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Those damned choosy people...

Today's Boston Globe has a column by their resident asshat, Derrick Z. Jackson. And in it he touches upon something that's annoyed me for years.

Mr. Jackson says that he recently read several stories about new vehicles being sold by American automakers. More specifically, SUVs. Big, huge, gas-guzzling, SUVs.

Well over a decade ago, when electric cars first started becoming the fad, I remember reading that California had passed a law requiring that (as I recall) 5% of all the vehicles it sold be zero-emission vehicles. At the time, it was hailed as a great environmental success.

At the time, though, I figured I must be missing something. I simply could not wrap my head around one simple question: you can mandate that a company offer a certain product, but how the hell do you force them to sell a certain number of them? In our economic system, it is the buyers that make the choices. I had images of government bureaucrats calling up GM and telling them that they could not send any more cars into California until they sold another 20 electric cars.

The ultimate solution turned out to be not sticks, but carrots: auto makers and state officials had to collaborate on "bribing" consumers into taking the electric cars, using steep discounts (even selling at a loss) and tax incentives to take the cars.

Now, years later, I see my fundamental question remains unanswered by Mr. Jackson and others of his ilk: automakers can make and offer economic vehicles (I've driven and owned some), but they simply can't MAKE people buy them. The only thing they can do is to make the vehicles that people will want to buy -- or, at least, believe they will want to buy. And right now, that's big, huge, gas-guzzling SUVs.

That's fading fast, as I have been expecting for a couple of years, hastened by a combination of higher gas prices (slightly falling now, but still well above what they were in years past) and attacks of that rarest of commodities, common sense. But still a lot of people want their SUVs, and don't care about the terrible mileage they get.

Here's a little secret: if enough people want something, they'll get it. If they can't get their GMC Gargantua or Ford Juggernaut, they'll buy the closest they can -- and it won't be a Ford or a GMC.

The automakers will stop making those behemoths right after they realize there aren't buyers for them all. And in the meantime, all the scolding and hand-wringing by twits like Jackson won't change a damned thing.

The rallying cries of the pro-choice crowd seem to fit here: "Don't like SUVs? Don't buy one!" and "I'm pro-choice and I drive a Hummer H2!" are natural adaptations.

But I forget. "Choice" is only for certain matters. It's far too hefty a power to be entrusted to the people when it comes to what kinds of vehicles to drive, or whether or not to own a gun, or where their children should go to school...


Comments (49)

The funny thing is that wha... (Below threshold)
cirby:

The funny thing is that what people really need in many cases is a station wagon, but they bought much bigger vehicles because station wagons were what their mom and dad drove, and there weren't very many good full-size wagons on the market. Tax breaks for commercial vehicles didn't help matters, either.

I have to agree with JT on ... (Below threshold)
memyselfI:

I have to agree with JT on this without reservation. The essence of capitalism is to have the customer choose what they want to buy. This is why advertising gets so confusing. Two car makers have ( to me) identical products. Yet each one tries to be appearing better then the other. And one of the best ways to show off which car to get is to make the man( sorry but this is what I see) feel POWERFULL behind the wheel. Often escaping reality in the power of the car driving fast and hearing the engine roar. Those who have heard the power of the hybrid or the electric car will be going ( hear that......No that is the crickets)

It comes to advertising and emotional appeals. Facts are often used to justify the emotional desire to own power and control power. Millage, horse power, extra toys added on. They are meant to show the economic advantages..

Yet to me, only when the emotions want to save money and not depend on the power of a vehical ( when it is seen as a tool and not an image,) will major changes been done for our enviroment and our economy

The "choices" of owning a g... (Below threshold)

The "choices" of owning a gun, drivng an SUV, or picking the school for one's children aren't useful to the left because it doesn't result in gaining more control over the American population.

Abortion, on the other hand, let some very racist people start eliminating the "inferior" races (mostly blacks at the time), all while making said "inferior" races think the racists were their saviors and thus vote for them. Quite clever, if you think about it.

SilverBubble : You got it r... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

SilverBubble : You got it right, but there was some unintended results also. The drive to eleminate a race by convincing them to abort their offspring spread to the racist pushing the idea. Now if it stays on course there will be no democrats in three generations. ROFL
No you demorats don't get your shorts in a knot, this is proven by the birth rate by political party, but you do need to untie the knot in your ba**s or grow some. Your leadership has proven the party to be the cowards of the world, their action say so.

As if "choice" could not be... (Below threshold)
Jim Jenal:

As if "choice" could not be influenced by external forces? Check out "Who Killed the Electric Car?" for a little insight into what happened, sadly, in California.

That said, I would imagine that the author of this post is not opposed to limiting some choices -- such as the use of illegal drugs or the choice to sneak across the border without documentation. I would also imagine that the author -- and forgive me if I unduly generalize here -- would point to consequences of those acts as a basis for limiting, or even prohibiting, the exercise of those choices.

The truth is, the consequences of our consumption of fossil fuels is a far greater threat than drugs or illegal immigration. The problem is, the changes are slower in coming and more gradual in their effects. That does not make them non-existent, however. The world -- politically, environmentally, and economically -- cannot tolerate all the world's population consuming fossil fuels at the rate that we do. Yet China is headed there fast and a blinders-on, "stay the course" approach that falsely talks about choices will not improve on that future.

"Real" choices -- that dial back our egos with our consumption -- may seem "unamerican" to some. To others, it is simply the way forward.

Regards...

SUV's are popular not becau... (Below threshold)
kwqjth13uh3:

SUV's are popular not because people like big gas guzzlers. They are a consequence of child safety laws. If you have to move kids, the only vehicles you can legally haul them in now-a-days is a huge gas guzzler.

Check out "Who Killed th... (Below threshold)
cirby:

Check out "Who Killed the Electric Car?" for a little insight into what happened, sadly, in California.

...and check out all of the various critiques of this little film for what the real story was.

Basically, the whole premise of WKtEC is flawed, and the claims made in the movie are the opposite of what really happened (GM built a machine that was state of the art of the time but which was really inadequate for what it needed to do to be practical).

If the GM EC were a true commercial product, it wouldn't have even made it to production, and the demand for the GMEC was low even with the massive subsidies in price.

Couple of things. Driving a... (Below threshold)
muirgeo:

Couple of things. Driving a car is not a right its a privilege. In a democratic society we have a right to decide basic standards of the cars to be sold and driven on our roads.

You here gloss over the fact that SUV's were exempted from the same efficiency standards as regular auto's and likewise for safety issues SUV's had an exception. Both these exceptions made them less costly to the consumer who bought them and more costly to those who didn't. I bought the most fuel efficient 4wd vehicle I could find at the time, A 2000 Subaru Forester. The exemptions for SUV's was in effect a subsidy for those who have no sense of social responsibility to disproportionately pollute my kids air, increase the danger to me in a collision, increase the demand for gas (and thus the price I pay and increase our countries vulnerability and oil dependence) and contribute to global warming.

Further I might conspiratorially suggest, but with good evidence, that electric cars failed not for lack of consumer demand but because the car and oil companies that control our policies and such issues saw them as a huge threat to their profits.

If we truly had a government of, by and for the people unhindered by corporatism I think electric cars would have been the standard by now not the exception and our country would be in a much better way then it now is.

One more thing for the sad people who find "a powerful" automobile more of a statement then a socially conscious decision directed at what's best for your kids and countries future the electric automobile will silently blow the doors of any of the best current noisy polluting gas hogs.

See;

http://www.teslamotors.com/index.php?js_enabled=1

"I would imagine that the a... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

"I would imagine that the author of this post is not opposed to limiting some choices -- such as the use of illegal drugs or the choice to sneak across the border without documentation."

I suppose that *consumer* choices never entered into the thought process before you bleated did it? Its *my* choice to drive a car that gets 15 MPG when I baby the pedal and a whole lot less when I don't. It's *my* choice where and how I spend my money for gas, tires, oil and the vehicle. Its not up to the goverment to 'incentivise' my choices which have so obviously failed.

Illegal 'choices' that you present are a derail to the subject at hand and are poor comparisons.

Thanx for playing, come back when you get clued in Jim.

Gmac --Interesting... (Below threshold)
Jim Jenal:

Gmac --

Interesting point -- I'm reminded of the old saw about your right to swing your fist stops at the point of my nose. If the only consequence of your "choice" to buy and drive an absurdly inefficient vehicle was to deplete your wallet, I suspect none of us would care.

It is the imposition of consequences upon the rest of us to which we take exception.

Regards...

I second what Jim Jenal jus... (Below threshold)
muirgeo:

I second what Jim Jenal just posted. Good job!

We are a democracy and that means the people not corporations should decide which cars we will drive and what standards they should meet.

At every turn the conservative position undermines government "OF, BY and FOR" the people in favor of corporate rule.

That's not democratic and its not supportive of free and fair markets.

muirgeo I buy my car for my... (Below threshold)
cubanbob:

muirgeo I buy my car for my benefit not yours.
electric cars are not practical as yet, so far no one has invented light weight energy dense batteries. When you see a full featured lap top computer running a full complement of programs for 12 hours on a battery, then you will see practical electrical cars. Then I will buy my luxury battery powered SUV. Until then. I'll drive my nice large safe for the family gasoline powered SUV.

If the only consequence ... (Below threshold)
cirby:

If the only consequence of your "choice" to buy and drive an absurdly inefficient vehicle was to deplete your wallet, I suspect none of us would care.

...and the people who choose to buy absurdly light, underpowered vehicles which impede traffic aren't an issue?

I ride a bicycle. Can I get some regulatory relief to force all of those car drivers to get even smaller cars, and limit them to 15 MPH or so? How about forcing them to ride motorcycles or mopeds unless they have a pressing need for carrying cargo or passengers?

SUV's are popular not be... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

SUV's are popular not because people like big gas guzzlers. They are a consequence of child safety laws. If you have to move kids, the only vehicles you can legally haul them in now-a-days is a huge gas guzzler.

[laughter]

Ah, yes, the "The Government Made Me Buy A Hummer" crock of shit.

I've heard this "argument" before, and it's ridiculous; most of the road-clogging behemoths I get stuck behind have a driver and *no* passengers.

SS

I've heard this "argumen... (Below threshold)
cirby:

I've heard this "argument" before, and it's ridiculous; most of the road-clogging behemoths I get stuck behind have a driver and *no* passengers.

I don't know why you didn't notice this, but since those "behemoths" are legal for street use, they only take one lane, and since most of them have sufficient power, they're seldom slowing down traffic behind them. The cars I see "clogging" the roads are the little bitty economy cars, which can barely get out of their own way.

