The Volt Sleeps With The Fishes

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GM has just announced it will be idling the plant (and the 1,300 workers at that plant) where the “game changing” Chevy Volt electric car is – uh, was – built.  GM says it’s only temporary – until they figure out how to “align production with demand.”  It could be a long wait for those workers.

GM projected production of 45,000 Volts this year. That may have been just a little bright-sided. Last year, 7,621 of them found buyers (about 2,400 fewer than the 10,000 GM had hoped for). This past month, just over 1,000 of the $40,000 sort-of electric cars (sort of, because deep inside the thing, there’s a gas engine that serves as a sort of carry-it-with-you “range extender”), which means “production” and “demand” have a ways to go before they are, er, aligned.

One reason why, obviously – though perhaps not to GM – is that the concept itself was misaligned. Electric (and hybrid-electric) cars exist for one reason: To do an end-run around gasoline. The whole point of the exercise, as a practical matter, is to lower the cost of driving by cutting the driver loose from $4 a gallon fuel. But when it takes $40,000 to do that, it becomes pointless as a practical matter. Yes, it’s a clever bit of engineering. I know. I’ve driven the Volt. Remarkable. It can operate at  steady 60 MPH for several miles (rather than coast for a few seconds, like most hybrids) purely on the strength of its electric motor and batteries. Very cool. But also very expensive – and that’s the point that matters.

The Volt’s sticker price is in BMW 3 Series/Lexus GS land. Do people who purchase $40k cars have to worry much about $4 gas? Apparently this thought did not occur to the people at GM responsible for the Volt. Even with a $7k direct federal subsidy to each buyer (more on the indirect subsidies below)  a new Volt still costs what we call in the car business “entry luxury” money. Easily two (even three) times the amount that would buy you any one of several very appealing compact sedans, several of which get 40 MPG on the highway.

So, drum roll, people looking for something economical did not look at the Volt. Who did? CEO Dan Akerson conceded that the average income of a Volt buyer is $170,000 annually  – not exactly hard times.

GM figured (so it said) the Volt could be sold to the less flush on the basis of its down-the-road economies. But those are theoretical and ill-defined (including, for instance, such as variables as winter driving; how will extreme cold weather affect the electric drivetrain? Etc.). But the up-front costs are very real – and forbidding. People facing lean times are not lining up to finance a $40k purchase, even with a$7k carrot dangled in front of them. And the potential buyer pool of 170k’ers per year is just about dried up.

Is GM unaware? I doubt it, because all kidding aside, GM is anything but stupid. That is, the people running it can do math. They also understand marketing – and politics. And that’s where the troof comes out about the Volt and why it ever saw the light of day.

GM, like every car company, has embraced the politics of green because it leads to taxpayer-financed green. Think Solyndra was a boondoggle? The Mackinac Center for Public Policy estimates that the actual cost-per-car of each Volt, once all the federal subsidies are factored in, comes to $250,000 or $3 billion, total.  (Lookee here for more.)

Guess who paid for that?

It wasn’t GM’s money. It was your money. And mine. And the money taken from millions of other taxpayers, all poured into the coffers of GM to further the advancement of otherwise economically untenable projects that would never have see the light of day except for the fact that we have a system of crony capitalism that distorts the free market like a funhouse mirror.

The Mackinac study’s author, James Hohman, tartly described the Volt as “the most government-supported car since the Trabant” – a reference to the infamous two-stroke, plastic-bodied POS manufactured in the old DDR – that’s East Germany, for the edification of younger readers. 

And that’s what rubs. If you or I decided to build a Homer Mobile (remember?) in our garage, it’d be up to us to finance the thing and if we went next door to our neighbor’s place and flashed a gun demanding money or else to “help” we’d be shot by the neighbor or tossed in jail. But that’s because we are not Too Big To Fail. GM, of course, is. And has many big friends in Washington, too. So it can indulge in the building of electric Homer Mobiles and send the tab to us – and pocket the proceeds.

Because keep in mind that GM is not losing money on the Volt. We are.

The joke’s on us – again.

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  141 comments for “The Volt Sleeps With The Fishes

  1. Eric_G
    March 3, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I wanted this Volt: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2007/03/gms_lutz_volt_p/

    Instead we got a Prius copy with bigger batteries. Ho hum.

    That Volt didn’t have a gasoline engine running the wheels, just charging the batteries (so it could be designed to run at one speed, no wide power band necessary). That Volt looks bad-ass.

    • March 3, 2012 at 6:37 am

      A better – because simpler, cheaper – alternative would be a lightweight diesel-powered compact sedan. If the car weighed around 2,000 pounds – which would be doable, technically and economically, if the government got the hell out of the car business – an 80 or so hp diesel would be sufficient (adequately powerful for real world a to b transpo) and the car would be capable of 60 MPG or more. Such a car could be built for around $12,000 too – provided it did not have to have dual air bags or comply with all the other government-mandated “safety” requirements.

      Would the resultant car be less “safe”? In terms of crashworthiness, yes – probably. But most crashes are avoidable. It is a reasonable risk for a good driver to decide that he values 60 MPG every day (and a car that only costs him $12k) vs. a $40,000 “safe” hybrid that’s only of benefit in the event he does get into a crash.

      My opinion: It ought to be up to the buyer to decide which is more important – mileage and cost or “safety.”

      • Eric_G
        March 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

        Which is why I ordered an Audi A3 TDI (The VW TDIs just didn’t impress me, and since I’m going to have to live with it for at least the next 200,000+ miles I might as well get something nice). It should be here by the end of the month.

        The problem with diesels is that some idiot in California decided that they’d put out too much NOx for Los Angeles, so the whole country has to put up with urea tanks. And because we can’t be trusted to keep them full, the car will automatically shut down after a set number of starts (usually 16) after the tank sensor says it’s time for a refill. Oh, and the refill can’t be done at home, except in cases of extreme emergency, it has to be topped off at the dealer, with special vacuum injection systems. Give anyone a reason to avoid being stranded and the higher up front cost of diesels and this is what you end up with.

        I should note that the VW 2.0 TDI (in my A3) doesn’t require urea injection, but there is a catalytic converter that does restrict exhaust flow and reduces overall mileage. One of the reasons you can’t get an A3 TDI Quattro is because the emissions would go over the limit and they’d need to add a urea system, so it’s only an option in Europe (and again the upfront cost would be higher than most would be willing to pay, I guess).

        Of course, if the social engineers in Washington wanted us to save fuel, they’d reinstate the tax rebate on diesel cars. They were included until 2010, then suddenly disappeared. Maybe the diesel drivers didn’t have enough write-offs to itemize their deductions…

        • March 4, 2012 at 4:21 am

          That A3 TDI is a great car – except for the urea part. Still, I’d pick it any day over an electric-hybrid car such as the Volt.

          During the week I test drove the Volt, I never averaged more than 33 MPG (according to the Volt’s own computer) which is appreciably lower than your 40 MPG-capable Audi. Volt fans will counter that when you run on just the batteries, you burn no gas. But the problem was, I ended up running on the gas engine (powering the discharged batteries) all the time because I quickly discharged the battery – and GM specifically told me not to use the plug-in charger. I don’t know why – but that’s the inside dope. I suspect it may have ad something to do with unpublicized faults – a couple months later the firs issue cropped up. Again, not sure whether there’s a connection – but maybe.

          Even if I had plugged it in and recharged it fully, I suspect I would have discharged it quickly (within 20 miles) and been back on the gas again. Maybe some Volt owners don’t have to drive more than 20 miles one-way (as I do, every day). Or maybe they don’t have to deal with 1,500 foot elevation gains every day (I do). In which case, the Volt’s on-battery performance is probably a lot better. But for me, this car would be a very poor choice. I’d get better economy out of a new Mazda3 SkyActiv for half the purchase price – which would keep me in “free” gas (relative to buying the Volt) for the next 10-15 years!

          • Mike in Spotsy
            March 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm

            Another aspect of plugging in the Volt that I haven’t heard much talk about is this: where does the energy come from to supply the electricity to recharge the battery? Isn’t it largely from coal fired power plants? And doesn’t that mean that the Volt, when it’s using its battery, is coal powered? And don’t the greenies dislike coal power? Hmmmmm

          • March 5, 2012 at 3:30 am

            Yup. Hence the jibe, “elsewhere emissions vehicles.”

            There’s also the “emissions” issue of the several hundred pounds of caustic batteries to consider. Where will all that stuff end up? Oh, it’ll be recycled. Except for when it’s not. When, for instance, 15 years from now, Jimmy Joe puts his Volt up on blocks behind his trailer and forgets about it. And how about the cost to the planet in terms of mining and refining and manufacturing the materials used?

