Monthly Archives: April 2012

Automotive Engineering Execs Pessimistic About Electric Car Sales


The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress was held April 24 &25 in Detroit.  Ford, GM and Chrysler representatives were pessimistic about the future of electric vehicles according to an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).   This is somewhat surprising in that the President has been promoting electric vehicles as a centerpiece of his auto-industry policy.  President Obama has offered $2.4 billion in grants to boost some 48 projects related to electric vehicles or battery production according to the WSJ. This may have required some amount of courage as we know the Administration is a major partner in both GM and Chrysler.

Obama has set a goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.   But if you listen to the auto company engineering execs, it would seem that Obama’s goal is not likely to be met.  Fundamentally they see the buyers not interested in the high price of the electric vehicles and the execs don’t see the prices dropping real soon.

Joseph Bakaj, vice president for powertrain engineering at Ford said:” “By 2025, we see battery electric vehicles still with too long a payback, and inadequate range,”

Sam Winegarden, executive director of powertrain-engine engineering at General Motors Co. made a similar point with a chart comparing the amount of energy delivered by a given volume or mass of fuel. On his chart, lithium-ion batteries, used in electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and GM’s plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, were ranked close to zero compared to gasoline and diesel fuels, which delivered the most energy for the least amount of weight and cost to the consumer.”The rumored death of the internal combustion engine is premature,” Mr. Winegarden said.

Chris Cowland, director of advanced powertrains at Chrysler Group LLC, offered some revealing figures. A conventional, gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine and transmission make up about 10% of the cost of a $30,000 car, or about $3,000, he said. Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally at a green-car forum in New York City last week said batteries for the electric Ford Focus cost $12,000 to $15,000 for a car that is priced at $39,200, about $15,000 more than a petroleum-fueled Focus.

Robert Bienenfeld, senior manager for environment and energy strategy at Honda Motor Co.’s U.S. arm, said that by 2025, a customer who buys a plug-in hybrid could wait 10 years to recover the added upfront costs, compared with a 2025 car outfitted with a more efficient gasoline engine and transmission. The payback for an all-electric car would be even longer

Nissan on the other hand is bullish about electric cars. According to the Nashville Business Journal, Brendan Jones, director of Nissan Leaf Marketing and Sales Strategy said that the Leaf buyers have an average household income of $131,000.

I would be optimistic if the typical buyer were someone in the mid $50s income range.

h/t The Hockey Schtick

cbdakota

Offshore Windmills To Save The US Postal Department


Senator Carper  (De Dem) delivered what I believe to be an inane idea in a recent Senate speech. His idea is to build a vast number of offshore windmills.  Then begin to junk the existing fleet of fossil fuel powered mail delivery trucks, buy new all electric trucks and charge them every night using power generated from the offshore windmills.  Vastly overpriced electricity,  I might add.

Watch the video to see Senator Carper in action. I don’t know how much this scheme would cost but I image it would be huge.  Probably enough to sink the post office instead of saving it.

I used to live in Delaware—never voted for Carper, but unfortunately I was in the minority.  Carper beat the incumbent, Senator Roth (of the Roth IRA), in 2000 by a 56% to 44% margin. He defeated Jan Ting by 70% to 29% in 2006.  He is running for a third term in the November 2012.  His opponent will be determined in the September Delaware primary election.

Cbdakota

 

Pres. Obama– “Government By Regulation, Not Legislation”


This Administration has never made secrete its wish to put coal, oil and natural gas out of business.  Energy drives our economy and that energy comes from those fossil fuels.  And if the Administration is successful, the US will become a second-class nation with an impoverished citizenry.

They cannot achieve their wish legislatively, so they have employed Executive branch regulators to accomplish their goals.   The EPA is not the only part of the Administration employing “government by regulation not legislation”, but they are the major force.  Now we have a new insight on how the EPA goes about coercing business and local governments into doing their bidding.   The Foundry site posted these comments:

A video surfaced on Wednesday showing a regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency comparing his agency’s philosophy with respect to regulation of oil and gas companies to brutal tactics employed by the ancient Roman army to intimidate its foes into submission.

EPA’s “philosophy of enforcement,” said EPA’s Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, is “kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them.”

“That town was really easy to manage for the next few years,” Armendariz added.

The Armendariz video can be seen by clicking here.

This destruction of our economy will not stop unless we can vote Obama out of office this coming November.

cbdakota

Only One In Three Hybrid Owners Buy Another Hybrid


Edmunds.com commissioned a survey that found that hybrid owners were not likely to buy another one.  Edmunds had R.L. Polk conduct the study that determined only 35% of hybrid car owners bought another electric/gas vehicle as a trade-in during 2011.  If the repurchase behavior among the high volume audience of Toyota Prius owners is not factored in, hybrid loyalty drops to under 25 percent.

