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Here's your next multi-billion dollar government subsidy ...

From the Los Angeles Times: "Hybrid car sales go from 60 to 0 at breakneck speed"

Americans have cut back on buying vehicles of all types as the economy continues its slide. But the slowdown has been particularly brutal for hybrids, which use electricity and gasoline as power sources. They were the industry's darling just last summer, but sales have collapsed as consumers refuse to pay a premium for a fuel-efficient vehicle now that the average price of a gallon of gasoline nationally has slipped below $2.

"When gas prices came down, the priority of buying a hybrid fell off quite quickly," said Wes Brown, a partner at Los Angeles-based market research firm Iceology. "Yet even as consumer interest declined, the manufacturers have continued to pump them out."

Last month, only 15,144 hybrids sold nationwide, down almost two-thirds from April, when the segment's sales peaked and gas averaged $3.57 a gallon. That's far larger than the drop in industry sales for the period and scarcely a better showing than January, when hybrid sales were at their lowest since early 2005.

[...]

Yet automakers believe they have little choice but to make more hybrids. Though car buyers are losing interest, politicians are pushing them as key to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and limiting the global-warming gases that cars emit into the atmosphere.

In January, President Obama called on the industry to "thrive by building the cars of tomorrow" and prepare for federal and state regulations that could push average fuel economy above 40 miles per gallon by 2020.

"The automakers are in the situation of needing to pacify politicians that are in the position to bail them out with expensive fuel-efficient cars," said Rebecca Lindland, auto analyst with IHS Global Insight. "But shouldn't it be more about satisfying the needs of the American consumer?"

Silly Rebecca. The American consumer has no idea about what is really in his best interest. Only our overlords in Washington DC truly understand the complex issues of mass transportation, personal safety, economics, and environmental sustainability necessary to produce an automobile that perfectly satisfies the needs of the American consumer while simultaneously freeing us from dependence on foreign oil and saving the planet.

For years, liberals and environmentalists have been peddling conspiracy theories about "big" industry working to keep innovative, fuel-efficient automobiles off the market. But as this story clearly illustrates, the truth is that Americans prefer dependable, well-understood technology in their cars. They want cars that are not overly expensive to repair or maintain. They also prefer them to be big enough for comfort and to provide a reasonable amount of protection in a crash. Tiny exotic cars simply fail to live up to these basic requirements.

In other words, it will take nothing short of a catastrophe to force Americans to drive hybrid or electric automobiles in large numbers. And it seems most likely at this time that such a catastrophe will be the direct result of government planning, combined with good old government mismanagement and inefficiency.

If Americans don't buy these cars voluntarily, then how will American automakers recoup the billions of dollars that they have been forced to spend on their design, manufacture, and marketing? You guessed it -- more government bailouts and subsidies -- and government contracts to purchase the vehicles, since no one else wants them. It's not a stretch to imagine Ford and GM in five years, stuck on permanent Federal government life support, shackled by the regulations and restrictions attached to the money, building eco-weenie cars that only hippies, cheap Europeans, and government agencies will buy; while foreign automakers like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, BMW, and Daimler take over the larger American consumer car market with dependable, safe, and efficient gasoline-powered automobiles.

Of course our government can avoid such a disaster by creating an entirely different one. The Federal government can (and probably will; they've already laid the groundwork for it) effectively strangle domestic oil and gas production with excess taxes and regulations. If fuel taxes are also increased, and new cents-per-mile vehicle use taxes are imposed, and gasoline is pushed back up to the $4 - $5 per gallon range, then more people will be forced to buy hybrid and electric cars. Of course the oil and gas industry will suffer another late '70's-style financial meltdown, and poor Americans will end up bearing the brunt of the new taxes. But hey, we'll all be driving tiny electric or hybrid cars!

Hope and Change!TM

Note to trolls: Yes, I know that electric cars have many advantages over gasoline powered cars. But right now, Americans do not want cars with technology that is poorly understood (by them) and expensive to maintain, no matter how advanced it is. That's the bottom line, and that's the point of this post.