            Oh, the humanity!

          • BrentP
            March 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm

            Greens are statists. That’s very clear. It is my theory that statists dislike people having access to energy that isn’t controlled by the state. The more control the state has over energy and the more expensive and limited it is the better as far as power hungry people are concerned.

            It is my belief that if a device that pulled energy from the ether (like the fabled Pierce Arrow of Nikola Tesla) were put on the market tomorrow, the environmentalists would be key players in making it illegal by next week.

          • methylamine
            March 6, 2012 at 4:12 am

            @BrentP–you nailed it, today’s environmentalism is a statist political movement that in most cases is exactly against the environment.

            By destroying private property rights, they destroy the one force that really WILL stop pollution!

            Have you read James Delingpole’s excellent book, “Watermelons”? That’s the term for environmentalists–green on the outside, red on the inside.

          • Toldev
            March 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

            Yes, the green car is powered by dirty electricty. So it doesn’t really benefit the enviroment at all.

            Simple economics already indicate that buying a Volt is a bad investment. However, it gets a whole lot worse if the Volt is powered by green electricty. Conserative studies I have read already say that light bills would have to go up to about $1000.00 per month if the electricty is generated 100% from renewables. And that is not including the electricty an electric car would use. At that point, it would be cheaper to drive around in a semi truck than a Volt. Even if you do have to pay $5.00 per gallon for the diesel.

        • Omega64
          March 6, 2012 at 6:03 am

          What about the VW Polo diesel that supposedly (according to top gear UK) gets up to 75 miles per gallon. Of course it only has a 10.5 gallon tank, but what more do you need. If it was actually available in the US, who would complain but a California Commie? Jeez!!

          • March 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

            Hi Omega,

            Yup. I’ve written about the absence of Euro-spec high efficiency diesels from the USSA. Thank Uncle for this.

          • GFB
            March 7, 2012 at 3:50 am

            Careful quoting Euro mpg, they’re usually in imperial gallons, which are 4.5 L instead of USA’s 3.8L. You’re usually safer looking for l/100km and doing the conversion.

            Still, even they are imperial gallons, that’s very impressive and hardly unique for euro cars!

      • swamprat
        March 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

        But Eric – all you want to do is speed and drive unsafe cars. Driving 80 mph is completely and patently unsafe on ANY road. Libertarians are endangering us all by asking for choice in automobiles. People pass me every day on the highway at dangerous speeds that I don’t think are right. Airbags protect us all from those dangers. Who does that sound like?

        • March 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

          That is an excellent Clover conjuring!

        • clover
          March 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm

          If you want to see a dangerous driver then look at the videos of the guy with the camera and how dangerous he is at http://www.clovercam.com He is what I have been talking about. The aggressive, dangerous and someone with road rage. If you want to know what I am talking about then look at the videos. If you drive like he does and Dom in the videos then you should be in jail also.

          • March 4, 2012 at 12:37 am

            Yes, Clover – we know. “Speed” kills! The speed limit is holy – because it’s the speed limit! Everyone should drive at the speed Clover is comfortable driving. Anyone who wants to drive faster is “aggressive.” Anyone who passes Clover is “reckless.” Etc.

          • methylamine
            March 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

            You just won a prize! If I ever see you on the road, I’ll treat you to the patented 3rd-gear pass at 70…complete with the righteous howl of a Deutsche V8 at 7,000 RPM.

            Won’t that get your panties in a wad?

            Priceless.

            Now go back to reading the New Yorker and masturbating over pictures of mass transit.

          • Toldev
            March 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

            I think it is impossible for clovers to be satsified, no matter what you do.

            When the 55 mph speed limit was in effect, I tried actually going that slow a few times. When clovers would pass me, I would look over at them. They were mad at me.

          • BrentP
            March 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

            Clovers want two things. They want everyone to make the same choice in speed and other things they do and they want other people to take on the work load so they can do less or nothing.

            That’s how I see it. I’ve angered many a clover by following the law exactly. Bicycling to the letter of the law really brings the anger out of a clover. I’ve seen it first hand. These clovers will become homicidal towards bicyclists. Generally not another driver but a bicyclist they feel safe in their cages and a bicyclist is way too different from the clovers’ desire of comformity so they’ll go over the edge. Clover here repeatedly brings up rage and projects that emotion because that’s what he/she/it feels.

        • clover
          March 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

          Swamprat, I hear week after week how the clovers of the world sit in the left lane and block it at the speed limit or under. Brent has showed us dozens of videos and none of them show a clover sitting in the left lane at the speed limit or under. This is all about road rage and perceived things that are not there. What the videos did show is that the aggressive guys on the highway have a high incidence of road rage and most of it is about problems that they have and not the drivers around them.

          • That One Guy
            March 3, 2012 at 8:11 pm

            Jesus Christ…it’s either “showed” or “has shown,” you asshat. It’s never “has showed.”

            You have shown us dozens of comments and none of them show the slightest danger of two brain cells colliding.

            Every day that goes by I kick myself for not getting a camera rig set up, because I could fill the site made in your honor with volumes of footage of your cousins clogging the left lane like McDonalds clogs arteries.

          • March 4, 2012 at 12:31 am

            He’s one of those not-bright people who doesn’t realize he’s not bright. Anyone slightly brighter would be bright enough to at least learn to use a dictionary (or spell check).

            There’s no point engaging him. Vivisection is what’s called for. I let his posts through for educational purposes only!

          • dom
            March 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

            The clover memorial aka clovercam is a thing of beauty. A complete stroke of genius that only a moron like clover can inspire. A testament with video documented proof of his kind and their stupidity. I’m really happy he likes it! ha

          • BrentP
            March 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

            1) You told a story of your own that included a left lane blocker.

            2) I don’t typically save videos of such mundane things as left lane blockers.

            3) I think you’ve seen everything in one of my video upload accounts. There you saw a video with what driving the absurdly low speed limit around here looks like. If you want your condition of blocking and going the speed limit, you’ll have to get a video from someone who lives in a place that doesn’t have Nixon era speed limits. Because around here there is just passing and not passing. The speed limit is irrelevant because only one out of several thousand drivers actually goes that slow on an expressway.

            4) Rage is an emotion you are projecting on to this situation. When people project emotions it is what they would feel in a given situation.

          • clover
            March 4, 2012 at 4:56 am

            Brent, aggressive driving and road rage are what you and others here do. Rage is having someone turn in front of you so you have to slow down by a second or two but you get back at them by not slowing down until you get at the guys bumper and hit horn. That is a sign of road rage. Road rage is having someone pass in the left lane but is not passing fast enough to suit you so you pull up on their bumper showing your road rage.

            Road rage and aggressive driving is having multiple run-ins with other drivers and a lot of close calls and almost accidents when thousands of other drivers have none of these.

          • BrentP
            March 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

            Clover, you are projecting your emotions on me. I have already told you the rational reason for not jamming on the brakes the moment someone pulls out in front of me. You ignore that in favor of projecting your emotions on to me.

            People who expect others to just avoid them are usually just lazy and selfish. I first encountered this BS driving past Chicago’s public housing projects. People would look right at a driver and then step off the curb against the signal or mid block directly into the driver’s path. Pretending not to see them discouraged this behavior.

            It works with geese as well. Too many people like you stop for the geese so they waddle slowly across the road when ever they feel like it. When they do this to me I don’t react. They then speed up or remember they can fly.

            It’s the same with the human driver as well. They are being lazy, impatient, and selfish. They don’t want to put in the effort. Many times by not reacting to their impending move they don’t do it. If they choose to I can comfortably avoid them but their comfort level is none of my concern.

            The more people tolerate the selfish behaviors the more of it there is. Like the geese who want to conserve their effort and thus create more effort for people. But they are after all, bird brains and yet they can figure out how to behave better when someone holds them to a higher standard. Do you have more brains than a bird Clover?

            Further more, by jamming the brakes for your brethren that creates problems for people behind me. Like the government you endorse this action is benevolence for one party at the cost of a third party. Like cutting in line at the grocery store. There’s a woman with her groceries wanting to go in front of you. You being a good clover let her, right Clover? But what about the three people in line behind you? What of them? Oh, you don’t let people shove their way in at the expense of you and those behind you in other situations? Then you aren’t principled, but that we already knew.

          • clover
            March 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm

            First off the only selfish person on the roadway is Brent. He owns the roadway. If he has to change speeds for anyone then they will have hell to pay.

