gallon for gas he says then start designing cars that get better fuel and we sit in lines for 5 years until that happens. Let someone drive as dangerously as they like and do not touch them until they kill someone. To me that kind of logic is stupid. We know that oil is limited in supply. We know some day we will have to reduce oil usage significantly from what we use now or we get the lines there were in the 70s.
      Then he talks about the economics of electric cars being poor. Who cares? If people buy them like they do for the 90 thousand dollar Tesla then tell me who cares. Then he brings up the tax reduction for people that buy them. I could care less. It is saving me and millions of others money from now and decades ahead with the reduction of oil use.

      • December 12, 2013 at 5:58 am

        “Then he talks about the economics of electric cars being poor. Who cares?”

        That is a thing of beauty. Think about this for a minute and tell me what you’ve done wrong, Clover.

        • RothbardianamericanHelot
          December 12, 2013 at 6:09 am

          Ha! Darien.
          You made me choke while laughing.

          [Come on clover, you can do it!]

      • anarchyst
        December 12, 2013 at 7:44 am

        Look up “abiotic oil”. The term “fossil fuel” was coined in the 1950s by those who thought oil was the result of decaying fossil material. Nothing could be further from the truth.
        Oil is constantly being produced deep within the earth by yet unknown processes. Some of our oil wells are “filling back up”. Russian oil drilling technologies are finding oil at 10,000, 15,000 and even 20,000 foot depths–much deeper than possible with “fossils”. . .
        “Peak oil” is a myth promulgated by the ant-technology environmentalists and bunny huggers who see any increased oil production as an assault on their dream of a communist world.

        • eric
          December 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

          Hi anarchyst,

          Clover will have to explain how it’s possible that there are oceans of liquid hydrocarbons on the lifeless moons of Jupiter:

          http://www.space.com/15257-titan-saturn-largest-moon-facts-discovery-sdcmp.html

        • mikefromwichita
          December 12, 2013 at 10:44 am

          True regarding the abiotic nature of oil. Still the rate at which pumped out fields might recharge is a complete unknown at this point. Is it 100 years or 1 million years or more? The longer recharge takes, the closer ‘peak’ oil is to an economic reality as far as oil goes. There are however ways to totally replace oil as as a fuel- liquid sodium thorium burning nuke reactors for example.

          • BrentP
            December 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

            Mike, it is possible to manufacture light sweet crude from renewalable stocks. It would only be a technical and investment issue to do that on a massive scale using food waste and other waste streams.

            Now would there be a demand/production curve problem? Sure there could be. That problem would only spur more development. Well if we had a free or free enough market.

            Peak oil doesn’t worry me. Plus there is more oil now in terms of years at present consumption and just plain volume than there has been since it started running out in the 19th century.

          • Phillip the Bruce
            December 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm

            How fast the existing wells refill may matter some, but a much larger factor lies in improving technologies allowing deeper (and deeper) exploration. Yes, the price will go up, but it will do so gradually, allowing the market (if gunverment lets it) to gradually develop new alternatives as they become economically feasible, rather than trying to jump start them ahead of schedule.

          • clover
            December 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

            I have a couple of replies. First of all BrentP you say we can get all the energy we want out of renewable resources? What scientist has ever said that? We get a fraction of our fuel out of renewable resources and look how much corn and sugar cane and other products it takes. I hope you have a big yard to start growing your fuel.. What grades did you get in school Brent? where the hell do you get your information? Clover

            The next question is about the oil fields refilling themselves? Does anyone here have any idea where the oil came from? Anyone? it took millions of years to make all that oil. None is being added to today. When you use it up it is gone. Yes you might be able to find more deeper or under a couple of miles of ocean but that costs a lot of money and when that is used up you need to go find more expensive oil. I can understand that Eric does not care. In his mind the world ends when he dies. With no kids and not caring about anyone else on this planet he could care less if you run out of oil immediately when he dies.

          • BrentP
            December 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

            Clover, you can’t read for shit.
            I will not be replying to what you said I wrote. Go read what I wrote again.

          • Eric_G
            December 13, 2013 at 11:30 am

            BrentP is right, it’s a fairly simple but energy intensive process to manufacture oil and other hydrocarbons from other sources. The energy input is far too great using traditional methods. However if you look at nuclear power as a heat source it can become economical. The issue is the up-front costs of try to get a nuclear plant built, and the necessity of adding another source to a stable market. Unless it can compete with $4.00 Saudi Arabian oil (cost for SA to pump it out of the ground), it will have a very hard time competing.

          • BrentP
            December 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            Modern processes aren’t that bad wrt energy requirements. The resulting fuel has more energy than was put in to make it. At least that’s how I understand it.

            There’s no violation of physics as we know them because the energy is the materials that the process converts to oil.

            But indeed if it were run on nuke or solar or wind it would work out even better.

            Manufacturing oil costs will fall as will the costs of extracting previously too expensive to extract oil. One way or another there will be affordable oil products for the foreseeable future. The wild card is something coming along that is cheaper yet.

          • clover
            December 13, 2013 at 5:36 pm

            CloverBrent you and others here are brain dead. Brent there is not enough energy produced from products produced on our tillable land to keep all the cars and trucks running. Then what are you going to eat?

            Approximately 2.7 gallons of ethanol is produced from a bushel of corn. At an average of 165 bushels per acre that is 445 gallons per acre. Then you subtract many gallons for tillage, planting, combining, weed control and fertilizer and the energy it takes for ethanol production then there just is not that much on an acre of land. If you have biodiesel you get about 1.5 gallons out of a bushel of beans. At 45 bushels per acre that is 67.5 gallons of diesel per acre gross. Take many gallons out for producing it and you do not have a lot left per acre. In effect it would take somewhere around 10 acres of ground per driving person to produce enough just for your own driving. Then you need to add more acres for trucks on the road delivering your goods. Brent you just do not understand.

            Then it comes down to anarchyst theory that oil just continually shows up. You believe it is not from fossil fuels. anarchyst any scientist can analyze the oil to see what it is made of. How about going with facts.

          • BrentP
            December 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm

            Clover, go read what I wrote again. Keep reading it over and over again until you figure out that you are making a counter argument against something I did not argue.

            The processes to manufacture oil can use a wide variety of waste streams. From turkey guts to garbage.

      • ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
        December 13, 2013 at 12:26 am

        Clover;

        “There are 100s of thousands of electric cars on the highway in the USA. Saving millions of barrels of oil. Any idea what that does to the price of gas that you and I buy?”

        I would suggest it makes it slightly more expensive, considering anything popular is usually cheap. Clover, I pranged my flying saucer at Area 51 a while back. Could you please explain how the hell I can get off this planet and away from the likes of you?

        Eric;

        I think some of the reason “Pious” (because only celebs care about the planet, apparently) isn’t selling so well may be due to it missing “icon” status, such as the British Mini Cooper which sold extremely well and was cheap to boot, also because it was very basic in design. It had something the public found almost irresistible. That needs to be rediscovered.

        • eric
          December 13, 2013 at 6:30 am

          Morning, Rev!

          My take on the plug-in’s belly flop:

          Unlike other high-dollar plug-ins (Cayenne hybrid, RX300 hybrid, etc.) the plugin Prius is just a Prius. A $24k bread-and-butter Toyota grocery-getter that now costs almost as much as an entry-luxury lux-sport sedan.

