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Slightly skeptical view of modern cars and their engines

  Recommended Links Notes on buying a car vs. leasing it Mitsubishi Outlander 2006 Mitsubishi Galant 2003 Light replacement in Outlander 2003-2006
Forrester SUV 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid   Winter tires  Humor Etc

Modern cars suffer from overcomplexity. Many subsystems became way too complex.  Amount of electronics used further increases complexity and actually cuts private mechanics from the business.  The more complex the car is, the less reliable it is . So luxury models paradoxically can have a lot of problems as they are oversaturated with electronics. 

It's tough as there way too much variety on the marketplace and too much competition for what, in essence, are almost identical sedans, or small SUVs.

Some interesting development the last year are "driver support" systems like Subaru EyeSight version 3.

Configuration of a car is another problem. For example I prefer to have a weather package (heated mirrors, heater seats, front defroster, if available and fog lights. I also prefer cloth seats. I do not want to pay for leather and the sunroof.   But strangely enough it is difficult to get that set of options, and if you  you often get sunroof as a present from the vendor, which I do not need.  Not all people who are willing to pay more for the vehicle appreciate sunroof :-). It actually makes roof less stable at crash. That's a problem. 

Adaptive cruse control make great sense for long rides.  Which is probably the main thing I am exited about Forrester, as drive quality wise it is close to Mitsubishi Outlander 2006. Not bad, but nothing special. Same with the acceleration up the hill.   Crosstrek is more sexy but is sluggish in this department, so complains on web sites are not without merit.  I am not too exited about CR-V and think you have a better SUV overall, despite Edmunds and Kelly ratings. The way Forrester engine compartment is structured looks better for me. It's tight but all the necessary spots are easily accessible.  Also Honda car  engines rotate in the wrong direction :-)  

Automakers frequently change vehicle designs as the Environmental Protection Agency raises fuel-efficiency standards. They are increasingly using lighter materials like aluminum and high-strength metals like ultra-hard boron steel, particularly in the frame and suspension parts. Such parts are expensive.

As GM faulty ignition switch story tell us there is no guarantee. You can get into troubles, even for a model that is produced for many years.  They knew about faulty switch for more then 10 years and more then a dozen peoples died due to this defect. See News  section.

Too much emphasis on fuel economy is not good. Weight of the car is a safety feature and it affects fuel economy. Generally if you want excellent fuel economy you need to buy a small car. Let's say the size of  Corolla or Civic, or smaller.  Such cars are dangerous on modern highway as frontal collision with a heavier car (say, mid size SUV or light truck) gives you very little chances of survival. 

Hybrid cars look promising but they are more expensive and this additional expence eats all fuel economy unless average for the life of the car prices are, say, above $3.5 a gallon.

Electrical car represent another set of problem:

CVT Transmissions

CVT tranmissions displayed convetional gearboxes almost completely. And the reson is is fuel economy.


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[Jun 06, 2017] Hybrids: pro and contra

Hybrid AWD SUVs make sense only with independent motors, not with the differential. They probably can be get around 30-33 mpg (RAV4)
Jun 06, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova, June 03, 2017 at 04:18 PM

"With enough thrusts pigs can fly. It is just dangerous to stand were they are going to land." This quote is perfectly applicable to OPEC and Russia oil production now.

Neglecting maintenances and using "in fill" drilling just shorten the life of the traditional oil fields. And new large oil fields are difficult to come by.

My impression is that most of "cuts" in production by Russia and OPEC are "forced moves". Production was declining from mid 2016 when old investment were already all put into production and few new investments were made since late 2014.

If we assume the lag period of two years, than in mid 2018 we will feel the results of decisions to cut investments made in 2016.

In this situation announcing cuts allow to save face.

The net result is the same -- the oil price should rise to the level when it is economical to develop "more expensive oil" (deep see drilling, Arctic oil and such) as replacement rate in traditional fields is insufficient to maintain the production.

As long as The US government allow shale companies to generate junk bonds (which will never be repaid representing kind of hidden subsidy) along with "subprime oil", shale can slightly compensate the decline in production, but my impression is that this card was already played. Despite all hoopla from WSJ and other major MSM.

The fact that oil production for some time was artificially kept flat or slightly rising is strange and might be politically motivated (Saudi) which put other producers in situation when they were force to follow Saudi lead or lose customers. China played Russians against Saudi pretty well and got what they want at lower prices.

Those "intensification of production" were short term measures which in a long run are detrimental to old oil fields output.

They might even lessen the total amount of oil that can be extracted from a given field.

The key question here is: Does Russian oil firms has the amount of money needed to maintain production on the current level (at the current oil price levels ) or not.

Obama has a chance to move the US personal fleet to hybrid and more economical cars. He lost this chance. SUV is now dominant type of personal cars int he USA, the trend opposite to what it should be. Even hybrid SUVs like RAV4 hybrid get only around 33 miles highway, less in city traffic.

Transition to Prius type cars (with their around 50 miles per gallon) would allow US consumers to save almost half of oil spend on personal transportation (which probably represent around 60% of total US consumption http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-use/transportation/ )

im1dc, June 03, 2017 at 07:26 PM
Ahh, Russian never cut its production of oil and in fact if I recall a story of one or two weeks ago they increased barrels sold.
im1dc - , June 03, 2017 at 07:27 PM
Do not take that as a put down of Russia, Total of France would do the same thing given the chance.
cm - , June 03, 2017 at 11:38 PM
Many people have "energy efficient" (hybrid/electric) cars as "second cars" or "commute cars". In order to get good mileage, they are small(ish) and aerodynamically shaped, with low ground clearance and tight or covered wheel boxes, which make them inherently "nice weather cars". You better not try to get on the road in winter conditions. (With some models you cannot put on snow chains, plus the low ground clearance will get you stuck in snow more easily.) Plug-in hybrids also have little trunk space as the additional battery has to take up part of the trunk, severely limiting their utility for transporting stuff or even traveling with luggage.

Regarding advertised mileage, you only get the high mileage in sustained driving with little acceleration and at limited speeds (air resistance! - this is why freeway mileage is lower than city mileage). In typical city driving (stopping/accelerating at intersections or temporary congestions), accelerating as required by traffic and politeness will kick in the combustion engine, lowering mileage - on battery you can only accelerate unreasonably slowly, which is in any case rude to drivers behind you, and can easily lead to swerving and road rage incidents. Accelerating and braking according to medium to high density traffic conditions will easily take up to 20% off your "best achievable" mileage - but of course the same is true for non-hybrids.

On top of that, as hybrids have an engine, they are subject to the same engine warmup effects (lower mileage on very short trips on cold engine that are not entirely on battery) as non-hybrids.

I have a hybrid and know what I'm talking about. Still, I get 1.5-2X better mileage in city driving compared to by previous non-hybrid car, and 1.3-1.5X for long distance freeway driving.

For an SUV form factor, 33 mpg for freeway actually looks pretty good (but it's probably the advertised mileage). Also with a Prius, 50 mpg is probably a stretch - more realistic in actual city traffic is ~45 mpg, unless you want to be "that guy" that everybody is cursing and swerving around (due to slow acceleration and leaving ample distance in an attempt to brake slowly without mechanical brakes engaging - energy recovery; easily foiled by people cutting in).

cm - , June 04, 2017 at 12:25 AM
A web search suggests that there are hybrid SUV models that come with four or all wheel drive. But their stated mileage seems to be around 30 mpg (probably still 1.5X of the corresponding non-hybrid model).

Differential locks, or the drive train even being designed with the option, are quite the efficiency killer. I once rented a 4WD SUV (not hybrid) to go to the mountains during winter. It was a very nice and comfortable drive, I had to use the 4WD feature, and couldn't resist testing it a bit beyond what was required - I was very impressed, based on my prior experience with manual differential locks. The overall mileage (including a good stretch of freeway) came in under 20 mpg - still pretty good for the usage I would say. This was only for driving there and back, within a few days. I wouldn't want to drive this kind of thing on a daily basis. But a hypothetical hybrid version would probably get 1.5X or more mileage.

libezkova -> to cm...

"But their stated mileage seems to be around 30 mpg (probably still 1.5X of the corresponding non-hybrid model)."

True. IMHO hybrid AWD SUVs make sense only with independent electrical motors, not with the mechanical differential (RAV4 Hybrid). RAV4 can be get around 30-33 mpg: the battery is heavy and drive the mileage down.

Fred C. Dobbs - , June 04, 2017 at 05:43 AM
'you only get the high mileage in sustained driving with little acceleration and at limited speeds (air resistance! - this is why freeway mileage is lower than city mileage).'

Huh? Hybrids get better mileage in
city driving than on the highways,
but still get good highway mileage.

Largely due to regenerative braking,
for stop & go city driving.

(My neighbor drives a *smallish*
Lincoln hybrid that consistently
gets ~45MPG, not much different
from his wife's Prius.)

ilsm - , June 04, 2017 at 08:10 AM
The early Prius was longer/better aerodynamic. Better on hwy than later shorter model for city.

You can still get the longer aero model, there are three models IIRC.

My brother bought the first couple of generations, the second one he had was better in town!

cm - , June 04, 2017 at 01:16 PM
City mileage improvement comes largely from regenerative braking and not idling the engine when stopped (except to charge the battery). Energy recovery from regenerative braking depends on braking only by generator resistance without mechanical brakes engaging. When you have to brake relatively hard, the mechanical brakes will engage and your kinetic energy will be converted to heat. In sufficiently high density traffic, how hard you have to brake is not entirely up to you.

Aside from that, you will still see a noticeable difference between accelerating "gently" vs. "normally". My hybrid has a display mode where it shows how conducive to energy savings your driving is (acceleration, braking, cruising). On roads that have speed limits around 40 mph, to get "good grades" on acceleration, you have to accelerate impossibly slowly.

I'm still getting good mileage - but to get the "best" mileage I have to drive in a way that would be inconsiderate and probably ticketable (i.e. driving far below the posted speed limit for much of the distance until the next light). You will probably not get a ticket for accelerating a bit slowly, but it's still rude.

cm - , June 04, 2017 at 01:46 PM
On the freeway I usually keep close to the posted speed limit, but at speeds over about 60 mph, while the car will still drive in EV mode, the engine runs for much more of the time.

I maintain that the best mileage is obtained driving continuously at low speeds (up to 40 or a bit above) on even terrain.

[May 30, 2017] Tesla vs traditional car producers: valuations is pure insanity

Notable quotes:
"... There is disconnect between the real world and Central Banks fantasy world represented by stock market valuations. That is all. CB can't even normalize the rates. Even A 50bp hike would be a "monetary shock". So, CB are left only to blow real state bubbles and print extraction of remaining uneconomical oil from the ground. ..."
www.legalmatch.com
shallow sand says: 05/26/2017 at 2:28 pm
May 30, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
Dennis.

Thanks for the reply.

I do not know if I am kidding or not, I am not smart enough to know what future oil demand will be.

I noticed this week a big push by the media to get Tony Seba's predictions out there of $25 oil and demand down to 70 million BOPD worldwide in 10 years.

I have a hard time envisioning all of this EV, ride sharing, autonomous stuff, but I do note:

Toyota Motor Corporation P/E 9.92 Market Cap: $159 billion
Ford Motor Company P/E 11.62 Market Cap: $43.63 billion
General Motors Company P/E 5.10 Market Cap: $49.79 billion

Telsa, Inc. P/E: no earnings Market Cap: $53.33 billion

It is really kind of like shale, makes no sense in terms of making money, but that does not matter. It is a disruptive technology, like Facebook, Google, etc. That seems to be the big thing.

Ves says: 05/27/2017 at 10:07 am
Shallow,

There is disconnect between the real world and Central Banks fantasy world represented by stock market valuations. That is all. CB can't even normalize the rates. Even A 50bp hike would be a "monetary shock". So, CB are left only to blow real state bubbles and print extraction of remaining uneconomical oil from the ground.

And you know probably more than anybody else (when looking at shale balance sheet) that is bleak picture when even crap shale appeals attractive for CB/Fed to throw money in order to keep those fairy tale of FB, Tesla sky high valuations. Society is throwing real resources to keep fantasy world of market valuations alive. Total insanity.

[Apr 21, 2017] Tesla burned over one and a half billion in in 2016.

Apr 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Sally , April 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

In almost all sectors now retail, computing, pharmaceuticals, banks, there is a top heavy model where a small group of companies dominate almost every sector. There are various reasons for this, but it is not helped by well meaning politicians interfering in the market through regulation and tax policy, and wage subsidy for certain firms. Walmart gets govt money to subsides the wages it pays its staff. While this is well meaning to improve the lot of the low paid workers it has a knock on effect.

Why should tax payers subsidy Walmart? The money should be coming out of the Walton families fortune. And if they won't pay their workers more money perhaps that may make it easier for mum and pop stores to compete. After all they don't get the same help paying their staff. Walmart may find it more difficult to retain and keep staff. Endless regulations also don't help small business compete. It's well known inside the belt way and in the EU that the big boys like regulations, and often lobby behind the scenes to help make it hard for their smaller competitors.

And then we come to the biggest interference of all. The federal reserve, and the ECB and the ability to crate endless amounts of free money for the elites. How do you think these companies are able to stay afloat for years as investors throw endless amounts of money at these companies even though they are not making much profit? Amazon has returned very poor amounts back to share holders, and its owner's greatest skill has been to keep convincing his shareholders to keep piling more and more freshly printed fiat into keeping the company going. All this endless free money also encourages endless merges and acquisitions which reduces competition for the customer. No so easy to take over your competitors if you have to actually have the money to buy them out.

A great example of this crazy market is the car company Tesla. The Company burned over $1.5 billion in in 2016. This was provided by cheap credit and equity markets which ponied over a net $2.7 billion to the Company in 2016. In addition Telsa was given huge tax advantages for the first 200,000 vehicles. In effect Telsa's sales are being subsided by the U.S. Tax payer. The company also operates a buyback scheme where it guarantees the resale value on its sales up to 2016. That could be a liability of some $2-3 billion in the future. Comically Wall Street values Telsa at $5 billion more than Ford. Yet Ford sold 2.5million cars last year compared to Telsa's 79 thousand. Now obviously investors are betting on new technology eventually coming good, and replacing the oil fired engine. But without all the smoke and mirrors of funny money this could not continue for very long.

[Apr 20, 2017] Tesla Tumbles After Recalling Over 50,000 Vehicles; Faces Demonstrably Dangerous Autopilot Lawsuit Zero Hedge

Apr 20, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

As CNET reports, the problem lies with the electric parking brakes that help secure the vehicles when placed in Park. The parking brakes contain a small gear that might fracture, which would prevent the parking brake from releasing. Thus, a car that enters Park may not be able to move again. This has no bearing on the vehicles' regular brakes, and Tesla has received no reports of the parking brake system failing to hold a car in place.

Tesla estimates that about 2 percent of the vehicles recalled contain the improperly manufactured gear. It should be noted that the parking brake assembly is from a third-party supplier, as well.

... ... ...

As a reminder, we have noted the so-called 'stealth' recall of various Teslas in the past.

And additionally, as Fortune reports, Tesla owners filed a class-action lawsuit against the automaker for allegedly mischaracterizing the capabilities of its Autopilot 2 feature to consumers.

The lawsuit, filed by law firm Hagens Berman on Wednesday in California's Northern district court, said Tesla's partial autopilot technology was advertised as safe and "stress-free," but instead "is essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous."

"Unwittingly, buyers of the affected vehicles have become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous if engaged," the lawsuit says.

Tesla cars with the Autopilot 2 features were first sold in October 2016. The first generation of the system was first unveiled in 2014. The Autopilot 2, or Enhanced Autopilot, feature costs consumers $5,000.

"What consumers received were cars without standard safety enhancements featured by cars costing less than half the price of a new Tesla, and a purported 'Enhanced Autopilot' that operates in an erratic and dangerous manner," Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, said in a statement .

[Apr 16, 2017] Tesla Faces New Model 3 Delay As German Workers Threaten Strike; More Headaches For Musk Emerge

Tesla looks more and more like a Ponzi scheme
Notable quotes:
"... Tesla now trades at 271 times projected 2018 adjusted earnings, according to FactSet. Ford and GM, in contrast, trade at less than seven and six times the 2018 estimate, respectively. Tesla gets that valuation because it is expected to upend the auto industry, while earning big profits that would bring down the multiple. ..."
"... Is that possible? Here is Grant's math on what Tesla, which sold about 76,000 cars in 2016 and lost $675 million on sales of $7 billion, would need to do: ..."
"... CEO Elon Musk forecasts Tesla can produce 500,000 cars in 2018, while analysts, a bullish lot, peg the number of deliveries at 302,000. Let's say the delivery number is 380,000. Pencil in an average selling price of $50,000-Tesla will still be selling high-priced Model S and Model X vehicles along with the Model 3. That scenario yields just under $21 billion in automotive revenue. Add another $2 billion in sales from its residential solar and energy businesses. If Tesla gets the same 5.4% operating margin that GM and Ford averaged last year, it would generate operating income of $1.1 billion. Subtract $200 million for interest expense and tax the remainder at 25%: The result is $700 million in net income, giving Tesla a multiple roughly 10 times bigger than GM and Ford. ..."
"... The bottom line: "the company would have to quintuple the number of cars it sells, earn margins equivalent to those of its highly efficient competitors and not sell new shares." It is also priced to perfection: should any of these variables be adversely revised, be it lower sales, lower margin, lower selling price, and Tesla doesn't come close to earning enough to get to 10 times the multiple of its bigger rivals by the end of 2018. ..."
Apr 16, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Finally, in today's Heard on the Street , the WSJ's Charlie Grant once again looks at the age old question: "what is Tesla really worth", noting that even as Tesla becomes the most valuable US carmaker by market cap, its profits remain far behind:

"Tesla now trades at 271 times projected 2018 adjusted earnings, according to FactSet. Ford and GM, in contrast, trade at less than seven and six times the 2018 estimate, respectively. Tesla gets that valuation because it is expected to upend the auto industry, while earning big profits that would bring down the multiple. "

Is that possible? Here is Grant's math on what Tesla, which sold about 76,000 cars in 2016 and lost $675 million on sales of $7 billion, would need to do:

... to actually earn enough profits to reduce Tesla's multiple to something in the realm of reasonable would require almost heroic assumptions. First, the basics: Say Tesla's valuation should be 10 times higher than GM and Ford's, and say Tesla's share price stays constant at about $300. That means Tesla would need to earn $4.29 a share in 2018, which equals $700 million in total net income, assuming the current share count doesn't change.

And the assumptions:

CEO Elon Musk forecasts Tesla can produce 500,000 cars in 2018, while analysts, a bullish lot, peg the number of deliveries at 302,000. Let's say the delivery number is 380,000. Pencil in an average selling price of $50,000-Tesla will still be selling high-priced Model S and Model X vehicles along with the Model 3. That scenario yields just under $21 billion in automotive revenue. Add another $2 billion in sales from its residential solar and energy businesses. If Tesla gets the same 5.4% operating margin that GM and Ford averaged last year, it would generate operating income of $1.1 billion. Subtract $200 million for interest expense and tax the remainder at 25%: The result is $700 million in net income, giving Tesla a multiple roughly 10 times bigger than GM and Ford.

The bottom line: "the company would have to quintuple the number of cars it sells, earn margins equivalent to those of its highly efficient competitors and not sell new shares." It is also priced to perfection: should any of these variables be adversely revised, be it lower sales, lower margin, lower selling price, and Tesla doesn't come close to earning enough to get to 10 times the multiple of its bigger rivals by the end of 2018.

Oh well, as Grant concludes that just like during the dot com bubble, "valuation has never mattered before for Tesla's investors and it may not matter at the end of next year. Shareholders may be willing to wait five years instead of two for Tesla to generate big profits, or they may continue to figure that valuation doesn't matter for a game-changer like Tesla."

One thing is clear: the longer TSLA shareholders wait to take Musk to task, giving him the benfit of the doubt, the more tweets such as these will hit Musk' timeline, which instead of focusing on fundamentals...

Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2017

@NoahMagel Pickup truck unveil in 18 to 24 months

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2017

@Reuters This investor group should buy Ford stock. Their governance is amazing ...

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 12, 2017

... suggest that the genius inventor is more interested in even greater boondoggles and even more burned cash, even as Musk's personal vendetta with shorts and competitors grows.

Stormy weather in Shortville ...

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2017

For now, judging by Tesla's record price, it's working. Finally, in today's Heard on the Street , the WSJ's Charlie Grant once again looks at the age old question: "what is Tesla really worth", noting that even as Tesla becomes the most valuable US carmaker by market cap, its profits remain far behind:

"T esla now trades at 271 times projected 2018 adjusted earnings, according to FactSet. Ford and GM, in contrast, trade at less than seven and six times the 2018 estimate, respectively. Tesla gets that valuation because it is expected to upend the auto industry, while earning big profits that would bring down the multiple. "

Is that possible? Here is Grant's math on what Tesla, which sold about 76,000 cars in 2016 and lost $675 million on sales of $7 billion, would need to do:

... to actually earn enough profits to reduce Tesla's multiple to something in the realm of reasonable would require almost heroic assumptions. First, the basics: Say Tesla's valuation should be 10 times higher than GM and Ford's, and say Tesla's share price stays constant at about $300. That means Tesla would need to earn $4.29 a share in 2018, which equals $700 million in total net income, assuming the current share count doesn't change.

And the assumptions:

CEO Elon Musk forecasts Tesla can produce 500,000 cars in 2018, while analysts, a bullish lot, peg the number of deliveries at 302,000. Let's say the delivery number is 380,000. Pencil in an average selling price of $50,000-Tesla will still be selling high-priced Model S and Model X vehicles along with the Model 3. That scenario yields just under $21 billion in automotive revenue. Add another $2 billion in sales from its residential solar and energy businesses. If Tesla gets the same 5.4% operating margin that GM and Ford averaged last year, it would generate operating income of $1.1 billion. Subtract $200 million for interest expense and tax the remainder at 25%: The result is $700 million in net income, giving Tesla a multiple roughly 10 times bigger than GM and Ford.

The bottom line: "the company would have to quintuple the number of cars it sells, earn margins equivalent to those of its highly efficient competitors and not sell new shares." It is also priced to perfection: should any of these variables be adversely revised, be it lower sales, lower margin, lower selling price, and Tesla doesn't come close to earning enough to get to 10 times the multiple of its bigger rivals by the end of 2018.

Oh well, as Grant concludes that just like during the dot com bubble, "valuation has never mattered before for Tesla's investors and it may not matter at the end of next year. Shareholders may be willing to wait five years instead of two for Tesla to generate big profits, or they may continue to figure that valuation doesn't matter for a game-changer like Tesla."

One thing is clear: the longer TSLA shareholders wait to take Musk to task, giving him the benfit of the doubt, the more tweets such as these will hit Musk' timeline, which instead of focusing on fundamentals...

Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2017

@NoahMagel Pickup truck unveil in 18 to 24 months

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2017

@Reuters This investor group should buy Ford stock. Their governance is amazing ...

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 12, 2017

... suggest that the genius inventor is more interested in even greater boondoggles and even more burned cash, even as Musk's personal vendetta with shorts and competitors grows.

Stormy weather in Shortville ...

- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2017

For now, judging by Tesla's record price, it's working.

SloMoe , Apr 16, 2017 4:54 PM

At some point in the near future, it's going to be called a "Musk" not a "Ponzi"

Anteater -> SloMoe , Apr 16, 2017 5:32 PM

No worries, mate, there are enough dupes who will put an $85,000 deposit on a Tesla truck, for Musk to pyramid the wages at Fremont and Gohrmann, then get Trump MAGA tax credits to bail out the whole thing, as Tesla 3s flood the market with pyrotechnical battery failures, which Musk will bail out with the announcement of the new Tesla commuter gyrocopter that drops you off at your office, then returns as a UAV at your e-battery house, much like the Jetsons.

SamEyeAm , Apr 16, 2017 5:16 PM

What's the per car subsidy from the tax payer for every Tesla? I think it's either $7,000 or $11,000 And this asshat still hasn't broken even yet? Time to pull ALL subsidies and let him shit the bed. None of this faggotry should be on the tax payer's heads.

People who can afford $50K+ cars don't need an innocent bystander's pay check at the point of Uncle Sham's gun to subsidize a demand that just isn't there at realistic prices.

Ecclesia Militans -> silverer , Apr 16, 2017 5:37 PM

As unintuitive as it sounds, this comment is right on the money. Given the radical impact this will have on transportation and the ideal fit for American society (our current interstate highway system, reliance on personal vehicles, etc.) then Tesla is a massive game changer, in concert with autonomous vehicle technology. That subsidy may in fact be on the low side, as much as it irks me to admit it.

natashav , Apr 16, 2017 5:35 PM

Elon Musk = THE WELFARE QUEEN.

[Apr 14, 2017] A group of Tesla Inc investors has urged the luxury electric car maker to add two new independent directors to its board, without ties to Chief Executive Elon Musk, to provide a critical check on possible dysfunctional group dynamics

Tesla is new way to spell "dot-com bubble" in 2017...
Apr 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova, April 13, 2017 at 11:00 AM
Tesla's Musk tells disgruntled shareholders: Buy Ford

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/investors-push-changes-tesla-board-154557760--sector.html

It might well be that troubles just started for Musk.

== quote ==

SAN FRANCISCO/DETROIT (Reuters) - A group of Tesla Inc investors has urged the luxury electric car maker to add two new independent directors to its board, without ties to Chief Executive Elon Musk, to "provide a critical check on possible dysfunctional group dynamics."

[Apr 13, 2017] Former GM Vice Chair Trashes Tesla Musk Is A Great Salesman But Theyre Doomed. Its Going To Fail

Apr 13, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
For those who may have missed it, GM's former Vice Chairman Bob Lutz dropped a whole lot of reality on some unsuspecting Tesla cheerleaders on CNBC this morning. A rather blunt Lutz shared his views, as have we on several occasions, that Tesla's constant cash burn combined with a barrage of competitive models that are about to hit the market likely indicate that the company is "doomed." As for Tesla's gravity-defying stock price, Lutz attributed the company's soaring market cap solely to Musk being the "greatest salesman in the world" along with his being "aided and abetted by some analysts."

"I am a well known Tesla skeptic. Somehow it's levitating and I think it's Elon Musk is the greatest salesman in the world. He paints this vision of an unlimited future, aided and abetted by some analysts. It's like Elon Musk has been beamed down from another planet to show us mortals how to run a company."

"The fact is it's a constant cash drain. They're highly dependent on federal government and state incentives for money which constantly flows in. They have capital raises all the time."

"Even the high-end cars that they build now cost more to build than they're able to sell them for."

"Mercedes, BWM, Volkswagen, GM, Audi and Porsche are all coming out with 300-mile [range] electric luxury sedans... I think they're doomed."

At that point, an incredulous CNBC host was forced to step in asking "what does doomed mean?"

"What does doomed mean? Their stock price comes in? They go out of business? They have regular competition like other companies? What do you mean by doomed?"

Fortunately, Lutz was happy to entertain the question and explained to the shocked CNBC hosts that when your variable production costs exceed your products sales price...well, that's a problem.

"Their upside on pricing is limited because everybody else sells electric vehicles at a loss to get the credits to be able to sell the sport utility vehicles and the pickup trucks. So that puts a ceiling on your possible pricing."

"And if he can't make money on the high-end Model S and Model X's which sell up to $100,000, how in the world is he going to make money on a $35,000 small car? Because I have news for you, 42 years of experience, the cost of a car doesn't come down proportional to it's price."

"If you have a situation where the cost of producing a car, labor and materials, is higher than your sell price, your business model is flawed. And it's doomed and it's going to fail."

Finally, the stunned CNBC anchors offered up one more defense by highlighting the massive value of Tesla's battery and solar operations, but were once again shut down in epic fashion...

"The battery plant, in my estimation, is a joke. There are no cost savings from making a lithium ion plant bigger than other people lithium ion plants, because making lithium ion cells is a fully automated process anyway. So, whether you got full automative in a small building or 10x full automation in a big building, you're not saving any money."

[Apr 12, 2017] Tesla stole their factory from GM when GM was in bankruptcy and was forced by the government to sell it to Tesla for 42 mln when it cost 2.5 bln new.

Apr 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
BenIsNotYoda -> pgl... , April 10, 2017 at 11:31 AM
Tesla stole their factory from GM when GM was in bankruptcy and was forced by the government to sell it to Tesla for 42 mln when it cost 2.5 bln new. Talk about a government subsidy. Musk is no visionary. I would be one too if the government gave me a gift of 2.5bln.

He is of course different in that he loses 20,000 dollars on each 100,000 dollar car he sells.

pgl -> BenIsNotYoda... , April 10, 2017 at 12:10 PM
Are you representing GM in a lawsuit? I'll let you and mulp detail the particulars of your latest.

And yea - startups often have early recorded operating losses as they are investing in the future. Quite often - those investments eventually pan out wonderfully.

pgl -> pgl... , April 10, 2017 at 12:12 PM
Tesla's stock is doing great:

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/tsla?ltr=1

I wonder if BINY is short selling this company given his comment. If the market is right, BINY will lose his shirt betting against this start up.

BenIsNotYoda -> pgl... , April 10, 2017 at 12:32 PM
I know better than to short sell Tesla. You dont short sell a government sponsored company. He has friends in high places. Gary Cohn sounds like he will fund Musk's next brain fart - maglev trains.
Moo cow -> pgl... , April 10, 2017 at 12:35 PM
I'm usually in your corner but...where would Musk be without taxpayer dollars propping up his every enterprise?
libezkova -> pgl... , April 10, 2017 at 03:45 PM
"And yea - startups often have early recorded operating losses as they are investing in the future"

You such a naïve dreamer.

Tesla has little or no future unless government updates the grid to accommodate charging cars at night (let's assume 30 KW per night (out of 60KW/h battery). That's around 3 KW/h load assuming 10 hour change period. Not a pocket change).

It is completing in BMW dominated stort luxity car segment. I think it will be crushed because nobody undersnd this business beter then BMW.

I would bet the BMW either buy during some mishap, when it will be cheap, or most probably drive it out of business. Mask is too preoccupied with his other ventures to be successful.

I have a douther of a friend working in Tesla. From what I heard Tesla is a badly managed company and the cars, while very nice, are very expensive and have a lot of problems.

The company is running on hype like dot-com startup. At some point the hype smoke screen will no longer work.

Some of them like one guy on Youtube has with steering can be deadly. That an interesting proposition for $100K car.

libezkova -> libezkova... , April 10, 2017 at 03:48 PM
Sorry, was typing this using the phone. Too many typos.
sanjait -> libezkova... , April 10, 2017 at 04:42 PM
"Tesla has little or no future unless government updates the grid to accommodate charging cars at night (let's assume 30 KW per night (out of 60KW/h battery). That's around 3 KW/h load assuming 10 hour change period. Not a pocket change)."

That's a massive overestimate of average demand for each electric car.

The median commute in the US is less than 10 miles each way. The 90th percentile is around 30 miles each way.

Considering the current teslas have a 265 mile capacity, the average driver would not deplete it by half every day. Not even close.

libezkova -> sanjait... , April 10, 2017 at 06:42 PM
You are right. I contradict myself in two way but the problem still exists.

1. If we assume that the car belong to the luxury segment, then those people by definition will get as many KW/h as necessary.

2. If average is 10 miles each way (20 miles per day) then 10 KW/h per night (on average) is not a problem, unless it is a hot night and all air conditioners are up. It is like leaving one burner in electrical stove up all night.

Also large companies usually have chargers at their parking lots and this practice will be more widespread as more people use electrical cars. Some supermarkets now have changers to (mainly in CA).

