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Fuel Prices - Domestic Car Manufacturers
Old 06-04-2008, 02:36 AM   #1
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Fuel Prices - Domestic Car Manufacturers

Apparently large vehicle sales are down around 40%... overall sales are not down that much, but enough to hurt the domestic car manufacturers.

GM to close 4 plants, focus on small cars: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

It appears that GM is shutting down some plants and laying off up to 10,000 workers. Mainly plants that make Trucks, SUVs, MiniVans... large vehicles.

Domestic manufacturers once again were short-sighted. Perhaps they can turn it around. I suspect that many of the smaller vehicles that GM produces will be in another country and imported.

The problem I have with short-sighted management in that industry is that American jobs are lost because of management incompetence and lack of vision.

Of course most everyone that is looking for a car will be interested in fuel efficiency. GM's hybrid technology seems to be behind Toyota.

People who own existing gas hogs are finding that they are upside-down on loans for vehicles... used trucks and suvs are worth much less. I have heard the dealers are not too interested in taking used gas hogs as trade-ins.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:18 AM   #2
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Toyota and Honda built their sales levels on fuel efficient cars. When gas was cheap, domestic carmakers could compete, but the higher the gas goes, the more folks who go toward a smaller car.

Domestic carmakers are behind the apeball, but I am sure they will catch up..........
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:43 AM   #3
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The problem I have with short-sighted management in that industry is that American jobs are lost because of management incompetence and lack of vision.
Half of the GM plants that are closing are located outside the US in Canada and Mexico.

So the lost American jobs isn't quite as bad as one would think by glancing at the headlines.

And think of all the new jobs created by "foreign" car companies opening up factories in the US. I put foreign in quotes because what does that even mean these days? I know I own a lot of Honda, Toyota, etc. through my Pacific Index fund at vanguard. Last I checked they were heavily weighted in the top 10 holdings.
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:28 AM   #4
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Didn't we have this same issue back in the 70s and 80s

And the imports were kicking the domestics butts.... and we put in import limits and all other kind of 'feel good' but cost a lot legislation that did not work....

So, fast forward a couple of decades... and the domestics are doing the same thing.... trying to make a big buck with the truck and SUVs and such, which BTW they were... but did not see the future coming and produced some major crap on their low end cars..

Now they get to reap their decisions....

as far as the workers... maybe they should have applied to and gotten a job with Honda or Toyota... there are many domestic plants for them to work.
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:57 AM   #5
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as far as the workers... maybe they should have applied to and gotten a job with Honda or Toyota... there are many domestic plants for them to work.
They don't get the cushy benefts packages at Honda or Toyota or Nissan, so unless forced to, they're not going to move. The UAW tried FIVE times to organize a union at a Subaru plant, and it went nowhere.

From what I know, the import carmakers pay very well, but they don't offer lifetime medical and huge pensions like the domestic plants do..........
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Adding Workers at Lordstown, OH
Old 06-04-2008, 11:59 AM   #6
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Adding Workers at Lordstown, OH

I heard that they are adding a third shift at Lordstown, OH plant.
They make the Chev Cobalt there and they are planning to introduce the next generation compact that gets much better gas mileage.
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:06 PM   #7
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Lack of vision is what is doing them in.
They are playing catch up now and have some interesting ideas on the drawing board. I hope we see some/all of them make it to market.
I was impressed with Wagoner's speech. He really seemed, for the most part, to 'get it'.
However, with no plans for an all electric car mentioned, I don't think I will be driving a GM vehicle anytime soon.
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:11 PM   #8
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If domestic manufacturers can produce a car with the gas mileage and reliability of a Camry, for less money, that was equally safe, then I would at least take it for a test drive.

I'm not holding my breath, though!

I might buy one of those gas-guzzlers (used SUV's or huge trucks) when I ER if they are still cheap. I don't drive much anyway.
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:34 PM   #9
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Honda is dominating car manufacturing because of they're forward thinking, and are leading the way in Outboards (killed OMC and killing Mercury), small motors (what Briggs and Straton used to dominate), generators, motorcycles, etc. It takes good management to forcast future trends and keep the vision. Too bad short sighted American management only look at todays stock price to make decisions.
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:59 PM   #10
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.....I put foreign in quotes because what does that even mean these days?
You've got that right! My last car was a 'foreign' job.....a Mitsubishi.....built in Normal, IL, less than an hour drive from my home. I traded it in on a good ol' 'American' Chevy.......built in Mexico! What's the world coming to....
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:08 PM   #11
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I heard that they are adding a third shift at Lordstown, OH plant.
They make the Chev Cobalt there and they are planning to introduce the next generation compact that gets much better gas mileage.
They could pick up substantial fuel economy by FINALLY adding a 5 speed auto to their small car lines. Up to a several years ago, they were using 3-speed autos with lock-up torque converters and outdated 4 speeds geared wrong, etc...........