            If everyone drove like Brent we would all have to carry guns. Pure road rage. He never heard of defensive driving, it is all about offensive driving.

            Get off the road before you kill someone. Anyone that is unable to tolerate anyone else needs to be off the road. Move to somewhere there is no traffic because you are doing poorly where you live.

            It is only a matter of time before you kill someone if you have not already.

          • BrentP
            March 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm

            Clover continues to project his/her/its emotions on me. I suppose geese are smarter than Clover after all.

          • dom
            March 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

            I wish clover would sleep with the fishes!

          • March 5, 2012 at 3:27 am

            They don’t want him, either!

          • Mithrandir
            March 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

            @clover on March 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm

            You need to stop drinking the sherry. You could have offered to share your sherry with others. You seem to have good quality sherry.

            I wish you would stop writing your offensive babbling.

            I bet you like Rage Against the Machine. ;)

          • Mithrandir
            March 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm

            @dom on March 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

            What did the fishes to to you to deserve getting Clover?

            (I know that deserve has nothing to do with it, but think of the fishes. ;) )

          • damon
            March 5, 2012 at 4:10 am

            Sorry, your definitions of aggressive driving aren’t even the legal definitions, much less, common sense. What’s lacking with most drivers is common sense, situations awareness, and courtesy (sp)

          • clover
            March 6, 2012 at 1:40 am

            damon I agree with your statement “What’s lacking with most drivers is common sense, situations awareness, and courtesy” but guys like Brent and some others here show none of those. It is all about themselves. Common sense says do not drive in a dangerous manner just to save 2 or 3 seconds of travel time. Do not pull a foot or two behind another driver driving over 60 mph just because you disagree with what they did. Do not time your driving so you are exactly in the blind spot of a merging vehicle. Do not always have to be right and show someone else how dangerous of a driving you are because you disagreed with their driving. I am all for common sense and courtesy but you will not see that from any other driver here.

          • BrentP
            March 6, 2012 at 3:57 am

            I’ve already addressed this BS of Clover’s at length here and at clovercam.com.

            Clover just repeats the same BS over and over and over again. It’s just troll behavior at this point.

            Ultimately Clover is about the ass-backwards submissive courtesy that serves his lazy and selfish ways. How dare anyone have to use a signal or a mirror a or plan a lane change. Clover says us actively driving must simply make way for his kind.

          • clover
            March 7, 2012 at 3:11 am

            yes we know Brent. If someone does not do something right on the highway we should threaten their life rather than give them a ticket. We should pull within a foot or two of them and then slam on your brakes and honk your horn. You believe that showing road rage is the answer to everything.

            “submissive courtesy that serves his lazy and selfish ways” I would like that one explained. I believe in courtesy but I follow the rules of the road using turn signals with the best of them. You do not think the cops should stop any poor and reckless driving but you believe that Brent should be the enforcer. Tell us all how you are better than a cop? We have dozens of bad and dangerous things you have done to other drivers.

          • BrentP
            March 7, 2012 at 4:08 am

            It is amazing how Clover interprets everything as rage and threats. Why would Clover see things that way? Most of my clover-cam videos are driving my little 4 cylinder car. Most of the offenders are driving something significantly bigger. All are driving something bigger. Now if I were the type to bully my way around a little 4cylinder car would not be the choice. (Yes Clover, I can afford a giant SUV if I wanted one)

            So, why would Clover see rage and threats? Because that’s how Clover thinks. Clover uses government because he thinks in terms of force. Clover also evaluates things not on principle but emotion. So, there we have the source of ‘rage’ (emotional evaluation) and ‘threat’ (political evaluation).

            I’ve explained how you are submissive and think everyone should get out the way of lazy drivers like you countless times. Go re-read one of them.

            You believe in ass-backwards courtesy where you expect other people to take on the work so you don’t have to do it.

            Use turn signals? You have at length defended drivers who didn’t use turn signals. Why would you use them if you feel it is acceptable not to?

            “You do not think the cops should stop any poor and reckless driving but you believe that Brent should be the enforcer.” Yet another Clover lie. Why are you so dishonest, Clover? Oh never mind, it is your very nature.

          • dom
            March 7, 2012 at 4:20 am

            @BrentP I heard you man! Most the time I don’t even read what the hell he writes anymore. We only approve about 1 in 10 of his comments. He thinks you and I are driving some kind of top fuel drag cars ripping up the highways! Fucking makes me laugh my ass off. I’m driving a ’10 Toyota Yaris! LOL Freaking 1.6L five speed. I do have a few gas burners, but why would I commute with one when I get 39mpg on average in the Yaris. All the passes and stuff I do with clover cam is in a 1.6L Yaris. You reading this clover? BIG BAD MEAN YARIS YA DIPSHIT

          • March 7, 2012 at 10:21 am

            Ha!

            It’s the same story here. When I’m not driving a new car to review, I’m driving one of my old trucks – both of them four-cylinder powered. I do drive them about 10 over the limit – but that’s only because the limit is idiotic. But to Clover, it’s holy writ. Something to stand before in awe. He’s got a religious fervor about him – which no doubt explains his rage. When you “speed” you are committing sacrilege against “the law.” And “the law” is Clover’s god!

          • clover
            March 8, 2012 at 12:40 am

            just one question for the three of you. Is it impossible to kill someone with a 4 cyl car? You and I know that you can and it happens every day. It is possible to run a semi off the highway with your little 4 cyl car. Some people are brainless.

          • dom
            March 8, 2012 at 1:21 am

            “Some people are brainless.” I agree!

          • BrentP
            March 8, 2012 at 1:55 am

            Clover, could someone driving an SUV kill someone driving a small 4 cylinder car? Say by pulling that SUV out in front of the little 4 cylinder car? Or perhaps changing lanes towards the side of the small 4 cylinder car? What would you say to that? Oh wait, I already know… you say the driver of the small car is threatening the driver of the SUV.

            Kinda like how little Iran is “threatening” the gigantic USA, right Clover?

          • dom
            March 8, 2012 at 2:01 am

            What all meds do you take? Are you a welfare recipient? Is that why you refuse to state your profession?

          • clover
            March 9, 2012 at 12:24 am

            I like your concept Brent. You talk about little Iran not able to do anything to us. That little Iran can take out a city the size of Chicago very easily if they get the bomb done. There were only two little planes that took out a couple of cities in Japan. Your ignorance is bliss I guess.

          • March 9, 2012 at 12:40 am

            Clover, why would Iran do such a thing given the “answer” would be the annihilation of their country – including its leaders? What rational basis is there for any belief that the Iranians are suicidal? The fact is, Clover, that Iran hasn’t started a war in modern history. Not launched a single “first strike” attack against another country. How many wars has the US government launched during the past 25 years? Six or seven, at least. How many hundreds of thousands of innocent people in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan have been slaughtered, maimed or otherwise horribly abused by agents of this country?

            How many Americans has Iran killed? How has Iran in any way interfered with you as an American?

            Meanwhile, the government of the USSA literally deposed the duly elected leader of Iran and replaced him with its chosen puppet, the shah, who brutalized the country for decades. We invade their airspace regularly. We have imposed embargoes that would be regarded as an act of war if done to us.

            And you wonder why the Iranians detest the US government – and why, perhaps, they might desire to have a nuclear deterrent. A Fuck You card … a means by which they can keep us the fuck out of their affairs and keep their country from becoming the next McCountry – a wholly owned subsidiary of USSA, Inc.

            Your (and your fellow neo-cons’) fulminations about the “threat” posed by Iran are of a piece with Hitler hysterically shrieking about the imminent danger posed by Poland to the security of the Greater German Reich. But, to give der Fuhrer his due, he was not a coward.

            You, on the other hand, are both a coward and an asshole – the archetype of the ignorant, solipsistic, narcissistic poltroons that populate this country.

            Go wrap yourself in the flag and shoot yourself. Please.

            Better yet, go join Newtie and Mitt and little Ricky at the recruiting station. Volunteer to “fight fer freedom” … no? Oh. That’s right. I forgot. You and your kind like to send others to be cannon fodder for your causes.

          • That One Guy
            March 9, 2012 at 1:18 am

            Nuclear Physicist and Air Marshal Clover-

            You left out that nearly four years of warfare destroyed the air defenses of Japan to the point that single bombers could fly over that country virtually unopposed.

            You left out that Iran has no strategic bombing capability.

            You left out that you’re a nincompoop.

            Feel free, Air Marshal, to detail for us how the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, which has no strategic bombing capability in the first place, will cross half the world and penetrate the airspace of the nation with the most technologically advanced air force on the planet, in order to drop that bomb on Chicago.

