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March 21, 2012 03:38 PM UTC

Wednesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.”

–Isaac Disraeli


42 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Thread

  1. and if you don’t, they won’t.

    A couple weeks ago it was announced GM (aka Government Motors) was shutting down its production line for the Volt, a plug in hybrid priced at about $40,000. The reason? Lack of demand.

    Toyota’s Prius C hits the showrooms this month, a non-plug in hybrid getting 50 mpg city driving. Price? About $20,000 depending on trim level.

    But wait. It seems some Toyota dealers are actually charging up to a $6000 premium on top of the Prius C sticker price because the car is in such demand (if you can even get one).

    Guess which car company is going to make money on their product, and which one will never make any money on their product?

    The Volt is an ill conceived product out of sync with market demand. Rather than being the “future” of a new GM, it represents the same thinking that drove GM into bankruptcy. GM would be well served to scrap its “Edsel” and go back to the drawing board and get it right.

    Disclaimer:  I have no financial interest in Toyota Motors. As a U.S. taxpayer I do have a financial interest in General Motors.

    1. It’s way too much money for the average car buyer, for starters. Requires a plug in, which aren’t widely available. And really doesn’t do as well as advertised for mileage.

      Volts aren’t selling while Toyota can’t keep the Prius in stock.

      I can’t help but wonder when we’ll hit a price in gas that makes people start to rethink buying SUV’s and gas guzzlers. Kind of like when cigarettes hit $6+ a pack–the price definitely assisted me in quitting for good.  

      1. See followup below for some more of my thoughts on the matter.

        The “requires a plug-in” would, I think, more accurately be characterized as “can take advantage of a plug-in.”

        Not to discount Prius technology, but Volt is a much better solution for in-town driving.  Infinite miles-per-gallon-of-gasoline.  And statistics show that the typical car owner drives 30 miles per day or so.

        1. Let me clear something up for you–I’m not in the “government motors” slur camp, so that meme won’t fly here. I fully supported (and still do) Obama’s efforts to save our auto industry. In my opinion it has proven to be a success and prevented massive unemployment.

          No, my problem with the Volt is that it needs to be tweaked and rethought. The company is currently sitting on a 154 day supply of vehicles and has halted production for five weeks. They are sitting on 6,000 unsold cars. They are under-performing in sales (they sold a whopping total of 7,671 Volts in 2011.)

          Their batteries are costly. There were several fires involved with Volts because the batteries were not properly drained. Their driving distance is limited and not practical for people that commute longer distances to work.

          Even with the $7,500 federal credit (a credit that not everyone except upper income buyers with a large tax bill will necessarily qualify for), they are costly to the average buyer and not very roomy which is a legitimate concern if the Volt wants to be the family car. And GM has done a very poor job of marketing the pluses of a plug-in hybrid.

          Those are the problems I have with the Volt. And I’m saying this as someone who looked at an awful lot of cars, including the Prius, when I went car hunting in late 2010…and continue to keep an eye out to reassure myself that I bought the right car.

          So, to be clear, my “opposition” to the Volt isn’t politically motivated at all. It isn’t even opposition. I would simply like GM to get with the program, make a better product and start competing with Toyota by producing a better car.

          1. I appreciate the feedback.  However, I believe there is actually an active misinformation campaign against the Volt – politically motivated.

            Certainly, the price is too high for mass-market appeal (and I do believe that affects sales).  And, I think this is the first-generation of the series-hybrid concept, and I would hope that it gets tweaked and improved.


            There were several fires involved with Volts because the batteries were not properly drained.

            This is, I think, an example of the “active misinformation” campaign.  The only instance I am aware of where a Volt caught fire was a test article (high-speed side impact followed by simulated rollover) which was set aside for two months and then later caught fire.  This is not a real-world case – the car would have been totalled or at least repaired.  Despite that, GM identified the root cause of the fire (the simulated rollover allowed battery cooling fluid to enter the battery mangement system’s electronics) and has corrected it.  So, newer Volts don’t even have that particular issue.


            Their driving distance is limited and not practical for people that commute longer distances to work.

            If you add gasoline, their driving distance is infinite.  But I agree – if the significant majority of your driving is a long-distance commute, a Prius is a better option (lower drag coefficient, higher long-distance highway MPG).  But this is not true of most of the American driving public.

            1. Particularly about the battery fires which generated a lot of negative press for the Volt.

              The price is one of the biggest obstacles, in my opinion. It’s just not competitive with other alternatives out on the market right now. I’m with you–I think it’s having a significant impact on sales or lack thereof.

