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Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120890912345836455.html

A Volt Out of the Red
The Wall Street Journal - April 23, 2008; Page A15

With the administration's waning days coming up, the biggest implication of yesterday's fuel-economy proposals from the Transportation Department is that officials will have some media bouquets to Google at their leisure when they leave office. How fun it will be to read about their boldness in speeding up the already ambitious mileage targets that Congress enacted last year.

Here's another Washington lesson for the innocents residing at all points of the compass: After the 1970s, when gasoline prices dropped, the newly imposed mileage rules quickly devolved into their present form – mainly an elaborate scheme engineered by Washington and the UAW to keep auto workers busy manufacturing small cars in the U.S. at a loss, subsidized by the profits of big pickups and SUVs.

We just can't decide, in light of all this, whether GM is a genius or a dolt for developing the Volt.

America's biggest near-dead car company called in reporters this month to boast – boast! – about its willingness to lose money on its forthcoming electric car. That includes betting the farm on whether batteries can be developed with the necessary power-to-weight ratio and life expectancy to give the car its needed usability. "Whatever it takes to do, we will do" to deliver the plug-in Volt by a 2010 deadline, project leader Frank Weber told journalists.

GM says it has a battery package in hand, and will have to squeeze 10 years of testing into two to make its schedule. Damn the costs and risks. The biggest of the shrinking three has made no secret of its Potemkin motivations. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz (who recently called global warming a "crock") has been his usual candid self, saying GM intends to beat Toyota at its own game of selling bogus green symbolism to Washington and Hollywood.

Message: "GM had the technology to do hybrids back when Toyota was launching the first Prius, but we opted not to ask the board to approve a product program that'd be destined to lose hundreds of millions of dollars . . . We made that mistake once. We won't make it again."

Is there a method in this madness? GM lost $4.3 billion in North America in the past three years. But after much angst, the company has put itself in position to compete with Toyota on cost and quality. It could even conceivably, for the first time, invest in designing and building a small, fuel-sipping car with the idea of making a profit.

So why the Volt? The Volt will lose money – and it's hard to see why a reformed GM would bother building such a car now unless it's planning to throw its lobbying clout behind a final set of CAFE rules designed to disadvantage its rivals.

How so? For some number of dollars, GM can afford to bribe consumers to drive Volts off the lot. That is, if doing so frees GM to build and sell other cars bigger and more powerful than the cars its rivals can afford to build under the CAFE rules.

GM has shown itself pretty compos mentis so far in its epochal turnaround, so we will continue to assume it hasn't taken leave of its senses in developing the Volt.

Full article at link.
 

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i love all the little side jabbing comments about GM and the Big Three (eyeroll).

Whatever works, if people want to buy a Burb, XL, or ESV...LET THEM! JUST LIKE if they want to purchase an S/7/A8L/M/GL/Q...sheesh I can't stand it when the media FORGETS that imports make SUV's and gas guzzler large luxury cars TOO!

CobaltSS
 

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Link: GM has shown itself pretty compos mentis so far in its epochal turnaround, so we will continue to assume it hasn't taken leave of its senses in developing the Volt.
The above quote is the only part of this article that has any creditability in my book. It's complementing General Motors' turnaround effort. It’s back handed, but it's about all you can hope for from the WSJ.

Compos Mentis can refer to:
  • Adjective: Of sound mind, memory, and understanding. Sane.
ep·och·al (
p
-k
l, -
k
l)
adj. 1. Of or characteristic of an epoch.
2. a. Highly significant or important; momentous: epochal decisions made by Roosevelt and Churchill.
b. Without parallel: epochal stupidity.
 

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More doom and gloom. Once this new tech in off the ground and they addapt it to the other lines as a powertrain option then the ney sayers will see the wide spread change in the auto industry lean twards this type of propulsion system accrossed the board.
I would think taking an initial loss to get the people into this type of change will be short lived once the investment has payed off.
 

