Episode 352 – Driver Error To Blame, Car Sales Picking Up, Transit Connect Mail Truck

March 19th, 2010 at 12:11pm

Runtime 8:35

More evidence those runaway Toyotas are nothing more than driver error. Car sales in the American market are starting to head in the right direction. The Canadian Post Office has selected the Ford Transit Connect to replace its national fleet of vehicles. All that and more, plus John Krafcik, the CEO of Hyundai Motors America talks about the kinds of improvements that have gone into the new Hyundai Sonata, including a fairly exotic-looking piston.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. More evidence those runaway Toyotas are nothing more than driver error. Car sales are looking a lot better in the American market. And the Canadian Post Office goes for the Transit Connect.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, March 19, 2010. And now, the news.

Here’s more evidence that those runaway Toyota Priuses are nothing more than driver error. Last week we reported on a woman in the Westchester-area of New York who claimed her Prius suddenly accelerated out of control, even though she had her foot on the brake, causing her to crash into a stone wall. But Bloomberg reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration got the information from the onboard black box and it shows that the brakes were never engaged and that the throttle was wide open. And all you know I’ve been saying from the beginning this is driver error. It’s the same Audi unintended acceleration story all over again.

And in related news the Wall Street Journal reports that Toyota sent a letter to ABC News demanding that it retract a news story on runaway Toyotas and offer an apology (subscription required). Toyota accuses ABC of fabricating part of the story, showing a rapidly revving tachometer that was actually a shot taken while the car was parked. This was part of a test concocted by Professor Dave Gilbert where he rewired part of the car to cause it to accelerate on its own. Toyota criticized ABC for not allowing it to review Professor Gilbert’s research or provide a response for that news report. ABC says its lawyers are reviewing Toyota’s letter.

It looks like Geely and Ford are now negotiating through the media on the Volvo deal. Yesterday we reported that Ford CEO, Alan Mulally said the talks were progressing, but now, according to Bloomberg, Geely’s Chairman says the negotiations are “very tough” and “the situation is changing constantly.” He also said it would be Ford’s fault if the deal fell through. Last year both companies agreed to sign a deal by the end of this month.

Car sales in the American market are heading in the right direction (subscription required). The Wall Street Journal reports that sales are picking up this month with help from incentives and J.D. Power is forecasting an annualized-rate of 12 million units for the month of March, the highest since last year’s cash-for-clunkers program. But Edmunds is even more bullish, predicting a SAAR of 13.5 million for this month.

Yesterday McLaren Automotive announced details about its all-new supercar called the MP4-12C. I’ll let the performance numbers do the talking. It can hit 200 kilometers an hour – that’s 124 miles an hour – in less than 10 seconds. It can stop from that speed in LESS THAN five seconds, and it should be able to blast through a quarter mile in around 11 seconds. To achieve these astonishing numbers the company built the car around a one-piece molded carbon-fiber chassis that reportedly only takes four hours to manufacture. It’s powered by a rear-mounted 3.8-liter V-8 engine. With twin turbochargers it delivers 600 PS or about 592 horsepower giving it an almost unbelievable power-to-weight ratio of about 4.8 pounds per horsepower! The McLaren MP4-12C goes on sale spring of next year. Pricing hasn’t been announced.

Here’s some more good news for Ford. The company reports that Canada Post has selected the Transit Connect to replace its national fleet of vehicles. The mail-delivery service will purchase nearly 1,200 of the compact delivery vans this year. In related news, Ward’s reports that the TC may have some stiff competition in Russia. Ukrainian automaker Korporatsya Bogdan has begun exporting a car-based delivery vehicle to the country (subscription required). Called the BOG-DAN 23-10, it’s based on a LADA and features a 1,200 pound payload rating. Starting price is about $9,500.

Coming up next, a look at this. I’m sure most of you know what this is. But we’ll talk about where it came from and why it looks the way it does.

On last night’s Autoline After Hours our guest was John Krafcik, the CEO of Hyundai Motor America. And we got him talking about the kinds of improvements that have gone into the new Hyundai Sonata, including this fairly exotic-looking piston.

You can see that entire webcast right now on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv

Ok, it’s Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to answer this week’s trivia question. We asked you what term is popularly used to describe this type of shifter. And the correct answer is . . .  it’s a pistol-grip shifter. And the winner is Daniel Kohler from Painesville, Ohio. Congratulations Daniel, you’ve just won a Ford Super Duty Power Stroke baseball hat.

One quick note before we go. If you have a Blackberry or a smart phone, you can now listen to Autoline Daily from the convenience of your phone. You need to get a free app called Stitcher, and load it in your phone. I did it with my Blackberry, though I had to upgrade the operating system. But again, you can download that for free. It’s just another way that we’re trying to make it as convenient as possible for you to get your daily news of what’s going on in the global auto industry.

And that’s it for today’s top news. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

92 Comments to “Episode 352 – Driver Error To Blame, Car Sales Picking Up, Transit Connect Mail Truck”

  1. Don MacConnel Says:

    I can agree that driver error is to blame for (most)unintended acceleration. What I don’t understand is why Toyota is the poster child for the phenomena.

    Pedal spacing could well be at the root as could aging drivers (it’s a fairly common accident for seniors in Florida) but why Toyota? We could use more situation details and less conjecture.

    I do know that my ’88 G20 Chevy van would occasionally go full throttle when the cruise control was engaged. The dealer could never duplicate the problem and therefore it didn’t exist.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Does the Canadian Postmaster General have friends in Turkey that he wants to provide with jobs?

  3. HtG Says:

    Hort auf! there John. I think what the NHTSA statement said was that the recorder on the Prius showed only information recorded once the car impacted the wall. There is no trace of how the car was driven down the driveway, across the road, and through the mud. I personally went to the accident site, and noticed that the mud between the roadway and the wall was undisturbed by the Prius except where it was towed away. It didn’t look to me like she was on the brakes, but it isn’t quite right to say she was never on the brakes during her ‘ordeal.’

    So maybe she took her foot off the brake before impact? I wonder what her statement to police was. If she said she had gotten on the brakes at the start of the acceleration, I going with driver error, like you.

  4. HtG Says:

    Another avenue to pursue is diabetes in the driver. People with diabetes can lose sensation in their extremities, so pedals can be confused. Of course, this is pretty wild ass on my part.

  5. Salvador G. Says:

    What Toyota should do is -sue the living daylights out of ABC for every penny Toyota is loosing since that story came out.

    JohnMc, can we say already that Ford won’t part ways with Volvo, think about it; everyday that Ford gains in the market, the more obvious is that they won’t sell Volvo, at this point I think they’re just like to mess with the Chinese, its just not going to happen.

    And, I don’t see how anyone can think that -a small size truck with a box attach to it is real competition to Ford’s Transit Connect, I mean; I get it -its ReAlLy cheap, but other than that -Its Russian and today even China makes better stuff.

  6. Ron Paris Says:

    Congratulations to Toyota for growing a spine and standing up to the shoddy treatement meted out by Brian Ross and ABC News. I agree with Salvador G. that their next step should be to sue the living #%&/ out of the network!

  7. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Does the Canadian Postmaster General have friends in Turkey that he wants to provide with jobs?”

    he does not have to have any friends in Turkey to appreciate the much lower price and much better MPG than if they bought the same tired old vans.

    He is obviously not in the protectionist charity racket business (and not with hi s$, but with the taxpayer $..)

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    What Toyota should do is -sue the living daylights out of ABC for every penny Toyota is loosing since that story came out.

    I hope they do, and I hope they sue th eliving daylights out of MICKEY MOUSE as well, since ABC News, as well as the whole sorry rest of ABC, is owned by Disney

  9. jesse Says:

    2011 Sonata’s are selling like hot cakes!Nice car,great price. Right behind it is the TUCSON.2 HOME RUNS for Hyundai.

  10. dcars Says:

    Yeah, Ford is at fault if they don’t give away the farm to sell Volvo to Geely.
    Did they mention what will power the new McLaren? It’s not like I’m going to run out the local McLaren dealer and buy one just interested to know.

  11. HtG Says:

    dcars-The McLaren will be powered by Gulf State Sovereign Wealth Funds. But seriously folks, I think McL will develop their own lump.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “he does not have to have any friends in Turkey to appreciate the much lower price and much better MPG than if they bought the same tired old vans.”

    The Transit Connect will no doubt be cheaper to buy than the Grumman/GM vans now used by USPS and Canada Post, but operating costs shouldn’t be hugely different. The current ones use a GM 2.2 four cylinder. I don’t know the weight of the current ones, but I think they are partly aluminum so might not weigh much or any more than the Transit.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    According to “the truth about cars,” McLaren will make their own engine for the supercar. They say:

    “In the end, McLaren built its own engine, the M838T. It’s a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected, 3.8 litre, 90° V8, developing about 600 horsepower at 8,500 RPM. 80 percent of its 442 lb-ft of torque is reportedly available under 2,000 RPM. Also, it looks like mechanical sex.”

  14. Max Christensen Says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It seems Toyota tends to have more of this unintended acceleration than almost any other auto maker – and this was true even before this whole storm broke out. Operator error? Perhaps – but if it’s being caused by poor pedal placement, too small of pedals, or whatever, it still amounts to poor engineering and design which once again then places it on the shoulders of the people who designed the car – Toyota!

  15. dcars Says:

    Thanks, HTG and Kit. I just looked at some race liveries on Autoblog and they are very cool.

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    I don’t think the pedals in any car are designed cluelessly, their positions are usually ergonomically optimal.

    The ‘victims’ of these accidents were not people wearing size 17 wide shoes. They were questionable cr5ooks, or absent-minded housekeepers.

    One cannot design cars to fit such people anyway, what one can do is customize them for each of these outside the range, too big or too small persons.

    The Audi investigation in 1980s was definitive: it waas 100% DRIVER ERROR. But Audi WRONGLY did not FIGHT the clowns at CBS, and lost billions, it was doing fantastic before that public relations nightmare!

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    Or panicky. Even some of us would panic, let alone an auto illiterate housewife, if they made an error like this, and may act to make the error bigger instead of correcting it, in a live situation.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I found that the old postal vans are lighter than a Transit Connect at 3,000# according to Wiki and a post office museum site. They are, as I thought, aluminim body. They are called Grumman LLV (long life vehicle) and cost about 10K each when the first ones were bought in 1987. Both articles said that Canada Post as well as the US Postal Service bought them. The intended life was 24 years, but the US Postal Service plans to extend it to 30 years. It looks like Canada Post is replacing theirs earlier. The Grumman vans were last built in 1994.

  19. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Demanding a retraction and an apology is certainly due………………………but Toyota still has a lot of ‘splaining to do (about internal coverups, other recalls, hidden agendas, etc.)

  20. Max Christensen Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 3:18 pm
    “I don’t think the pedals in any car are designed cluelessly, their positions are usually ergonomically optimal.

    The ‘victims’ of these accidents were not people wearing size 17 wide shoes. They were questionable cr5ooks, or absent-minded housekeepers.”

    Don’t forget about the 19-year veteran California Highway Patrol officer and his family. I’m sure he knew nothing about what to do with an out-of-control vehicle, whether caused by a defective vehicle or driver error……

  21. paulstewart Says:

    Ya’ your right Max I agree. Where their’s smoke their’s fire. Some of the Toyota problems are due to human error AND some are not. John Mc. is partially corret, i.e. older drivers, maybe inexperienced drivers are to blame.I have always bought manuals for my cars. And I’m still pretty sure Max is NOT Thor of the past. Unfortunatly it would seem Max lives in mt state sorry to say.

  22. paulstewart Says:

    correct. sp.correction

  23. paulstewart Says:

    my. I’m on a roll…

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    With today’s cars with start-stop buttons and electronic gear levers, the usual turning off of the engine or shifting to neutral won’t necessarily work if the throttle sticks, but HARD, STEADY FORCE ON THE BRAKE PEDAL will stop a car, even a high-powered one.

    It seems that public service announcements pointing this out might be useful. Everyone knows that it is not a good idea to drive drunk, but it seems that a lot of people may not know how to stop a car with an open throttle. Maybe some of the announcements telling us not to drive drunk should be replaced with announcements about how to stop in an emergency.

  25. Julius Lambert Says:

    TRIVIA QUESTION——Why was SHIFTER included in the ANSWER?Your question was name this SHIFTER.I Emailed PISTOL GRIP as the answer,what gives?

