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What's good for GM
Star-Telegram

Once again, Arlington has decided to test an old economic premise long advocated by those transit philosophers often described as auto monopolists: What's good for General Motors is good for America.

Arlington favors what's good for America, of course, but in this case the city's elected officials also hope that nearly $6 million worth of tax breaks authorized this week will work out to be most excellent for … well, Arlington.

Without actually promising to build the next generation of sport utility vehicles at the Arlington facility, GM is planning to invest $170 million in improvements to the local plant. It's on that investment that the big automaker wanted a property tax break over the next 10 years.

The plant manufactures the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade.

Those are not, unfortunately, the most fuel-miserly of vehicles, and their popularity could be endangered if gasoline prices continue to escalate. So there's some risk involved.

On the other hand, GM plans to introduce much more fuel-efficient hybrid versions of SUVs that combine big-haul capabilities with the gas mileage ratings of today's midsize sedans. If the new technology catches on as expected, the long-term benefits that the GM plant provides to the region could be tremendous.

Full Article Here
 

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This premise was flawed the day it was uttered and for anyone to retread "What is good for GM..." now is plain irresponsible.

GM has made it a corporate policy to lambast hybrids while tepidly offering the product. I believe their exact policy was "we'll start with the big products and make them more efficient" but that wasn't about making large volume big products fuel efficient, it was about making limited numbers of buses more efficient. My recollection is that GM bailed out of larger volume true hybrids because of cost and their assumption that they wouldn't sell and wouldn't save that much fuel. Toyota is now making a mockery of this GM position by actually now making a profit on each and every hybrid. To think that GM, if it was truly a leader in innovation, had taken action when Toyota did, they'd be in the catbird's seat on offering profitable hybrids....and get this....selling each one without a rebate! But GM is really more about selling rebates and offering cars and trucks as a sidebar.

GM has decided to offer a convaluted product in their pickups that is not a hybrid even though they assert it is; this company doesn't even have the gonads to advocate increased diesel usage (one wonders why since they singlehandedly did a number giving diesels a bad name).
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@May 28 2004, 08:49 PM
(rant)

GM has made it a corporate policy to lambast hybrids while tepidly offering the product.

(rant rant rant)

Toyota is now making a mockery of this GM position by actually now making a profit on each and every hybrid. 
Show me a quote where GM lambasted hybrids. They've said they think fuel cells are the long term solution, but where have they lambasted hybrids?

Where are the hybrids from Mercedes, Chrysler, Mazda, BMW, Mitsubishi, etc. At least GM is bringing some out. You think a hybrid Aveo makes more sense than a hybrid Silverado? Where can the most impact be made?

Other than the Toyota PR people, who else has confirmed that Toyota is making a profit on "each and everyone" of their hybrids?

GM took the leadership role in electric cars some years ago and they lost $1 billion on it. Did they get one bit of credit for their efforts there? No. They got no credit when they offered the EV1 and they were criticized for when they discontinued it.

Mark
 

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Originally posted by Smaart Aas Saabr@May 29 2004, 01:54 AM
And everyone who bought a hybrid car is now pissed off royally since their gas milage can be easily beaten by a conventional car of much lower cost, and their EPA numbers are far overblown.
A conventional car that's much smaller and/or with much less power.

I really don't get GMs alternative fuels strategy. They jumped into all-electric when everyone else knew it was poing nowhere, are mostly ignoring hybrids whereas all the other big players are getting in big time, and are pushing near-future hydrogen when everyone else thinks it's decades off.

Could this be because GM is afraid of actually making a change, and figures it can get the PR value out of electric or hydrogen without the cost and effort of putting real, practical cars into full production?
 

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Where are the hybrids from Mercedes, Chrysler, Mazda, BMW, Mitsubishi, etc. At least GM is bringing some out. You think a hybrid Aveo makes more sense than a hybrid Silverado? Where can the most impact be made?
Mazda is of course is partnered with Ford which is building hybrids all of which are and will be on Mazda platform, and all Ford's hybrid powertrains are mated to Mazda engines.

Not sure about the others tho'. Nissan liscensed Toyota's suite of patents, but I'm not sure when their first vehicle will be out. DCX seems to be jumping big into diesels as their big fuel-saving technology.

Still when even Honda (which is one of the smallest independent automakers) can make their own hybrids in signifigant numbers there's no excuse for GM (the world's #1 automaker) not to.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 29 2004, 10:06 PM
Where are the hybrids from Mercedes, Chrysler, Mazda, BMW, Mitsubishi, etc. At least GM is bringing some out. You think a hybrid Aveo makes more sense than a hybrid Silverado? Where can the most impact be made?
Mazda is of course is partnered with Ford which is building hybrids all of which are and will be on Mazda platform, and all Ford's hybrid powertrains are mated to Mazda engines.

Not sure about the others tho'. Nissan liscensed Toyota's suite of patents, but I'm not sure when their first vehicle will be out. DCX seems to be jumping big into diesels as their big fuel-saving technology.

