• Dec 31, 2007
Between top X lists and hastily written end-of-the-year musings, the final day of 2007 is looking a lot like last year's run of retrospectives. Although some of the stories are different, many of the players have remained the same, so Tom Walsh from the Freep shot out a dozen emails to some of the leaders in his home state to get their predictions and hopes for the New Year.
The General's CEO, Rick Wagoner, echoes the sentiments of many in the auto industry, with hopes that the housing crisis is resolved post haste, while Ford's Mark Fields wishes that "we don't continually talk ourselves into a recession in 2008." Fields either wants to see or is predicting that "cars and crossovers will outsell trucks and SUVs for the first time in many years" and with gas prices holding steady at their current rates, that's a distinct possibility.

Both execs hope that comprehensive reform of the United States' energy policy takes effect, but the every quotable Bob Lutz takes the curmudgeon cake, saying, "Now that we have the 35 miles-per-gallon fuel economy mandate by 2020, I am hoping that in 2008 'Professor Doktor' David Friedman (research director, clean vehicles program, Union of Concerned Scientists) and his 'highly-qualified' band of allegedly concerned, self-proclaimed scientists will turn their energy toward showing the world's automotive industry exactly how those numbers, using existing technology and 'costs of a few hundred dollars at the most' can be attained with a vehicle selection that even remotely resembles the cars and trucks Americans want to buy today."

While on the cusp of another year, it's nice to know that some things will never change.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lutz simply says it the way it is.

      "OK, you told us what you want, now being the scientists and politicians that gave us the mandate, show us how and by the way how about funding to help us reach your mandate."

      "He just has to use his vast brain power and sell those 35 mpg vehicles instead of gas guzzling SUVs."

      Tom, sorry, if the public wants SUV's that's what they will buy.

      Folks like to bitch about fuel prices "OH my god did you see gas is back up 10 cents?"

      On a 40 gallon fill that's 4 bucks, the coffe and bottled water and lottery ticket you bought along with fuel cost more. Give up the lottery ticket (you're not going to win) give up the donut (it's only adding to weight the car has to move) give up the coffee (bring it fom home for pennies on the cup) and stop bitiching about the cost of fuel and mileage.

      Folks drive what they like, size, price and mileage wise.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm wondering if, when push comes to shove, the feds will back off a little and seek a balance between current tech, automaker ability, and customer desires. If not, the auto mix will certainly be significantly different than it is at present. In any event, once again - remembering 1973 - it appears the U.S. mfgrs are poorly placed to compete.

      Since Ethanol has less energy that gas, how does an E85 vehicle fit into this 35MPG group? If the same formula is used this will certainly kill the Ethanol program. I don't think Ethanol has the ability to help much anyway, but the fact remains that for each gallon of corn fuel, one less gallon of gas needs to be imported (and I'm aware of the small return i.e. Ethanol vs. gas)

      How come I never see where our overall oil is used (aircraft/train/military/vehicles/etc)? It seems to me there is a large segment of population and politicians that think the auto/suv is the root of all our fuel woes. I'm willing to bet that greater gains can be made elsewhere with less impact. For example, how about a better rail system to get some more of the 18 wheelers off the highway. I'm just throwing that out because I have not seen figures concerning total consumption and I just don't think this 35 mpg move is going to make the difference some think it will. There has to be other ways that will achieve a greater benefit.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I must have been writing my post as you posted yours... we are kind of on the same wave length. I got a little more fired up though... ha ha Read below.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I expect that if there are huge problems, the Feds will back off. I don't really expect to see that though, but it's there as a backup.

        As to how E85 fits in, it's a joke. They get ridiculous advantage in terms of CAFE. You'll see nearly all cars go E85-capable even though likely no one will put E85 in them.
      Ben K.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Whofan on target! Bullseye, people seem to have forgotten that bit of history. Thanks for reminding us! Politicians try to manage wars, let the military take care of business. Congress needs to let Detroit take the wheel and quit trying to ride shotgun!
      • 7 Years Ago
      MAXIMUM BOB ANGRY!!!