          The prospects want status, sex appeal and style at that price point – “saving the planet” be damned.

    • December 12, 2013 at 3:24 am

      Nuclear power is certainly an interesting technology, and no doubt is safer than people with a vested interest in fighting it want you to think (nearly tautologically), but it has yet to demonstrate that it’s actually viable on the market with no government support. This is not because of evil coal magnates using their malign power to suppress the spunky little independent, uh, nuclear power companies, but because a nuclear power plant is *fantastically* expensive to build, to run, to maintain, and to underwrite — and let’s face it: even as pro-nuclear as you are, you have to admit that the “maximum potential disaster,” if you will, is much much worse for a nuclear plant than it is for a coal plant. All of these things add up to make nuclear a very interesting technology with a lot of potential, but one that hasn’t shown it’s ready to entice buyers on the open market yet.

      Much like hybrid and electric cars, in fact!

      As for “fiber to the home,” you’re sure it’s that simple? Perusing Wikipedia’s entry on FTTP deployment ( en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiber_to_the_premises_by_country ) indicates that the US has limited (and expanding) FTTP in select urban areas, which is exactly the same as almost every country that has it at all. Curiously, though, I do see this: “however they (ISPs in FTTP-pioneering Italy) aren’t planning to deploy any more FTTP as DSL deployment is far cheaper,” which seems to indicate that perhaps actual costs *are* an issue after all, and thst issue would only be magnified in the United States, which is way, way larger than Italy and has vastly lower population density.

      One last thing real quick: you are, of course, free not to respond to any arguments. You’re welcome not even to *read* them if you don’t want to. But it’s a bit presumptious of you to tell the rest of us to take off to some other web site if we disagree with you. I’ll say what I please, thank you.

      • RothbardianamericanHelot
        December 12, 2013 at 6:00 am

        I’m getting so very tired of seeing certain references to Fukushima.
        To me, when I see people say, ‘Fukushima is killing us all over there”… it’s as if the writer is saying, “all of the previous above ground atomic testing in the unitedstate which resulted in Far more radiation being created and delivered,… just never happened – And – it all went away. [Insert blonde girl saying, "like majic".] So let’s all focus on this lessor exposure. Shall we?”

        The past, never was?

        Bizarre.

        And, just forget about the fact volcanoes emit far more radiation than mankind has ever produced.

        Not that the Japan shit is meaningless,… it just seems,… out of focus. And, used as a crutch or something, in certain conversations?

        Anyway,

        Eric_G wrote, “Imagine having your daily commuter charge up overnight. You hop in, turn the key and there’s a fully charged battery, ready for you to drive to work.”

        Unless,… it isn’t ready, and it’s -20 degrees (forget -11, that’s a heat wave!) You hop in, turn the key,… “click”… nothing.
        The batteries are dead as a mouse in a trap.
        That, to me, is the real world test of electric cars, how well they perform in The Northland. …So far (it seems) they don’t.
        Even If (!) the many types of electric vehicles Are fun to drive, and They Are responsive, they are oh-so dependent.

        I won’t even mention if you (or your teenager, or loving wife) “forgot” to plug it in the night before. … Hunk a worthless sh-steel that becomes.

        Electric cars might work fine for some, but for us in the minority, those who don’t, ” only drive a few miles to the office, where the car sits in a parking lot all day, then we drive home.” I guess we’re S.O.L.?

        If you’re the typical american-helot farmer (or, an american-helot farmer’s wife helping out and doing, “stuff”) who does a lot of engine revving during the course of the day going on to the next task to be completed, only to find you’re operating, ‘The Little Engine That Couldn’t’ I guess the cows can wait 24 hours until they eat or drink,… right? And, payroll can wait. And, the guy on the combine can wait for his dinner to be delivered? What’s 24 hours among family, right? Meal, shmeal. As if eating is important?
        Omg, could you imagine if the delivery-take-out guy didn’t make it to your house/party/factory-lunch-break/workplace-holiday-meal because he had to wait for his batteries to charge up?
        Unless gooberment forced the delivery person’s competition to switch to electric too, the All-electric guy would be plumb out of business in no time,… perhaps?
        All I know is that, most of the time, warm pizza taste better than cold pizza, and Time Is Money, And, Fun… and if customers had to wait for a car to charge up to get their pizza,… the next time, they’d likely call the guy with the internal combustion engine.

        Hours after getting a pizza at work, I can imagine people coming out of work after a ten hour day in the Winter, the parking lot is empty – you’re tired – everyone else has gone home except for the janitor, and your electric car’s batteries are dead.
        You can’t just simply get a jump start from the janitor.
        No.
        You’re S.O.L.
        But., the pizza was good.

        So, you call a cab? …If they even have one in your town? And, at that hour? Or, after you wait an hour?
        I’m sure your wife would be just peachy when she gets home after that happened.

        And just never-mind the two extra traffic jams you had to wait through on the way to work, I’m sure your boss, or customers, will understand why you weren’t there. [You'll be in such a good mood as result, too, no doubt.] Or, if you made it through that, your family will have no problem with you not being there for that ‘special moment’ because the traffic jam in the morning used up all your juice and you had to walk the second half of the way home. …Oh what fun that walk would be? [Well, actually, it could be fun. But at what opportunity cost? Or, the walk could be: "double-plus-ungood"? ...You did wear your walking shoes, didn't you?]

        Yeah, electric cars seem like they’d be a nightmare. …Until they perfect, ‘The Perfect’ battery. Maybe then? ….But maybe not? What happens when we have rolling brownouts as I’ve read they’ve had in places such as Argentina and California, and soon to be, where I live, due to all the coal plants shutting down and the Dollar going to below, er I mean, way above ZIRP?

        “I’m sorry, Boss. I can’t come to work today, there’s no juice coming down the line. Won’t you pay me anyway?” Or, “Maybe you could send someone in a real car to come pick me up?”

        Now that I think about it, an electric car – is – a reliance on centralization, more-so than an internal combustion engine is. Way. And that – is – a big deal.

        An internal combustion engine – is – independence, and, decentralization,… and, ‘what’ have we learned from the concept of decentralization in the financial and liberty arena?

        Which leads me to think, the only way electric cars will ever gain popular acceptance is if people can individually generate the electricity they need to operate their car’s batteries. …Kind of like cranking the engine from the front in the old days?

        “You did it.”

        Not some Obomatron/Boner/Whatever.

        Until then: Click! Crank! Boom! …is hellva piece of mind.

        Insert image – here – of the look a woman gives you when you turn the key,… and nothing happens,… and it’s dark,… and cold,… and miles from… or in the wrong part of…. and you’re surrounded by…

        /rant off./whiskey pour.

        Sometimes people wear coats.
        People sometimes eat apples.

        • Eric_G
          December 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

          I didn’t try to state that electrics were a replacement for everyone. I think I specifically said “in the south and other temperate climates.” This week we haven’t seen anything above 15°F, and I know that an electric car isn’t a solution around here (but my diesel has performed perfectly). But if I had a regular commute like job within the 250-300 mile a charge range (the vast majority of the population of the US), in an area that thinks 40° is “brutally cold” (again, a major part of the population), I’d consider an electric.