          • dom
            March 9, 2012 at 1:22 am

            @That One Guy I take offense to your last comment! If you are going to address it (clover) with titles you need to at least include the primary ones. You left out “traffic and safety director!”

          • BrentP
            March 9, 2012 at 1:23 am

            With Clover here it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

            Since Eric already covered all the important points… The chance of Iran nuking Chicago is approximately… ZERO.

            Two little planes? B-29 Super-Fortresses dropped Truman’s bombs. These were the largest heavier than air aircraft of their time. These even today something like a B-29 is well beyond the manufacturing capabilities of most countries including Iran. Even if they could make something as good it couldn’t reach the USA from Iran and it would be a sitting duck to US air defenses if it did.

            In other words Clover, you are being irrational.

            I can solve the “Iran problem” as far as the american -people- are concerned in a few months. I would end all trade sanctions. I would encourage the export of every consumer good Iranian people wanted to buy. Blue jeans, muscle cars, beef, corn, even handguns, shotguns, etc. Any consumer good they want to buy. In a few months there wouldn’t be a problem any more.

            The reason for all the fear mongering is so that the PTB can devastate Iran the way they did to Iraq and Libya and plan to do to Syria. They want to destroy the civilian infrastructure to bring misery and poverty.

            Here Clover, get to know who you want to have killed:
            http://www.blinkx.com/watch-video/iran-yesterday-and-today-rick-steves-documentary/LL7FDy7FOprWmrTCHmY1hQ

            http://www.blinkx.com/watch-video/rick-steves-lectures-iran/a2shMrK8sfLvKdY-rNfeEA

          • That One Guy
            March 9, 2012 at 2:17 am

            Dom that one is perfect! The thought crossed my mind but I couldn’t come up with a good one.

            You’re absolutely right, we mustn’t sell short our resident statist flunkie! Give all due credit or none at all!

          • clover
            March 9, 2012 at 2:20 am

            You guys do not have a clue. Countries like Iran do not care what you do to them. They have all the satisfaction if they kill a few million of us. They could care less after that. People in charge of countries like that are not rational so logic that they should not do something like that is irrelevant.

            It is kind of like Brent ready to be the enforcer on the highway for someone that slowed him down by 2 seconds. It is obvious there are irrational people out there and Brent has video to prove it.

          • BrentP
            March 9, 2012 at 2:49 am

            How infinitely disgustingly ignorant you are Clover. The people there are fundamentally no different than the people here. Same with the sociopaths that become rulers.

            People are people the world over.

            Your inability to understand this shows what a low vibration you are.

            The people who want to harm you Clover don’t live half a world away. They are ones trying to convince you that people half a world away want to harm you. They benefit from convincing you of that. They are the ones who so desire power and wealth that they’ll create a pile of corpses to have both.

          • clover
            March 9, 2012 at 3:21 am

            Are you really that stupid Brent? You do not have to answer that because you already have. Think about the dive bombers in world war two that aimed their planes at ships. What about all of those suicide bombers in history? You and others can make up your own facts if you like but they are made up facts in your mind.

          • BrentP
            March 9, 2012 at 4:31 am

            Clover, that comment cannot be parsed into anything that makes sense.

            It is funny how you are so afraid of some other government but not the one that is actually harming you.

            Parking an aircraft carrier task force off another nation’s coast isn’t supposed to be threatening to them at all but the possibility they might be able to make some sort of desperation attack with hardware they don’t have on an intrusion into their territory is.

          • That One Guy
            March 9, 2012 at 4:42 am

            Yes the desperate acts of people with their backs to the wall. All here are familiar with the history. We don’t need lessons from you. The whole idea is to not drive people to this point.

            Clover you demonstrate time and again a terminal ignorance immune to logic and reason in any dose.

            “May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countryman.”

            Samuel Adams. Look him up. He risked life and limb to oppose a tyranny that retrospectively looks like child’s play compared to what we live under.

          • clover
            March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

            People that kill others do not need a reason. All you have to do is look back at history. All you need is people like OJ where nothing was done to them but they flip out. The same thing as Brent on the highway. Someone who blows his stack for no reason. He gets on other drivers even if they are driving according to the law and safely around other drivers. In his mind only they were doing something wrong.

          • March 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

            Asshole –

            How many Americans have been killed by Iran recently? And by “recently,” I mean over say the past 50 years. How many “brown people’ have been killed in that part of the world by us during the past 25? Or our proxies? It runs into the millions.

            Is Iran sending drones over US airspace? Parking warships off our coast and engaging in “war games”? Does Iran have air bases bristling with firepower just over the border in proxy satraps, as we do in Iraq and Afghanistan?

            Who has nuclear weapons pointed at god-knows-how-many other countries? Why can the US have thousands of nuclear weapons (and Israel hundreds) but Iran – to take the claim at face value – must not be permitted (the arrogance!) to have even one?

            “Blowing his stack”? You mean like the USSA? Which “blows its stack” almost every month, hurling missiles at other countries, sending in its legions to “regime change” governments that do not meet with its approval?

            The effrontery, the stupefying, numbing ignorance.

          • BrentP
            March 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

            Clover, you can continue to project your emotions on me, it just says what you are. You’re the one who might flip out and kill someone. I know I won’t. I use verbal and written expression not violence. You are constantly talking in terms of physical violence. It’s quite sad.

            Eric already covered all the factual arguments. I have nothing to add to it.

          • clover
            March 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm

            Fine Eric if you want to be friends to Iran. You would have wanted to be friends with Hitler also if you were alive back then. Do you think that Hitler would not have used the bomb if he had it? yes the US has had nuclear weapons but they have cut back on the numbers by hundreds. We are smart enough to know that nuclear weapons are not good for the world particularly a country with mentally unstable leaders like Iran has.

          • March 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm

            The government of the USSA has been “friends” with the Shah – a vicious tyrant – then with Saddam Hussein (while it suited our purposes, which including siccing him on the Iranians, with weapons and support provided by us). Before that the government of the USSA was in bed with the Contras; another band of vicious thugs. And of course, the big one – “Uncle Joe” Stalin – the greatest mass murderer in modern history (yes, you benighted poltroon, worse than Hitler in terms of the body count). And even when we stopped being “friends” with Uncle Joe – and despite the fact that (unlike Iran) the Soviet Union actually did have the means and quite arguably the desire to attack us, we did not “pre-emptively” attack because it would have been a global bloodbath. Containment struck most people with IQs above the double digits (unlike you) as preferable. Yet apparently we cannot contain a second-world country that might – might! – eventually manage to produce a single crude bomb with no means to deliver it. It’s preferable – to armchair asshole generals like you – to resort to a war first. A war that will result in thousands of deaths and perhaps millions – if it got out of hand, which it easily could – on the basis of a hysterical “what if” scenario.

            Unbelievable.Why not just bomb everyone, Clover? Someone might be about to doooo something. Better safe than sorry – no matter how many innocent people have to die, right?

            On Hitler:

            Even he did not use the vast stores of chemical weapons he had at his disposal (including Sarin, a German invention). Why? Because even Hitler understood the repercussions. But the USSA feels no compunction about using depleted uranium shells, or fuel-air bombs, or chemical defoliants… and maintains the world’s largest stockpile of offensive nuclear and chemical weapons. It is also the only country that uses torture as policy – openly. And which asserts the “right” to label anyone it wishes a “terrorist” without presentation of evidence and thus, without even the pretext of civil law process that was followed by the Volksgerichsthof (look it up, you god-damned maggot).

            Brent has already dealt with the inanity of the “threat” posed by this second world country vis-a-vis a nuclear superpower bristling with more arms than most of the rest of the world combined.

            There is no evidence that the Iranians want anything more than to have their sovereignty respected; to be free of the endless Cloverite meddling and preaching and interference in their affairs that has been ongoing since at least the 1930s – including the removal of their lawful leader by us, you mother fucking piece of shit. If they want a nuclear weapon, it is to have a trump card – something to keep us out. Which is entirely reasonable, given our history. Of course, being the small-minded, empty headed little creep you are, you’re not capable of trying to see things from their perspective, given this history. Rather, you smack your god-damned lips at the prospect of this government slaughtering more innocent people in order that the USSA can impose its will yet again. I doubt the average Iranian would have any issue with sane, reasonable Americans. But creatures like you who demand the government of the USSA bomb their country, kill their people by the thousands, without any pretext beyond “we feel threatened by you” – I have no doubt they despise you and yours as much I despise you and yours.

