The Electric Greaseman

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If you lived in the DC area during the ’80s, you will remember the Fall of the Greaseman.

Now living in obscurity – and, apparently, poverty – in a tiny West Virginia town, the Greaseman was one of the country’s best-known (and highest-paid) radio “shock jocks.” He ruled the morning drive at DC101 FM, at the time the most popular album rock radio station in the nation’s capital.

He was better-known than Howard Stern.

Today, he is unknown.

Because unlike Stern, the Grease . . . apologized.

He made a couple of obnoxious jokes – one about the Martin Luther King Day Holiday, the other about the musical talents of a rapper – which his audience loved but which also aroused the enmity of the professionally aggrieved, who even then were a force to be reckoned with.

They demanded the Greaseman’s head – and he gave it to them.

Instead of continuing to do his thing – which his audience loved – and telling his critics to change the channel or something even less polite (as Howard Stern is famous for doing… and who is, as a result, still famous) the Grease bowed his head, did the perp shuffle with Al Sharpton and other professional grievance-mongers and, rather than forgiveness, received pain . . . followed by obscurity.

He lost his job, his fortune, everything.

VW could learn something – but clearly has not.

Last week, the genuflecting Germans announced a $2 billion “investment” (yes, they used that word) in “zero emissions vehicle awareness programs and infrastructure,” part of the company’s embarrassingly servile efforts to recover Good Standing with Uncle. Who remains much-annoyed with VW over the company’s dastardly “cheating” on EPA emissions tests.

And who will never, ever forgive – or forget.

Meanwhile, VW’s customers will no longer get what they loved – affordable, high-mileage diesel-powered vehicles. They are gone like the Grease – and not because people didn’t love them.

Instead, the company will throw money at electric car “fast” chargers in urban areas –  which are “fast” like Forrest Gump wasn’t stupid. Maybe “fast” vs. how long it takes to charge up an electric car via a standard 115V household outlet (which is several hours at least). But still at least 30-45 minutes, or five times as long as it takes to gas up a not-electric car.

Further extortions – and that’s what all this amounts to – include four $500 million “investments” in “green” initiatives in California, such as a “zero emissions” shuttle bus/transit program and electric car ride-sharing.

Does it work? Does it make sense? No one cares. So long as it is “green” any amount of green expended is never enough – much like apologizing for a “racially insensitive” remark.

VW has also committed to adding three new electric vehicles to its product portfolio – which it needs, in terms of making money, like JFK needed another head shot. It has promised to sell 5,000 of them annually by 2020.

God knows how.

It could not give away the one electric car it has in its lineup – the miserable electric Golf. A car that needed to be delivered on a flatbed to car journalists who lived more than 70 miles from the press pool – because the car couldn’t make it there on its own steam. Actually, steam power would work better. It doesn’t take hours or even 30 minutes to top off a steam-powered vehicle with water.

And they go fast and for a long time, too.

But VW is going to do what everyone else is doing- or trying to do: Build more too-expensive, economically untenable, functionally impaired cars that the market hasn’t got much use for but which the government is determined to force down everyone’s throats.

Only even more so, to make atonement for the sin of “cheating” Uncle for the sake of its customers.

VW has lost its nerve – and maybe its mind.

Or maybe not.

The New Economy isn’t about earning money by making things people want and selling it to them at a price they can afford and which makes an honest profit for the company. It is about “working with” the government, to force-feed people what government bureaucrats decree they may have.

Lately, at a loss.

The whole unspeakable mess will be subsumed under a new in-house Electrify America LLC – which will be based snuggle-close to Uncle in the DC suburb of Reston, Virginia.

Just as the Grease imagined that posing stoop-shouldered with Al and Jesse would stifle the calls for his head and make friends out of implacable enemies who would remain enemies no matter what he did, so VW deludedly thinks that embracing the electric car tar baby will get Uncle to soften and maybe even smile.

Good luck with that.

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23 COMMENTS

    • I didn’t know that electricity is also fairly cheap in the USA, provided that your table is correct. Electric cars may thus over time become more popular in the USA, when they get a longer range and if they get more affordable prices.

