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It hasn't looked good for a while for GM. Filing for bankruptcy is not out of the question. That said, I believe the last thing they will do is delay the Volt, unless they lost all connection with reality. I think they're now convinced that not only are they on the right path with the electrification of the automobile but that they may have a couple year lead! GM will need to make some very difficult decisions soon and they are running out of great things to sell. I wish them luck in getting through this time. The oil situation is far worst than most people would have imagined (not the peak oil folks who are just nodding their heads as if to say we told you so).

There are a lot of great people working at GM and I hope they can transition with the temerity they showed after WWII. Most of us do not wish to see GM go away. It would be a damn shame because it was just started to get interesting. Rise from the ashes dear Volt.
 

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Hmmm...This is worrisome, especially if this recession is deeper and longer than the last 2 as many predict.
 

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GM must be expecting a long and/or deep downturn. What's more disconcerting is that GM has the best liquidity of the big 3 automakers. Ford just had to sell Jaguar and Land Rover for a couple billion, as well as selling a hydro-electric dam they owned to get cash on hand.

I think any / all movement of producing and using hybrids, EV's and fuel cell vehicles will have a snowball effect on our economy, as it reduces our energy trade deficit and increases domestic production.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think any / all movement of producing and using hybrids, EV's and fuel cell vehicles will have a snowball effect on our economy, as it reduces our energy trade deficit and increases domestic production.
I hope you're right! I have my fingers crossed.
 

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"Reduce spending" means lots more lay-offs for American workers. All those truck and SUV plants will be shedding workers as demand slips away. Unfortunately, cars that will still be selling OK will be like the Chevy Aveo and that car is made in Korea. Even if they quickly speed up plans to bring lots of small cars to the market, they will almost certainly be made overseas. To help preserve what's left of American manufacturing, I think they should:



Lower the cost or give incentives on their 2-Mode hybrid trucks and SUVs

Get diesels here fast and then invest in Bio-Diesel just like they're doing with ethanol now.

Put the fuel cells on ice for now. Now is not the time to spend money on things that far out in the future.

Start planning now for multiple vehicles to be released on the E-Flex platform just one or two years after the Volt.​

Reintroduce "stripper" models to your line up to bring the base price down on many of their vehicles.

Divert truck money into car development over at Cadillac and Buick. Even in a recession, rich people have plenty of money, so now is the time to take Cadillac upscale and pull Buick up to where Caddy is now with some really impressive cars. Turn the DTS from turkey to screaming Eagle.

Build a stand-up, diesel 2-Mode hybrid cargo van and steal all the Econoline sales and Sprinter sales. (Ford sells more Econolines than Toyota does Prius) Not to mention rescue the RV industry.

Have your marine division introduce turbo diesels to the recreational boating world. I think after this summer, buyers will be ready to get more range on their ski boats and fishing boats.

Most of all, KEEP THE VOLT AFFORDABLE TO THOSE OF US CLINGING TO OUR JOBS!


There's probably more ideas, but here's a start.
 

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DaV8or:

Great points, and some great ideas. Some things I was thinking about:

Scrap Pontiac, they're basically Chevy anyways.

As you said, put Buick in Cadillac's place

Make Cadillac a built to order type. No inventory on the lot, you pick what you want off a "menu", and they build it for you, at a steep premium. If you want to drive the premier American luxury car, you better be willing to pay the price. This would also help to reduce their workforce.

Ditch Chevy trucks and instead market all mid/full sized trucks/SUVs as GMC's. Again, it boils down to cost savings. One brand, one grille, one front bumper, one logo. It all adds up.

Offer a darned 4cyl turbo diesel in the Chevy/Saturn cars. We want fuel economy, and we want it NOW. How hard could it really be?? A 4cyl TD would be plenty for any of their cars up to the size of the Malibu. (maybe get with VW for an engine deal?? No one does a small TD better than them.)