            It’s not worth my time to discuss this further. You’re an imbecile and an asshole. It took two years for your ignorant, pushy self to reduce me to profanity. I’ve had it. You will not cheapen this discourse again. You will not waste the time of the intelligent, reasonable people here. You’re out.

            Bye now. Hear that sound?

            It’s your posts being flushed down the toilet.

          • BrentP
            March 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm

            Clover let’s go over the comparison between Hitler and the nazi government and Iran it’s Islamic government:

            1) Nazi Germany had an huge industrial war machine. From raw materials to finished goods. Iran makes carpets and drills for oil. Iran can’t even refine its own oil into gasoline.
            2) Nazi Germany inherited one of the leading engineering and scientific communities of the time. Iran is trying to build up scientific abilities from a rather low level.
            3) Nazi Germany waged aggressive wars and territory grabbing against its neighbors shortly after coming to power. Iran’s current government has never waged an aggressive war.
            4) Nazi Germany actively hunted and imprisoned minorities. Islamic Iran limits the social heights to which minorities can climb in politics.
            5)Nazi Germany had a navy of submarines and a few battleships and other smaller support ships. Iran has a few speed boats.
            I could go on, but you should get the idea.

            As to leaders, you should see what the USA’s “leaders” look like to people in other parts of the world. They don’t look particularly sane. Well except a possible future leader, Ron Paul.

            Iran’s leadership to the people of Iran sounds no different than Santorum or Gingrich or Obama or Romney do to americans.

            When you increase your vibration and maturity you’ll be able to step outside yourself and see things from other points of view and even from completely outside the situation.

          • Mithrandir
            March 9, 2012 at 11:40 pm

            @clover on March 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm

            I guess it is good that we are able to determine who can and should be permitted to have nuclear weapons.

            If one acts like a bully towards others, then one will be treated as a bully by others.

            Your troll-like ramblings cause me to question you mental stability.

            Attacking others in other countries is not a way to win goodwill.

      • mikehell
        March 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

        A better – because simpler, cheaper – alternative would be a lightweight diesel-powered compact sedan. If the car weighed around 2,000 pounds – which would be doable, technically and economically, if the government got the hell out of the car business – an 80 or so hp diesel would be sufficient (adequately powerful for real world a to b transpo) and the car would be capable of 60 MPG or more.

        Or how about a small pickup with similar MPG specs and diesel? Man, would that be sweet.

        • March 4, 2012 at 10:50 am

          Definitely!

          The old Chevy Luv was a case in point. Great little truck; not fast – but great mileage and it was ideal for the sort of rural/farm use I use my truck for.

  2. Tor Munkov
    March 3, 2012 at 9:06 am

    We need a new Manhattan plan for green energy and green jobs. That’s why I support putting Chevy under the army green command of Bravo Company. These fine patriots know how to stick to a plan no matter what kind of adversity arises.
    When you have your orders, you can’t let your greed and selfish opinions get in the way of executing your orders immediately and completely.
    Bravo Company has the right stuff and can do American Spirit to bring the Green Revolution of the sole superpower to eternal triumph.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saC0BW7inp8&feature=player_detailpage

  3. Tor Munkov
    March 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saC0BW7inp8&feature=player_detailpage

    The sole superpower will sleep with the fishes. Sooner, not later.

    One day each of us will have a moment to rest and reflect, to unplug, and it will dawn on us that we are maniacs barrelling down the rails the wrong way.

    A runaway train never going back. Runaway train tearing up the track…

  4. Tor Munkov
    March 3, 2012 at 9:36 am

    There’s no political solution, we should auction off GM and fully deregulate the auto industry and all other industries ASAP.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kelmEZe8whI&feature=player_detailpage

  5. Jay Wocky
    March 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    You really think it’s all over for the Volt. Not me. I expect Government Motors to start ReVolting before this spring’s half over. Election year, remember? Lotsa UAW votes at stake.

    • March 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Yeah!

      Well, if they get Uncle to give buyers a $20,000 tax credit, they could probably sell a few….

      • UncleSim
        March 6, 2012 at 7:01 am

        If the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is right, then the vast majority of revenue is coming from subsidies not sales, so it might happen.

  6. Don
    March 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    That’s what happens when the gov’t steals money from people and give’s it to others in an attempt to push its own agenda. No matter what the gov’t ever does, the needs, the wants, the direction of the people – like a river – can never be suppressed.

    Unless the market really wants a “green car” nobody will be successful in selling a green car.

    How many times must people bang their heads against a wall before they understand that shit hurts?

    • Tor Munkov
      March 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

      There’s 50 million on EBT. But I believe true freedom will always trump handouts.

      Video of It’s Free, Swipe Yo EBT…

      • March 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm

        Infuriating… gnomesayin’?

      • mithrandir
        March 8, 2012 at 2:39 am

        Although the video only portrays black people, I am sure that there are other groups of people that take advantage of the system.

        @eric

        I agree that it is infuriating.

  7. Jerry Olson
    March 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Eric, the original Rabbit Diesel kicked all these Fat government regulated ‘Economy cars’. With it’s turbo it even gathered speed well.

    • March 4, 2012 at 12:09 am

      I know – I remember!

      Imagine that same concept updated just a little – specifically, with a modern six-speed overdrive transmission, better aerodynamics – etc.

      Probably it’d be capable of 60-70 MPG.

  8. March 4, 2012 at 5:11 am

    RIP, government junk. Perhaps the fishes will in time come to appreciate the plastic and silicon designed by lawyers, mba’s, and social engineers…..not.

    I’m just a yeoman mechanic……but I would love to read a scholarly analysis of two automotive failures juxtapsosed: Compare the failure of the Edsel vs. the Volt!

    Let’s see how a mint ’58 Citation convertible (today) compares with a mint 2012 Volt 54 years from now…..chuckle,chuckle.

    To be sure, the late 50’s Edsel was by all accounts a marketing loser (at the time)…..today’s high-voltage plastic abomination is likewise a loser for an entirely different set of reasons.

    Just as we get the leaders we deserve in DC…..So we get the cars we deserve from the ruins of Detroit and the ashes of Dearborn.

    • Douglas
      March 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      At least the Ford Motor Corp. (more precisely, it’s shareholders) paid for the Edsel fiasco. The Edsel was not a bad car mechanically. It was a victim of three things: (1) misreading the trend by creating a new FoMoCo brand when the trend was the opposite – Ford had recently ’86-ed the Zephyr brand themselves, and Chrysler would soon do same with DeSoto and Imperial (2) The timing was BAD, BAD, BAD…FoMoCo had nearly gone under in the late ’40s due to the old man being way behind the times and no one in management willing to set things right. It took the old boy passing on in ’47 to right the ship. By ’54 Ford was flush again, and the Edsel line was a way to placate the Ford family that still held a controlling interest (naming the line after Henry Ford II’s dad) (3) The car was f’ing UGLY…if it had been a dog we’d have had to shave its hiney and teach it to walk backwards! The grill with the centerpiece that looked like a gaping vagina coming at ‘ya. Had someone swallowed the line about subliminal advertising? The era of tailfins and chrome put out some beautiful machines, but this wasn’t one of ‘em. The shame of it is that the Edsel was fairly decent performance-wise. Most came with the 292 V8. Even strangled through a stock two-barrel, this mill put out 200 honest ponies. Some Edsels could get the 410 big-block, which cranked out 330 ponies with a four-barrel and ran on regular gas.
      Sponsoring the Volt is utterly misguided. With the added cost and weight, there’s no evidence that this turkey could actually lower the so-called “carbon footprint”.
      I’ve long had an interest in alternatives to the typical gasoline-powered automobile, but my 30 years experience as a mechanical engineer tells me that the issue boils down to cost-effectiveness. The current price of gasoline, though seemingly high, is not actually much higher than the historical average when rendered in gold. We pay with the green paper that may as well come on 5″ cardboard tubes in rolls so its the price in THAT medium of exchange that goes up. The gasoline engine won out a hundred years ago over steam and electric cars, and other than some specialized roles, it’s still the champ. I’ve wondered if there are small private enterprises attempting to devise their own contraptions. I can bet that if anyone has a decent prototype that the “Gubmint” will pay attention, and not in a good way! As I’ve posted elsewhere, diesel may pose a better way for many motorists.
      I remember looking at hybrids SUVs four years ago before buying our Pacifica. My impression of the hybrid Escape versus its conventional sister was that it was heavier, sluggish, and underpowered. The (listed) price differential was about eight grand. Oh, but you could get a tax credit of up to five grand…if the number of allotments under the “Eye-R-Ass” wasn’t used up. So let’s see…three grand out of pocket, or financed at usurious rates, and gas was $3.30/gal then. A quick ‘back-of-the-napkin’ calculation said that this was worth about 900 gallons of ‘go-juice’. That was about 20,000 miles of driving in town, or 25,000 on the “high”-way (I do live in CA). The expected mileage savings was about four mpg city, or about 17%. So, for a projected useful life of about 100k miles, when the drivetrain and battery warranty expire (and the contraption is beyond economical repair should it had a ‘major malfunction’), it promised a saving of about 600 gallons. The decision was obvious. Unlike the smug tree-huggers, whom as the fictional Glen Quagmire from “Family Guy” said, think they’re ‘Jesus Christ’ for driving a Prius, I had no desire to fool myself as well as the ignorant masses that I was another “enlightened green”. I happy drive the family “Truckster” (remember National Lampoon’s Vacation?) which is the Pacifica, which could have really used the V8 but gets around well on the 4.0 litre V6. And, BTW, this beast that will seat four adult(er)s and two kiddle-lids in comfort, rides like a leather sofa on a cloud and gets 27 mpg on the freeway.
      My 28 y.o. “number one son”, having taken after dear old “Dod” in tinkering with “otto-mobiles”, could probably do better than what Detroit current offers in getting high mileage out of an econobox. You should see how well he keeps the ’99 Saturn that I gave him four years ago running…even recently rigged an alarm (he had trouble with breakins) for less than $30!

