Re: Also they should make Rick Ocasek the new CEO of all three

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They should drive there, but in special dueling cars, like in Death Race 2000.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:03 PM
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The driving to DC thing is ridiculous. All the criticism of their plane trips wasn't about them flying, it was about them taking private planes that collectively cost something like $75,000 for the one trip. That's someone's job right there. Detroit has an airport, they can fly first class to DC for $600 or so. All that driving will do is reinforce the idea that the CEOs can't share communal space with other people whom they don't employ. Not helping with the out-of-touch elitism image, guys.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:11 PM
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Also eminently reasonable: they dress like clowns and fire themselves from cannons in Detroit to the waters off the DelMarVa peninsula and then swim back to Congress.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:12 PM
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Everybody should do everything like in Death Race 2000.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:14 PM
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If you're talking about Ric Ocasek, that would totally make sense.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:14 PM
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Also, if they had walked, like Coxey's Army, that would have been cool


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:16 PM
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5: Dammit. I was overcome by thoughts of Paulina Porizkova, because I'm sexist. Fixed.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:17 PM
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7: Don't worry, that's the music of my youth. I'm sure you know more about some of today's more popular acts, like The Radiohead or Mary J. Bilge.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:20 PM
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8: Wow. You're old.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:21 PM
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9: You have no idea. Still, I like the night life. Baby.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:25 PM
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10: I guess you're just what I needed (as far as name-spelling corrections go, that is).


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:28 PM
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re:OP: It's clear to me that we're getting taken on a scale that defies earlier scams. What I don't understand are the legislative remedies available. Can an individual be robbed by act of congress? Can we at least force them to do a little dance on command?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:41 PM
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It'd be highly appropriate if they came to the meetings on futuristic electric cart things, like Gary Numan.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:46 PM
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The image of three segways piping away along a snowy I-70 is sort of magical.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:50 PM
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No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed...


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:05 AM
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DRIVING? How insanely stupid. All that would be necessary is to pay for one of those incredibly expensive first-class seats on a regular plane with other people on it, instead of paying a hundred times that already-enormous amount to fly alone in a jet.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:15 AM
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||
The Man wants me to start in February, which is too soon!
|>


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:20 AM
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To be fair, they probably are high assassination risks right now.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:35 AM
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The record will show that I can be counted on to stick up for unions in this space, but I can't dismiss out of hand the notion that the UAW will have to make a "contribution to restructuring", as the euphemism goes. From a purely pragmatic point of view, if taking a haircut on job protection or post-retirement health benefits would make the difference between getting the GOP votes to pass a bailout or not, the UAW would be well-advised to make the concession, because their contracts are liable to get gutted much worse in a Chapter 11 proceeding (google "1113e" to see why).

In terms of cleaning up the cost structure of the Big Three, the most significant thing the govt could do is take over their post-retirement health benefits (the true source of those "$70/hour labor cost" horror anecdotes), as Obama seems inclined to do. If the price of that is moderating benefits for future retirees, there would be a good case for making the deal.

I want to make clear that I'm not claiming these are necessarily the choices on the table, and I certainly wouldn't fault the UAW for taking a hardline negotiating posture at the outset, but I do think that reasonable, labor-friendly observers can contemplate somr kind of labor concessions as part of an overall deal.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 1:15 AM
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Anybody still up a whiz with contraction mappings?

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 1:25 AM
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re: 19

Reading the article on the big 3 in today's Guardian, it looked very much to me like the unions had already made substantial concessions and that the talk of the concessions they have to make in the future ignores the fact that they've already made most of the concessions in question.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 5:01 AM
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20:Does not compute. Are you talking the 4 Bears Chart, or deliveries connected to previous thread?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 5:34 AM
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7: Just to tie the threads together, I've mentioned that Paulina's mom was my midwife? Astonishingly pretty as well -- my father met her briefly in the hospital after the birth, and reminisced wistfully about the meeting for years.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 5:44 AM
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19: he most significant thing the govt could do is take over their post-retirement health benefits (the true source of those "$70/hour labor cost" horror anecdotes), as Obama seems inclined to do.

Cue politicians and big media making the connection from the Big 3's health care cost problems to a serious and legitimate look at single-payer options in .... 25, 30 years. 35 years at the most. Too bad the companies don't have actual experience with a different system, with a similar workforce, maybe a few miles away, across a river or something. That'd provide some good data. If only.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 6:25 AM
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Anybody still up a whiz with contraction mappings?