...and it's funny. I hear the complaints about these big empty vehicles, but the ones I see either have one or more passengers, or are going to pick up one or more passengers, or are full of stuff below the door line.

It's also pretty much impossible to have a vehicle that's big enough for maximum loads (picking the kids up at school then going by the grocery store) yet small enough for only the driver all of the rest of the time. Even with high gas prices, it's not really efficient to have two vehicles for one purpose (driving around a limited area in a city).

Of course, then you'd complain about the "wasteful" people who have "too many cars."

I just love the 'driving is... (Below threshold)

I just love the 'driving is a privilege' crap. Right up there with "You don't NEED to own that".

I damn well have a right to move myself around in the manner I choose, and I'm sick of it being described as a 'privilege'.

"One more thing for the sad people who find "a powerful" automobile more of a statement then a socially conscious decision directed at what's best for your kids and countries future the electric automobile will silently blow the doors of any of the best current noisy polluting gas hogs."

Guess what? I don't buy a car or firearm or house or whatever as a 'socially conscious decision'. You show me an electric car that will hold the loads I sometimes need to carry, for at least 250 miles at highway speeds without recharging AND is actually affordable, and I'll consider it. Until then, bite me.

"the electric automobile will silently blow the doors of any of the best current noisy polluting gas hogs." Not in this universe it won't. And I'm curious: what power source are you planning on to produce all the electricity needed to recharge all those batteries? Nuclear, gas, coal or oil-fired plants? 'Cause you're sure as hell not going to get that additional power from a solar cell on your roof or a little windmill in your backyard.

"I just love the 'driving i... (Below threshold)
muirgeo:

"I just love the 'driving is a privilege' crap. Right up there with "You don't NEED to own that".

I damn well have a right to move myself around in the manner I choose, and I'm sick of it being described as a 'privilege'."


Posted by: Firehand

No you don't have a right to drive a car if you're 14 years old, have too many violations, have big metal spiked tires.....and I would add...you shouldn't be able to drive an SUV unless it meets the same fuel efficiency standards as regular cars.

"Guess what? I don't buy a ... (Below threshold)
muirgeo:

"Guess what? I don't buy a car or firearm or house or whatever as a 'socially conscious decision'. "

Posted by: Firehand


Right and that's what bank robbers and axe murderers say about why they rob banks and axe murder people. And that's why we have laws to protect banks and people from being hacked up. And laws to protect kids with asthma as well as our national interest from people who will only worry about what's good for themselves and not about how their actions effect others and our country as a whole.

" You show me an electric c... (Below threshold)
muirgeo:

" You show me an electric car that will hold the loads I sometimes need to carry, for at least 250 miles at highway speeds without recharging AND is actually affordable, and I'll consider it. Until then, bite me."


Posted by: Firehand


Wow every time you get in the car you have a full load and go 250 miles??? That's too bad for you because for most people over 90% of their trips are easily with in the range of an electric auto.

The problem is electric auto's are so efficient and need so little maintenance that they would cut big into the auto and gas industries profits.

But since there are enough people like you who are happy to have their democracy subservient to corporate interest no electric autos are available for the many people like me who would like to have them. Hopefully Tesla Motors will be the beginning of a very successful business that puts the big three out of business and gives the treasonous oil companies the equivalent of a solid kick to the groin.

I don't know why you did... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

I don't know why you didn't notice this, but since those "behemoths" are legal for street use, they only take one lane, and since most of them have sufficient power, they're seldom slowing down traffic behind them. The cars I see "clogging" the roads are the little bitty economy cars, which can barely get out of their own way.

I didn't "notice this" because it's an utter load of horseshit.

First off, pound-for-pound, sensibly-sized automobiles are vastly more "powerful" than all but the most extreme monstrosities - and even then, a sports car is far and away more powerful than even these. Have you ever heard of something called a "horsepower-to-weight" ratio? I knew you hadn't.

Secondly, you've apparently never seen some fat suburban sloan trying to execute a 67-point turn to get her even fatter behemoth into a parking spot. I've watched things *grow* waiting for some pear-shaped bint to get her liner docked. In other words, not every "road" is some gigantic interstate highway, and that's where small, zippy cars come into their own. In fact, now that I think about it, no SUV that's ever been made can beat my responsible little car in any sort of race you can imagine - on *any* street, lane, or highway.

Thirdly, you didn't address the point at hand at all; the theory that "government safety rules" force people with children to choose some elephantine steel nightmare is at best dubious, at worst fuckwitted.

Here's what I think should happen; we should have two kinds of gasoline. Small, responsible vehicle gasoline, and fucking stupid behemoth gasoline. SRV gas would cost market price, while FSB gasoline would come with a $3.00 surcharge. And the hose for the cheaper gas won't fit into your idiotic mastodon. That would solve the main problem with dumbasses who drive these ridiculous obscentities; *their* foolish excess demand driving up the price of gasoline for everyone.

SS

If the Govt of California m... (Below threshold)
KMChina:

If the Govt of California mandated that all Govt cars purchased had to be zero-emission, then they would reach 5%...Ill convert when all those who passed the law and currently enjoy driving around in Towncars and Caddy SUV`s convert...Leadership is about leading, not dictating to others how they should live....Yet another example of the "do as I say, not as I do" left.....