  26. XA351GT Says:

    You guys can scream driver error all you want but if the pedal placement is why there is driver error then guess who is to blame ?? TOYOTA, they designed the damn thing that way. As a earlier poster asked why is this just a Toyota thing Because they did a lousy job of designing the pedal layout.
    Toyota has beniffitted from the heavily onesided media of print ( Car and Driver , Motor Trend and Road and Track) I have read for years what junk the Big 3 have put out ( some true most not ) While brainwashing lemmings into believing that Toyota was the saint of all car makers. I remeber the 70s when Toyota, Datsun,Mazda,Honda and Subaru sent over all these little Sh*tboxes that would rust off the unibody before the car was paid for . So don’t think they have always been great. They did to there credit pick up their game and get with the program. Meanwhile at that time The US makers were seeing their sales erode to these cheep in price ( mainly because of dumping them on the market at a loss in some cases in order to under price American cars . They saw people buy these turds on wheels and then did the same thing and were crucified and rightly so for it.
    What I have heard is though that when the Big 3 would have a recall it was front page news ,when Toyota had a problem is was quietly reported if at all. It surprised me that this came to light ,but then it did take 5 years and countles deaths to even get a mention so I think it is about time they get their just rewards .
    Now they are blaming YOU ther loyal customers saying your too STUPID to know how to drive their cars. So I hope you go buy another and prove how stupid you are.

  27. Andrew Charles Says:

    The Grumman van business has changed hands several times since then. I believe it is now called Morgan Olson and they now build aluminum-bodied walk-in vans using Ford, Freightliner and Workhorse (formerly GM) chassis. Unfortunately Grumman and Grumman-Olson never built a non-postal market for the smaller delivery van, and unlike the Pentagon, no-one at the Postal services considered that one day they’d need to replace their current fleet. They’re lucky to have the Transit Connect now. 1200 vans is a nice boost, but it’s hardly going to make an impact on output on production in Turkey or Romania. Spread out over a year it’s not going to have much impact on North American sales either.

  28. Andrew Charles Says:

    I have to admit I’ve been guilty of pedal misapplication once myself. Of course driving a manual I had my left foot down on the clutch at the time so other than revving the engine for half a second and having to brake a little harder to make up for the extra feet I traveled in that time, nothing happened (lift off the gas, coast, apply clutch and whoops, THAT’s the brake).

    These people in automatics who are driving along a road and then hit the wrong pedal, where is their right foot before they try to brake? Clearly not over the gas or they’d know they have to move it to the left in order to brake. How many have been tapping it on the floor in time to the music, or resting it against the center console, so that when it comes to brake they just make a stab in the dark?

  29. Mike Says:

    The bottom line is that we need facts. So far we don’t know for sure if any of this “acceleration” stuff genuinely happened or not. We can speculate on missed pedals, diabetic problems, genuine software or hardware defects and so on, but until someone somehow comes up with a way to document a real event; well we just don’t have anything. What we need are black boxes with the capacity to monitor the vehicle for an hour before the crash. Yup that costs money, but it might be the only way to truly know.

  30. paulstewart Says:

    Mike’s right.

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Thanks John, for bringing Krafcik down. I have been thinking about that Piston all day. We Hyundai owners/hardcore non-conformists really appreciate it. I called a lot of troops up for the show last night.

  32. dcars Says:

    I have no sympathy for toyota. They wanted to be “America” car company.

  33. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hey John,

    KIA is playing around with a Racing program. You should see some of the stuff they have done with Fortes.

    Maybe you and Peter can get Michael Sprague CEO KIA Motors America, and ask him about racing?

  34. Otterbruce Says:

    Where does the weekly trivia question get posted. I can’t seem to find it anywhere on the website. And I never hear it in advance during the daily podcasts.

  35. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Certaninly not nothing, and it was used as an example, but 25 grams (from a piston, in a production car) is hardly ‘that’ noteworthy. Twenty five grams is approximately 0.9 ounces (times four equal just less than a 1/4 pound). Even, in reciprocating mass, it’s just a ‘so what’ in an engine moving at, let’s say, 6000 rpm. Now, if we are talking a F1 engine (traveling at 19,000 rpms; not we’re talking). So, putting it bluntly; still not a fan.

  36. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Mike Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    The bottom line is that we need facts”

    Yes, Mike is absolutely Right, We do need facts!

    OMG, I find myself agreeing with Paulstewart. What is WRONG with me?

    Seriously, I agree with Mike because

    ABC needed facts before their premature and disgraceful show, wcich killed brian Ross’s career, where they asked some lowly faculty at some third-tier U to CONCOCT data that did NOT exist on the vehicles in Question, and as was proven later, could not possibly exist!!!!!

  37. Nick Stevens Says:

    Cars will never be totally idiot-proof, irresponsible-proof, panic-proof, uneducated driver-proof (we need 100 hours of driver’s ed if we want to see 10,000 less deaths every YEAR in traffic accidents).

    It had been widely known in EXPERT cycles that most failures in all of engineering is HUMAN ERROR of one kind or another, in the general sense, 100% of it is human error, even if the operator was 100% correct, there may have been an error in the assembly line or even in the design.

    Wasting many $1000s more on the already ridiculously high prrices of cars in the US and especially in Europe will not improve safety significantly, but investing in driver ed, and making sure that we are serious about drivers READING THE DAMNED MANUAL before they torn on the key in the new car, will save millions of lives (fatalities and injuries) in the long term

  38. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I found that the old postal vans are lighter than a Transit Connect at 3,000# according to Wiki and a post office museum site. They are, as I thought, aluminim body. They are called Grumman LLV (long life vehicle) and cost about 10K each when the first ones were bought in 1987.”

    make it $20k- $30k today. (I paid $7,300 for a four door Sunbird new in 83 with some options.)

    The question is what is the MPG? and the total lifetime cost? They are very boxy, they usually are around town so that may not be too bad fro their average actual MPG. But $10k in 87 sounds reasonable. Despite that, the Post office ma naged to lose billions every year since then.. Maybe we should ask the Government to also take over health care. Yes, that’s the ticket!

    PS if most Mail trucks are 20 and 25 years old now, (replaced evcery 24 or 30 years as you say), the Govt is a big-ass hypocrite to talk about pollution and co2 emissions from cars and all that, when the truck in their own fleet pollutes 10 times more than the average new car, and, what’s worse, does not pollute the liddle of nowhere, as i do when I drive on the Turnpikes, but the middle of towns and big cities!.

    If mail carriers should not be hybrids, and plug-in hybrids at that, I don’t know what should. FEDEX and/or UPS has done it with their trucks, so the Post Office should be able to do it too.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “the Post office ma naged to lose billions every year since then..”