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It's rather ironic the same administration just a couple years ago was telling GM to make more cars that people want... now that GM is starting to do that, they get CAFE thrown in their face. I've never seen a country so dead set against one of their own domestic industries.

If GM can pull off the Volt AND save choice for consumers in the face of CAFE, they have me as customer for life... assuming the US goverment doesn't kill them off.
 

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i love all the little side jabbing comments about GM and the Big Three (eyeroll).

Whatever works, if people want to buy a Burb, XL, or ESV...LET THEM! JUST LIKE if they want to purchase an S/7/A8L/M/GL/Q...sheesh I can't stand it when the media FORGETS that imports make SUV's and gas guzzler large luxury cars TOO!

CobaltSS
They don't FORGET. They choose to blame America first. Typical!
 

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I can't tell if this is a positive article or not. They praise GM in one sentence, and in the same breath make some comment about how screwed up the company is.
Unfortunately, the best the Big Three can expect from the WSJ is back handed compliments. The last sentence was better than I expected:

“GM has shown itself pretty compos mentis so far in its epochal turnaround, so we will continue to assume it hasn't taken leave of its senses in developing the Volt.”
 

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First this is a political piece by a political writer. As in all things political its about nuances, misdirection and subtle stragegies.

How so? For some number of dollars, GM can afford to bribe consumers to drive Volts off the lot. That is, if doing so frees GM to build and sell other cars bigger and more powerful than the cars its rivals can afford to build under the CAFE rules. GM has shown itself pretty compos mentis so far in its epochal turnaround, so we will continue to assume it hasn't taken leave of its senses in developing the Volt.
But he's not a business writer. He may in fact have no understanding about what the real world business environment is in the auto industry today.

This quote is really ...
The fact that the world is "running out of oil" is no guarantee that gasoline will remain $3.50 a gallon. And if it doesn't, a scheme that, by the government's own forgiving estimate, would add up to $979 to the price of a popular model might quickly lose any semblance of workability. For one thing, such models will stop being popular and pile up on dealer lots if consumers decide the size and horsepower sacrifice aren't worth the fuel savings.
He's thinking the 80s and 90s might with fuel under $1.00 a gal and oil under $30 /bbl. If so then why should GM plan on doing something so pro-active as building a car for the future. Hell it didn't work for Toyota when it put the Prius in play. Wait a sec, yes it did. He's thinking that if petro-fuel does somehow multiply like the loaves and fishes that the public will again renew it's affair with Madame SUV. The conclusion is probably correct but the premise on which the conclusion is based goes against everything everyone else is reporting.

The Volt will lose money – and it's hard to see why a reformed GM would bother building such a car now unless it's planning to throw its lobbying clout behind a final set of CAFE rules designed to disadvantage its rivals.
But what he's missing is that the Volt and all the other new more efficient vehicles coming out were conceived and put into motion well before CAFE 35 ever was proposed by Dubya. The Volt and CAFE have nothing to do with one another.

I trust more the automakers' knowledge of their own industry. They see what's happening on a daily basis. They live and breathe auto sales. They see the trends of the buying public. They talk to their customers and non-customers and they see what it is the buyers want.

I see the issue as being a lot more simple than he writes. Yes this may give GM a competitive advantage over Ford ( Chrysler is just so nowhere ) but it's really a recognition by GM of where the market is going. GM wants to get there first. It doesn't want Toyota and Honda to claim the high ground again.
 

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I can't tell if this is a positive article or not. They praise GM in one sentence, and in the same breath make some comment about how screwed up the company is.

I think that he's a confused political writer putting his foot into waters where he has little or no knowledge of the currents. He shows no knowledge of what's occuring in the auto industry today....

...and most telling, it's an opinion piece. It has all the weight and bearing of wet bread. Want differing opinion? Ask your barber.
 

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"near-dead" car company? GM is far from "near-dead". WTF is with the media in this country? They seem to do nothing but criticize our own companies, our own people, our own workers. Do they ever praise any of the Big Three domestics when they do something right (which is often)? Nope. They just pull up whatever bad news they can find, then embelish it to make it sound even worse, and publish that.