Offer factory direct sales like they used to (do they still?) with Saturn. Cuts out the dealership that makes people's skin crawl, and they can implement fixed pricing to ensure a favorable profit, while ensuring a good deal to the consumer. No dealership=less overhead costs.

Anyways, just a few things I was running through my simple brain. I'm sure it's much more complicated, but imho, I think these changes would greatly benefit both GM and the consumer. They would make more money, the consumer would get what they want and (except for Cadillac) pay less overall, everyone would win.

And as stated before...GM, you're heavily invested in ethanol, how about biodiesel?? You DO have diesel engines in your lineup you know.
 

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DaV8tor,

I disagree about fuel cells. When the Volt architecture is locked down, dropping a fuel cell in is a snap. GM made a major pitch to the Chinese to buy fuel cell Volts, so a fuel cell Volt may be a major export from the US to China in the near term, not decades out.

Here is the latest article about Honda's fuel cell tech:

Link
 

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DaV8tor,

I disagree about fuel cells. When the Volt architecture is locked down, dropping a fuel cell in is a snap. GM made a major pitch to the Chinese to buy fuel cell Volts, so a fuel cell Volt may be a major export from the US to China in the near term, not decades out.

Here is the latest article about Honda's fuel cell tech:

Link
I didn't mean give up on fuel cells all together, just when times are tough, spending sizable cash on research into products that are at least 10-15 years down the road doesn't make sense to me. Truth is, fuel cells are very expensive to produce and there is no fueling infrastructure. Honda's home hydrogen station idea is nice, but that's all it is, an idea. Don't expect to see it for sale any time soon. The Fuel cells GM has now are about the same performance as what Honda is doing so I don't think they're behind or anything. It all seems real promising until you think about what it costs and where to fill up. An E-Flex Volt would about double in cost and it would pretty much take the "flex" out of E-flex.
 

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Scrap Pontiac, they're basically Chevy anyways.
Actually not so much anymore. Look at their current line up. G6 is the same platform as the Malibu and Aura, but that's where the similarities end. The retractable hardtop G6 is unique only to Pontiac. Very different car. The new G8 isn't shared with any division in North America only Holden in Australia. Chevy still has no Kappa car so the Solstice is only shared with Saturn. The Vibe is only loosely shared with Toyota (??!!).

The Gran Prix is on the same platform as the Impala and LaCrosse, but the three cars are pretty different styling and feel. The Gran Prix is in it's swan song. Just waiting for the G8 to get up to speed and it's history. The Torrent is very similar to the Equinox and Vue. It is kind of a rebadge. Then there is the G5. Weakest rebadge ever. It's a Chevy.

So I see Pontiac moving in the direction it has always needed to go. Towards being a unique performance oriented division building cars. I believe it is too soon to give up on Pontiac and combining the dealerships with Buick and GMC makes a lot of sense. I hope to see a Pontiac version of E-Flex that will smoke the tires in the near future!
 

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into the land of unintended consequences

I hate to be a buzz kill but here's the way I see a car like the Volt changing the US.

I'll preface this by saying i absolutely want to buy one and flip the bird to the oil companies.

Pros:
- dont have to use so much oil so we wont be so dependent on unfriendly nations
- trade deficit would improve (although dont get too syched about this because we still consume WAY more than we produce in terms of total goods - how much do you spend on gas as a percentage of all the crap that you buy each month!?!?!?)
- much more convenient being able to "fill up" at home
- "zero emissions" at least in terms of the car driving around but we all know the power plants still emit crap
- many others....

Cons:
- Electricity still has to come from somewhere so I'd really like to see a solar panel and 2nd battery that you could charge during the day at home in the backyard and then switch with the one in the car at night when you get home. So we wouldn't even need to use grid power.
- Just like how corn for ethanol has produced horrible unintended consequences like rising food prices and in some cases deforestation to plant crops for biofuel production, and also the No Child left behind debacle and also the push from Bush (npi) to get minorities into homeownership who then were taken advantage of by unscrupulous mortgage lenders and many of which are getting foreclosed on now, I have a bad feeling that as more people switch to EVs initially they will reap rewards (financial and environmental) but if it becomes the majority of cars on the road and these cars are MUCH more easy to maintain then there will be job losses in all the support industries that surround the auto industry. Parts suppliers, parts distributers, oil change shops, car maintenance shops, gas stations, tuners (although i'm sure they'll just figure out how to pimp the EV), and the list goes on and on and on. Where are all those people going to work? The nuclear power plants? The coal fired plants? Dont think so... Anyhoo... i'm not saying i dont want electric cars to be dominating the market but i just have this nagging feeling in my gut that there will definitely be some unintended consequences if/when it finally happens. Just like when the car first came out it was heralded as a marvel that would simplify everyone's lives and make life so very very wonderful. Here we are over 100 years later and we have insane urban sprawl and people driving ridiculous distances just to get to work. We live in suburban cartoon facades of country and city life but don't experience the benefits of either. Initially sprawl led to the devastation of many inner cities some of which to this day have not recovered from. I wonder what the "unintended consequences" of mass use of the EV will be. Anyone else care to speculate?
 

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When both our energy and transportation industries convert to renewable energy, it will solve two major components of our economy, but our standard of living will still suffer until we change some things about our housing industry.

The single best policy change that can be made is for the government to reduce the term of mortgage loans from 30 years to 20 years (gradually, reduce term 6 - 12 months every year). When the term was increased from 20 to 30, housing prices went way up, causing our savings rate to go way down. Americans will be able to live cheaper, while saving more, greatly improving the standard of living.
 

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I wonder what the "unintended consequences" of mass use of the EV will be. Anyone else care to speculate?
Positive unintended consequences:

1) Decentralization of energy - public and private generation of electricity to power their transportation needs will result in a power shift (pun intended).

2) Reduction in global political tensions because there is less need to fight over remaining oil supplies.

3) The closing of several US military bases around the world. Same reason.

4) Cleaner air in the cities. People will be pleasantly surprised to notice that the air is getting cleaner at a noticeable rate. Then we will all realize how much our idling cars sitting in traffic jams contributed to the smog.

5) The cost of transportation goes down. Since electricity is inherently more efficient than burning fossil fuels the resulting value will increase. More importantly it will increase continuously as technology improves. Much different that the continuous increase in cost seen when using a non-renewable energy source.

6) People will find out that green technologies actually makes money and create jobs! Imagine that.

7) People will be surprised that the performance of EVs are actually better than old ICE cars. Complete control over all wheels using wheel-hub-motors will make the car come alive. Also, the yearly improvements will be very dramatic because the technology is still immature compared to the ICE (very mature technology).

8) The form-factor of the car may change dramatically. Due to the increased flexibility in design (don't have to make room for the ICE, transmission, drivetrain, etc.). Strange shapes and form-factors will come out. If Apple produces a cool innovative design, it may stick.


Negative unintended consequences:

1) Limited supply of key components like batteries will cause the prices to be artificially high for a while.

2) It will take longer than people think.

3) The costs of transition will be higher than estimated.

4) The world will have to bale out many of the nations that are now oil exporters. The greater the percentage of their GNP the greater the amount of assistance will be needed. Think about it. How is Saudi Arabia going to support 30 million plus people without all of that oil revenue? Answer: they cannot. When was the last time you bought a Saudi car or watched a Saudi movie? These oil exporters will have it worse than countries that have no oil because it's much easer to start from nothing and grow than to have something and lose it.

5) Several major companies will go out of business. There will be a huge shift in labor as older companies get beat by younger innovative companies. The older companies' outdated infrastructure actually turns out to be a hinderance rather that an effective barrier to entry.

6) There will need to be massive amounts of retraining for workers moving from petroleum based transportation jobs to renewable transportation jobs.