    They get about a tenth as much business from me as they did ten years ago. I pay all my bills electronically, and I haven’t sent a “real” letter in years. Maybe the postal system hasn’t done a good job of down sizing to the electronic mail age.

    I haven’t heard what USPS plans to replace the Grumman vans with, but they may very well buy hybrids or electrics. The regenerative braking of a hybrid would truly be in it’s realm for delivering mail on suburban roads where they stop at a mail box every 150 or 200 feet.

  40. HtG Says:

    Nick, perhaps you guessed that I have taken/been sent to one of those defensive driver weekend courses. What they said again, and again, and…. Was that driver distraction was the most significant cause of accidents. This is bad news, since there are ever more electronic toys to tend to in the car. Have you ever observed the twenty something in your rear view mirror come to a stop at a red light, then right away start texting?

    One interesting thing I remember from the course was that during inclement weather, accidents actually decline, since drivers are very vigilant and focused on driving.

    It was speeding for me. I hope that’s what you were thinking.

  41. HtG Says:

    From a CNN story on the Prius crash in NY comes this sentence. The driver said she was stepping on the brake. “The statement suggests the driver may have been stepping on the accelerator, instead of the brake, as she told police.”

    The link…
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/03/19/prius.investigation/index.html?hpt=Sbin

    So, the EDR shows she was not on the brake at the instant of the crash, and she said she was on the brake; meaning she was pressing at least one pedal.

    I say driver error in NY.

  42. Nick Stevens Says:

    The housekeeper in NY was a sure case of driver error. I don’t think anybody serious has challenged that. (emphasis on serious)

  43. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# HtG Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Nick, perhaps you guessed that I have taken/been sent to one of those defensive driver weekend courses. ”

    No, I don’t even know what these are. But I remember once when I was in the Losd Angeles Area back in 88, was late for a meetign and was speeding in a Dodge Shadow i rented from Alamo for a week, was doing 85 in a 55 limit CA then, the cop followed me fro 6 miles but wrote me for 75, back then it was a $100 or so ticket, and if I stayed in CA I would have been able to pay $0 by taking a class or two. I paid it from my modest $150 honorarium for a tal at UC Santa barbara, and after taxes the $150 evaporated, of course.

    ” What they said again, and again, and…. Was that driver distraction was the most significant cause of accidents.”

    I’d believe that.

    ” This is bad news, since there are ever more electronic toys to tend to in the car. Have you ever observed the twenty something in your rear view mirror come to a stop at a red light, then right away start texting?”

    I don’t even want to hear about it. I should pay more attention to what the other drivers are doing. I have plenty of active and passive safety in my large german V8, and if one of these texting punks in their escort coupe (they still are some of them around) huits me, he or she will be lucky to be alive.

    I remember back in the 80s a local collision between a chevette (!) and a Merc 300, the Chevette driver did not survive.

    Our secretary (since retired) in her Mercury was hit by an SUV driven by some clown who was shaving and driving! She broke all kinds of bon es and stayed at the hospital for weeks, then got another ugly-ass Sable!

    “One interesting thing I remember from the course was that during inclement weather, accidents actually decline, since drivers are very vigilant and focused on driving.”

    I’d doubt that, from my experience, I always hear accident reports when it first snows etc, so I’m not sure.

    “It was speeding for me. I hope that’s what you were thinking.”

    I wasn’t thinking about anything. The two tickets I got the last 20 or so years were at low speeds, local speed traps, when the limit changes from 45 to 35 and if you are doing 55 or so, they get you. I never got a ticket for really speeding as going 90 and 100 on the freeways here (limit 70) or on the Penna Turnpike while on long trips.

    When I was in germany I got a ticket for speeding too, of course not on the Autobahns but on a country road on a sundey afternoon for going 90 KPH (50 MPH) instead of.. 80. It was very small (20 marks, about 12 bucks) and by photo, and I paid it right away while my colleagues there thought I could avoid paying it. And another was paid by my passenger when crossing into EAst germany to go west, we stopped an east German cop and asked for directions, and instead he gave my passenger a ticket for not wearing his belt. And the thing is he only took off his belt for one minute to grab a map in the back seat. I explained this to the cop and asked him to overlook the ticket, but he stood in attention and informed me that he cannot do that, based on Article so and so paragraph so and so of some traffic code.

  44. Nick Stevens Says:

    HtG: My comments were general and I was not thinking of anybody in this forum when i wrote them. My basic points are that a $1 spent on more hours of Teen Driver’s ed will save us far more $ than the same $ invested in extra safety systems on board a car, which even for the least expensive cars, they have plenty.

  45. Nick Stevens Says:

    I agree to grant the US post office its recent request to not deliver mail on Saturday.

    In fact, given the unreliability of the post office, I would not care if they only deliver regular mail three times a week only, Mo-Wed-Fri. Some have even suggested only a day a week if it saves it sufficient billions per year.

  46. Nick Stevens Says:

    ” The Canadian post office went through a competitive bidding process to select a new vehicle that included total lifecycle costs, which favored the relatively fuel efficient Transit Connect that’s rated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway by the EPA. One of the key selling points of the Transit Connect is its fuel efficiency advantage over full-size vans.

    Canada Post will buy 1,175 Transit Connects this year as part of its fleet modernization effort, which makes it the largest single order yet for the Transit Connect in Canada. Canada Post currently uses the same small box vans as the U.S. Postal Service.”

    However, the 1,200 or less vehicles represent one measly month of sales of the Connect in the US, and, to put it in perspective, less than three days of sales of the Chevy Equinox, which, even in this dismal market, sold almost 10,000 vehicles in February, one of the slowest months of the year.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    “I agree to grant the US post office its recent request to not deliver mail on Saturday.”

    I agree too, that there is no reason for Saturday delivery.

    “In fact, given the unreliability of the post office, I would not care if they only deliver regular mail three times a week only,”

    I have never experienced “unreliability” with the post office. If any of my mail has ever been lost, it was somethng that didn’t matter anyway. As far as one day a week delivery, doing that would add tens of thousands more to the unemployment roles, so is not likely to happen.

    It seems like most people want mail service to stay like it is, with Saturday delivery, yet people complain about the price of postage. In central Indiana where I spend summers, a frequent topic of “letters to the editor” in the local newspaper is the possibility of closing post offices in towns with populations of about 100. Closing these post offices would save money, but the people in the tiny towns want their post office.