              I think ajb hit on a good point too, about what motivates people in their purchasing a vehicle. And it seems the Volt falls short in that department.

              I really would like to see GM come back after this hiatus with a better, more competitive product and with a better plan for marketing it in place before they roll it back out. Because let’s face it–gas isn’t going to get any cheaper and the more choices on the market consumers have, the better.  

                  1. Unions didn’t want it, but it was forced on them by crony capitalism that cut the deal and managed the bankruptcy for Obama.

                    Shit, it’s killed Union jobs just so Obama could have a shiny PR to sell to the people.

              1. The GM bailout was a necessary evil. Wasn’t just GM, it was the supplier network as well that would have gone down. Little known is there was also an $ 8.5 billion bailout in the stimulus package for those companies. Bottom line – the GM bailout had to be done or we faced the risk of just not a recession, but a depression with like umemployment numbers.

                I’m a life long F1 racing fan (I watched Jackie Stewart race at the Glen) car enthusiast and have worked as a mechanic. Many of your technological advances come out of racing, particuarly F1 (like CVT transmissions and active suspensions)

                For GM to produce a “fuel efficient” vehicle which weighs 3600 lbs. is laughable to anyone who knows anything about car technology and the basics of fuel efficiency. It’s nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.

                I want GM to be successfull, but by building the right products, not corporate welfare.


        2. I also think that people don’t buy cars for their average use. They buy them for the range of usage they foresee. After all most people don’t really utilize 4WD 99% of the time, or have more than 4 people in the minivan 99% of the time. (We own a minivan and a Subaru despite the fact that my wife and I bike commute probably 4 out of 5 days. ) The Volt would be a great car for us, but it wouldn’t replace the AWD aspect of the Subaru or the hauling capacity of the minivan.

          1. Period.  I sure can’t. Most don’t have the cash or don’t qualify for that kind of loan after the beating their finances have taken in the recession, even if they thought they could afford the payment.

            It doesn’t matter how economical it may be in the long run. That doesn’t magically allow people having trouble making ends meet right now to spend that kind of money. Or even to be motivated to want to when they can get cars they like for a lot less. The average person isn’t going to even consider coughing up that much out of dedication to the concept. The Volt type will have to be a lot more affordable before there is much will to make plug-in more available.  

    2. First off Nissan is increasing production of the Leaf because they have a lot more demand than supply. Second, the Volt is not an electric, it’s a hybrid that is primarily electric.

      And most important, it is very common for the car manufacturers to shut down a line for a month or two if supply gets ahead of demand. The Volt is still selling and the line will start up again shortly.

    3. GM announces that CO residents who buy/lease a new Chevrolet Volt EV are eligible for a state tax credit of up to $6,000.  Combined with the fed tax credit of up to $7,500 a person could get $13,500 off the $40,000+ price.  Is that enough of an incentive?

      The Volt supposedly has a ttl range of 379 miles (EPA estimate) and can run strictly EV for the first 35 miles before switching to hybrid.  Now I’ll share that we had a fleet  Chevy Malibu ECO and it was laughably pathetic!  Base model 4-cyl actually got better mpg than we’d ever see in this fleet car.  Chevy can’t seem to find their asses when it comes to doing hybrids.  They pushed out ECO Suburbans & Escalades before they got around (late) the the EV Volt.  And since the grand roll out they’ve notched up less than 10,000 unit sales (and a lot of those for fleet muni vehicles).  The public just ain’t buying Chevy’s gimmick.

      I prior posted 2011 sales results for Toyota, Nissan, & Chevy and Toyota just blows by the 2nd tier.  Toyota is on their 3rd Gen Prius and have sold over 2.5 million models worldwide with US accounting for half that number.  Given their 10 yrs. of experience, the brand reliability, the reasonable prices, and the varied offerings it’s easy to see why Toyota is on top.            

      Read more @ Sirota on am760  

    4. I’m not sure it is wise to respond to a posting which repeats the “government motors” slur (it would be better to implode the entire Midwestern manufacturing economy?) but here goes anyway.

      1. Yes, it is somewhat expensive – typical of “early adopter” tech.  But someone has to lead.  The expense for the consumer is significantly offset by the $13500 tax credit Colorado buyers will get.

      2. It is not “ill-conceived” – it is the only vehicle that has both a decent all-electric range combined with a solution for range anxiety.  And the implementation is remarkably well-polished for a first try.

      3. For typical suburban dwellers, they will charge at home, which means the complaints about “lack of charging infrastructure” are baseless.