Ew, how did contraction mappings get you guys stuck up a whiz?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 7:16 AM
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21 - Yup, the UAW already assumed responsibility for the bulk of retiree health care, in exchange for an up-front payment. But the $70 an hour pseudo-fact is less killable than Jason Voorhees.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 7:20 AM
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If there are going to be any "union concessions" it should be various constituents of the AFL-CIO and some of the other big unions not part of that coalition who abandon craft unionism in favor of industrial unionism. I've got nothing against the UAW rank-and-file, from their perspective as individuals, it's only reasonable to demand as much as you think you can get. But as a union, the UAW and the IBEW and IATSE and those lot need to be doing more for the regular folx who just barely scrape by on their union (and not-yet-union) wages. Sure, working on the line making Chryslers is hard work and should be compensated accordingly. But making beds in a hotel or cleaning offices or working in a hospital cafeteria kitchen are jobs that are just as deserving of protection and adequate compensation (come to that, so are being a bank teller or an insurance company call center employee). The big craft unions and semi-craft unions have a long way to go before they'll earn my complete sympathy.

That said, the bosses are clearly in the wrong on this one. American cars used to be the standard by which the rest of the world was judged. Now it's Toyotas. Is that because Toyota was able to exploit their workers better? No, it's because they make a better product. If Ford made Camrys and GM made Civics we wouldn't be in this mess, but instead those companies decided to make lousy cars that cost too much and depended on a favorable credit climate and "Buy American" bumperstickers to be the wind at their backs.

Detroit and Flint are halfway to being ghosttowns anyway. If we want to help the people there, they should both be turned into Permaculture demonstration cities. Build some fucking arcologies and forget all this internal combustion nonsense. That'll give people decent work again.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 7:47 AM
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Sifu: still messing about with Banach's principle etc, or was that just last night?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:03 AM
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and ontopic: As far as I can see, any real solution to the big three involves tossing something like the top 1000 managers. Necessary, but not sufficient. Their management culture is toxic, and really needs to be gutted to get anywhere long term.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:04 AM
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UAW starting salaries (which are close to UAW ending salaries) are down to $15 an hour now.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:06 AM
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You know what really bugs me? What really twists my panties? What really gets up my ass?

The car makers are asking for *loans* of around 10 billion dollars, and they have to dance like monkeys to show that they deserve them.

But the banks got 700 billion dollars in a free cash infusion with almost no strings attached. No one has worried that the head of citigroup flies in a private jet (of course he does) nor does he have to prove that he is going to change the way citigroup is run (of course he won't). He just gets the cash.

I've been mad at the American auto makers for a long time for their environmental record and for making oversized cars that appeal to people's vanity. I'm all in favor of making the car makers produce recovery plans. But a little bit of balance here would be nice. Where are the bankers recovery plans? When will they take symbolic pay cuts reducing their salary to a dollar?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:09 AM
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Ya know, the top guys from the Big Three went to the same schools all those Wall Street dudes went to, and over the last 20 years or so they've followed all that Wall Street advice to the letter pretty much (summary: self-destruct, destroying the unions and then get into the stealing business like say, Hank Paulson), yet somehow, our swippliest of journalist types still can't quite put two and two together.

max
['If you think Detroit management sucks, you should see Wall Street management.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:11 AM
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You know what really bugs me? What really twists my panties? What really gets up my ass?

No, but I'd get it looked at if I were you, before it gets any more ideas.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:13 AM
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I wish Odetta was still around to sing a song about all this.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:15 AM
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If you value their time at, say, $200/hour (significantly less than their salary levels, or a boutique consulting firm's fees), each of them wasted over $3,000 on the drive, much more than a round-trip first-class ticket.

I was amused by a vanity quarter-page ad in the Washington Post this morning by one Arn/old Be/rk. It called for companies receiving bailout money to limit the salaries of their CEOs and top 25 officers to top governmental levels, and for the CEOs to put up their homes and other real estate as collateral. Not a bad idea, but presented as if that was sufficient for the bailouts to work. (He spelled deductible as "deductable" and put a mini-resume in the last few lines.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:18 AM
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Threadmeld: The Borman Six girl is got to have soul!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:23 AM
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The CEO compensation limitations are necessary to sell the bailouts to voters. Why they've only surfaced now, with the Auot industry bailout, is a different question. (The answer is "unions").

I remember that at one point one of the finance CEOs was issuing ultimatums and telling Paulson and Bernanke what was acceptable to him. Management has been in hog heaven for some time now, especially during the Bush years, and they may have forgotten that they're mortal and subject to constraint.

Fore example, the hog farm constraint.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:30 AM
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Ya know, the top guys from the Big Three went to the same schools all those Wall Street dudes went to

You aren't likely to fix much about the fucked-up-ness of the bank bailout in the context of an auto deal


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:32 AM
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Last I heard, Ford & Chrysler were planning to fly commercial; only GM was talking about driving, which is, indeed, stupid.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:00 AM
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my father met her briefly in the hospital after the birth, and reminisced wistfully about the meeting for years.