It is thought that the increased availability of new high mileage gasoline-powered cars at lower prices is causing the shift away from the hybrid.  Edmunds reports that: “The 40-mpg category has risen from one vehicle in 2010 (the Smart ForTwo) to nine vehicles in 2012. “Even as gas prices soar, the economics of buying a hybrid vehicle don’t make much sense in many cases,” Edmunds.com Chief Economist Lacey Plache explained in a statement. “   To read more click here.

A previous posting on this site, “Evaluating The Cost Of Ownership—Electric v Gasoline Cars” provides the DOE program for comparing different makes and models of cars to determine the cost of ownership

cbdakota

 

 

Japanese Researchers Suggest Cycle 24 Could Be The Start Of A New Maunder Minimum


The Asahi Shimbun* reports that “Officials of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation said on April 19 that the activity of sunspots appeared to resemble a 70-year period in the 17th century in which London’s Thames froze over and cherry blossoms bloomed later than usual in Kyoto. The sun may be entering a period of reduced activity that could result in lower temperatures on Earth, according to Japanese researchers. “ They are suggesting that solar Cycle 24 is the beginning of an era similar to the Maunder Minimum.

A solar cycle usually lasts about 11 years.  During the cycle, the poles switch polarity at about the time of the solar maximum.   Many scientists are predicting that Cycle 24’s maximum will occur about May of 2013. However, the Japanese researchers found signs of unusual magnetic changes in the sun. They report that the solar observation satellite Hinode found that the north pole of the Sun has already begun to flip—about a year earlier than expected.  They found no noticeable change in the South Pole.

The researchers add: “If that trend continues, the north pole could complete its flip in May 2012 but create a four-pole magnetic structure in the sun, with two new poles created in the vicinity of the equator of our closest star. “

Below is the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s representation of the Sun’s poles in May 2012:

 *The Asahi Shimbun has the second highest circulation of Japan’s national newspapers 

cbdakota

Lovelock No Longer an AGW Alarmist


“James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.” according to a report by MSNBC.  Lovelock still supports the theory of man-made global warming (AGW), but clearly he wishes to back away from the Alarmists that dominate that movement and are followed closely by the mass media.

For those who don’t know James Lovelock, he is considered a major force in the AGW movement.  In a 2007 Time magazine special edition titled “Heroes of the Environment”, Lovelock was cited as one of 13 “leaders and visionaries” of the environmental movement.  Also cited in that edition were Gore, Gorbachev, Prince Charles, Angela Merkel, Robert Redford, David Suzuki and several others.  (I know, I know, based on his company in the Time list you may want to question its value.)   Lovelock is a Fellow of the Royal Society.   He has been awarded many prizes including the Wollaston Medal, the Geological Society highest award.  Charles Darwin was a previous winner.  He was made Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1990.

Here are several of Lovelock’s Alarmist positions.

“Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

“By 2040, parts of the Sahara desert will have moved into middle Europe. We are talking about Paris – as far north as Berlin. In Britain we will escape because of our oceanic position.”  “If you take the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions, then by 2040 every summer in Europe will be as hot as it was in 2003 – between 110F and 120F. It is not the death of people that is the main problem, it is the fact that the plants can’t grow – there will be almost no food grown in Europe.”[25]

In 2006 Dr Lovelock predicted the Earth “would catch a morbid fever” that would destroy six billion people – “the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.  In 2009, he told the Guardian that “we may face planet-wide devastation worse even than unrestricted nuclear war between superpowers”.

Lovelock formulated the Gaia hypothesis:  “First formulated by Lovelock during the 1960s as a result of work for NASA concerned with detecting life on Mars the Gaia hypothesis proposes that living and non-living parts of the Earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism.”

So what is he now saying?

“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,”

“The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,”

“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that….”

He adds that Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Tim Flannery’s “The Weather Makers” as other examples of “alarmist” forecasts of the future.

Well,  we are better off by one Alarmist dousing his flaming rhetoric.  But there are many others out there still untamed and a mass media still happy to pass such rhetoric along as science.

cbdakota

Solar Cycle 24 March Update


Solar Cycle 24 activity picked up in March.  Several coronal mass ejections (CME) came our way thanks largely to the sunspot group 1429.  March began  with a CME directed toward Earth.  Although the warnings suggested more severe problems than actually occurred,  it still was a reasonably strong storm. The Sun’s rotation brought sunspot 1429 back again at month-end and it provided a little more excitement.   A good summary of the solar activity in March can be found on the Solarham.com site.  To take a look at the summary,  click here.  This solar activity and it’s affect on the Earth’s geomagnetic field can be seen on the chart below: (click on charts to improve clarity)

Both the sunspot number and the F10.7 flux were below the predicted  monthly numbers in March but seem to be generally following the forecast Solar Cycle 24 forecast path.  See charts below: