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Eco-Friendly Cars Take Back Seat to Survival of Automakers
``There's too much hype about the electric car,'' BMW Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer said this week at the Paris Motor Show. Electric vehicles may make up 5 to 10 percent of new car sales in 2020, ``but not more,'' he said.

U.S. auto sales tumbled 27 percent last month, extending the industry's slide to 11 consecutive months, the longest in 17 years. Tightening credit is discouraging buyers as the U.S. and European countries shovel money to bail out banks. At the same time, the streets won't be filled with electric cars until ``colossal'' investments are supported by governments, said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co.

The green ideas sprouting from booths at the Paris show can't obscure the forest that automakers find themselves in -- a less dreamy place where slowing car sales mean attention to the basics of selling gasoline-burning vehicles is paramount.
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``Despite efforts in the direction of both electric and hydrogen on display here, continued development of gasoline and diesel powertrains will still make these largely viable options in years to come,'' Ian Fletcher, a London-based analyst at Global Insight, said today in a report.

Some trends in the auto-parts business support the idea that carmakers are pushing better gasoline engines rather than moving rapidly to alternative fuels.

Demand for turbochargers, which force air into the engine to boost power and decrease fuel consumption, is robust, market leader Honeywell International Inc. says.

``For at least the next 10 to 15 years, the future for the combustion engine is very bright,'' said Alex Ismail, Honeywell Transportation president for passenger vehicles.
 

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There's too much hype about the electric car,'' BMW Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer said this week at the Paris Motor Show. Electric vehicles may make up 5 to 10 percent of new car sales in 2020, ``but not more,'' he said.

U.S. auto sales tumbled 27 percent last month, extending the industry's slide to 11 consecutive months, the longest in 17 years. Tightening credit is discouraging buyers as the U.S. and European countries shovel money to bail out banks. At the same time, the streets won't be filled with electric cars until ``colossal'' investments are supported by governments, said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co.
Automakers that wait until 2020 to develop their own will be left behind or forced to license technology.
IMO, it's only a matter of time...
 

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With the ability to convert trash into fuel with a HUGE reduction in CO2 (in some cases having C02 get reduced) and the ability to use algae fuel, I don't see the big rush to get rid of the combustion engine. Converting this country to earth friendly power for our cars is going to be more difficult, more expensive and in some cases not as positive for the environment.

Driving a Suburban using a combustible engine that powers on Algae power or "trash" power has less "negative" earth impact than building a nuclear power plant, coal plant, oil plant, etc. to supply a bunch of Volts.
 

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With the ability to convert trash into fuel with a HUGE reduction in CO2 (in some cases having C02 get reduced) and the ability to use algae fuel, I don't see the big rush to get rid of the combustion engine. Converting this country to earth friendly power for our cars is going to be more difficult, more expensive and in some cases not as positive for the environment.

Driving a Suburban using a combustible engine that powers on Algae power or "trash" power has less "negative" earth impact than building a nuclear power plant, coal plant, oil plant, etc. to supply a bunch of Volts.
Yes, this is really exciting stuff . . . . I hope it pans out.

In the short-term, though, who knows what will happen? I suspect cheap will trump eco-conscious for the next two or three years, or whenever the economy finally climbs out of the septic tank.
 

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yes, cheap still is important for many of us who need to keep our car expenses down.

green is fine, but honestly the green craze partially ruined our economy the last few years. Can we focus on doing things for the masses for awhile?
 

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I'm a big fan of cheap. Even when times are good and gas prices are low. I get it from my father who drove an old fuel efficient Saturn back when everyone had to have a Lincoln Navigator or some kind of truck to commute to work in. This is not because he could not afford those cars, but because he liked saving money.

Similarly, before I got swept up in a bit of affluenza, I bought a Chevy Metro back in the late 90's because I wanted a small car payment and fuel efficiency so I could spend my money on other things. And I grew to like the feel of an "economy" car.

So while I'd say "yes" for myself, I'm not sure about Joe Six-Pack, and the idea that everyone needs a quad cab full size pickup as a sedan replacement sort of thing that has gone on these last 15 years or so. Can they go back? Do they remember that the pickup used to be a farm vehicle not so many decades ago? Can they go back to smaller cars, like the 4-cyl. wagon that I drive?

I'd guess "no" for many, and see them hanging on to used cars instead. The culture of spending big on big cars -- and of spending big on "being green" -- will not change until people see this economic meltdown hit their pocketbooks HARD.
 

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Automakers that wait until 2020 to develop their own will be left behind or forced to license technology.
IMO, it's only a matter of time...
He isn't worried, dude. He's just going to buy GM electric vehicle technology like he has been for the last few years. Why innovate if you can buy off the shelf?
 

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Fortunately the cheap cars are usually the most fuel efficient as well. I just hope that the Volt turns out with more sales than some are expecting. GM needs the Volt to do well to survive, and the US needs cars like the Volt to become energy independent.
 

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Fortunately the cheap cars are usually the most fuel efficient as well. I just hope that the Volt turns out with more sales than some are expecting. GM needs the Volt to do well to survive, and the US needs cars like the Volt to become energy independent.
Cheap = fuel efficient may not be the norm in the near future, as R&D turns to smaller,more efficient powertrains, the price for these powertrains will likely rise.
One of the arguments GM had against importing small cars was that North Americans wouldn't pay for a "premium" small car, so there is a real balance to be struck.
 

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I just don't see how going to electric vehicles will be an answer at this point. "Poor" people will continue to need low cost transportation. By the time any "electric" vehicle becomes cheap enough for the poor the batteries will be useless. This will keep the 3rd world countries and the "poor" in the industrialized nations using the same oil that we need to get away from. Drilling our own reserves won't cut it and neither will drilling for more in another country.

We need to put more effort and energy to Cellulosic & Algae Ethanol to make sure everyone all financial classes are covered.

What will/do people with little money buy in the US?
prius @ $25,000 - No
civic @ $18,000 - No
Volt @ $40,000 - No
Aveo / Kia @ $10,000 - Yes
$2000 junker car - Yes

At this point a $10,000 used hybrid or electric car is out of the question. In all this great thought about going green (and my wife and I do MORE than our part in this area), we have forgotten that the majority of the world can't "afford" it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
What will/do people with little money buy in the US?
prius @ $25,000 - No
civic @ $18,000 - No
Volt @ $40,000 - No
Aveo / Kia @ $10,000 - Yes
$2000 junker car - Yes
On ebay, you can get a 4 year old Impala with 66,000 miles for $10,000.

Or a 5 year old Impala with 77k miles for $8,000.

Or a 6 year old Malibu with 127 miles for $3,500.
 

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I'm a big fan of cheap. Even when times are good and gas prices are low. I get it from my father who drove an old fuel efficient Saturn back when everyone had to have a Lincoln Navigator or some kind of truck to commute to work in. This is not because he could not afford those cars, but because he liked saving money.

Similarly, before I got swept up in a bit of affluenza, I bought a Chevy Metro back in the late 90's because I wanted a small car payment and fuel efficiency so I could spend my money on other things. And I grew to like the feel of an "economy" car.

So while I'd say "yes" for myself, I'm not sure about Joe Six-Pack, and the idea that everyone needs a quad cab full size pickup as a sedan replacement sort of thing that has gone on these last 15 years or so. Can they go back? Do they remember that the pickup used to be a farm vehicle not so many decades ago? Can they go back to smaller cars, like the 4-cyl. wagon that I drive?

I'd guess "no" for many, and see them hanging on to used cars instead. The culture of spending big on big cars -- and of spending big on "being green" -- will not change until people see this economic meltdown hit their pocketbooks HARD.
That affluenza thing is rather dangerous, I must say. I've tended to think that the large truck are a substitute, and a rather poor one, IMO, for the full sized cars of the '70s. I'm sure pretty much everyone has forgotten about them as farm vehicles, long ago. In a fashion, that's why my mom bought trucks (she's had three of them). Stacking hay on top of the roof of a '63 Bel-Air wagon wasn't the brightest thing, and besides, a flood on Oriana Rd. basically took out the engine in the fall of '72, anyway.

As for the green vs. cheap, here's what I'm thinking. First, I'm considering selling the Prius. On gas and car payment, I spend about 660 a month, 535 of it car payment. I recently tried out a Cobalt XFE. I got about 35 to the gallon without trying too hard (my current average with the Prius is just shy of 56). It's actually a fairly nice car. I would miss the moving map display, but mount my cell phone to the visor (my phone has GPS), and I wouldn't miss that, and I'd do without sticking something to the windshield. The Cobalt probably has a better sound system than the Prius, as well. That would be without spending for the better system, BTW. I'd have to get used to no power windows or locks, but with two fewer of each, that's not a problem. One thing I would miss is the tape deck. Yes, I still have quite a few cassette tapes. However, back to the cheap thing. Figuring on $4 a gallon gas, if I had payments on the Cobalt at about $320 (fairly likely), it would be over 100 a month cheaper than the Prius, and would continue to make financial sense until gas passed $6 a gallon, with my driving habits. Further, this is a new car, and what's more, a product of American (mainly) minds and hands. Besides, Car and Driver's test results noted a 0-60 of 7.5 seconds, not too shabby for a economy car, eh? :D

The only thing that might stop me from taking this path (credit aside) would be that I could put a new engine in my old car, which I still have. That would save me 320 a month compared to the Cobalt, if I lose a bit in gas mileage (I'd seen 30 out of that car only on weekends when I went home from Ft. Bragg).
 

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With economy down, will people skip eco-friendly for cheap?
People will buy whatever they can afford to drive. A 10 year old SUV which costs next to nothing to own will potentially be cheaper long term than a quality new fuel efficent car.

Even is gas is $x, if i save $y thousand dollars on the purchase then I can get a lot of gas at $x before i lose money over all.

Well at least that it the way a lot of people will view it.... assuming they can even get approved for credit etc to buy any vehicle in the first place.
 

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I agree with Ming (2 times in a week!) on this - give me an inexpensive car and I'll be happy. My 1997 Escort is paid for, just delivered another 100 plus mile round trip of 50 mpgs on the highway, and continues to run flawlessly after 131,000 miles. I don't want or need fancy - I want dependable transportation that won't eat me out of house and home. As it stands now, if the Escort continues to run the way it has in the first ten years, I'll be driving it 10 more years. Thankfully I get about a month out of a tank of gas so gas prices are never my concern. I bought my Escort when everyone told me to buy a truck or an SUV - I just wanted a radio, air conditioning, and four doors. $10k sticker price didn't hurt either.
 

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I just don't see how going to electric vehicles will be an answer at this point. "Poor" people will continue to need low cost transportation. By the time any "electric" vehicle becomes cheap enough for the poor the batteries will be useless. This will keep the 3rd world countries and the "poor" in the industrialized nations using the same oil that we need to get away from. Drilling our own reserves won't cut it and neither will drilling for more in another country.

We need to put more effort and energy to Cellulosic & Algae Ethanol to make sure everyone all financial classes are covered.

What will/do people with little money buy in the US?
prius @ $25,000 - No
civic @ $18,000 - No
Volt @ $40,000 - No
Aveo / Kia @ $10,000 - Yes
$2000 junker car - Yes

At this point a $10,000 used hybrid or electric car is out of the question. In all this great thought about going green (and my wife and I do MORE than our part in this area), we have forgotten that the majority of the world can't "afford" it.
God made mules for folks who can finally afford a 15-year-old electric car.
Better yet, get a buckboard. They're a lot lighter, and have fewer electrical problems.

Even if you have plenty of money, you still reach a point of diminishing returns once you get into the 30-something MPG range.
A 10 MPG increase from 10 to 20 MPG, is 100%.
A 10 MPG increase from 20 to 30 MPG, is 50%.
A 10 MPG increase from 30 to 40 MPG, is 33%.
A 10 MPG increase from 40 to 50 MPG, is 25%.
A 10 MPG increase from 50 to 60 MPG, is 20%.

We paid about 12 grand for our new KIA Spectra. At 29-39 MPG, is it a better buy than a 22 grand Pious at 39-49 MPG?
For those of use who don't go to Hollywood movie openings or algore the-sky-is-falling rallies, yes.


People will buy whatever they can afford to drive. A 10 year old SUV which costs next to nothing to own will potentially be cheaper long term than a quality new fuel efficent car.

Even is gas is $x, if i save $y thousand dollars on the purchase then I can get a lot of gas at $x before i lose money over all.

Well at least that it the way a lot of people will view it.... assuming they can even get approved for credit etc to buy any vehicle in the first place.
Indeed, say 8 grand for a lightly-used soccermobile that gets 15 MPG vs 24 grand for a Pious that gets 45, it will take a while to burn through 16 thousand in gas money. Plus you can hit your walker friends up for gas dough, too. :yup:
 
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