So tacky, dad.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:09 AM
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39. Doesn't this tell us all we need to know about the management qualities of the three companies?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:12 AM
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Oh, it really wasn't. Dad is tastefully and politely wistful, and the midwife in question, as you'd guess from what her daughter looks like, is really remarkably pretty.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:13 AM
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I wish Odetta was still around to sing a song about all this.

Thanks for putting that song in my head, minne. Mm, beep! beep!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:15 AM
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You're othering the Slavic ladies, LB.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:19 AM
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nly GM was talking about driving, which is, indeed, stupid.

I'd be very impressed with Harleys, though.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:20 AM
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They could do it like a reality show or the Cannonball Run though ... "The US Department of the Treasury has $100bn of loan guarantees and tax allowances .... but only for one car manufacturer!"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:26 AM
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39, 41: They should've carpooled. By my calculations, piling all three execs into a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid (sadly, the most fuel efficient vehicle out of their combined fleets at 34 city/31 highway, it really is pathetic) would save about 1350 lb of CO2 equivalent each way over the three of them flying! Besides, it would've been funnier.

46: Or a gigantic money drop. They place all three execs in a tank, dump 10,000 certificates for $1 million each on top of them, and see who comes out the big winner!


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:38 AM
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47.last would work much better if a) the tank was filled with water and b) they were given blunt instruments.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:47 AM
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46: Tell them that the money is buried under the big W. Hijinks will ensue.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:47 AM
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sadly, the most fuel efficient vehicle out of their combined fleets at 34 city/31 highway, it really is pathetic

That can't be right, surely?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:49 AM
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47,48: would work much better if a) the tank was filled with water

Or per The Magic Christian, other substances. The $700B should be treated similarly.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:56 AM
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Yeah, city is less than highway, no?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:56 AM
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The fact that Ford has the Escape Hybrid gives me hope that they are not as terminally dumb as the other two. It was obvious to me back when the Prius first came out that the smart move for competitors was to build a Hybrid SUV. SUVs are heavier and bigger, so there is more room for batteries, and their fuel efficiency sucks, so relatively modest improvements in fuel economy in absolute terms translate into large improvements in relative terms. Once there's a product shipping engineers can tinker and refine the powerplant, building experience and developing a knowledge base for the extension of hybrid drive to other vehicle lines. If they are smart the next target will be a hybrid Crown Victoria, aimed at both law enforcement and taxis. It has many of the advantages of the escape as a development platform, plus the advantage that the existing market is likely to find the fuel efficiency improvements important as well as being drawn to the eco-friendliness as a PR plus.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:56 AM
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46: possible headline for forthcoming think piece: "The Thunderdoming of American Politics"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:57 AM
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Yeah, city is less than highway, no?

Not always with hybrids.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:58 AM
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re: 53

There's been quite a bit of publicity here about the fact that the Prius is actually quite a bit less fuel efficient than lots of standard non-hybrid cars.

So I'd hope that these proposed new hybrids would make real improvements on the Prius.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:58 AM
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50: That's what's given on the EPA's fuel economy website. The Honda Civic and Prius hybrids get excellent gas mileage, and this number even looks a bit low for the Honda Civic hybrid from the times that I've ridden in them.

52: It can be the other way around with some hybrids because they generate much of their battery energy during braking and expend it during gentler acceleration. So controlled city driving, with semi-frequent but smooth stops and starts, tends to be about optimal.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:03 AM
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If they are smart the next target will be a hybrid Crown Victoria, aimed at both law enforcement and taxis.

Oo, that would be smart.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:04 AM
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the Prius is actually quite a bit less fuel efficient than lots of standard non-hybrid cars

I've heard this, but haven't seen it substantiated. Ours is a first-generation (2003), and it gets 45-50 mpg in summer, 40-45 in winter. The current models are more efficient, and the model currently in design is projected to be substantially more so.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:05 AM
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And a Lincoln Town Car equivalent. I don't know if this is NY only, or if other cities have fleets of black-car radio taxis, or whatever you call them, but there's a lot of them here, and no reason they couldn't be hybrids if there were an appropriate model.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:06 AM
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56: The prius is actually pretty good for what it actually is.

The problem in the US is people want largeish cars with pretty good acceleration. Prius hits this pretty well, and still has realistic 50mpg ish rates if driven conservatively 45ish if not. A four door that'll sit five, pack a bunch of stuff if your moving, won't sweat a 100mph isn't a silly way to target american market even if it would be sensible to head in the other direction.

So you can match that with a smaller lighter turbo diesel. But a) diesel has a lot more energy that gasoline so it really isn't apples and oranges and b) TDIs are a non issue in the US at the moment (might change)

But yeah, absolutely, bring on the improvements.

Hybrid SUVs sort of suck though, because the reduce the pain of operating a bad idea.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:07 AM
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re: 57

Many of them score a bit lower than the most efficient diesel cars these days.