          Since I bought my TDI I went from buying gasoline once a week to sometimes being able to stretch out a tankful to the whole month, but usually about 2.5 to 3 weeks. It does make life just a little bit better to not have to go to a gas station as often. If I could fill up my car in my garage and never go to a gas station again I’d do it in a second. It’s like using Amazon vs going to a bricks and mortar store. Some may enjoy the shopping “experience” but for me, click and have it show up 2 days later is the way to go.

          • RothbardianamericanHelot
            December 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

            We used to have an above ground gasoline storage tank on the farm. It was high up on stilts, gravity fed.
            Yes, it was real nice to just fill up at home. No doubt about that.

            It sure would be great to have one of those here in the city.

  2. BrentP
    December 11, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Something came to mind when reading this….

    As the economy turned corporatist, engineers and innovators stopped running companies. Technically competent engineers are almost universally unable to rise in companies these days from what I call ‘who would do the work?’ syndrome. This encourages the promotion of engineers who can’t engineer and should have been business majors from the beginning but had the skill of being good at school so for some reason they chose an engineering degree.

    Companies today are run by finance and MBA types… people with no vision…. people who rise politically and socially. One can’t take technical risks to rise that way. Things stagnate. Government is used to keep new comers out so the stagnation doesn’t hurt market share. Thus when some people want something new they go to government to force it along, substituting technical innovation with political innovation.

    Maybe I am off the mark, but it sure does look that way on macro level. I know exceptions galore exist, but there’s really no just going out and starting a new car company today without government’s permission, blessing, and ‘help’. Help in quotes because it’s like mafia ‘protection’. The help needed is becaus of government just like the protection is needed because of those offering it.

    • GW
      December 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Brent – You are so very right.

      Deal with any “supply” type company that employ’s both O/S “Sales” people and I/S “Counter” people and you will see this at work first hand.

      The O/S Sales people get all the glory and make the big bucks while the heart and soul of the company is really the I/S Counter Person who comes in early, opens the store, processes all the orders, make sure the deliveries get staged and done on time, answers the phones, actually has a relationship with the customers, and does all the legwork for the O/S Sales puke while putting in 10 hour days for 8 hours of pay.

      Meanwhile the O/S Sales person rolls out of bed at 9:00 am and has a breakfast meeting with his buddy, makes a couple of phone calls before having a lunch meeting with another buddy, then stops by a couple clients offices or jobsites and hits the gym or golf course about 3:00 after which time the I/S guy has to deal with his cusomer fall-out because he won’t answer his phone.

      O/S sales and marketing types are generelly worthless fucks.

      It’s a pity that management is too incompetent to see who really does the work around most places and only consider’s the I/S Counter Person as disposable overhead. I have personally watched 3 companies fall apart over the last 25 years because of this cranial rectal inversion.

      • liberranter
        December 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        It’s a pity that management is too incompetent to see who really does the work.

        “Management” is almost always made up of the same useless, oxygen-thieving fucktards that comprise the O/S sales group you mentioned.

        It’s a major supernatural wonder that any Amoricon company manages to stay in business these days.

        • BrentP
          December 11, 2013 at 10:48 pm

          “It’s a major supernatural wonder that any Amoricon company manages to stay in business these days.”

          Given my experience I’d delete the “Amoricon”. Working as I have for a foreign owned corporation I can say the stupidity has spread to other countries.

          Did anyone hear who the new GM CEO is? She comes from…. get this… human resources with brief stint with the title of being head of product development where she was apparently the pointy haired boss.

          http://www.autoextremist.com/current/2013/12/10/the-unctuous-prick-takes-his-leave-and-screws-gm-one-last-ti.html/

          • Garysco
            December 12, 2013 at 2:06 am

            @BrenP – Another Obama financial victory akin to Solyndra we get to pay for. So they were mismanaged for 20 years and now they double down the stupidity as the boss jets out of town with the cash. I sure hope they all like living in the Caymans together.

            http://youtu.be/lMx__6Zc3S0

          • eric
            December 12, 2013 at 6:43 am

            Hi Brent,

            Barra has a degree in electrical engineering, but seems to have spent most of her career in GM managing people, not making things. That seems to be the way to rise to the top at a major car company these days.

          • BrentP
            December 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm

            I am getting a very strong picture of a “good at school” type with an engineering degree then.

            An person who has skills working in an institutional setting. Not someone who can produce product. EE’s IME are not held responsible for getting product out, even in electronics companies. Mechanical engineers are the ones who are held accountable for that. The EEs have to get their circuits working etc on time but once they pass the buck to the PCB designer they are done. PCB assemblies are considered mechanical responsibilities. So as far as a product centric environment goes EE wouldn’t rank much higher than finance for me.

            A search on Inventor name in the USPTO database turns up nothing.

            Now the search doesn’t work too well, but I split it as and search for barra and mary in the inventor name field. This turns up my patents so the method is valid. Unless she used another name, she doesn’t seem to have any. Even someone who was an engineering manager and did nothing can get their name on a patent at company the size of GM.

            I don’t have the time to do deeper searches but the needle is pointing at someone with an engineering degree but without “knack”.

          • Eric_G
            December 13, 2013 at 11:48 am

            Makes sense. GM is a pension fund that happens to make cars, after all.

    • Boothe
      December 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      BrentP – The answer lies in the creature becoming like its creator. Corporations are artifical entities created by the state for the express purpose of protecting the perpetrators…er…”corporate officers” from liability when they do things like poison an entire river with Kepone or build a nuclear power plant in a Tsunami zone. So as creatures of the state it is no wonder that corporations, especially when they grow huge, begin to exhibit all of the same characteristics that government bureaus do. Waste, fraud, inefficiency, laziness, complacency, lack of innovation, protecting their turf and market share, back stabbing, the whole rotten tamale. And the larger a corporation is, the more room there is to absorb dead wood so it never gets pruned. That is until the majority of the workforce figures out that the harder they work the more work they are given and everyone screws off most of the day. Then the corporation starts to fail and the very bastards that created the culture of failure to begin with go begging to government for the public’s money. After all they are “too big to fail” you know.

      I’ve been doing my part to carry deadbeats, incompetents and quota fillers around me for years. Why? Because I’m smart enough to know that someone has to keep the control systems running or we shut down. It’s kinda of like finding dog feces all over your living room floor. Clean up is not a pleasant task, but you know if you don’t clean up the mess no one else will. Or even if they did, they would make an even bigger mess. So you just hold your nose and do it.

      • December 12, 2013 at 6:02 am

        Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” has a message for you, though like many people she is stronger on diagnosis than on prescription. By coincidence, I’m just now re-reading it.

      • RothbardianamericanHelot
        December 12, 2013 at 6:28 am

        Boothe wrote, “Corporations are artifical entities created by the state for the express purpose of protecting the perpetrators…er…”corporate officers” from liability when they do things like poison an entire river with Kepone or build a nuclear power plant in a Tsunami zone. ”

        That was funny. …And sad, and all that.

        It’s something I wasn’t aware of when I was taking management classes back in The Day.
        They told me if I was a manager I was responsible and could go to jail for all those under me – Even If – I had no idea they were doing what they were doing and had no control over them.

        Well fuck that notion, I said.