7) There will be some major failures by new and promising companies. Since we are using the shotgun approach to getting off of oil many will not make it. Could be an invention by EEstor or a very efficient way to produce and store hydrogen. This could cause some promising new starts to fall spectacularly.


Just the start of the list... Yes there will be unintended consequences but I doubt they will be worse than the unintended consequences seen by not moving away from oil.
 

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Positive unintended consequences:

1) Decentralization of energy - public and private generation of electricity to power their transportation needs will result in a power shift (pun intended).

2) Reduction in global political tensions because there is less need to fight over remaining oil supplies.

3) The closing of several US military bases around the world. Same reason.

4) Cleaner air in the cities. People will be pleasantly surprised to notice that the air is getting cleaner at a noticeable rate. Then we will all realize how much our idling cars sitting in traffic jams contributed to the smog.

5) The cost of transportation goes down. Since electricity is inherently more efficient than burning fossil fuels the resulting value will increase. More importantly it will increase continuously as technology improves. Much different that the continuous increase in cost seen when using a non-renewable energy source.

6) People will find out that green technologies actually makes money and create jobs! Imagine that.

7) People will be surprised that the performance of EVs are actually better than old ICE cars. Complete control over all wheels using wheel-hub-motors will make the car come alive. Also, the yearly improvements will be very dramatic because the technology is still immature compared to the ICE (very mature technology).

8) The form-factor of the car may change dramatically. Due to the increased flexibility in design (don't have to make room for the ICE, transmission, drivetrain, etc.). Strange shapes and form-factors will come out. If Apple produces a cool innovative design, it may stick.


Negative unintended consequences:

1) Limited supply of key components like batteries will cause the prices to be artificially high for a while.

2) It will take longer than people think.

3) The costs of transition will be higher than estimated.

4) The world will have to bale out many of the nations that are now oil exporters. The greater the percentage of their GNP the greater the amount of assistance will be needed. Think about it. How is Saudi Arabia going to support 30 million plus people without all of that oil revenue? Answer: they cannot. When was the last time you bought a Saudi car or watched a Saudi movie? These oil exporters will have it worse than countries that have no oil because it's much easer to start from nothing and grow than to have something and lose it.

5) Several major companies will go out of business. There will be a huge shift in labor as older companies get beat by younger innovative companies. The older companies' outdated infrastructure actually turns out to be a hinderance rather that an effective barrier to entry.

6) There will need to be massive amounts of retraining for workers moving from petroleum based transportation jobs to renewable transportation jobs.

7) There will be some major failures by new and promising companies. Since we are using the shotgun approach to getting off of oil many will not make it. Could be an invention by EEstor or a very efficient way to produce and store hydrogen. This could cause some promising new starts to fall spectacularly.


Just the start of the list... Yes there will be unintended consequences but I doubt they will be worse than the unintended consequences seen by not moving away from oil.
I agree with virtually everything you posted, except what I put in bold. I honestly think the rest of the world should let the OPEC countries rot for the tyranny they have inflicted on us for so long. Other than oil, there is absolutely no reason to live there, so those people can move to other countries and blend in.

Another scenario I could see happening...since the majority of the OPEC nations are desert wasteland, they do have a lot of something we would definitely be able to use in the future. Sunlight. If they were smart, as they started to see demand peter out, they would start building giant PV farms or something to that effect. Sell electricity to the rest of the world. It could be done. Would it be ridiculously expensive to start up? Yes. But it would ensure that they keep money flowing into their economy, albeit a much smaller sum than their black gold produces.
 

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I know how you feel but we also didn't help the situation by being such a huge market for their resources. Some of the things US companies have done in other countries to get at their oil resources should probably be left unsaid. You can research it yourself but be warned... It's not pretty.

Would you rather have a Middle East full of hungry, angry and desperate people looking for someone to blame or a friendly Middle East that is working hard to find a way keep it's economy afloat? Sure there are bad people in every country that don't deserve any help but most of the people that suffer are innocent families.

