• Apr 3rd 2009 at 8:01AM
  • 287
In an attempt to stay politically neutral, we're going to stop short of offering opinions about Rush Limbaugh's recent statements regarding hybrid automobiles and the intent of automakers like Ford and Honda to "please politicians overseeing the industry's multibillion-dollar bailout." What we will say, though, is that Limbaugh's a little off when he suggests that hybrid vehicles are entirely unwanted. So sayeth Rush:
"Nobody's buying 'em. Nobody wants them! The manufacturers are making them in droves to satisfy Obama! Sorry for yelling. Nobody wants them!"
While it's true that hybrid vehicle sales tend to rise and fall with the ebb and flow of fuel prices, which are currently down from the record highs from a year ago, Edmunds' Green Car Advisor points out that 1.3 million hybrid vehicles have been sold in America since 1999, the first year the fuel-saving vehicles entered the market. Obviously, there are more than a few people out there who want to cut down on their fuel usage. Furthermore, these hybrid vehicle programs have been in development since well before President Obama was elected.

Limbaugh went on to argue that politicians killed the auto industry. There may be a measure of truth to that point, but there's certainly a number of other factors that have attributed a great deal to the current woes being felt by all automakers the world over.

As always, your mileage may vary. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, but please keep it civil.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rush is a buffoon. He is nothing but an inciter and hate monger. There is a waiting list to get the Toyota Prius. Hybrids are the way of the future.
      The reason Rush went deaf is because his brain got tired of hearing all the crap he spews out every day.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As usual when it comes to discussions of Rush someone is being selectively literal. "Talent on loan from God," does not mean Rush thinks he talks to God and "Nobody wants them" does not mean literally that no one has ever or will ever want a hybrid. Reminds me of the kid who says his mama "promised" when the word she used was "maybe." We really have raised a bunch of useful idiots to adulthood in this country.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This guy is ridiculous.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The hybrid is a vehicel that will be a thing of the past with in the nest 3 to 5 years. The repair costs of the battery side of this junk will make the vehicle be a "throw it out" car. With other fuels being introduced into the market like CNG etc, vehicles will be built for this fuel once the public is able to buy it. As is it is now, even E85 is hard to find. Thats not the answer either. I do agree that Hybrids wont last, but some other cars new and old get better fuel economy than this Hybrid junk! If you think "going green" makes you feel better, go buy it! You will just be adding more garbage to the stack! You really cant do much with these type of vehicles. Can't tow with them, can't overload the vehicle with belongings, and what happens when you turn on the A/C in the car? Yes, the engine runs. These cars are not the answer. Review the facts.
      • 6 Years Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rush, again? What do you expect from a man who lives in his basement and only comes out to complain? He's even responsible for the new version of an old saying,
      '" The Republican Paryt's opera is over. The fat man sang!"
      • 6 Years Ago
      Read the transcript of his broadcast, Autoblog (and autobloggers). He was playing off a Los Angeles Times story entitled "Hybrid Car Sales Go From 60 To Zero At Breakneck Speed" as the 'Times reports hybrid vehicles piling up on dealer lots due to a SIGNIFICANT drop in sales and general interest from the public -- even reporting that Toyota insists to keep the Tundra in their lineup just to stay afloat, because they have actually lost money over producing the Prius.

      To put 1.3 million hybrid car sales since 1999 into perspective, Ford sold 2.1 million TRUCKS in 2005 alone! That number isn't as high as it seems, and Rush isn't just pulling random figures out of his *ss just to stir the pot, as he is depicted doing this constantly.

      Although I wouldn't agree that people don't want them, I do share Rush's frustration with people drinking the kool aid and getting hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles for the wrong reason. Say what you want about emissions and global warming, the Green Movement has turned hybrid cars into a fad rather than an honest cause, and the auto industry is taking advantage of it. Paying the extra 10 grand to have the "Hybrid" sticker on the bumper is ridiculous, while fuel efficiency gained over a normal model sometimes is negligible.
        • 6 Years Ago
        +1 I was looking through this thread to try and find something intelligent and reasonable, and I just found it. Good job my man.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rush is still scared the commies are going to take over Asia... and then the rest of the world...............
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rush Limbaugh....christonacracker, what a buffoon.

      His family should be embarrassed.

      He should have his lips sewn shut and rid us of his idiocy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      When will this fart/windbag dry up and blow away? He's just trying to keep his
      Big Oil buddies in the "green" for as long as possible!
      Maybe he should go back to a subject he knows very well...such as drug addicts -
      oh, I forgot, he is one!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rush - like most people - doesn't get it.