      Disclaimer – my wife and I are the proud owners of a 2012 Volt.  So far, we have driven about 500 miles almost entirely on (solar-generated) electricity.  We made one trip to Boulder and back, using one gallon of gasoline (charging in both Fort Collins and Boulder), an effective MPG rating of about 100.

      The opposition to Volt seem to me to be politically motivated rather than based on fact.

      1. But I do think that price is a significant issue.  Early adopter premium is fine, but the early adopter significance is being quickly eaten away by the alternatives. A Prius is $24,000. A plug in Prius, $34,000.  A Leaf, $36,000. A Volt, $39,000. These vehicles are different, but at the end of the day, the Volt seems to be having difficulty competing on price.

        1. The Volt does come with significant additional capability (the plug-in Prius is nearly a joke – from what I can tell, only about 10 miles electric range).

          I am a pretty-well-informed electric vehicle advocate (I converted two vehicles to electric myself) – and, in my opinion, the $3000 delta between the Leaf and the Volt is worth it.  Although the Leaf’s all-electric range is higher, that actually does not matter much for actual driving patterns (that 30-mile daily drive).  The Volt matches current US driving patterns very well.

          I would certainly hope that the price comes down so this technology is available to a much broader cross-section of the driving public.  Of course, I also hope that other electric vehicle options become more affordable.

  2. Senate Bill 157 is not acceptable in its current form. Although bringing broadband to more rural areas is a good thing, the bill would cost 600 good CO jobs. There must be a better way. This bill needs a lot of work.(Make Verizon give a little?) To those legislators who are listening to testimony, please think jobs.  

    1. The bill is a product of more than a year of negotiations with telecom providers. CenturyLink refused to be at the table as they would be the biggest losers in the deal. That’s their choice – but, to then come screaming about how bad this will be for them, well, it’s a bit disingenuous …

      Listen, the telecom laws need to be modernized and the status quo allows CenturyLink to abscond with huge amounts of money based off of an outdated formula they are scorching the earth to protect.

      The number of jobs CenturyLink claims will be lost is exaggerated and the impact won’t be felt all at oncewill be doled out over time. The amount of money they will lost is significant, so of course they hire a gaggle of lobbyists to fight this and tell their workers to send thousands of emails to legislators (which isn’t helping – along with the robocalls).

      SB157 needs to pass and if CenturyLink wanted to be part of the solution, they should have been part of the negotiations. Since they weren’t, they are now part of the problem…

      1. Thinking of 600 CWA union jobs. I’m not saying kill the bill. I’m saying figure out a way not to lose 600 jobs. And if Century Link has the most to lose, why wouldn’t they come to the table? I’m absolutely open to hearing how this bill won’t kill jobs. How do you figure?

        1. because they know their power. They are NOT working to increase broadband to rural areas and that is a huge negative impact on the economy. They have way, way too much support from PUC in areas NOT related to broadband. Neither they nor anyone else provides refunds when service is lost.  

        2. This bill may cost CenturyLink jobs. I personally doubt that there will be 600 jobs lost and I’d be very dubious if all of those jobs were CWA, but talking points are what they are and that is why, even though they have the most to lose, CenturyLink didn’t come to the table.  

      1. In a nutshell – there is a formula in statute that provides subsidies to telecom providers to help serve rural areas. The formula was put in place when rural still included areas of the front range that in no way should be considered rural.

        CenturyLink is the largest beneficiary of this formula, to the tune of $50+ million. The argument is, the formula needs to be modernized because other telecom providers serve rural areas better than CenturyLink.

        The bill changes the formula distribution so that, over time, providers serving rural areas will receive more money to provide services urban users already receive, and CenturyLink will lose their share of the formula because, 1) their service areas are less rural and more urban now, and 2) they refused to come to the table to negotiate on the bill.

        If CenturyLink was truly concerned about the loss of jobs, they would’ve negotiated in good faith, finding a way to protect their interests and those of users throughout their service area. Instead, they chose a lobbying strategy.

        The bill does a variety of other things and, as mentioned before, is a result of long hours of negotiations between all parties involved (except CenturyLink).

        If people are afraid of losing their CenturyLink jobs, don’t bitch about this bill, bitch about your employer playing politics with your position rather than working to protect it!

        1. And it redistributes cash elsewhere?

          I can’t really get too concerned about the job loss, then, since it will result in jobs elsewhere and will better serve rural communities who could use the boost to their own job attractiveness.