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Comments (19)

Couple of points on hybrids... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Couple of points on hybrids. How come they never mention what the cost will be when you have to replace those expensive batteries?

As for Kalifornia. We've "de-regulated" electricity here, everyone was going to save a bundle. Perhaps you've heard what it did to the price? Between your wall outlet and a gas pump, I'd compare it to being between a rock and hard place.

Saw a mini-hybrid the other day. Big enough to be your coffin.

"prepare for federal and... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"prepare for federal and state regulations that could push average fuel economy above 40 miles per gallon by 2020."

In other words Obama wants to force us into wasting money on wasteful vehicles that would not exist in a free market.

I'll explain why they're wasteful in case any leftists who can't comprehend such things are reading this: If the weren't wasteful, if the saved more resources than they wasted, they'd be cheaper than conventional vehicles and people would buy them without being forced to by the government.

Of course, in a free market those that want to make a statement would still buy them. Sadly that statement is: "I am ignorant about environmental matters so I want to waste my money on something that doesn't help matters and ultimately makes things worse."

As a dyed-in-the-wool car n... (Below threshold)
ExSubNuke:

As a dyed-in-the-wool car nut, there are a couple of things that I just can't get past about the technology.

1) It takes YEARS to recoupe the costs of hybrids over thier regular gas/diesel counterparts from fuel savings.

2) Battery "baggage" (replacement costs, disposal, etc...)

Honestly, I think hybrids make a case for themselves when they're used (a la the Acura design theme) to get V-8 power out of a V-6 (or 4 cyl) with the fuel economy of the smaller engines. But as a "feel good Green" method of moving people... it's just... not logical.

The answer will be simple a... (Below threshold)

The answer will be simple and self-evident to our morally and intellectually superior members of government: Tax the heck out of gasoline (not heating fuel) until the dumb schlubs get the message. How simple! Sounds like a neat thing to do this summer. Kind of an add-on to the GM Bailout that is coming.

The Corporate Average Fuel ... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards passed 1-2 years ago by Congress have pretty much ensured everyone will drive an econobox or a hybrid.

The thing I like about hybr... (Below threshold)

The thing I like about hybrid cars, even if they don't save me a lot of money (maybe I barely break even) is the thought that I'm consuming less foreign oil. I'd prefer to send more money to Japan for a more expensive hybrid than to send more money to hostile Middle Eastern nations for expensive petroleum.

"... is the thought that I'... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"... is the thought that I'm consuming less foreign oil."

Where do you think most of that electricity that comes out of the wall socket comes from? Magic rainbow unicorns?

No, GarandFan, that would b... (Below threshold)
ExSubNuke:

No, GarandFan, that would be from the coal fields in Wyoming... or a friendly nuke plant near you (talking baseload electric grid here).

No, GarandFan, that woul... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

No, GarandFan, that would be from the coal fields in Wyoming... or a friendly nuke plant near you (talking baseload electric grid here).

Which, if The Magick TelePrompter has it's way, will both be bankrupted into non-existence.

I maevel at the hu... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:


I maevel at the huge subsidy that has been given to the American people in the form of gasoline prices, and the absolute LACK of recognizance of that subsidy.

I submit that has been orders of magnitude greater than anything realized in Porkulus.

Yeah, the bastards will sim... (Below threshold)
JB:

Yeah, the bastards will simply regulate ICE autos out of existence, I'm afraid. Let's hope full EV storage advances sufficiently in the next few years.

Oh no! The despair!<p... (Below threshold)
OD Author Profile Page:

Oh no! The despair!

The country that sent a man to the moon, liberated the world from the Nazis and won the Cold War, can't handle the electric car. Oh no, we can't understand it, it is too much.

Jesus, please save us from having to learn too much.