      • March 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm

        Great post (and history lesson), Doug – thanks!

        In re the Edsel: As a car, it’s still superior to the Volt. Reasonable price (check what it would sell for today, in adjusted-for-inflation dollars) and it didn’t “go around the block to get across the street,” as people here in the country sometimes say. You got in, turned it on – and off you went. Took 5 minutes (not 12 hours) to “refuel.” Etc.

        My opinion: The only reason GM built the Volt is because there was no cost involved. Government paid for the development, gave GM a tidy profit on the back end – and any losses will be absorbed by taxpayers. Meanwhile, it’s good PR in this enviro-addled world in which we live!

  9. Don
    March 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

    “Jesus Christ…it’s either “showed” or “has shown,” you asshat. It’s never “has showed.” ”

    LMMFAO!

    • March 4, 2012 at 7:20 am

      English is Clover’s second language!

  10. Gail
    March 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

    His primary is Klingon.

    • March 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

      I suspect Klingons would not have much use for Clover! The last thing a Klingon cares about is saaaaaaaaaafety!

      • dom
        March 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

        I don’t think any species has much use for a clover. I’ve had more intellectual conversations with my dog Azuki.

        • Boothe
          March 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm

          Dom, at least Azuki has a brain. I’ve had more intellectual conversations with a TS-400 Suzuki!

    • Blake
      March 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Gail:

      You’re definitely on to something.

      However, I think his primary language is more likely Borg than Klingon. After all, you can’t stray from the “Borg Collective.”

      It’s all about the collective, and we are being assimilated.

      All in the Amerikan collective shall have the same “needs.”
      All in the Amerikan collective shall contribute “their fair share” to the collective.
      All in the Amerikan collective shall drive the same speed.

      Resistance is futile…

  11. Turd Burglestein
    March 5, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Meh…I think I’ll stick with my 90 miata 1.6L that I paid $1800 for. Actually only $800 seeing as how some cloverette busy texting away ran into the back of it and cracked my bumper. Her insurance paid me $992 on the claim.

    It gets 32-34 mpg on my commute and I can just throw another $600 jdm engine in there myself when this one finally dies.

    • Scott
      March 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

      You got a Miata for $1800? You sir are Godlike. I love that car!

      • March 7, 2012 at 10:50 am

        $1,800 is a score!

        There are some great deals to be found, though. Miatas are abundant – and long-lived. I know a guy who bought a really nice one for about $6,000. Because the changes over the years have generally been subtle, older Miatas still look current. They’re just great cars. Excellent commuters that can also be weekend SCCA cars. And also be affordable at the same time.

      • Boothe
        March 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

        I bought my ’97 Miata with the optional hardtop for $3000 with 101K miles on it (barely “broke-in”). It needed tires and has some dings here and there, but it runs like a top and gets a consistent 29 – 30 MPG. I could probably flip the hardtop on Ebay for close to a grand. There are deals to be had on these little cars, you just have to keep your eyes open and a little cash put aside for when you run up on one.

      • mikehell
        March 10, 2012 at 3:07 am

        Hm…A miata, eh? I”ve never been much of a convertible guy but I see some great prices on craigs. Will keep eyes open for a steal.

        • dom
          March 10, 2012 at 3:29 am

          Just met a guy down the street with two of them. It seems like you can bolt on a hard top anytime you want? At least that’s the way he made it seem. He loves those cars too! After hearing all the hoopla on here I had to ask him to pop the hood and also if I could sit inside. Like I said, he had two. I was able to compare the differences between the early 90s one and the mid 00s one. Both identical (mechanically). I think the older one had the coolant hose below the intake tube, or vise-verse. Anyhow, it was a minor difference. I sat down in the newer one and boys let me tell ya that shit is tight! The tranny has a really sporty short throw. I didn’t drive it though. Was about 12 deep on the Ice House. Overall, seemed like a kickass little sports car. Tight tight tight though! I’m 6’3″ and 255lbs. My Yaris has more room.

          • That One Guy
            March 10, 2012 at 3:59 am

            Just met a guy down the street…was about 12 deep on the Ice House…

            Friendly!

          • dom
            March 10, 2012 at 4:32 am

            My wife met his wife shopping or something. Anyhow they are both from the same prefecture in Japan. Ended up going over there last weekend after a 200m+ 7 hour bike ride for a BBQ. Was friendly though! lol

          • March 10, 2012 at 11:30 am

            Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to drive a large number of sports cars – everything from a real AC Cobra (not a kit) to the Miata. The others all had their charms – but the Miata has few vices. I know of no other true sports car that is so Swiss watch reliable, so tough and durable – and so affordable to buy/feed and keep up. I know guys who SCCA autocross them and the drive them to work after changing tires. And they do this for years, with the same car – without rebuilding anything. Just tires, brakes and oil.

            Yes, it’s a tight car for really big guys. But if you’re six feet or less and don’t weigh over 190, it’s very doable for most people.

            I literally could not drive the AC Cobra. I don’t know how Carrol Shelby ever did. He must have very small feet. I could not operate the pedals – or at least, couldn’t do so without major contortions. I lasted less than 5 minutes in it. Hated it. Because it was like being 16 and having a supermodel just out of reach….

          • Tor Munkov
            March 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

            Some Names of States in Japan(prefectures)

            Blue Forest, Offing Rope, Big Minute, Long Cape, Apple Good, Silent Hill, Thorn Castle, Love Wisdom, Crowd Horse…

          • March 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

            I’ve never been to Japan but would like to go (if I could fly without being fondled). I love sushi, for openers – and I appreciate civilized people. The way they handled the tsunami illustrates the point. No mobs of thugs taking advantage of the chaos; they just dealt with it – peacefully, cooperatively. I respect the hell out of that. America is a barbarous land, in contrast.

          • mikehell
            March 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

            It’s funny y’all bring up Japan. I’ve been scheming to try to get over there to learn some special farming techniques and to make business connections. The Japanese have a lot of very very dumb protectionist policies that are slowly killing parts of their economy, but that said, there is a lot about the culture that I admire greatly.

          • mikehell
            March 10, 2012 at 4:11 pm

            PS, Eric, thanks for the follow up on the Miata. I’ll definitely keep it on the permanent search list.

          • March 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm

            You bet, Mike – keep us posted!

          • dom
            March 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm

            Japan, huh. When I was 4 we lived in Iwakuni, Japan for a year. When I was 12 we moved to Okinawa, Japan and stayed there until I was 18. Then from 2004-06 I lived in Kitakyushu, Japan and taught English at a few schools. I can say will absolute certainty that Japan is the largest inane asylum in the world! Sure is a shitload of fun to visit though!

          • mikehell
            March 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

            dom, what’s an “inane asylum”? :-)

            wasn’t thinking of moving there in any case. just visit.

          • dom
            March 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm

            Sorry, meant to say insane asylum. Freaking been back on forward on the phone with tech support trying to get this damn site faster. These long load times are driving me nuts. We have some ip addresses with like 50 connections at one time. We’re trying to block them all out, but more keep connecting!