        If I’d only known I was back-stopped like I had a Greenspan Put.
        I might never have become a Freedomista and I’d prolly be making $100,000+ a year.

        Ignorance has its upsides.

        • Boothe
          December 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm

          RothbardianamericanHelot – What you were told in your management classes was more or less true: first line supervision and middle management are cannon fodder; frontline troops. In other words, they are expendable. Oh, it’s usually just a matter of termination. But the ‘officers’ of the corporations, the executives at the top, have no moral compunction against thowing their subordinates under the bus when it’s in their best interest to do so. Once in a while the system will make an example out of the odd Kenneth Lay, but overall the ‘big boys’ enjoy a level of criminal and civil immunity that the unwashed masses can scarcely dream of.

          And when they do get caught they put it off on their underlings, fire some of them, hire a bunch of lawyers, make some pay offs and let the public’s outrage subside back into watching the game or Dancing With the Stars. They still get to keep their ill-gotten wealth (often along with a substantial golden parachute) even if the more egregiously careless among them are occasionally “forced to retire.” Look the mess that went on with the “Honorable” Jon Corzine and the whole MF Global debacle. Corzine literally stole the money out of sequestered accounts, bankrupted the company, screwed the patrons and then got a Freeh pass (pun fully intended).

          Louis Freeh as the MF Global trustee covered for this heap of excrement. He was even ready to pass out bonuses to some of Corzine’s accomplices (i.e. executives) as a reward for their efforts in “reorganizing” (i.e. damage control and cover-up) after the crime they’d helped commit. Congress had to step in and stop it. And one more thing, $100K+ isn’t really all that much in this day and age. In 1913 (real) U.S. dollars, according to the Minneapolis Fed, 100,000 FRN only equates to $4231.26 (or a 95.8% devaluation of our money if you prefer). So tell me, who’s getting ready to prosecute the corporate officers of the Federal Reserve and its member banks for stealing the American people’s wealth and productivity gains for the last century? Oh…that’s right…no one. Hell, we aren’t even allowed to have them audited. It’s that big club George Carlin talked about and we the people keep getting hit over the head with it, time after time after time.

          • Eric_G
            December 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

            Like John C Dvorak has said, if a company is legally a person, why can’t it be charged with murder and sentenced to death?

    • Garysco
      December 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      @BrentP – I miss Laissez-fare Capitalism [an economic environment in which transactions between private parties are free from government restrictions, tariffs, and subsidies, with only enough regulations to protect property rights.- Wikipedia] where the lazy, the stupid, the incompetent and corrupt go out of business and the best succeed without interference.

      I pull my hair out at all the scared little socialist sheep who think they (and their psychopathic shepherds) are smarter now, and that this time will be different. The evidence is always in-front of them like a black and white photograph, but they stomp their feet and demand more of the same while blaming everyone else when it fails. I call it the Bart Simpson “it wasn’t me man” Syndrome.

    • clover
      December 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      I did have to laugh at those statements BrentP. Did you ever hear of Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Google and the thousands of other companies that do not follow your idea of how companies run and got started? Where have you been the past few decades?Clover

      • BrentP
        December 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm

        What I wrote:
        I know exceptions galore exist, but there.s really no just going out and starting a new car company today without government.s permission, blessing, and .help..

        What Clover responds with:
        I did have to laugh at those statements BrentP. Did you ever hear of Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Google and the thousands of other companies that do not follow your idea of how companies run and got started?

        My Response:
        What cars do Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Google make?

        I won’t get into the NSA/DARPA issues with facebook and google, but last I heard all the companies you listed do not manufacture cars. None of them currently manufacture anything in the USA. And none manufacture anything in a well regulated industry. You know why electronics beats inflation year over year? Because it hasn’t been roped into a fascist/corporatist system. It’s still relatively a free market with private safety standards.

        So Clover, go back to grade school and work on your reading and reading comprehension.

        • Me2
          December 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

          “So Clover, go back to grade school and work on your reading and reading comprehension.”

          Unfortunately, that would require clover to comprehend that he does not comprehend.

          See the problem?

          How exactly do you enlighten a person who is too stupid to recognize their own stupidity?

    • Phillip the Bruce
      December 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Apple stagnated when “the Steves” left, and was not rejuvenated until Jobs came back. Ironic, eh? Jobs created jobs. Sorry I couldn’t resist that one.
      Now that he is gone again (with no return) I expect them to wither again, though it may take a while. The corporate types, like Scully, don’t have the vision to create and grow, only maintain.

      • murray
        December 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

        indeed.
        Shortly after Jobs died, Gary North wrote a great article about this, you May want to Google or duckduckgo it, good read

  3. Old Hickory Switch
    December 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    (repost from previous thread)
    Here you can see kiddo….

    WHY are there a 40 car pileup??? because those people were all driving TOO DAMN FAST for the road conditons. To Eric and the rest of your fans: just look at how the maniacs continue to speed and plow into that mess one at a time then in groups. people like you kill innocents every damn day with your foolish recklessness and you guys shoud be taken off the roads once and for all.

    Clover

    • BrentP
      December 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      The video does not show how the mess started. The backup and likely initial collision starts well up the road from the camera. The first sliders we see are sliding when they come into view. Why are they sliding? What was initiation?

      The most simple guess would be binary driving. They saw the jam up ahead and mashed the brakes. This sent them sliding. They don’t know how to drive. Most drivers, the ones who did not crash appear to have been going just about as fast initially but drove properly for the conditions. They let off the accelerator and used the brakes sparingly and gently. This kept them from sliding.

      Furthermore we can see people who aren’t reacting to hazards until the hazards are directly in front of them. They either cannot figure out the relative speeds or are too busy doing something besides driving. Again, this a cloveratic habit. By then there isn’t enough available traction for them to avoid a collision.

      And let me mention the condition of tires on clovermobiles… ever look at the tires these people drive on? They are often in horrific states of wear. That’s another reason why when the weather gets bad they crash.

      But like all speed kills types you don’t want to look at root cause. Only numerical speed of people who simply can’t be bothered to put the required effort into driving. Slow can’t fix stupid and lazy. It might make stupid and lazy hurt less but that’s about it.

      • Joe H.
        December 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        I used to work with a guy (we’ll call him “Randy”) who just always seemed to have bad things “happen” to him which resulted in him being late to work, or just not showing up altogether.

        In one case, while driving to work in the rain, he started to hydroplane, and smashed into the guardrail. Though he insisted that the accident wasn’t his fault, as it turned out, his tires were practically bald.

        While clovers like OHS bemoan the rest of us as “speeders”, it’s actually the crappy/narcissistic driving characteristics of clovers worldwide who cause the vast majority of the problems on the road.

      • clover
        December 11, 2013 at 11:34 pm

        CloverBrentP if you were on the road you would have crashed also. Speed matters on roads like that and only idiots would say otherwise. Why is it always the fast drivers that are not able to stop in the video? I could care less how brilliant you are at stopping. If you do not have dry clean roads your stopping distance is going to increase a lot. At the speeds those cars were driving the best driver in the world would not have been able to stop. You do not drive 70 mph or whatever on those types of roads or there is a very good chance you are going to crash. I have seen hundreds of such cars in my lifetime in the ditch or hitting other cars. I am sure many of those cars even had anti-lock brakes but when it is that bad on the road nothing helps enough to make up for too much speed on a poor road.