The problem is electric ... (Below threshold)
cirby:

The problem is electric auto's are so efficient and need so little maintenance that they would cut big into the auto and gas industries profits.

Not from current models, or with any recent experience that anyone has had with them.

For the first 100,000 miles or so, most modern internal-combustion engined cars need very little maintenance, for that matter. Gasoline cars need much less "maintenance" in the form of not having to plug them in for several hours every day, to boot. The electric vehicles that have been produced up to now need the same sort of tuneups and repairs that regular cars need, just in different ways. The extreme-life claims for battery packs, for example, are just flat not true.

You also have the extremely important problem of not being able to recharge electric cars with our existing energy grid. If only a few percent of people in Los Angeles tried using electrics, for example, they'd have rolling blackouts.


Everytime I read comments b... (Below threshold)

Everytime I read comments by sniveling whining crying little environmentalist wackos I'm even more proud of buying my truck a couple of months ago. As I go off to work at the restaurant I own in a few minutes I'll smile the whole way knowing that being alone in my big old truck drives these left wing lunatics insane.

First off, pound-for-pou... (Below threshold)
cirby:

First off, pound-for-pound, sensibly-sized automobiles are vastly more "powerful" than all but the most extreme monstrosities

Ah, but that's not what you're demanding. If you want fuel-efficient cars, you have to make compromises, and power to weight ratio is one of them (or a huge increase in price for more of both). I can beat most of the "ultra" cars off the line with my bicycle, for example. Big SUVs are not, for the most part, underpowered. They have reasonable-sized engines for their mass, and accelerate just like "normal" cars. You wanted efficient cars, not "sorta" efficient ones. So you're stuck with a four-cylinder microcar, not a Taurus with a six cylinder.

Secondly, you've apparently never seen some fat suburban sloan trying to execute a 67-point turn to get her even fatter behemoth into a parking spot.

Yes, I have. they drive just like the same idiots who drive regular cars to get into the same spot, it's just that some people with silly political views only notice the big vehicles doing it.

Have you not noticed the small cars that have trouble getting up to speed on a highway ramp? I do. Most of the modern generation of high MPG cars are slow compared to everything else out there (I used to blow right past them with my 30 year old VW Bug).

Thirdly, you didn't address the point at hand at all; the theory that "government safety rules" force people with children to choose some elephantine steel nightmare is at best dubious, at worst fuckwitted.

Actually, that's someone else's bad point, not mine. It's stupid government MPG rules that caused people to buy SUVs instead of the more-reasonable station wagons they really need, instead of the half-assed and flimsy small wagons and "five doors" that got foisted off on them due to stupid government fleet mileage requirements.

Here's what I think should happen; we should have two kinds of gasoline. Small, responsible vehicle gasoline, and fucking stupid behemoth gasoline. SRV gas would cost market price

Now, that's just stupid. Why should the government create such a silly punitive tax, when tthe people with big vehicles are already paying more for using more gas? It's not like everyone's sucking government-owned gasoline out of a big gas pond for free.

If I demanded a new "car tax" so that people would get their smelly, oversized four wheel vehicles off the road in favor of two-wheeled vehicles, you'd complain, and rightly so, even though even a moderately fast motorcycle gets 60+ MPG...

"I've heard this "argument"... (Below threshold)
Dave:

"I've heard this "argument" before, and it's ridiculous; most of the road-clogging behemoths I get stuck behind have a driver and *no* passengers"

I must agree...These big smog producing, road hogging vehicles are a waste of mother earth’s precious resources. We need a law that limits the amount of pollution spewed per passenger mile. The more a vehicle spews the higher its vehicle occupancy must be. That way we can end these frivolous trips driven by these disgusting dinosaurs. Where proof that the destructive effects which cause global warming is at least on par or lower than the pollution per passenger mile of most other vehicles they would be allowed. Come to think of it, where I live the vehicles that I always see empty are public transportation busses.
I… er… a… well… eh… oh my. It's so hot out...WHATS THE FREQENCY KENNETH...must find more tinfoil.

Ah, but that's not what ... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

Ah, but that's not what you're demanding. If you want fuel-efficient cars, you have to make compromises, and power to weight ratio is one of them (or a huge increase in price for more of both). I can beat most of the "ultra" cars off the line with my bicycle, for example. Big SUVs are not, for the most part, underpowered.

I'm not sure which part of your post is more ludicrous; the part where you let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or the part where you try to get away with setting up a false dilemma.

First off, I don't know where you got the mistaken idea that we're talking about "ultra" something-or-other cars here - I'm talking about the vast improvement in fuel efficiency you can achieve by simply buying a normal, reasonable automobile instead of a Chevy Brontosaurus. And I'm saying I can blow the fucking doors off *any* four wheel drive, power-wise - and I get 34 miles per gallon.

I can even kick the shit out of your bicycle.

Have you not noticed the small cars that have trouble getting up to speed on a highway ramp?

Nope. Never. I think you're spinning out a fantasy here to justify your ridiculous vehicle.

Why should the government create such a silly punitive tax, when tthe people with big vehicles are already paying more for using more gas?

Because oil isn't some trivial commodity like bananas or - it's a strategic national resource fraught with global economic and political implications, and only a complete fucking nitwit imagines that we can cheerfully waste it for no better reason than some pigheaded assclown gets off on dragging 5,000 lbs of steel along with him when he drives to Wal-Mart.

Sheesh.

