Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Off-topic: 2012 Elections Analysis

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Note to my regular readers, if you are not interested in U.S. politics, you may consider ignoring this insightful and interesting article. I will be posting more automotive industry analysis soon, rest assured!


CNN's Electoral Predictions Map

It is 2012, and we are nearing the end of the election season.

Admittedly, I am sick of hearing about largely irrelevant issues like taxation and federal deficits. Both parties have had ample opportunity to reduce the federal deficit and failed to do so, even under complete control of Congress and the Presidency.

Anyway, I thought I would take the quadrennial opportunity to put my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science to good use. I will thank Nebraska Wesleyan University professor and elections scholar Dr. Jan Vermeer for getting me started on this whole interest in U.S. Elections analysis.

CNN’s latest polling reveals some interesting results, (more…)

Early Fall auto news round-up

Saturday, November 7th, 2009



VW in an effort to promote the tons of eco-friendlier cars launched at IAA in Frankfurt in September has decided to pursue eco-sales with a new eco-friendly racing series. The company is starting a single-make racing series where all of the cars run on bio-produced compressed natural gas. The model used in the series is the new Scirocco and should reduce racetrack CO2 output by 80 per cent over today’s racing fuels. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder cars will have 220 horsepower on tap. Not bad for an alt fuel car!


On other green fronts, VW Group is working with Stanford University in California in a US$5.75 million project to make VW the largest carmaker with R&D in Silicon Valley. Already the two companies have produced autonomous (read self-driving) versions of the VW Passat and now the Audi TT-S. The Audi TT-S will attempt to drive itself up the 14,110-foot Pike’s Peak next year, according Wired.



Audi’s Johan de Nysschen, critical of the Chevy Volt, took an interview with Time recently to express his views on the state of the luxury auto industry. He stated that Audi’s goal is to be the “top” German luxury manufacturer, but not necessarily in terms of sales. He also reiterated the push for more fuel-efficient vehicles leading to Zero emissions cars in the not so distant future.



Bugatti has unleashed a new concept car the 4-seat, 4-door (can you believe it???) Galibier 16C. Autocar magazine claims the production will start in 2013 at £900,000. We will believe it when we see it! Interestingly, the car’s engine will be the same as in the Veyron but will only sport 800BHP. Apparently, 200 get lost when adding 2 doors.


Rarely does Caterham make the news, except when they unleash new, wildly fun lightweight roadster, but unfortunately, Caterham’s found Graham Nearn died in late October. Nearn has been selling the then-titled Lotus 7 since its introduction in 1959, and then when the car was discontinued in 1973, Nearn bought the rights and has been producing the car ever since and in more exciting, evolving versions. You can even buy a kit and put a Caterham 7 together yourself. If you are not familiar with this brand, you should be!

Top Gear featured it in a segment awhile back:



Beyond the KM has previously marveled at the sales resiliency of the Ferrari nameplate. But even THIS economy has the prancing stallion kow-towing to the bear market of Wall Street.

Its third quarter results for 2009 showed revenues of 396 million euros (£359m) – down from 450m euros (£408m) in the same period last year. It sold 1454 cars, down 4.3 per cent year on year.

However, Ferrari announced that it has grown its market share in every market it monitors, against a drop in supercar sales of around 40 per cent.


LOTW: California’s hydrogen highway

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Of all of the people you might expect to ignore environmental concerns, a Humvee-driving Republican governor must rank fairly high on the list.

Without a doubt, he is the governor who best knows that environmental concerns rank near the top of priorities for his constituency.

This article comes on the heals of the Obama administration’s move to allow the states more leeway in how they pass and apply laws as they pertain to automakers’ emissions. This could pave way for more fuel efficient vehicles, including some that run on renewable fuels, such as hydrogen.

For more information on hydrogen cars, check out these links:

For more on the Honda Clarity, the only known hydrogen vehicle actively being sold by a major automaker, click here.

Porsche on congestion charge: the right move

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Now with direct injection and PDK for increased fuel economy!