But it would remain a problem, if most commuters in particular area commute 60 miles each way to the nearby large city. So this problem can be just the local problem of municipalities, which belong to "remote metropolitan suburbs without nearby trains" category.

In any case the level of penetration of hybrids and electrical cars in personal transportation segment in the USA is dismal, and here government efforts are badly required.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_electric_vehicles_in_the_United_States

== quote ==

The top selling hybrid electric vehicle in the country is the conventional Toyota Prius, which has sold 1,643,000 units since 2000 through April 2016, representing a 40.8% market share of all hybrids sold in the U.S. since 1999.[6] Cumulative sales of the Prius nameplate totaled 1,932,805 units delivered through April 2016, representing a 48.0% market share of total hybrid sales in the U.S.[1][2][3][4][5][7][8] As of April 2016, the conventional Prius is followed by the Toyota Camry Hybrid, with 345,640 units sold since 2006, the Honda Civic Hybrid, with cumulative sales of 234,610 vehicles since 2002, the Ford Fusion Hybrid with 166,341 units since 2009, and the Toyota Prius c with 165,075 units since 2012.[6]

cm -> libezkova... , April 10, 2017 at 09:53 PM
With current battery technology, battery performance or load retention declines noticeably in cold weather. During the cold season, electric power per mile will increase.

The problem with company charging stations is that it doesn't scale - it works when relatively few people have electric cars (that they need to charge).

Then I doubt the 10 mile median commute to begin with - specifically for people who can afford an electric car.

Where I work, a large number (not sure whether majority) of people made no secret that they bought the electric car to be able to ride alone in the car pool lane (without paying toll), not for environmental reasons or fuel saving.

cm -> cm... , April 10, 2017 at 09:55 PM
I'm hearing some companies charge money for charging, or "encourage" owners to move their car when it is charged or after a certain time. This works when you can leave your work station at will to move your car - not a reality for many workers.

But one can always find no end of problems with anything.

Moo cow -> BenIsNotYoda... , April 10, 2017 at 12:32 PM
And yet Musk is a libertaribro hero. Supposed libertarian commenters at Marginal Revolution keep naming him most admired man in the world.
BenIsNotYoda -> Moo cow... , April 10, 2017 at 01:29 PM
no one takes the time to check out simple facts. much easier to go with narratives that line up with your ideology.

Unfortunate thing about facts - they do not line up with with popular narratives. And those like me who try to fit a different narrative are derided by those on the left and the right. I do not really mind it.

ilsm -> mulp... , April 10, 2017 at 05:03 PM
Hey Tesla's market cap is $51B just a bit more than GM!.......
libezkova -> ilsm... , April 10, 2017 at 06:44 PM
Time to sell :-)

[Apr 11, 2017] Passenger cars won't go back to outselling SUVs

Notable quotes:
"... To clear lots and buoy demand for new autos, manufacturers have been spending an average of more than $4,000 on incentives per vehicle, a record, according to J.D. Power. ..."
"... Industry sales results are "being driven by recession-era level of incentives," King said. "You can't have those two things coexist in a definition of a healthy industry." ..."
"... Passenger cars won't go back to outselling SUVs, though the arrival of redesigned versions of Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord sedans may keep the segment from declining further, he predicted. ..."
Apr 11, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
im1dc , April 11, 2017 at 04:51 PM
In the market for a new car,? Now might be a good time to bargain your way to the set of wheel of your dreams

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-11/toyota-says-u-s-market-has-peaked-as-car-woes-spur-discounts

"Toyota Says the U.S. Auto Market Has Peaked"

by Gabrielle Coppola and Anne Riley Moffat...April 11, 2017,...4:53 PM EDT

> Industry sales may drop to 17 million, Toyota executive says

> J.D. Power analyst warns incentives at 'recession-era level'

"The U.S. auto market has peaked and will shrink this year, with manufacturers using unprecedented incentives to support passenger cars through slumping demand, a Toyota Motor Corp. executive said.

Industrywide deliveries may decline to as low as 17 million vehicles from last year's record of about 17.5 million, according to Bob Carter, president of Toyota's U.S. sales unit. A rapid shift in demand toward sport utility vehicles at the expense of sedans is the main factor driving automakers' heavy discounts, he said.

"Once the industry starts to get their pipelines lined up to where the consumer demand is, perhaps we'll see a little bit of relaxing on some of these high incentives," Carter said Tuesday at a conference in New York hosted by the National Automobile Dealers Association and J.D. Power. Toyota's discounts are "higher than we've ever experienced," driven by light trucks reaching about 65 percent of industry sales, up from roughly half.

After seven straight years of growth, U.S. auto sales have declined in each of the first three months of 2017. The slowdown has contributed to a new-vehicle inventory glut, plus a flood of cars returning to the used market after their leases expire has started to depress their prices. To clear lots and buoy demand for new autos, manufacturers have been spending an average of more than $4,000 on incentives per vehicle, a record, according to J.D. Power.

Maintaining last year's record sales place would do long-term damage to the industry, Thomas King, a J.D. Power analyst, said at the conference. The researcher projects deliveries will likely match last year's levels because of discount offers equal to about 10 percent of the average price for new vehicles.

Industry sales results are "being driven by recession-era level of incentives," King said. "You can't have those two things coexist in a definition of a healthy industry."

Toyota's Carter said the company is expecting industry sales will finish the year at 17 million to 17.2 million vehicles. The company was projecting the higher end of that range as of January. A decline to the low point would be the equivalent of about two large auto plants' worth of production.

Passenger cars won't go back to outselling SUVs, though the arrival of redesigned versions of Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord sedans may keep the segment from declining further, he predicted.

"We do believe the industry is over the top, but that doesn't mean we're on a sled ride down from here," Carter said. "After what we all collectively went through in 2009 and 2010, it's going to be fine."

[Apr 03, 2017] Tesla Passes Ford in Market Value as Investors Bet on the Future

This is a clear sign of the bubble. Tesla is low volume luxury car makers (competing mainly in the segment where BMW sedans and Lexus dominate) with not very reliable and extremely costly product. " Of course, based on the number of cars actually being made, they are in a different league from Tesla. G.M. sold 256,000 vehicles in the United States last month, and Ford 234,000. Tesla's sales for the same period: 4,000."
Notable quotes:
"... It currently offers two vehicles, the Model S luxury sedan and the Model X S.U.V., both of which sell for $90,000 or more when options are added in. ..."
Apr 03, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

The record pace of auto sales in the United States is slowing down, leaving investors increasingly bearish on auto stocks.

But there is one exception. Tesla , the electric-vehicle upstart, continues to surge.

On Monday, Tesla surpassed Ford Motor in market value for the first time and moved within striking distance of General Motors, starkly illustrating the growing gap in investors' optimism over its future versus the prospects for the traditional carmakers from Detroit.

While G.M. and Ford may have strong profits and healthy balance sheets, Tesla offers something Wall Street loves much more: the potential for dramatic growth.

"Investors want something that is going to go up in orders of magnitude in six months to six years, and Tesla is that story," said Karl Brauer, a senior editor at Kelley Blue Book. "Nobody thinks Ford or G.M. is going to do that."

Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk , has shattered the conventional wisdom that automakers should be viewed as a stable, reliable investment. Instead, he promotes his California-based company as a dynamic vehicle for growth, despite the risks and challenges ahead of it.

... ... ...

This summer, the company is supposed to start making the Model 3, a compact electric model that Tesla plans to sell for $35,000 and produce in significantly higher volumes. It currently offers two vehicles, the Model S luxury sedan and the Model X S.U.V., both of which sell for $90,000 or more when options are added in. (People who buy its cars benefit from a $7,500 federal tax credit on environmentally friendly cars, a selling point with an uncertain future.)

Once Tesla begins producing the Model 3, Mr. Musk expects production to ramp up quickly, with a goal of making 500,000 cars a year by 2018. Achieving that target will not be easy, Mr. Brauer said. "That's five times growth in volume," he said. "I don't know of any car company that's ever done that in a two-year period."

[Apr 03, 2017] Will Tesla survive for next 10 years as an independent company

Apr 03, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> pgl... April 01, 2017 at 05:31 PM Do you think Tesla might survive for next 10 years as an independent company. I doubt it.

Tesla cars are luxury cars competing mainly with cars like BMW and are still of somewhat limited value outside California. IMHO a good hybrid beats Tesla in all important parameters for less price.

Technical problems are abound and remember that you are traveling is what can be called a hand grenade: powerful lithium battery that has tendency to explode if overheated or punched by fast moving object.

For those who never drive it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPtin6AjUCg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIa8mx7uSBw

Some concerns:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifaH7uzkMT8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E3Si8FWb18
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFUNPpn4080


BTW Prius uses nickel-cadmium, battery. pgl -> mulp... , March 31, 2017 at 03:49 PM

I could site the economic literature on the hold up problem and how the traditional car dealerships screwed both consumers and the car companies (and hence taxpayers ala the 2008 bailout) but Motley Fool's discussion of Telsa does a really good job of making the point on why Tesla is awesome:

https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/04/04/the-top-3-reasons-why-tesla-motors-inc-intimidates.aspx

point -> pgl... , April 01, 2017 at 04:57 PM
This morning I got sucked into a vortex looking at funding EV operation through PV. I wondered, just how much solar plant do you need to run a Tesla? That answer is not too hard, about 200 sqft, a lot less than I expected. (That's for 5000 kWh annually, 14 kWh per day, with a yield of .66 kWh per sq meter you need 21 sq meters.) And that's the conventional number out there, too.

But then, what if you want to fund the replacement of the PV plant? Well, the numbers turn out to be somewhat more than 6% energy yield annually on the energy investment of about 1100 kWh to make the panel per sq meter. If the life is 30 years (conventional assumption), then you have to fund replacement at a bit more than 3% annually. The algebra worked out to roughly twice the plant necessary to both run an EV and to replace the plant.

I didn't calculate how much plant is required to also fund the replacement of the EV, but it looks like depreciation is more than three times operating cost. So we can estimate.

So it takes 200 sqft to run the EV.
Another 200 sqft to replace the plant.
Then maybe 660 sqft to replace the EV.
And another 660 sqft to replace the plant to replace the EV.

Totals, 1720 sqft of plant to keep your EV going.

You can fund your other energy needs off the rest of your roof.

Currently we're funding the solar buildout by burning fossil. At some point solar has to build solar.

So I guess I have my doubts about Mr. Musk's endeavors representing sustainable activity. But as business, wow, what a guy.

[Feb 15, 2017] E-cars are playthings for the rich

Notable quotes:
"... [It's a 2016 article, so perhaps much has changed since and will continue to improve.] ..."
Feb 15, 2017 | www.dw.com
HuntingtonBeach says: 02/09/2017 at 3:29 am CHEVROLET BOLT EV IS THE 2017 MOTOR TREND CAR OF THE YEAR

Two numbers-238 and 29,995-are why. The first is the number of miles the EPA has certified the Bolt EV will travel on a full charge. The second is the price, in dollars, of the Bolt EV, after allowing for a $7,500 federal tax rebate. By offering that range at that price, the Bolt EV has made just about every other electric vehicle on sale obsolete. "Simply put, it's twice the car for half the price of a BMW i3," guest judge Chris Theodore said. "A better car, better package, much better handling, with twice the range."

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Bolt EV is there are no caveats, no "for an electric car" qualifiers needed in any discussion. It is, simply, a world-class small car, and that's before you factor in the benefits inherent in the smoothness, silence, and instant-on torque provided by the electric motor. The ride is firm and sporty, but transmitted road noise is very well damped. The steering has slightly artificial weighting, but brake feel is natural, and once you learn to use the higher regenerative braking modes, you can pretty much drive all the time without touching the friction brakes at all.

The battery is expected to last the life of the Bolt EV, and it's covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

http://www.motortrend.com/news/chevrolet-bolt-ev-2017-car-of-the-year/ Reply

  • Caelan MacIntyre says: 02/09/2017 at 4:34 am Drumbeat: August 21, 2013

    augjohnson :
    "What don't people understand about $27K not being cheap for many people?! Also, the $7500 tax credit isn't meaningful if you don't pay that much in taxes! It's not a subsidy, it's a reduction in FED taxes that doesn't go below zero. It doesn't come off SS or FICA taxes. No lower income person pays anywhere near $7500/year FED taxes. They don't get what you are calling a 'subsidy'. NO EV is cheap for many of your 'common' folk.

    As I said in a response to Nick and he totally ignores , if you don't have stellar credit and have a low income, it's impossible to buy this supposedly 'cheap' car that saves you '$1K+/year' in gas. They won't get any financing, they have to pay cash. Many, many people are stuck, it's no different if your monthly income is just enough to pay rent. That doesn't mean you can just go out and buy a house even if the payment would be lower than your rent. Ain't gonna happen! Why is it that most people who are decently well off are totally blind to how anybody less well off lives? "

    POBox :
    "Well said. A year-old used Honda Accord is $17K in these parts. Civics are $12K and get 37MPG. Both will last 10+ years with very low maintenance.

    The math would favor the hybrid when gas reaches $7/gallon, but we aren't there yet

    I think augjohnson is probably referring to the very large groups of people who can't afford a new car at all . Not to be critical, but most aren't getting one year old used cars either – they buy cars that are several years old. A $5000 car is a major expense that many people can barely afford , and many people finance at even very low levels (so they pay more but less per-month, it makes no sense but neither does a mortgage).

    And then there are the people below THAT – people buying beaters. And below that are the people who buy a bus pass and/or ride a bike.

    I think many people forget how easy it is to be poor, and how hard it is to do much of anything when you are poor. Lots of people make less than $30k, even less than $20k, here in the US . I think I remember a certain presidential candidate complaining that 47% didn't pay any taxes (the vast majority because they don't make enough money, unlike said presidential candidate who paid 13% in taxes on millions of dollars a year).

    Seriously, there are lots of poor people. You don't see them if you make enough money, it's like the movie 'The Sixth Sense'. The thing is, they are there, right across the counter from you at Starbucks, working the register at the grocery store, etc. ."

    Twilight :
    "Well said. I don't think many understand the nature of our predicament, and that we will not be buying our way out of it ."

    Michael Dawson :
    "Exactly. And buying any new car is out of the question for probably 2/3 of the U.S. population. The lack of consciousness of the crushing expense of the whole cars-first system is one of its most important side effects. People live in their own little bubble worlds, dreaming their own little dreams . 'Mobile privatization" was Raymond Williams' term.

    I'm also greatly disturbed by the argument that you get to assess the impact of EVs based on your local region's generation sources. Cars-first is a thoroughly national policy and reality. Hence, promoting EVs in hydro-heavy Oregon or NG-heavy SF is not separable from pushing them everywhere. It's not like the transportation system is somehow going to get sane in pieces. We either talk cold turkey about national reality, or we continue driving to Carmageddon ."

    benamery21 :
    "Last time I checked the median American was driving a 3rd owner car with over a decade on it."

    FMagyar :
    "Thanks, augjohnson, for clearly stating a major beef of mine! A very large group of Americans aren't able to afford food and healthcare, right now. Buying a $27,000.00 EV even with a $7,500 tax credit is completely beyond their reach. They are lucky if they can buy a $3,500 ten year old ICE beater."

    But maybe salaries and employment-levels have shot up! , the middle-class has been reinvigorated! , and the so-called economy has new-and-improved! since then and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future! ^u^

    E-cars are playthings for the rich
    [It's a 2016 article, so perhaps much has changed since and will continue to improve.]

    "An electric car subsidy will be a flash in the pan, not the silver bullet against climate change that the German government is seeking. From a public policy standpoint, it's also rather dubious, says DW's Rolf Wenkel."

  • [Feb 12, 2017] It was said that the average commute in a car, starting from the time one turns the key until it's parked only achieves (roughly) 25 mph effective speed.

    Notable quotes:
    "... That calculation is similar to one I heard about the use of a bicycle. It was said that the average commute in a car, starting from the time one turns the key until it's parked only achieves (roughly) 25 mph effective speed. The driver must then work (again, roughly) 1 hour to pay for every hour of automobile travel, so the real effective speed is only 12.5 mph . ..."
    Feb 12, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
    Caelan MacIntyre says: 02/07/2017 at 5:28 pm
    I had posted it over at The Oil Drum .

    Here's one of the responses:

    "That calculation is similar to one I heard about the use of a bicycle. It was said that the average commute in a car, starting from the time one turns the key until it's parked only achieves (roughly) 25 mph effective speed. The driver must then work (again, roughly) 1 hour to pay for every hour of automobile travel, so the real effective speed is only 12.5 mph .

    A bicycle ridden over relatively mild terrain can easily produce this speed and the rider gets added benefits from the exercise. Of course, this only works over short commutes with good roads and tolerable weather, but it shows how much more efficient transport systems can be

    ~ E. Swanson

    [Feb 08, 2017] Prius is still competitive with EV in cost of gas per mile upto around three dollar fifty a gallon

    Feb 08, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
    likbez says:

    02/07/2017 at 3:42 pm
    OK, let's do simple economic analysis.

    Power of car air conditioner is 3 KW (more for luxury cars), Power of car heater in 5 KW (more for luxury cars).

    http://www.sae.org/events/aars/presentations/2010/W2.pdf

    Let's assume that they add one KW per mile for a year (in places outside California)

    The brings us to 1.5-2 kW/h per mile for EV. Or at 12 cents per kW/h 18-24 cents per mile.

    Prius can get 50 miles per gallon. That means that Prius is competitive with EV up to gas price of 50*18=$9 per gallon.

    Dennis Coyne says: 02/07/2017 at 9:11 pm
    Hi Likbez,

    Air conditioning and heat are not always needed, real world experience of EV owners suggests your numbers are not accurate. At $2.50/gallon a prius costs 5 cents per mile.

    See

    http://insideevs.com/long-term-nissan-leaf-mileageusage-review-once-around-the-sun/

    where author gets 5.4 miles per kWhr, if we assume 0.12 cents per kWhr that is 0.022 cents per mile, less than half the cost of a Prius at 50 MPG and $2.50/gallon gasoline.

    8,232.2 miles with 1,513.2 kW used = 5.4 Miles-per-kWh

    likbez says: 02/07/2017 at 9:49 pm
    I agree that my previous example is too extreme and involve standing a lot in traffic as in NYC (say 60 miles each way with half in heavy traffic - 2 hour commute one way) plus eating lunch in the car as well as pre-heating/pre-cooling the car for 10 min each day in winter and summer (say, 200 days a year)

    Let's assume less drastic case when you commute 30 miles spending in traffic on average 1 hour (each way) with either air conditioner or heating on, and do not eat in the car. With the consumption of electricity for travel only around 0.5 kW per mile (0.38/(0.9*0.85))

    That will bring us to probably around $3.5 per gallon price at which Prius is still competitive with EV.

    I would repeat that we probably need $4 per gallon for mass adoption of EV. Click to Edit Delete (29 minutes and 42 seconds)

    likbez says: 02/07/2017 at 10:17 pm
    Please also note that we should compare apples to apples and for its price Prius is much better car in comparison with Leaf. And Lexus GS 450h ($63K) is a much better car the Tesla S 60 ($71,300, lease $845 /mo.)
    Romeo says: 02/06/2017 at 8:20 pm
    With the EV growth than I wish to see how the government will make money that they earn from gas taxation. The government is not affording to lose the money from gas tax. They will tax the electricity? How? I think this will skyrocket! I think also is going to be a long war till the EV will win.
    likbez says: 02/06/2017 at 9:27 pm
    You probably should not worry before gas will be over $4 a gallon. There will be no sizable EV adoption in the USA before that.

    Currently it is SUV fleet that is growing fastest in the personal car segment. Even hybrid cars sales are suppressed now.

    Dennis Coyne says: 02/07/2017 at 12:50 pm
    Plugin sales growth world wide is about 45%/year from 2014 to 2016.
    aws. says: 02/06/2017 at 9:37 pm
    Audi tells dealerships to get behind electric vehicles because it will dominate the market within 10 years

    Fred Lambert, electrek.co, Jan. 31st 2017 7:52 am ET

    The [Audi of America President Scott Keogh] expects that most of the industry will go entirely "battery-electric" within the next 10 years:

    "All this fright about where am I going to get a charge is going to go away extremely fast. The technology on this front is moving at a staggering pace. You're going to be looking at a marketplace in the next seven, eight, nine, 10 years where for 30 or 40 some brands their entire business is going to be battery-electric vehicles."

    likbez says: 02/07/2017 at 9:53 pm
    10 years is about right.

    [Feb 08, 2017] Gasoline vs. Electric Cars: Energy Usage and Cost

    Feb 08, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
    Caelan MacIntyre says:

    02/07/2017 at 12:13 pm
    Gasoline vs. Electric Cars: Energy Usage and Cost

    " Electric cars offer no savings in energy, money, or emissions at present . Electricity supply from renewables cannot cover but an insignificant portion of road vehicles

    Should electric cars become ubiquitous, electricity will be taxed to yield that revenue

    As a side issue related to the electrification of the U.S., it may interest you that should all the cars (200 million of them) be the electric Leafs, and driven as today for 15 000 km annually, their charging would draw some 80 billion watts based on the earlier MJ/km number. Of course, not everybody will be satisfied driving a small car so the overall consumption will be higher, say 100 GW .

    To put that number into perspective, the present electricity consumption of the whole country amounts to 450 GW . That wattage powers everything, from toasters and air conditioners to factories, hospitals and cities. Adding that new generating and grid capacity any time soon is of concern when considering that the present level was being developed since the time of Edison ."

    Renewable Energies: The Mirage of Mass

    "As most people are, I too am subjected daily to the mass media reports that broadcast the need for building renewable, clean energy sources. Those sources are usually identified as 'wind, solar and others' followed by a hint at their rapidly increasing output .

    Suspicious, I looked up the sources and their annual output as compiled by our Department of Energy (doe.eia.gov)

    Do renewables matter? Can wind and solar impact global climate change measurably?

    Apparently not. There is also no chance that the US, or individual states, will meet the repetitious commitments for 20, 50 or 100 percent of energy to 'be derived from renewable, clean sources' in the usual 5, 10 or 20 years timetable, numbers repeatedly proposed by the facts-ignorant politicians and prejudiced media in cohorts with the 'Big Wind and Big Solar' interests

    The above numbers, the graphs, and the proper meaning of terms should help us challenge the 'green' media and the other-people-money-spending politicians ."

    "I have found the subject of renewable energy (wind and solar) maddening. It simply doesn't work. At all. I've come at the problem every way I can think of, and the bottom line is that transforming diffuse, intermittent, weak energy sources into reliable, powerful energy sources is simply not possible.

    For most power sources we are doing the opposite – taking extremely powerful sources of energy (hydrocarbons, falling water, nuclear energy) and downscaling it to my electrical socket. In such an effort, inefficiencies and loses don't matter much. In the case of wind and solar, I'm trying to upscale the energy – take low energy solar power and make it strong enough to boil water on my stove. Entropy just doesn't work that way ." ~ Frustrated Scientist

    "Clean Energy" is a Dirty Joke

    " 'Clean Energy' is a rhetorical device of unprecedented scope. A poorly defined but effective shield for any pundit, mouthpiece or messaging agent to use when speaking of a seemingly uncertain energy future . 'Clean Energy' has given its name to many formal processes, organisations, and campaigns. Our climate leaders use the term when they talk about targets, and renewables, and 'low carbon' futures

    As someone who is hellbent on finding a way to destroy fossil fools there is one thing that is certain, this juggernaut will not rest till it's all gone. That's how fossil fools have always played their cronyistic, monopolistic, deeply networked game . That's how I look at motive and likelihoods

    When I discovered that some of the very same people who were presenting the most popular arguments for why we should #keepitintheground were also paving the way for carbon capture and storage I began asking questions about the development of this particular form of energy generation. Questions like: Why would organisations that are telling us about carbon bubbles, carbon budgets, unburnable carbon, and stranded assets be supporting the continued burning of gas, coal, and trees, and the expansion of geological storage of CO2 under the North Sea in old oil and gas fields owned by Shell and Statoil? Surely they care about ending the destruction?

    I quickly realised I was asking the wrong questions "

    Do alternative energy sources displace fossil fuels?

    "A fundamental, generally implicit, assumption is that each unit of energy supplied by non-fossil-fuel sources takes the place of a unit of energy supplied by fossil-fuel sources. However, owing to the complexity of economic systems and human behaviour, it is often the case that changes aimed at reducing one type of resource consumption, either through improvements in efficiency of use or by developing substitutes, do not lead to the intended outcome when net effects are considered . Here, I show that the average pattern across most nations of the world over the past fifty years is one where each unit of total national energy use from non-fossil-fuel sources displaced less than one-quarter of a unit of fossil-fuel energy use and, focusing specifically on electricity, each unit of electricity generated by non-fossil-fuel sources displaced less than one-tenth of a unit of fossil-fuel-generated electricity . These results challenge conventional thinking in that they indicate that suppressing the use of fossil fuel will require changes other than simply technical ones such as expanding non-fossil-fuel energy production."

    [Feb 07, 2017] With air conditioning and heating factored in, Prius 50 mpg per gallon might still be quite competitive with 15 cents per kilowatt and three years old Tesla S

    Feb 07, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
    islandboy says: 02/06/2017 at 8:46 am
    Hi George, I'm assuming that you are referring to the calculations in the exercise I linked to, so to I have copied and pasted it here with each step in the calculation numbered. I myself was a little confused when I looked back at step 5 so, I converted the TWh figure in step 4 to GWh (in bold) for clarity. Is that where you are saying "A TWh is 1000 GWh not 100″?

    Also at the end in bold, I have added that the assumption that there would be " no reduction in electricity use to refine the needed motor fuels from crude oil", is not a reasonable assumption.

    1) US 2014 Light duty vehicle, short wheel-base Vehicle Miles Traveled – 2,072,071 million miles (Source US DOT BTS)

    2) Worst case EV power consumption 340 Wh/mile (Tesla Model S)

    So if all VMT for the US in 2014 were traveled in EVs with the consumption of a Tesla Model S, the total electricity required would be:

    3) 2,072,071 x 1,000,000 x 340 = 704,504,140,000,000 Wh = 704.5 TWh

    4) Total Generation at Utility Scale Facilities in the US for 2014 – 4,093,606 GWh = 4,093.606 TWh (Source EIA EPM)

    Increase required on top of 2014 total generation to power all Light Vehicle VMT in 2014 if traveled by EVs nwith the consumption of a Tesla Model S:

    5) 704.5 x 100 ÷ 4,093.606 = 17.2%

    So, according to the above calculations, if all VMT by light vehicles in the US in 2014, had been using EVs with the power consumption of a Tesla Model S it would have required the production of 17% more electricity. This assumes that there is no reduction in electricity use to refine the needed motor fuels from crude oil, not a reasonable assumption so actually less than 17% would be required .

    Dennis Coyne says: 02/06/2017 at 1:19 pm
    Hi Islandboy,

    The only thing I can see is no inclusion of "charging losses".
    Typically about 90% of the energy from the outlet makes it into the battery as there are losses as the AC voltage is converted to DC to charge the battery and probably some thermal losses in the charging process.

    This may indeed be offset by the electricity consumed by the refining process, extraction, transport, and distribution processes in the petroleum industry. More wind and solar can certainly be built and it is not as though the process will happen overnight, it will take 25 to 35 years before most personal transportation will be replaced by plugin vehicles.

    In short, I agree.

    HVACman says: 02/06/2017 at 2:47 pm
    Alan,

    I took the basic US driving statistics and scenario you presented (item 1) and then did NOT look at your calculations below it, but did my own back-of-the-envelope independent estimate (using my OWN assumptions based on what my own first-hand EV drving experience has shown me, and my own calculation process). I came up with 750 TWH/year of EV energy required (at the metered, not at the battery). I was happy to then look at your calcs and see you had about 705 TWh – just 6% different from my calcs. So, independent confirmation. Your numbers look good.

    likbez says: 02/06/2017 at 7:35 pm
    Why did not put just 0.1Kw per mile for simplicity? If you do not question the data what is the value of reproducing the calculations. Click to Edit Delete (56 minutes and 54 seconds)
    islandboy says: 02/06/2017 at 3:55 pm
    As Dennis pointed out, there's also the issue of charging losses, which I completely ignored. I'm curious as to why you say the UK grid would need 30% more energy (TWh). Is it that the energy intensity of the UK economy is lower, such that that the energy required by cars would make up a larger share of the total electricity consumption than the US?

    On the other hand, the UK is so much smaller than the US and I imagine commutes are shorter resulting in significantly lower VMT per capita. Plus the mass transit systems are so much better. (On a visit a few years ago, I commuted from London to the NEC in Birmingham by train to attend a solar trade show rather than stay in Birmingham. It cost me less). In addition, EVs are much more efficient in slow moving, stop and go traffic if climate control, especially heating, is not being used.

    The issue of intermittency is something else altogether. I expect that the UK will eventually get most of it's renewable energy from wind since the wind resources in the UK are good (see http://globalwindatlas.com/map.html ). The profile of the wind resource makes a huge difference. When is it strongest? How much does it vary? Is it strong at night? It is the general profile of the intermittent resources compared to the demand profile that is going to determine how much storage will be needed and how much excess capacity will be needed. Someone with a fairly intimate knowledge of the nature of the renewable resources in the UK would be best equipped to make that determination.

    Dennis Coyne says: 02/06/2017 at 5:08 pm
    Hi George

    Current grid has roughly 2 times as much capacity as average load. Transmission already exists. So for the most part does not need replacing. Existing capacity serves as backup to intermittent wind and solar. As long as the wind is widely dispersed there would not be too much of an intermitency issue.
    Undersea cable to Ireland and France would reduce the problem further. Offshore wind would help. Expensive though, nuclear is also an option.

    likbez says: 02/06/2017 at 7:33 pm
    This is definitely a way too optimistic calculation. Probably by a factor of two or three.

    You probably should use 0.6-0.7 KW/h per mile at the level of generating stations due to losses (10% in transmission, 15% in conversion, 10% in battery itself as it has the impedance).

    Everything else is just a wishful thinking. But even this is way too optimistic. My feeling is that 1 Kw/h per mile is more realistic for summer time if you add air conditioning costs.

    Double that in winter as battery efficiency drops and heating of the cabin is required.

    Add "vampire losses" when the electric car is parked and drop of efficiency of the litium battery with age when 90% efficiency becomes 80% on the second or third year.

    There are a lot of problems with your calculation (which actually assumes that Tesla S is as efficient as Leaf – a much smaller car).

    What I mentioned is just a tip of the iceberg. For gas powered car we can calculate what the well-to-wheel efficiency is. For electric car this is more difficult as parameters of battery change with its age and influence of air conditioning and heating is far more greater.

    In this sense, with air conditioning and heating factored in, Prius 50 mpg per gallon might still be quite competitive with 15 cents per kilowatt and three years old Tesla S.

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1082737_electric-car-efficiency-forget-mpge-it-should-be-miles-kwh
    == quote ==
    For one thing, the charging process is only about 85 percent efficient. Which means that for every 85 kWh used by the car, 100 kWh came through my electric meter. In reality, that 5,074-kWh number is actually more like 5,700 kWh.

    In addition, my car's "vampire" power draw while parked and shut down averaged about 4.5 kWh per day for the first 10 months, and then about 1 kWh per day after a software update two months ago. I estimate the vampire draw sucked up an additional 1,400 kWh or so.

    That brings total actual energy usage for the year: about 7,100 kWh–putting efficiency at about 466 Wh/mile, or about 2.1 miles/kWh.