Still when even Honda (which is one of the smallest independent automakers) can make their own hybrids in signifigant numbers there's no excuse for GM (the world's #1 automaker) not to.
Probably because hybrids don't deliver any better fuel economy in the "Real world" as a comparable straight gas car. A 10 year old 3 cylinder Geo Metro gets rougly the same gas mileage as a modern Toyota Prius, but has a better power-to-weight ratio. It gets much worse for the Hybrids when it starts to snow (the cold cuts into the battery charge), while the 3 banger Metro is at least fairly consistent. The Metro also cost less than half as much to buy as the Toyota when it was new.

I think the law of conservation of energy is the real problem behind hybrids. They take one step forward and two steps back.
 

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While a 10-year old 3-cylinder Geo Metro MAY get "rougly [sic] the same gas mileage as a modern Toyota Prius," the Prius is a MID-SIZED car while the Metro was measured to be a MINICOMPACT (three size classes smaller) by the EPA. The Metro was also CONSIDERABLY slower than today's Prius. And five people can comfortably travel in a Prius (trye getting FOUR people to be comfortable in the Metro).

EPA's quotes for hybrids is a little optimistic, but then again so are ALL EPA estimates. The fact is: the Prius gets better gas mileage in the real world than ANY mid-sized car currently on the market in the US. It also tops any COMPACT non-hybrid in gas mileage.

I've driven the Prius (old and new) as well as the Insight (haven't driven the Civic Hybrid yet) and they get better mileage than anything offered today...in real-world gas mileage.

As was stated earlier, GM's "hybrid" trucks aren't really hybrids. Ford has REAL hybrids coming (with the help of Toyota). Dodge has REAL hybrids coming. Toyota has them...Honda has them...Nissan's got them coming. And, yes, GM has REAL ones coming, eventually.

Hybrids are real vehicles...getting very impressive gas mileage...providing excellent performance...and reducing emissions. Just wait for the performance hybrids that are coming...they'll be truly impressive.
 

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Dodge has hybrids coming? News to me.

And Ford had no help from Toyota. They liscensed a dozen or so Toyota patents long after the Escape was completed to avoid possible legal trouble. They also filed over a hundred of their own. Of course the media completely misreported the story <_<
 

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As I mentioned, Hybrids aren't getting very good real-world gas mileage. Although the EPA ratings between the Metro and the Prius are similar, in the real world, the Metro tends to do better. Though the Prius makes 76 horsepower (which is actually pretty weak by today's standards), it's hauling around 2890 lbs. worth of car, giving it a power to weight ratio of 1:38. The Metro's 49 HP 3 banger is in charge of motivating 1621 lbs. of car, giving it a better power to weight ratio of 1:33. On the highway, the Metro is beating the Prius by 7 MPG according to the EPA ratings. And although the Prius is a little bigger than the Metro, the Honda Insight is decidedly smaller...it can only seat 2 people. It's engine is weaker (65 HP), it's EPA score for highway mileage is 2 MPG less than the Metro, and has only slightly better power-to-weight ratio than the Metro (it should, considering it only seats 2).

I really am not all that impressed by hybrids, and I suspect that GM isn't impressed either.
 

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The gas engine alone in the Prius makes 76 hp and 82 lb/ft (it could make a lot more but it's tuned for economy and is running a atkinson cycle), while the electric motor makes another 67 hp and a whopping 295 lb/ft of torque from zero rpms!!!
 

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And if you live in a Northern state or in Canada where you need to run your heater for half the year, your mileage in the Prius or the Insight suddenly drops. Where heat is a byproduct of a gasoline engine, it's a real drain for batteries to run an electric heater. And thanks to the laws of thermodynamics, those batteries take a lot more energy to charge than they'll put out.

Then there are other "Hidden" expenses. Eventually, batteries need to be replaced. What is the cost associated with that? Your brakes are now regenerative, which adds to the complexity of the vehicle...can you just get new rotors and pads when the brakes wear out? Will the money saved in fuel costs actually pan out in the long run, or is a person better off buying a Diesel VW Golf, which runs on cheaper Diesel fuel and gets 38/46 MPG. Once you consider how much cheaper it is to pump Diesel than it is to pump regular unleaded, you get more miles for your buck with the Diesel Golf than you would with a Prius. And that's using a very old engine design! I'll bet GM will be smart enough to recognize this and start making cars with high efficiency Diesel engine alternatives instead of going with the lame, overdone and overrated Hybrid technology.
 

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Dodge:

Your information is not the best. Honda gas engines actually run all the time in the hybrids. In the Toyota, it shuts off when you come up to a light and stop moving for a while. Yes, the heater would need the engine, but it's still a very economical engine, even running.

As for comparing the Metro to the Prius, you keep forgetting that the Prius actually does make more power when the electric motor kicks in...you forget that the Prius is considerably larger inside...you forget that the Prius is much more refined than the Metro...that the Metro was a 2-door...etc. While power to weight is one way to measure a car's performance potential (again, forgetting the electric motor's additive power), the REAL WORLD shows the Prius to handily out-accelerate a Metro XFi. And there's the excellent gas mileage of the Prius.