      Hes a hack, not a product development experienced engineer or designer. He's as qualified to talk about product development as Kim Kardashian or Chelsea Handler.

      To get from point A - internal combustion engined powered vehicles with transmissions and 12V electrical systems - to point B, clean easy to construct and engineer with24,36 or 42V systems - there needed to be a bridge. Toyota wisely saw the opportunity in hybrids, which allowed electric motor investment and development to be fully amortized with new product development.

      Who in their right mind really thinks the bridge to the future happens in quantum leaps? There has to be small steps, and they cost money. The best way to do it? Hybrids. Everyone says "oh I don't think hybrids are the answer" or "why are they wasting their time?"

      Well heres the deal. You can't suddenly be an expert in electric motors, or more efficient systems if u just spend trillions in R&D without ever bringing a viable product to market. Whats clever about cars like the Prius is that Toyota found a way to get consumers to help fund that bridge to a future of series hybrids (like the Volt and Karma) or all electrics - or fuel cells. Honda has realized this too, but they have placed their bets on getting to fuel cell tech first.

      Imagine if, in the 1960s Kennedy ordered NASA to go to the moon right off the bat. Imagine if, instead of Mercury, then Gemini then Apollo 1-10 it was Apollo 11 or bust. Or worse, lets just go from Mercury to the space shuttle. Thats insane, yet ostensibly what idiot hacks sadly believe. Consumers would not stand for the outrageous costs and shortcomings of a future car if it simply went from IC to fuel cell with no stops in between.

      Ugh. Ive worked in PD and R&D for 5 years now. I can't stand hearing these morons spout their garbage and have people blithely follow along. Theres millions of talented and hard working engineers, designers and product managers trying to develop and forecast the steps needed to get from A to B while still making money to keep the lights on. I wish these idiots would understand that, and just be happy we are trying at all.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oh, @ Judgeman:

        I raise the point because I question anyone who would agree with a man without experience in the field he discusses. Discussion and comments about these topics - from all walks of life - is necessary Rush's tonic of angry belittlement is a negative tactic to usurp conversation and replace it with a mob mentality. Rush isn't fostering a dialogue, hes banding a mob together.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Good questions

        "why would it take 'years' in R&D to develop a viable electric car?"

        Thats a very reasonable question. Off the bat, theres two forces at work in an R&D dept. The first is the need to develop new products that get out there and make profits ASAP. The second is the need to think further out and plan for the future. So budgets and manpower are split. With most money R&D budgets tied up in NPD for on-the-horizon projects money is limited for future thinking. Nevertheless it gets done.

        Then theres the politics of personalities come into play. People making decisions can either bolster or scuttle plans, regardless of how promising the R&D seems. Look at Wagoner's big-time mistake of killing the electric car development at GM. He simply didnt think far enough out, and embrace the potential in both marketing and future PD.

        Finally, all those "years" have already come to pass. At this point, its time to start getting products on the road. The problems to come into play here as much a result of internal inertia and unwillingness to take risks as availability of an infrastructure to support it. Project Better Place is an initiative whose goal is to make it palpable for manufacturers to start releasing cars knowing that there will be a wider market for them.

        Nevertheless, technical challenges would be easier to overcome if consumers already didn't have expectations. Refinement, driveability, range... since we are far beyond the model T, consumers will not accept electric cars that aren't like the cars they have today - with a few judicious compromises. So a PD manager and team have to figure out those compromises and get their best guess to market. Regardless, the people at the top of boardroom aren't usually the best people to understand the future. They are naturally resistant to risk taking. So its back to fighting internal politics of PD. What wins everyone over is the promise of profit.

        But in the end, you're correct - we need better batteries. Massive strides have been made in their development, but now we are putting science up against a wall. The limitations of current battery tech comes down to complex chemical and stoichiometric issues that are far beyond what most engineering departments can tackle. To get a battery that lasts super long, charges fast etc we need a revolution in material science that hasnt been happening. Why? Materials science R&D has taken a back seat for a couple decades now.

        In our push to squeeze more profits from technologies we know, materials science R&D has had to rely on the scientific community's breakthroughs. Theres radical talk of carbon nanotube batteries that will solve all problems, but far a car maker dependent on profits today, thats not going to fly.

        Nevertheless bold small manufacturers are trying, developing cars that we should be seeing from the big companies. Without bureaucracies weighing them down, warranty claims and health care legacy costs to be mindful of, these startups can push the limits of existing technologies.

        So back to your first two points - again you're right. An electric car IS simpler. But without the juice, it cant go. Without the go, a company is unwilling to risk its shirt. Enter the hybrid. Using the IC engine as the power source, its a less-risky way to satisfy the needs of profits and mindfulness of a company's health etc.