Some of the forthcoming 2009 UK diesel cars have figures around 60mpg or more [that's 60 US not 60 UK, the figures in the mid 70s in UK mpg].

[The numbers look a bit odd to me because of the US/UK gallon conversion, which is why the number you quoted in 47 looked so pathetic]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:07 AM
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56, 59: I don't remember the details, but I have a vague sense that the regulatory environment in Europe is very much more diesel friendly, and that diesels are much higher mileage. Might that be what gets conventional Euro cars closer to the hybrid norm?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:08 AM
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Pwnd, I am.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:08 AM
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Also, several of the UK car magazines and the likes have done real-world fuel efficiency comparisons and while the Prius scores better than a lot, it's really not massively more efficient than the more fuel-efficient turbo diesels in the same class.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:09 AM
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65: Right, fighting a, what, 30%? energy deficit it does pretty well compared to similar (but if I recall correctly, typically lighter and less room) cars it matches up pretty well. Pretty good as a tech devel if you ask me.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:11 AM
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re: 60

In NYC, many car services are looking at converting to hybrids, both to cut operating expenses and because there is talk about the City mandating a change over for vehicles regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:16 AM
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I'm not sure that I could ever see law enforcement shifting over to hybrids. I thought they already tended to special-order their cars to beef up the acceleration and handling, and hybrid engines tend to be too small to provide sufficient acceleration for their needs.

It would be great for city taxis, though I don't know how effective the hybrids would be given the annoying tendency in too many drivers to accelerate hard from each light and screech to a stop at the next.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:17 AM
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Hybrid SUVs sort of suck though, because the reduce the pain of operating a bad idea

Totally. Follow the link in 57 and see what's available in the current model year. Wow, a hybrid Yukon! Which gets a whopping 20 mpg! UR DOIN IT RONG.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:17 AM
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hybrid engines tend to be too small to provide sufficient acceleration for their needs.

Huh. I thought a feature of hybrids was kickass acceleration.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:21 AM
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68: hybrid taxis are nearly perfect, the idling issue is solved. City fleets are a decent idea too. I've seen both in a couple mid-size cities, but don't know of year-to-year statistics. Might be too new.

As for law enforcement, if there was enough interest I'm sure automakers could offer police models or whatever as far as performance goes, electric is in some ways much better than gasoline except for the battery problem. Might be pretty easy to provide impressive accel etc. for shortish period (and kill efficiency, natch)

Not sure Detroit is up for the task though, they're behind technologically on this stuff.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:21 AM
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53: Ford licensed all the technology for their hybrids from Toyota, they are behind the curve on developing anything of their own.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:22 AM
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Huh. I thought a feature of hybrids was kickass acceleration.

Right, as noted in 71, you can do this but it involves tradeoffs. Maintaining high speeds and then accel is more of an issue, but you could tune a model for this. It's just not a good idea for a family-mobile.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:22 AM
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Both hybrids we have owned--the Insight and the Civic--have had terrible acceleration. It gets even worse if you run down the battery and have to work on the gas engine only.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:28 AM
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the idling issue is solved

Ah good point.

And yeah, electric motors are capable of some amazing performance improvements. I just didn't think any of the existing hybrid motors did so, because of the efficiency trade-offs and the general uselessness for environmentally-minded buyers. I have no idea if it would be possible to create something like a performance-geared hybrid or all-electric that would be more carbon-efficient, but you seem to have a better idea on this.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:30 AM
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have had terrible acceleration

Interesting. I have an Nissan Altima hybrid and think it drives great, including accelerating. Perhaps this is indicative of what seems to be the US trend of wanting hybrids that are merely more efficient forms of what people are already (see, e.g. the hybrid Yukon and Escalade).


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:38 AM
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49: Tell them that the money is buried under the big W. Hijinks will ensue.

Or a locker in Silver City, New Mexico. ... and so far GM is winning because they're nearest to the door.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:48 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:54 AM
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72 - I guess that's smart of them at this point, but if they are to have any hope of competing they need to build in house design experience so they can refine the power plant and power train. The basic hybrid concept is very good, but really shaking out the system requires lots and lots of cycles of design-build-test-refine. That's why getting something onto the sales floor is a big deal - it brings in money but it also torture tests the current revision of the system under real world conditions.

61.last - Hybrid SUVs are inevitable because people want SUVs and they also want good gas mileage. The SUV platform is great for development because you aren't quite as hard pressed for space and weight savings.

Hybrids are a sufficiently radical technological shift that lots of development is still left to be done. Getting anything out onto the road using the technology is a net plus because it lays the groundwork for evolution.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:55 AM
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75: The performance-geared all-electric

For a mere $100K!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 11:56 AM
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Wouldn't a diesel hybrid be even more efficient than a regular diesel.