  48. HtG Says:

    Kit, I think you’ve hit the problem squarely. Delivering mail to rural districts is a money loser for USPS, but by law there has to be an office in every zip code in the country. If USPS were free to act like a business a lot of those offices would go away. I kind of like it when I find a post office in the local convenience store, though.

    As for Saturday delivery, I wonder if it makes sense to maintain special delivery, since one can charge lots for it.

  49. Nick Stevens Says:

    “I have never experienced “unreliability” with the post office”

    I have experienced plenty of errors, sometimes costly to me. I frequently receive my neigbor’s mail (My no ends in 3 and hers in 5), or the mail of somebody with the same number in a totally different street, and I bet they get mine all the time!

    But what i was thinking is that it would not hurt anybody to wait one extra day, NOR does the Post office guarantee next day delivery for any regular air mail, not even for more expensive priority mail. SO what is the big deal if instead of getting your mail on Tue, you get it on Wed???

    For me it would make ZERO difference, and for the Post office it would save BILLIONS a year.

    The Government is not a Phony Job-makinmg mechanism. The first priority should be to pay down our national debt, that should strentghen the US dollar world-wide (right now we have been threatened to lose our AAA credit rating if we do not shape up!).

    That should lower interest rates from what they would otherwise be, and enable small business, which is the by far biggest jobs growth engine in the US economy, to regain confidence in the Economy and start hiring again.

    So far this administration has done NOTHING to help small business and everything possible to hurt it, incl, the wasteful, poorly written, health care bill, which will pass only with huge $300 million bribes to shameless Porky Pigs and Petunia Pigs, like Landrieu of LA (who also looks the part), and bankrupt this nation.

  50. Nick Stevens Says:

    And the higher taxes on families earning over 200 or 250 k will hurt not just affluent middle class professionals, but also, and more importantly, small business owners who file income tax and not corporate etc.

    With poorly thought out or intentionally bad policies like these, the unemployemtn rate will never recover, and at best will stay at 10% for years before barely declining to 8%… a far cry from what it was in the 90s AND the 2001-2008!

  51. paulstewart Says:

    Morning Nick Stevens who do you believe will be the Republican nominee for Gov. for the great State of Michigan ? Just curious.

  52. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# HtG Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Kit, I think you’ve hit the problem squarely. Delivering mail to rural districts is a money loser for USPS, but by law there has to be an office in every zip code in the country.”

    There are many ways to save $, either by repealing those laws, but even if you do not, by curtailing delivery etc. ALSO, there are other ways, in rural areas when there is not much traffic, many people have more than one job, their regular job and their part-time public job that raises or lowers a local bridge etc.

    ” If USPS were free to act like a business a lot of those offices would go away. I kind of like it when I find a post office in the local convenience store, though”

    Then YOU, not I, should pay for it. In this elecrtronic age we should be able to differentiate mail going to a rural low-volume area than a large city. We can also raise the price of a stamp to $1, $2 or even $5, and the way the US dollar is going, we will get there before you know it anyway. I remember when the stamp was 3 cents, now it is 14 TIMES as much at 42 cents!

    How much is 14 times 42 cents? 3*14^2=about $6!

    That is fair. Those who don’t like it can email. Even if they do not have a computer, their public library does..

  53. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# paulstewart Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Morning Nick Stevens who do you believe will be the Republican nominee for Gov. for the great State of Michigan ? Just curious.”

    Hi Paul, I have not had time to follow that. I only see the ads of the “Nurd” guy on TV, the Gateway fellow, Snider? And he would be a huge improvement over the politicians, and esp. the clueless Granholm.

    WHo else is running? Is that Amway billionaire running again? (De Vos)

  54. Nick Stevens Says:

    Also, believe it or not, I am a registered Dem, have been all my life, even if I am quite conservartive in econs matters. I do not know if the primary is open (then i can also vote in it even tho a Dem) or when it will be. Do you?

  55. paulstewart Says:

    I’m giving Snider serious consideratiom. No, I’m pretty sure the Amway guy isn’t. I’ll wait till the smoke clears to see who’s left standing. Have a good weekend

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “That should lower interest rates from what they would otherwise be, and enable small business, which is the by far biggest jobs growth engine in the US economy,”

    No one ever seems to say it, but while low interest rates are good for those who want to borrow, they are not a panacea for everyone. My parents were a prime example of this in the late 70′s and early 80′s. They had no debt, and had recently inherited a modest amount of money in the “bad days” of high interest rates. They were able to put it in bank CD’s at 12-14%. While “official” inflation numbers were very high at the time, inflation of what they bought was much lower than what they were earning on bank CD’s. Now, one has no choice but to gamble with your savings by putting it in stocks and mutual funds, since safe, insured savings pay so poorly.

  57. HtG Says:

    Kit, I believe you have revealed the Fed’s master plan. But consider, the FDIC bumped up the insured deposit limit to 250,000 just to keep the banks from going TU. And that money market? Thanks Hank!

  58. Nick Stevens Says:

    I took full advantage of these extreme interest rates in the first years of the Reagan Admin, where Paul Volker took extreme measures to tame inflation.

    I had my first savings in 4-year CDs yielding that much ,and only in 86 when the rates fell did I get into stocks and mutual funds etc.

    While the current interest rates are too low, 12-14% rates for sure thing returns are not sustainable. It makes aero sense for the risk free rate to be 12-14% and they will never be that high again for any serious length of time.

  59. Andrew Charles Says:

    Kit, low interest rates do hurt people living off their savings, but when bank CD’s make a good investment, something has gone very wrong indeed with the economy. Unfortunately I think you’ve reached a critical point in the US economy where too many good-paying jobs for “working” people have disappeared. Industrial and in particular manufacturing jobs. These are jobs that can’t be replaced through “retraining”. There are only so-many “high-tech” jobs and very few unskilled or even skilled workers who can retrain as engineers, programmers and medical personnel. Unless you get industry back, you’re done for. Blame governments at all levels, blame retailers always looking to cut costs with “cheap” products, blame the financiers who don’t understand logistics, lean production and “time to market”. For crying out loud I can buy a stainless steel professional grade US-made pair of kitchen tongs for less than the cheap tin-plated Chinese-made tongs I see in the supermarket or Kmart. Think about it a moment—the cheaper an item, the more critical shipping costs are in the overall price. Even for the most expensive items that can be imported—a car—shipping costs far outweigh any labor savings. According to Harbour, it takes less than 30 hours to build a car in the US. Even at $40 an hour, that’s just $1200 on labor to build in the US. How much does it cost to ship a car from Asia? Even without hidden expenses such as currency hedging and the finance cost of the time it takes to ship across the Pacific, it has to be several hundred dollars per vehicle (assuming the boat doesn’t sink as happened to Mazda not long ago—you can understand why they switched European deliveries to the Trans-Siberian railway). Sorry, most of your savings in Chinese assembly have just gone up in diesel smoke (and there’s another unpredictable shipping cost local assembly avoids—the price of the extra fuel required). The first company to import Chinese cars to Europe had to give up, not simply because of the shocking crash tests, but because they could not compete on price with European-built Skodas and Kias (to be blunt for a model with similar size and power you could buy even an Opel or Ford for less money and cut your fuel costs by 30% as well).