The government won't be hap... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

The government won't be happy when they finally get everyone in a hybrid car. When gas consumption goes down, so does the government's tax revenue. So anyone who thinks they're saving money by driving a hybrid is in for a rude awakening. More than one state is already considering implementing a tax charging drivers by the mile.

People, people. Listen to y... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

People, people. Listen to your betters and submit. Resistance is futile. We're only trying to protect you from your own jealously defended ignorance! Trust us. We know what's best for you. Since you refuse to assimilate without encouragement from your friends in Washington, we'll just have to make some of these choices for you. You'll thank us later.

Silly conservatives.

Electric and hybrid (which ... (Below threshold)

Electric and hybrid (which means not-fully-electric-because-the-technology-ain't-ready-yet) cars are still a novelty, and don't deserve government mandate. Until the kinks are worked out, and the infrastructure is developed and in place, and it gets cheap and simple to maintain, and people can finally stop having the hybrid cure-all shoved down their throats, and electric cars can compete with combustion cars and win based on product superiority, THEN people will buy them in droves.

If the government had tried to take away paper pads in the '80s and forced everybody to buy a Newton instead because it would save the trees, people would just stop writing things down at all.

For an innovation to succeed, It has to be market-driven and organic. Forcing people to abandon tried-and-true if messy older technologies, before the replacement technologies have taken their place, will NEVER encourage innovation. Rather, it will be "welfare for ideas."

That's why the USSR had to steal all its technology from us, and why they eventually folded.

And where is all this electricity to charge these cars supposed to come from? Space? Antimatter converters? Dilithium crystals? The national grid is already overburdened and not even equipped to deal with a standard hot day in August. How would it power the entire nation's driving habits? Especially with nuclear off the table, which is the case if you close Yucca Mountain.

Stupid policies. Stupid voters. Hope and Change.™

For an innovation ... (Below threshold)
OD Author Profile Page:
For an innovation to succeed, It has to be market-driven and organic. Forcing people to abandon tried-and-true if messy older technologies, before the replacement technologies have taken their place, will NEVER encourage innovation. Rather, it will be "welfare for ideas."

That's why the USSR had to steal all its technology from us, and why they eventually folded.

Check your facts, Korla.

The technology that the USSR had to steal was space-related, Internet and nuclear energy. All of it was funded by the US Government.

If you leave it to the forces of the marketplace we would've never had nuclear weapons, Internet, the space program, etc.

So, let me ask you all this -- next time gas hits $4-$5/gallon and it is time for you to buy a car, are you planning on buying Chinese, Korean or Japanese hybrid ? Pick one, because with your valuable opinions taken into the account the American car companies will continue making the trucks and SUVs... You know, simple things that conservatives can understand.

>The technology that the US... (Below threshold)

>The technology that the USSR had to steal was space-related, Internet and nuclear energy. All of it was funded by the US Government.

If you want to go back to using ArpaNet, that is fine. But without the private sector and COMPETITION to drive it, there never would have been a pool of innovative and driven geniuses to create it all. Without Bell Labs, without Apple Computer, without Thomas Edison, we would still be waiting for the Government to come up with a replacement for the Pony Express.

>If you leave it to the forces of the marketplace we would've never had nuclear weapons, Internet, the space program, etc.

Well, we would have had the Internet if the government didn't have strict control over the creation of infrastructure. Again, this was a case of the government being in the way of progress. ArpaNet was a closed system until private enterprise was allowed to take it over and turn it into a killer app.

The space program and the nuclear weapons you are so fond of were part of the military buildup of the Cold War and WWII. That was invented by the government because they would certainly not allow a private citizen to even try it. But if they did, and there was a profit to make, you better believe it would have been done, and more efficiently.

You also may have noticed that private enterprise has finally gotten involved with getting a private space program going. They have to, since your beloved big government can't seem to progress past the super-expensive, dangerous and clunky shuttle program. The shuttle design is, what, 40-years old now? Bureaucracy on the march! Ironically, it was the bureaucracy at NASA that destroyed the Challenger, not the design.