          1. Would that it was…

            It’s a 78 page bill that is updating many telecom laws in CO. There’s also some increased monies going to broadband build out in rural areas, which is nice.

            It’s complex and my summary is just that, a summary – more about the politics of the bill than the substance. I’m sure CenturyLink believes they will lose employees if the formula is changed, but the truth is always somewhere in the middle.

            Definitely THE telecom battle of decade though. Get your popcorn.

        2. One of the most valuable things we an do to increase quality jobs in rural areas is get them broadband. If doing so means we lose 600 (which probably means 200) jobs, and in return new companies bring dying towns back to life and create thousands of new jobs, that’s a good trade off.

  3. It sounds like Karzai is fomentiing Jihad.

    We have previously discussed Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated inclinations toward the Taliban and harsh treatment of women. Then there was Karzai’s recent position that women are worth less than men – presumably even those American women keeping Karzai and his corrupt family and friends in power. This week Karzai has added that Americans are “demons” and no better than the Taliban. Karzai then called for divine intervention to defeat the Americans and the Taliban – a dangerous call in a nation known for religious fanaticism: “Let’s pray for God to rescue us from these two demons. There are two demons in our country now.”

    The bolds are mine. Artcile here:

    1. though if it wasn’t for us Hamid wouldn’t even be the Pres, wouldn’t be alive today and likely won’t live too long after our pull out.  

      But US built, funded, & trained the mujahideen.  Mujahideen fostered Taliban and they welcomed OBL & Al-Q along with the millions of dollars and the worthwhile connections he brought.  But when OBL wrought 9-11 GW Shrub & his hawks decided it was time for an invasion.  Now after 10-yrs and hundreds of deaths & injuries to US forces and thousands of deaths & injuries to Afghan civies Hamid wants everyone out.  

      Taliban, though, is home grown and doesn’t exist anywhere else (‘cept Pakistan mountains along the border).  So while we gotta leave it’s gonna be hard to impossible for Hamid to  not lose out to Taliban.  They’ll be back to goat herding & opium dealing.      

    2. Military Now Considering Limiting Soldiers With Severe PTSD To 3 Combat Tours

      WASHINGTON-Following the alleged murder of 16 Afghan civilians by Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. military announced Wednesday it would consider limiting troops with crippling post-traumatic stress disorder to just three combat tours.

      “If it’s only their second or third tour, we have no problem sending soldiers with shattered psyches and profound emotional problems back into a war zone, but the case of Staff Sgt. Bales suggests four may be too many,” said Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, adding that troops in their third deployment can still basically function with PTSD and, instead of snapping and killing civilians, “might still have it together enough to kill actual enemies when they go berserk.”

      “We are beginning to think that if a soldier in his fourth tour suffers from constant night terrors or is haunted by memories of the friends he’s lost in combat, he could actually become a liability on the battlefield.”

      Gen. Allen acknowledged that while it is possible the redeployment of the mentally ill is a bad policy altogether, any such notion is mere speculation at this point.

    1. …more like a bunch of overpaid guys who wear the same sports uniform and on occasional act in unison to make a play.

      Elway and the B-Men front office must really REALLY hate Timmy Try Hard…unless the jets are planning on doing an NBA-style trade and sending him to Jacksonville for even better picks…

  4. about the industry blowback on the recently released CU air quality study from Garfield County. These statements just kinda blew my mind so I thought I would share them with ya’ll.

    Life is full of risks. We cannot make ourselves immune from them. Energy is a necessary part of our lives. An occasional fracking job does not pose as much of a health threat as one day of walking in downtown Denver air pollution. And guess what, your body is amazing…it will deal with it. After all, do you realize how many billions of radioactive particles from space and the sun pass thru your body every second, and yet, we don’t drop dead from it.

    People need to start thinking from perspectives that are not fear based. If you want energy to run your car, furnace, stove or to keep your lights on, then certain tolerances have to be accepted in energy producing areas. It’s just a fact of life. Our environment is already 80% cleaner than it was in the 1960’s, and energy companies are being more environmentally friendly than ever before.

    All the self-serving, money seeking, fear mongering attacks toward the energy industry just drive costs of everything up and we all end up paying for it.

    I kinda had a notion to respond to every piece of bullshit in it, but the whole thing is bullshit, so…I’ll just post it for your reading delight.  🙂

    1. But you peasants out there, just get the core message: Suck it up and sacrifice so the rest of us can continue to use and waste our resources as much as we want.  And those “certain tolerances” that “have to be accepted in energy producing areas” — just make sure the powerful and wealthy aren’t expected to experience those same tolerances.

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