  1. Wow, you brought back some memories! I’m 59 and live in Jacksonville, FL. “Uncle Greasy” was famous here long before he began his stint in D.C. He had his show on AM 690 WAPE (also know as the “Big Ape”). He was crude and funny as hell! The local Junior League tried to run him out of town with no success. I guess he finally went to D.C for a bigger audience and a lot more money. Sorry to hear he is in such bad straights.

    Love your website…electric cars are silly…and I hope Trump dials back the CAFE requirements.

  2. I live in the People’s Republic of California, the US state with more fatwas than anyone else. Here, we have fatwas about electric cars, such as subsidies and permission to use commuter lanes without multiple people in the car, all as incentive to buy the damn things. For people in sane states who don’t know, a commuter lane is what happens when they close one lane of the highway and only allow cars with 2 or 3 people to use them, depending on the road. Anyhow, we have lots of fatwa-based incentives to buy electric cars. On the other side, we have the stupid eco-fatwas from the crypto-luddites who call themselves “greens”. They oppose power transmission lines, power plants, lobby to turn off nuclear plants, all that stuff. So, California has an electrical grid which already can’t meet demand, and we don’t have the transmission line capacity to bring too much power in from out of state. Your average house pulls like 2kW on average. Charging an electric car can take 120kW (Tesla Supercharger) or something more reasonable like 30kW on a big home charger – that’s the power draw of 15-60 homes just for one car, in a state which can’t already power all the homes!

    This will not end well…

    • How short the memory of those on the left coast is…

      Was there not a recall election here which the sitting Governor, nicknamed ‘Grey-Out Davis’ lost? Do our ‘great leaders’ not remember that it was the lack of electrical supply to an ever increasing demand that precipitated all this and earned said Governor his nickname?

      Oh, how history repeats itself…

      Has demand subsided? Nope.

      Has supply improved much? Not much?

      Is issuing fatwas to force more use of an already strained electrical grid a good idea?

      • Supply has actually fallen. CA has been shutting down real power plants and spinning up wind and solar and as a result, it’s been importing more power when those aren’t producing. I was here during Grey-out Davis’ rule, remember it well.

        For reliable power, within a few years, I think the answer will be rooftop solar with storage batteries at home.

  3. I’m so sick of hearing about these stupid electric cars. They don’t work- in practical terms, nor economic terms- but yet they continue to be pushed and lauded by the mainstream idiots as if they did! As if speaking positively about them would somehow change the reality (Isn’t that exactly how liberals operate?)- Thank goodness for this site at least- where one can actually be reassured that there are still some sane people left in this world.

    They’ve been trying to push electric cars since the 70’s. This time, it might actually work- for a while- not because they actually work…but because they’re making IC cars to NOT work, and filling the world with pro-electric propaganda, so that people will think that rainbows (Not the gay kind) and potpourri come out of the cars “exhaust pipes”.

    And all of this infrastructure (if you can call it that)- the fast chargers; and battery manufacturing facilities and the software and all the things that are being made to work with said software and charges et al- what happens two years from now, when it’s all outdated technology, and laughed at? Will it be perpetually replaced by newer better stuff, making the old obsolete, and requiring ever more investment? Or will it be shelved, because it may be incompatible with what we have now?

    No matter how ya slive it…this isn’t going to end well. It’s ultimately leading to a major disruption of personal transportation as we know it- and really, that MUST be the agenda, because why else would they be purposely destroying profitable functional markets, for unprofitable, unsustainable non-existent ones?

    • In my area, charging equipment stations installed about a decade and a half ago, was removed because no one was using it, they had rusted out and was falling apart. The property owners, (they were in a couple of shopping centers) wanted them removed because they had become an eyesore, a liability and were taking up parking places. Meanwhile my local electric utility announced the installation of a bunch of new ones……………….

      This is the same electric utility that wouldn’t be able to supply enough electric even if a small percentage of vehicles were electric. They plan on closing nearly all their coal generation (mostly due to not being able to comply with Obama era pollution regulations) and buy more power from outside sources. Never mind one of the independent power sources in the area was also closed due to the same over regulation…………..

      Even if electric cars worked, we can’t deploy very many of them. Most electric companies can barely keep the lights on as it is.

      We should be thankful gasoline powered cars are as good as they are, instead of vilifying them.