      • 7 Years Ago
      "Now that we have the 35 miles-per-gallon fuel economy mandate by 2020, I am hoping that in 2008 'Professor Doktor' David Friedman (research director, clean vehicles program, Union of Concerned Scientists) and his 'highly-qualified' band of allegedly concerned, self-proclaimed scientists will turn their energy toward showing the world's automotive industry exactly how those numbers, using existing technology and 'costs of a few hundred dollars at the most' can be attained with a vehicle selection that even remotely resembles the cars and trucks Americans want to buy today."

      35mpg is not an unattainable number. And here's a hint: few Americans can afford to buy what they WANT to drive.. they end up buying what they can deal with financially.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The higher-ups just pushed this through because they know we are facing immanent collapse. The Fed printed $90Billion in just the last month to keep the system floating. We will see $200/barrel oil in 2008. Who actually thought we'd see $100/barrel oil in 2007?
        • 7 Years Ago
        This is the scary part. The Fed is printing money like it was, well, paper!

        As the dollar falls, there is less and less chance we will ever see anything less then $3 gas.

        Max Bob needs an Environmentalist on the Board( global warming is happening now - fast ), along with a Fed Watch expert and someone looking at gas consumption in China( and India ).

        Plus, does Bob like being on the side of the terrorists?
      • 7 Years Ago
      "I am hoping that in 2008 'Professor Doktor' David Friedman (research director, clean vehicles program, Union of Concerned Scientists) and his 'highly-qualified' band of allegedly concerned, self-proclaimed scientists will turn their energy toward showing the world's automotive industry exactly how those numbers, using existing technology and 'costs of a few hundred dollars at the most' can be attained with a vehicle selection that even remotely resembles the cars and trucks Americans want to buy today"

      Lutz is soo right about this pinheads who have never built a car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Bob LuLz
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ha, Lutz is an idiot. If all automakers can't figure out how to build cars that Americans will want to buy, are Americans going to stop buying cars?? Lol. "Gee, honey, we need a new car, but since I can't get a cool 3 ton Ford Exploder we're not going to buy anything at all and get a couple of bicycles instead..."
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ok first of all, directed at far jr:
        "Driving a foreign car is more patriotic than driving a domestic"
        explain the lack of logic on this one?

        And at Travis:
        "Gee, honey, we need a new car, but since I can't get a cool 3 ton Ford Exploder..."

        Just fyi an Explorer weighs just about 2.25 tons, or ~4,500 pounds. Get your facts straight. Its a big difference from 6,000 lbs.
        • 7 Years Ago
        god you're dumb. if the american companies stop making the cars people want people will either a) keep their existing car or buy the used car that they want or b) buy the car they want from another manufacturer.

        so it would be more like "Gee, honey, we need a new car, but since I can't get a cool 3 ton Ford Exploder we're going to buy a toyota sequoia instead... or maybe a 2 year old tahoe"
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ok Alex, I'll bite. News flash: Other manufacturers will also have to build cars/trucks that fall under CAFE as well. Are american car companies that stupid as to not be able to offer what americans will want to buy?? So if foreign companies can do it, why can't american manufacturers?