          • mikehell
            March 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm

            In the meantime I’m looking for a beater mini truck for farm work and some kayak hauling. Thought I had a bead on a ’94 toyota this weekend but the guy says he’s had the truck 5 years and still didn’t have a title. Suspicious, so I’m waiting until I see a hard copy.

  12. Brandonjin
    March 5, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)
    I like it Eric, I really do!

    • March 5, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks, amigo!

  13. March 6, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Say what you will against the Trabi, but the East Krauts built 3 million of them in a country of 17 million. That would be like 50 million in the US. Think they’ll ever build that many Volts? And the Trabi didn’t cost $250,000, either.

    • March 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

      What’s more, the Trabant was actually a very good car, in terms of what it was trying to achieve. It was just that those aims were distorted by the overall system of the Soviet bloc. It delivered:-

      Poor fuel economy and oil consumption. This was a non-issue with artificially cheap petroleum products from Central Asia.

      Poor emissions, pollution, etc. Also a non-issue to Soviet planners, who similarly ruined vast areas of agriculture in Central Asia in the same period, effectively killing the Aral Sea and so on.

      Labour intensive production engineering (everything was fiddly to get at during assembly). Also a non-issue with the directed labour available, although towards the end East Germany had to resort to using Vietnamese “guest workers” (basically conscripted) to get the work done.

      Decent road performance, e.g. acceleration, braking, ease of use of transmission, etc. by European standards of the 1950s when the Trabant’s design was finalised; that was why Saab had made a very similar two stroke car just a few years earlier, why a two stroke engine almost won the design competition for the Volkswagen in the ’30s despite fuel economy issues, and why my father told me that he would have been pleased to have had a Trabant in the 1950s or ’60s. Unfortunately, central planning locked that in for decades after that rather than moving on, the way Saab had done. Ironically, we now know how to make two stroke engines that are better all round than the four stroke ones of the ’60s, let alone the ’20s and ’30s when the market wasn’t yet tied up in the west; it’s just that incremental development has made today’s four stroke engines that much better still, so it’s too late to get into that race now.

      High reliability. This mattered, with the kind of technical support available (little or none). In fact, many second hand Trabants were sold to the Central Asian former republics of the U.S.S.R. just after those became independent, because they were reliable and because there was still cheap oil there. The bodywork was made out of a cheap wool/resin based material so durable and damage resistant that you can’t even get rid of it by cutting it up and feeding it to goats! (There’s a famous demonstration of trying this.) It may be practical to get rid of a little at a time by putting it in the fuel for cement kilns, which operate at high temperatures.

      So the Trabant succeeded very well at something that shouldn’t have been done at all (a classic example of wastefulness), or at any rate that shouldn’t have been done for so long and on such a scale. The Wartberg was even better that way. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Trabant and the Wartberg were engineering failures – the tragedy is that they were engineering successes.

      • March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

        Two-stroke bikes are similar, of course – and you know how much I loves me a two-stroke bike!

        Self-lubricating, like a diesel!

        Burn oil… on purpose!

        Just be sure to keep that spare set of plugs with you…

        • March 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

          Well, the improved two stroke engines don’t absolutely have to burn oil. Among the (many) improvements that have come along are practical ways of pushing a shot of plain air through the cylinder before admitting the fuel-air mixture, to scavenge properly without loss of fuel and/or hot exhaust gas staying behind. This is an idea that goes back to the very early days, but the catch always used to be that the equipment to do it made the engine at least as heavy and intricate as a four stroke engine so you might as well have had one of those anyway. But now there is at least one practical Italian scooter that does this, Orbital Engine’s R & D is looking very promising, and so on. The thing is, those all use other scavenging instead of, or as well as, crank case scavenging – and if you go whole hog and eliminate crank case scavenging completely, you have to provide separate lubrication even if that is only splash lubrication, and then you don’t run the oil out through the cylinder as you go.

          Oh, and the Puch split piston (“twingle”) engined motorcycles had two spark plugs to eliminate fouling trouble and improve burn in the elongated combustion chamber. You still had to clean them more often than in other engines, but if you did proper maintenance you never had the engine die on you since that would have needed both plugs to foul at the same time.

          • March 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm

            Ah, but then you’ve lost much of the fun of owning a two stroke!

            I am almost ready to fire up my restored S1 triple… and anticipate with great eagerness being able to envelope me some Clovers in a heady musk of blue smoke!

          • March 7, 2012 at 12:17 am

            I had a look at that arrangement. It almost, but not quite, has one of the recent improvements. Back in the ’60s, or maybe even the ’50s, it was discovered that that you could improve two stroke compression by having a resonance in the exhaust so that if you ran the engine at just the right speed a compression pulse came back to the exhaust port just when it was closing, stopping mixture from being forced out. But it only worked at just the right R.P.M. A bit later, it was found that you could get a similar effect over a wider range of R.P.M. if you had three cylinders sharing a common exhaust and arranged the port timing so that the exhaust pulse from one port opening came at the same time as the previous one was closing. Orbital is using this effect, and the (three cylinder) Wartberg may have done for all I know. The Kawasaki S1 triple could have used it, but it looks to me as if it doesn’t because the exhaust isn’t shared.

    • March 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

      True!

      As a basic car, it worked ok.

  14. UncleSim
    March 6, 2012 at 7:29 am

    The Trabant may not have cost nearly as much as a Volt, but its still unaffordable for most people, and the only reason they ever produced so many Trabbys is because it enjoyed a govt-enforced monopoly for so long. 3 Million cars in a ‘market’ of 17 million sounds impressive until you remember that it had no competition, and that it took decades to make that many, so a LOT of people had no car, or an old car that was crappy when it was new. Just having the money to buy a new Trabant was not enough. The waiting list for one is rumored to have made the legendary wait for a new Harley-Davidson seem short by comparison.

    • Profi-Irrer
      March 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      The waiting time for a new Trabbi was usually between 12 and 15 years, price was around 10000 DDR-Mark and btw getting admitted for drivers ed took around 3 years of waiting too.
      This shortage (caused essentially by frozen prices) also caused absurdities like used cars selling for serval times their list price: I knew a cab driver(these guys were filthy rich back then) who told me that a depending on model and other features could easily fetch 50k or more.

  15. Tor Munkov
    March 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

    OT: Quick reminder that if you think you’re seeing a real person when you see Mewt or Oborum on TV, you’re an idiot.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9s1odqQTKyU

  16. Chumchingee
    March 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    The big “mistake” was price. If GM had made this vehicle under 20k, it would have had loads of buyers. The right price is really around 12K.
    The second “mistake” was marketing.
    I would have made a vehicle similar to an old sports car like triumph or MGBs. Then I would have dressed it up with a corvette style body. The engine would have to go from 0 to 60 in a small amount of time. Put your engineer behind the wheel and go up the ramp of any interstate highway in the country. If he comes down with his hair all white, then he has failed to engineer the car right(grin). Your vehicle should be capable of 80 MPH even if you do not do 80 MPH on an interstate.
    I believe GM had no intention of putting a marketable product that is electric on the market. For one the engineered failure of an electric engine is a lot harder to do than making engineered failure in a gas engine.
    The name of the game is also power. You have two choices on the road. One: put enough steel behind you to absorb the crash some idiot is going to make of your vehicle as he rear-ends you at high speed or Two: make the vehicle powerful enough to avoid the idiots.
    The volt meets none of those standards. Therefore it is only for community road travel. (It might get you to the grocery store and back, or to pick up the kids at school.)
    Now if the average consumer makes 177,000 a year. It automatically becomes a status symbol and chick magnet. (Any female with smarts out there should look at her potential mate’s income.)
    That is why I suggested a corvette body on the thing. Making it a collectors item with a fiberglass body and a sporty look is marketing.
    I suggest they are all going about this all wrong. The power supply is the key to money on this vehicle just like ink cartridges are where the real money is in computer printers.
    I suggest we put out power cartridges for these vehicles that are all universally interchangeable at the local power station(gas station). For a set low fee, you drive in, someone changes the cartridge, you pay the price of renting the cartridge, exchanging it for the one in your car. The cartridge would fit into a battery chamber. A decent monitor in the vehicle would tell you how many miles you have left on the cartridge or cartridges. (The more power, the more cartridges needed for the vehicle.)
    I would also make charging the cartridge available short term overnight at home. This gives the illusion of fair play. Most people will forget to charge the vehicle overnight.
    I would put a spare small cartridge designed into the car. That is so you can get to a station if you fail to replace the cartridges on time.
    Here is how your flashlight works. If you put the positive terminals together, you get longevity. If you put it negative/positive terminals together you get higher voltage. Well your auto batteries work the same way. So for short term power boosts you need negative/positive terminals. For longevity of use you need positive to positive terminals with lower voltage. Why not make switchable terminals? Then you have the short term power on the interstate getting up to speed and the long term power on day to day travel in your communities.
    Any auto engineer/electrician could figure this out. Why don’t they? because the gasoline engine makes them the most money.

