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Posts tagged “auto industry”

By Robert Rapier on May 22, 2008 with no responses

Ford Awakens from a Slumber; Post Office Rejects Ethanol

It seems that the reality of our situation is sinking in at Ford: Ford’s trouble: $4 gas is here to stay NEW YORK ( — Ford Motor Co. executives say they believe that $4 gas is here to stay, resulting in a fundamental consumer shift away from gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups and causing continued losses at its core North American auto unit. The company said it expects gas prices to remain in the range of $3.75 to $4.25 a gallon through the end of 2009. And that expectation prompted the nation’s No. 3 automaker to announce deep production cuts for what has been its best selling and most profitable vehicles for several decades and could lead to more plant closings… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 10, 2008 with no responses

SUV for Sale: Cheap!

Some of the consequences of very high oil prices are pretty predictable. Homes way out in the suburbs are likely to lose value. Prices will rise across the board for goods and services. Airlines will struggle. And gas guzzlers will be much less attractive: Gas costs deflate prices on used SUVs High fuel prices are causing the value of used SUVs to plummet, often below what’s listed in the buying guides many shoppers use to negotiate with dealers. “The dealer is going to offer a price, and the customer is going to be ticked off,” says Tom Webb, chief economist for Manheim, operators of auctions where car dealers buy their used-vehicle inventories. “The guidebooks have not caught up to the… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 14, 2008 with no responses

Toyota Promises Plug-in Hybrid

Move over, Chevy Volt. You have some very serious competition: Toyota Will Offer a Plug-In Hybrid by 2010 DETROIT — The Toyota Motor Corporation, which leads the world’s automakers in sales of hybrid-electric vehicles, announced Sunday night that it would build its first plug-in hybrid by 2010. The move puts Toyota in direct competition with General Motors, which has announced plans to sell its own plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, sometime around 2010. Katsuaki Watanabe, the president of Toyota, announced the company’s plans at the Detroit auto show as part of a series of environmental steps. Mr. Watanabe said Toyota, best known for its Prius hybrid car, would develop a fleet of plug-in hybrids that run on lithium-ion batteries,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 13, 2008 with no responses

The Prius Tops the Explorer

Looks like people are beginning to respond to high gas prices: Toyota Prius sales pass Ford Explorer Americans bought more Toyota Prius hybrid gas-electric hatchbacks last year than Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicles, the top-selling SUV for more than a decade. The change of fortune, buried in U.S. vehicle-sales data for 2007 and unthinkable a few years ago, will find an echo at this year’s Detroit auto show, which starts Sunday. While Americans’ love for powerful gas guzzlers remains strong, a slowing economy and high gasoline prices are forcing buyers to lower their sights. While Prius sales soared 69% last year, demand for the Explorer was less than a third of its 2000 peak. As I have said before, we have… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 5, 2007 with no responses

Debunking Thomas Friedman

I am in Norway at the moment, but I ran across a story that I wanted to call attention to. It is the same thing I wrote about in The Problem with CAFE: Debunking auto industry myths NEW YORK (Fortune) — I hesitate to pick a fight with a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner like New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. On the critical issue of developing a national energy policy to lessen our consumption of imported oil, he’s been early, smart, and right. But Friedman whiffed in his Times column yesterday, called “Et Tu, Toyota,” by hauling out one of the hoariest of urban myths: That forcing higher fuel economy standards on American car buyers is what’s needed to encourage more… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 5, 2007 with no responses

The Ultra-Light Loremo

Over the weekend, I happened onto a link for a German car that is being designed for an amazing 157 miles per gallon (1.5 l/100 km). The car is called the Loremo, an ultra-light, two-cylinder, 20-horsepower, turbo-diesel with an price tag of about $15,000 U.S. The Ultra-Light Loremo After poking around a bit, I found that there is a history of ultra-light vehicles, but they have not sold well: Driving On The Light Side In 1999, German carmaker Volkswagen launched the Lupo 3L TDI in Europe, a no-frills subcompact that got 100 km on 3 L of gas. Volkswagen built 29,500 Lupo 3Ls and then last year yanked the car from the market. “It was too frugal,” says Hartmut Hoffmann,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 12, 2007 with no responses

The Problem with CAFE

As I have been reading reports of the current debate over the pending energy legislation, it occurred to me that there is a fundamental problem with the approach to CAFE standards. The Washington Post reported on the issue in today’s edition: Senate, House Turn Focus to Energy Bills Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said after a speech to the Center for American Progress yesterday that the increase in auto-fuel efficiency requirements, known as the corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, would be the most controversial part of the Senate package. It orders auto companies to hit a 35-mile-per-gallon target by 2020 and improve mileage 4 percent a year after that. “I know that the auto industry is still… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 8, 2007 with no responses

GM Revives the Electric Car

Years after GM killed the electric car, they are bringing it back. They introduced a new electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this weekend. Here is what the car looks like: GM’s New Chevrolet Volt The only problem is that they still haven’t invented the battery that will run it. This is expected to come in 2010 or 2012. Forbes recently wrote an article on the car. Some excerpts, explaining why this is an improvement over GM’s earlier efforts: The Chevy Volt is driven by electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries that are charged by plugging the vehicle into a standard 110-volt socket. But the vehicle has a small gasoline-powered generator on… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 24, 2006 with no responses

CAFE Loophole

The ethanol bubble has been bursting a bit lately. I don’t say that with glee, because I hate to see people lose money, especially when it was due largely to misleading claims. (I say that even though 95% of the hate mail I get comes from ethanol investors). I hope the end of the irrational exuberance we have seen in the ethanol market will lead to a more fact-based look at which technologies are needed to replace or supplement fossil fuels, and what technical challenges must be overcome before that happens. There are certain things we can do to help ethanol along that I completely agree with. Because of the great potential, I think we need to heavily fund cellulosic… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 20, 2006 with no responses

More Ethanol Critics Emerge

I am in the process of writing a pro-ethanol story (no, that’s not a typo). However, before I do, I want to highlight a pair of anti-ethanol articles that were just published. Thanks to Robert Schwartz for bringing these to my attention. The first article echoes many of the arguments I have made here on E85, and the second article discusses arguments I have made regarding Brazil’s “miracle”. It warms my heart to see that these arguments are picking up steam. The first comes from Car and Driver, and is entitled Tech Stuff: Ethanol Promises. The article opens by explaining that, like it or not, ethanol is going to increase its market share as a result of government mandates: The… Continue»