Based on what's been said, hybrods seem the only way to go for city driving and driving in traffic.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:02 PM
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Boston is mandating that all taxis in the city (currently 5-6000 Crown Vics) be hybrids by 2015.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:08 PM
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Both hybrids we have owned--the Insight and the Civic--have had terrible acceleration. It gets even worse if you run down the battery and have to work on the gas engine only.

You have to be very careful here with comparisons. For example, the Prius has pretty good acceleration (it's no sports car) and will happily enough do 110mph.

The insight had lousy acceleration because it's a tiny two seater going for high mileage via low weight... not something that trades off well with acceleration. They figured (probably correctly) that nobody buying one would care much.

The civic, on the other hand, is a completely different drive train. Rather than a gasoline assist to an electric drive train, it's the other way around -- essentially an underpowered conventional car with an electric assist. This system does not have the torque advantages etc. we were talking about.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:08 PM
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this number even looks a bit low for the Honda Civic hybrid from the times that I've ridden in them.

I've heard this a number of times. It may simply be an artifact of the EPA's method of determining city mileage - after all, for most cars people aren't paying enough notice to whether they really get the posted MPG, but for these two cars, most drivers are somewhere between attentive and obsessed.

sadly, the most fuel efficient vehicle out of their combined fleets at 34 city/31 highway, it really is pathetic

Not for a road trip. The Cobalt XFE gets 25 city/36 highway, which is better than any non-hybrid sold in the US. Of course, there would be a significant fight about who gets the back seat.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:10 PM
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Wouldn't a diesel hybrid be even more efficient than a regular diesel.

Yes, it would, and such cars exist in at least prototype form. They're head an shoulders above everything else, as you'd expect.

Diesel has some issues though. Really this stuff has to be considered systematically, if what you're talking about is a general improvement to environmental issues and oil usage. Diesels are a bit more efficient, but they're also dirtier. It's a complicated question of what the `right' thing to do is --- but it's clear you have to be careful making these comparisons because mpg isn't the whole story.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:11 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:15 PM
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Getting anything out onto the road using the technology is a net plus because it lays the groundwork for evolution.

True. The big win here is prius followed by camry though, more than the SUVs

The SUV platform is great for development because you aren't quite as hard pressed for space and weight savings.

This part is true, and from a practical point of view we're probably stuck with them. However, SUVs are simply a bad idea. Always were a bad idea, and don't get much better by making them hybrids.

Regulating them nearly out of existence would probably be a net win, even with all the dodgy issues around such regulation.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:16 PM
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Just to be clear in 87 `big win' means incremental step that might lead to something. On their own these cars aren't such a huge gain, but in terms of consumer acceptance they may be a big win if they can shift the market.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:17 PM
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17 - WAIT! TJ!

The Man in which city?! Are you moving this way?Start sooner!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:20 PM
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Perhaps this is indicative of what seems to be the US trend of wanting hybrids that are merely more efficient forms of what people are already (see, e.g. the hybrid Yukon and Escalade).

Not to mention the failing hybrid Camry and Accord (one of which has been pulled from the market - can't recall which). In the case of the Accord, there's virtually no mileage improvement - they simply added the hybrid tech to get more power with the same mileage. The Big Three aren't the only ones who tailor their cars to asshole Americans.

And that gets to the thing that has bugged me most about progressive blog commentary on the auto bailout (aside from the fact that it's dominated by people who clearly have never given a thought to the industry - or possibly any heavy industry - before). It's in the twin concepts that the Big 3 "make cars people don't want" and evilly sell gas guzzlers. First of all, plenty of people want to buy Detroit autos - even in 2007, most cars sold in America were American nameplates*. Toyota sales are actually down more than Ford's. But the Pauline Kaels of the blogosphere don't know anyone who wants to buy a Chevy, so QED.

But more important than that, the market has favored American and American-style cars (the Camry gets worse mileage than an Impala, and is just as much a highway yacht* as a Crown Vic). Every few years, one of the Big 3 brings over one of their European models that align precisely with the tastes of liberals, and they always tank. The reasons for this are many and complicated, but the bottom line is that Detroit has, by and large, been selling Americans the American cars that Americans want to buy. Their biggest problem has been the legacy of the 70s and 80s - an outdated reputation for poor quality and all those legacy costs. There have been active management errors as well, to be clear, but the reason that they're in trouble now is that for years they couldn't profit on most of their models - to sell a Grand Am at a price competitive with, say, an Altima, they had to skimp on finishes or engineering, because their built-in costs were higher than Nissan's, and they had to compete on value, not quality (because no one listened to the quality message - Buicks are better-built than Acuras, but I would imagine no one here knows or believes that).