>So, let me ask you all this -- next time gas hits $4-$5/gallon and it is time for you to buy a car, are you planning on buying Chinese, Korean or Japanese hybrid ?

It would never reach that level if your dumbass commie congress and token "historic" president would not put so many obstacles in the drilling and refining of oil. But your way of thinking is so punitive that we all must suffer for our own good.

So, smartass, how is the country supposed to power up a national fleet of electric cars? Do you really think the grid can handle it, and Al Gore's giant house, too?

Korla:Let me take ... (Below threshold)
OD Author Profile Page:

Korla:

Let me take you on one issue at a time.

It would never reach that level if your dumbass commie congress and token "historic" president would not put so many obstacles in the drilling and refining of oil. But your way of thinking is so punitive that we all must suffer for our own good

First, at the current oil price levels it is not even profitable for oil companies to explore the areas they are allowed to drill already. But lets set that aside.

Second, oil is sold on world markets. Just because United States starts pumping 100K barrels of oil per day it may drop gas prices by maybe 10-20 cents at most. Do you really expect multinational oil majors to be patriotic and only sell within the US borders at bargain prices ?

So, smartass, how is the country supposed to power up a national fleet of electric cars? Do you really think the grid can handle it, and Al Gore's giant house, too?

I see, you must be part of the un-American population that never finished high school, since you don't understand simple things like hydrogen fuel cells... You can't even imagine a possibility of a CNG car or an ethanol car. In other words, you are a typical Conservative who is stuck in his ways and lacking in imagination. Good luck, you just made the dying segment of the population list.

You don't have to charge off the grid to generate electricity. Hydrogen and CNG for fuel cells can come from in-house natural gas grid, such that you can fill up your car while it is parked in your garage.

It make come as a shock but hybrid technology has been around for awhile and is proven to be more efficient. Without mentioning the fleet of hybrid GM buses that NYC and other cities operate, you can try and research how railroad locomotives work.

You see, with locomotives they found it is far more efficient to have electric motors at each axle and have a smaller diesel engine generate electricity for them. Chevy Volt works in a similar way, where the drivetrain is electric but a much smaller ICE is used to generate electricity to supplement off-the-grid charge.

I see, you must be... (Below threshold)
I see, you must be part of the un-American population that never finished high school, since you don't understand simple things like hydrogen fuel cells... You can't even imagine a possibility of a CNG car or an ethanol car. In other words, you are a typical Conservative who is stuck in his ways and lacking in imagination. Good luck, you just made the dying segment of the population list.

No, you are the typical leftist who wants to destroy the economy by forcing everybody to adapt to technologies that have not yet reached maturity. You want people to stop usng gasoline RIGHT NOW.

But I haven't seen these hydrogen cell cars on the market just yet. I haven't seen hydrogen refueling stations. Fusion plants aren't on line, and won't be for a century.

What are people supposed to do until these things evolve? According to you, they should be forced, by the panicking global warming hoaxers, to destroy their way of life by adapting whatever half-assed and super-expensive product is being pushed as the next savior of Mother Gaia. We won't have incandescent bulbs because of the stupid blind panic of the greenies. But we will have lots of mercury poisoning as a result.

My main point still stands: these types of innovations, as great as they may be, have to happen organically. If the government steps in and mandates technological decisions, then there is no innovation. Innovation is destroyed when the feds in effect make a monopoly for unproven and imperfect almost-there technologies.

But beyond all your hippy delusions, why don't you people practice what you preach? Why is Al Gore allowed to power his giant megawatt mansion and use private jets to go to conference after conference, as long as he pays his carbon fee? Not a luxury for the poor, is it? The super rich elites get to go on polluting. How does that sit with your liberal love for "the poor." Do they get an exemption? Is this another case of a burden only the middle class have to bear?

As Glenn Reynolds says, I'll believe it's a crisis when those who tell me it's a crisis act like it's a crisis.

P.S. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. We'd all be dead without it. But then, I forgot: hippies hate humans.





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