    • March 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      I agree on price – the problem is the car would need a $25k direct subsidy instead of “only” a $7k direct subsidy. The taxpayers still foot the bill.

      In re marketing: Their mistake here was positioning it as a luxury car. By definition, as I see it, this sort of car is about economy. Not luxury, not performance. Reducing the cost of driving. Otherwise, why bother? Why not just get a performance car? Or a luxury car? People who buy such cars don’t put fuel efficiency at the top of their list – and certainly not if it entails compromises.

      On the rest: Interesting – and I don’t disagree with you. But as far as I can see it, it still makes more sense to build/buy operate a diesel-powered lightweight sedan – something around 2,200 pounds, with maybe an 80 hp engine (more than plenty for basic transpo) that could be sold for less than $18,000 and which would be capable of 60 MPG.

    • Scott
      March 7, 2012 at 12:06 am

      Chum, you’ve got some really good ideas here. I especially liked the comments on switchable terminals; I’d never thought of that and I spent 30 years building computers. I’ve never heard anyone else suggest it, but if it works it’s a *great* idea.

      For the most part, the car you’re describing is being built by Tesla in the NUMI plant (Fremont CA). I own stock :)

      • BrentP
        March 7, 2012 at 2:09 am

        The difficulty is the execution. Li-ion batteries have battery management systems that are there for safety. The configuration of the cells is what determines how the BMS is set up. There would need to be a dual BMS set up plus a good number of relays to do the switching. Maybe some mosfets can handle it. Maybe. The cells themselves would determine the current levels for the relays and mosfets.

        But here’s the rub, the failure analysis. A failure in switching could cause a very dangerous short and thus a fire.

        Risk, cost, and weight in that order would with existing technology probably kill it in the concept stage would kill the switching idea. It might work in the future but I don’t know how to make it into a good consumer product with existing technology.

        • Scott
          March 7, 2012 at 3:17 am

          Thanks for the reality check Brent. Like they say, when something is too good to be true it usually is :)

          I’d still like to work on the problem though. Just because nobody’s ever done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

          Best Regards,
          Scott.

  17. charlie b
    March 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    This car really is a joke. There are ‘just regular ole cars’ that get as good gas mileage as the Volt, and don’t cost half as much. What a piece of crap; of course: made in america.

    • March 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      Agree.

      As an engineering exercise, it’s very impressive. As a car – as means of getting from A to B efficiently – it’s a debacle. A 1983 K-car sedan cost a third as much to buy and got 40 MPG or better. If the car companies applied modern technology to the “K-car concept” (and if government let them do so) we could have a new compact sedan capable of 50-60 MPG without any hybrid technology at all. With a diesel engine, such a car would be capable of 60-70 MPG.

  18. Scott
    March 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    I just picked up a ’99 Audi A4 1.8L turbo today for $6K. I admit that doesn’t sound like a great deal (average price is around $3K) but this car is in perfect condition and only has 80,000 miles on it.

    Now lets figure this out. The A4 turbo gets 30 mpg, a Volt costs $40K (ok, $33K after the dole) 33 – 6 = 27. At $4.50/gallon (California don’t you know) that’s 5,700 gallons of gas, or more appropriately 173,000 miles.

    The chances of the car ever running 173,000 miles are slim since, as I mentioned, it already has 80K on it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty good mechanic and I take good care of my cars, but there’s a pretty decent chance I won’t live long enough to put 175,000 miles on this thing since I own 3 other cars and I’m 55 years old.

    Chevy Volt or Audi? Literally a no brainer. BTW, the A4 turbo kicks butt on windy mountain roads. Something tells me the Volt sucks…

  19. Rex
    March 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    The Volt was a stupid idea it’s not a green car it’s a coal car, even worse than a normal car.

    • March 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Stupid, yes – but only from our perspective. From the perspective of those cashing in, it’s a great idea!

  20. Neil
    March 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    >> The whole point of the exercise, as a practical matter, is to lower the cost of driving by cutting the driver loose from $4 a gallon fuel.

    Actually not. The whole point is to reduce polluting the environment. The stupid myth that hybrids are meant to work out cheaper is just that.

    • March 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Well, they don’t do that, either.

      If you include the “externalities” – such as the cost to the environment of mining/manufacturing hundreds of pounds of caustic batteries per car, the pollution emitted by electrical utility plants, etc. – the true emissions total of hybrid-electric is probably more than the emissions output of a standard car (which by the way is already virtually pollution free at the tailpipe; about 97 percent of the exhaust stream is water and C02, the latter an inert gas that has no bearing at all on air quality/smog).

      • Enjoy Every Sandwich
        March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        The “externalities” argument made by statists tends to annoy me, because they typically only consider the negative eternalities. It’s an exercise in deceit.

        • March 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm

          Agree – just turning their own arguments against ‘em!

        • BrentP
          March 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

          The “externalities” are very important to the real environmental question. We simply won’t see it argued in an honest way politically or on the mainstream media. The reason is none of these people like the actual result of the equation.

          The result is to keep our old cars. Restore them. Rebuild them. Modify them. Stock, improved, whatever doesn’t matter so long as the car is kept up. The more updating the better, but even stock will take a long time to be even with a new car. All summed up it says keep your old car.

          Politically that result is dead on arrival. New controls, new car sales, etc and so on. Power and money can’t flow to the right people through a bunch of local body shops and mechanics.

  21. Ned
    March 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Gosh – those clover posts are enlightening!

    Some years ago, a friend came from California to New Mexico for a hunting trip. He was a terrible left-lane bandit, and I abhorred riding with him.
    A crew cab pickup came running up the left lane, to find it blocked by friend, with me in the passenger’s side. Incidentally, the posted speed limit was 55mph. I suggested that he move out of the way. He responded that he wasn’t doing anything wrong, and was driving at the legal max speed.
    I had to explain that the crew cab pickup, loaded with four guns, were coming home from 12 hours of working on a drilling rig, to get home, shower, sleep, pack a lunch and head out again. I also had to explain that this was NOT California, where people can gleefully fly middle fingers at one another. I also explained that if these guys decide to kick his ass, I would watch and cheer them on. Friend instantly move over to the number 2 lane, which was the lane he should have occupied at that speed.
    Sometimes people have a valid reason for running over the posted, idiotic, social engineering BS, speed limit. Those guys work hard for a living, and don’t have time to suffer creeps who insist, with the help of our masters, to force them to change their driving habits. I suggest that clover try his/her social driving experiments sometime in oilfield country. When he gets his ass kicked, he’ll blame it on “road rage.” The simple reality is, many folks who work their fannies off just won’t tolerate rudeness. Drive defensively, and try not to piss folks off – you’ll do just fine.

    • March 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Sometimes, it takes a little ass kickin’ – or the certain knowledge that one’s coming – to alter rude behavior!

      • methylamine
        March 9, 2012 at 5:40 am

        Or, as Heinlein said:

        “An armed society is a polite society.”

  22. Gail
    March 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Eric sez, “The effrontery, the stupefying, numbing ignorance.”

    So many, many Clovers, so little time.

    • March 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      I’ve got no tolerance anymore for these cretinous little bloodlusters – who so blithely advocate mass killings. To be done to others, of course, by others. I suspect Clover’s attitude would be adjusted if he were on the firing line. If it meant he might be the one getting shot at, or whose home might be reduced to a smoking cinder. I despise these people. Not only for their loathsome embrace of violence but also because their bloodlust will result in blowback for people such as you and I, who want no part of this scheisse but will be dragged into the pit along with Clover.

      • Don
        March 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        Had a Ron Paul meeting last night before our county convention on Saturday and how refreshing to be with others who are disconnected from the matrix and have the courage and character to stand up for what’s right rather than just going along to get along until they die. I was jazzed!

        And there are those down here in Georgia who have no tolerance either Eric. Young people at that. We need to organize ourselves and make this thing happen. I aint getting any younger. ;)

  23. Owen Kellogg
    March 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Eric,

    Another web site I visit is SaabsUnited, they have a story today about the death of the electric car.

    http://www.saabsunited.com/

    It follows along the lines of your conclusions.

    • March 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks, Owen – gonna go check it out now…

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