By on December 12, 2008

For some companies, the ongoing financial crisis will be fatal, but for others, it may turn out to be a historical opportunity to re-define themselves. When weak brands disappear, others can fill their niche. Honda, for one, seems to be one of the first car makers to seize the opportunity that the industry’s re-structuring is providing. “Where we want to be by 2015 is the environmental leader. I mean that in a credible sense, not a greenwash sense,” Chris Brown, the head of marketing for Honda Motor Europe, told The Guardian. Which is easy to say, although Brown says Honda does support an eco-rating system to prevent misleading environmental advertising claims. But the first step in this branding conversion was announced last week, when Honda said it would be terminating its Formula One activities and re-assigning its F1 engineers to work in eco-technology. Egads! Is Honda about to put all that talent towards becoming the car for the dour, anti-car league?  Honda is directing its $150m+ ad budget for Europe and Africa towards addressing this question. As Brown puts it, “We want to change the conversation completely. At the moment everything is heavy-handed, preachy and overwhelming. We want it to be positive, optimistic, joyful, powerful.”

Making Greeniness (Treehuggism?) a car company’s main focus might sound radical, but I actually think it is eminently sensible. Most people are not like us: they don’t feel they need a sporty, luxurious or ostentatious car. A sizeable minority wants to drive a pleasant, reliable, responsive vehicle that has a small-as-possible ecological impact. In the past, Volvo may have tried to occupy this space in the car-driver’s mindset, but was too inept in the follow-through. Toyota currently defines “follow-through” when it comes to hybrids, but at what cost? Premium-gargling pistonheads will feel regret when a former sports brand re-defines its focus to cater to Bobos. From a branding point of view however, focus is king. And if those out-of-work F1 guys are working on the CR-Z, the “positive, optimistic, joyful, powerful” stuff might just have a chance.

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34 Comments on “Honda, That Green-Eyed Monster?...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    I don’t think Honda is completely telling the truth. They left F-1 due to it being SUPER expensive to compete. The teams at the top spend, last, I heard $400MM to compete for I think around 20 races.

    Funny enough, F1 is supposed to (last I heard…could be wrong) requiring REGENERATIVE BRAKING aka prius for next year. If Honda was really interested in environmental stuff, F-1 is moving that way as well. I believe early reports said that hybrid F-1 cars in test timing were gaining something like 0.1 of a second per lap with an additional few HP boost from saving braking energy, storing it, and then using that to propel the car.

    This is all stuff I heard a few months ago so things could have changed. Can someone who reads F1 news a little bit more often than me, comment?

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Well, when you’ve got it, flaunt it. Honda is not really a full-line automaker, like Toyota is. They don’t have huge pickups and SUVs-their biggest barely qualify as midsized. They consistantly get the highest overall CAFE fuel economy score in the United States. I think Lotus (haha) was the only company that beat them last year. I think if one had to name the “greenest” automaker, they clearly would be it. So why not brag about it? In fact, they already do-I’ve seen multiple ads highlighting this fact.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Hey, the last time Honda pulled all of its racing engineers, they made the first non-polluting engine, the CVCC. And it was also the only pollution-free engine without a catalytic convertor, so don’t mock Honda’s decision to pull the F1 engineers, besides, it’s not like they were really the most successful team out there. Hopefully, they will figure out how to meet the 35mpg CAFE target (or the draconian California standard of 43mpg) while meeting our no less stringent emissions standards without resorting to an anemic, continental-drift slow hybrid or a rough-sounding, low-revving diesel. Here’s hoping you slash weight, reduce displacement, and bring back the featherweight, screaming, albeit torqueless, Hondas I fell in love with. Oh, and give the Civic and Accord all control arm suspensions again.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    F1 is becoming a NASCAR like charade; Honda was wise to bow out. In the markets where F1 may actually sell on Monday Honda already has its MotoGP effort to demonstrate Honda’s performance capabilities.

    And, although the Fit and Civic are among the best front wheel drive cars; if they are too boring Honda will sell you this: http://powersports.honda.com/2009/cbr1000rr.aspx

    Honda’s mission has always been efficiency and innovation, racing has just been one way for Honda to demonstrate those skills. Right now being the leader in automotive efficiency is likely a more interesting challenge for Honda than participating in a spec-racing series.