        • eric
          December 12, 2013 at 6:21 am

          Clover is, of course, omniscient.

          He likes to make universal statements about things that haven’t actually happened.

          His belief that Brent “would have crashed” is synonymous, in his mind, with the actuality of Brent crashing.

          Even though Brent hasn’t actually crashed.

          The assertion of possibility is sufficient.

          And as usual, Clover fixates on “speed” to the exclusion of every other factor – never considering individual variables such as driver skill that matter (in terms of whether a loss of control occurs) much more than than velocity.

          Clover is an intellectual Mr. Magoo. He suffers from severe conceptual myopia. Everything except the speeeeeeed limit is a blur to Clover.

          Whatever the speeeeeed limit is, it must be obeyed – venerated.

          For Clover, it is exactly like the “Oceania is at war with Eastasia…. no, wait… Oceania is at war with Eurasia!” thing in 1984. If the speed limit is 55 – then that’s the absolute maximum “safe” speed and any who drive faster are “dangerous.” But if the same road is posted 70 the next day, then that becomes the “safe” speed!

          Similarly, Clover would reverence 45 – or 25 … and so on.

          • RothbardianamericanHelot
            December 12, 2013 at 7:07 am

            Ha! Too funny.

            I don’t care how fast the flow of traffic was moving.
            If I were in it, it’s likely I’d shift into 4×4 ( or be glad I had good tires) and go head-on into the ditch, swing wide, and be out and back on the hyway and be on my way while watching the $%^ in my rear-view mirror.

            I’m sure that notion would make the likes of clover’s everywhere go bug-eyed.

            They don’t see ditches as traction.
            But it’s worked for me that way before a time or two.

            I wonder if clovers are deathly afraid of things such as snowmobiling, and driving ATV’s, or water-skiing, and snow skiing?

            [Insert photo of guy not letting the rope go when he wrecks while water-skiing, here x.]

            They probably see those activities as … heck, I don’t know, I’m not a clover,… I find clovers to be wimpifyingly lap-dogish, and I can in no way relate to them or the way they think.

            The closest I can get to understanding them is to think of the prissy girls I’ve known,… but even the prissy girls I knew seem like super-heroes compared to the clovers I’ve encountered lately.

          • clover
            December 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm

            CloverAnswer me this Eric, why all the slower vehicles in the video were able to go around and the fast drivers in the video all crashed. They all crashed. None of the clover drivers crashed. Tell me why that is Eric? In the video the so called superior drivers you call them that were driving fast crashed. The number of times you called out the clovers for driving too slow in snow packed conditions. At least they did not cause 40 car pile-ups that easily could have been avoided just by driving 10 mph slower.

          • eric
            December 13, 2013 at 6:36 am

            Clover,

            You’re absolutely right – in a way. Accidents could be reduced to almost zero (and those that did occur would almost never be fatal) if vehicles never traveled faster than 8 MPH or so. This would crutch the incompetence of every Clover out there – but at the expense of the people out there who do know how to drive, who can operate at higher speeds without wrecking.

            I understand that you and others like you view driving over whatever speed happens to be outside of your comfort zone as “dangerous.” It doesn’t mean it is dangerous.

            The fact that “Smith” wrecked while driving at a given speed does not mean that “Jones” will also wreck if he drives at tat speed.

            I sometimes feel sorry for you in that you’ve been conceptually crippled by government schools – and may actually be incapable of following a train of logical thought. I can’t imagine what it must be like to operate at such a bovine, farm animal level.

          • BrentP
            December 13, 2013 at 10:50 am

            The initial speed of the drivers appears irrelevant. We can’t really see it for most drivers because a good driver is slowing before he comes into view of the camera. Given a nice even controlled slowing the drivers who crashed and those that didn’t would have been going about the same speed initially off camera. The ones who are sliding in haven’t slowed because they jammed on their brakes and are sliding.

            It’s simple HS level physics, but of course that illudes you. You only think in emotional slogans. It’s this intellectual laziness that I despise. You Clover like most americans don’t take the time to learn or understand anything. Someone else gives you a clever slogan like “speed kills” and you latch on to it. Lazy. Just like your driving.

          • Me2
            December 13, 2013 at 11:14 am

            BrentP – “The ones who are sliding in haven’t slowed because they jammed on their brakes and are sliding. ”

            Actually, I suspect few cars are sliding as ABS is now near universal. What is more likely is that the drivers who have never explored the limits of their vehicles performance, mashed the brake in a panic and were scared into lifting their foot off the brake by the (never before experienced) ABS pulse. I have witnessed this first hand from the passenger seat.

            You can also see lots of cars which appear to have first turned the wheel to avoid, then mashed the brake and put themselves into a spin.

            The biggest thing that stood out to me was the completely moronic folks who after being in an accident, get out of their cars and stand on the highway with cars crashing all around, waiting for the next person as incompetent as them to run them over.

          • clover
            December 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

            CloverYou must all be looking at a different video than I am. In the video that i see has many cars are driving approximately the speed limit or close to it on poor roads. Has anyone been taught to slow down on questionable roads? I have been on the interstate in the fog in the slow lane where you had a hard time seeing the next white line to see where the road was. Cars and trucks were driving 45 to 55 mph in the left lane. Does anyone understand that if you need to stop you are not going to be able to in either road condition? I hear about all the mufti-car pile-ups that happen across the country. Almost all of those should never have happened if people know how to drive. No, they are too much like Eric and Brent saying laws of physics do not apply to such good drivers as they are. It is not any different than the race car driver a week or two crashing in a 45 mph zone. Those that push the limits which is usually against the law often crash. Thousands of times more often than someone driving correctly. Then Eric asks way people that get speeding tickets have higher insurance rates. Clovers in this video were not crashing except for the Eric and Brent drivers smashing into them.

          • BrentP
            December 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm

            . No, they are too much like Eric and Brent saying laws of physics do not apply to such good drivers as they are.

            Why must you lie? You’re rather despicable.

            You must all be looking at a different video than I am. In the video that i see has many cars are driving approximately the speed limit or close to it on poor roads.

            At the PSL on a limited access highway means they have slowed down considerably.

            Does anyone understand that if you need to stop you are not going to be able to in either road condition?

            Many drivers stopped and steered successfully. Others did not. The difference between them was not initial speed. The difference is that some knew how to drive and others just mashed pedals and/or didn’t have their vehicles properly equipped.

          • clover
            December 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

            CloverBrent you are blinded by the lies you tell every day. The only difference between those that crashed and those that didn’t was their initial speed. Look at the video a hundred times and maybe you will see that.

          • BrentP
            December 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

            Clover, you need to be thrown back into the woods.
            Drivers who crash are sliding in wheels locked. Drivers who didn’t are maintaining traction with controlled, subtle inputs.

          • clover
            December 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm

            CloverBrentP there are fast drivers all the time that go in the ditch or slide into other cars that do not touch their brakes. Yes Brent you are right that not braking or accelerating can keep you running down the road when others are not able to but that still does not explain the majority of drivers that go into the ditch or slide into other cars when they did not touch their brakes or accelerate. Speed on icy or snow packed roads alone causes most of the accidents. When you are driving slower you may feel your car start to slide slightly but when you are driving faster there often is often no correction possible to keep you on the road. That is the laws of physics that you must have missed in your engineering classes.