        And to Ben - The Ford Exploder doesn't exist. It's a product of imagination and sarcasm, and is being used as an amalgam of various large, inefficient soccer-mom SUVs. But thanks for correcting me on the fact that the weight of this imaginary vehicle is 25% less than what I said it was.
      Ben K.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Bob, i'm mad too! The do nothing the Congress is telling everybody else how to run their business and they can't even balance the budget. Lame politicians inacting laws, that aren't even up to 21st century standards. Three decades ago CAFE was the best we could come up with and those were the worst cars ever. Now we're stuck with the same old routine. If CAFE is so effective, why haven't Europe and Japan copied us??? They pay twice as much per gallon for fuel! If there were a silver bullet (the 100mpg carb), those countries would be using it right now. Politician's love to jump on the enviromental band wagon, it makes them look concerned about global warming. They can't seem to accomplish any other meaningful legislation. CAFE is used as a political football, to force mandates on consumers and manufacturers. Between CAFE, EPA and the NHTSA, politicaians and enviromentalists have an agenda to impose in order to justify their existence. Domestic manufacturers are already at a huge disadvantage with trade imbalances and currency valuations. On the heels of a massive restructuring, domestic corporations can ill afford expensive and undeveloped technology while trying to stay in business. The auto and housing industry have carried this economy since 9/11. Airlines were bailed out, at taxpayers expense. Yet, no meaningful support from government to achieve these rules. With the subprime mortgage loan crisis, bailouts are being proposed. Why? Our lenders overlooked risky loans, while the government did very little to oversee the situation. Yet, with mounting foreign competition and no let in sight, politicians seem unwilling to support the auto industry. In fact, foreign companies have more pull in D.C.! CAFE and the NHTSA are at odds with each other mpg vs. safety, yet record CAFE fines will be collected by NHTSA for $30 million. Daimler/Chrysler was imposed with the fine for 2007. BMW held the previous record fine in 2001. Neither of these foreign corporations build many trucks or SUV's, yet they had the biggest fines. A conflict of interest exists between the NHTSA and CAFE. We have free trade, despite flawed legislation. Free enterprise should determine market demands, not red tape imposed by a few politicians. Without alternative fuel these goals would never be met. Ethanol, will cut oil comsumption, but the infastructure hasn't kept pace with production. Pumps are still hard to find. Trucks can't average the same mileage as cars. Aerodynamics and weight don't allow for increased mileage. When the technology is cost effective, consumers will gradually shift buying patterns. Not because the government imposed it! The Wright bros., Alexander G. Bell or Benjamin Franklin made discoveries because of desire and hard work. After many disappointments, they finally suceeded. Government intervention didn't create their inventions! Quit breathing down our back, the result could have bad consequences. More layoffs, unemployement benefits, retirement bailouts and picking up the medical tab for all of the workers affected. It's a two way street. Try supporting the industry, like the domestic industry supported our men and women during WW2. Hang in ther Mr. Lutz, i'm on your'e side.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Ben K.
        I believe the Clinton administration paid for the research for the Diesel-Hybrid, which supported the industry, and yet that solution isn't on the road. I wonder why....
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Ben K.
        @ mike - the issue with diesels now is that 1) the EPA still requires diesels to meet a particulate limit, which takes a particulate filter to pass, and 2) aggregate costs of both a hybrid powertrain and a diesel emissions set makes this method a less cost-effective one to add to an existing platform.

        Now with an all-new platform (e.g. the Volt), it may be feasible. I'd like to see how a hybrid can handle the difficult start-stop routine with a diesel - something that's much better suited to gasoline engines.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh there are plenty of cars I would like to buy that wouldn't take much if anything to make 35mpg. Unfortunately for you, GM doesn't make any of them. Maybe you should make other good and desireable vehicles that aren't big soccer mom SUVs and the Corvette.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You haven't been in a modern small car. Try out one soon.

      • 7 Years Ago
      J.Crew touched a good point. Why not go after other types of transportation?

      From Wikipedia about the B-52:

      Boeing suggested re-engining the B-52H fleet with the Rolls-Royce RB211 534E-4. This would involve replacing the eight Pratt & Whitney TF33s (total thrust 8 × 17,000 pound-force or 75.6 kN) with four RB211s (total thrust 4 × 37,400 pound-force or 166.4 kN). The RR engines will increase the range and payload of the fleet and reduce fuel consumption. However, the cost of the project would be significant. Procurement would cost approximately US$2.56 billion (US$36 million × 71 aircraft). A General Accounting Office study of the proposal concluded that Boeing's estimated savings of US$4.7 billion would not be realized. They found that it would cost the Air Force US$1.3 billion over keeping the existing engines.[60] This was subsequently disputed in a Defense Sciences Board report in 2003 and revised in 2004 that identified numerous errors in the prior evaluation of the Boeing proposal, and urged the Air Force to re-engine the aircraft without delay. Further, the DSB report stated the program would save substantial funds, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase aircraft range and endurance, duplicating the results of a Congressionally funded US$3M program office study conducted in 2003.[61]

      I know it's a touchy subject but it amazes me when the greenies go after the auto industry yet don't realize that countries like China pour out tons upon tons of pollution every year....a heck of a lot more than the US. And EVEN MORE than all the cars in this country (and possibly the world) combined. Heck, even our own government refuses to put mandates on coal powered factories. There is technology out there that can significantly clean up the pollution that these factories put out (I have heard numbers up to 95% reductions).
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