  60. Nick Stevens Says:

    I meant ZERO sense.

    When risky stock returns are 11% or less long term (the last decade was.. 0%!), risk free retes can not be higher than that!

  61. Nick Stevens Says:

    There were many “good paying jobs” that were not good or challenging jobs in the past, but this will change, and I am not necessarily sad that it will.

    People have pointed out how ludicrous it was for a janitor at Delphi to make $64 an hour. Then Delphi went broke, and the US taxpayer saved GM’s ass from also going broke, while its barely skilled workers keep costing the nation $50, if not the old $73 an hour, benefits included,

    How much sense does it make for a Mcdonald’s worker’s or a $25,000 a year secretary’s taxes to prop up the fat cats at UAW? NONE. But Obama owes them, they funded his campaign to the tune of tens of millions, many against their will (they are not all dems or obama fa ns!!), so it was payback time, with OUR $.

    The problem in the US is that we used to RULE the World after WW II but we (not I at all, but the average person) SQUANDERED their earnings by li ving beyond their means, carrying OBSCENE amounts of credit card debt at punitive interest rates, and the like.

    IF these people were SAVING even HALF of what the Chinese have saves in all their history, they would be able to INVEST in all the promising emerging markets, retire at 50 or even earlier, and enjoy the fruits of their investments. With many retired, the ones lookin for a job would easily find one.

    ALso, many of these jobs are manual, unchallenging and repetitive. MANY of them can be done by ROBOTS that are far better AND cheaper than either illegal immigrants OR overseas $1 an hour poor devils. AND even if the Government ousts the illegals and forbids the export of jobs, those companies that will still bother to operate in the US, will sure use automation to the HILT.

    ALSO, there is no reason people should work 40 hour weeks, there should be the flexibility for those who just need a fraction of their incomes to work 35, 30 and 20 hour weeks, and enjoy their short lives the rest of the time.

  62. Nick Stevens Says:

    I advised a project with THE major/global US pharma company in 04, and we were shown machines that, with just one worker supervising them, made 500,000 pills an hour. I asked them, how many pills an hour wass one machine making 20 years ago? And they said, 25,000! With also one worker supervising it.

    This means that with NO illegal aliens taking anybody’s job, and also with NO outsourcing of any of these jobs, Automation and TEchnical progress eliminated 19 out of 20, or 95% of these jobs.

    Fortunately, there are many other jobs that are far more challenging and skilled that were always created when society progressed to far better and efficient technology.

  63. Nick Stevens Says:

    Andrew Charles wrote:

    “Even for the most expensive items that can be imported—a car—shipping costs far outweigh any labor savings. ”

    That is not true. I can assure you that transporting goods across the ocean, whether containerized or especially in BULK (ores, grains, oil) i sdirt-cheap per ton-mile of cargo.

    If you measure the MPG (ton-miles of cargo per gallon) for the biggest, most efficient tankers and dry bulk ships, they are as high as 12,000 TMCPG!!!

    Transportation cost is a tiny fraction of most goods’ cost, except the very cheapest, worthless goods (like ordinary STONES!).

    Especially for containerships, a 9 ton container could carry $500,000 worth of Digital Cameras, for example. How much do you think it costs to transport this container across the Atlantic or Pacific? PEANUTS! At 12,000, even at 5,000 Ton-miles per gallon, the fuel cost would be a laughable 10-30 gallons for the half-million $, 10 ton cargo, and the total transport cost would not be more than 3 times that.

  64. Nick Stevens Says:

    Filled the tank w gas today, and just found out that that station is still the lowest prices in a 20-mile radius ($2.86 for mid-grade; I also get a 5% AAA visa Discount)

    The station was not on my way, I had to drive an extra 2-3 miles each way, but I wanted to reward them (it was a Speedway station) even if my savings were minor.

    Prices are getting up there…last time I had paid only $2.50 or so..but that was.. on Feb 21!

  65. Nick Stevens Says:

    (I put $57 worth, the tank was almost empty..yesterday i only had a range of 13 miles left, so I put $10 at $2.95 from the nearest station (another Speedway) just so I did not run out of gas.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens writes:

    “ALSO, there is no reason people should work 40 hour weeks, there should be the flexibility for those who just need a fraction of their incomes to work 35, 30 and 20 hour weeks, and enjoy their short lives the rest of the time.”

    If we had universal health care like the rest of the developed world, flexible hours with short work weeks for those who don’t need a lot of money would be a viable option. As it is, people have to fight for “full time” status to have a chance of getting partially paid medical insurance. We need a health care system which goes way beyond the bills now being argued in Congress. Different European countries (and Canada and Japan) have different systems of providing universal health care, and all of them are far better than our non-system which mainly lines the pockets of CEO’s and bureaucrats in the health insurance business.

  67. Andrew Charles Says:

    As far as fuel goes, shipping is cheap, but you also have to pay to cover crew costs, repay the capital investment in the ship, lease costs for the container, insurance etc. Digital cameras are relatively expensive. A half million dollars of digital cameras takes up no more room than $50,000 worth of toasters. The cheaper and bulkier your cargo, the more costly per unit the cost of container alone. Three or four weeks across the pacific, a week or two across the Atlantic, plus however long you are sitting at on the dock at either end. Larger, more efficient ships can help defray the increase in other expenses, but container hire may be your biggest expense, and isn’t going to change much unless you can cut transit times by finding a closer, more efficient port. FastShip hoped that by cutting delivery times from France to New Jersey they could make up for the increased fuel costs of a smaller lighter ship. More for shipping, balanced by half as much in container hire (plus being a week closer to your market helps your response times to fluctuations in weather, fuel prices etc.). There are plenty of companies that have wound up going out of business because they underestimated the hidden costs of transferring production to “cheaper” plants overseas.