      • Opp, Ca. has shut down about 10 refineries in the last decade or more. Of course fuel demand grows every day. They can’t tolerate the thought of something safe like a pipeline so they block them every chance they get. Meanwhile Tx. is literally covered in left coast refugees along with right coast and rust belt people(and countless millions of refugees from everywhere) so our population has exploded. Thankfully west Tx. is much too boorish and uncivilized and crazy weather so they don’t build up here like the rest of Tx. although we know it’s coming. I’ll be dead before they run land prices through the roof here…..hopefully.

        Kinder Morgan has been trying to build a pipeline to the fools but they allow a vocal minority of people living in la la land to make policy. Tx. has it’s own power grid and only has about 3 connections to other grids and isn’t shy about keeping our power here. We need it more than ever being the soon to be most populous state. And we have some far-sighted people from decades ago that did this, what we consider a very good thing. We hear about rolling black-outs and it makes us hot so we turn down the thermostat, plug in another keg box and set up another welding station in the barn…..or that’s how I and most people I know roll. How much is a kwh in Ca. now? It’s 10 cents out here in the boonies.

  4. This reminds me of one of the best movies about our current economic structure, Schindler’s List.

    Yes, it was a tale of how Oscar Schindler saved a number of Jews from a rather grisly fate. But, what it really shows is how business operates in today’s world. Oscar was the quintessential schmoozer. He oiled the palms of the GovCo lackeys that oversaw his business. He sold almost exclusively to the same GovCo and was able to reap handsome profits…until the end of the war.

    Then he had to compete in a free market based on the quality and value of his products.

    He bombed.

    Big time.

    He died virtually penniless because with out his GovCo connections (Uncle Siegfried?) he could not compete.

    VW needs to watch Spielberg’s masterpiece…and soon.

  5. 5% of cars in Norway are electric entirely because of govt fatwas.

    All-electric cars are exempt in Norway from all non-recurring vehicle fees, including purchase taxes, and 25% VAT on purchase.

    A Nissan Leaf is around US$42,500 while the purchase price of the 1.3-lt Volkswagen Golf is US$42,000.

    Electric vehicles are exempt from the annual road tax, all public parking fees, and toll payments, as well as being able to use bus lanes.

    • No, a Nissan Leaf actually costs less than 42,000 $ in Norway. It costs the equivalent price of about 32,000 $. There is also another new electric car made by GM that is reasonably priced, and which has a good range of 400 km for fully charged batteries. This is the “Opel Ampera”. I think that this car is going to cost the equivalent price of about 35,800 $ in Norway. This isn’t cheap, but it is not quite unreasonable either. With the long range and high performance of about 200 hp, it is going to be a “game changer”, at least in countries with cheap electric power.

      http://www.dinside.no/motor/banker-alle-konkurrentene/63715610

      • Hi Jone,

        $35k is about $20k higher than the cost of a decently equipped entry-level compact sedan; there is no economic argument to be made for the $35k electric car. It is a vanity purchase. Which is fine, if you are able to afford it – and also not using the government to “help” you afford it!

        The problem – one of them – is simply this: Not everyone or even most people can afford a $35k car. You can’t just ignore the fact of limited resources – but that is exactly what the elites (political and otherwise) pushing electric cars are doing. They are so out of touch with the economic reality faced by most people that it never even occurs to them that anyone would bat an eye at the purchase of a $35k car.

        After all, they can afford one.

        Green is fine, except it costs green.

        How much are you willing to pay? How much can others afford to pay?

      • $35K for a leaf, and you either drive it like a grandma, and don’t use heat or A/C if you want even mediocre range….or drive it normally and use the accessories if you have a short commute, and hope that the temp won’t be too hot or too cold to diminish that range.

        Then, how much does that $35K car depreciate after a few years, after the batteries are half trashed, vs. a $35K internal-combustion car?

        And electricity may seem reasonably priced compared to gas, now….but as soon as a significant number of people are dependent on it- i.e. a captive audience, just watch it go through the roof!

        Sorry- $35K for a limited-range itty-bitty commuter car that depreciates like a pile of dog crap on a 100*F day, isn’t exactly winning me over.