    The vampire and charging losses bumped the year's real fuel cost up to $820, or about 5.3 cents per mile. Which is still barely a quarter of the fuel cost of a comparable gasoline car.

    Winter vs summer

    As with all electric cars, my efficiency was much lower in cold weather. For the April-to-October period, I averaged 301 Wh/mi, compared to 371 Wh/mi for November to February.

    Although I didn't measure month by month, these numbers imply that energy usage in July–the hottest month–was probably in the range of 290 Wh/mi, while January's was close to 400 Wh/mi.

    Earlier this winter, during my first January with the car–which was followed by the coldest February in recent history around these parts–I found that my energy usage nearly doubled for the short local trips that I usually take.

    Time after time, I'd come home from a run to the grocery store or the chiropractor with an average consumption of well over 500 Wh/mile. (That's before counting vampire and charging losses.)

    Although I didn't measure month by month, these numbers imply that energy usage in July–the hottest month–was probably in the range of 290 Wh/mi, while January's was close to 400 Wh/mi.

    Earlier this winter, during my first January with the car–which was followed by the coldest February in recent history around these parts–I found that my energy usage nearly doubled for the short local trips that I usually take.

    Time after time, I'd come home from a run to the grocery store or the chiropractor with an average consumption of well over 500 Wh/mile. (That's before counting vampire and charging losses.)

    [Jan 16, 2017] Hooray for Professor McLeod and his fight against a traffic camera ticket.

    Jan 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Police State Watch

    That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century Public Discourse. Will Franz Kafka please pick up the white courtesy 'phone.

    roadrider , January 15, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Hooray for Professor McLeod and his fight against a traffic camera ticket. These infernal devices are a nexus of political corruption and corporatism. If public safety rather than revenue enhancement are really the goal then there are equally, if not more, effective ways of enforcing speed limits that do not involve entering into these highly questionable partnerships with private corporations. Aside from highly dubious legalities that McLeod outlines the need for making the deal profitable for the corporate partners and the documented practice of local governments depending on the revenue from traffic cameras make it obvious that the rights of citizens are being trampled on in the guise of "public safety".

    In Montgomery County MD where I live the local government has gone all in on traffic cameras but their protestations about public safety are belied by their routine inclusion of traffic camera revenue in their budgets (if reducing speeding is the goal shouldn't you not rely on this source of revenue) and the obvious strategy of making the changes in speed limits, notices of photo enforcement and the actual cameras so unobtrusive that the are easy to miss. If reducing speeding rather than introducing a "tax" on it were the goal there should be large flashing lights announcing the speed limit changes and photo enforcement (you know, just like the old-style school zone warning signs that still exist in certain parts of the county). But Montco apparently prioritizes revenue over safety.

    Also, the placement of the speed zones, while nominally supposed to be restricted to school zones and construction zones seem to be, in some cases, forced. I once got a speed camera ticket where the sign announcing the speed zone ( from 40 mph to 30 mph) was hidden behind tree branches and while located "near" a school was on a section of road with no sidewalks and no foot traffic and the school was located far from the road down a long driveway. In other words, no students would be walking on the road to get to or from the school. And this ticket was issued on a Saturday morning in late July so the school wasn't even open for business!

    I ended up paying the ticket because the county essentially has presumption of guilt stance with respect to these tickets. The only way to fight them is to challenge the calibration, maintenance and operation of the camera and they charge as much to get the required documentation as they do to pay the ticket (which is a civil violation with no insurance notification).

    Arizona Slim , January 15, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Here in Tucson, the traffic cams were put to a public vote. And they lost. The city had to remove them.

    Tom , January 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    You are right on with your observation:

    These infernal devices are a nexus of political corruption and corporatism.

    One startling quote from the Mayor as he defended the use of traffic cameras really caught my eye (bf added):

    The story continues. Lovers of liberty in Alabama kept political pressure on the state legislature, and earlier this year the legislature repealed the traffic-camera law. Yet Montgomery's defiant mayor announced that the city would continue to operate the program. Curiously, he asserted that to stop issuing tickets would breach the city's contract with American Traffic Solutions. One wonders how many tickets the city is contractually obligated to issue.

    Was there also a non-compete clause to prevent uniformed traffic cops from pulling over and ticketing motorists beyond a certain maximum number? How about language preventing the city from conducting traffic safety programs in schools? Wouldn't surprise me - gotta protect that revenue stream for your private partners, doncha know?

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    One solution – all traffic ticket fines are to be distributed to the citizens equally.

    Not a dime to the courts and officers.

    That eliminates any conflict of interest.

    roadrider , January 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    That's no solution. It simply moves the incentive for collecting the fines to the public instead of government. What makes you think that the citizenry would any less likely to see the fines as free money and maintain the design of the system to maximize revenue collection rather than increasing public safety? And if we're still talking about a privatized traffic camera system the private partners still need their cut – they're not going to donate their services.

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 15, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    I mean to say,

    1. we do away with those cameras
    2. fines via human police officers are to be distributed to citizens.

    We the people are not directly involved in issuing citations nor convictions. And we have no immediate (distribution is at least 12 month into the future) or significant (what maybe $1.50 per person in the city per year?) conflict of interest.

    (To sum: Not direct, not immediate and not significant. More over, or in fact, the only relevant question – what to do with those fines, if not the people? Put to some infrastructure use, to be decided by the city officials you don't trust now?)

    The same amount, shared by much fewer people (police and courts), creates a significant conflict of interest for the officers and the courts.

    Tom , January 15, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Ha ha!

    Might be some unintended consequences, though:
    Passenger: Slow down, we're coming up on a school zone.
    Driver: Sorry, I gotta floor it - baby needs a new pair of shoes! Hold on!!

    Dave , January 15, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Technical question: What effect do laser pointers have on surveillance cameras?

    craazyboy , January 15, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    The sun makes the Sony cmos cam I have in my quadcopter go white. There is a high dynamic range setting which cuts down the washout somewhat, but it increases the amount of time it takes for an image to recover when the cam gets pointed towards a lower light area again. Kinda like an eyeball.

    A laser pointer is narrow, so may affect a smaller part of the image. But then how much power it is would matter. At some power level it may permanently destroy the sensor, but I haven't seen the answer anywhere yet on that. I have been thinking we'll invent a whole new class of vandalism once self driving cars hit the road.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , January 15, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    This might work better:
    http://www.phantomplate.com/products.html

    craazyboy , January 15, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Ah. That looks like a good idea. But now we don't need it in AZ anymore. Actually, I was kinda liking our traffic cams at stop light intersections because before we had a lot of "run the light" traffic accidents. And the only time I ever got a speeding ticket around here was in a speed trap. They had an unmarked school crossing across a 45mph 6 lane blvd that also had a traffic light and pedestrian crossing. We're just supposed to know when the light is green weekdays between 2:25 and 2:45, the posted speed limit isn't so – it's 15mph. 'Course the hidden cop couldn't ever understand why he was always pulling people over. I wonder how many kiddies had to die for the ticket revenue.

    Anywho, time for the Dallas Green Bay game!

    Waldenpond , January 15, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    As robotics are given personhood, it will not be misdemeanor vandalism people will be prosecuted for felony assault. Yes, people sitting on juries will fall back on 'but it's the law'.

    integer , January 15, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Laser Pointer Vs Camera

    With a higher powered laser, or perhaps simply by exposing the camera to a laser pointer for a longer period of time, one could permanently destroy the CCD or CMOS sensor. Also, I feel compelled to explicitly state: experiment with this at your own risk.

    John Wright , January 15, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Unfortunately, a higher power laser might also be accidentally viewed by another person, doing permanent damage to their eyes.

    Here is a link to someone who actually tested CCD/CMOS sensors for damage by lasers

    http://www.laserist.org/camera-sensor-damage-thesis.htm

    Note, full sensor damage was not possible, except if the entire sensor could be swept by the beam, which I could imagine would be very difficult for a driver to do manually..

    This test used 200mW and 500mW lasers, which are 40x and 100x the power of the typical 5mW laser pointer.

    Experimentation risk is not limited to just the experimenter's risk.

    integer , January 15, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the link and I agree about the dangers of using high powered lasers in public. Dave did ask about surveillance cameras rather than speed/traffic cameras though, so I'm not sure that wielding a laser while driving was ever being considered. Taking driving out of the equation would result in it being relatively easy to sweep the laser across the sensor, as it could be accomplished by simply "painting" the front element of the camera's lens.

    Tom , January 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Dave: Sharks with lasers are really frickin' effective.

    voteforno6 , January 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I remember someone on the D.C. city council complaining when their revenue from those speed cameras didn't meet their projections. It turns out that they didn't account for people actually driving slower in those areas.

    Also, a few years ago a bunch of tickets issued from a D.C. speed camera were thrown out, when some enterprising people figured out that the camera in question was actually installed just over the city line, in Maryland.

    Rahul Menon , January 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I recently read an article related to self driving cars and trucks which will be very bad to this kinda of obscure/inconspicuous activity by the police departments. Although I am curious to see what is the motivation for this kind of activity. I understand greed. To what extent of greed? Can we deploy Artificial Intelligence on the minds of these mayors to understand what are the objectives they are trying to meet? Obviously the more money the better I assume. But it would be nice what are the benefits of bringing in additional tainted capital exactly.

    [Jan 15, 2017] Driverless Shuttles Hit Las Vegas No Steering Wheels, No Brake Pedals Zero Hedge

    Notable quotes:
    "... But human life depends on whether the accident is caused by a human or not, and the level of intent. It isn't just a case of the price - the law is increasingly locking people up for driving negligence (rightly in my mind) Who gets locked up when the program fails? Or when the program chooses to hit one person and not another in a complex situation? ..."
    Jan 15, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

    Submitted by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

    Electric, driverless shuttles with no steering wheel and no brake pedal are now operating in Las Vegas.

    There's a new thrill on the streets of downtown Las Vegas, where high- and low-rollers alike are climbing aboard what officials call the first driverless electric shuttle operating on a public U.S. street.

    The oval-shaped shuttle began running Tuesday as part of a 10-day pilot program, carrying up to 12 passengers for free along a short stretch of the Fremont Street East entertainment district.

    The vehicle has a human attendant and computer monitor, but no steering wheel and no brake pedals. Passengers push a button at a marked stop to board it.

    The shuttle uses GPS, electronic curb sensors and other technology, and doesn't require lane lines to make its way.

    "The ride was smooth. It's clean and quiet and seats comfortably," said Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who was among the first public officials to hop a ride on the vehicle developed by the French company Navya and dubbed Arma.

    "I see a huge future for it once they get the technology synchronized," the mayor said Friday.

    The top speed of the shuttle is 25 mph, but it's running about 15 mph during the trial, Navya spokesman Martin Higgins said.

    Higgins called it "100 percent autonomous on a programmed route."

    "If a person or a dog were to run in front of it, it would stop," he said.

    Higgins said it's the company's first test of the shuttle on a public street in the U.S. A similar shuttle began testing in December at a simulated city environment at a University of Michigan research center.

    The vehicle being used in public was shown earlier at the giant CES gadget show just off the Las Vegas Strip.

    Las Vegas city community development chief Jorge Cervantes said plans call for installing transmitters at the Fremont Street intersections to communicate red-light and green-light status to the shuttle.

    He said the city hopes to deploy several autonomous shuttle vehicles - by Navya or another company - later this year for a downtown loop with stops at shopping spots, restaurants, performance venues, museums, a hospital and City Hall.

    At a cost estimated at $10,000 a month, Cervantes said the vehicle could be cost-efficient compared with a single bus and driver costing perhaps $1 million a year.

    The company said it has shuttles in use in France, Australia, Switzerland and other countries that have carried more than 100,000 passengers in more than a year of service.

    Don't Worry Tax Drivers

    Don't worry taxi drivers because some of my readers say
    1.This will never work
    2.There is no demand
    3.Technology cost will be too high
    4.Insurance cost will be too high
    5.The unions will not allow it
    6.It will not be reliable
    7.Vehicles will be stolen
    8.It cannot handle snow, ice, or any adverse weather.
    9.It cannot handle dogs, kids, or 80-year old men on roller skates who will suddenly veer into traffic causing a clusterfack that will last days.
    10.This is just a test, and testing will never stop.

    Real World Analysis

    Those in the real world expect millions of long haul truck driving jobs will vanish by 2020-2022 and massive numbers of taxi job losses will happen simultaneously or soon thereafter.

    Yes, I bumped up my timeline by two years (from 2022-2024 to 2020-2022) for this sequence of events.

    My new timeline is not all tremendously optimistic given the rapid changes we have seen.

    garypaul -> Sudden Debt •Jan 14, 2017 7:56 PM

    You're getting carried away Sudden Debt. This robot stuff works great in the lab/test zones. Whether it is transplantable on a larger scale is still unknown. The interesting thing is, all my friends who are computer programmers/engineers/scientists are skeptical about this stuff, but all my friends who know nothing about computer science are absolutely wild about the "coming age of robots/AI". Go figure.

    P.S. Of course the computer experts that are milking investment money with their start-ups will tell you it's great

    ChartreuseDog -> garypaul •Jan 14, 2017 9:15 PM

    I'm an engineer (well, OK, an electrical engineering technical team lead). I've been an electronics and embedded computer engineer for about 4 decades.

    This Vegas thing looks real - predefined route, transmitted signals for traffic lights, like light rail without the rails.

    Overall, autonomous driving looks like it's almost here, if you like spinning LIDAR transceivers on the top of cars.

    Highway driving is much closer to being solved, by the way. It's suburban and urban side streets that are the tough stuff.

    garypaul -> ChartreuseDog •Jan 14, 2017 9:22 PM

    "Highway driving is much closer to being solved".

    That's my whole point. It's not an equation that you "solve". It's a million unexpected things. Last I heard, autonomous cars were indeed already crashing.

    MEFOBILLS -> CRM114 •Jan 14, 2017 6:07 PM

    Who gets sued? For how much? What about cases where a human driver wouldn't have killed anybody?

    I've been in corporate discussions about this very topic. At a corporation that makes this technology by the way. The answer:

    Insurance companies and the law will figure it out. Basically, if somebody gets run over, then the risk does not fall on the technology provider. Corporate rules can be structured to prevent piercing the corporate veil on this.

    Human life does have a price. Insurance figures out how much it costs to pay off, and then jacks up rates accordingly.

    CRM114 -> MEFOBILLS •Jan 14, 2017 6:20 PM

    Thanks, that's interesting, although I must say that isn't a solution, it's a hope that someone else will come up with one.

    But human life depends on whether the accident is caused by a human or not, and the level of intent. It isn't just a case of the price - the law is increasingly locking people up for driving negligence (rightly in my mind) Who gets locked up when the program fails? Or when the program chooses to hit one person and not another in a complex situation?

    At the moment, corporate manslaughter laws are woefully inadequate. There's clearly one law for the rich and another for everyone else. Mary Barra would be wearing an orange jumpsuit otherwise.

    I am unaware of any automatic machinery which operates in public areas and carries significant risk. Where accidents have happened in the past(e.g.elevators), either the machinery gets changed to remove the risk, or use is discontinued, or the public is separated from the machinery. I don't think any of these are possible for automatic vehicles.

    TuPhat -> shovelhead •Jan 14, 2017 7:53 PM

    Elevators have no choice of route, only how high or low you want to go. autos have no comparison. Disney world has had many robotic attractions for decades but they are still only entertainment. keep entertaining yourself Mish. when I see you on the road I will easily pass you by.

    MEFOBILLS -> Hulk •Jan 14, 2017 6:12 PM

    The future is here: See movie "obsolete" on Amazon. Free if you have prime.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M8MHZRH?autoplay=1&t=2936

    Mr_Potatohead •Jan 14, 2017 6:08 PM

    This is so exciting! Just think about the possibilities here... Shuttles could be outfitted with all kinds of great gizmos to identify their passengers based on RFID chips in credit cards, facial recognition software, voice prints, etc. Then, depending on who is controlling the software, the locks on the door could engage and the shuttle could drive around town dropping of its passengers to various locations eager for their arrival. Trivial to round up illegal aliens, parole violators, or people with standing warrants for arrest. Equally easy to nab people who are delinquent on their taxes, credit cards, mortgages, and spousal support. With a little info from Facebook or Google, a drop-off at the local attitude-adjustment facility might be desirable for those who frequent alternative media or have unhealthy interests in conspiracy theories or the activities at pizza parlors. Just think about the wonderful possibilties here!

    Twee Surgeon -> PitBullsRule •Jan 14, 2017 6:29 PM

    Will unemployed taxi drivers be allowed on the bus with a bottle of vodka and a gallon of gas with a rag in it ?

    When the robot trucks arrive at the robot factory and are unloaded by robot forklifts, who will buy the end products ?

    It won't be truck drivers, taxi drivers or automated production line workers.

    The only way massive automation would work is if some people were planning on a vastly reduced population in the future. It has happened before, they called it the Black Death. The Cultural and Economic consequences of it in Europe were enormous, world changing and permanent.

    animalspirit •Jan 14, 2017 6:32 PM

    $10K / month ... that's $120,000 / year.

    For an autonomous golf cart?


    [Jan 03, 2017] Many in U.S. Skeptical Trump Can Handle Presidential Duties

    Notable quotes:
    "... How worse than the neocon neolib of the past 8 years can Trump be? ..."
    "... General Motors racks up over $150 billion each year in revenue. That is a lot of cars sold all over the world and produced in various places. Ford is similar in many ways. OK - we have 700 jobs saved on one minor model. What about the other models? ..."
    "... Ford's 10-K shows car consumption by region as well as its market share. It global market share is 7.3%. In North America, its market share is 14%. In South America, its market share is 9.6%. Its market share for Europe is 7.7%. China? 4.5%. ..."
    "... Ask me I design support systems. For the $1 you use to produce I estimate you will spend $2 over its life keeping it energized, working and improving. Stop reading the propaganda! ..."
    "... As to auto parts imports from Mexico are problematic, and US can reopen Delphi plants. ..."
    Jan 02, 2017 | www.gallup.com

    JANUARY 2, 2017

    Many in U.S. Skeptical Trump Can Handle Presidential Duties

    by Jeffrey M. Jones

    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    -Less than half confident that Trump can handle several duties

    -Solid majorities were confident in Obama, Bush and Clinton

    -Greatest confidence in Trump's ability to handle economy, work with Congress

    PRINCETON, N.J. -- As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential oath on Jan. 20, less than half of Americans are confident in his ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%). At least seven in 10 Americans were confident in Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in these areas before they took office.

    Americans express somewhat more confidence in Trump to work effectively with Congress (60%), to handle the economy effectively (59%), to defend U.S. interests abroad as president (55%), and to manage the executive branch effectively (53%). But even in these areas, Americans are far less confident in Trump than they were in his predecessors, when comparisons are available.

    The results for Trump are based on a Dec. 7-11 Gallup poll. They are consistent with prior Gallup polling showing Trump having a much lower favorable rating than prior presidents-elect and a much lower approval rating for how he has handled his presidential transition.

    The deficits for Trump versus the average for his predecessors range from a low of 15 percentage points on defending U.S. interests abroad to a high of 32 points for preventing major scandals.

    Among the seven issues tested in the poll, Americans are most confident in Trump to work effectively with Congress (60%) and handle the economy (59%). Trump will have the benefit of working with Republican majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, Obama and Bush -- both of whom also took office with a friendly Congress -- engendered even greater confidence than Trump in this area.

    Trump's business background may contribute to Americans' relatively positive expectations for his presidential performance on the economy. The economy was also a relative issue strength for Trump during the campaign.

    Democrats Have Little Confidence in Trump

    Relatively few Democrats express confidence in Trump to handle the various presidential responsibilities, from a low of 14% for preventing scandals to a high of 35% for working effectively with Congress. Meanwhile, between 77% and 90% of Republicans are confident in the president-elect, expressing greater confidence in his ability to handle the economy and work with Congress, and less in his being able to prevent scandals.

    The deficits in Trump's ratings relative to his predecessors' are largely because of the low scores he gets from supporters of the opposing party. On average, 21% of Democrats have confidence in Trump across the five presidential duties for which Americans also rated Bush and Obama (all except handling the economy and defending U.S. interests abroad). By contrast, for the same five areas, an average of 60% of Republicans were confident in Obama and an average of 57% of Democrats were confident in Bush. These data underscore the much more polarized partisan environment in which Trump will be taking office.

    Trump also fares much worse among independents on the same five tasks (50%) than Obama (79%) and Bush (75%) did.

    Confidence in Trump among his own party's supporters (84%) is closer to that of Obama (94% among Democrats) and Bush (95% among Republicans), but still trails their levels by a significant margin.

    Implications

    Trump defied political experts as well as some historical election patterns in winning the presidency. Emerging the victor in a contentious campaign featuring two of the least well-liked candidates in modern presidential election history, Trump prepares to take office with a majority of Americans viewing him unfavorably. Trump is also much less well-liked than any recent president-elect.

    As such, the public is much less confident in Trump than in his predecessors to handle several of a president's major tasks, including dealing with challenging foreign policy matters such as handling an international crisis or using U.S. military force.

    Trump's opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, also has high unfavorable ratings, and the public most likely would have had similarly low expectations of her ability to handle these situations had she won.

    In addition to their personal feelings about Trump, Americans' lower confidence in him may also stem from the public's generally low level of trust in government. Americans' trust in the federal government to handle international and domestic problems is worse now than it was when Bush and Obama took office. Also, their confidence in the institution of the presidency remains below the historical average, though it is higher now than the record lows it registered at the end of the Bush administration.

    The high political polarization and low trust in government have created a public opinion context that is much more challenging for Trump than it was for those who preceded him in the Oval Office. It appears likely that Trump will begin his administration with far less support from the American people than other recent presidents have.

    Reply Tuesday, January 03, 2017 at 07:59 AM

    ilsm said in reply to Peter K.... January 03, 2017 at 09:01 AM

    How worse than the neocon neolib of the past 8 years can Trump be?

    If the US president has done well the past 30 the standards need adjustment.

    How many dead for the prosperity of the empire and its satellites? Reply Tuesday, January 03, 2017 at 06:04 PM im1dc said... So by now you've heard that Trump threatened GM with a tariff tax on cars it imports from Mexico today...

    ...BUT did you hear about THIS Ford announcement today?

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ford-cancels-plans-for-16-billion-mexico-plant-to-add-700-jobs-in-detroit-2017-01-03

    "Ford cancels plans for $1.6 billion Mexico plant, to add 700 jobs in Detroit"

    By Ciara Linnane, Corporate news editor...Jan 3, 2017...11:21 a.m. ET

    "Ford Motor Co. F, +2.98% said Tuesday it is canceling plans for a new $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and investing $700 million in its Flat Rock, Mich., plant's expansion, as part of a push into electric vehicles in the next five years. The news came just hours after President-elect Donald Trump tweeted at Ford rival General Motors Co. GM, +0.57% saying the company needs to be taxed for certain versions of the Chevrolet Cruze small car that it imports from Mexico to U.S. dealers. Ford said it will add 700 jobs at the Michigan plant, which will build high-tech electric vehicles and self-driving cars, as well as the Mustang and Lincoln Continental. The moves are part of a planned $4.5 billion investment in electric vehicles by 2020 as the company works to become an auto and mobility company. Ford unveiled plans for seven global electric vehicles, including a small SUV offering a range of 300 or more miles. Ford shares jumped 2.4% on the news, while GM was up 0.8% and the S&P 500 SPX, +0.40% was up 0.5%."

    pgl said in reply to im1dc... January 03, 2017 at 09:08 AM

    Except we generally don't import the car from Mexico. We import the components which are assembled in Detroit. Raising the cost of producing cars assembled in Michigan is good news for Toyota.

    pgl said in reply to im1dc... January 03, 2017 at 09:13 AM

    I was wondering why I never heard of this Cruze. It had been mainly sold in Asia. One source notes its recent introduction to North America:

    "Mexico became the first North American country to receive the car, going on sale for the 2010 model year in late 2009. Imported from South Korea, the Chevrolet Cruze in Mexico replaces both the Chevrolet Astra (last sold in 2008) and Optra as the compact offering there. The US and Canadian version of the Chevrolet Cruze entered limited production at Lordstown, Ohio, in July 2010 as a 2011 model, replacing the Chevrolet Cobalt."

    There is so much about the automobile sector that Team Trump does not understand.

    pgl said in reply to im1dc... January 03, 2017 at 09:16 AM

    Follow the links in this story and you'll see this:

    "In a press release, Ford said it is canceling the plan for a factory in San Luis Potosi and will instead build its Focus small car in an existing facility in Hermosillo, Mexico. The Focus is currently built in Wayne, Mich., and Ford has said new products are slated for that plant but hasn't identified specific nameplates."

    So we are seeing changes in the mix of cars with more Focus cars being built in Hermosillo, Mexico instead of Wayne, Michigan.

    DeDude said in reply to im1dc...

    Yes the announcement came hours after Trump's tweet. The decision must have been made even before he had the GOP nomination. But the corporation and the corporate media will be happy to announce it as the result of Trump's bullying and the peeps will rejoice.

    January 03, 2017 at 09:22 AM

    pgl said in reply to DeDude... January 03, 2017 at 09:57 AM

    General Motors racks up over $150 billion each year in revenue. That is a lot of cars sold all over the world and produced in various places. Ford is similar in many ways. OK - we have 700 jobs saved on one minor model. What about the other models? ...

    pgl said in reply to DeDude... January 03, 2017 at 10:04 AM

    Ford's 10-K shows car consumption by region as well as its market share. It global market share is 7.3%. In North America, its market share is 14%. In South America, its market share is 9.6%. Its market share for Europe is 7.7%. China? 4.5%.

    Of course it produces cars in various nations. But the idea that a trade war will increase employment for US auto workers is the kind of insanity that only Peter Navarro could cook up.

    im1dc said in reply to im1dc... January 03, 2017 at 11:24 AM

    Great comments. Ford's Focus production stays and increases in Mexico but the new Ford Electic and Autonomous vehicle moves to Detroit and gets 700 jobs.

    DeDude reminds us that FORD must have made this decision months ago not recently so what we witness today is STAGE MANAGEMENT for the masses for Trump to take a bow

    Ford instead of spending $1.3 Billion in Mexico decides to save and spend $700 Million in the USA, was that really such a difficult corporate decision? Duhh

    GM in the meantime has not bent to Trump's Tweeter storm threats, yet, as Peter K. informs that Republican House did by reversing itself on closing down the Independent Ethics Office due to Trump's intimidating use of #DTS (Drain the Swamp) in his tweet today

    One thing is already clear, PE Trump is going to be a different kind of President and his claims and acts will need to be assessed from multiple perspectives simultaneously, not just political

    sanjait said in reply to im1dc... January 03, 2017 at 12:06 PM

    Trump is an populist who aspires to be a Putin-like kleptocrat.

    Tweeting #DTS to create a veneer of credibility to his promises while continuing to maintain opacity and conflicts of interest in his own business dealings and gather a coalition of oligarch's to run his administration is what he is doing.

    It may sound cynical, but this cynical perspective pretty neatly explains everything Trump is doing and has done his whole life.

    sanjait said in reply to im1dc... January 03, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    Massive 9- and 10-figure investments in plants and ... 700 jobs.

    Putting aside the trade and political drama, those numbers tell the story of American manufacturing in the 21st century.

    ilsm said in reply to sanjait...

    Who maintains those plants?

    Ask me I design support systems. For the $1 you use to produce I estimate you will spend $2 over its life keeping it energized, working and improving. Stop reading the propaganda!

    As to auto parts imports from Mexico are problematic, and US can reopen Delphi plants.

    [Jan 02, 2017] Can Uber Ever Deliver Part Six Latest Data Confirms Bleak P L Performance While Stephen Levitt Makes Indefensible Consumer We

    Jan 02, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    These third quarter results (and the fourth quarter projection) reaffirm the major conclusions of Part One of the Uber series – Uber's operations and growth has depended on unsustainable, multi-billion dollar investor subsidies, and in Uber's seventh year of operations there is still no evidence of the strong, steady P&L margin gains needed to show a clear path to breakeven, much less the roughly $5 billion in annual P&L improvements needed to generate meaningful investor returns.

    One of the two reporters that published the leaked data (Efrati) argued that "Uber's departure from China in the middle of the quarter helped slow the growth rate of its losses" and that the losses "reflects its increased investment in areas like self-driving car technology and mapping." Neither of those claims is credible. Both impacts of the sale of Uber's shareholding in the failed Uber China venture (which include a multi-billion dollar gain from Uber's new shareholding in Didi Chuxing) and investments in speculative future ventures like driverless cars would impact cash flow and balance sheet statements, but not 2012-16 quarterly operating P&L statements, and it is not clear that the reporter understands the difference.

    Stephen Levitt's Bogus Claim that Uber Creates Massive Consumer Welfare Benefits

    The first four parts of Naked Capitalism's Uber series ( Part One , Part Two , Part Three , Part Four ) focused on the question of whether the growth and eventual industry dominance of Uber has (or could in the near future) create sustainable improvements in overall economic welfare. Neither the bleak P&L results of any other single piece of evidence is isolation could answer this question, but the range of evidence presented consistently supported the conclusion that Uber had, and would continue to reduce welfare.

    Uber is a substantially less efficient producer of urban car services than the incumbents they have been driving out, so its growth reduces overall industry efficiency. All of Uber's apparent price and service advantages depend on unsustainable investor subsidies. Uber has not introduced any significant efficiency or product breakthroughs and lacks the scale economies that could quickly generate billions in P&L improvements, and all of Uber's behavior suggests it fully understands that it could not provide returns to investors without achieving exploiting significant levels of welfare reducing anti-competitive market power.

    [Jan 01, 2017] Subaru Impreza Reviews - Subaru Impreza Price, Photos, and Specs - Car and Driver

    Jan 01, 2017 | www.caranddriver.com

    And Subaru hasn't squandered the profits drinking booze and rolling dice. Instead, it has plowed a significant pile of that enhanced revenue into an all-new, soon to be ubiquitous architecture given the sexy name of Subaru Global Platform. It makes its debut inside the 2017 Impreza, which now comes exclusively from Subaru's U.S. plant in Indiana.

    We're told that 95 percent of the Impreza is new, from the curved skeletal members baked into the floor and designed to better manage impact pulses, to the super-stiff firewall that laughs at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's narrow-offset crash test, to the stouter yet no heavier suspension subframes, to the flowing exterior lines. Those looking to Subaru for design leadership, like those looking to the San Diego Padres for a World Series victory, will be disappointed yet again. But the new Impreza, unlike the bug-eyed monsters of the past, is handsome and sleek in a conventional way and drives like a worthy sequel from the company that brought you the BRZ (and the Toyota 86).

    a price escalator that starts with the base $19,715 2.0i manual and ends with the $24,915 Limited automatic, the Impreza is gunning up to be a serious challenger to the Honda Civic and the Mazda 3, two compacts we consider as good alternatives for those who can't or won't pay for an Audi A3.

    Rated at 152 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm, the peaky, normally aspirated 2.0 is not exactly ate up with power despite its lofty 12.5:1 compression ratio. The power ratings are about on par with the other base engines in compact-class competitors.

    [Dec 26, 2016] Self-Driving Trucks Begin Real-World Tests on Ohios Highways

    Dec 26, 2016 | news.slashdot.org
    (cbsnews.com) 178

    Posted by EditorDavid on Sunday November 27, 2016 @04:35PM from the trucking-up-to-Buffalo dept.

    An anonymous reader writes:

    "A vehicle from self-driving truck maker Otto will travel a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 on Monday in central Ohio..." reports the Associated Press.

    The truck "will travel in regular traffic, and a driver in the truck will be positioned to intervene should anything go awry, Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning said Friday, adding that 'safety is obviously No. 1.'"