          • BrentP
            December 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm

            Clover, you are babbling. You have no clue if people touched their brakes or not. Furthermore, if people just started sliding and ended up in the ditch without needing traction to turn or brake then their speed was irrelevant because there wasn’t any traction to hold them on the road.

            Traction is needed for acceleration. That is increasing speed, decreasing speed, and turning. If one is just going straight down the road at a constant speed, the traction needed to keep going straight, to keep rolling forward, is for all practical purposes of this problem is the same at 15mph as it is at 70mph. We can get into the finer details like rolling resistance and drag that sort of thing but for this problem we can neglect all that.

            If a car where someone has not attempted any acceleration in any direction goes off the road we are looking at situation where traction has been lost due to the road surface and some other force has pushed the car off the straight path, like wind or gravity. In that case 15mph is the same as 70. Mere simple sliding is going straight ahead.

            I don’t know why I am trying to explain physics and why that cloveratic spew is just plain wrong… but anyway in the real world people slow to maintain traction reserves such that they can stop for hazards, follow curves in the road, etc. It is when they encounter the need to do these things and find they don’t have the traction reserves they go off the road. The faster one is going in a particular direction the more force, the more traction it takes to change direction.

            In the video drivers that crash are trying to change direction or stop and they have exceeded the available traction. Mostly by trying to stop at too fast a rate or change direction suddenly. Why have they exceeded traction? They weren’t paying attention to react when they could still make gradual changes that required less traction. They were driving on unsuitable tires. But their initial speed in most if not all cases apparently was little different from those who didn’t crash. Those moving significantly faster when they come into view were already sliding then, still going their initial speed because they can’t slow down due to one of the factors I already mentioned.

        • BrentP
          December 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm

          Clover, that same storm hit northern Illinois. I was out in it sunday night. I did not crash. I passed by many clovers who did.

          Your words tell me you don’t know how to drive in snow. You just crawl along and make things miserable for those of us that do.

          The road in the video isn’t even close to bad, the pavement is still visible. Not just tracks, but the width of the lane.

          Driving in snow is about being subtle, having a light touch. feeling what the car is doing. Understanding traction and momentum. Most of all paying attention to what’s around you and what’s way up ahead.

          Like I pointed out, the people who were going just about as fast who had good enough tires and were paying attention and subtle with their control inputs did not crash. Those not paying attention, those who were not subtle, those who had the wrong/bad tires, they crashed. Speed? it’s only relevant if they out drove their sight lines, which doesn’t look like anyone was going that fast.

          • Me2
            December 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

            In my area, what Clover considers a ‘storm’ is normal driving conditions for 5-6 months of the year. Clover clearly has no snow driving skills and assumes nobody can drive more skillfully than his own personal level of incompetence.

            I see this a lot from arrogant yet ignorant fools.

          • eric
            December 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

            I live up in the mountains; to get there from the valley, one must ascend a very steep (9 percent) grade that – in winter weather – requires maintaining momentum to avoid getting stuck. Invariably, there will be some idiot Clover crawling along up ahead. He’s not going to make it, but now he’s doing all in his power to make sure no one else makes it, either. I’ve had to blast past these oafs – through deep, unplowed snow on the shoulder or by crossing briefly into the opposite lane over the double yellow. The Clover being passed invariably throws a hissy fit – honking his horn and flashing his lights at me. I laugh at them in my rearview, knowing Clover’ll soon be sliding back down the mountain – hopefully off the mountain, into some ravine, not to be discovered until next spring.

          • Me2
            December 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm

            Also note in the video, the bobtail semi with much more momentum and traveling at what appears to be the same speed as most cars, did not lose control. He drover right through unscathed while several dozen clovers, clearly panicked, lost control and crashed. Many of the cars that seem to have been traveling faster than the average also manged to keep control, avoid obstacles and drive through without contact.

            Most of the cars that crashed appeared to be attempting a panic stop, causing them to lose control, rather than simply driving around the obstacles.

            Luck plays a part, but it’s pretty clear that driving competence (or lack of) was the main deciding factor as to who crashed and who did not.

          • Me2
            December 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

            http://images.drivebc.ca/bchighwaycam/pub/cameras/254.jpg

            High noon in the Great White North a few miles from here. (note this updates regularly)

            Note that the road is completely snow covered. I challenge the Cloverish here to tell me what the ‘safe’ speed limit is.

          • Phillip the Bruce
            December 12, 2013 at 4:29 pm

            Reminds me of when a lived in the D/FW area several years ago. Although they never lasted long, there were 2-3 snow storms every winter (one usually during the Fat Stock Show @ Will Rogers Coliseum). It was hard to tell who was more dangerous – the natives who knew they didn’t know jack about driving in snow, but thought they had to be out and about – or the transplanted Yankees who knew how to drive in snow, but did not make allowance for the fact that these storms almost always started as freezing rain, and that 2-3″ of white stuff was sitting atop a hockey rink.

          • clover
            December 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm

            CloverBrent you do not know how to drive. You say you saw clovers crash or saw cars that crashed/ There is a difference. I would bet those cars that crash thought they were better drivers, driving faster and crashed. Tell me Brent if you are driving your 65 mph on snow packed roads and you see cars 200 feet ahead that have slowed significantly to almost a stop. Tell me how you are going to stop if the best driver takes 400 feet with the road conditions. Brent I have been on icy roads where cars were going into the ditch at 15 mph.. I didn’t. Why? Because I knew it was bad and adjusted to 10 mph. I did not go where there were any hills. Brent in winter conditions it is always your type that crashes. The guys that are brilliant behind the wheel so they can tailgate in poor conditions or drive fast are the ones that crash. There have been many many times in my travels that the cars that passed me were in the ditch when I reached them. Do you call them clovers?

          • eric
            December 15, 2013 at 6:29 am

            Clover, what are your credentials as a driver? That you managed to get a state issued permission slip?

        • MamaLiberty
          December 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm

          I wonder why you insist on the delusion that we would not consider reducing speed to match the slippery conditions? Or that some “law” would force us to do so if we were not so inclined. I most certainly don’t rip along at 70 when the road is icy or wet after a first rain (which pools oil on the surface). But 55 is nutty on a clean, dry, straight road with no other cars in sight in any direction.

          I’ve driven a great deal, 300+ miles a day for 14 years during the last of my career as a home health nurse. I have had zero accidents and one “ticket” in all that time.

          The truly SAFE speed is absolutely relative to the road, the weather and how many other people are using that same road. It has nothing much to do with the “posted” speed limit.

          • eric
            December 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm

            Clover’s issue (well, one of his issues) is that because he feels uneasy – “unsafe” – over a given speed, anyone else who drives above that speed must be a reckless maniac.

            He does not stop to consider that ability varies from individual to individual – and that a person with say twice his ability as a driver is more in control of his car at higher speed than the lower speed Clover is able to deal with. That “excessive speed” is a highly subjective criteria. That loss of control can be attributed to numerous things. That “going faster” does not (as such) track in parallel with “higher likelihood of a crash. If it did, 747s would crash more often than Cessnas – and the German Autobahn would have a much higher accident rate than American highways do.

            Clover is an emoter – not a thinker.