There are three reasons that Porsche is concerned about London’s impending congestion charge. First the people don’t want it, second it affects the sales of Porsches, and because it unfairly punishes the people by raising money for the city of London through a sort of taxation without direct representation, and is therefore unlawful.

Another observation: Porsche is by no means the carmaker in European Union with the lower overall emissions, but let’s look at the numbers…

The 911 has a 3.6 liter H-6 engine this base Carrera has a combined cycle of 25.7 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 266g/km. The car also costs $73,000 US, or £61,620.

The 2.7 liter H-6 Boxster engine costs $46,000 US or £33,375. It however with it’s smaller engine gets a very reasonable 29.7 mpg on the combined cycle with 227 g/km of CO2 emissions. The 3.4 liter version of that engine produces just 254 g/km. These three models are sports cars. Competitor Ferrari on the other hand produces a V8 engine in the F430, which has output of 420 g/km – quite a lot- and gets only 15.4 miles per gallon. The V12 599 GTB that Ferrari makes produces 490 g/km and drinks a gallon in 13.2 miles.

Britons’ Struggle with Speed Cameras

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

As Americans struggle with the introduction of more and more speeding and red-light enforcement cameras, Britons, who have dealt with the cameras for many years now, are also struggling to come to grips with enforcement. In a recent survey of 500 Britons conducted by the IAM Motoring Trust Survey, 78% of Britons approved of speed cameras, up 9% from the year before. Before you start thinking these numbers are fantastics, it’s key to note that they are on the overall decline. In 1999, cameras received a 90% approval. 

So what’s going on here? Why are the numbers dropping? Well, only 36% believe that cameras were positioned only at serious crash sites. Further, only 39% believed that revenue generation was not the motive for speed camera use. Since fines often generate more revenue for additional cameras, IAM acknowledges that breaking the link between enforcement and revenue is the key to gaining public confidence.


Tough Sentence for Porsche Speedster

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The AP reported today that Briton Tim Brady will be jailed for 10 weeks as a result of his conviction for speeding in a 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo – at 276 KM/hour (172 MPH). The record set by Brady for highest recorded speed on a British motorway beats the old record of 251 KM/hour set by car dealer Jason McAllister in 2003.

911 Turbo with Picture of British Speeder on the inset

Judge David Morton called the act “criminally self-indulgent.”


What a New U.S. Congress means for Automotives

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

The change in the U.S. Congress, which officially take place in January, signals a shift in the way U.S., Asian, and European automakers must do business in capturing the lucrative American auto market.

The changes could be vast and penetrating. For one, you see a change from a Republican-controlled Congress, which favors big business, to a Democratic-controlled Congress, which favors improved environmental policy, universal healthcare, and more rights for workers. To put it another way, the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma. He has stated that he does not believe in global warming – an issue clearly important to the automotive industry. In the Democratically-controlled Congress, a more liberal perspective will hold the chair. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a person who regularly drives a Toyota Prius, will lead the committee.

What all of this means is fairly straight forward and carmakers should be prepared. First, automakers, especially American ones, cannot expect special government protections like those that might have been afforded by the GOP in the last Congress. Further, they will not be able to rely on special incentives, including emergency anti-bankruptcy loans as we saw in the 1980s with Chrysler.

Secondly, and this applies especially the European automakers, the carmakers in 2007 will have to face fewer handouts to big oil (thus affecting the price of oil and causing consumers to think twice about buying vehicles of poor fuel efficiency), increasingly stringent standards on emissions and CAFE laws.

Mercedes sells only one diesel car in the USA and VW has sold one for the 2006 Jetta. Despite over producing this car for calendar year 2007, VW will fall short of diesel vehicles for the year as it struggles to introduce cars that meet 2007 diesel standards. VW, BMW, and Mercedes have all produced diesel version of their cars (which outsell the regular petrol version in Europe). Still, when it comes to the marketability and emissions standards of the U.S. they have been unable to bring the cars across the ocean. If the three are successful in this over the next two years, they stand to make a lot of money so long as they can keep up with emissions requirements that stand to become stricter in the next congressional period.

This may very well be the session of congress where lawmakers realize that the world’s oil supply is not infinite and that global warming is a clear and present danger to the environment and national security.