    Ohio sees this route as "a corridor where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic, aided by a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems slated for installation next year" -- although next week the truck will also start driving on the Ohio Turnpike.

    [Dec 26, 2016] Michigan Lets Autonomous Cars On Roads Without Human Driver

    Notable quotes:
    "... Companies can now test self-driving cars on Michigan public roads without a driver or steering wheel under new laws that could push the state to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development. ..."
    Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
    (go.com) 166

    Posted by msmash on Friday December 09, 2016 @01:00PM from the it's-coming dept.

    Companies can now test self-driving cars on Michigan public roads without a driver or steering wheel under new laws that could push the state to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development.

    From a report on ABC:

    The package of bills signed into law Friday comes with few specific state regulations and leaves many decisions up to automakers and companies like Google and Uber. It also allows automakers and tech companies to run autonomous taxi services and permits test parades of self-driving tractor-trailers as long as humans are in each truck . And they allow the sale of self-driving vehicles to the public once they are tested and certified, according to the state. The bills allow testing without burdensome regulations so the industry can move forward with potential life-saving technology, said Gov. Rick Snyder, who was to sign the bills. "It makes Michigan a place where particularly for the auto industry it's a good place to do work," he said.

    [Dec 26, 2016] Tesla Updates Autopilot To Make It Follow the Speed Limit On Roads

    Dec 26, 2016 | hardware.slashdot.org
    (electrek.co) 156 Posted by BeauHD on Thursday December 22, 2016 @05:45PM from the follow-the-rules dept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Before a recent update that is being gradually pushed to Tesla owners, the automaker allowed its Autopilot to be set at a higher speed than the speed limit on all roads where the driver assist system could be enabled, but now Tesla is pushing a new update to make Autopilot follow the rules of the road more closely . Owners of Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot have, up until now, been able to set the speed of the Autopilot's 'Traffic-Aware Cruise Control' feature to up to 5 mph over the speed limit on roads and non-divided highways. Now they are restricted to following the speed limit exactly, without the 5 mph leeway. On highways, the speed limit doesn't have a direct effect on the Autopilot's speed. The speed is still limited by the Autopilot's overall 90 mph speed limit. Every time Tesla introduces new restrictions to its Autopilot system, it gets a mixed response from owners. While the new restrictions are often coming from the aspiration of making the system safer, some owners always see them as taking away capabilities that they already had and had paid for. With the introduction of the software update v8.0 in September, Tesla introduced a more aggressive "Autopilot nag ," which prompts more 'Hold Steering Wheel' alerts.

    [Nov 19, 2016] What if the ransom is installed in 10 million driverless cars? If the manufacturer can update or manipulate the running software so can someone else. What are the proposed security measures?

    Notable quotes:
    "... ...Rather than programing endless if-then-else statements, they instead simply asked the AI to predict: "What would a human driver do?" They outfitted vehicles with a variety of sensors – cameras, lidar, radar, etc. – and then collected millions of miles of human driving data... ..."
    "... a deer runs across the road in front of you; will the AI know that more are fairly likely to follow? ..."
    "... jumps into the road 30 feet in front of the car; does the AI grit its teeth and hit the animal, slam on the brakes and hit it, slam on brakes and turn sharply left thereby rolling the car after hitting it, or...? ..."
    "... another minor little problem with driverless vehicles is security. there already have been demonstrations that remotely pull a car off the road and turn off the engine. what if it had turned into traffic instead? ..."
    "... the possibilities are endless and the target too tempting to ignore. what would be the ransom if software used in 10 million cars was demonstrated to be remotely controllable? if the manufacturer can update or manipulate the running software so can someone else. what are the proposed security measures? for starters kill all the developers once the software is installed? ..."
    Nov 19, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

    supersaurus : November 18, 2016 at 07:47 AM

    re: the simple economics of machine intelligence

    talking about driverless cars:

    ...Rather than programing endless if-then-else statements, they instead simply asked the AI to predict: "What would a human driver do?" They outfitted vehicles with a variety of sensors – cameras, lidar, radar, etc. – and then collected millions of miles of human driving data...

    of course those millions of miles will have near zero exceptional incidents, e.g.:

    1) a deer runs across the road in front of you; will the AI know that more are fairly likely to follow?

    2) jumps into the road 30 feet in front of the car; does the AI grit its teeth and hit the animal, slam on the brakes and hit it, slam on brakes and turn sharply left thereby rolling the car after hitting it, or...?

    3) while driving along in commuter traffic at maybe 5F on salted snow the temperature drops enough that the water freezes; traffic doesn't notice this (because ice and water can look just alike if the ice is very smooth) until it rounds a slight bend and sees a pile of 25 cars who have already discovered brakes and steering are inoperable if applied together or too extremely; I successfully missed the pile by roughly 2 inches by signaling left and crowding the driver approaching from behind going a little fast; he kept his head and also eased left onto the shoulder and slowed slightly thus didn't hit me by about 6 inches; two cars went through space for about one and one half with no room to spare (this was a once in a lifetime experience...how to get it into the AI's data)? my alternatives were going off the road to the right into the pile of cars already down in the borrow pit or simply t-boning the pile directly. my thought was glancing off the left side of the pile and then off the guy catching up were the least bad choices. how would an AI prepare for that?

    4) driving on very slick road at moderate speed the car in front of you, without brake lights or any visible provocation, begins to slowly spin; what I did is let off the throttle slightly (a lot made me start to spin also) and waited to see which way the spinning car would go off the road, then eased to the left and missed him without spinning myself; what does the AI do?

    incidents like this become burned into the brain but are unlikely to be repeated. all of them are if/then/else scenarios if they were the sum of all hazards, but they are not...the number of actual things that can go wrong might as well be infinite, hence the desire to use learning instead. my point is exceptional circumstances really do happen, and with millions of cars they very likely will happen.

    the problem with learning is once in a lifetime situations are quite likely to not get into the AI's data. how does it respond to something not in its database? throw up its metaphorical hands? slam on the brakes and crash like many human drivers would? how often does the AI run into something it can't handle (yes, I know human drivers aren't perfect). after a driverless car loses the first big lawsuit, then what?

    I spent 30 years as a software developer and I can confidently assert at least two things:

    1) bug free large systems do not exist
    2) it is impossible to test by exercising both sides of every branch in a large system

    note: a program to "prove" the functioning of another program is subject to both rules.

    multithreaded programming with multiple cpus has made the problem hugely worse because now the execution path through the code may not be reproducible even if it is known.

    I really enjoyed "...they instead simply asked the AI to predict...". there is nothing simple about that, neither the problem discussed nor the software solution to it.

    supersaurus : November 18, 2016 at 07:56 AM

    re: the simple economics of machine intelligence

    another minor little problem with driverless vehicles is security. there already have been demonstrations that remotely pull a car off the road and turn off the engine. what if it had turned into traffic instead?

    the possibilities are endless and the target too tempting to ignore. what would be the ransom if software used in 10 million cars was demonstrated to be remotely controllable? if the manufacturer can update or manipulate the running software so can someone else. what are the proposed security measures? for starters kill all the developers once the software is installed?

    [Sep 28, 2016] I wonder how a self-driving truck would handle such a situation as that?

    Notable quotes:
    "... My nightmare is when cars are treated like ipads. You are only as safe as your ability to pay for the next upgrade. ..."
    "... When autonomous vehicles are really synced up, they'll work with highways that speak only to them, with approved software, cars that can't talk to each other using the latest requirements aren't allowed on highways because of the potential danger. ..."
    "... Soon after that, we won't have to worry about the rotting of middle America. Because no one will even be allowed to see it, and no one from there will be allowed to get on the highway to come to the bigger cities. ..."
    Sep 26, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    crittermom September 25, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I used to own a rural gas station and pumped the customers gas, cleaned their windshield and checked their oil.

    No, gas stations don't do that anymore.
    But if we all refuse to use the 'self service' apps such as the one at Sam's Club, their new "service" won't get off the ground, will it?

    I've also worked for the two biggest trucking companies in the nation as well as two intrastate firms (in the office or dispatch).

    I remember a driver calling me in dispatch one day saying he'd been robbed. A car 'bumped' him and when our driver got out of the cab, the thieves accomplice hopped in and they both took off with the loaded truck full of TV's and stereos, with the one in the car following him, leaving our driver standing there.

    I wonder how a 'self-driving' truck would handle such a situation as that?

    I think it's only a matter of time before we find out, as it seems they'd be easy targets once thieves figure out how to take advantage of 'em.

    Chris September 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    My nightmare is when cars are treated like ipads. You are only as safe as your ability to pay for the next upgrade.

    When autonomous vehicles are really synced up, they'll work with highways that speak only to them, with approved software, cars that can't talk to each other using the latest requirements aren't allowed on highways because of the potential danger. Towns which can't support on ramps and exits capable of accommodating sizeable convoys will just be passed over.

    Soon after that, we won't have to worry about the rotting of middle America. Because no one will even be allowed to see it, and no one from there will be allowed to get on the highway to come to the bigger cities.

    People probably won't notice though, because they'll have purchased their vehicles with the supported versions that include streaming audio and ads whenever they have the radio or entertainment service turned off. Kind of like a kindle.

    [Aug 12, 2016] Arguments against the common claim that electric cars are four times as efficient as petrol driven cars.

    Notable quotes:
    "... Lithium-ion batteries last only 3 years, less in hot conditions, and a new set will cost $35,000. If this is so then in effect you will have to pay as much as would buy you two new small cars every three years ..."
    "... If all these factors could be quantified and taken into account, especially those to do with the batteries, the net lifetime energy efficiency of an electric car [under conservative assumptions] might be no better than that of a modern diesel ..."
    www.feasta.org
    Caelan MacIntyre says: 08/10/2016 at 5:16 am "

    The Report makes the common claim that electric cars are four times as efficient as petrol driven cars.

    This seems to be misleading because it doesn't take into account several relevant factors… a full accounting would include:

    o The weight and size differences. The average petrol driven car might get 9 km per litre, but it will be 3-4 times the weight and internal space of a typical electric car. Size and weight cab[sic] be important for security in crashes.

    o The loss of energy getting energy to the vehicle. The energy-return for petrol is quite high; only a small amount of energy is needed to produce it and to get the petrol to the service station and the petrol tank. For electric cars the amount is much higher. Large scale renewable systems [this assumes that they will be in place and powering things like EV-charging] will probably have to depend heavily on solar thermal farms thousands of km from users, meaning considerable embodied energy costs in building the plant (maybe 10% of energy produced in its lifetime), and maybe 15% energy lost in the long distance transmission and city reticulation.

    o Losses at the tank or battery. For petrol cars there is no loss in filling the tank, leaving petrol in the tank, or drawing petrol out. However to charge a battery and get energy out again will involve a 30-40% loss of energy , and there will be a further slight loss as the battery stands idle.

    o Replacement of the tank or battery. Petrol tanks do not deteriorate significantly and do not have to be replaced during the life of the car. Smil (2010) says Lithium-ion batteries last only 3 years, less in hot conditions, and a new set will cost $35,000. If this is so then in effect you will have to pay as much as would buy you two new small cars every three years . [Who will be able to afford, and in a shrinking economy, 2 new small cars every 3 years?] More important here is the embodied energy cost of a battery, containing fairly scarce Lithium . A minor consideration would be deterioration in battery performance as it approaches the end of its life, meaning less efficiency and more energy needed to charge it.

    o What will be the energy cost of producing and recycling the special plastics from which the new light bodies of electric vehicles are made , compared with the costs for metals etc? Mateja (2000) claims these costs are high. Plastics in general take maybe 4+ times as much energy to make than steel, tend to be difficult to recycle, and to be made from petroleum .

    If all these factors could be quantified and taken into account, especially those to do with the batteries, the net lifetime energy efficiency of an electric car [under conservative assumptions] might be no better than that of a modern diesel." ~ Ted Trainer

    - - - - - - - - - - - -

    " 'Cost of repair crazy high" is how one Model S owner puts it in a thread on the Tesla Motor Club online owners forum.

    He describes a minor front-end collision, from which he was able to drive away, that cost him $20,327 to repair. Visible damage was limited to the front left fender, lights, and the corner of the hood. But the bill listed 92 hours of labor and almost $8,000 in parts, including a single self-piercing rivet billed at $35.

    ... ... ...

    [Jul 18, 2016] Demand Destruction once the Subprime Autoloan Party wines down?

    peakoilbarrel.com
    Longtimber , 07/13/2016 at 9:28 am
    Demand Destruction once the Subprime Autoloan Party wines down?

    https://news.slashdot.org/story/16/07/04/2058219/new-cars-are-too-expensive-for-the-typical-family-says-study

    [Jul 18, 2016] Traditional dealerships primary revenue is from parts and service. They are not particularly keen to promote vehicles that undermine their profit model.

    peakoilbarrel.com
    Longtimber , 07/15/2016 at 12:30 pm
    A Friend who owns the Harley, Indian, etc Dealer just stopped by on way to see Blue Angles Show. . I've been leaning on him to check into ZERO Electric Motorcycles. He said Factory brought 3 to review and the ride was incredibly thrilling. Must have one for Himself. But after reviewing maintenance schedules, Not a chance consider handling the line since his bread and butter is servicing super techno high maintenance machines that consume expensive parts. An army of techs are required to keep these beasts performing and safe. Dealer must perform the majority of work. Right to repair – WTF?. Maintenance free electric machines are of ZERO Interest. While eCars are the Future, eMotocycles are making sense, considering that many cars get better fuel economy than many bikes.
    Bob Nickson , 07/15/2016 at 2:02 pm
    That's pretty much been Tesla Motor's argument all along for why the dealership model does not work for their cars hasn't it?

    Traditional dealerships primary revenue is from parts and service. They are not particularly keen to promote vehicles that undermine their profit model.

    JJHMAN , 07/15/2016 at 10:50 pm
    I just bought a Chevy Volt. After 1400 miles I have used about 4 gallons of gasoline. My energy equivalent average mileage is about 90 mpge. That is the combination of something like 105 mpge electric and 41 gas. I routinely obtain 60 miles on pure electric with overnight charging and special nighttime rates from the utility. I have yet to get enough billing information to see how much or if I'm saving any money.

    Except for the pointless electronic gee-gaws apparently necessary to sell cars to the unwashed masses the car is an engineering marvel; smooth, quiet, adequate power. Hopfully it will be more reliable than my last Chevy from 1983. It certainly is different and I believe the format is the transition car into the future.

    Caelan MacIntyre , 07/15/2016 at 10:59 pm

    "…in practical terms, it would seem that electricity can make wheels go round, but it cannot make wheels, or provide an ongoing purpose for their rotation.
    Of course, given a full backup of industrial infrastructure, almost anything is doable. But in a SHTF situation, we are not going to have backup industry-and that is the problem that fantasy engineers and physicists choose to ignore

    Perhaps the ultimate fantasy lies in the purpose of it all.
    Our civilisation exists through our ability to trade with one another. In the 10 millenia since hunter gatherers enclosed land and became farmers, any kind of prosperity has depended on trading of excess. We trade by buying and selling, and moving stuff (including ourselves) from A to B in order to facilitate that. The faster and more efficiently we shift 'stuff' the wealthier we have become.
    Problem is that we have come to regard 'movement' itself as being a wealth creator, rather than the goods and services (effectively forms of energy) themselves.

    Hence our focus on the necessity for wheeled transport: 'as long as our cars and trucks run–we will be ok' is the basic mantra.
    Missing the point, that in the SHTF situation, no one will be shifting 40 tons of melons from CA to NY, or (and this is the ultimate fantasy) have an 'ongoing purpose' to drive anywhere.

    The delusion persists that wheels (on the scale we use them) have brought us prosperity, when in fact it has been our (temporary) prosperity that has allowed us to have wheels. -Therefore if we continue to produce wheeled transport able to travel great distances, our prosperous lifestyle will continue undiminished. -we will still drive to 'work'. Get real!!!!!

    Prior to the industrial revolution, travelling 150 miles on wheels might take a month's wages– Now we can do it for a few minute's wages–that is our concept of 'prosperity'.

    Ford figured out that by paying his workers high wages, they would go into debt to buy his cars-ad infinitum. His workers became 'rich' by any historical measure. They too could travel anywhere they wanted to.
    What Ford was actually doing was extracting cheap materials out of the ground, and selling it as wheeled transport, feeding the delusion that it would go on forever. Right now we are at 'forever', scrambling desperatly to find the means to keep that delusion alive. This is why we must have wheels at any cost, it allows us to deny that we have run out of road ." ~ Norman Pagett

    Jeju-islander , 07/16/2016 at 10:28 am
    Team Ludd seems to be on a roll this week. Some quality humor.
    But my favorite is still this line from Ves,
    "All you need is electric scooter, flip flops and pair of shades on the tropical island."

    But there is still a long way to catch up with this season's leading team, Team Koch.
    A classic from Fernando Leanme,
    "I'm the team Koch quarterback coach, we emphasize handing off to the halfback, who follows right behind a full back who is tossing AAA batteries on the ground, ahead of a hard run right up the middle. The Team EV gets distracted looking at the batteries and we score about 70 % of the time using this rather simple play scheme."

    Bob Nickson , 07/16/2016 at 10:28 am
    "I believe the format is the transition car into the future."

    I agree JJHMAN. You can see it happening rapidly. GM, Toyota, and BMW are all taking different approaches with their respective hybrid offerings of the Volt, Prius Prime, and the i3rx, but the result is largely the same: cars that can run on petrol when going long distances, but that the majority of the time are in electric mode. OFM has pointed out several times that a VOLT at 200,000 miles may have very little run time on its engine and other ICE components. These cars may very easily hit half a million miles.

    Elite manufacturers like McLaren, Lamborghini, and Ferrari are starting to add electric motors into their supercars for the instant acceleration that they provide, and they are calling them hypercars. It's very interesting to see both high performance and high efficiency converging on the same solution; electrification of power trains.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/hyping-hypercars-2014-ferrari-laferrari-vs-2014-mclaren-p1-lamborghini-veneno-comparison-test

    In the near future, two car households with a pure battery electric EV and a PHEV will be common. Such households won't have any distance constraints on their car travel, but the day to day reality will be that they burn very little petrol.

    It isn't hard to imagine that within something like 25-35 years that maps of gas station locations will look similar to what the Tesla Supercharger network looks like now: Interstate locations to facilitate long distance travel.

    There simply won't be enough demand for petrol to support the number of gas stations that we have now. People will be typically leaving both home and work with fully charged cars. Wind power will charge cars at night, and solar power will charge them during the day. Solar canopies will become common over car parks. Electric cars will provide load balancing services.

    Within 50 years, gas stations will likely no longer be a thing.

    [Jun 04, 2016] Verizon Hum Brings Diagnostics, Security to Cars Digital Trends

    Notable quotes:
    "... brings the safety and diagnostic capabilities of a brand-new car to models that have already been on the road for nearly two decades. ..."
    "... The visor module has a speaker, and communicates with the dongle for hands-free calling. ..."
    "... but more important emergency roadside assistance goes even further. If a crash is detected, Verizon's emergency personnel will call directly to the vehicle, to find out if assistance is required. They can dispatch help as well, pinpointing your location thanks to GPS. ..."
    "... Other unique features kick in during other situations. If your car is stolen, GPS enables Verizon to track your car if it's stolen. Parking assistance helps locate your car in a crowded parking lot. ..."
    "... There's a downside to all that connectivity, of course, underscored by the recent Chrysler recall of 1.4 million Jeeps when it was revealed that a security flaw could let hackers access a moving car in frightening ways . GM had a similar issue. And a Tesla hack revealed earlier this month let hackers completely shut down a moving car ..."
    www.digitaltrends.com

    ... ... ...

    ... to any 1996-or-newer vehicles for just $15 a month. Dubbed Hum, the little gizmo with the friendly name brings the safety and diagnostic capabilities of a brand-new car to models that have already been on the road for nearly two decades.

    Hum plugs into a car's ODB-II port, the same connector used by a service technician when you come in complaining that the check-engine light is on. While many gizmos have offered to read codes from the ODB port in the past (just search for them on Amazon) the info they convey is usually hard to parse. Hum makes it easy by offering human translators.

    The Hum device consists of two parts: a dongle to connect to your ODB port, which includes a cellular antenna and a GPS chip, and a clip-on visor module that looks not unlike an old-school radar detector. The visor module has a speaker, and communicates with the dongle for hands-free calling. It also ties directly into Verizon's new call center: Push its blue, customer-service button for roadside assistance and diagnostic help from ASE-Certified mechanics trained to tell you what those obscure codes actually mean.

    ... we tested it in a vehicle more representative of where the Hum will actually serve its tour of duty: a somewhat battered Jeep. From the back seat, Maddux showed me where it connects and where to place the visor module in place. An app on his phone (Android or iOS) read data from the Hum to display a wealth of data about the car, including auto health, diagnostics, and historical mileage information. It had an alert: An obscure engine code warned of some danger, but who knew what it was?

    ... but more important emergency roadside assistance goes even further. If a crash is detected, Verizon's emergency personnel will call directly to the vehicle, to find out if assistance is required. They can dispatch help as well, pinpointing your location thanks to GPS.

    Other unique features kick in during other situations. If your car is stolen, GPS enables Verizon to track your car if it's stolen. Parking assistance helps locate your car in a crowded parking lot.

    ... ... ...

    There's a downside to all that connectivity, of course, underscored by the recent Chrysler recall of 1.4 million Jeeps when it was revealed that a security flaw could let hackers access a moving car in frightening ways. GM had a similar issue. And a Tesla hack revealed earlier this month let hackers completely shut down a moving car.

    ... ... ...

    [May 14, 2016] http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1100561_tesla-model-s-too-many-problems-to-recommend-consumer-reports-says

    Notable quotes:
    "... Consumer Reports ..."
    www.greencarreports.com

    Every honeymoon comes to an end sooner or later, and so it was with Consumer Reports and its former paramour, the Tesla Model S electric car.

    As part of its yearly reliability report on cars sold in the U.S. market, the respected consumer magazine said it could no longer recommend the Model S because the car's predicted reliability is below average.

    Specifically, CR said, "The main problem areas involved the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment, giant iPad-like center console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks."

    ... ... ...

    This year, climate control, steering, and suspension systems all appeared to have more problems than they did during the 2014 model year. And complaints about the drive system from owners of older 2013 cars have risen as well, CR said.

    The most common problems involve replacement of the electric motors, warped brake rotors, door handles that fail to slide out as a driver approaches, and numerous squeaks and rattles, which may be more apparent given the very quiet nature of electric propulsion.

    Other problem areas cited by Tesla owners are leaking cooling pumps for the battery pack, dead windshield wipers, persistent alignment issues with the wheels, and misaligned latches for the front trunklid and the rear liftgate.

    Thus far, all such problems have been handled under Tesla's four-year/50,000-mile warranty (it's eight years and unlimited mileage on the powertrain) -- and owners appear to be pleased with the level of attentiveness and customer service they have received.

    But Consumer Reports notes that once the car is out of warranty, such problems could become expensive for owners of older Teslas to fix.

    Tesla Model S -- High Voltage Battery Problem ( Tesla Motors

    Seeking Alpha

    The Tesla Model 3 May Depend on This Battery Breakthrough

    [May 06, 2016] Will Tesla be bankrupt in 3 years if Mask S3 will not play as expected

    Notable quotes:
    "... I understand that economies of scale may lower unit costs, improve financials and allow paying down of debt. Or may not. In real life, not all Davids win a fight against Goliaths. ..."
    "... In my opinion, the world is now just full of financial BS artists. I believe that in the not too distant past, when Carnegie started the new steel industry, or Rockefeller with oil, or the railroads with Vanderbilt, or Henry Ford with the auto, or Bill Gates with computers, or Steve Jobs with computers, or any number of thousands of people – that their view, nor that of their backers was -"net losses, negative cash flows and rising debt" was NOT viewed as NORMAL. But, today's BS artists seem to think so. ..."
    "... Here is Tesla's major, major problem – well, one of them. Their production division is a train wreck. They are having huge problems even rolling out 50K per year. They only shipped 800 vehicles in March. ..."
    "... FYI, even with a well-oiled-mass-market vehicle production machine like GM, it takes about 8-9 months of pre-production assembly line runs to get the product tweaks and the line up to full retail production capacity. GM started pre-production on the Bolt about 2 months ago. For Tesla to be hitting 7/1/17 mass production, they need have the line re-tooled for their high-volume and doing pre-production runs by this October. Yeah, right. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com
    AlexS , 05/05/2016 at 2:36 pm
    Dennis,

    As I said above, "I know that this is a new, high-growth industry, so net losses, negative cash flows and rising debt should be viewed as something normal."

    I understand that economies of scale may lower unit costs, improve financials and allow paying down of debt. Or may not. In real life, not all Davids win a fight against Goliaths.

    My question is: how many years a company in a new industry can remain loss-making before the market recognizes that it is in financial trouble?
    5 years, 10 years, 15 years?

    Meanwhile, Tesla's plans are becoming even more ambitious

    Tesla's projected sales growth
    source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-04/tesla-s-wild-new-forecast-changes-the-trajectory-of-an-entire-industry

    clueless , 05/05/2016 at 3:32 pm
    AlexS says "I know that this is a new, high-growth industry, so net losses, negative cash flows and rising debt should be viewed as something normal."

    In my opinion, the world is now just full of financial BS artists. I believe that in the not too distant past, when Carnegie started the new steel industry, or Rockefeller with oil, or the railroads with Vanderbilt, or Henry Ford with the auto, or Bill Gates with computers, or Steve Jobs with computers, or any number of thousands of people – that their view, nor that of their backers was -"net losses, negative cash flows and rising debt" was NOT viewed as NORMAL. But, today's BS artists seem to think so.

    I am not criticizing AlexS, although he may have been influenced by such propaganda. The NORMAL would be for a new industry to have windfall profits, protected by patents, that would eventually wane away as other competitors, and new technology came onto the scene. Think – Xerox, Polaroid, Eastman Kodak, Alcoa, Gateway Computer, Bomar Brain, etc.

    Remember, normal is an average, so there are examples on both ends of the spectrum.

    shallow sand, 05/05/2016 at 5:00 pm

    Seems like after hearing Musk on the CC today, even some of the believers are starting to waiver.

    The one that got me was that they took all of these $1000 REFUNDABLE deposits and applied them to their line.

    Has anyone there ever heard of escrow or trust account?

    Ves, 05/05/2016 at 5:54 pm

    " applied them to their line."

    It's free money :) almost like QE from the Fed :)

    HVACman, 05/05/2016 at 7:46 pm

    Here is Tesla's major, major problem – well, one of them. Their production division is a train wreck. They are having huge problems even rolling out 50K per year. They only shipped 800 vehicles in March.

    The current excuse given is "supplier problems" And they think they can ramp up this broken production unit to roll out 10x more – 500K per year – in just two years? With cash problems? With product engineering problems? (elsewhere in the earnings comments, the Model X is noted as the most difficult-to-build vehicle in the world. That is an engineering problem- not production or parts.)

    They are desperate for cash flow. You'd think job 1 would to to keep their inventory/parts ordering/production processes all tightly linked so every single vehicle that is ordered is shipped ASAP. You don't get paid until you ship. Even one-man businesses understand that.

    Below is an actual excerpt from Musk's comments about the Model 3 delivery date (nominally 7/1/17 and why he already says it will slip), vehicle assembly complexity, and Tesla's parts supplier problems. Pathetic. If a CEO at GM/Ford/BMW/Kia/everyone else ever said their production/inventory control was this out of control, their board would immediately fire them for incompetence. Oh, wait, Elon is the largest stockholder and controls the board.

    "The date, I'm sure this will leak, it's hard to keep a secret really, the date we are setting with suppliers to get to volume production capability with the Model 3 is July 1 next year. Now, will we actually be able to achieve volume production on July 1 next year? Of course not. The reason is that even if 99% of the internally produced items and supplier items are available on July 1, we still cannot produce the car because you cannot produce a car that is missing 1% of its components. Nonetheless, we need to, both internally and with suppliers, take that date seriously, and there need to be some penalties for anyone, internally or externally, who does not meet that timeframe. This has to be the case because there's just no way that you have several thousand components, all of whom make it on a particular date."

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/13559022/2/tesla-motors-tsla-earnings-report-q1-2016-conference-call-transcript.html

    FYI, even with a well-oiled-mass-market vehicle production machine like GM, it takes about 8-9 months of pre-production assembly line runs to get the product tweaks and the line up to full retail production capacity. GM started pre-production on the Bolt about 2 months ago. For Tesla to be hitting 7/1/17 mass production, they need have the line re-tooled for their high-volume and doing pre-production runs by this October. Yeah, right.

    [May 06, 2016] Ill let folks go see the disaster that is Nissan Leaf sales themselves. Freefall. April sales 787. Not 787K. 787.

    Notable quotes:
    "... There are limits of battery technology in the energy per unit of weight metric that can principally achieved and IMHO lithium batteries are close to this limit: that's why they are so dangerous if overheated - a lot of energy is stored in a relatively small volume/weight. That also means that going further this path increases the danger of fire. ..."
    "... This is already a mature production, so further reductions of costs are problematic. ..."
    "... That Tesla business model probably won't work out that way. I can't find the link, but recently read that the lithium won't be cheap enough. The lithium miners so far have refused to sell their product at the low prices "demanded by Tesla." If those miners continue to be unreasonable by refusing to sell cheap (below their cost of production), our whole dream of cheap, long range electric cars for the masses to continue BAU will turn out to be a pipe dream. ..."
    "... Or have we high-graded lithium, just like oil, so new mines will work lower grade ore in tougher places, while magically and dramatically reducing their costs? (Sarcasm intended). ..."
    "... Those projections of 30% price reductions are probably ignoring the geology, similar to projections of perpetual oil abundance. ..."
    "... So why do we think electric cars are so great for our future? Can't figure that one out. Disconnect in thinking? Hopium? ..."
    "... "For 2015 the Mercedes S class sold 21,934 vehicles in the US" "The best selling Mercedes is the C class with 89,080 cars sold in the US in 2015" ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com
    aws. , 05/04/2016 at 6:32 am
    I'll let folks go see the disaster that is Nissan Leaf sales themselves. Freefall. April sales 787. Not 787K. 787.

    The curse of rapidly advancing technology. The Chevy Bolt, and Tesla 3 are likely making prospective EV buyers keep their powder dry or put it towards a 2017 Chevy Volt.

    Chevrolet Sets New Yearly High For Volt Sales In April

    Dennis Coyne , 05/04/2016 at 8:07 am
    Hi aws,

    It is interesting that Watcher dismisses the Volt as a gasoline powered car. It has a range of 53 miles on battery when fully charged. As the charging network improves the effective range for a round trip becomes 106 miles. It may be "gas powered", but for a lot of people the fuel economy (for gasoline only) may be about 1100 miles per gallon (that would be about one 10 gallon tank of gas per 11,000 miles driven). For longer trips people will use their F150 :-) .

    Fernando Leanme , 05/04/2016 at 8:55 am
    Needs a cheaper lighter battery.
    Dennis Coyne , 05/04/2016 at 9:38 am
    Hi Fernando,

    Battery cost has been falling by 15%/year, so cheaper is coming, lighter, probably not so much, though there is research on better battery technology and as demand increases energy density may increase as well with further technological improvements.

    likbez , 05/05/2016 at 5:59 am
    Dennis,

    Those expectations of progress in car batteries are somewhat similar to LTO dreams.

    There are limits of battery technology in the energy per unit of weight metric that can principally achieved and IMHO lithium batteries are close to this limit: that's why they are so dangerous if overheated - a lot of energy is stored in a relatively small volume/weight. That also means that going further this path increases the danger of fire.