As a result, the companies don't have the cash to weather this storm - everyone's getting clobbered, but Detroit just emptied their savings accounts to (finally) pay off their legacy costs, once and for all.

* And it's not rentals anymore - the Big 3 are largely out of that business
** Dynamics-wise


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:38 PM
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re: 66

Nah, the cars I have in mind are as big as the Prius and quite a bit nicer.

I presume there's a tech leapfrogging process going on and the ongoing development of cleaner more efficient diesels will spur hybrid development and vice versa.

My point was just that the current generation of hybrids -- the Prius, etc -- actually don't score anything like as well as you'd think when compared to the new generation of diesels.

Presumably the next generation of hybrids will be a big step forward again.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:40 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:41 PM
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31 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:44 PM
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87 - My concern is that getting congress involved too deeply at too early a stage potentially has congress picking technical winners and losers rather than letting things shake out on their own. I'm all in favor of things like CAFE standards though I think companies ought to be able to sell CAFE credits. The danger is in too tightly restricting the range of engineering options so that technologies end up sidelined.

SUVs are bad, but from a corporate R&D perspective they are a smart place to start with experimentation, both for the engineering reasons I gave upthread and for the fact that the hybrid SUV niche is (or at least recently was) unfilled, whereas the small commuter hybrid niche already had two competitors. Going with the SUV avoids fighting Toyota (and now Honda) on their own turf.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:45 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 12:57 PM
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94: Right, I think we pretty much agree on why the hybrid SUV market is developing.... I just think the overall SUV impact is really pretty bad for a number of reasons


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 1:01 PM
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90: We're in the market for a new car, probably sometime in the spring, and we're looking on the teeny-tiny car end of the market, and the tops of the #25 lists are Hondas, Toyotas, VWs. Then Kias, Hyundais and Nissans. And then somewhere comes the Cobalt.

Now, the thing is, for us, like most people, it's a major purchase to buy a car. And in my personal case, every car I've owned has been American, and every car I've owned has been a piece of shit that nickel-and-dimed me. I went without a car for five years and we only have one now because it was cheaper to buy a minivan off of shiv's cousin and move his junk down here than it was to ship it any other way.

And I hear American cars are better, but then I look at the lists, and I en't convinced.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 1:05 PM
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JRoth, I think that in 2008 the population of liberals who think Americans are all like them is exactly zero.

You say that the American car companies make the cars that Americans want to buy, and then in the next paragraph you concede that they don't. What do you think competing on value means?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 1:08 PM
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||
It's just not Christmas without Crapping Obama
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 1:54 PM
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Is there a Kobe caganer?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:03 PM
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Keep in mind that SUVs were regulated into popularity, so regulating them back out of popularity can rightly be considered restoring the natural order of things.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:08 PM
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98: Read the posts by MY and Ryan Avent on Detroit. Count the number of times they use the phrase "cars Americans want to buy." Reconcile that number with most Americans buying American nameplates.

If I told you over and over that Americans in November 2004 preferred Kerry to Bush, would you think I was insightful, or that I was in a liberal cocoon?

I'm not sure which thing I said you're calling a concession "that they don't;" I'm guessing when I talk about a Grand Am vs. an Altima. The Grand Am outsold the Altima - Americans wanted to buy it. The problem was that GM didn't make as much $$ on each Grand Am as Nissan did on each Altima*. The structural problems (ie, pension obligations) that created that situation are now largely in the past, which is why GM felt - 18 months ago, before the bottom dropped out of the car market - that they were ~3 years from being fully competitive (IOW, producing cars, like the Malibu, just as good as the competition's, while making margins comparable to the competition's).

This is part of the premise of the bailout, BTW - that, if not for the combination of anomalous oil prices**, frozen credit markets, and a 26 year crater in the car market, Detroit was on track. In lieu of the bailout, you're seeing things like Ford selling the profitable Volvo division to raise cash, which is of course stupid for the long-term viability of the company.

* When I alluded to finish and engineering, it came out in materials that turned off upscale consumers and unsophisticated engines; but the car sold well, because it was decent value for the millions who preferred what the Grand Am did offer

** As my dad, the retired oil company planner, put it, $25/bbl was artificially low, but $110 was wrong, too. GM, as constituted now, can compete at $50/bbl.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:17 PM
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Soup already said it in 85, but diesel isn't cleaner, so if you're concerned not just with mileage but with environmental impact, it's not the way to go. See for instance here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:28 PM
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97: #25 what list?

FWIW, I don't put too much stock in the Consumer Reports car listings - they're based more or less entirely on self-reporting, without any kind of statistical sampling.

That said, I wouldn't look to any American car for a subcompact, unless you count the Saturn Astra, which is an Opel (GM Europe). I've read a number of good things about the Cobalt, but I don't know that it'll last 150k. I loved my Saturn SL2 (150k trouble-free miles, then 33k increasingly troubled miles; but I drove the hell out of that thing), but they don't make 'em anymore, so....