          • clover
            December 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

            CloverTell us Eric if speed does not matter why is it we have a video of faster cars crashing causing a 40 car or more pile-up? Why is it that the clovers did not crash? Eric speed, weaving through traffic, driving after drinking, tailgating and the many other illegal and poor driving habits do matter. The facts and the videos prove it. I know Eric that facts do not matter to you. You are all about telling lies long enough maybe someone will believe it.

          • eric
            December 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

            Sigh.

            Clover, speed does matter – if the driver isn’t able to handle it, if his car isn’t up to it. But then, it’s not speed – per se – that’s the problem. It’s the driver (or his vehicle).

            Do you see?

            No, of course you don’t.

            The standard is Clover’s Standard – for everyone. If Clover believes “x” is too fast (because he doesn’t feel comfortable at that speed, because he knows he can’t control a car at that speed) then – of course! – the same must be true for everyone else.

            By Clover’s Standard, if he feels winded/like he’s about to keel over trying to run 10 miles, then it is dangerous and unsafe for anyone else to run 10 miles!

          • clover
            December 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

            You are right Eric that at times I do not feel comfortable driving fast. The drivers that pass me often do not feel the same. Those same drivers I see in the ditch or hitting other vehicles ahead.

            MamaLiberty those same drivers that drive faster than any other drivers during perfect road conditions are generally the same drivers that you see in the ditch or hitting other vehicles during poor road conditions. There has been studies done and it shows that drivers tend to drive the same speed or faster than anyone else no matter if the road is perfect conditions or far from perfect. That can not be shown any better than the multiple car pile-up in the video in this blog.

          • eric
            December 15, 2013 at 6:28 am

            “Driving fast” means what, exactly?

            This is a subjective – not an objective – thing.

            For a near-sighted little old lady, 45 MPH might seem to be “driving fast.”

            But for someone else – who can see (and drive skillfully) 45 MPH is preposterously slow.

            When a driver such as yourself is passed by someone who feels (and is) comfortable operating at a higher speed, you get upset – angry. You believe that because “x” speed is “to fast” – for you – that it is also too fast for everyone else.

            And Clover, noting that “Smith” lost control/went into the ditch tells us nothing about whether I (or Brent or any other person) will lose control.

            It doesn’t necessarily follow. People are different. They have varying ability levels. I’ve been in a car with guys who have twice (or more) my skill behind the wheel. For me to force them to drive at my level would be as absurd as forcing a bright 10th grader to do 8th grade level work. And the same goes for me in relation to you. If I’m a better – more skilled and capable – driver than you (and unlike you, I am willing to test this, in person, an offer I’ve made repeatedly) then my driving faster than you like or feel comfortable driving is no basis whatsoever for your interfering with my driving faster than you like or are comfortable driving yourself.

            The guys who can out-drive (and out-ride) me? I let them pass me. Those are track rules, by the way. Clovers are not allowed on race tracks. You’d get red-flagged before the first lap was over. And yes, Clover, track rules apply on the street.

            Move over. Drive at your pace, leave others free to drive at theirs.

            It’s really that simple.

          • clover
            December 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

            CloverEric, you are driving on a somewhat icy road driving 55 mph. Tell me how many feet it will take you to stop? I will give you the answer. You do not have a clue. You do not know if it is 400 feet or 800 feet. Your abilities to stop on a clean dry straight road are far different than on conditions that vary from that. Eric the best drivers in the world crash when they do not expect to. Just like the recent race car driver did on a 45 mph street. You talk about abilities but do you know where there is some dirt or small rocks on the road ahead? Do you know if the car ahead needs to stop suddenly? Do you know the exact maximum speed you can travel on an icy road without crashing? To sum it up Eric it is impossible to know things like that. Therefore you bring your speed down from your estimate of the maximum so you do not kill others. Many people like you do not bring their speed down and it kills others or they just crash. Yes those same drivers may have escaped accidents for years with their aggressive driving but the odds are against them and when they kill others you can not bring them back. Is saving a couple of minutes worth killing someone or delaying others with your accident? The video in the blog is a very good example of people that feel they are excellent drivers and they crash into innocent people.

            Tell us Eric why race car drivers crash on a roadway when clovers do not? Race car drivers have far more training and better reflexes than you do.

          • eric
            December 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

            What constitutes “somewhat icy,” Clover?

            Every post of yours is chock full of subjectives and non sequiturs.

            You know what’s objective – factual?

            Whether a given driver wrecks or not.

            If he doesn’t wreck, it’s pretty compelling evidence he was driving within his limits and those of the car, etc.

            And irrespective of his speed.

            You’ve made it clear you’re uncomfortable driving over certain speeds. Fine. I applaud you for driving within your limits.

            But your limits are not mine – just as mine are not those of other, better-drivers-than-I-am.

            We each know our own limits best – or better than some other person does.

            Clover, I know how to throttle steer (“drift”) a car through a corner. The car is sliding, but it is under control. You would lose control at such speeds.

            Hence, you fear what I can do. You see it as “dangerous.”

            No, it’s more than that. You resent what I can do.

            You’re mentality is the same mentality that hates “the rich” – or anyone who has (or can do) that which you don’t (or can’t).

            You are an equalizer. You want everyone and everything forced down to your level.

          • crunchyclover
            December 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

            Editor’s Note: The bolded portion below is a masterpiece; it speaks for itself! Clover is a master of time and space… and English, too!

            Clover

            Eric if we all know our limits then tell me why the cars in the video crashed? It looked to me that as you put it half of the drivers must not have known their limits or they would not have crashed.

            So if you do a “drift” through a corner then you should not be driving on the road with others. Drift driving is a loss of road contact with the pavement. When you do this you have a great chance of drifting into an innocent car load of people. Drift driving on our public streets is not a good thing and people that do that should be in jail. There are complaints that anti-lock brakes makes it less safe because people push their limits because they think they can stop and control their car better. From the way you talk learning advanced driving techniques is dozens of times worse than anti-lock brakes. it takes a good driver and makes him push his limits just like the recent race car driver did.

          • eric
            December 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

            Clover,

            I have no idea why the cars crashed – and neither do you.

            You’re speculating – and asserting that “speed” was the cause.

            Loss of control can occur for any number of reasons. Your go-to explanation is always “speed.”

            Not only that, you reason (if it can be called such) that because “Smith” lost control of his car at a given speed then “Jones” will, too. Therefore, Jones (and everyone else) must be prohibited from driving any faster than a speed lower than the speed “Smith” was driving – since Smith lost control of his vehicle at a speed higher than that.

            This is the nature of speed limits in the US, Clover. They are dumbed-down political constructs – nothing more.

            Enforcement of arbitrary, dumbed-down limits doesn’t make things safer. It makes things less safe – by encouraging more dumbed-down driving.

            Imagine if it were illegal to exercise vigorously. What would the result be? More out-of-shape, unhealthy people – or fewer of them?

            The same principle applies generally. If you put in place incentives that encourage competence – or at least, which do not reward incompetence by punishing competence – you will see a general rise in the level of competence.

            I realize this is not going to make an impression on you – because that presumes the ability to think rather than emote; to reason rather eruct.

  4. MikePizzo
    December 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Eric G says……” The electric car, nuclear power and fiber to the home all seem to face a similar problem: They disrupt the existing markets to the point that the near-monopolists who control the market will do whatever possible to keep them from the pubic.”