I had a 96 Pontiac Sunbird as a demo once. Automatic, 4cyl, I NEVER got over 23 mpg..........
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:56 PM   #12
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Lack of vision is what is doing them in.
Focus on quarterly financial reporting and the way compensation is structured is part of the problem.
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Old 06-04-2008, 05:32 PM   #13
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I'm going to have to look into those websites on making your own diesel fuel from restaurant grease. If I could get a great deal on an SUV diesel that someone is upside-down on, and then make my fuel for next to nothing....

Probably not worth the effort for the miles I drive. It's not a solution for wide spread use (not enough waste oil around), but for an individual, it could work.

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Old 06-04-2008, 05:48 PM   #14
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Domestic manufacturers once again were short-sighted. Perhaps they can turn it around. I suspect that many of the smaller vehicles that GM produces will be in another country and imported.
Unfortunately I haven't owned an American car since 1979, it's beyond me why the big three can't make a better Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. While I agree domestic automakers have made some serious mistakes, I have to place a lot of the blame on US consumers for demanding large cars/trucks/SUV's until recently. Everyone who bought a large car/truck/SUV walked right past lots of more fuel efficient models, whether or not they were world-class examples of small cars is an aside, people wanted big trucks. US automakers may have taken the easy route by satisfying their customers demand for large trucks/SUV's, but they didn't create the demand themselves. If people only wanted small, high quality cars - I have no doubt that domestic and foreign automakers would trip all over themselves to provide them (and I'll bet that's just what they are doing right now). Too bad Honda, Toyota et al have such an advantage in smaller cars over GM, Ford and others.
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Old 06-04-2008, 05:49 PM   #15
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They could pick up substantial fuel economy by FINALLY adding a 5 speed auto to their small car lines. Up to a several years ago, they were using 3-speed autos with lock-up torque converters and outdated 4 speeds geared wrong, etc...........

I had a 96 Pontiac Sunbird as a demo once. Automatic, 4cyl, I NEVER got over 23 mpg..........
Man you are right... get some more GEARS in the cars... then you could have a slightly smaller engine but still have good acceleration...

I was surprised to see that the smaller cars only have the 4 speeds... but you can get a Lexus with an 8 speed... (IIRC)...
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Old 06-04-2008, 06:36 PM   #16
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However, with no plans for an all electric car mentioned, I don't think I will be driving a GM vehicle anytime soon.
Isn't the Volt essentially an electric car with a very small IC engine that serves only as a range extender? If you don't travel long distances, the IC engine might never run. Conceptually it sounds pretty smart as I understand it...
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Old 06-04-2008, 06:39 PM   #17
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Man you are right... get some more GEARS in the cars... then you could have a slightly smaller engine but still have good acceleration...

I was surprised to see that the smaller cars only have the 4 speeds... but you can get a Lexus with an 8 speed... (IIRC)...
Or you can buy a Nissan Versa with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that has an infinite number of gears.
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Old 06-04-2008, 06:41 PM   #18
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Isn't the Volt essentially an electric car with a very small IC engine that serves only as a range extender? If you don't travel long distances, the IC engine might never run. Conceptually it sounds pretty smart as I understand it...
The Volt is a different type of hybrid in that the gas "engine" can't power the vehicle directly. As I understand it, the gas engine functions strictly as a generator, producing the electricity to keep the electric drivetrain running.
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Old 06-04-2008, 06:42 PM   #19
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I'm going to have to look into those websites on making your own diesel fuel from restaurant grease.
Start here... it's a great site

Instructables - biodiesel - DIY & How To
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:27 PM   #20
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Start here... it's a great site

Instructables - biodiesel - DIY & How To
Thanks. Unfortunately, looks like it takes work

A few other phrases did not sound appealing to me:

Quote:
Methoxide, the substance produced when you mix your catalyst with the methanol, is an extremely toxic nerve agent. It can do some serious bodily damage.
Maybe if it was just a 'toxic nerve agent', but I draw the line at 'extremely toxic nerve agent'.

Quote:
Heat the oil to 130 degrees F.
Hmmm, energy to heat it, heat + 'extremely toxic nerve agent' + methanol...

Quote:
Methanol is at about $5 a gallon. This still ends up being cheaper than regular diesel, since you add 20% methanol for the amount of WVO you use.
So it'll still cost a minimum of $1 gallon plus heating, and collecting, exposing myself to 'extremely toxic nerve agent' etc, etc, etc.

Looks like I'll hold out for the next generation of electrics.

Now, I did read about a guy that set up a still, and his feedstock was the waste drinks from a local bar! Probably 5-10% ethanol on average between mixed drinks, beer, and melted ice...

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