SS

I believe it's about safety... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

I believe it's about safety. I drive a GMC Denali, because of the weight of the vehicle. It's massive weight makes it safer for me. If your electric car T boned me or hit me head on, I would not be injured. This is primarily based on the weight of the vehicle, not to mention other safety devices. Your electric car would simply crumble under my vehicle, your car is DESIGNED to do that, and for that I thank you.

As for the gas, it's just a luxury tax for living and being safe.

Be careful this weekend in all your travels.

GM's EV 1 failed for the sa... (Below threshold)
Corky Boyd:

GM's EV 1 failed for the same reason all electric cars have failed since the early twentieth century. They simply aren't practical. Range problems are one reason, but more importantly it is the impossibility of "refueling" the car during a trip. If you are picking up your mother-in-law at the airport and you see the low charge light come on, you can't just drop into a gas station and top off the tank. Full charges took 8 hours and 80% charges 2-3 hours. Sorry mother-in-law, I'll be a little late picking you up!

Never addressed was another real problem. CARB mandated 2% and ultimately 10% of sales to be electrics (ZEVs). As you point out requiring someone to sell is a far piece from getting someone to buy.

But a further point is California state law prohibits auto manufacturers from selling directly to the public, only factory franchised dealers can. Now what does the manufacturer do, cram 10% EVs down the dealers' throats and make it their problem? Hardly!

Dealers are alley fighters and wouldn't stand for it. But this was the only way the manufacturers could operate.

Ultimately it was a federal court decision that doomed the electric car (ZEV) in California. But even without the decision, CARB realized their mandate was unworkable. They repeatedly delayed its implementation. The courts just spared them the embarrassment.

Muirgeo, you're an idiot. ... (Below threshold)

Muirgeo, you're an idiot. You compare not choosing your vehicle by 'socially conscious' standards(yours) with armed robbery, etc.

Let's see, no I don't have the big load every time. So I guess you're suggesting I buy a 'socially conscious' electric toy for all the other times? Gee, must be nice to be made of money. People buy a vehicle that, overall, takes care of their needs, and a truck takes care of my four-wheeled needs. For the other, as weather allows, I have a motorcycle.

Oh, but it's not electric, so I guess that means I don't care about your kid's asthma.

SS, so far as safety, I know a number of law enforcement officers. Many of them drive either a truck or an SUV because they don't trust a dinky car to keep them and their family as safe as a solid vehicle with a steel frame. Which leaves out your nice, fuel-efficient and enviroweenie-approved toy.

"Have you not noticed th... (Below threshold)
cirby:

"Have you not noticed the small cars that have trouble getting up to speed on a highway ramp?"

Nope. Never. I think you're spinning out a fantasy here to justify your ridiculous vehicle.

In that case, there's no possibility arguing rationally with you, since you're either completely blind or totally insane.

By the way: my "ridiculous vehicle" was a VW Super Beetle, until I got rid of it. I'm bicycle and public transport only right now.

Which means that in the "holier than thou" sweepstakes, I can demand that you give up your fuel-wasting hunk of metal.


Perhaps it is too much to h... (Below threshold)
Jim Jenal:

Perhaps it is too much to hope that the ad hominem could be left out of the discussion?

I do not discount the utility in trucks and other large, fuel in-efficient vehicles. (I do not own a truck, but there are always a couple of times a year when I wish I owned one.) If you have a business that requires such capacity, the truck is a necessity, not a luxury. That said, there are ways to have utility and efficiency -- bio-diesel to name one.

But other posters are correct -- according to Federal Highway Admin stats, *most* trips are well within the range of an electric vehicle's range. The later EV1's with the better batteries got more than 100 miles range -- more than enough to drive downtown to work, trek to LAX to pick up Grannie, and make it back home with miles to spare. The Tesla -- which was cited earlier -- reportedly will get 250 miles per charge. (No, I am not suggesting that a $100k two-seater is a "people's car" -- just that practical range is not a technological limitation.)

Corky -- I do not know the case to which you allude -- could you please provide a cite? I would be willing to guess that the Plaintiff is either WSPA or an automaker.

Someone else asked how are you going to charge you EV in an environmentally responsible way. Easy, two choices available to almost everyone. First, a solar power system is a reasonable way to go, particularly given that most states -- particularly CA but many others -- have substantial rebate programs to offset initial expense and net metering to offset operational costs. These systems have 20+ year lifetimes and make sense for a broad range of consumers.

The second is to purchase "green" energy from your utility. For example, most utilities in CA will allow you to pay a marginal increase in your per/kwh charge (25% with my utility) to purchase only green energy (i.e., non-fossil fuel).

Now not everyone can afford these "choices" -- as the "made of money" poster observed. Having spent many years on the lower end of the socio-economic curve (thanks to years as a teacher and in other non-profits) I appreciate the limitations of real-world economics. But frankly, in my experience, poor people are not driving SUVs.

Oh, and the "safety" argument is a bit of a canard. The only reason you need to drive an SUV is to protect yourself from people driving SUVs. Get rid of SUVs, replace them with equally "considerate" vehicles (including way more fuel efficient station wagons) and the safety argument goes away. Besides, if we take that argument to its logical conclusion we would all have to be driving tanks. (To which some SUVs, and Hummers in particular, are a good, first-order approximation.)

Take a breath, take a step back and consider. You love your kids. You want to keep them safe. Certainly laudable -- I'm with you. But don't you also want them to have a future and one for their children as well? Must your present choices be indifferent to their future, out of concern for their present? I don't think so. I think there is a better way. It requires humility, which for some reason seems these days to be questioned -- as if it were not sufficiently manly, not sufficiently American.

I do not think our Founding Fathers were arrogant -- re-read the Declaration of Independence for an example -- but they were BOLD. That is what we need -- BOLD humility. That is the way forward.

Regards...

By the way: my "ridiculo... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

By the way: my "ridiculous vehicle" was a VW Super Beetle, until I got rid of it. I'm bicycle and public transport only right now.

Then why don't you STFU and stop giving aid and comfort to intellectual zombies who can't figure out why energy efficiency is a bigger thing - for America - than their insane desire to own and drive the largest frakking vehicle they can get their hands on?

SS

Then why don't you STFU ... (Below threshold)
cirby:

Then why don't you STFU and stop giving aid and comfort to intellectual zombies

Because I know that the "zombies" are the ones who consider people to be non-sentient things.

I drive an SUV ('95 Isuzu R... (Below threshold)
Cybrludite:

I drive an SUV ('95 Isuzu Rodeo V6) for two reasons.

1) I'm 6'3" and would need to take up yoga to get into an econobox.

2) I live in a city where a heavy reain can mean half a meter of water on the road, and I work for a hospital. I can't call in because the streets are flooded. In fact, i've driven to work for my shift in the middle of a class 1 hurricane before.

I drive an SUV ('95 Isuzu R... (Below threshold)
Cybrludite:

I drive an SUV ('95 Isuzu Rodeo V6) for two reasons.

1) I'm 6'3" and would need to take up yoga to get into an econobox.

2) I live in a city where a heavy reain can mean half a meter of water on the road, and I work for a hospital. I can't call in because the streets are flooded. In fact, i've driven to work for my shift in the middle of a class 1 hurricane before.

SS, so far as safety, I ... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

SS, so far as safety, I know a number of law enforcement officers. Many of them drive either a truck or an SUV because they don't trust a dinky car to keep them and their family as safe as a solid vehicle with a steel frame.

Run along now and tell these dumb friggin' flatfoots that the only reason this dipshit theory holds a thimble of water in the first place is that every ignorant fuck who believes it buys an even *bigger* road-elephant so he's got a better chance of killing someone else when he crashes into them.

Brilliant. Another decade of this "logic" and we'll have to drive around in fucking army tanks.

SS


Remember SUVs replaced stat... (Below threshold)
fiona:

Remember SUVs replaced station wagons because they (SUVs) were truck based and not subject to CAFE standards. US Automakers then stopped making station wagons because you can only make so many models and and the station wagons did not help with fleet standards. People bought SUVs because they had very little choice if they had a large number of people to transport, a lot of stuff, or if they needed to tow stuff.
Why do people hate vans? I would have bought a station wagon if I had had a choice (Although I am not sure there would have be any substantial gas savings), but bought a van - its mileage is not bad, based on a Camry engine, as long as 1) there is not a lot of wind 2) its not loaded. However, vans are generally less good in accidents and I would hesitate to put lots of kids in one. On the other hand, I have rolled an SUV and lived to tell about it. I live in a semi urban area and have a small 4 cylinder car for commuting - based on its responsiveness, I would think any newer car that has trouble on on-ramps has a driver, not an engine problem.
All that said, I think that if gas continues reasonably high, this problem will solve itself. Understand, that due to the high expense of new cars, this will take time. You could remediate the pollution problem faster by putting a limit on the age of cars on the road - but that would of course disproportionately affect low income folks...

SS said,Brilliant.... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

SS said,

Brilliant. Another decade of this "logic" and we'll have to drive around in fucking army tanks.

SS

They already do it's called an H2.

Run along and go take your medications. Relax, global warming has nothing to do with my driving habits, I'm not that important.


SS said,Bri... (Below threshold)
cirby:

SS said,

Brilliant. Another decade of this "logic" and we'll have to drive around in fucking army tanks.

SS

They already do it's called an H2.

Actually, the "military style" Hummer is the H1. You don't see a lot of those on the road, outside of Hollywood. I think we have a grand total of two of them here in Orlando, outside of the stretch one they use for limo service. It's going out of regular production (mostly due to address fleet mileage rules, but also because they sold less than 500 of them in the US in each of the last two years).

The H2 is moderately large, but it's really just a full-sized truck with a stylized body on it. There's also only about 100,000 of them on the road in the whole US (one for every 3,000 Americans), so they really aren't a huge contributor to the imagined "SUV problem."

The "current" Hummer is the H3, which just isn't that large for an SUV, and should get about 18 MPG on the highway.

sanssoucy, those ignorant f... (Below threshold)

sanssoucy, those ignorant flatfoots have worked more accidents involving all kinds of vehicles than you'll ever see in your life. I think it gives them a bit of perspective.

Like it or not- and you obviously don't- a small, light vehicle is less survivable in an accident. So as the man said, take your meds and calm down.

"Oh, and the "safety" argum... (Below threshold)

"Oh, and the "safety" argument is a bit of a canard. The only reason you need to drive an SUV is to protect yourself from people driving SUVs. Get rid of SUVs, replace them with equally "considerate" vehicles (including way more fuel efficient station wagons) and the safety argument goes away. Besides, if we take that argument to its logical conclusion we would all have to be driving tanks."

Bull. Two tin cans crashing into each other can trash the people in both. And I didn't speak specifically of SUVs, I said a solid vehicle with a steel frame. Unfortunately, nowadays that generally means an SUV or truck. 'Equally "considerate" vehicles'? Give me a break.

To the 'socially concious e... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

To the 'socially concious envirmentalists' who appear to be bleating that we're supposed to save the earth by driving a vehicle that doesn't destroy the enviorment and endanger our childrens futures: Go do something anatomically impossible.

You've totally missed the point. Its my choice to spend my money on whatever I desire. My choice, not your's or the goverments, mine.

You've totally missed th... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

You've totally missed the point. Its my choice to spend my money on whatever I desire. My choice, not your's or the goverments, mine.

Smoked on an airplane or in a restaurant lately, sweetie?

How's that "choice" workin' out for ya there?

[wink!]

SS

I think that if gas cont... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

I think that if gas continues reasonably high, this problem will solve itself.

Yup. Witness the ongoing disaster movies called "Ford" and "GM".

The company I work for owns a bunch of auto dealerships, and the public fled SUVs and trucks like roaches; a big downturn after Katrina, then a *huge* dropoff after the high prices this summer internalized the idea that $1.29 gas is loooooooong gone.

So enjoy your behemoths, clowns; nothing makes me smile wider than that panicky, horrified rictus that spreads across the face of some asshat when he realizes he's going to be spending $75 *every fillup* until he wises the fuck up.

SS

"Smoked on an airplane or i... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

"Smoked on an airplane or in a restaurant lately, sweetie? How's that "choice" workin' out for ya there?"

Quite well...I don't smoke. I also drive anywhere I need to go. Hope it hasn't crimped your tortured lifestyles honey.

One last time: "My money, my choices."

"Real" choices -- that d... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

"Real" choices -- that dial back our egos with our consumption -- may seem "unamerican" to some. To others, it is simply the way forward.

Would it be a Great Leap Forward? Those don't usually work out too well.

The exemptions for SUV's was in effect a subsidy for those who have no sense of social responsibility to disproportionately pollute my kids air, increase the danger to me in a collision, increase the demand for gas (and thus the price I pay and increase our countries vulnerability and oil dependence) and contribute to global warming.

Then:
1) Funny, air quality hasn't deteriorated recently. Yet SUV sales have been high. Hmmm.

2) Buy an SUV yourself. If you wish to put your kids' lives in danger, that only speaks of your issues.

3) Don't like the price of gas? Champion an increase in drilling. That'd cut the price nicely.

4) How about you prove global warming is man-made AND bad, first?

We are a democracy and that means the people not corporations should decide which cars we will drive and what standards they should meet.

But you champion the GOVERNMENT deciding what cars you drive?

Got it.

Pretty freedom-loving of you there.

No you don't have a right to drive a car if you're 14 years old, have too many violations, have big metal spiked tires.....and I would add...you shouldn't be able to drive an SUV unless it meets the same fuel efficiency standards as regular cars.

How does fuel efficiency fit in with safety concerns? I don't think environmentalists should be jetting all over the place as the rich ones do --- but I'm not about to seek to have it banned.

That whole freedom thing.

And laws to protect kids with asthma as well as our national interest from people who will only worry about what's good for themselves and not about how their actions effect others and our country as a whole.

Fascism for the sake of the kids? Nice campaign slogan there.

You can't be for "more freedom" AND support the inane propositions you do. It's fundamentally inconsistent.

Wow every time you get in the car you have a full load and go 250 miles??? That's too bad for you because for most people over 90% of their trips are easily with in the range of an electric auto.

Maybe I'd prefer to not have to plan my trip out, in detail, and pray for no traffic in the hopes of actually making it to my destination.

If you wish to do so --- you have that choice.

Just don't force your opinions and beliegs upon me.

And, no, I don't drive an SUV. I personally don't like them. But, hey, I don't get pissy about those who do.

But since there are enough people like you who are happy to have their democracy subservient to corporate interest no electric autos are available for the many people like me who would like to have them.

If there was a market for it, there'd be some.

People. Do. Not. Want. Them.

I know, freedom is a frightening concept for you.

Hopefully Tesla Motors will be the beginning of a very successful business that puts the big three out of business and gives the treasonous oil companies the equivalent of a solid kick to the groin.

And puts us in the back pocket of a different corporate entity. But, since it's one YOU like --- for no real reason, mind you --- hey, you're cool with it.

Secondly, you've apparently never seen some fat suburban sloan trying to execute a 67-point turn to get her even fatter behemoth into a parking spot. I've watched things *grow* waiting for some pear-shaped bint to get her liner docked.

Then go to a different parking slot. I've watched burn-outs in their Beetles do the same thing regularly.

In fact, now that I think about it, no SUV that's ever been made can beat my responsible little car in any sort of race you can imagine - on *any* street, lane, or highway.

Driving fast wastes gas.

Just saying.

Here's what I think should happen; we should have two kinds of gasoline. Small, responsible vehicle gasoline, and fucking stupid behemoth gasoline.

Ahh, division of the country. Seems to be a recurrent strategy of the lefties.