    Cars however aren’t high-density, containerized cargo. They are low-density, relatively delicate cargo, shipping in relatively small ships and taking up a lot of space. They are inherently expensive to ship, no matter what the fuel savings of shipping by water (especially when you can just float them down river). They’re also a cargo that can easily capsize and sink a ship in bad weather, or sustain major damage, if chains snap and the cargo shifts. It seems at least one ship goes down this way every year, so insurance isn’t cheap.

  68. Andrew Charles Says:

    Healthcare isn’t an easy thing to pay for anywhere. As far as costs go, the US is probably the worst per capita, but universal healthcare is not a panacea. The common complaint of public hospitals is long waiting lists for non-emergency surgery (several months is not uncommon, over a year is not unheard of), inadequate staff and decaying infrastructure. The solution almost everywhere is to close hospitals, cut staff and kick patients out the door as soon as they can be moved. If that means you’re in an ambulance for an hour instead of 5 minutes, tough. If it means you’re waiting in emergency for 6 hours before you even see a doctor and 12 before they can find you a bed, tough. Stop wasting taxpayers’ time and money and just die already.

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Andrew Charles Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    “Healthcare isn’t an easy thing to pay for anywhere. As far as costs go, the US is probably the worst per capita,”

    The US has by far the highest per capita health care costs in the world, almost 50% higher than France, which is second highest. See: http://seekingalpha.com/article/146992-comparing-u-s-healthcare-spending-with-other-oecd-countries

    The data on this site is for 2007, but the cost ranking would not have changed much since then.

    In spite of the high health care expenditure in the US, by measurable health care results, we are far from the best nation in the world.

  70. Nick Stevens Says:

    “If we had universal health care like the rest of the developed world, ”

    FIRST of all, the rest if the world does not spend (really waste) an OBSCENE percentage of the GDP on health care, even if it is government provided.

    The proposed HC legislation does NOTHING to curb the costs, both the costs of unnecessary “defensive medicine” tests perscribed for fear of the LAWYERS, and the US is far more infested with these infernal no-good leeches than ANY other nation, and also nothing to curb the RIDICULOUS Hospitalizations costs, that are so huge because SOMEBODY ELSE IS PAYING, as always. Items that you can buy for $1 or even $0.50 at your pharmacy are chargesd to you for $20 in the hospital!

    The proposed HC reform is one of the most poorly thought out pieces, and will BANKRUPT this nation.

    In addition, you cannot have somebody ELSE pay for yoru health costs and YOU are not held responsible for your terrible eating, drinking and exercise habits. If we currently have an obesity and alcoholism and drugs epidemic, wait until these clowns are treated for free, what incentive will they have to make sacrifices and live healthy? this just does not add up!

    FINALLY, I’d rather PAY to have the best HC System in the WORLD, rather than destroy it and have nowhere to go if I fall seriousli nill, since TODAY all these so-called advanced industrial nations with ‘free” (you get what you pay for!) health care, when their Prime Mimisters fall seriously ill, they come HERE for treatment. Most recent case, the PM of CANADA.

  71. Nick Stevens Says:

    Andrew Charles:

    I gave you examples at BOTH ends of the spectrum, BOTH the dirt-cheap cargoes (oil, at $1000 or less a ton, or even cheaper, iron ore and coal), AND the digital cameras at $500,000 a ton. The car example is utterly insignificant and, at $20,000-40,000 a ton, falls right in between. Fuel costs are a HUGE part of the total cost of transport for any ship, and when oil prices are high they can be 70% of the total cost of transport!

    it is so INDISPUTABLE that Transportation costs are negligible compared to the value of the items transported, that International Free Trade Theory ASSUMES that they are ZERO, and exercises that add it show that it makes LITTLE DIFFERENCE.

    The above has been known for decades, if not centuries, BTW.

  72. Nick Stevens Says:

    “In spite of the high health care expenditure in the US, by measurable health care results, we are far from the best nation in the world.”

    We are the best in QUALITY of care provided but worst in PREVENTION, due to terrible, car-based lifestyles with little exercise, lifestyles where people sit in front of the TV instead of walking to their neighbors, go to a museum etc. Blame the god-awful Suburbs for that, and the automobile of course, which made them possible.

    People are nutritionally illiterate, most packaged foods are grossly overpriced crap, laden with salt to make it palatable, he nce more disease, high blood pressure etc.

    I watch the people in front of me every Saturday at the supermarket and am amazed by their ignorance.

    Even the NIH and the FDA does not educate people how bad BUTTER is, for example, and how good OLIVE OIL is by comparison. And as long as the dairy lobbyists infest WASh DC, they are not going to change.

  73. pedro fernandez Says:

    Spent most of yesterday shopping for cars and was surprised to see most dealers were actually selling and stock was low on the best mpg vehicles. What’s up with these companies, now people want to buy and they have little stock. Kia was almost depleted and so was Mazda.

  74. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think these hoodlums maybe keeping high mpg, lower priced stock low to push buyers into more expensive lower mpg vehicles. We were steered into cars that were almost $10k more than the budget we had told them, and then it was: “it will only add a few more $ to your monthly payment but you’ll be glad you did, plus I can get you a bigger discount than with the one you were looking for” We just walked out. Buying a new car SUCKS

  75. pedro fernandez Says:

    If it was up to me I’d go for carsdirect.com, no haggles, no pushy misinformed salesmen, no pressure. But some folks just relish that old-fashioned car buying experience , I guess.

  76. Nick Stevens Says:

    Did you at least get to test drive anything you liked?

    PS Why bother with mazda? You might as well look at Fords and get a more serious vehicle without the gaping mouths up front and the silly zoom-zoom kid in the ads.

  77. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nick: with a $20k budget and seating for 6 there are not many choices out there, the Mazda 5 is the only car that fits that bill, we tried the Equinox, thought it was great, had to remind myself it was a Chevy vehicle, maybe we can find a used one for $20k. By the way all these freaking dealers are badmouthing Toyota to no end, one even asked me: “Why would you put your family’s life in danger by even test driving a Toyota?” He must have thought I was some stupid spic or something. The trans in the Equinox is made in Korea, I don’t get that at all.

  78. HtG Says:

    Pedro, a story you may like was told to me by my father twenty years ago. A pair of surgeons he knew went to the local Cadillac dealer to check out a car. The salesman treated them poorly like a couple of Goombas (these two surgeons would kid each other about their Goombaness too). Anyway, they got pissed, called the manager, and Bada-Bing, the saleman got fired!