Stew:

Ford did use some Toyota technology in the Escape. And Dodge does have the Ram Truck HEV coming.
 

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True, hybrids aren't as effecient in the cold: the battery is less effecient and with a full hybrid I suppose the gas engine might be kept on more to power the heater (I don't think it's ever run electrically). Not sure how much the cold hurts tho'.

And what Toyota technology does Ford use? They've sourced a few components from Toyota-owned suppliers but there's nothing unique about that. It's a Ford engine mated to a Ford transmission/electric-motor combo, controlled by Ford computers.
 

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Originally posted by Hudson@Jun 1 2004, 02:53 AM
Dodge:

Your information is not the best. Honda gas engines actually run all the time in the hybrids. In the Toyota, it shuts off when you come up to a light and stop moving for a while. Yes, the heater would need the engine, but it's still a very economical engine, even running.

As for comparing the Metro to the Prius, you keep forgetting that the Prius actually does make more power when the electric motor kicks in...you forget that the Prius is considerably larger inside...you forget that the Prius is much more refined than the Metro...that the Metro was a 2-door...etc. While power to weight is one way to measure a car's performance potential (again, forgetting the electric motor's additive power), the REAL WORLD shows the Prius to handily out-accelerate a Metro XFi. And there's the excellent gas mileage of the Prius.

Stew:

Ford did use some Toyota technology in the Escape. And Dodge does have the Ram Truck HEV coming.
However, you gloss over the fact that a Diesel VW Golf or Jetta will still give you more miles for your dollar using a woefully outdated 8 valve 4 cylinder engine, and will provide acceptable performance, cold-weather heat at no additional cost, and, being a much simpler design, will cost less in maintenance than a Hybrid. Just imagine if someone came out with a modern diesel engine!
 

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Although it is really tempting to jump on the hybrid bandwagon, first hand experience has shown me the limitations (and outright media deceit) of the hybrid.

Where I work we have one gentleman who drives a new Prius. He claims to regularly achieve around 45 mpg. He babies his car, loving the fuel-conserving video-game element of it. As such, he is also the car everyone wants to beat out of the parking lot, because he ever-so-slowly accelerates on the onramp (often causing much traffic chaos).

I think he could be portrayed as the typical Prius driver.

We also have another gentleman who just bought a used Volkswagen Jetta TDI. His real-world mileage is consistently 50.2 mpg. He's usually right with us in trying to pass the fellow in the Prius. The performance/fuel efficiency advantage of the Passat TDI over the Hybrid Prius is never clearer.

So Hudson, can you please explain to me where the "excellent performance" of the current hybrid vehicles are being observed. Or do you mean performance of a different sort?

Hybrids will be a useful stepping stone in automotive technology, but once you wash away the media-hype and inflated estimates, I don't think that their real-world performance warrants the kudos they are receiving.
 

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I have to agree with Dodge Driving Paul, hybrids are overhyped. I own a Cavalier with the DOHC 4 cylinder that regularly gets 35 mpg on the highway (its rated at 32 by the EPA). Plus, at 150HP, it can get to 60 in under 8 seconds.

Yes, hybrids are rated better, but in real world driving, its next to impossible to get the mileage listed. Plus, due to their advanced technologies, they are more expensive to maintain/repair/operate. I will gladly pick an efficient gas-engine over a hybrid currently. I also believe that when engines become more efficient, hybrids will be put to shame. My opinion.
 

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The issue will diesls being compared to a hybrid or a conventional gas engine is emmissions.
Diesls are superior in terms or economy and torque and should be offered in more cars, trucks and SUVs but they are not a long term solution. Even highly effiecent diesels pollute much like gas engines.
So do people want hybrids to get better mileage? save money? pollute less?
I believe everyone is looking something that is cheap to run and fun to drive and if it benefits the environment all the better.
I hope hybrids are a solution.
 

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Toyota rates the "Hybrid System Net Power" @ 110 hp (82 kW).

Which obviously is not achieved by adding the HP numbers of the gas engine with the electric motor.

Im still not impressed. Besides, Toyota has to sell 8500 hybrids to achieve the same fuel consumption savings that GM achieves by selling 250 hybrid buses. Who is doing more for the environment?
 

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If you read back, I've NEVER defended EPA's test numbers. The Prius does get excellent gas mileage is is a better performer than the current group of TDI vehicles VW is parading around the US...in addition to having more room than the Jetta. Because ONE GUY babies his Prius out of your parking lot doesn't mean that the car can't perform well...it just means that this ONE GUY is an idiot. I've seen many Prius drivers treating their cars just like everyone else treats their own cars.

Diesels get excellent gas mileage and last forever. Many gas stations don't offer diesel and, currently, only VW offers affordable diesel-powered cars. Even VW's TDIs in the US aren't cutting-edge. If/when the US gets the modern diesel cars that Europe has (probably won't happen before sulfur-free diesel comes out in 2007), they will be good competition for the current group of hybrids. But until then, the hybrids have the lead.
 
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