      • So when it’s dark nearly all the time in winter so you have to run your headlights constantly, turn the heater on in winter, and listen to the radio, how far can you go? Having spent a couple of nights in a vehicle because of blizzards blocking the way home, I can tell you that it’s very nice to have a tank of gas and heat when you need it.

  6. In Norway electricity is provided about 100 % based on hydroelectric power. In other words, using electric power in Norway really does not cause any additional emission of CO2. In addition, electric power in Norway is relatively reasonably priced. It is also a fact that a medium sized electric car consumes about 15 KwH per 100 kilometers, while a fossil fueled car consumes about 50 KwH for the same distance. No wonder thus that Norwegians are running to the shops to buy electric cars.

    As I understand, electric power is the USA and for instance in Germany, is mainly based on burning fossil fuels. In that case I do not really see any economic or environmental benefit in switching to electric cars. When an electric car charges its batteries, then more CO2 is discharged at the power plant. Therefore there would hardly be any benefit with regard to emissions of CO2 to switch to electric cars. (I depends on the power mix I suppose; nuclear, fossil or hydroelectric).

    • Hi Jone,

      Driving distances are another issue. The U.S. is much larger than Norway and people more spread out. It’s routine for commutes to take an hour or more.

      Electric cars might be workable for people in urban areas who drive short distances and for whom lengthy recharge times are not a problem, but that’s not most people.

      And the cost remains prohibitive. Even if electricity is – as in your case – relatively inexpensive. These cars all cost a minimum of $30,000 and up – which is unaffordable for the average person and economically sensible for no person.

      • eric, I’d bet electricity is not any cheaper than what we pay($.10/Kwh) although it will be produced by a combo of gas, coal and wind(west Tx. where most wind generation exists is not uncommonly too high speed for wind generation at which point the windmills are turned off on older fields). Newer, cheaper generators have variable pitch blades that are capable of being left on when wind gets high(40+) as it was Sunday.

        I need to make a 400 mile trip tomorrow. I won’t be able to make it on one tiny tank of 26 gallons(hate short bed pickups) but fueling up will be 5 minutes at which point I’m sure to need to stretch and drain my bladder so add another couple minutes. Call it ten minutes and I’m back on track. Also, I’ll be doing 75-85 depending on the roads, I-10 having an 80 mph PSL. I’m guessing an electric car will be hard pressed to get the “up to” 240 mile touted range. Take a good 40 miles off that range due to speed and we’re running on static so to speak on two charges in the Leaf. But I’m not going for pleasure so that leaves out any car I can think of. The big pickup toolbox will be stuffed as well as taking another 3 large toolboxes, cordless drill, VOM’s of various types, an air compressor. The ext. cab will be stuffed all the way around to only having one seat available…..and to think that ’75 Olds 98 would have held it all. 400 miles sounds like a long trip to most people. It’s just a neighborly run that varies mainly from mesquite and red dirt to oak and cedar and black dirt.

      • I have one friend with an electric car (Nissan Leaf), and she commutes with it. Her house is barely in range of work (one way!). They allow her to recharge at work (her family owns the business). A good portion of the time she is pulling into work or her garage on the whatever the electric version of fumes is. She goes without a/c (or heat for that matter) most of the time because even a little bit of traffic put her at the very edge of the range. On days with bad weather she ends up driving her husbands Tundra pickup, which means he is largely stuck at home that day (he has a small local business). I don’t think he ever drives it, and is not a fan. In spite of all that she loves the car.

        Most people wouldn’t be willing to do that. No heat in a Chicago winter is hellish. I know, I have had days with a car with a broken heater. I wouldn’t want to do it on purpose.

        I like to point out to her that she could have bought TWO Nissan Versa’s for the price of that Leaf (and had some money left over too). And that the heat and a/c would work all the time. But she is so enamored with the idea of never stopping in a gas station. Never minding how much more inconvenient that car is. Even a prius or a volt would have made more sense then that stupid leaf.

        • HAhaha! What a dolt that broad sounds like! You’d think after all that, she’d be CRAVING the simple ability to pull into a gas station and be on her way, ready for several hundred more miles, in a matter of minutes! Ah, but the ideals of fantasy are usually much more important to such people than the facts of reality. I’ll bet she’s a liberal, ’cause that’s their general M.O. in a nutshell. (Or just a nut…)

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