  79. Nick Stevens Says:

    Pedro,

    A lot of Chevys sold around the world are daewoos made in korea (and mexico for the aveo). I am not surprised that they outsourced parts of the Equinox there.

    You are right about the mazda 5, if you need room for 6 etc.

    Your budget is twice what mine was when I bought the 740iL in 05 for $10.5k!

    Do you really have to buy new? You can buy anything used (or off-lease with some warranty) for $20k.

    MArch sales are shaping up well, up 25% over last march depressed levels. March is usually a strong month and Feb is not, plus Feb is 3 day sshorter, so comparing MAr 10 with Feb 10, as John likes to do, will have him cheerleading and claiming the end of the auto recession etc.

  80. Nick Stevens Says:

    Once my BMW dealer overcharged me for labor to insert wiper blades (at the Honda Dealer they inserted them for free) and afterwards I complained about it when they sent me an email to see if I was happy with the service. Based on my complaint, the dealership changed its policy and now charges only $10 (nothing for them) instead of the $32 they charged me (plus the parts!). They also refunded the $22 diff. on my credit card.

  81. pedro fernandez Says:

    The car is for my sister and she’s afraid of buying used, although we’re looking at an 09 Equinox, very low miles and just under her max budget. The salesman with the scare tactics happened to be a Hyundai dealer. They were all gloating about how they’re killing Toyota, for a moment I thought it was our own smokey dude.

  82. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 21st, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    “PS Why bother with mazda? You might as well look at Fords and get a more serious vehicle without the gaping mouths up front and the silly zoom-zoom kid in the ads.”

    If I were shopping for something to replace my Malibu Maxx, Mazda would have two cars I’d consider, the Mazda3 hatch and the Mazda5, while Ford has NOTHING that I’d consider. That might change when the new Focus arrives in hatch form. It will be a while before I’m ready to replace the Malibu, so I can hope the availability of cars I like will improve by then.

  83. Nick Stevens Says:

    There is also the 5-door Elantra, which may be well below Pedro’s $20k limit. The Mazda Styling is a big turn-off for me. Too flaky and the grill is atrocious.

    The new Focus looks good but will be expensive, more than the outgoing long in the tooth primitive focus designed and sold in the 90s essentially. They may bring the wagon too.

  84. Nick Stevens Says:

    A colleague here likes SUVS and leases them despite their atrocious MPG (his Trailbazed got 15 MPG overall). He then bought a Hummer H3 with the wimpy engine (a 5-cyl?), a god-awful looking box in black, but he liked it, it even got better MPG than the Trailblazer, and today he told me he bought it before the end of the lease.

    I asked him how much he paid, he told me that after $9.500 of payments, he paid another $21,000.

    Keep in mind this is NOT the Big Hummer H1 or even the h2, but the really fake Hummer, the h3.

    $30,500 for this utter POS?

    COme on, this explains why almost nobody buys new any more. It is ludicrous that I can buy a car TRULY fit for a king (or at least a prime minister) for $10,000, looking and driving like NEW, which sells new for 100,000, just because it is 7 years old and has 110k miles. I don’t do many miles per year, so there is NO point in buying new or a recent year.

  85. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 22nd, 2010 at 8:18 am

    “There is also the 5-door Elantra, which may be well below Pedro’s $20k limit. The Mazda Styling is a big turn-off for me. Too flaky and the grill is atrocious.”

    Golf and Jetta wagon are other cars I like. I don’t like the “new” Mazda styling either, and my guess is that the huge, smiley grill will go away after, at most, two model years.

    The Hummer H3 you describe has 5/6 of a TrailBlazer engine.

  86. Nick Stevens Says:

    Back in 2007 when Carbon Motors announced it would build the first purpose-designed police vehicle, the spec sheet called for a twin-turbocharged inline-six cylinder diesel engine.

    As any existing automaker will tell you, certifying a diesel engine to meet current U.S. emissions regulations is no trivial matter, so Carbon Motors would likely have to find a supplier with an engine already certified.

    But the number of companies currently selling passenger car diesels in the U.S. can be counted on one hand with some fingers to spare.

    At a press conference in Washington D.C. on Monday morning, BMW and Carbon Motors announced that the German automaker would supply its highly regarded 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder diesel for these new police vehicles. Carbon has placed an order for 240,000 units of the same diesel engine used in the BMW X5 35d and 335d. In current U.S. emissions legal form, the diesel produces 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque.

    Powered by the BMW diesel, the Carbon E7 is expected to achieve up to a 40-percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to current police vehicles.”

    Great Engine, but 240,000 orders??? They seem very oprimistic, for a niche vehicle maker!

  87. pedro fernandez Says:

    Went to see the Elantra touring but the fact that they were getting msrp plus for that thing made me get up and walk out. also the constant barrage against Honda/Toyota by the sales guy was more than I could stomach. I simply asked him: If this car is so advanced as you claim, why is it lacking a 5 speed transmission in 2010? he said that would bring the price up and most people don’t care about that. Well informed shoppers do, however. Among the BS was that Hyundai is on above those 2 in reliability studies, which is false of course.

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:

    “Great Engine, but 240,000 orders??? They seem very oprimistic, for a niche vehicle maker!”

    Any word on how much they would cost? I’d think they would be very pricey.

  89. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If the Carbon police cars would last twice as long as other cars, the price, whatever it is, might not be so bad. They seem to make those purpose-built postal vans last a long time, partly because of the aluminum body which the Carbon has/will have/might have.

  90. Chris W Says:

    1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams, 25 grams is not even 1 ounce, not really that important from what I can tell

  91. Roy Says:

    I’ve made this comment on an earlier autoline daily, but it is virtually impossible to accidentally hit the gas when you intend to brake if you brake with your left foot and use your right foot only for the gas. You only need to use your right foot for gas and brake if you have a manual transmission with a clutch.

  92. Roy Says:

    Why in the heck do we need a “metric horsepower” (PS) unit when the metric system already has Watts or kW? If you’re making a new arbitrary unit anyway and using kgf for a force unit rather than N then why not define PS as 76kgf.m/s instead of 75kgf.m/s? (76kgf.m/s is 99.95% of 1HP while 75kgf.m/s is only 98.63% of 1HP). For reference 1HP = 0.7456996kW so that 592HP McLaren MP4-12C produces about 441kW with a mass-to-power ratio of 2.92kg/kW.