Personally, I'm a VW driver - I don't much care to drive American or Japanese cars as a group - but I don't think that says anything about the competitiveness of Detroit.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:30 PM
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Maybe you know lots of unusually dumb liberals, but obviously the Big 3 sell lots of cars to Americans. Did anyone think otherwise?

And not to get all Econ 101-y, but how else would supply and demand work? It's not like the auto companies are making bags of shit -- they're making cars. I currently have a Toyota, but there's some price at which I would buy a GM car.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:34 PM
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Toyotas are great cars, almost no maintenance needed.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:42 PM
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103: Not to really dispute the bottom line of your linked article, but it does a lot of annoying and borderline-dishonest switching back and forth between talking about CO2, "Black Carbon," and effective emissions. First, it's CO2 per gallon, where diesel is worse. Then, when diesel's CO2 per mile (which is the only relevant # anyway) is better than gasoline's, you're supposed to look at Black Carbon. When you add the filters to reduce the Black Carbon, it's back to CO2.

The later numbers finally get to apples and apples, but I was annoyed by the spin.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:45 PM
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Maybe you know lots of unusually dumb liberals, but obviously the Big 3 sell lots of cars to Americans. Did anyone think otherwise?

As I say, read Yggles and Avent. They started from the premise that "Detroit can't make cars that Americans want to buy" and went from there. Of course they would say, "Well, I didn't mean that literally," but the reason to keep repeating something like that is to color the subsequent discussion. It's like talking about "abortion on demand" - not a phrase you use repeatedly if you're interested in honest discussion.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:49 PM
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107: Yeah, in general Climate Progress tends to be informative but only if you see past Romm's belligerence toward people who disagree with him and read carefully for the relevant numbers. I think the upshot here is that the black carbon from diesel is bad enough to offset the advantage in CO2 emissions, and I think I've read a better explanation of this somewhere else, but I don't have the time to try to dig it up right now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 2:49 PM
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My Michigan friends use to key foreign cars when they were in high school. Or knew kids that did.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:05 PM
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97: "American car" is a slippery definition. You can buy a Toyota that's UAW-made in the USA and a Chevy built with cheap, non-union labor in Mexico. The only way to tell for sure is to check the specific model and, in some cases, the VIN number. The lists for both UAW & CAW.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:05 PM
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The specifics behind the $70/hour myth:

it's a conservative myth concocted by totaling all wages, plus health and benefit costs to current workers and 450,000 retirees and their families -- and then deceptively dividing that huge total payout by the number of current UAW workers, about 140,000 in Detroit.

The $70-an-Hour Autoworker Myth: A Zombie That Just Won't Die?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:11 PM
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I think really we need to come up with some counterspin. How much of the per-car cost is dividends? How does the amount the car companies paid out in dividends compare with the amount of their health and benefit costs? Every dollar that was paid in dividends that should have been set aside to cover legacy costs is a dollar that shareholders stole.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:28 PM
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89: The DC Man. Far, far away.


Posted by: Mrs. TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:29 PM
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113: That argument has been made.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:34 PM
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115: I must go meet Daniel Gross now, so that I can have his baby. He does say that dividends are much smaller than the obligations, though.

108: I agree Yggles comments on the auto industry have been pretty lame.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:43 PM
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$70+ an hour was including all retiree benefits BEFORE the recent UAW concessions (last year, not the ones today). Post-UAW concessions, total workforce cost was $53 an hour, and as I understand it people coming on under the new labor contract will range from $25-$35 an hour (depanding on seniority). As the number of workers under the old contract declines through attrition, costs will drop toward that $25-35 level.

I'm not quite sure why we should be celebrating slashing workers pay and benefits so much, though.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:52 PM
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As my dad, the retired oil company planner, put it, $25/bbl was artificially low, but $110 was wrong, too. GM, as constituted now, can compete at $50/bbl.

GM's long-range plan contemplates restructuring around an estimated oil price of $130-$160 per barrel.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:54 PM
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114 - I am OPPOSED.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 4:09 PM
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I know! My solution is to move The Man to a more reasonable location. Unfortunately, marble is heavy, and lobbyists would ruin the view wherever they decamped.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 4:57 PM
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I remember an old "60 Minutes" in which Morley Safer informed that the US was a banana republic, but that instead of bananas it was cars. Entire economies usually don't vanish overnight, and the adjustment from the internal combustion engine will be excruciatingly slow. Having the taxpayer prop up the legacy industries seems to be shortsighted at best. But I really don't want Congress to be deciding what the new black in transportation will be.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 5:13 PM
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what the new black in transportation will be

TRAINS! With sleeper cars, I hope, because having secks in trains is the absolute best thing ever.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 5:33 PM
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So Atrios, Yglesias, Rachel Maddow, and JM are all rail junkies. Maddow actually made lewd comments about rail on national TV.