    The technology is 25 years old. "First lithium-ion battery prototype was produced in 1985, a rechargeable and more stable version of the lithium battery; Sony commercialized the lithium-ion battery in 1991. [37]"

    Cost of production plants and cost of the pack as well as variables involved are well researched. Including by US government. See for example:

    http://www.cse.anl.gov/batpac/files/BatPaC%20ANL-12_55.pdf

    It is seen that the plant requires a total of 90 workers per shift, $127,450,000 worth of capital equipment, and 15,425 square meters of plant area to manufacture the baseline battery at a rate of 100,000 battery packs per year.

    Look at Table 5.9. Summary of results for cost of baseline battery and that of similar batteries with double the power and double the capacity of the baseline battery to understand limits of efficiency of production.

    I think that the economy of scale is already fully in, so further reductions of costs at the rate of 15% per year (45% in three years) are unrealistic. Where did you got those forecasts? Price might even increase if components cost increase.

    This is already a mature production, so further reductions of costs are problematic.

    Dennis Coyne , 05/05/2016 at 9:18 am
    Hi Likbez,

    A youtube video that Fred posted had battery research, it does not have to be lithium ion, but it looks like continued improvements are possible. Over the past 10 years of so costs have been reduced at 14%/year.

    Economies of scale as battery production ramps up further for EVs will lead to further reductions in cost, possibly this rate will slow, but recently the rate of decrease in cost has increased to 16% (past 3 years), we could use some lower future rate of decrease, but for another 10 years I would expect at least a 10%/year decrease in battery costs.

    Elon Musk is confident that battery pack costs can be reduced by 30% when the Gigafactory is fully operational in 2019 (that is only a 9%/year decrease). If we assume a 9%/year drop in battery costs, then the cost falls by 75% by 2030.

    See

    Generally the cost of Li ion batteries have been falling faster than projected. The 2012 McKinsey report projected a cost of $160 per kWhr by 2025, but GM claims in October 2015 to have already achieved $145 per kWhr (for cells rather than the battery pack).

    See

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1103667_electric-car-battery-costs-tesla-190-per-kwh-for-pack-gm-145-for-cells

    The McKinsey piece was likely using pack cost rather than Cell cost. GM's pack cost is currently estimated at about $220 per kWhr and Tesla claims its pack cost is currently $190 per kWhr. If Musk's estimate of a 30% reduction in cost by 2019 is correct then the pack cost drops to $133 per kWhr by 2019.

    The McKinsey report suggests that an EV is competitive with the ICEV at $2/gallon gasoline with a battery cost of $150 per kWhr.

    I do not foresee gasoline dropping under $2/gallon long term, but battery cost are likely to continue falling.

    That study is pretty old and cost reductions below suggested by that paper have already been achieved. The 14-16% annual cost reductions are what have been achieved over the past 15 years or so. I agree future rates will be lower, but thinking that costs will not fall further is unlikely.

    The Tesla Giga factory is expected to reach full capacity in 2020 and battery costs are expected to decrease 30% by 2020 (only 7%/year). Pack costs would fall by 52% from 2015 to 2015 if a 7%/year cost reduction is achieved. Pack cost would be under $100 per kWhr by 2025.

    Cracker , 05/05/2016 at 11:58 am
    Dennis,

    That Tesla business model probably won't work out that way. I can't find the link, but recently read that the lithium won't be cheap enough. The lithium miners so far have refused to sell their product at the low prices "demanded by Tesla." If those miners continue to be unreasonable by refusing to sell cheap (below their cost of production), our whole dream of cheap, long range electric cars for the masses to continue BAU will turn out to be a pipe dream.

    Someone better open a new super high quality lithium mine ASAP. Surely there is a high grade ore deposit with all necessary infrastructure just waiting for the price of lithium to drop so low that only the new mine can sell at Tesla's demanded price and make profit. Once the new mine opens, it should be able to put the higher cost miners out of business, create a shortage, and raise the price beyond Tesla's reach. Or have we high-graded lithium, just like oil, so new mines will work lower grade ore in tougher places, while magically and dramatically reducing their costs? (Sarcasm intended).

    Those projections of 30% price reductions are probably ignoring the geology, similar to projections of perpetual oil abundance.

    It seems that global population is in overshoot and that BAU probably can't continue for the masses, or grow to include lots more masses in developing countries. Then there is climate change and degradation of environmental systems that we depend on for life services.

    So why do we think electric cars are so great for our future? Can't figure that one out. Disconnect in thinking? Hopium?

    Thanks for your optimism. It is a stark contrast to many unpleasant alternatives that, frankly, seem more likely. I doubt that much of what you foresee will turn out the way you think, but I do hope you are at least partly right:-)

    Jim

    Dennis Coyne , 05/06/2016 at 9:24 am
    Hi Cracker,

    The reduced price of the battery is not based on falling lithium prices, it is based on lower cost of production due to economies of scale. The cost of lithium ion battery packs have been falling at 11.3% per year for the past 15 years. From $1150 per kWhr in 2000 to $190 per kWhr in 2015 (battery pack cost).

    For Tesla to achieve a 30% reduction in battery pack cost from 2015 to 2020 will require an annual rate of decrease of 6.9%. I think it likely this goal will be met even if Lithium prices don't decrease just due to efficiencies in large scale manufacturing in the Gigafactory (a joint venture between Tesla and Panasonic).

    See

    http://dukespace.lib.duke.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10161/1007/Li-Ion%20Battery%20Costs%20-%20Anderson%20-%20MP%20Final.pdf?sequence=1

    AlexS , 05/05/2016 at 3:00 pm
    Lithium prices
    source: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Tesla-And-Other-Tech-Giants-Scramble-For-Lithium-As-Prices-Double.html

    Fred Magyar , 05/05/2016 at 5:22 pm
    This is already a mature production so further reductions of costs are problematic.

    I very highly doubt that is even remotely true. I recently posted a link about the current state of the art and where the research is heading. Here it is again.

    https://goo.gl/B3qBEW

    This is also an interesting article:
    http://insideevs.com/falling-gas-prices-vs-falling-battery-prices-wins/

    Batteries
    A lithium-ion battery's chemistry and electricity storage are governed by four key components – the anode, cathode, separator and electrolyte. Lithium-ion battery cells are then combined into larger modules that are packaged in housings, often referred to as the battery pack, which utilize cooling systems, electronic interfaces and controls.

    EVs can be the cost catalyst for energy storage. EV sales perpetuate lower battery costs, leading to more cars sold, leading to lower batteries, and so on.

    UBS lists the following as the key drivers for a reduction in total cost of the lithium-ion battery:

    (1) Increasing manufacturing scale and productivity;

    (2) Reducing the cost of battery materials and components;

    (3) Increasing battery energy density and lifespan (minimizing battery fade/maximising the number of charge cycles).

    baterry costs
    Where the cost go
    Cell manufacturing alone contributes to nearly a third of the battery cost. Economies of scale will begin to take a heavy bite from this slice of the pie reducing significantly the cost. Cathode material developments are the second largest cost and for that reason have been a key area of focus. Still, cost savings in all areas of the battery are being optimised which contributes to the continuing falling price of the battery.

    Lithium-ion battery costs for automotive applications have already come down aggressively in the past three years, with pack costs having fallen from US$500/kWh in 2013 to US$360/kWh today. Umicore believes that this total pack cost will fall to below US$200/kWh by 2020. Tesla sees a pack cost of less than US$100/kWh within 10 years

    Longtimber , 05/04/2016 at 11:13 am
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/the-search-for-a-better-battery
    LG Quoted an amazing price to GM for the Bolt. IIRC Under $200 / kWh
    Fernando Leanme , 05/06/2016 at 5:15 am
    As I said : Needs a cheaper lighter battery technology.
    Dennis Coyne , 05/06/2016 at 9:32 am
    Hi Fernando,

    The battery packs have been getting cheaper, they have decreased from $1150 per kWhr in 2000 to $190 per kWhr in 2015, so slightly more than a factor of 5, costs will continue to fall as production of larger battery packs for cars ramps up due to economies of scale. They may not be able to increase the specific energy much further as we don't want to break any physical laws. :-)

    Dennis Coyne , 05/04/2016 at 10:16 am
    Hi Watcher,

    For 2015 the Mercedes S class sold 21,934 vehicles in the US, the Tesla Model S sold 25,202 cars in the US. The best selling Mercedes is the C class with 89,080 cars sold in the US in 2015. It will be interesting to see how long it will be before Tesla beats the C class with the model 3, maybe in 2018 unless there are delays in the release of the Model 3. It will be interesting to see the sales of the Chevy Bolt in 2017, that car is the reason the Nissan Leaf is not selling, people are waiting for the Bolt.

    http://fortune.com/2016/02/11/tesla-best-selling-luxury-sedan/

    likbez , 05/04/2016 at 10:48 pm
    "For 2015 the Mercedes S class sold 21,934 vehicles in the US"
    "The best selling Mercedes is the C class with 89,080 cars sold in the US in 2015"

    An interesting observation: 21K rich people concerned about their status vs 90K of status obsessed middle class wannabes :-)

    Dennis Coyne , 05/05/2016 at 9:29 am
    Hi Likbez,

    I don't judge, people can spend their money as they choose. The average selling price of a new light duty vehicle in the US is $33,000. The $80,000 Tesla Model S might last a very long time, if it lasted 3 times as long as the average $33,000 car and saves $27,000 in fuel costs over its 450,000 mile life, then with no discounting we would come out $47,000 ahead with the 30 year old Tesla, and for the first 15 years or so you would have a very nice car, it might get a little old from year 16 to 30 though.

    [May 06, 2016] EV will never became competitive with ICEV at 2 dollar per gallon

    Notable quotes:
    "... EV will never became competitive with ICEV at $2/gallon. First of all Tesla might be bankrupt sooner then 2019. Mask's aura might some point disappear, but debts remain. Remember that Tesla S is $70K car and as such this is a "no go" for mass market. So this guy might build the factory, but people will not buy his cars. Adventurism can't always be compensated by slick marketing. Then what? ..."
    "... Also at below $4/gallon gasoline the incentives to buy EV other then status symbol are minimal. You need oil at or above $5/gallon for any substantial volume of sales increase. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com
    Dennis Coyne , 05/06/2016 at 11:39 am
    Hi Shallow Sand,

    Amazon lost money for years and they aren't even in a capital intensive industry.

    Continental is nothing new, but if lithium ion battery costs fall to under $150 per kWhr (pack level cost) EVs become competitive with ICEV even at $2/gallon gasoline (2015$) and Tesla might be a big deal when they reach 500,000 Model 3 vehicles per year (maybe in 2019, but more likely 2020).

    I imagine gasoline will be at $3/gallon in 2019, though if EVs take off oil prices may never reach $100/b due to lack of demand.

    Interesting times.

    likbez , 05/06/2016 at 2:50 pm
    Dennis,

    EV will never became competitive with ICEV at $2/gallon. First of all Tesla might be bankrupt sooner then 2019. Mask's aura might some point disappear, but debts remain. Remember that Tesla S is $70K car and as such this is a "no go" for mass market. So this guy might build the factory, but people will not buy his cars. Adventurism can't always be compensated by slick marketing. Then what?

    If oil price rise substantially, lithium battery costs might also rise because mining costs will rise. And reserves of improving technology and cutting price are not that great, far less then your super bold (and pretty unrealistic) 15% a year estimate (45% in three years).

    Also at below $4/gallon gasoline the incentives to buy EV other then status symbol are minimal. You need oil at or above $5/gallon for any substantial volume of sales increase.

    [Apr 29, 2016] Plug to wheel efficiency of EV car is around 60 present or less

    peakoilbarrel.com

    Heinrich Leopold , 04/24/2016 at 2:27 pm

    daniel,

    It is quite easy to calculate:

    1 barrel equals 1500 kWh oil equivalent

    1 mill barrels eaquals 1.5 billion kWh

    As electricity consumption in the US stands around 10 billion kWh per day, a replacement of 1 mill barrels of gasoline per day (out of roughly 9 mill bbl/) means an increase of 15 % of electricity consumption.

    If all of the gasoline consumption would be replaced by electric cars, this would be roughly a doubling of electricity consumption.

    Electric cars would require much less electricity consumption as the oil equivalent, yet the conversion factor for natgas to electricity is at a maximum of 50%.

    Ralph , 04/25/2016 at 5:51 am
    An electric car gets 3-5 miles/KWh from the batteries. (my Nissan leaf, real world
    figures). The most efficient diesels get about 1.5 miles/KWh. (My car, 1.2l engine) The latest designs of combined cycle gas turbine power station are over 60% efficient. There are transmission and battery charging losses. The higher mileage figures for the electric are partly thermodynamics, partly aerodynamics, partly regenerative braking and partly driving style to maximise range . The latter will decline as electric car ranges increase and drivers lose range anxiety and start racing the lights again.

    USA VMT is 3 * 10e12 miles per year so full electric conversion would require about
    10e12 / 365 ~= 3 billion KWh (excluding heavy trucks and buses, etc). a 30% increase, not a doubling.

    Heinrich Leopold , 04/26/2016 at 11:59 am
    Ralph,

    Did you also consider that electric cars have up to ten times less milage during the winter? In addition, the average car has much more weight than the average electric car. Then there are also transmission losses and you have to calculate electricity generated from the utility.

    I guess doubling electricity demand is still a good estimate.

    As most electricity is generated by 60% with fossil fuels at a conversion factor of 50%, it is probably better to use natgas or NGL for cars rather than produce more electricity. To use electric cars in a grand scale would make sense only if the complete electric supply is in wind and solar and hydro pumping storage. Yet this may take a few decades and requires enormous capital.

    Dennis Coyne , 04/26/2016 at 1:33 pm
    No Heinrich,

    A doubling is not a good estimate at all.

    10 times worse mileage in winter, I am doubtful that is a good estimate, sounds like someone from a warm climate driving in winter with the heat on maximum.

    The ice gets about 20% of the energy to the wheels, the EV about 90%.

    If we use natural gas to produce electricity and get 50% efficiency and 8% is list in transmission and distribution and another 8% charging losses. then we have 0.5*.92*.92*.9=38% of the energy goes to the wheels. We still get twice as much energy to the Wheels in an EV as we do using natural gas to power an ice where efficiency would be no greater than 20% gas tank to wheels. We would also need to build out a lot of infrastructure for natural gas or propane fueling.

    likbez , 04/27/2016 at 9:55 pm
    Dennis,

    another 8% charging losses

    We have to convert from AC to DC using a charger. Let's assume that it is 95% efficient.

    But not all energy from changer is stored in the battery. We need to consider leakage of energy during conversion of electrical energy into chemical energy first and then back converting chemical energy into electricity. Battery also have some ohmic resistance, so part of the energy is converted to heat. I do not have real figures by I think a typical loss here is 10 to 15%.

    Depending on the chosen drive train technology, the DC power is converted to frequency-modulated AC or to voltage-adjusted DC, before motors can provide motion for the wheels. There are losses here too.

    Also high efficiency of electrical motor is possible only when it directly rotates the wheels. If there is a mechanical component in between like a differential it is less.

    By multiplying the efficiency numbers one obtains for the maximum possible efficiency of EV car. It is much less then claimed.

    http://www.plugincars.com/belgians-measure-ev-efficiency-129078.html

    A very important part of the study then, was to show where the electricity is going: to the motor, or the auxiliaries (for example, heating/cooling, battery management system, and lights). For each car, the share of the energy consumption going to auxiliaries (in percentage) is as follows. 40.1 ; 35.8 ; 21.6 ; 22.0 ; 36.4.
    … … …
    Overall, the energy efficiency of each car, plug to wheel, is as follows. 47.0% ; 49.7% ; 63.2% ; 59.1% ; 51.6%. That's much better than any gas or diesel could achieve, even with the addition of a hybrid powertrain.

    Click to Edit Request Deletion (48 minutes and 55 seconds)
    Nathanael , 04/27/2016 at 6:24 pm
    Heinrich, you're wrong because electric cars are so much more efficient (90%) than gasoline cars (about 20%).

    Calculating based on actual real-world mileage rates of the Tesla Model S, replacing all gasoline consumption in the US with EVs would add about 1 billion kwh/day. About 10% of US electrical demand. A bit less actually.

    likbez , 04/27/2016 at 10:05 pm
    Not 90%. More like 60% See

    http://peakoilbarrel.com/peak-oil-back/#comment-568106

    Fred Magyar , 04/24/2016 at 3:04 pm
    I think that is the wrong question to be asking. The answer might actually be very little if any at all. EVs might end up working as a battery storage system for the grid.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-sell-power-from-electric-cars-back-to-the-grid/

    …"[The cars] essentially act as batteries for the grid," he said. During periods of low demand, the batteries charge on low-cost electricity, and they can later sell that power back to the grid when prices rise during periods of high demand, making a profit, he said.
    The grid benefits from the arrangement as well. It is cheaper than cycling on and off thermal power plants and can be deployed more quickly, said Michael Kormos, senior vice president of operations at PJM.

    [Apr 26, 2016] This wet dream about mass usage of EV is pretty annoying

    Notable quotes:
    "... This wet dream about mass usage of EV is pretty annoying. The elementary thing: the capacity of the grid to charge them is not taken into account. They are OK if and only if when there are only few of them in a given neighborhood. As soon as they get critical mass they kill the grid. Those naïve souls who are salivating about EV can't even calculate how much energy in kilowatt hours contains a regular 15 gallon gas tank and how similar amount of energy (let's say half) can be transferred to charging stations via electrical grid taking into account the density of population. If put against the wall they start mumbling something about solar charging stations for each house, etc. For which you need space and considerable additional investment and they do not work well in winter in many regions and never work in bad weather. ..."
    "... All this talk about advantages of Leaf is incompetent to the extent it is disgusting to read. Leaf is technological dead end as battery does not scale and will not without some technological break through; as such it can't in reality compete with Prius and similar hybrids as a passenger car even in case of very short commutes as there always a few cases during a year when a short commute become a long commute (problems with trains, etc). It can complete only as a fashionable gadget for enthusiasts, who are ready to live with its shortcomings (and in winter it is a bad, inferior car by all parameters; while in extremely hot days in summer it is a dangerous car due to lithium battery used). ..."
    "... Hybrids from all technological parameters eat pure EV for lunch. There is nothing even to speak about in engineering terms here, but again and again some enthusiasts try to push EV into our throats. Unless clear engineering advantages over hybrids can be demonstrated this proselytizing of another stupid techocult probably should be stopped. ..."
    "... Very well said Likbez. If you really want to have a an impact on gasoline use nationwide, hybrids and PHEVs are the only way. Pure EVs just won't scale due to grid and climate considerations. And it's also possible for ICE powered vehicles to come close to hybrids in MPG but at a much lower cost. A PHEV runs in electric mode for most trips but still has unlimited range eliminating the need for a second car and all the environmental damage and expense an extra vehicle imposes. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com
    XT5 , 04/25/2016 at 6:30 pm
    The age of oil as a transportation fuel is headed for decline. Are you still using your flip phone ?
    Silicon Valley Observer , 04/25/2016 at 8:33 pm
    I don't know which non-sequitur to address first. That a decline in the age of oil = proof that the world is transforming to EV? That the fact that I don't use a flip phone phone means … what?

    I live in ground zero for EVs. The Tesla factory is twenty minutes from my home. There is no place more EV-friendly than Silicon Valley. Even so, EVs are relatively few and far between. The few people know who have an EV also has an ICE vehicle. The EV is of an eco status symbol pure and simple.

    Now let's talk about reality. About people in my home town area in upstate New York where unemployment and underemployment are reampant, where cold winters would put huge stress on EV batteries (think heaters), where people struggle to put food on the table much less spend the money needed to buy an EV.

    Now lets talk about people in cities like NYC (where I moved from) and other high density areas that would seem perfect locations for EVs. Except there aren't places to plug in on the street and most people don't have garages. Where the hell do they get the juice? And there's plenty of public transportation anyway.

    So who do EVs help? Pretty much they help relatively well-off people in suburban locations where they have a garage to charge the car in overnight. In other words, EVs are aimed straight at keeping affluent suburbia running in a BAU manner. But even in suburbia most people can't afford (or don't see the point in buying) an EV as an extra vehicle - and even at 200 mile range it's still an extra vehicle. People do need to travel more than 200 miles at times.

    The cost of an EV at $35K plus would buy an awful lot of gas even at much higher prices.

    likbez , 04/25/2016 at 11:28 pm
    This wet dream about mass usage of EV is pretty annoying. The elementary thing: the capacity of the grid to charge them is not taken into account. They are OK if and only if when there are only few of them in a given neighborhood. As soon as they get critical mass they kill the grid. Those naïve souls who are salivating about EV can't even calculate how much energy in kilowatt hours contains a regular 15 gallon gas tank and how similar amount of energy (let's say half) can be transferred to charging stations via electrical grid taking into account the density of population. If put against the wall they start mumbling something about solar charging stations for each house, etc. For which you need space and considerable additional investment and they do not work well in winter in many regions and never work in bad weather.

    They are probably OK for top 1% or 10%. Tesla cars are a nice prestige symbol. And in a sense might be a better deal then to spend comparable amount of money on Mercedes (although less safe). That's it.

    All this talk about advantages of Leaf is incompetent to the extent it is disgusting to read. Leaf is technological dead end as battery does not scale and will not without some technological break through; as such it can't in reality compete with Prius and similar hybrids as a passenger car even in case of very short commutes as there always a few cases during a year when a short commute become a long commute (problems with trains, etc). It can complete only as a fashionable gadget for enthusiasts, who are ready to live with its shortcomings (and in winter it is a bad, inferior car by all parameters; while in extremely hot days in summer it is a dangerous car due to lithium battery used).

    Hybrids from all technological parameters eat pure EV for lunch. There is nothing even to speak about in engineering terms here, but again and again some enthusiasts try to push EV into our throats. Unless clear engineering advantages over hybrids can be demonstrated this proselytizing of another stupid techocult probably should be stopped.

    Silicon Valley Observer , 04/26/2016 at 8:31 am
    Very well said Likbez. If you really want to have a an impact on gasoline use nationwide, hybrids and PHEVs are the only way. Pure EVs just won't scale due to grid and climate considerations. And it's also possible for ICE powered vehicles to come close to hybrids in MPG but at a much lower cost. A PHEV runs in electric mode for most trips but still has unlimited range eliminating the need for a second car and all the environmental damage and expense an extra vehicle imposes.

    But if you live in California, you might still want an EV so you can use the POV lanes. That's a compelling reason.

    Duncan Idaho , 04/26/2016 at 10:06 am
    Here is a counter argument.
    It deals with Grid issue brought up:
    http://energytransitionshow.com/episode-15-the-outlook-for-electric-vehicles/
    Duncan Idaho , 04/26/2016 at 6:23 am
    Yep, still the flip phone.
    Smart Phones are personal tracking devices, and data mining instruments.
    and I'm a former Apple Employee.

    [Feb 27, 2016] What to Ask About the New 2016 Subaru Crossovers

    askthis.org

    Subaru is leading the crossover market this coming year with the 2016 Crosstrek XV lineup! With options ranging from standard to Premium, Limited and Hybrid Touring models, there's a Crosstrek to suit the needs of just about any crossover lover on the market for a new crossover. The revamped 2016 Subaru Crosstrek lineup offers several upgraded features over last year, including additional ground clearance, improved fuel-efficiency and performance upgrades that will appeal to everyone from daily commuters to weekend warriors.

    The 2016 Subaru crossovers sport a sleek, stylish look, but underneath the shiny exterior lies a vehicle that can easily out-perform many SUVs and other crossovers on the market! When deciding which 2016 Subaru Crosstrek XV model is right for you, be sure to ask the following questions!

    While most Crosstrek models get respectable highway fuel economy at around EPA 34 MPG hwy (with the exception of the base model, which gets 31), the hybrid models will boost your city MPG to EPA 34 MPG city.

    The 2016 Crosstrek models all have a five-star overall NHTSA safety rating, making the Crosstrek one of the safest crossovers you can buy. Some models do include additional features that can make driving safer, however, including collision-avoidance and blind-spot detection. Talk to your local Subaru dealer to learn which models include these additional features as part of the standard package, and which would require an add-on.

    Has the Subaru Crosstrek won any awards?
    Subaru is known for reliability and performance, and the Crosstrek is no exception. The 2016 Crosstrek was awarded as the compact vehicle that retains its value longer than any other vehicle in the compact segment, according to ALG. In addition, the Crosstrek is also among the list of Consumer Reports Best New Cars Under $25,000, Kelley Blue Book's Best 10 Hybrid Cars Under $30,000 and Leader in Fuel Efficiency by IHS Automotive. Automotive reviewers everywhere have praised the Subaru Crosstrek for being one of the best vehicles you can buy.

    How many airbags do the 2016 Crosstrek models have?
    All 2016 Subaru Crosstrek models come with a total of seven airbags, including front, front seat side, pelvis and torso, side-curtain and driver knee airbags. The Crosstrek airbag system uses a variety of advanced sensors to deploy airbags in the most effective way possible, for optimal safety.

    [Jan 31, 2016] Hybrids will eat electrical cars for lunch

    Notable quotes:
    "... I am all for electrical cars but unfortunately technology is not here and hybrids will eat electrical cars for lunch for now. Repeat after me: pure electrical cars cant compete with hybrids in the current car marketplace with the current level of technology. And it is not clear to me that they will ever be able to complete with hybrids. ..."
    "... Are you aware that there are serious scientific limitations of battery technology (amount of energy that can be stored chemically per kilogram of battery weight) that disallow battery storage of energy to become competitive with hydrocarbon fuels (ever). So outside limited applications like small personal cars with short range (less then 200 miles per charge; currently twice less then that within $30K per car cost limit) this technology has little or no chances. Google is your friend. ..."
    "... Also battery powered cars are bad for winters as battery capacity falls when the temperature decrease; while the cost of electrical air conditioning dramatically increases cutting the range and creating health risks - think about Alaska climate and risk to be frozen is the snow when battery is out of juice, ..."
    "... So they are more suitable for southern states. But for southern states the danger is battery fires, which is especially high for high capacity lithium based batteries that need to be air conditioned to decrease this risk. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com

    Patrick R , 01/30/2016 at 5:44 pm

    Always the argument is between the trend and the status quo. BAUists will insist we look backwards by demanding data which of course can only be historical. This is an important corrective to theory but never shows the whole picture, because it always of course supports no change, or at most an extrapolation of the past. Never fundamental change.

    Why won't oil's future follow where coal is now? I find this at least a highly plausible possibility. It is not unlikely that a combination of electric supply and climate policies will strand a great deal of oil at any price. How, economics of course:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fossil-fuels-terrible-investment_us_56aa3463e4b05e4e37037321?ir=World&section=us_world&utm_hp_ref=world&utm_content=bufferd6ac7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    What is always less clear is how long this takes, if I have learnt anything following global change is that it usually both takes way longer than I first think, and then can also happen very suddenly: Straws do break camels' backs.

    likbez , 01/30/2016 at 8:27 pm
    "Why won't oil's future follow where coal is now?"

    Because predictions are difficult, especially about the future. So far coal was partially replaced in the only role where new technologies are somewhat competitive - electrical power generation - and this happened not only because the rise of wind and solar, but also because the price of natural gas dropped so substantially. Without the last factor the situation might reverse itself. Not everywhere coal is replaced. High quality coal is indispensable in metallurgy.

    Everything depends on technologies available. Actually the initial idea of diesel engine was to run it on coal powder. It failed. But now with the new level of technology achieved I wonder if something along those lines ("nanoparticles") might be feasible at least for large ships.

    At some level of oil prices coal might also be used to produce liquid fuels for transportation like Germany did during the WWII.

    Natural gas is also well positioned to penetrate heavy truck and marine fuel markets if the price remains low.

    Patrick R , 01/30/2016 at 11:57 pm
    Nah, you're not really trying. Predictions are especially hard if you refuse to use your imagination.

    Yes coal has been substituted by gas and renewables, that's right, oil too has been substituted where possible by other Fossil Fuels, but why won't that substitution continue through battery technology? I see no barriers. The cost curve will out. Over time, and not 100% anytime soon or even ever, but enough to deal with, or even cause, a decline in production.

    I like Dennis and probably everyone else here assumed the mechanism of transition would be high oil price, but I can now see how low price can also have the similar effect, and perhaps quicker. It quite literally leaves the stuff in the ground, as we know ever rising production as predicted by WoodMac et al requires massive new investment, and low price kills that.

    Or, what I now think is most likely, a volatile and uncertain price trajectory, demand drifting away at the hint of price rise, but supply shrinking on each price retreat. The kind of scene that will make it easier for fund managers to acquiesce to Climate pressure and disinvest in the sector….

    Just a possible scenario.

    likbez , 01/31/2016 at 1:02 am
    > I can now see how low price can also have the similar effect, and perhaps quicker.

    Looks like wishful thinking along the lines of proponents of "peak oil consumption" hypothesis. I think it was first voiced by Gail Tverberg. While oil consumption can really stagnate I strongly doubt that this will happen at prices below $200 per barrel. At least it did not happen at price over $100 per barrel. In other words there are not much facts that can support this hypothesis and it remains in the domain of wishful thinking.

    One supporting fact is that Western Europe oil consumption is pretty stagnant, but price of gas is Western Europe is extremely high in comparison with the USA and as a result an average personal car is much smaller. Europe is also much smaller and trips are shorter. 60 miles (roundtrip) commute to work is unusual for Europe. So this is the price mechanism that limits consumption.

    If current low oil price regime continues indefinitely in the USA and gas shortages arise, the rise of price is the most plausible solution. Otherwise people might well soon start killing each other to get a full trunk of gas instead of switching to hybrids or electrical cars. Also quick increase of the amount of electrical cars on the roads will kill the US grid, especially at summer when air conditioning is on.

    I personally think that this hypothesis is wrong and the only way to limit consumption of hydrocarbon fuels is to raise oil prices dramatically (say, above $100 per barrel).

    > "why won't that substitution continue through battery technology? I see no barriers. The cost curve will out."

    I am all for electrical cars but unfortunately technology is not here and hybrids will eat electrical cars for lunch for now. Repeat after me: pure electrical cars can't compete with hybrids in the current car marketplace with the current level of technology. And it is not clear to me that they will ever be able to complete with hybrids.

    Are you aware that there are serious scientific limitations of battery technology (amount of energy that can be stored chemically per kilogram of battery weight) that disallow battery storage of energy to become competitive with hydrocarbon fuels (ever). So outside limited applications like small personal cars with short range (less then 200 miles per charge; currently twice less then that within $30K per car cost limit) this technology has little or no chances. Google is your friend.

    Also battery powered cars are bad for winters as battery capacity falls when the temperature decrease; while the cost of electrical air conditioning dramatically increases cutting the range and creating health risks - think about Alaska climate and risk to be frozen is the snow when battery is out of juice,

    So they are more suitable for southern states. But for southern states the danger is battery fires, which is especially high for high capacity lithium based batteries that need to be air conditioned to decrease this risk.

    This is an endless and fruitless discussion that can't change mind of "red eye electrical car enthusiasts" and I kind of regret that I wrote this reply.

    [Jan 20, 2016] Texas Oil and Gas Production Declining - Peak Oil BarrelPeak Oil Barrel

    Notable quotes:
    "... Just check out the latest December car sales figure for China http://www.tradingeconomics.com/china/total-vehicle-sales . Sales were soaring to an all time high of 2785500 cars per month, which is at least 50% higher than in the US. ..."
    "... Despite the recent increase in short-term interest rates by the Federal Reserve, interest rates across the globe remain ultra-low and most central banks continue to add liquidity, providing support for global financial conditions and car sales. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com
    Glenn Stehle , 01/18/2016 at 6:42 am
    Patrick R said:

    Chinese new car growth is softening and this is likely permanent…

    Nah.

    Fred Magyar , 01/18/2016 at 8:31 am
    Glen, Patrick said sales were softening, he didn't say they had stopped. They are softening because the entire Chinese economy is slowing down. Do you really expect a 7% growth rate year over year to continue? You do realize that such a growth rate means a doubling of the Chinese economy every decade. As the late Professor Albert Bartlett used to say: "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

    Heinrich Leopold , 01/18/2016 at 9:17 am
    Fred,

    Just check out the latest December car sales figure for China http://www.tradingeconomics.com/china/total-vehicle-sales . Sales were soaring to an all time high of 2785500 cars per month, which is at least 50% higher than in the US. Also other economic numbers in China are staggering strong: House prices are up again, oil, iron and copper ore at all time highs… Low oil prices trigger already high economic growth worldwide.

    Glenn Stehle , 01/18/2016 at 9:34 am
    Heinrich,

    Here's what Scotiabank has to say in its most recent Global Auto Report:

    Global car sales are expected to strengthen over the coming year, extending gains to a seventh consecutive annual record and surpassing the length of the previous up cycle which lasted six years….

    Despite the recent increase in short-term interest rates by the Federal Reserve, interest rates across the globe remain ultra-low and most central banks continue to add liquidity, providing support for global financial conditions and car sales. However, there is some concern that the sharp plunge in oil prices could lead to rising defaults for highly-indebted energy companies. These fears have led to an increase in several risk metrics and financial market volatility in recent months, including a spike in interest rates for high yield energy bonds to the highest level since mid-2009.

    http://www.gbm.scotiabank.com/English/bns_econ/bns_auto.pdf

    [Jan 08, 2016] EV battery reliability

    peakoilbarrel.com
    HVACman , 01/07/2016 at 5:02 pm
    There are those that talk about technological "revolutions" that are nothing of the sort . Hz drilling and fracking comes to mind. But it is the truth about batteries. We are in the middle of a revolution that is turning upside down the long-held understanding of battery charge/discharge cycles, depth of charge/discharge, power vs energy, temperature, etc. More billions of $ have flowed to all kinds of electrochemical storage research and engineering in the last 10 years than probably have flowed in the entire century before.

    Here's a link to LG Chem's advanced automotive battery site. They are making the traction batteries for the Volt, the Bolt, and a lot of other auto manufacturers.

    http://www.lgchem.com/global/vehicle-battery/car-batteries

    Automotive LiON traction batteries now have a longer warrantied life (in California, 10 years/150,000 miles) than any ICE engine made. That does say something, doesn't it?

    likbez , 01/07/2016 at 8:41 pm
    You are mixing warranty for the engine with the warranty for the gas tank.

    For a gas tank 10 years/150,000 miles) is just a warmup ;-). I think 100 years, unlimited miles are achievable. There are still some Ford Model T cars with original tanks.

    "That does say something, doesn't it?"

    islandboy , 01/08/2016 at 4:13 am
    Well, the if you want to compare apples and apples, the warranty on the Tesla drive train, that is, the electric motor , reduction gear and differential, is eight years/unlimited miles. That's right, unlimited miles. It is unlikely that honoring this warranty is going to cost Tesla a great deal.

    Think of all the motors in elevators, escalators and moving walkways in airports and other buildings all over the world that basically run non stop every day. The only parts in a three phase induction motor that can wear out, are the bearings at either end of the motor shaft. I put it to you that, any time you see an escalator, elevator or moving walkway closed for maintenance it is NOT a motor issue but, some other mechanical part.

    Your typical ICE will start showing signs of wear between 200-300 thousand miles or less if not properly maintained and will invariably need an extensive engine overhaul at some point thereafter. Similarly the battery is the main part of the EV that will degrade over time with batteries being rated by the number of charge/discharge cycles before they degrade to a point where their performance is considered inadequate, at which point the battery must be replaced.

    So, in a BEV, your battery replacement is the equivalent of your ICE engine overhaul. The only thing is, engine overhauls have not become less expensive over the years while it is likely that replacement batteries will.

    With over 200 thousand Nissan Leafs out there in the wild, there is going to be a huge market for replacement batteries once the warranties on the batteries start expiring. It is very likely that the replacement batteries will be better than the original and will also have to have warranties of their own.

    [Jan 06, 2016] Affordable Chevy Bolt packs in latest technology

    Notable quotes:
    "... The rear camera mirror uses a new lens on the back of the liftgate to provide a wide-angle view behind the car, which is projected across the entire rear view mirror. ..."
    "... Surround vision uses four cameras to create a 360 degree view around the vehicle that a driver can use while parking. ..."
    "... the vehicle is "optimal" for GM's partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft. ..."
    "... Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the Bolt represents "the first serious electric vehicle available to mainstream consumers. "It will be interesting test to see how the market embraces the Bolt in this era of cheap gas, but from a value and function standpoint it sets a new benchmark in alternative fuel options." ..."
    "... Customers have been slow to embrace electric cars. ..."
    "... Chevy until now has been touting a 200-mile figure, but Gesse said that the vehicle's range will actually be greater than that number. ..."
    www.detroitnews.com

    Las Vegas - Chevrolet hopes its all-new Bolt EV will be an affordable option that will eliminate electric car range anxiety.

    The Detroit automaker unveiled the Bolt at a Wednesday press conference at the CES technology show.

    The five-seat car will have a range of more than 200 miles and take nine hours to fully charge, according to General Motors Co. officials. It can get to an 80 percent charge in 60 minutes. The Bolt starts at $30,000 - including a federal tax credit - and will go into production late next year at the automaker's Orion Township plant alongside the Chevy Sonic.

    "It's the first EV that cracks the code of long range and affordable price," GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said. "We see the Bolt as more than a car. It's an upgradable platform for new technology."

    Barra said the Bolt can be updated as autonomous technology comes out, and the car could serve as the ideal option for its partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft. The automaker earlier this week announced it was investing $500 million in the service.

    Chevy is waiting to unveil more details about the battery and performance until next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Some parts of the car, including the headlamps and tail lamps, were still wrapped in camouflage packaging during the media drives on Tuesday.

    "It's bringing 200 mile-range to everybody," said Darin Gesse, product manager for the Bolt. "It's for the masses."

    Officials touted the Bolt's large interior space - 94.4 cubic feet - and roominess in the front and back. It features a deep center console that's big enough to store an iPad or purse and there's plenty of space underneath its 10.2-inch color touchscreen, which offers a new version of Chevy's MyLink infotainment system.

    "You won't make any compromises when it comes to space in the Bolt EV," Barra said.

    The two front seats also use a thinner seat-back, which leads to more legroom and space for the rear passengers. The battery is packaged below the vehicle for even more room and a flat floor.

    Gesse said the Bolt will feature two technological firsts for Chevy: a rear camera mirror and surround vision.

    The rear camera mirror uses a new lens on the back of the liftgate to provide a wide-angle view behind the car, which is projected across the entire rear view mirror.

    Surround vision uses four cameras to create a 360 degree view around the vehicle that a driver can use while parking.

    The car will allow customers to post their one-charge range and best efficiency numbers online to compete against others.

    Pam Fletcher, GM's executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles, said the vehicle is "optimal" for GM's partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft.

    Alan Batey, GM's head of the Chevrolet brand, said he doesn't expect the Bolt will eat into Volt sales.

    "We think they're very different vehicles," Batey said. "We wanted the Bolt to move more into the crossover space."

    Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the Bolt represents "the first serious electric vehicle available to mainstream consumers. "It will be interesting test to see how the market embraces the Bolt in this era of cheap gas, but from a value and function standpoint it sets a new benchmark in alternative fuel options."

    Customers have been slow to embrace electric cars. In the much of the Midwest, the charging infrastructure is still lacking, but Gesse said the 200-mile Bolt will help ease some of that concern.

    "It's almost like treating it like your cellphone," Gesse said. "You come home, plug it in and it's ready for you the next day. You can make a long-distance trip and make those extra errands you wouldn't be able to in a normal EV."

    Chevy until now has been touting a 200-mile figure, but Gesse said that the vehicle's range will actually be greater than that number.

    "We know we'll be over (200 miles), we just don't know how far we'll be over," he said.

    GM's Executive VP of Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain Mark Reuss

    See also http://www.wired.com/2016/01/meet-the-chevy-bolt-the-first-electric-car-for-the-masses/?google_editors_picks=true

    [Dec 27, 2015] Uber, driverless cars and future of the taxi business in the United States

    Notable quotes:
    "... Try wrapping your mind around that. The oil age is dying by a million cuts and you keep telling me things I already know not to be so! The old economic model is dying and all you have to offer is a lashing out at windmills such as Team Green! ..."
    "... I already heard such statements during dot-com boom. So in a way you can be considered as the second generation of red eye dot-com enthusiasts. ..."
    "... Are you sure that your driverless cars will consume less fuel then regular cars ? If not then this is just increase of rate of profit for Uber and trucking companies and increased poverty of people who became unemployed as a result. ..."
    "... And crashes while more rare can be more severe and involve more cars simultaneously. Complex software always has bugs so in complex situations it will misbehave. BTW who will be the guilty party in this case? Google? ..."
    "... As for your desire to change the existing economic model, I am with you, but good luck. As Margaret Thatcher said neoliberalism is here to stay (probably until hydrocarbons are gone). She formulated this principle as TINA ("there is no alternative") and it is connected with the power of the alliance of transnational elites and financialization of the economy that neither driverless car not alterative sources of electricity are capable to break. ..."
    "... Driverless cars will be subject to and vulnerable to vandalism. Raising hell just for the hell of it has always been a sport, so slashed tires, broken windshields, tail lights, deliberate accidents just to make driverless vehicles useless will probably take place, so the idea will be abandoned due to idiocy and nonsense. In the final analysis, the costs will be higher, repairs, more tires, windshields, vehicles disabled etc. will end up the norm. Humans know how to make it all an unbelievable mess and don't care. ..."
    "... Uber is another dead man walking. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com
    Fred Magyar, 12/27/2015 at 9:18 am
    And just where are these consecrated "alternatives to fossil fuels," other than in your very active imagination?

    You keep thinking I'm talking about things that I'm not all that concerned about. My focus is on disruption which you apparently don't want to or are unable to grasp.

    You are either delusional, an ideologue or suffering from early onset dementia if you want to ignore the potential consequences of the kinds of disruption that are happening everywhere, right now.

    You keep saying things about Team Green and that I am divorced from reality by talking about a "Glorious Future" based on alternative energy or some other such nonsense!

    I keep telling you that is NOT what I'm talking about nor do I in any way shape or form think that the future is destined to be glorious. I have repeatedly said that I am completely agnostic about what will happen because I don't have a clue as to how things will actually shake out. But to completely ignore what is happening right now, like you and a few others here is a sign that you really don't understand what is happening! You are in denial of reality.

    Here's an example of the tip of the iceberg of what I'm talking about. And Uber is already 100% committed to a driverless future.

    http://www.vox.com/2015/12/26/10647418/uber-new-york-taxi-medallions

    Try wrapping your mind around that. The oil age is dying by a million cuts and you keep telling me things I already know not to be so! The old economic model is dying and all you have to offer is a lashing out at windmills such as Team Green!

    Even Don Quixote eventually figured it out but you have your head so deep in the sand you can't distinguish reality from what you wish were true.

    BTW, just to be clear when I say the only way forward is to build an economy based on alternatives to fossil fuel what I mean is that the economic model which includes things like private car ownership and all the industries, especially the oil industry and infrastructure that go along with it and the financial system that needs infinite growth to keep it going can't and won't be able to continue.

    oldfarmermac, 12/27/2015 at 10:40 am

    Hi Fred,

    So you and I are as clueless as toddlers that have wandered off into the woods!

    Did you ever read Douglas Adam's books?

    It's been a long time for me, but dead black glasses were very popular in his imaginary worlds , as they enabled people worried about things to simply NOT SEE what worried them.

    I wonder where GS buys his.

    If I had a pair handy I could sleep better.

    Glenn Stehle, 12/27/2015 at 11:36 am

    Fred Magyar says:

    You keep thinking I'm talking about things that I'm not all that concerned about. My focus is on disruption which you apparently don't want to or are unable to grasp.

    Oh there's going to be disruption alright, but my focus is on energy, because I was under the impression that this is a peak oil blog, and not something akin to the Royal Academy of Lagado, with its solemn "projectors" laboring to extract sunbeams from cucumbers, build houses from the roof down, and restore the nutritive value of human shit, all convinced of the value of their work.

    And when it comes to energy, the Uber comparison doesn't cut it. It's a paralogalism called false equivalence. Producing energy, or any commodity as far as that is concerned, isn't the same as marketing a service.

    Fred Magyar, 12/27/2015 at 11:50 am
    And when it comes to energy, the Uber comparison doesn't cut it. It's a paralogalism called false equivalence. Producing energy, or any commodity as far as that is concerned, isn't the same as marketing a service.

    If you think that disruptions caused by Uber have nothing to do with energy consumption and therefore energy production or demand collapse then I will leave you alone because you are an example of one of the blind men examining the elephant. You just can't imagine what the whole elephant is like and you keep insisting that it's a tree, or a snake, or a wall.

    And while this is certainly a blog about 'Peak Oil' that has never, at least as I understand it, been it's sole focus. But for what it's worth I would love to learn more about extracting sunbeams from cucumbers, please tell us more!

    likbez, 12/27/2015 at 12:11 pm
    "The old economic model is dying and all you have to offer is a lashing out at windmills such as Team Green!"

    I already heard such statements during dot-com boom. So in a way you can be considered as the second generation of red eye dot-com enthusiasts.

    Are you sure that your driverless cars will consume less fuel then regular cars ? If not then this is just increase of rate of profit for Uber and trucking companies and increased poverty of people who became unemployed as a result.

    What will fundamentally change, if you remove the driver from the car? You just eliminate salary of the driver if he/she is an employee. That will not solve the problems of congestions of traffic in the morning, or the problem of fuel efficiency of the cars/trucks. Home office (telecommuting) solves this problem for some categories of workers, but for some reason you do not advocate it.

    And crashes while more rare can be more severe and involve more cars simultaneously. Complex software always has bugs so in complex situations it will misbehave. BTW who will be the guilty party in this case? Google?

    As for your desire to change the existing economic model, I am with you, but good luck. As Margaret Thatcher said neoliberalism is here to stay (probably until hydrocarbons are gone). She formulated this principle as TINA ("there is no alternative") and it is connected with the power of the alliance of transnational elites and financialization of the economy that neither driverless car not alterative sources of electricity are capable to break.

    Google it if you are interested.

    Glenn Stehle, 12/27/2015 at 12:35 pm
    Fred Magyar,

    Not even the guy who wrote the Bible on disruption, Harvard scholar Clayton Christensen, believes Uber is a disruptive undertaking, as he explains in an article in the Harvard Business Review:

    Is Uber a Disruptive Innovation?
    Uber is clearly transforming the taxi business in the United States. But is it disrupting the taxi business?

    According to the theory, the answer is no. Uber's financial and strategic achievements do not qualify the company as genuinely disruptive-although the company is almost always described that way. Here are two reasons why the label doesn't fit.

    Disruptive innovations originate in low-end or new-market footholds.

    Disruptive innovations are made possible because they get started in two types of markets that incumbents overlook. Low-end footholds exist because incumbents typically try to provide their most profitable and demanding customers with ever-improving products and services, and they pay less attention to less-demanding customers. In fact, incumbents' offerings often overshoot the performance requirements of the latter. This opens the door to a disrupter focused (at first) on providing those low-end customers with a "good enough" product.

    In the case of new-market footholds, disrupters create a market where none existed….

    A disruptive innovation, by definition, starts from one of those two footholds. But Uber did not originate in either one. It is difficult to claim that the company found a low-end opportunity: That would have meant taxi service providers had overshot the needs of a material number of customers by making cabs too plentiful, too easy to use, and too clean. Neither did Uber primarily target nonconsumers-people who found the existing alternatives so expensive or inconvenient that they took public transit or drove themselves instead: Uber was launched in San Francisco (a well-served taxi market), and Uber's customers were generally people already in the habit of hiring rides.

    Uber has quite arguably been increasing total demand-that's what happens when you develop a better, less-expensive solution to a widespread customer need. But disrupters start by appealing to low-end or unserved consumers and then migrate to the mainstream market. Uber has gone in exactly the opposite direction: building a position in the mainstream market first and subsequently appealing to historically overlooked segments.

    Disruptive innovations don't catch on with mainstream customers until quality catches up to their standards.

    Disruption theory differentiates disruptive innovations from what are called "sustaining innovations." The latter make good products better in the eyes of an incumbent's existing customers: the fifth blade in a razor, the clearer TV picture, better mobile phone reception. These improvements can be incremental advances or major breakthroughs, but they all enable firms to sell more products to their most profitable customers.

    Disruptive innovations, on the other hand, are initially considered inferior by most of an incumbent's customers. Typically, customers are not willing to switch to the new offering merely because it is less expensive. Instead, they wait until its quality rises enough to satisfy them. Once that's happened, they adopt the new product and happily accept its lower price. (This is how disruption drives prices down in a market.)

    Most of the elements of Uber's strategy seem to be sustaining innovations.

    https://hbr.org/2015/12/what-is-disruptive-innovation

    Fred Magyar, 12/27/2015 at 1:03 pm
    Are you sure that your driverless cars will consume less fuel then regular cars ? If not then this is just increase of rate of profit for Uber and trucking companies and increased poverty of people who became unemployed as a result.

    No, and it doesn't matter, this is what you guys don't seem to get. What we are talking about is the complete elimination of private car ownership and a massive reduction of cars on the road. At that point how much fuel a particular vehicle employed in transportation consumes in fuel, or if it is an EV that uses no fossil fuel at all, becomes almost irrelevant and moot.

    Cars if they exist at all will not be owned they will be shared so there won't be a need for billions of them. So global demand for fossil fuels, assuming these vehicles are still using fossil fuels will cause global demand for such fuels to plummet. This is just one of many many nails in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry.

    We aren't talking about Uber disrupting the taxi business, sure it is doing that right now. But that is not the ultimate consequence of the disruption it is causing. We are talking about the end of the automobile industry as we know it today. And all the ripples that will cause throughout the current global economy.

    R Walter, 12/27/2015 at 12:28 pm

    Driverless cars will be subject to and vulnerable to vandalism. Raising hell just for the hell of it has always been a sport, so slashed tires, broken windshields, tail lights, deliberate accidents just to make driverless vehicles useless will probably take place, so the idea will be abandoned due to idiocy and nonsense. In the final analysis, the costs will be higher, repairs, more tires, windshields, vehicles disabled etc. will end up the norm. Humans know how to make it all an unbelievable mess and don't care.

    That is the way it will go moving west.

    Uber is another dead man walking.

    Fred Magyar, 12/27/2015 at 12:52 pm

    Hmm, perhaps, I know subways in New York used to be covered with graffiti…

    But what makes you think driverless cars will also be defenseless and therefore vulnerable to attack? I don't think it is much of a stretch to imagine they might be able to take matters into their own hands and fight back and defend themselves or at the very least call the cops.

    Zip Car seems to do OK and many countries in Europe have public bicycle programs and while I'm sure there is some theft and vandalism, as far as I know it isn't a major issue.

    I dunno, but I don't think Uber can be a 'Dead Man Walking', because one, it drives, and two, there is no man to kill if it goes driverless… :-)

    Paulo, 12/27/2015 at 2:08 pm

    Drove home yesterday after a Christmas visit at my daughters. It was snowing pretty hard and the highway over 'the mountain' was packed snow, slippery, and quite treacherous. Not only are there not enough sensors in the world to compensate for the nuances of winter driving demands, there is such a thing as experience and judgement inherent in choosing speed, gear used, and planning for conditions further along.

    Computers can't do that, sorry. They react or act according to set parameters.

    The day there are driverless cars on the highway is when I outfit my car like James Bond and run them off the road.

    [Dec 24, 2015] The Fallacy Of Peak Oil Demand

    The fallacy of peak oil demand is mainly due to the fact that it limit itself to the G7. which might well exprence peak demand soon. Demand will be growing with the growth of world population and the number of cars on the roads, which continue to increase. The main drivers will be India and China but Arab countries also experience explosive demand. Generally Muslim world will grow oil demand faster then the rest of the world as growth of population is concentrated predominantly in those countries.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Biofuels are certainly not growing at a fast enough rate to meet world demand – much less cut into petroleum's dominance. Further, there isn't enough available arable land in the world for biofuels to ever make more than a tiny contribution to the world's oil supply. Advanced biofuels which many advocates assured us could deliver us from our oil dependence have failed to deliver. ..."
    "... According to Inside EVs, a website that reports on EV sales, through the first 11 months of 2014 there were 110,011 EVs sold in the U.S. This year, sales in the first 11 months have fallen to 102,898 vehicles - a decline of 6.5%. Annual EV sales did grow rapidly from 2011 to 2013, but haven't grown much beyond 2013 s 97,507 vehicles sold. ..."
    "... According to Automotive News, the first 11 months of 2014 saw overall vehicle sales in the U.S. of 15,015,434 automobiles (cars, light-duty trucks, and SUVs). ..."
    "... Thus, in one year the number of cars sold in the U.S. has increased by 811,200 vehicles. ..."
    "... That's a one-year increase that's more than double the total EV sales of the past 5 years - and almost all of those vehicles run on petroleum. ..."
    www.forbes.com

    What about biofuels? The world currently consumes about 92 million barrels of oil per day. The world produces about 1.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) of biofuels per day. Since 2005, biofuel production in the world has grown by 1 million barrels a day, while crude oil production has grown by nearly 7 million barrels a day. Biofuels are certainly not growing at a fast enough rate to meet world demand – much less cut into petroleum's dominance. Further, there isn't enough available arable land in the world for biofuels to ever make more than a tiny contribution to the world's oil supply. Advanced biofuels which many advocates assured us could deliver us from our oil dependence have failed to deliver.

    That brings me to the other primary contender often mentioned as a crude oil killer: the electric vehicle (EV). In theory, as the world switches to EVs, our crude oil consumption will peak and fall. But what is actually happening?

    According to Inside EVs, a website that reports on EV sales, through the first 11 months of 2014 there were 110,011 EVs sold in the U.S. This year, sales in the first 11 months have fallen to 102,898 vehicles - a decline of 6.5%. Annual EV sales did grow rapidly from 2011 to 2013, but haven't grown much beyond 2013′s 97,507 vehicles sold.

    But 100,000 vehicles per year is nothing to sneeze at, right? Well, let's compare that against overall vehicle sales. According to Automotive News, the first 11 months of 2014 saw overall vehicle sales in the U.S. of 15,015,434 automobiles (cars, light-duty trucks, and SUVs). That means that electric cars sales accounted for about 0.7% of the market. But what's much more revealing is that overall vehicle sales in the U.S. this year through November were 15,826,634 automobiles. Thus, in one year the number of cars sold in the U.S. has increased by 811,200 vehicles.

    That's a one-year increase that's more than double the total EV sales of the past 5 years - and almost all of those vehicles run on petroleum.

    ...there is still nothing on the horizon that signals even the beginning of the end of the oil age.

    [Dec 24, 2015] Chevrolets 2016 Malibu hybrid priced from $29,520

    Notable quotes:
    "... the internal-combustion side of things is left to a slightly larger 1.8-liter I4, over the Volts 1.5-liter. ..."
    "... solid numbers for a midsize sedan: 45 mpg highway, 48 mpg city and a combined fuel efficiency of 47 mpg. Range on battery alone is 55 miles. ..."
    "... The combined effort of the gas engine and electric motors net 182 hp -- not quite in the realm of hybrid supercars, but a significant leap over the smaller Volt. ..."
    www.autonews.com

    Wesley Wren is an associate editor at Autoweek, a sister publication of Automotive News.

    Other blogs

    Chevrolet announced pricing for its 2016 Malibu Hybrid -- $29,520, including an $875 destination charge. With the base model available for less than $30K, the new Malibu costs less than the Volt -- even though it uses a lot of modified Volt hardware.

    The powertrain from the Volt is adapted to the Malibu chassis – the electric motors and drive unit are massaged into submission in the new body. However, the internal-combustion side of things is left to a slightly larger 1.8-liter I4, over the Volt's 1.5-liter.

    The new hybrid Chevy boasts solid numbers for a midsize sedan: 45 mpg highway, 48 mpg city and a combined fuel efficiency of 47 mpg. Range on battery alone is 55 miles.

    The combined effort of the gas engine and electric motors net 182 hp -- not quite in the realm of hybrid supercars, but a significant leap over the smaller Volt.

    The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid's lithium ion battery system, 1.8-liter engine and drive unit.

    In order to scavenge as much energy as possible, the 2016 Malibu is Chevy's first shot at using Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery -- a system that recycles heat from the exhaust to warm the cabin as well as to keep cold-weather operation up to snuff. Normal hybrid features like regenerative braking are, of course, equipped.

    This Malibu hybrid should be better than the previous generations, thanks to the addition of next-generation Volt technology. However, it also falls into a heated midsize hybrid bout, with the Ford Fusion, Kia Optima and Toyota Camry all fighting for customers. And, the price itself puts it in competition with the Malibu's most upscale trim levels.

    As these start to roll out this spring, it'll be interesting to see if the new Hybrid Malibu is as good as it needs to be.

    [Dec 24, 2015] Nissan LEAF Finally Gets Official EPA Fuel Economy Label

    November 22, 2010 | PluginCars.com

    Nissan Leaf got EPA rating of 99 combined city/highway. 34 kW per 100 miles. Which is equal to $4/ 100 miles or 25 miles per dollar at 0.12 per kw/h.

    Assuming 40 miles per gallon and $2 per gallon price we have 20 miles per dollar for ICE small car like Spark. Hybrid gives you around 50 miles per gallon, so it is equally efficient as Leaf and price is also approximately equal but you get larger more comfortable car.

    In case of Malibu hybrid ($30) you get a midsize car.

    That means that at $2 dollars per gallon hybrids will eat "pure" electrical cars for lunch.

    The situation will change if gas is priced above $4 per gallon.

    [Dec 24, 2015] Hybrids might kill pure electrical cars

    Notable quotes:
    "... I have one question here: why not natural gas? Personal cars can run on natural gas and taxies, small delivery trucks and town buses that are running on natural gas are common in Europe. Why "green crowd" is so stubbornly and stupidly push electrical cars ? Are they a new modern cult like Seventh Day Aventists ? ..."
    "... the new Malibu costs less than the Volt - even though it uses a lot of modified Volt hardware. ..."
    "... The new hybrid Chevy boasts solid numbers for a midsize sedan: 45 mpg highway, 48 mpg city and a combined fuel efficiency of 47 mpg. Range on battery alone is 55 miles. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com

    Ron Patterson , 12/24/2015 at 3:17 pm

    On EVs, renewables and other oil substitutes… Robert Rapier doesn't think much progress is being made.

    The Fallacy Of Peak Oil Demand

    What about biofuels? The world currently consumes about 92 million barrels of oil per day. The world produces about 1.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) of biofuels per day. Since 2005, biofuel production in the world has grown by 1 million barrels a day, while crude oil production has grown by nearly 7 million barrels a day. Biofuels are certainly not growing at a fast enough rate to meet world demand – much less cut into petroleum's dominance. Further, there isn't enough available arable land in the world for biofuels to ever make more than a tiny contribution to the world's oil supply. Advanced biofuels which many advocates assured us could deliver us from our oil dependence have failed to deliver.

    That brings me to the other primary contender often mentioned as a crude oil killer: the electric vehicle (EV). In theory, as the world switches to EVs, our crude oil consumption will peak and fall. But what is actually happening? ……

    It may very well be that the twilight of the coal age is upon us, because scalable replacements are available. But there is still nothing on the horizon that signals even the beginning of the end of the oil age.

    He quotes a lot of other stats that seem to say, "The age of EVs is not upon us." But all EV fans should read the article and give us your opinion.

    likbez , 12/24/2015 at 5:24 pm
    I am a huge EV fan, but the battery technology is not here yet. As well as price level and safety (lithium battery is like a bomb in your car).

    At the current battery technology level hybrids will eat "pure" electrical cars for lunch, except for luxury brands, where "price does not matter", "Pure" cars simply do not have any chance against them no matter how you calculate efficiency (best hybrid give you around 50 miles per gallon).

    Also it will take many years to build infrastructure to recharge such cars in supermarkets and such. CA is ahead of other states in this regard and might be the first state were electric cars have a chance for a certain category of customers if gas price goes above $4.

    I have one question here: why not natural gas? Personal cars can run on natural gas and taxies, small delivery trucks and town buses that are running on natural gas are common in Europe. Why "green crowd" is so stubbornly and stupidly push electrical cars ? Are they a new modern cult like Seventh Day Aventists ?

    But unlike the technology for "pure" electrical cars, the technology of hybrid cars is pretty solid "as is". We just need return to above $4 price of gas and some of newest models are "good enough" with the current tax incentives (I think $3.5K) if you a want midsize sedan.

    This category might continue to advance after the slump of 2015, although low gas prices and mass switch to SUVs significantly slow down the trend. I remember that those people in the suburbs who commuted 50 miles or more one way started to switch to Prius when gas price had been above $4 per gallon. This situation might repeat.

    See Chevrolet's 2016 Malibu hybrid priced from $29,520
    http://www.autonews.com/article/20151215/BLOG06/312169999/chevrolets-2016-malibu-hybrid-priced-from-29520

    If gas price return to above $4 per gallon, this type of cars might have a chance with its 45 mpg highway, 48 mpg city and a combined fuel efficiency of 47 mpg for a midsize sedan.

    === quote ===
    December 15, 2015

    Chevrolet announced pricing for its 2016 Malibu Hybrid - $29,520, including an $875 destination charge. With the base model available for less than $30K, the new Malibu costs less than the Volt - even though it uses a lot of modified Volt hardware.

    The powertrain from the Volt is adapted to the Malibu chassis – the electric motors and drive unit are massaged into submission in the new body. However, the internal-combustion side of things is left to a slightly larger 1.8-liter I4, over the Volt's 1.5-liter.

    The new hybrid Chevy boasts solid numbers for a midsize sedan: 45 mpg highway, 48 mpg city and a combined fuel efficiency of 47 mpg. Range on battery alone is 55 miles.

    The combined effort of the gas engine and electric motors net 182 hp - not quite in the realm of hybrid supercars, but a significant leap over the smaller Volt.

    [Dec 24, 2015] Problem of charging of Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt

    Notable quotes:
    "... Most modern houses have at least one dedicated twenty amp 120 volt circuit. Extend that circuit outside, and you have 2.4 kilowatts – enough to drive forty or fifty miles easily after charging overnight. ..."
    peakoilbarrel.com
    likbez, 12/23/2015 at 12:36 pm
    "There is a possibility that a supersized battery and electric motor will cost LESS in ten years than a conventional engine, transmission , and all the related engine accessories such as gasoline tank, exhaust system, etc."

    I am all for electrical cars, but neither technology nor infrastructure (charging stations) are present. And probably you need not $4 per gallon gas but much higher for the switch to materialize. Probably close to $8 per gallon (European price before oil price slump)

    Right now they are limited to home owners who can install special charging sockets. For apartment dwellers they are out of reach. And the most attractive use is as the second car for short commutes (for example daily commute to to work or train) when you own regular car, or SUV, or truck for other needs.

    With the current cost of rare metals and copper you might be right as far the gap between the costs or regular drivetrain and electrical drivetrain, but costs of rare metals and copper can increase dramatically in 10 years.

    The EV battery is a very expensive proposition. The cost of replacing batteries in Prius is $3,000. Leaf battery is around $5,500. Also some cells are dying during normal exploitation period (10 years I think for Prius). Regular gas engine and transmission last longer. Assuming 10K miles per year they can probably last 20 years (200K total).

    If we assume $5000, then most probably for next decade small car drivetrain complete rebuild costs less. Actually for $6000 you can buy a decent three years old Chevy Spark with, say, less then 50K mileage now.

    oldfarmermac, 12/24/2015 at 11:11 am
    Hi Nick,

    I will add that when and if electrics pure or plug in hybrid get to be just a little more common, the number of business establishments that install chargers for their customers will rise sharply. The business may charge for charging, think Walmart, or provide complimentary charging, think high end restaurant or clothing store.

    Ditto owners of apartment buildings and landlords who rent single family housing.

    I do my own electrical work, so I know what it actually costs to install a 240 volt weather proof outlet, near a driveway or curbside. Excluding labor, which can be outrageous in some unionized localities, five hundred dollars is more than generous. Labor would typically be two men for a day, occasionally two days.

    I would be very happy to provide a charging plug for a tenant willing to pay an extra forty a month in rent, plus his consumption of course. I would achieve break even in twenty four months or less on average.

    A lot of landlords are mean spirited, but most understand making money occasionally requires spending some money.

    Of course labor is considerably cheaper here in Va than in a place such as Connecticut.

    Otoh, the typical tenant in Connecticut could easily afford to pay a much larger rent premium.

    Most electric vehicles have their own on board charge controllers, and if you charge at home, you really don't need a FAST charge. Overnight is FINE.

    You are maybe a little optimistic about an ordinary 120 volt circuit being adequate as a general rule, but most commuters could plug in for at least eight to ten hours a day no problem at all, and a lot of people (retirees, stay at home house husbands or wives, home based business people, owners of small businesses who own their own premises ) could stay plugged in more or less continuously, except when actually driving and shopping. Most modern houses have at least one dedicated twenty amp 120 volt circuit. Extend that circuit outside, and you have 2.4 kilowatts – enough to drive forty or fifty miles easily after charging overnight.

    [Nov 07, 2015] The economics of car ownership

    Notable quotes:
    "... Through early September, Wall Street firms issued nearly $70 billion in securities backed by auto loans, up 9% from the same period a year ago, according to J.P. Morgan. About $21 billion of those were backed by subprime loans to relatively risky borrowers. ..."
    www.zerohedge.com

    How do average people afford a $33,560 car when they make $28,031 in a year? Debt, of course!

    Through early September, Wall Street firms issued nearly $70 billion in securities backed by auto loans, up 9% from the same period a year ago, according to J.P. Morgan. About $21 billion of those were backed by subprime loans to relatively risky borrowers.

    Subprime car-loan originations have taken off in recent years as lenders have loosened underwriting criteria in this sector, allowing for borrowers with low, and often no, credit scores to get access to financing. During the first half of 2015, lenders gave out $56.4 billion in subprime auto loans, up 13% from the same period a year ago and up 181% from the first half of 2009, when the market for these loans bottomed out, according to credit-reporting firm Equifax Inc.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-22/auto-loan-market-reminds-me-wha...

    [Nov 05, 2015] Meet the Company Turning NYC Taxis and Buses Into Semi-Autonomous Vehicles By

    11/04/15 | Observer

    Eight years ago, an Israeli company called Mobileye began outfitting consumer vehicles with vision-based collision avoidance technology that uses sensors, pattern recognition and artificial intelligence to warn drivers of risks that could lead to an accident. Its features can now be found in over 100 models across most major vehicle manufacturers (including Audi AG, BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Tesla and more), and now, after proving its capable to reduce accidents by <span style=" font-weight: 400;"> 39 percent, Mobileye is busy working with the MTA, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission and Ambu-Trans to bring the system to public transportation and medical vehicles in NYC.

    The small digital display sits on your dashboard and provides visual collision alerts. (Screengrab: Mobileye.com)

    The small digital display sits on your dashboard and provides visual collision alerts. (Screengrab: Mobileye.com)

    Mobileye is the underlying infrastructure for autonomous vehicles, and the way it works is simple. Just drive as you normally would and the system will alert you with auditory and visual warnings (via a small screen on the dashboard) if you’re in a situation that could lead to a collision. Using AI technology, the Mobileye computer can measure how many seconds you are from crashing, differentiate moving hazards like pedestrians and cyclists from immobile objects and can even detect which direction a person is heading. In total, this allows the system to give drivers six different types of alerts:

    Forward collision warning. The system will provide an alert 2.7 seconds before an impending collision with a vehicle. This is for when you’re driving and when you’re stopped at a red light, inching closer to the car in front of you.

    Pedestrian and bicycle collision warning. For impending collisions with pedestrians or cyclists, it issues alerts 2.0 seconds before the collision.

    Lane departure warning. “Some call it ‘electronic rumble strip,’” Michael Backman, vice president and general manager of Mobileye US operations, told the Observer. It provides an alert if the vehicle is about to enter another lane without the use of a turn signal. This can be fine-tuned for sensitivity and only functions when the car is traveling 33 MPH or more in order to eliminate unnecessary alerts in parking lots and other places of the sort.

    Headway monitoring/following time. This feature helps drivers keep a safe distance from cars ahead of them by tracking following time, travel speed and the distance between the vehicles. This feature is activated at 19 MPH, and if you’re too close, there will be an alert.

    Intelligent high beam control. To keep driving conditions safe for others on the road at night, this feature will automatically turn high beams on and off depending on the surrounding traffic. When tail lights are detected in front of the host vehicle up to 1,312 feet, the system will automatically turn off high beams. It will do the same when an oncoming vehicle is detected up to 3,280 feet. When deemed safe, the system turns the high beams back on again.

    Speed limit indicator. This feature automatically recognizes speed limit signs and alerts you if you’re speeding, also displaying your speed on the dashboard screen. This can be fine-tined, so you can choose if you want to be alerted going 5 MPH, 10 MPH or just 1 MPH over the limit.

    “There’s a handful of features. Some are very valuable in urban areas, and some are better in rural areas,” Christopher Ritter, the company’s regional sales manager, said as we drove around Central Park and Manhattan’s west side in a Mobileye-equipped car, testing the different features. He explained the importance of the timing and frequency of the alerts, citing that four seconds before an impending crash, for example, is too much time, would result in many ‘false alarms’ and would eventually lead drivers to ignore the alerts.

    (Go to 2:42 in the video to see how the system operates in action)

    For years, consumer vehicles and freight trucks have been using Mobileye. Car manufacturers want five-star safety ratings they can tout in their ads, and this helps them achieve that. According to Mr. Backman, one in five fleet vehicles get into an accident each year. “Businesses see this pay off. There’s no trade off. It only helps,” he said.

    As mentioned, Mobileye has been shown to reduce accidents by 39 percent. When looking at only accidents caused by the driver using the system, that number is 50 percent, according to the company. Besides just stopping accidents in the moment, Mobileye also encourages and enforces safer driving habits. Within Mr. Backman’s first month driving with the system, he had about 280 lane departures because he’d often change lanes without signaling. “It changed my habits,” he said.

    This success caught the eye of Christopher Hart, the chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, who said this technology should be mandated in all vehicles.

    NYC is taking steps in that direction. This past summer, Mobileye began a pilot program with the Taxi and Limousine Commission and equipped 20 official city cabs and limousines with the technology. The MTA is on phase two of a Mobileye program and is also using the company’s additional system called Shield Plus, which uses extra cameras on the sides and backs of the buses for added protection against pedestrian and cyclist collisions. Select city trash trucks as well as vehicles for City Administration Services and other various agencies are now equipped with Mobileye as well and are currently collecting data on accident rates.

    Today, Ambu-Trans, a leading provider of non-emergency medical transportation serving the greater New York metropolitan area, announced its putting the system in more than 60 vehicles.

    “The safety of our drivers and passengers is of utmost importance.” Neal Kalish, President of Ambu-Trans, said in a release.With its real-time alert system, Mobileye’s Aftermarket system is an important addition to our fleet safety program.”

    Going forward, the company is looking to expand their pilot programs with more businesses and citywide departments in NYC and other major U.S. cities. They’re looking to get involved with ride sharing apps, as well. Our three experts remind us that collision-repair facilities and insurance companies use one of three systems for estimating repair jobs to arrive at standardized, impartial quotes. Theoretically, this means three different shops will present similar estimates. But insurance companies will sometimes present their policyholders with a low quote that bears no relationship to the product of these estimating systems, Brian says. And if the consumer decides he can live with minor body damage and elects to pocket the check rather than pay to have the damage repaired, the carrier has quickly cleared another claim.

    It's increasingly tough for body shop owners to provide an accurate cost estimate that will cover the expense to fix the car properly and still make a profit. Brian says automakers frequently change vehicle designs as the Environmental Protection Agency raises fuel-efficiency standards. They are increasingly using lighter materials like aluminum and high-strength metals like ultra-hard boron steel, particularly in the frame and suspension parts. Such parts are expensive.

    ... ... ...

    Neal gives an example: Say you have a dent in your quarter panel. One shop might write a simple four-line estimate to repair the panel and repaint it. (Each line on the quote constitutes another charge.) Another shop might write a 20-line estimate that includes removing the taillight and bumper, instead of just taping them off. "There can be 20 steps for the repair if you want to do them all and if you want to charge for them all," he says.

    If a consumer doesn't understand the steps, the estimate makes little sense. And many body shops don't take the time to explain it, Brian adds. "There are a lot of shops that print their estimate, throw it at the consumer and say 'Call me if you want me to do it,'" he says. Instead, he recommends looking for the shop with a staff that listens patiently and replies with reasonable answers.

    Andy says consumers should be aware that some shops write lowball estimates just to "seize the keys" — get the car owner's commitment to do the job. Once the car is dismantled, the body shop owner calls the consumer and lists additional charges, claiming that the shop discovered new damage after it started work.

    [Sep 27, 2015] How Did Volkswagen Cheat Emissions Tests, and Who Authorized It

    Slashdot

    Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @12:28PM (#50590183)

    Re:Nail everyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    Yeah. I would not be too surprised if at some level in the organization this was sold as a debugging or trouble shooting measure, or some other benign reason was given for branching on detection of emissions tests.

    Folks, you have to branch on emissions (and dyno) tests in the ECU solely because otherwise the safety side of things will bring everything to a halt. The most obvious reason (assume FWD) is that if the front wheels are going 65MPH and the rear wheels are going 0MPH, the traction control system is going to have a major freak out and say "HOLY CRAP WE ARE SKIDDING OUT OF CONTROL BRAKE FRONT UNTIL THE DIFFERENCE IS LESSENED". The procedure [hellcat.org] to enter dyno mode [bimmerforums.com] is not itself a secret.

    So it's not a secret and it's not illegal for the ECU to detect and behave differently during the test, and everyone would know about this above-board feature. The secret-and-illegal part is modifying the behavior of things measured by the test while the test is running. That is a lot easier to keep secret and requires a lot less involvement from teams directly outside the module that is responsible for emissions.

    [ Source: Tuner people that dyno fancy cars and have to solve these sort of issues. ]

    xtronics (259660) writes:

    Bump the parent

    Yes - all the ECUs do this - and my informants tell me they all cheat - this is really about selective prosecution because VW is non UAW.

    mbone (558574) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:57AM (#50589915)
    Re:Nail everyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    Yes, but this might even have been sold as a compliance issue - we must by law make sure that the full emissions package is in place for any emissions test, even if the service tech turned it off for reason XYZ. What engineer would blink at that? Meanwhile, over in another department, the engineers are being told, these emissions packages must by default be off, as not all jurisdictions require them, and we are using an opt-in type system to turn them on when required. Again, who would blink at that? But by such stratagems, they could set up to that one person or a few people could flip a virtual switch, and the hack would be in place.

    Somebody knew, somebody high up knew, but I rather doubt that everyone on the engineering bench knew, and that means that they had to be fed plausible stories along the way.

    sjbe (173966) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @12:21PM (#50590133)
    The engineers knew what was happening (Score:5, Insightful)

    Somebody knew, somebody high up knew, but I rather doubt that everyone on the engineering bench knew, and that means that they had to be fed plausible stories along the way.

    Spare me. The engineers were the ones that eventually spilled the beans on this. They weren't fooled by some clever management strategy. They knew exactly what they were doing and they knew or should have known that it was illegal. While maybe not every engineer involved knew, more than a few certainly did without question. The engineers at VW aren't dumb. I know a few personally. Please stop with the attempts to find clever ways to not have to blame the engineers who were guilty of helping to commit fraud. Management may have ordered the crime but the engineers were the ones that carried it out.

    Calydor (739835) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @01:20PM (#50590567)
    Re:The engineers knew what was happening (Score:4, Insightful)

    Is it not possible that years after these things were made by two different development groups as the GP suggested, these two groups happened to discuss the work they had done, blinked, and realized how those two things worked together. Or given this started back in 2009, there's probably been some turnover, no one in charge knew anymore this was happening and had to be kept secret, and one person was given full access to the code to add a few new snippets - and HE realized what it was actually doing.

    disposable60 (735022) writes:

    That's how C-level executives in civilized countries behave - it's a symbolic beheading of the culprit to show atonement. In this country, they get bigger bonuses for this stuff.
    Agent0013 (828350) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @12:23PM (#50590147) Journal
    Re:Nail everyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    From the article itself, (I know, I am not supposed to read the article), the traction control is mandated to be turned off when testing the emissions. So you already have a need to check that emissions testing is being done. Once that flag is set in the code other areas can use it and they may not even be aware of the ethical dilemma that arises. Perhaps someone was told to lower the fuel flow when the test_mode flag was on. Why would they feel that something does not "smell quite right" in that case? Someone else turned the flag on with a code change several years previously. There is plenty of other things being changed or turned off when in test_mode, so adjusting the fuel flow can fit right in with that. Unless they realized that test_mode was used to determine that emissions testing was being performed (it could be used for other tests also) and that the changes they are making will cheat the emissions test they might not even realize that something is wrong with what they are doing.

    hattig (47930) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @12:40PM (#50590277) Journal
    Re:Sometimes the ethical path is very clear (Score:5, Interesting)

    The engineers who designed the engine - yes.

    The engineers who coded the software for the engine computer? Why would they know what this does? The software is enabling a signal, hell the signal might even have a vague name, when a condition is met. The condition's name might not very clear.

    Yes, a spec saying "when the car is undergoing a test then enabled the cheat mode to get past the test" would clearly implicate the developers.

    But most likely it was: "when sig_x and sig_y and indicator_a are set, then set sig_Z to 1 in pattern P for n nanoseconds blah blah blah"

    Someone knew what they were doing, and it probably went like this:

    Engineer: We can't make this engine pass NOx tests.

    Message goes up the chain to a certain decision making level, possibly the board. Marketing chimes in: We can't have this, we're already sending out teasers about our new urea-less engine technology, etc, etc.

    Eventually a message comes down to fix it, in vague terms, entirely forgetting the original message that it's unfixable.

    Engineers: struggle for ages.

    In pub: Well, we could enable a special testing mode to pass the tests?

    In work: Shall we do this -> up the chain. Original context is half forgotten. Approved.

    Changes made. Software specs made. Timebomb implemented.

    dunkindave (1801608) writes:

    Engineer: We can't make this engine pass NOx tests.

    Ah, but that wasn't the situation. The engine could pass fine, which is what was happening when the software detected the test conditions. The problem is when running like that the engine didn't have as much power or fuel economy as when operating in dirty mode. This hack was to make the car more appealing to consumers by (in a virtual sense) selling one car to the public, and having the EPA test a different one. This was pure deceit.

    BasilBrush (643681) writes:

    All varieties of IC vehicles will be gone soon enough, NG, diesel and gasoline. Not because they pollute. Because they're enormously less efficient than electrical vehicles. The only benefit IC vehicles have right now is that gasoline, NG and diesel store larger amounts of energy by volume and weight than electrical storage does, and offer less maintainance of the energy supply for the vehicle. But those advantages continue to erode. Eventually the benefits will fall the other side of the line, and that'll be the end of that.

    True.

    One of the obvious consequences of this inevitability is that the very small amount of extra exhaust products generated by VW's software methodology in actual vehicle use isn't likely to make an actual difference to anyone in terms of pollution.

    Non-sequiteur. Possibly you haven't appreciated that this isn't mainly about greenhouse gasses, but about pollutants that cause local heath problems in cities, and thus directly harm and even kill people. That most certainly *IS* a difference.

    PaulRivers10 (4110595) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:05AM (#50589499)
    Re:Nail everyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    Yeah, I worked for a large bank. I was told my task was to implement tax calculation code in javascript, so it would update on the page immediately. While I balked at the request, it was made pretty clear that either I do it or I would get fired. I was not given a javascript library that knew how to handle financial values. Javascript doesn't support integer-only values, so you're doing financial calculations with floating point roundoffs and errors. I happened to know about them but was not given any instructions that they were a problem. I wasn't given any instructions on how to make sure they didn't cause issues. As far as I know no more than basic testing was done on the code. I did get an email verifying that I had questioned it, but then I found out that all our emails are automatically deleted after 6 months or something like that. You get fired now, or you implement something dubious - what do you choose?

    Archangel Michael (180766) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:31AM (#50589687) Journal

    Re:Nail everyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    You get fired now, or you implement something dubious - what do you choose?

    You get fired. Then you sue for wrongful termination. Then you expose the company in court (public record) about how shitty they are threatening you with termination (you have proof? right?) for doing something dubious.

    One thing I have learned is you always say "Can I get that in writing?". This alone stops a huge number of stupid decisions, especially when you're protesting.

    Even if you have to write it ... "Per our conversation regarding _______ I am doing _______ at your request. Please let me know if you change your mind". In civil court, all you need is 50+%. It doesn't take much to get to 50+%. Self documentation is perfectly acceptable.

    It has saved my bacon a number of times.

    Anonymous Coward writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @12:51PM (#50590345)

    Re:Nail everyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    IANAL, but this is what I heard from an employment lawyer (paraphrasing): As long as you wrote and sent the e-mail, the onus is on the employer to show that they have replied to it in a reasonable fashion. Courts tend to throw out "I didn't see it" excuses and expect replies. And even if they replied verbally, oh well, too bad, they should've done so in writing.

    Drethon (1445051) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @01:35PM (#50590667)

    Re:Nail everyone? (Score:3)

    One thing I have learned is you always say "Can I get that in writing?". This alone stops a huge number of stupid decisions, especially when you're protesting.

    That worked on one of my tasks where I was asked to do something counter to standards. After I tried to argue them down for some time, my coworker (I wish I could take credit but I've made use of this since then) simply asked for them to send us an e-mail stating what we were being asked to do. At that point, the other person's manager told him to stop asking us to do it the wrong way.

    sjbe (173966) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:32AM (#50589701)
    Keep good records of dubious orders from mgmt (Score:5, Insightful)

    I did get an email verifying that I had questioned it, but then I found out that all our emails are automatically deleted after 6 months or something like that.

    Nothing prevents you from printing emails of instructions to implement dubious decisions. I've done this from time to time just to protect myself when I worked at a large company.

    You get fired now, or you implement something dubious - what do you choose?

    If it is clearly illegal or will be very likely to cause major problems then you should seriously consider walking. If it isn't so clear then you get them to document their instructions to you and you keep a copy (print if you have to) for your records to cover your ass should it be a problem down the line. Make sure you document your objections and make it clear that you have taken every reasonable effort to ensure that what you are doing is legal. If the decision is merely dumb but legal, same thing but don't worry so much about ensuring legality.

    plague911 (1292006) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:54AM (#50589879)
    Re:The people who did this weren't idiots (Score:3)

    No “they” didn’t. One team wrote code to detect an emissions test. One team wrote code for a new emissions heavy efficiency high mode. One team wrote code to switch between emissions tests. One dude with a beard added if( TRUE === emissionsTest ) { mode = MODE_X43_Y ;} Thats all it took.

    BasilBrush (643681) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @01:14PM (#50590507)
    Re:No need for code to detect an emissions test (Score:3)

    In the UK it was reported on Newsnight (TV Programme) back in November last year. So it wasn't just engineers at VW that knew about it. What's surprising is the shit only hit the fan now.

    fahrbot-bot (874524) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:57AM (#50589911)
    Re:The people who did this weren't idiots (Score:3)

    But frankly I have a VERY hard time believing that the engineers involved did not know that what they were doing would violate the law.

    On the other hand, the code could be used to support a control test case, with the emissions controls switched on/off, to support development and how well the emissions controls were working on the same engine. This would allow the engine developers to test against a live performance benchmark. On the original hand, having that switch on/off automatically is quite hinky, so it's probably not (solely) for development testing.

    HornWumpus (783565) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:55AM (#50589887)
    Re:Make sure? (Score:3)

    He is the boss, you work for him, for now, _not_ end of discussion.

    He doesn't have to debate, but you don't HAVE to do it. Vote with your feet.

    If you are making an Engineer's salary and can't afford to quit, you are a certified moron.

    Anonymous Coward writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:41AM (#50589785)
    Re: Aw... (Score:5, Informative)

    Definitely been going on for at least 17 years, and many other companies besides VW are getting caught.

    "On October 22, 1998, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced an $83.4 million total penalty against diesel manufacturers, the largest civil penalty ever for violation of environmental law...The seven companies sold 1.3 million heavy duty diesel engines containing illegal "defeat devices," which allow an engine to pass the EPA emissions test, but then turn off emission controls during highway driving. As a result, these engines emit up to three times the current level for NOx a harmful air pollutant."

    http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/detroit-diesel-corporation-diesel-engine-settlement

    You can find many more examples of enforcement at:

    http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/clean-air-act-vehicle-and-engine-enforcement-case-resolutions

    (AC because I work in the industry.)

    Tablizer (95088) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:55AM (#50589891) Journal

    Re:Aw... (Score:5, Interesting)

    Based on my experience with slimebag orgs and managers, it may have gone something like this:

    A manager(s) asks for a software switch to deactivate the "clean" mode and also detect when smog testing is being done "in order to study and track resources devoted to environmental issues and make sure we understand and comply with the smog testing procedures."

    Then a personal visit happens where key manager(s) ask the top-ranking technician to leave the bypass-on-test feature "on" in production. No paper trail. Experienced slimebags don't put such commands into writing.

    When the IT lead later reveals "Executive X told me to in person", there's no written trail. It's one person's word against another's.

    Sure, the IT lead is probably suspicious of the request, but when the big bosses tell you to do something, it's comply or hit the road.

    I was once asked to cheat a client over database scalability. It was shortly after the dot-com crash, and knowing the market was really tight in Calif. and having a young family, it was a really difficult situation to be in. I won't go into the details here, but I was sick to my stomach over it. The experience made me more progressive.

    Anonymous Coward writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @10:49AM (#50589359)

    Re:Single line of code? (Score:5, Interesting)

    Sometimes but not always. This cheated the test both with and without a computer. It was instead detecting when it was on a rolling road. Emissions tests are always done with the car stationary but the wheels moving, and that'll be what the software was detecting.

    From the sound it of it wasn't actually putting the car into a special 'mode'. It was turning on all the measures to reduce emissions. When the car was on a real road it was turning them off to get better performance and fuel consumption at the expense of emissions. So it sounds like the car does technically meet the regulations, but ignores them when it's on the road. So expect the recall to turn them on at all times, which'll mean you don't need the car/engine replaced, but will mean you pay more at the pump and see your car's less nippy than it was before.

    Thelasko (1196535) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:29AM (#50589677) Journal

    Re:How test mode was triggered (Score:5, Informative)

    The test mode was triggered by monitoring which wheels were turning, position of the steering wheel, etc.

    Basically they wanted to avoid the cost of installing a urea injection system [wikipedia.org] so they cheated instead. Honda engineers were reported to be perplexed about how they managed to do this miraculous feat of engineering.

    As a diesel emissions engineer, I was always fascinated by how Volkswagen was able to do what they claimed. I had tried to make their technology work, it's extremely difficult. SCR is much simpler and more economical.

    I had thought for a while that other companies had some secret information that my team was missing to get such good performance. Now I think other companies are just cheating.

    AmiMoJo (196126) writes: <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:14AM (#50589583) Homepage

    Re:Single line of code? (Score:5, Informative)

    According to news reports (BBC etc.) it used a combination of inputs. Steering wheel position, barometric pressure variation over time, rate of acceleration, speed, g sensor stability etc.

    Also, to enable the cheat mode the engine would have had to load a different set of operating parameters. Those parameters must be stored somewhere, and doubtless constitute more than a single line of code.

    Some thought must have gone into this fraud.

    sjbe (173966) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:09AM (#50589545)

    They knew what they were doing from day one (Score:5, Informative)

    I wonder whether someone actually gave the order to implement a 'test defeat device' or they just started to optimize the engine to comply with regulation and to pass the test and then they went too far.

    Someone in management made the decision to not install a urea injection system which is necessary to keep emissions to legal levels but costs a lot of money. Reportedly something like $400/vehicle. So it seems pretty clear that their "solution" to the problem was simply to cheat. This wasn't a case of optimization gone awry. They flat out knew what they were doing and went ahead with it anyway. As soon as they made the decision to not install urea injection, they effectively decided to cheat at that time because they were asking for the technologically impossible. There is no way they didn't know that their decision to leave off such a key piece of equipment would not result in unacceptable emissions. The engineers at VW aren't dumb. The decision was made for financial reasons (not surprising) but was aided and abetted by a bunch of engineers that should have known better.

    The only real question seems to be who made the decision and who was responsible for executing it and covering it up.

    Captain Hook (923766) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:22AM (#50589625)

    Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (Score:4, Informative)

    The way this was discovered (*1) was by an independent university group taking purchased vehicles and connecting it up with sensors and running it over real roads in real traffic conditions over long periods of time and comparing it to the rolling road test results. It's not an astronomical cost but if you are just looking for basical emission data then there are much simpler methods (namely a rolling road).

    *1 - assuming this wasn't a case of parallel construction and the real road test data is just collecting evidence for what somebody already knew was happening.

    ssam (2723487) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:48AM (#50589843)

    Re:Does it really matter to the air? (Score:5, Informative)

    "It is estimated that the effects of NO 2 on mortality are equivalent to 23,500 deaths annually in the UK" -- UK dept. for environment and rural affairs https://consult.defra.gov.uk/a... [defra.gov.uk] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/busi... [bbc.co.uk]

    "Volkswagen’s rigging of emissions tests for 11m cars means they may be responsible for nearly 1m tonnes of air pollution every year, roughly the same as the UK’s combined emissions for all power stations, vehicles, industry and agriculture, a Guardian analysis suggests." http://www.theguardian.com/bus... [theguardian.com]

    140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @11:03AM (#50589487) Journal

    Some legitimate code repurposed. (Score:3)

    Most of the actual codes that disabled the emission controls would have legitimate use during development cycle. Typically there will be a switch to put the engine in a baseline test mode, to gather baseline data. The test engineers would turn it all off, get a sanity check baseline runs made. Then they will turn on various switches and turn various knobs to fine tune the best values trading off power and efficiency to reduce emissions. So the actual code turning off emission control is not a big deal.

    What would be a big deal however is the code that detects whether the car is in test bench or on the road. Apparently it uses steering input and other such details. So that code block is the interesting part. Proper audit of the code changes, pull request authorizations would nail the engineer who actually did the dirty deed. But would there be code review meeting/minutes, comments fingering higher management?

    This scandal will have some salutary effect in engineers who manage code, they would refuse to merge or pull such cheating code changes because it would leave their fingerprints indelibly for ever. They might even add comments in code covering their tails fingering the actual perp in the higher management.

    funwithBSD (245349) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @01:04PM (#50590443)

    It may not be a single line of code. (Score:5, Interesting)

    I worked for a Small software house that made SAP type ERP software before SAP ate the majority of the market. This was 1998 or so...

    We had a customer come to us and ask for certain modifications. Then a few more. Then a few more.

    Not unusual, we made a lot of money from change orders. So the first few were done. All were acceptable in the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices guidelines.

    Somewhere along the line the GAAP accountant realized that this last modification set would, taken in combination with all the other mods, make a check disappear from the system and become untraceable.
    We refused to do it, and the customer dropped the product, saying we were too hard to deal with. A million+ of revenue were lost, no small amount for the company.

    That customer? MCI Worldcom.

    They clearly had picked apart the source code and found the edge case that triggered the behavior. I had left the company before MCI blew up, but my understanding is that they were called to give testimony/evidence in the trial.

    This could be the same thing, a series of unrelated changes that trigger a diagnostic mode when hooked up to the test equipment.
    If so, it would be very hard to trace who made the ultimate decision to do this, as it might be spread across many teams working independently.

    peter303 (12292) writes: on Thursday September 24, 2015 @10:53AM (#50589381)

    Caught at least six times in past (Score:2)

    According to a NY Times article. A billion dolalr fine for Harvesters truck engines. I suspect many cheats not caught.

    [Sep 27, 2015] VW emissions scandal could snare other firms, whistleblower claims Business The Guardian

    The emissions-fixing scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen in the US could extend to other companies and countries, one of the officials involved in uncovering the alleged behaviour has told the Guardian.

    Billions of pounds have been wiped off the value of global carmakers amid growing concerns that emissions tests may have been rigged across the industry.

    “We need to ask the question, is this happening in other countries and is this happening at other manufacturers? Some part of our reaction is not even understanding what has happened exactly,” said John German, one of the two co-leads on the US team of the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT), the European-based NGO that raised the alarm.

    Shares in Volkswagen fell by almost a fifth after the world’s second biggest carmaker issued a public apology in response to US allegations that it used a defeat device to falsify emissions data.

    South Korea said on Tuesday it would investigate emissions of VW Jetta and Gold models and Audi A3 cars produced in 2014 and 2015. If problems are found, South Korea’s environment ministry said its probe could be expanded to all German diesel imports, which have surged in popularity in recent years in a market long dominated by local producers led by Hyundai.

    US Congress confirmed it is investigating the scandal on Monday. House energy and commerce committee chairman Fred Upton and oversight and investigations subcommittee chairman Tim Murphy announced that the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing.

    The US Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation of Volkswagen admission, according to Bloomberg, which cited two officials familiar with the inquiry.

    The company could face a fine of up to $18bn (£11.6bn), criminal charges for its executives, and legal action from customers and shareholders. The US law firm Hagens Berman has already launched a class-action law suit on behalf of customers who bought the affected cars.

    VW shares fell by 19% in Frankfurt, wiping almost €15bn (£10.8bn) off its value. Shares in Renault, Volkswagen’s French rival, also dropped by 4%, while Peugeot was down 2.5%, Nissan 2.5% and BMW 1.5% amid concerns they could be caught up in investigations.

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday that VW had installed illegal software to cheat emission tests, allowing its diesel cars to produce up to 40 times more pollution than allowed. The US government ordered VW to recall 482,000 VW and Audi cars produced since 2009.

    Toyota Recalls About 6.4 Million Vehicles Globally For Variety Of Problems

    September 15, 2014

    DETROIT (AP) — Big U.S. recalls by General Motors and Toyota have put the auto industry on a record pace as companies try to avoid bad publicity and punishment from an increasingly aggressive government.

    On Wednesday, Toyota announced it was recalling nearly 1.8 million vehicles in the U.S. to fix a spate of problems, including air bags that might not inflate. It's part of a worldwide recall of 6.4 million cars and trucks.

