Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama Targets Carmakers For New Mandates

At a time when they can't afford to produce the cars they currently manufacture, President Obama is pushing forward with new mandates that require still more onerous requirements.
Obama stressed that his goal was not to put more burdens on the auto industry but to work with carmakers on key administration goals: energy independence and combating global warming.

"It will be the policy of my administration," he said at the White House, "to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs."

"America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources," he said, adding that the government must work with California and other states — not against them — on tougher climate emissions standards for cars and trucks.

"The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Obama said, adding that "the days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts; we will be guided by them."

He also ordered the Transportation Department to enact short-term rules on how automakers can improve fuel efficiency of their new models based on a 2007 law. The law requires that by 2020, new cars and trucks meet a standard of 35 miles per gallon, a 40 percent increase over the status quo. But the Bush administration did not set regulations in support of that law.
The proposals do not create any jobs, and barely manage to hold on to the jobs that are already present in the auto industry. Even today, GM announced that they're laying off another 2,000 jobs.

All these mandates don't mean that consumers will want to buy what General Motors or any of the other automakers are selling. For all the talk of hybrid vehicles, the Prius has just managed to sell a million units since it was introduced a decade ago, which works out to just over 100,000 units on average a year (less in the first year, but running more than 100,000 in the current year).

Toyota sells nearly half a million Camrys a year.

Those sales figures aren't going to change overnight.

It takes years to design and build cars, and even if started overnight, it would take several years to get the designed vehicles on the showroom. The automakers don't have that much time - particularly General Motors and Chrysler. They may not even have until March before they need another bailout.

General Motors is scheduled to release the Chevy Volt for the 2011 model year, and it's supposed to go 40 miles on battery power provided from plugging into an electric socket overnight. The delay is because the battery packs are troublesome and have to be rigorously tested.

Let's assume that it requires 6.5 hours of charging time, with standard voltage and amperage power socket. Is it like hooking up another fridge in your house for those 6.5 hours? I'd say so. That requires lots of power, especially since the fridge is the biggest power user in any home (absent air conditioning, which is a part year issue in most of the country).

Where is all that power going to come from. Even if you switch out all your light bulbs and put in LEDs or CFLs, you're ending up with a net increase in your power consumption from the power infrastructure that is already stressed from being at near capacity.

The ecoleftists continue to block every power plant under consideration, no matter how green they are. The NIMBY types are as busy as ever. None of Obama's plans are going to change that.

It's just so much hot air, and it's all too unfortunate that we can't use that hot air to power the nation since it's found in abundance and is completely biodegradable into crap. It's also recyclable, and reusable by pundits and brown-nosing leftists who repeat the mantra without noting that none of this is actually workable.

Generating power isn't cheap either, and costs vary widely around the nation.

PSE&G is considering an $888 million upgrade to the 'net here in NJ, including a rate increase to cover those costs. I'm sure other power providers are running similar programs and upgrading/maintenance programs. But distribution works only so well as there's power being generated somewhere, and if the eco-leftists block stable and reliable power generation, where is the power going to come from to run the Volt and all the other eco-left dream vehicles?

Besides, you're trading in one kind of emission for another. Instead of tailpipe emissions, you're having smokestack emissions (50+% of power is generated by coal in the US). The eco-left wants to reduce that number, but isn't exactly saying where and how that would ever take place. Nuclear is opposed on ideological grounds, and hydro is similarly seen as the destroyer of ecosystems. Wind power is not a panacea and neither is solar, both of which would require massive swaths of land to install collectors.

Mickey Kaus makes an excellent observation about the situation with domestic automakers:
On Wednesday, UAW President Ron Gettlefinger predicted there would be no wage cuts as part of the union’s concessions to GM and Chrysler. Gettlefinger argued Toyota’s workers actually make $2-per-hour more than UAW workers, if you count bonuses. But … but. … Toyota did not go bankrupt. … Toyota hasn’t had to be rescued with $17.4 billion of taxpayer money. … If Toyota can afford to pay its workers $2/hour more than UAW workers–perhaps because it doesn’t have to build cars under the union’s legalistic work rule system–that’s great. It doesn’t mean Gettlefinger’s workers have a right to $28/hour if at that wage their employers can’t stay in business without an ongoing multi-billion dollar subsidy. I’m sorry if this seems obvious. It’s apparently not obvious enough.

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