    I’m neutral on the electric car, and “fiber to the home.” But I must refute his claim that “the near monopolists who control the market” are in any way opposed to nuclear power.

    Who does he think built all the nuclear generating plants? College undergrads with crowd sourced funding? The fact is that they were built by precisely the “near monopolists” he supposedly opposes. And yes, TEPCO is a perfect example.

    There are doubtlessly many websites where elaborate arguments are posed that nuclear energy is “perfectly safe….” all that is necessary is for the generating plants to be built and run “the right away.” In theory, some of those arguments may even be valid. But until someone manages to repeal Murphy’s Law…..I’m Dead Against nuclear generating plants!

    • RothbardianamericanHelot
      December 12, 2013 at 6:38 am

      MikePizzo, do you have any type of figures about the number of deaths and maiming from coal plants, vs. from nuke plants? Os is yours, just a feeling? One of possibilities, and not realities?
      I’m just wondering.

      P.S.
      You can include the effects from volcanoes if you want.

      • MikePizzo
        December 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm

        Rothbard, I have no idea. If you want to post statistics that coal has produced more casualties, I won’t dispute it. Not quite sure whether you feel volcano damage should be scored for nuclear or coal. Doesn’t matter though.

        Your effort to limit this discussion only to a body count “to date” surprises me.

        To infer that the damage caused by Chernobyl or Fukushima is “as bad as it could ever get,” reminds me of the logic used by Rita Rudner when she said….
        “I’m going to live forever. So far, so good.”

  5. December 12, 2013 at 6:07 am

    Electric cars were “get in go” – whereas the first IC car engines had to be manually cranked (a dangerous operation that not infrequently resulted in broken wrists as the crank handle snapped back on the person attempting to rotate the engine by hand) and had difficult-to-operate manual transmissions that required mastering the art of the double-clutch if one wished to avoid grinding the gearbox into an early grave.

    The main risk with hand starting was actually a broken thumb; I remember my father showing me a special grip to keep the thumb out of the way, that he had had to learn for a very old second hand car he had once had to settle for, that must have been nearly as old as he was. However, the very first car fatality in the U.K. was that of a man who had gallantly offered to help a lady start her car, only to have the handle fly back and shatter his jaw, which was followed by infection and death.

    Off the peg steam technology was never superior to internal combustion for cars, except in niches that could use its strengths (in one film set in the Depression, Veronica Lake’s character says that she would accept a lift in anything but a Stanley Steamer, because her uncle had been blown up in one), mainly because it never started fast enough until a lot of development had been done by the likes of Abner Doble, but internal combustion driven systems had moved even further ahead by then.

    And it was only crash gearboxes that needed double declutching to work smoothly. There were others around: the first cars used belt drive variable transmissions (my father remembered the Clyno still having something similar to that when he was a child), the Ford model T had a pedal operated epicyclic gearbox (with a clutch linked to the hand brake), Constantinesco invented a mechanical torque converter, and there were many other systems. It was an age before any one system had settled out as a clear winner, and in fact high end cars kept using preselector epicyclic gearboxes, often with fluid flywheels instead of clutches, until well after the synchromesh meachanism upgraded crash gearboxes into something much better.

    But no one gave thought to paying people to buy those early IC cars – despite the promise of the technology (including the prospect of much greater driving range based on the portability of the fuel and the ease/quickness of the refueling process).

    Coal was a lotmore manageable form of fuel.

    Off topic, Eric, can you give us something on the closure of General Motors Holden here in Australia? I know you have quite a few readers from here, and it also provides parallels with the U.S.A., so it might be worth your while.

  6. Phillip the Bruce
    December 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I suppose I should be less lazy and look this up myself, but does anyone here happen to know the history well enough to answer this – was the IC engine making inroads against the electrics and steamers before Ford started to production line the Model T and slash the price?

    • December 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Yes. One of the very early, pioneering manufacturers was the de Dion-Bouton team, in France. That started as a partnership, like the one between the aristocrat Rolls and the engineer Royce (which got very successful at the high end in the U.K. even before the First World War, even though Rolls had died in a pioneering air crash by then), between the aristocrat de Dion and the engineer Bouton and a colleague of his, whose name I forget. Their first car was steam driven and coal burning, then de Dion decided to switch to internal combustion; at that point, the colleague left because he didn’t see a future in it. They closed quite early, but they were trail blazers (interestingly enough, they dusted off one of their steam cars to demonstrate French resilience by driving around Paris during the German occupation, though they were quite old by then). Also, old photographs show that internal combustion taxis had taken over from horse drawn ones by 1914; Paris’s (internal combustion) taxis were famously used to rush reinforcements to the front just in time to head off German victory in 1914.

  7. Murray
    December 13, 2013 at 3:31 am

    “it all went away”.
    lol
    ionizing radiation,at a certain level, is dangerous, carcinogenic,you can nor deny that.
    it may or may nor be no threshold linear, but unproblematic it is not.

    Half-Life must be unknown to you, if you believe it’s fine away in 50 years. you might want to look up the half life of common heavy isotopes.

    ever wonder why cancer has increased,and become the second leading killer right along with the nuclear age? certainly nor unifactorial, but to be pohpoh’d?

    I’m not against nuclear energy, but against shoddy implementation, of a kind that willfully ignored potential dangers for short term greed, not unlike Monsanto and gmo
    light water reactors, esp. with 6 floor bathtub temporary, lol, storage basin for spent fuel, is totally that greed driven ttechnology, esp when uranium based.
    Thorium was proposed long ago as the safer alternative, where are those plants?
    where are the SELF- moderating designs,like Bekurtz’s?

    thats the problem.

    why dont you ask the people around Hanfort or Sellafield?
    shoddy, greedy, inept.
    can be done better, but hasn’t.

    Eric, its all distortion from dogma, and for that we must suffer

  8. Charles
    December 13, 2013 at 5:53 am

    And here’s a new study from the UK:

    http://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/2013/12/13/third-of-drivers-don-t-enjoy-driving-anymore/49093/

    Third of drivers don’t enjoy driving anymore

    • eric
      December 13, 2013 at 6:21 am

      I only enjoy driving because I live in a rural and largely Clover-diffuse, cop-sparse area (and have a good radar detector along for the ride). When we still lived in the DC area, I also had come to dislike driving. Ubiquitous cops, endless traffic – Clover heaven, in other words.

    • BrentP
      December 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

      What’s to enjoy any more? Authoritarian puritan control freaks have taken all the joy and fun out of it. While that’s from the UK it’s the same sort of people who have dominated the USA from the begining. The kind of people that push this all work no fun lifestyle on to everyone else regardless if they themselves follow it or not.

  9. BrentP
    December 16, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Eric, for some reason “Bug Out Buggies” doesn’t have a comment window.

    You mentioned the crown vic, have you ever seen the videos of the guy who goes drives in the Moab with ’95 vic?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFwPXEeJ3aI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYIJpzo2RVY

    There are other videos out there of it.

    Stock crown victoria… going where some people won’t take their SUVs.

    • eric
      December 16, 2013 at 6:19 am

      Thanks for the heads up, Brent.

      We’ve had some curious issues lately….

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