The coming decades are probably going to be very tough for everyone. It will be a lot of hard work to get the world off the oil habit. We are all in this mess together and I feel we should all work together. Unrest is not want we want. I actually have no idea how this is all going to go down but just looking at our level of technology and the possibility of yearly reductions in global energy production leads me to think that many changes are coming...
 

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I wonder what the "unintended consequences" of mass use of the EV will be. Anyone else care to speculate?
The good news is, it isn't going to happen over night. There will be a transition period, but it's going to be stretched out over decades. I think it's silly to imagine the Volt coming out and then 2-5 years later seeing older ICE powered cars piling up, discarded by the side of the road and tumble weeds blowing through gas stations. It's going to take time, and in the mean time, China, India and other third world countries will gladly suck up oil supply, so don't worry about the oil companies and oil producing countries, they'll be fine for decades to come. Hopefully, low cost solar panels will help to offset greater demand on the grid simultaneously and we can put off building too many new power plants. It will work itself out. A little over 100 years ago we transitioned from coal to oil and there wasn't panic or chaos. We can do it again.
 

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The good news is, it isn't going to happen over night. There will be a transition period, but it's going to be stretched out over decades. I think it's silly to imagine the Volt coming out and then 2-5 years later seeing older ICE powered cars piling up, discarded by the side of the road and tumble weeds blowing through gas stations. It's going to take time, and in the mean time, China, India and other third world countries will gladly suck up oil supply, so don't worry about the oil companies and oil producing countries, they'll be fine for decades to come. Hopefully, low cost solar panels will help to offset greater demand on the grid simultaneously and we can put off building too many new power plants. It will work itself out. A little over 100 years ago we transitioned from coal to oil and there wasn't panic or chaos. We can do it again.
You may not see ICE vehicles being displaced for awhile, but you will see petroleum imports slow in their rate of increase, and perhaps even decrease, as drivers change their habits - driving less, buying smaller / more efficient cars, and buying REEV's etc.

We both agree that oil companies will continue to make money. Even if/when vehicles become 100% renewable, petroleum is still used by industry for other purposes (chemical, etc.)
 

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Not in 5 years, but it may happen faster than you think. Look at a 1900-vintage photo of any US city street. Nothing but horses and wagons. Look at a 1920-vintage photo. Nothing but cars. The glue factories were very busy during that era.
 

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A little over 100 years ago we transitioned from coal to oil and there wasn't panic or chaos. We can do it again.

That's because oil is a better, more convenient source of energy. You can pour it, pipe it, and it has far more usable energy per volume than coal. It's an energy upgrade. They were also not running out of coal. Don't you think the situation is a little bit different this time?

We don't anything that matches the beauty and energy density of oil. If global production starts to dip or cannot keep up with demand the economic situation will go from bad to worse. We are so used to increases of everything that we don't do well with depressions, retractions, recessions, etc. If we don't come up with an alternative to oil in the needed volumes then the world will not be able to support the current population. This is the scary truth. Population follows energy. No amount of voodoo economics is going to change that in any significant way.
 

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That's because oil is a better, more convenient source of energy. You can pour it, pipe it, and it has far more usable energy per volume than coal. It's an energy upgrade. They were also not running out of coal. Don't you think the situation is a little bit different this time?
I absolutely agree that oil is the best portable energy source we have. It's very important and we can't at this point, in any way do with out it. That's one of the many reasons that I don't see a super rapid transition to electric energy sources. I think this is a good thing. Big rapid changes tend to create chaos and upset. Gradual transition is much preferred IMHO.

I also don't think that we are changing towards other energy sources because we are running out of oil. There is still a tremendous amount of oil in the ground. We're transitioning because of cost and to a lesser degree, environmental concerns about burning it. This too is a good thing. If we really were running out, there would be world wars, not just little conflicts like we have now, I mean full blown WWIII.:eek:
 
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