        But then theres gov intervention. Absolutely necessary, not from a PD point of view, but to drive innovation. In a vacuum, theres no need to innovate, risk take and push boundaries. I think we can all agree that the gov intervention in safety has saved countless lives. Would we better off in a society where there were no airbag laws, seat belt standards or smog controls?

        You dont need global warming to see the benefit of controlling smog. LA was unlivable before I was born. Yet the corporations didn't choose the right thing, and introduce emissions controls on their own. Instead they fought, and whined. But look at LA today. You can actually see across the valley SOMETIMES (lol). You don't need to believe in Global Warming to care enough to stop harming the environment. Theres no need to become a hippy to understand that our ways our destructive, and finite. The idea we need to take home from climate change issues is that we can all do better, from cars to diapers, power plants to water bottles. Finally, oil is certainly finite, yet manufacturers would prefer to continue developing cars pretending like it isnt. If they won't lead consumers towards more sustainable wheels, then who will?

        Regulation helps drive positive change. Its knowing where to STOP intervening that is the key. Guys like Rush worry too much about any regulation, and gets ratings for overhyping the idea that all regulation is bad. Truth is, all s
        • 6 Years Ago
        You're kidding! You're seriously stating that you need to be an engineer in order to comment on automotive product? What's next Zeke? You gonna tell us you need to be a community organizer to take over a car company and fire the CEO?
        • 6 Years Ago
        @JZeke - I have a question then, since you seem to be much more rational than most. In all honesty - why would it take 'years' in R&D to develop a viable electric car? I'm just trying to think logically here. Here are my reasons why I think it shouldn't take that long for MOST of the vehicle...

        1) As for most of the car, it could remain unchanged. Suspension, Seats, Steering - even transmission, transaxle, etc.. can remain the same.
        2) Electric motors themselves have been around for well over a hundred years. They are well understood. And are far SIMPLER than a standard internal combustion engine.

        So, as far as simply making an electric car from the R&D point of view, it's only a matter of swapping an internal combustion motor for an electric (assuming you're not trying to restructure the drive train for some other reason). The only wild card then becomes fuel. Batteries. Is this not really where the R&D is needed? We know how to make the car. We know how to make the motor. We simply don't yet know how to make a battery that can make an electric car travel as far as a standard car on a tank of gas, or recharge as quickly as filling it up at the gas station. Once we figure that out - or get pretty darn close - while keeping the cost about the same for purchasing the car as well as 'refueling' the car, then people would automatically start purchasing electric - for many reasons, one being that an electric engine is typically more reliable and lasts longer than an ICE. Another reason people might want electric over ICE is for torque, given the proper amount of power and electric can smoke an ICE off the line - I for one consider that one of the most aspects of a car when I'm looking to purchase.

        So is it not disingenuous to say "You can't suddenly be an expert in electric motors, or more efficient systems if u just spend trillions in R&D" - given the first 2 facts. All we really need is to spend time and money on R&D of batteries. Or is my logic just totally wrong? Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but it just seems simple enough to me.

        As for Rush... I think the 'gist' of what he is saying is correct, and yes I do listen to his show. His point is that without government intervention, not enough - or an insignificant number, of people would buy these cars. What the majority of consumers want from companies like GM is trucks and SUV's. And what he is against is the government taking steps to force consumers into changing their habits based on the idea that global warming is man made, which Rush does not believe to be true. I do not believe man is causing global warming either. Rush all too often speaks in generalized terms to make his point, and if you take a small snippet of what he is saying like this - then of-course he seems simple minded and wrong. But in any case, I think he is overall correct in this case.

        My problem with government intervention and with Obama specifically (or democrat leaders in general) is that for the most part they are 'sold' if you will, on man made global warming. Thus, they are taking steps to prevent oil companies from drilling for new oil in our own back yard, and are talking about things like cap and trade, and some are talking about raising gas tax. All of these things (if they come to pass) will ultimately cost the average consumer in the end (not just at the gas pump either). And hurt those at the bottom of the financial ladder most. I think it's cruel to do this based on unproven science - and IMO just because Al Gore says the debate is over - doesn't make it so. There are still plenty of scientists who dispute the findings that global warming is caused by man. If anything, lets put our tax dollars into finding the ultimate truth to that question. Making certain that there are no political ties or influences to the answer. Look at data about the planets weather for more than just the past 100 years for one.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As usual, Rush Limbaugh shows that he doesn't have a clue!! Maybe he doesn't want hybrids, but that's sure as hell doesn't mean they're not needed! It's idiots like him that put GM and Chrysler in the boat they're in.
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