  • avatar

    At the risk of talking racing (apparently taboo here at TTAC)…

    Honda left F1 just in time (seriously DAYS) for F1 to level the playing field with dramatic engine and testing restrictions – in an effort to shrink the disparity between the “haves” and “have nots” (Honda might be kicking themselves for this as a “have not”…).

    Either way, both Honda’s back-out and F1’s rule changes are addressing the fact that the auto industry end economic slump is wreaking some serious havoc. Honda PR may play the “green” card to justify their decision, but let’s be real – money talks, and even F1 called them on it.

    In an effort to tie this back to street cars and technology (and keep my butt from being booted for talking racing) – F1 is pushing the use of KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) which is indeed a regenerative braking mechanism for a hybrid drive system. The particularly interesting emerging technology is the use of super-capacitors instead of batteries for ultra-fast cycling and energy transfer into the electric powertrain, which are also lighter and more compact than batteries. Theoretically these technologies have futures on the street – along with ideas such as hydraulic hybrids (heavy duty), etc.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    Re F1, Honda spent a ton of money, and did VERY poorly. It was negative PR, if anything. Not to mention F1 has become a completely irrelevant circus.
    Honda could use better focus in their efforts, especially understanding the market and promoting themselves. Their Insight was way ahead of its time, and yet if you ask anyone who invented the hybrid car they say Toyota. They have obstinatley refused to build V8’s for their Acura line and have thus let a good brand, with good products, wither.

  • avatar
    WhatTheHel

    Yes, it’s all true. But don’t underestimate the fact that North America is their biggest market and yet there are no longer any North American F1 races. A portion of the blame has to go to that greedy moron Bernie Ecclestone.

    Having said that I still think it was a kneee jerk reaction on Honda’s part and a shame we won’t see what Ross Brawn can do with the team.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Honda was smart to pull out of F1 racing for all the reasons already stated above.

    Next up: Watch Nascar disappear from the radar screen. How can car companies beg for taxpayer money on one hand while wasting it on the quintessential damn-the-environment world of motorsports? With all the shouting about corporate jets, I’m surprised the money wasted on Nascar, etc. hasn’t come up yet.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. might be a Nascar star, but how many Monte Carlos did he help sell? Not many judging from its demise.

    Honda going all-in with an environmental awareness image and taking actions consistent with it will have a very bright future in the industry. Plus, now they don’t have to listen to a Greek Chorus chanting for a V-8!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    RetardedSparks:

    The Insight failed because Honda was too logical (how many commuters really have more than two people in their car), but now that gas is cheap again the competition is between Honda’s excellent Civic and Toyota’s mediocre Corolla.

    Acura has been damned by its refusal to build pure RWD cars, not the lack of a V8. The volume sellers from BMW, Infiniti and Mercedes are RWD cars with 6 and even (in foreign markets) 4 cylinder engines.

  • avatar
    IC Turbo

    RetardedSparks: Their Insight was way ahead of its time, and yet if you ask anyone who invented the hybrid car they say Toyota.

    Well, the Prius did come out first. It was also more of a technical leap. Don’t get me wrong though, I like Honda’s system more because it eliminates the starter and alternator by combining them into a motor assist unit between the engine and transmission, which allows the use of any transmission. Toyota’s HSD is essentially a very fancy transmission (planetary gear set plus two electric motors) and I believe it also eliminates starter and alternator.

    John Horner : Next up: Watch Nascar disappear from the radar screen. Dale Earnhardt Jr. might be a Nascar star, but how many Monte Carlos did he help sell? Not many judging from its demise.

    I doubt that will happen. The manufacturer’s don’t actually spend that much money on NASCAR. They spend more on the advertising surrounding it. The bigger teams will stick with their current manufacturer for at least a year or two after the OEM’s “leave” the sport. For as much as people like to complain it doesn’t support the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” that it used to, it serves as a platform for selling their largest profit machines: trucks and BOF SUV’s. Do you think Toyota got into NASCAR to sell more Camries? 2007 was the first year they were in the big series, and it also was the first year they put out a truck directly comparable to the D2.8’s offerings.

  • avatar
    James2

    I must have missed the memo about racing being a taboo subject here at TTAC.

    Anyway… I believe Honda left F-1 after a fling with the McLaren team (Senna/Prost era) to… do something else.

    Assuming Ferrari doesn’t leave –and kill F-1 in the process– give it a few years and Honda will be back.