So I say, put them all on a train and see what transpires. It could be a comedy news series.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 5:36 PM
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PGD, smashing the unions is more efficient. Allowing labor collective bargaining is not Pareto optimal. What kind of economist are you?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 7:27 PM
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I'm not sure that I could ever see law enforcement shifting over to hybrids. I thought they already tended to special-order their cars to beef up the acceleration and handling, and hybrid engines tend to be too small to provide sufficient acceleration for their needs

There's talk of using hybrids, at least for some functions. I believe Honolulu is currently testing some Camry hybrids. My department actually has a Camry hybrid or two in the fleet lot painted up in police markings (with a truly hideous design, god I hope that's not the final choice), so apparently we're taking a look at them as well. Currently we use 6 cylinder Impalas.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 8:09 PM
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121: god...autos are not a "legacy industry". Tomorrow morning, step out your door and look around. What are all the streets and driveways full of? What are people getting into to go to work? THOUGHT SO.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:20 PM
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121, 126: What do you guys mean by "legacy industries"? Genuinely curious.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:23 PM
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"Legacy industries" is a neoliberal / Republican soundbite.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:26 PM
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But what do they mean by it?


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:29 PM
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"Old industries that we want to die". Republicans because they're unionized, neoliberals because...... I don't understand those neoliberal motherfuckers. I think that their idea is that the US should specialize in finance and media and get rid of everything else.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:34 PM
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The goal of neoliberals is to increase "productivity".


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:35 PM
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No matter what that means, or entails.

Kind of like how the goal of Mormons is to increase "baptisms".


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:37 PM
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John has it right. Legacy = not slick. Not fashionable. Fat ugly workers in windbreakers, fat ugly bosses with cigars. It is meant to evoke images of the buggy whip industry, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:38 PM
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133: Thanks, PGD. That's helpful.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:39 PM
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Microsoft would always designate competitors' technologies that they had marked for death as "legacy technologies".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:42 PM
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135: The iPod comes to mind.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:45 PM
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I like my simile in 132. Feel free to use it on the trollblog.

As I understand it, the goal of Mormonism is to increase baptisms. Whether you do that by convincing people to join the church and therefore lead a good and moral life, or by creating new people, or by using sophisticated software to organize information on long-dead people, it's all good.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:47 PM
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The parallels to a constant search for an increase in one economic statistic are obvious.

Sprry. O a, dostracted by a stramge ;pmg=;egged bg pm tje wa;;/


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:48 PM
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136: Did they really call the iPod "legacy"? That's so awesome.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:51 PM
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ZUNE 4EVER


Posted by: OPINIONATED EARLY ADOPTER | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:52 PM
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139: Not to my knowledge did they call it that, but the Zune was one in a long line of "iPod killers".


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:54 PM
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Our family has discovered that the "washing machine" is a very effective iPod killer.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:56 PM
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There was a long line of Elvis killers too. Pat Boone, Harry Belafonte, and Fabian del Fonte are the ones I remember.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:56 PM
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143: Cheeseburgers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 9:59 PM
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Jerry Garcia too.

Keith Richard? Drugs only. Alive.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:00 PM
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They have to compare "legacy industries" to buggy *whip* manufacturers because the actual buggy industry transferred a lot of technology to the early auto (or "horseless carriage") industry, added to technological development, and thus was clearly useful.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:05 PM
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Harry Belafonte? You must be thinking of Frankie Avalon.


Posted by: Es-tonea-pesta | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:06 PM
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146: They also ignore the considerable spill overs from the buggy whip industry to the nascent S&M gear industry.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:32 PM
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I had to hang up on my father last night when he brought up the "onerous union contracts." It's possible he thought he was being funny, but I didn't stick around to find out.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:33 AM
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149: Gaaa.

I particularly enjoyed hearing a UAW guy speaking on the radio about how we could have an American auto industry or rely on China if we go to war.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:11 AM
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146: Maybe the whip producers went into sex toys or something.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:15 PM
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Corker wants UAW to take equity for VEBA funding.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:16 PM
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90:

I'm so, so late to the conversation, but what I don't understand is why my 1995 4 cylinder Toyota Camry gets, at 32 mpg high way and about 28 mpg city driving, pretty much the SAME EXACT mileage as many of the hybrids (and far better than many of the non hybrids). Is it just 4 cylinders vs. 6? How have things NOT gotten better in the last 13 years?


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:58 PM
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Late to respond, but I don't think that self propelled personal transportation devices are going to go away. And I don't mean bicycles. But the fossil fuel powered internal combustion engine won't last much longer. "Much" doing a lot of work there.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:10 PM
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