What happened to rooting for the home team? What happened to American pride?

The media should be ashamed of themselves.
 

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What an a$$hole. True GM built S-10s and sold them in L4 varieties to bring truck cafe down, but that was when people wanted to buy trucks. The formula from the 1990s doesn't work today because people actually want the fuel economy. They'll be building the volt and other fuel efficient vehicles because gas prices suck and gas guzzlers are so not cool and not so they can sell a thousand ZR1s.

GM, and everybody else for that matter, just builds what people want. Or at least they try. Don't you have to take an economics class to write for the WSJ?
 

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"near-dead" car company? GM is far from "near-dead". WTF is with the media in this country? They seem to do nothing but criticize our own companies, our own people, our own workers. Do they ever praise any of the Big Three domestics when they do something right (which is often)? Nope. They just pull up whatever bad news they can find, then embelish it to make it sound even worse, and publish that.

What happened to rooting for the home team? What happened to American pride?

The media should be ashamed of themselves.
No doubt!! :yup:
 

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"near-dead" car company? GM is far from "near-dead". WTF is with the media in this country? They seem to do nothing but criticize our own companies, our own people, our own workers. Do they ever praise any of the Big Three domestics when they do something right (which is often)? Nope. They just pull up whatever bad news they can find, then embelish it to make it sound even worse, and publish that.

What happened to rooting for the home team? What happened to American pride?

The media should be ashamed of themselves.

Exactly. Why don't they write a piece on how Toyota's quality has tanked and are now worse built than any GM. The media loves to stir the pot.
 

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Saw an interesting article in today's Financial Times...

"Production of the all-electric version of Manganese Bronze’s TX4 black cab will start in 2009. The cabs, designed for operations in congested urban areas, will have a range in excess of 100 miles on one battery charge"

... relating to the company that manufactures London's black taxicabs. 100 mile range, ready next year! What's GM doing with the Volt??
 

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"near-dead" car company? GM is far from "near-dead". WTF is with the media in this country? They seem to do nothing but criticize our own companies, our own people, our own workers. Do they ever praise any of the Big Three domestics when they do something right (which is often)? Nope. They just pull up whatever bad news they can find, then embelish it to make it sound even worse, and publish that.

What happened to rooting for the home team? What happened to American pride?

The media should be ashamed of themselves.
Much of the media and the elite in America have almost a self loathing attitude about the United States and its institutions. I know America is not perfect, but it's the best country in the history of man. This self loathing borders on a mental illness.
 

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Saw an interesting article in today's Financial Times...

"Production of the all-electric version of Manganese Bronze’s TX4 black cab will start in 2009. The cabs, designed for operations in congested urban areas, will have a range in excess of 100 miles on one battery charge"

... relating to the company that manufactures London's black taxicabs. 100 mile range, ready next year! What's GM doing with the Volt??
Are you really suggesting that there's a cheap, available solution to the Volt's battery problem that GM is simply ignoring? Maybe you should be asking 'What is the cab's top speed?" To me, congested urban = slow. A golf cart has a decent range, but it's not doing 70mph.
 

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Saw an interesting article in today's Financial Times...

"Production of the all-electric version of Manganese Bronze’s TX4 black cab will start in 2009. The cabs, designed for operations in congested urban areas, will have a range in excess of 100 miles on one battery charge"

... relating to the company that manufactures London's black taxicabs. 100 mile range, ready next year! What's GM doing with the Volt??
Small companies certainly can move more quickly, no doubt, especially when priorites can be more focused.

The LTI TX4E will have a top speed of about 50 mph, which I presume to be ideal for their intended market. Furthermore, London Taxis International's total yearly production is about 2,700 vehicles.

References:
http://www.manganese.com/pr/262
http://www.manganese.com/company_lti.php
 

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To everyone bashing the WSJ, you do know they're a right wing paper now owned by Rupert "Fox News" Murdoch, right?

In that case, I totally agree. I'm sick of the right-wing's hate-America attitude.
 
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