  • avatar
    Antohn Crispin

    A couple of things:

    1. I think adding the KERS system to a 750+ HP beast running on race fuel and calling it green is like slapping an electric motor running off of a AAA battery onto a Ford Super Duty and calling it a hybrid. Nevertheless, late and off season testing seemed to indicate that Honda was one of the teams at the head of the pack in this technology. Some teams, supposedly, are struggling with the KERS and do not plan to run cars with such a system to start the 2009 season.

    2. Yes, Honda did pull out of F1 for financial reasons. Honda F1 has not had a title sponsor in the past two racing seasons and has not placed higher than 8th in the constructors championship in each of these seasons. They bailed on their “B” team Super Aguri due to financial reasons just this past season.

    3. Not all of Honda F1 engineers will be returning to the bosom of the mothership. In fact, press reports of the team’s sale indicate that one of the conditions for the sale calls for the new owners to retain much of the engineering staff. Presumably, this refers to the F1 staff based in England. Also, from what I can tell, much of the intellectual property of the team will also be transferred to the new owners.

    4. Still, Honda now has roughly $200 million dollars a year in its budget and some idle techies with F1 experience. Does anybody think these monies and resources are going to go towards environmentally unfriendly technology initiatives that will vaporize before coming to market? (Okay, there’s the “new” NSX, but still…) Do we need to review Honda’s engineering and environment conscience resume every time they send out a press release?

  • avatar
    jaje

    Honda’s decision mounts on various opportunities and resolution of problems:
    – Honda was one of the big F1 MFGRs and spend a lot of money but no where near Ferrari, Toyota, McLaren, who spent in excess of $400M a year.
    – Honda’s dismal showing of putting F1 on the back burner was a bad mark and they quit the sport (really just in time before it becomes more of a Spec series). Look in the future for F1 to have competition from MFGR based series as Bernie’s circus ride is ending.
    – Saving some $300M a year from F1 expenses will definitely help the bottom line.
    – Refocusing the engineers onto other projects that will help redefine the company for the long term future is smart (look at GM for a complete failure at this).
    – Gas will cycle up and down – it does cyclically anyway as Memorial day is the start of the expensive season – so focusing these new resources will be useful especially for 11th production analysis and quality improvement.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    Timing is everything. It’s no secret that F1, like NASCAR, is headed in the wrong direction, driven and controlled by characters with egos larger than their combined budgets. The true fans see the folly and know what each sport needs. They will also see it not happen. Just like your GM engineer or line worker knows what the company should have done years ago to be successful. Yet they pay “leadership” multi-millions to make the wrong moves and only look out for their own interests in so many cases.

    Honda sees the writing on the wall with F1. They see the opportunity to save money and win on the PR front as well. Who can blame them? And don’t underestimate them. They went in a few short years from having things like ABS as an option only available on certain models to having some of the safest lineups overall, with standard safety features that melded into a great “Safety for Everyone” campaign.

    The doors may sound like tin shit upon closing, but they are solid vehicles now on the safety front. That was a quickly and well executed campaign. I believe that their green initiative will be the same. It will be substantial and they will most likely do it in the most simple, elegant way possible. Just like they always have. That’s why many of us admire them. That and the fact that they will do it while providing crisp, responsive vehicles that feel as familiar as an old friend.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Personal mobility is a central driver of wealth creation and expansion of the middle class globally, so it is essential that the automobile both remain central to humanity’s transportation mix *and* that it be removed from pressing environmental concerns, real and imagined. Notwithstanding my preference that an American company lead the technolgy solutions, Honda’s agenda is the right seizure of opportunity, and a smaller brand like Honda can focus itself to become the catalytic company that moves the entire market forward more rapidly than would occur without their initiative.

    This is the classic role start-ups play in other markets, but the task has so far proven too difficult for venture-financed companies like Tesla. They can’t innovate thoroughly enough, hump product to market pervasively, and devote the marketing resources to projecting their catalytic role. So a mid-size player like Honda, with sufficient scale to make things happen, and sufficient compactness to focus their initiative, is perfect. If Chrysler were healthier, they might have been able to take this path.

    It would be difficult for a full-spectrum GM or Toyota to move the market forward both practically and attitudinally with the same energy as a more compact agile player like Honda, because their heavy and luxury vehicle agendas compromise perception of their commitment. This is why for GM, the Volt works best as an initial arrow played up as a super-brand only nominally marketed as a Chevrolet. Volt is its own thing, but Honda will find it easier to roll up all of the environmental ambition of a Volt into the arching corporate brand. The purity of product roll-outs is actually feasible for them.