Because oil isn't some trivial commodity like bananas or - it's a strategic national resource fraught with global economic and political implications, and only a complete fucking nitwit imagines that we can cheerfully waste it for no better reason than some pigheaded assclown gets off on dragging 5,000 lbs of steel along with him when he drives to Wal-Mart.

Yet I have money that says you oppose drilling for the considerable amount of oil we have off the coast and in ANWR.

But other posters are correct -- according to Federal Highway Admin stats, *most* trips are well within the range of an electric vehicle's range. The later EV1's with the better batteries got more than 100 miles range -- more than enough to drive downtown to work, trek to LAX to pick up Grannie, and make it back home with miles to spare.

Provided no traffic is on the roads.

Which, from what I hear, is not a common occurence in LA.

Someone else asked how are you going to charge you EV in an environmentally responsible way. Easy, two choices available to almost everyone. First, a solar power system is a reasonable way to go, particularly given that most states -- particularly CA but many others -- have substantial rebate programs to offset initial expense and net metering to offset operational costs. These systems have 20+ year lifetimes and make sense for a broad range of consumers.

Sure. We can spend a shitload of money on a system so we can have a car with little actual driving distance on a charge and that takes numerous hours to charge up each night and drains an already overtaxed electrical grid.

Yeah, solid idea.

Oh, and the "safety" argument is a bit of a canard. The only reason you need to drive an SUV is to protect yourself from people driving SUVs. Get rid of SUVs, replace them with equally "considerate" vehicles (including way more fuel efficient station wagons) and the safety argument goes away.

So, BAN SUV'S? That's your grand plan? Ban them outright?

Also, ban those old cars with tons of metal.

And trucks.

Heck, let's just issue everyone a 1969 VW Beetle.

So enjoy your behemoths, clowns; nothing makes me smile wider than that panicky, horrified rictus that spreads across the face of some asshat when he realizes he's going to be spending $75 *every fillup* until he wises the fuck up.

Well, I guess you're big on schaudenfreude.

And if the problem is resolving itself, we need the gov't to interfere for what reason?
-=Mike

The post from "MikeSC" atte... (Below threshold)
Jim Jenal:

The post from "MikeSC" attempts to make a number of curious points -- I will only respond to those that were cut and pasted from my earlier comments.

(Side note -- clearly this is an issue that gets at folks' core views. I am glad to see people thinking thoughtfully about a very important issue, even if I disagree vehemently with some of the views expressed. The free market for ideas is alive and well here, and that, at least, is a very good thing.)

First -- drilling ANWR makes no sense -- at best 2 years of US consumption and then nothing but ecological damage. Very bad trade-off. So yes, I oppose that, but so should you.

Second -- frankly, one of the great benefits of an EV (or a good plug-in hybrid) is that "sitting" in traffic does not impact mileage since -- unlike a fossil fuel vehicle -- it does not consume energy to sit still. So even if the traffic is awful, I will still make it to Grannie -- albeit perhaps a tad late. (The light rail would have solved both problems -- we do have that in LA -- but the premise was Gannie waiting to be picked up.)

Third -- do you really, fairly, think it is the Liberals who have divided this country over the past 5 years? Compared to the present (US - for foreign readers) administration? No way the record supports such a view.

Fourth -- the solar system pumps into the grid during the daytime. You *make* money during that period of peak demand. You charge your electric vehicle during the evening, when utilities charge less for electricity (since demand is less and they now have excess capacity). At night, the grid has capacity to spare. Depending on where you live, the cost of electricity and the cost of gas, this expense pays for itself in 5 to 10 years, with zero emissions. Now if you take those numbers to be true -- and they are -- why isn't this a win-win? Step back from the ideology and just ask -- if you can power your primary vehicle for $0/mile after say ten year of amortization (with credits and rebate along the way to make the cost even lower) can't you admit that it would be a better way?

Finally -- I did not advocate banning SUVs as I recognize that for some (very limited) circumstances, they are the most efficient solution to a problem. But that said, we could convert even SUVs to plug-in hybrids and move their fuel efficiency up to 50 mpg. Why would anyone oppose that?

At the end of the day this is not about ideology. It is about enlightened self-interest. If you think your self interest is best served by paying $3.50/gal+ on a vehicle that gets 15 mi/gal, then there is nothing that I, or anyone else, can say to move you from your bunker. I wish you well.

But if you are willing to rethink this whole energy equation, then I think there is another way forward and I welcome your participation.

Regards...

Second -- frankly, one o... (Below threshold)
cirby:

Second -- frankly, one of the great benefits of an EV (or a good plug-in hybrid) is that "sitting" in traffic does not impact mileage since -- unlike a fossil fuel vehicle -- it does not consume energy to sit still.

Only if you live in a fantasy world, where you never have to run your air conditioner in the summer, or the heater during the winter. I know a few folks with hybrids, and they have a huge problem with this.

Most gas vehicles don't burn much fuel at idle, aside from the amount to keep the accessories going. Only a half a gallon or so per hour, at worst.

Unfortunately for the "charge electrics at night" crowd, while there's less demand at night, there's also a cut in supply, since that's when they take capacity offline for maintenance. You also have the big problem of having a lot of people unable to charge their cars at night, due to shift work (not to mention the problem of weekends, when people do a lot of driving). And what do you do when peak demand is still in effect, and John Q. Public gets home and plugs his car in for a good long charge (times a few hundred thousand)?

But you have to pay for it ... (Below threshold)

But you have to pay for it so i can use the time for you.




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