    So far this year, automakers have recalled about 9 million vehicles in the U.S. If that pace continues, the nation would break the record of 30.8 million recalled vehicles set in 2004.

    Most of the recalls are from Toyota and General Motors, two automakers that are under government scrutiny and facing bad publicity and allegations that they concealed safety issues.

    Toyota's latest recalls were announced before the company even developed specific repairs. They come two weeks after the Justice Department skewered the Japanese automaker for covering up problems that caused unintended acceleration in some cars starting in 2009. Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle that case, but federal prosecutors can resurrect a wire fraud charge if the company fails to comply with the terms of the settlement.

    Toyota's actions come as rival GM recalls 2.6 million small cars for defective ignition switches the company links to at least 13 deaths. Of those, 2.2 million are in the U.S. As that crisis unfolded, GM announced recalls of another 3.4 million U.S. vehicles.

    GM is facing a Justice Department investigation, and last week its new CEO was grilled by Congress over its handling of the ignition recalls. It also faces fines of $7,000 per day for missing a deadline to answer questions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said automakers historically have been quick to fix safety problems when faced with government investigations and bad publicity.

    "The manufacturers as a whole look through their inventory of defective vehicles and recall some of the ones that they had passed over before," he said.

    After highly publicized cases in the past, such as Toyota's unintended acceleration problems and Ford's trouble with Explorers and Firestone tires in the late 1990s, automakers at first quickly issued recalls. But recalls dropped off as the bad publicity faded, Ditlow said.

    But this time may be different because of the Justice Department's investigation of Toyota and the prospect of criminal charges against GM and some of its employees in what lawmakers have called a cover-up of the ignition switch problem.

    "That can be a real game-changer," Ditlow said. "There's nothing that changes corporate behavior as much as criminal prosecutions."

    Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for the Edmunds.com auto website, said things changed when NHTSA got more aggressive with fines and enforcement against Toyota in 2009 and 2010. "But the GM recall has compounded the fact that they have to be more proactive," she said.

    The high number of recalls could also be attributed to the use of common parts across an automaker's entire vehicle lineup, she said. When something goes wrong, more parts have to be replaced.

    Through Wednesday, GM had recalled about 5.6 million cars and SUVs in the U.S. this year, while Toyota was at 2.85 million.

    Automakers in the U.S. are required to notify NHTSA and recall cars within five days of discovering a safety defect. But corporate committees that govern recalls can take a long time to determine if a faulty part is a safety defect. That means recalls can take longer than the five days, Ditlow said.

    But now companies appear to be finding defects and acting faster. Ditlow said he expects smaller recalls in the future as companies move quickly to fix parts and limit the impact of a problem.

    Toyota's U.S. recall announced Wednesday includes the following vehicles in the U.S.:

    — 1.3 million vehicles with faulty electrical connections that could cause air bags to deactivate. Included are the 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2009-2010 Tacoma, 2006-2008 RAV4, 2006-2010 Yaris and 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe. If the air bags deactivate, they could fail to deploy after a crash. The Vibe, which is made by General Motors Co., is included in the recall because Toyota designed and engineered it for GM when the two companies shared a factory in California. GM says 40,500 Vibes will be recalled.

    — 472,500 small cars with defective springs in the front seat rails, which could prevent the seats from locking in place. Included are the 2006-2010 Yaris hatchback, 2007-2010 Yaris sedan and the 2008-2010 Scion XD.

    Toyota said no injuries or crashes have been reported related to the recalls. The company is working on remedies. Dealers will replace the defective parts for free when parts are available.

    The recall is one of Toyota's largest since 2009 and 2010, when the company issued a series of recalls totaling more than 10 million vehicles for various problems including faulty brakes, sticky gas pedals and ill-fitting floor mats.

    The ignition switch recall is GM's largest individual recall this year. The switches can unexpectedly slip out of the "run" position, shutting down the engine and cutting off power-assisted brakes and steering. They also can deactivate the air bags. Parts are expected to start arriving at dealerships on Friday.

    [Sep 07, 2015] Why The New Car Bubbles Days Are Numbered

    "...Well, of course, I'm going to buy the Biggest chartreuse Escalade I can! I got to fill that 4.872 sf subprime house garage with something.' Yes I can! ' "
    .
    "...Sum total? if we've unreasonably pulled forward sales, and further greased the skids of over production / unsustainable sales with low interest rates, plus exacerbated the problem by overproducing - then the comparably few new car buyers have something to look forward to."
    Sep 07, 2015 | Zero Hedge

    Having recently detailed the automakers' worst nightmare - surging new car inventories - supply; amid rapidly declining growth around the world (EM and China) - demand, it appears the bubble in new car sales is about to be crushed by yet another unintended consequence of The Fed's lower for longer experiment. As WSJ reports, Edmunds.com estimates that around 28% of new vehicles this year will be leased - a near-record pace - leaving 13.4 million vehicles (leased over the past 3 years in The US) - compared with just 7 million in the three years to 2011 - set to spark a massive surplus of high-quality used cars. Great for consumers (if there are any left who have not leased a car in the last 3 years) but crushing for automakers' margins as luxury used-care prices are tumbling just as residuals have surged.

    To sum up... Secret Treaties

    Everything you need to know, right here . . .

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=1A8n

    Never One Roach

    << Consumers focused on the dollar amount of their monthly payment have taken advantage of low interest rates to sometimes buy more car than they might otherwise be able to afford. >>

    Well, of course, I'm going to buy the Biggest chartreuse Escalade I can! I got to fill that 4.872 sf subprime house garage with something.

    ' Yes I can! '

    Canadian Dirtlump

    Over producing is definitely an issue, but that is separate - yet further exacerbated by the issue mentioned here.

    Historically, companies like BMW, Toyota / Lexus and Honda could lease vehicles for a few years on the cheap, then sell the used returns for a profit - relying on their comparably high resale value. As they suggest, this becomes tougher when in addition to BMW and Honda.. Infiniti, Cadillac, Mercedes, Buick, Acura, and a panoply of other plebian manufacturers do the same thing. In addition to pulling forward future sales due to low interest rates, many people leased due to favorable conditions.

    So in addition to average car loan duration being historically high, dealer inventory being historically high - thanks to an unreasonable expectation of low interest rate new normal environment, we have set the stage for a flood of "leaseback" used vehicles to hit the market soon.

    Sum total? if we've unreasonably pulled forward sales, and further greased the skids of over production / unsustainable sales with low interest rates, plus exacerbated the problem by overproducing - then the comparably few new car buyers have something to look forward to.

    ... ... ...

    JMT

    In Boston, seems like every 20 something has a new BMW or a Ford F250.. Of course the yuppies who live in Back Bay & the South End all have several cars one of which is always a Prius with the $1,000 Thule bike rack

    JMT

    where exactly can you find a 3 year old (i assume Tacoma or the F250 which all 'real men' need to have for some type of ego boost?) for a 30% discount? and with "sub 20K miles on it)?

    Also, most cars are still only made to last to around 100,000 miles when you get past 80,000 you find all those 'problems' that quicly add up - ex. suspension parts, hub bearings, brakes, tires. Any "sensor" can cost $500 + with parts, labor + sales tax.

    Full Nelson

    Fuck any car built after '06. Trackers and hacks and who knows what they'll be able to do next.

    I'll take a set of carburetors and elbow room for wrenching before dealing with modern BS, circle-feeding California-emission, mechanical loopery headache disposable lighter cars.

    [Aug 15, 2015] Are Automakers About To Hit The Panic Button

    Notable quotes:
    "... $30-50k for a car? Does it run on angel tears? Was it made with Cecil mane plush seats? ..."
    "... I have heated seats in my 2003 king ranch...IMHO - 2003 should have been the year to stop adding electronics and more complex bullshit ..."
    "... Indeed. I like to work on cars as a hobby but I refuse to work on cars made after 2000. After that it's not fun anymore. ..."
    "... Audi's are high maintenance and break a lot. Everyone I know that owns an Audi had nothing but problems. ..."
    Zero Hedge
    To sum up...

    The only way automakers are making sales is by lowering credit standards to truly mind-numbing levels.... that cannot last.

    China's economic collapse has crushed forecasts for the automakers. Inventories are already at record highs. And July saw a massive surge in producton.

    What comes next is simple... a production slump - just ask The Atlanta Fed.

    Save_America1st

    Ummmmm....remember this, folks????

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-05-16/where-worlds-unsold-cars-go-die

    I think I know a way how they can take care of excess car inventory:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-13/one-way-china-deals-its-massive...

    pods

    If they start making cars that are simply cars again, I will buy a new one.

    Not ones with wifi and bluetooth and ways to tell your friends when you just jacked off in a traffic jam without taking your hands off the wheel.

    Just make a damn car. I only need AC. That's it. I will put in my own stereo if needed and I dont even need power windows or locks.

    $30-50k for a car? Does it run on angel tears? Was it made with Cecil mane plush seats?

    Maybe they should spend more time on finding out how to make shit that doesn't break in 4 years.

    If they can re-master an ignition switch then we will talk.

    pods

    Hitlery_4_Dictator

    I have heated seats in my 2003 king ranch...IMHO - 2003 should have been the year to stop adding electronics and more complex bullshit

    ConanTheLibertarian

    Indeed. I like to work on cars as a hobby but I refuse to work on cars made after 2000. After that it's not fun anymore.

    Tinfoil Hat

    Still driving the $14k kia rio from off the lot in 2007. manual transmission, windows, locks. Hatchback and folding seats to hold lots of stuff. Perfect little people/stuff mover. It took a while to detach my sense of self worth from the instantly depreciating financial liability that is an automobile, but I must say I'm glad for it now. Costs about $120/month to run all in. It blows my mind when the young guys I work with are financing $40-50k cars and trucks dropping $8-900/month between payments and insurance.

    separating "self" from "stuff" seems to be a pretty big step to sound personal financials.

    AGuy

    "Tellin you man, I've become pretty accustomed to Audi interiors and handling."

    Audi's are high maintenance and break a lot. Everyone I know that owns an Audi had nothing but problems.

    For the most part, cars have replaced boats. Cars have become a hole in the road that you pour money into. Your better off buying a $25K import and upgrade the interior (replace cloth seat with leather for about $1K) and pocket the $10K to $15K difference. Generally Americans by luxury imports to impress other people and to give themselves a bit of self-importance and feed their narrasism.

    "American cars - at least the recent ones I've driven"

    American car manufacturers produced decent cars in the 1990s and early 2000s, after about 2003-2004, it all started rolling down hill, but the prices went up. With GM, your risk your life (recall the Ignition probably that caused the death of more than 100 people).

    [Sep 15, 2014] GM to offer compensation for 19 deaths related to ignition switch

    See GM Ignition Recall Safety Information for models affected. GM says the switches can unexpectedly move out of the "run" position if the cars are jarred, such as by going over railroad tracks or a pothole. Here's an animation showing a fatal collision when a GM ignition fails on the highway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIIep67BrLU See also The GM Ignition Switch What went wrong and GM recalls. Work with Piston Data, it's not a joke! Customers safely back to your dealership! - YouTube
    Sep 15, 2014 | www.dailymail.co.uk

    Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg received 125 death claims due to the faulty switches in older-model small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt

    The faulty ignition switches can slip out of the 'run' position into 'accessory' or 'off,' cutting off power to the engine. That can knock out power steering or brakes and disable the air bags if there's a crash.

    [Sep 15, 2014] Regulator Slow to Respond to Deadly Vehicle Defects

    See explanation of GM problem GM Ignition Switch Recall, Reduce Your Risk. Attitude "Its cheaper to pay out the lawsuits than to fix the problem" is an interesting approach to the problem...
    NYTimes.com
    209 Comments

    By HILARY STOUT, DANIELLE IVORY and REBECCA R. RUIZ

    David Friedman, N.H.T.S.A.’s acting head, indicated in a Senate hearing that he did not realize the agency could issue subpoenas. Credit Larry Downing/Reuters

    General Motors published an article in February on its Chevrolet website trumpeting an achievement certain to help sell a lot of cars.

    Its 2014 Chevys had earned more five-star overall safety ratings in a new car assessment program than had any other brand.

    The next day, G.M. began recalling millions of its cars for a deadly ignition defect, and by August, six of the eight five-star Chevrolet models had been recalled for a variety of safety issues, including defects in air bags, brakes and steering. Five had been recalled multiple times.

    It was an embarrassing turn — but not just for the embattled automaker. The stellar rankings had been awarded by the federal regulatory agency that is mandated by Congress to ensure the safety of automobiles.

    The agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has a record of missteps that goes well beyond its failure to detect an ignition switch defect in several models of G.M. cars now linked to at least 13 deaths.

    An investigation by The New York Times into the agency’s handling of major safety defects over the past decade found that it frequently has been slow to identify problems, tentative to act and reluctant to employ its full legal powers against companies.

    Selling Safety

    Even as more cars are recalled for safety problems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded an increased number of high safety ratings — two thirds of 2015 models tested so far received the top rating, an important marketing claim. The agency spends about the same on investigating defects as on rating cars, and is seeking a big increase in the ratings budget this year.

    The Times analyzed agency correspondence, regulatory documents and public databases and interviewed congressional and executive branch investigators, former agency employees and auto safety experts. It found that in many of the major vehicle safety issues of recent years — including:

    The agency did not take a leading role until well after the problems had reached a crisis level, safety advocates had sounded alarms and motorists were injured or died.

    Not only does the agency spend about as much money rating new cars — a favorite marketing tool for automakers — as it does investigating potentially deadly manufacturing defects, but it also has been so deferential to automakers that it made a key question it poses about fatal accidents optional — a policy it is only now changing after inquiries from The Times.

    Jean Bookout was injured, and her passenger, Barbara Schwarz, was killed in 2007 when the 2005 Toyota Camry Ms. Bookout was driving in Oklahoma suddenly accelerated through an intersection and hit an embankment. When the safety agency inquired about the cause of the accident in 2010, the Japanese automaker replied, “Toyota understands that this request is optional and respectfully declines to respond at this time.”

    Three years later, Toyota paid $3 million in compensatory damages after having been found guilty in a lawsuit the two women’s families brought against the company. And in March, a federal judge approved a $1.2 billion settlement of criminal charges that Toyota concealed unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles for years.

    the time General Motors began recalling cars this year for ignition defects that could cause stalling, the agency had logged more than 2,000 complaints about the issue in the recalled models, some from consumers who had picked up on patterns in the agency’s database that its own investigators missed or did not look for.

    After Chrysler balked last year at the regulator’s suggested 2.7 million vehicle recall for exploding fuel tanks in its Jeeps, the federal agency scaled back its request by 1.1 million cars. It also agreed to Chrysler’s demand that the automaker not be required to say the vehicles had a safety defect or that the automaker was at fault. The agency has linked 51 deaths and at least two serious injuries to the defect over 14 years.

    And four years ago, the agency cut short an investigation into rupturing air bags in Honda vehicles, saying there was “insufficient information” to suggest that the companies had failed to take timely action. Since then, more than 13 million more cars have been recalled by Honda and 10 other automakers for the rupture risk, and Honda has linked two deaths to the defect.

    The agency declined to make regulators available for interviews, agreeing only to reply to written questions.

    “N.H.T.S.A. has a proven record of aggressively investigating and pursuing recalls,” the agency wrote.

    It added: “N.H.T.S.A. evaluates each potential safety defect issue based on the particular circumstances involved and does not have a set threshold for opening defect investigations beyond our core mission of reducing fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle crashes.”

    The agency, created in 1970, is part of the Transportation Department and has an annual budget of about $800 million, which is split among vehicle safety, highway safety research and grants geared toward promoting traffic safety at the state level.

    While traffic fatalities have fallen considerably since its creation in part because of safety improvements in vehicles, the agency has a history of falling short of expectations in policing automakers and fulfilling its investigations mission.

    In the late 1990s, it was sharply criticized by lawmakers and consumer advocates for failing to detect a pattern of highway rollovers in Ford Explorers with Firestone tires that was eventually tied to 271 fatalities. Congress passed a law in 2000 that was meant to give the agency more leverage over the auto industry and better access to its accident data.

    Yet since then, the agency has continued to show sluggishness in its investigations, feeding a perception that it does not stand up to the politically influential, multibillion-dollar automobile industry until it is forced to do so by outside pressure.

    In a year that has included the deadly ignition scandal at G.M., the billion-dollar Toyota criminal settlement and an ever-expanding number of air bag recalls, some consumer safety advocates are hopeful that the record number of recalls will spur the agency to step up its vigilance. This year automakers have recalled more than 48 million vehicles in the United States, surpassing the previous record of about 30 million in 2004. Safety experts continue to push for a more transparent approach from the agency, including better documenting its internal reviews of safety concerns.

    On Tuesday, the Senate subcommittee that questioned G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, in two charged hearings on the ignition switch defect will turn its focus to the safety agency.

    The session comes as the Transportation Department’s inspector general is conducting an audit of the agency’s handing of the G.M. switch issue, an inquiry that people familiar with the effort say has been widened to look at how effectively the agency carries out its mission beyond the G.M. case.

    A primary focus of the inquiry, these people said, is the so-called pre-investigation phase of the agency’s work — when the engineers and other specialists in its Office of Defects Investigation decide whether to proceed with a full investigation of a possible safety defect.

    “N.H.T.S.A. is a very critical agency,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that represents state highway safety departments and administers grants from N.H.T.S.A., and whose chairman has been called to testify at the Senate hearing. “I think it’s struggling.”

    Spotting Problems

    The Times reviewed more than 12,000 consumer complaints to the federal agency about power, speed and ignition problems in the G.M. models recalled for ignition-related problems.

    The first stalling complaints arrived in 1997, and starting in May 2000, the agency consistently told drivers that there was insufficient evidence to open an investigation, even when drivers presented similar complaints that they had found on the Internet and on the agency’s own website.

    The analysis by The Times found that before the recalls the agency had received more than 5,000 complaints about the ignition problems, including more than 2,000 about unexpected stalling, in the models G.M. eventually recalled for an ignition defect that could lead to stalling.

    As recently as a month before the recalls began, the safety agency was dismissing complaints from drivers about such problems. In January the agency responded to a driver of a 2010 Chevrolet Impala, who had been on the road to Tuscaloosa, Ala., when the car’s power cut out. The driver had found similar complaints of sudden stalling and passed them along, urging the agency to examine the problem.

    A division chief wrote back that, based on a review of its database, there was “insufficient evidence to warrant opening a safety defect investigation.”

    the time the Impala was recalled in June, regulators had more than 1,000 complaints about ignition problems in the model.

    Years earlier, Stephanie Rogers of South Lyon, Mich., had written to the agency in October 2007 cataloging a number of complaints that she had seen on the Internet about cars stalling while moving. “This is an extremely dangerous problem, and since I am not the only one dealing with this issue I am wondering why no letters are being sent,” she wrote.

    Bruce Spinney, who worked at the agency from 1970 to 2008, specializing in the cost impact of new safety features, said he did not understand why the agency had not reacted sooner to the ignition problems. “The consumers seem to be divining these patterns before the regulators,” he said.

    As of this month, G.M. has recalled nearly 16.5 million vehicles for ignition-related problems, including 2.6 million for the defective switch that the automaker acknowledges it knew about for years. In almost all of the ignition recalls, the problem could result in moving cars suddenly shutting off, disabling air bags and other key systems like power steering and power brakes.

    David J. Friedman, the acting N.H.T.S.A. administrator, has said in public forums that data presented by G.M. this year would have most likely changed the regulator’s approach to the issue had the information been available earlier. The new data directly linked the ignition switch problem to the nondeployment of air bags, which in many accidents had been the only clue that something was amiss.

    But a review of the agency’s complaints records shows that at least one G.M. driver, Jessica Cruickshank, offered evidence from an OnStar diagnostic test that showed a potential link between the engine cutting out and air bag failure — only to be rebuffed.

    During the summer of 2005, it was pitch black on an interstate highway in rural West Virginia when Ms. Cruickshank’s car shut off and she had to wrestle the wheel to bring it to the side of the road. Trucks whizzed by in the dark, and her 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix shook as they did. In the back seat of the car, her youngest daughter began to cry.

    “You can see how a child would be frightened,” Ms. Cruickshank said in an interview. “I was afraid, too.”

    That was the last time she drove the car. It had already been cutting out more than once a week, she said. Her family hired a lawyer, who wrote to the safety agency in August 2005 to alert it to the stalling problem.

    Ms. Cruickshank was not injured, and no impact occurred to set off the air bags. But the lawyer informed the agency that a diagnostic test run by OnStar, a subsidiary of G.M., indicated that there was a “distinct probability that the air bags would either not deploy or misfire in the event of a front-impact collision.” A month later, regulators replied that a review of their database “revealed insufficient evidence to warrant opening a safety defect investigation.”

    In that instance, even G.M. seemed to recognize something was not right: A few weeks later, the company bought back the car.

    Answer Optional

    To give N.H.T.S.A. more muscle, Congress passed a law in 2000 requiring automakers to report to the safety agency any claims they received blaming defects for serious injuries or deaths.

    But the safety agency has allowed automakers to conceal important information in that reporting process by not requiring full disclosures when confronted with follow-up questions. In the agency’s so-called death inquiries — requests for further information from automakers — it has made optional a key question: What may have caused the accident?

    The Times reviewed nearly 100 death inquiries obtained under the Freedom of Information Act — including all inquiries made of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford in one quarter of 2012 — and found only four cases in which a manufacturer responded to the question, and none in which a defect in the vehicle was identified.

    Continue reading the main story

    Some of Ford’s responses reviewed by The Times were particularly blunt, including one regarding an August 2011 fatal accident in which a passenger in a 2007 Ford E-350 van was inexplicably ejected through a passenger window though the vehicle had sustained only minor damages. The claim asserted a defect involving a “nonfixed window” or the grade of glass.

    N.H.T.S.A.: At your option, provide Ford’s assessment of the circumstances that led to the incident including Ford’s analysis of the claim and/or notice regarding allegations of a defect.

    FORD: Ford is not providing an assessment of the circumstances that led to the incident, nor is it providing an analysis of the claim and/or notice regarding allegations of a defect.

    Joan Claybrook was the head of the agency from 1977 to 1981, well before the law was passed that instituted the death inquiries. “It should not be an optional question,” she said of the follow-up request to identify the cause of an accident. “You need to show you are serious about enforcement and be tough as nails with the manufacturers.”

    General Motors chose not to answer inquiries regarding at least three of the 13 fatal crashes that the automaker has linked to its ignition switch defect. In one of those cases — the death of a 25-year-old Texas man — G.M. responded that it had not assessed the cause of the crash, when, in fact, it had, according to a subsequent internal investigation at the automaker. The safety agency did not request further information about the crash, and the defect was not made public for an additional seven years.

    In interviews with former and current employees of the agency, no one was able to explain why the question had been made optional. The agency declined to answer queries from The Times about the death inquiries for more than a month. Late Friday, when informed of the deadline for this article, the agency submitted a written reply.

    “All inquiries now require manufacturers to provide this information,” the statement said.

    Late and Limited

    Data on the agency’s website indicates that 33 investigations from the 1990s remain open.

    “The agency is dedicated to ensuring that current safety defect issues affecting the driving public today are addressed, and is dedicating its resources to this priority, rather than to closing old cases that did not find an unreasonable risk to safety,” N.H.T.S.A. wrote in response to a question about the open cases.

    But on at least one such current issue, N.H.T.S.A. had stood on the sidelines for years. Now that defect, involving air bags made by the Japanese supplier Takata, has mushroomed into one of the biggest recalls in history.

    A recent Times article detailed years of delay inside Honda and Takata in assessing and disclosing the potential of air bags to rupture on impact, spewing shrapnel and chemicals. Documents showing the agency’s early review of the problem indicate that it was lax as well.

    Complaints filed with the agency as far back as 2000 allude to rupturing air bags in models carrying Takata air bags, but the first recall did not come until eight years later, and it was relatively tiny.

    The two recalls prompted the agency to open an investigation in 2009 into the two companies’ handling of the defect, during which the safety agency asked why Honda and Takata had initially recalled so few cars, according to filings at the time. Six months later it closed the investigation, a timetable so swift that it appears to have taken even Takata by surprise.

    GM Ignition Switch Scandal Echoes Infamous Fire-Prone Pickups Case By Joe McCray

    See GM Ignition Recall Safety Information for models affected.
    April 9, 2014 | FairWarning

    The ignition defect in some of GM’s small cars — which can result in the engine abruptly shutting down, disabling the power steering, brakes and airbags — is linked to at least 13 fatalities. Like the fuel-tank design, it appears to be a defect that is distinct with GM models. Other vehicles have reported air bag problems, but not as a consequence of such a simple problem as ignition contact failure.

    ...in the ignition switch case, GM has recalled millions of Cobalts and other small cars

    Joe McCray.> April 20, 2014
    Recent news reports ( NYT, April 18) have GM successfully defending a petition for an order requiring the company to notify owners of cars with the defective ignitions to park those cars as being too dangerous to drive. Unfortunately, a Federal District judge in Corpus Christi declined, holding that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration was better suited to deal with such a question. That NHTSA has no statutory authority to issue such an order apparently escaped the attention of the judge. In any case, this sort of resistance is nothing new in GM’s recent history.
    GM’s disdain for the actual safety of its customers was manifest in the pickup cases when in 1994, in spite of an ordered recall, the company instead chose to pay millions to fund a never-realized safety design project. That left people using these vehicles out there vulnerable to a fiery death or burn injury. In fact, the incidents of pickup fatal fires continue as I write this.

    There is, I think, an attitude developed within the GM culture that easily shifts the risk of death or injury from the maker of a flawed product to the user. The company will not be put to such great expense or trouble to assure that its mistake will not continue to kill or injure. The recall, GM officials complain, has already cost billions and further steps would cost more billions.

    In the pickup litigation, a memorandum written by an engineer by the name of Ivey (whose first name I no longer recall) surfaced during discovery in one of my cases. Ivey was employed as an engineer in what was then the Pontiac Division of the Company and that was the division that had been tasked with the responsibility for fuel system integrity in all GM products. The memorandum was about a study conducted by Ivey and others within Pontiac which concluded that the cost of the repair of a fuel system defect had to be balanced by the cost of defending wrongful death lawsuits – at some point it is cheaper to defend the lawsuits. Among lawyers involved in the pickup litigation at the time, this memo was dubbed the “let ‘em burn” analysis.

    Deciding, as the company apparently has, to recall and fix cars with defective ignitions, but to do nothing more notwithstanding the long period needed to arrange for repairs, is very similar to the “let ‘em burn” attitude of the Ivey memorandum. The company refuses to take responsibility for whatever happens if you drive your car to a job you have to have, to classes for a degree or certification that means everything in your life, take your kids to school, etc. In due time, the company will provide a fix, but in the meantime, it will not discourage your use of the car.

    I suppose the ignition program is a step better than that experienced by the pickup owners, but it nonetheless is a program adapted to the world of GM’s corporate culture of disdain. Apparently, the new CEO of GM, Mary Barra, has declared that she would allow her son to drive one of these defective cars – thereby somehow endorsing their safety. Of course, the declaration is ridiculous as evidence of anything except the company’s desperation. Who is going to call her on it? If these cars are defective, which they are undoubtedly are, then she is not going to let her son drive one unrepaired.

    Grandstanding is not a substitute for corporate responsibility.

    U.S. Senator accused local GM engineer of perjury

    Apr 2, 2014 | YouTube

    U.S. Senator accused local GM engineer of perjury

    General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifies on Capitol Hill

    See GM Recall McCaskill Slams 'culture of cover-up' at Consumer Protection Hearing

    MICHAEL DAVIS

    Why do we have so many crooked people in our country?

    What happened to it? Why are so many people in business selfish and greedy. Don't these CEOs make enough money?

    EpiDemic117

    that's not the right question to ask. The right question to ask is why did these fucks in congress bail them out. Then complain and question why they are cheating and making faulty and shitty components on their vehicles. alot of these congressmen and women are simply unqualified to ask in detail about questions related to engineering. far more than Half of them are fucking lawyers and not engineers. 

    A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage

    FairWarning

    ... President Clinton’s biological father died after being ejected in a car crash in the 1940s. As a teenage driver in the 1960s, Laura Bush struck and killed a family neighbor in a crash. President Obama’s father died in a car wreck in 1982. In 1972, Vice President (then U.S. Senator) Joseph Biden’s wife and infant child were killed in a car-truck collision. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as a young Mormon missionary, was severely injured in a collision in France that killed another passenger. These experiences mirror those of millions of ordinary Americans, yet they have failed to prod the nation’s policy leaders into aggressive action to stem the carnage.

    Despite more than 30,000 deaths and more than 2.2 million crash injuries per year, highway safety has largely fallen off the political radar screen. Since 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson publicly confronted a hostile auto industry by demanding, and getting, new laws governing the safety of automobiles, more than two million Americans have died of crash injuries. Since then no president has taken a forceful public stand in favor of strong government action to counter the death toll.

    The laws promoted by Johnson and subsequent regulations and policies have helped, leading to safer auto designs, better roads, and drunk driving and seat belt laws – proving that good government can save lives and livelihoods. But crash injuries are still the leading cause of death to children, teenagers and young adults, and a major cause of violent death for all age groups.

    Since 1981 — when the Reagan administration put coal industry lobbyist Ray Peck in charge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, attempted to revoke air bag regulations, and cut the agency staff by one-third — the agency has been increasingly captive to the industry it was formed to regulate.

    In place of decisive action, the government’s severely underfunded, industry- influenced highway safety efforts are routinely reactive, accomplishing too little, too late, for too many Americans. When the auto industry began marketing unstable, top-heavy SUVs in the 1980s, NHTSA, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, refused to adopt vehicle regulations limiting the rollover risk of such vehicles – which ended up contributing to some 10,000 deaths a year in rollover crashes. When Toyota drivers experienced sudden unintended acceleration episodes, NHTSA lacked the resources and expertise to address the complex but foreseeable risks of sudden acceleration from sophisticated electronic controls now standard in new vehicles.

    Although current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland have highlighted the perils of driver distraction, car companies still are racing to add infotainment features to new models – some of them featuring video display screens on their instrument consoles – that are bound to further divert drivers’ eyes and attention from the road. The mounting safety risk from infotainment systems seems to be widely viewed as inevitable and beyond society’s ability to control. Meanwhile, Texas has adopted an 85 mph speed limit for a soon-to-open toll road, a move likely to be copied by other states, but that would be off the table if safety was a prime concern.

    What underlies the widespread toleration of highway mayhem by politicians, regulators, and the public? Political indifference has a high cost in lost lives, livelihoods and wellness. If the commitment were there, we believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of lives could be saved by a single measure: making electronic automatic crash notification systems standard, thus reducing delays in treating seriously injured crash victims.

    But for whatever reasons, this country lags far behind other advanced nations in coming to grips with the problem. According to World Health Organization estimates, per capita road deaths in many countries are well below the U.S. Yet there is no demand to draw lessons from other countries to take tough steps that would protect American motorists.

    From 2008 until early this year, U.S. road deaths fell substantially – in part due to the great recession — setting the stage for further complacency. But in the first quarter of this year the deaths turned upward, doubtless signaling an increase in driving as the economy began to modestly improve. If the upward trend continues, it will be a further signal to policymakers that the U.S. needs to be doing much more to curb lethal violence on its highways.

    (Ben Kelley, a former Department of Transportation official, is on the board of the nonprofit advocacy group Center for Auto Safety. Louis Lombardo is an auto safety researcher who retired from NHTSA after 27 years and now writes on the subject at www.CareForCrashVictims.com)


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