    Phil

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    Rev Junkie :
    “Oh, and give the Civic and Accord all control arm suspensions again.”

    FWIW the current Accord still has upper/lower control arm F&R suspension.

  • avatar
    mel23

    The manufacturer’s don’t actually spend that much money on NASCAR.

    Do you have any numbers? It’s my understanding that they design/test engines specifically for Nascar use in addition to providing engineering support for the teams using cars with their brand names. I have no idea how much this adds up to, but it has to be right up there with trash cans or whatever it was being reportedly cut back recently.

    What mystifies me is that the France family has recently been buying stock in the International Speedway Corp. What mystifies me even more is that Morningstar gives it a 5-star rating and Moneycentral rates it a 10. Guess I don’t see opportunity when it’s right in front of me.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Uh, poltergeist, I’m sure the Accord now has a mulitilink rear suspension.

  • avatar
    Eric_Stepans

    I work as independent contractor for Honda, and all of the scuttlebutt I’ve heard is that the F1 decision was entirely financial.

    When your sales are down over 30% compared to a year ago and you’ve got inventory piling up everywhere, you look to cut expenses any way you can.

    In my department, we had about a 10% personnel reduction (combination of layoffs and unfilled open slots), and I assume there were similar cuts throughout the company.

    I think if the credit freeze ever thaws out, Honda will sell a *ton* of the new Insight and the upcoming CR-Z

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Is Honda about to put all that talent towards becoming the car for the dour, anti-car league?

    A sizeable minority wants to drive a pleasant, reliable, responsive vehicle that has a small-as-possible ecological impact.

    Premium-gargling pistonheads will feel regret when a former sports brand re-defines its focus to cater to Bobos.

    Speaking as a dour, anti-car, minority, bobo (what is a bobo?). I have to mention that we can not continue to borrow money from China to buy oil from Canada, Mexico, and Argentina. We need vehicles that get 80 mpg minimum.

    California’s brand average of 43 mpg is a gift to the auto companies.

    Incidentally I am not anti-car. I have owned a wide variety of cars during a period of over 45 years and appreciate the wonderful freedom they have given me but I am economically aware enough to know we can not continue to beg China for money to fuel the current inefficient ICEs.

  • avatar

    Back in 2005, Charlie Baker, Honda’s Chief Engineer in charge of the Accord, had this to say to Newsweek. It’s not as if the notion just struck them, but they’ve just stopped hedging their bets and are going all in now. And yes, being able to point to the financial meltdown helps stop all the back-and-forth that would otherwise delay a decision. The F1 “will the gearbox take it” races may not be where an “environmentally focused” company wants to be, anyway.

    Despite the megawatt buzz about the Toyota Prius, Honda actually tops the charts for fuel economy among auto-makers in America. Of the 10 best gas misers on the road today, Honda has seven of them, according to the EPA. Honda also offers more hybrid models—three—than anyone else (though Toyota will soon catch up). Honda has always made leading in fuel economy a bedrock principle, even when American car buyers could not care less. But with gas and oil prices remaining stubbornly high, drivers are caring more, and their interest in mileage extends beyond what’s parked in their driveway. Improving fuel economy is seen by many as a necessary step in reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and advancing a “green” agenda for the environment.

    Now that Honda’s mileage mantra is looking smart, NEWSWEEK’s Keith Naughton sat down with [Honda USA\'s Chief Engineer, Charlie] Baker to discuss what drives the automaker to go for the green:

    Naughton: Honda worried about gas mileage when gas mileage wasn’t cool. Why?

    Baker: Everyone at Honda views being in a company as being far more than just turning a profit. It’s not that we’re poor businessmen, but I think everybody at Honda is fired by the dream of creating great products that are the most efficient in their class.

    Naughton: How difficult was it to keep that principle in the ’90s when the SUV boom was in full swing and gas prices were at record lows?

    Baker: Well, it certainly caused us pain. For a long time our president was strongly against getting into the truck market because he could not see how it was consistent with Honda values. But after a long time of wrestling with it, we said, “There are other people who are developing these trucks with horrendous fuel economy and we can do better.”

    Naughton: How did your rivals react when the MDX debuted in 2000?

    Baker: We were criticized for being late to the party. People repeatedly told us we were going to fail.

    Naughton: How difficult was it to engineer the MDX to meet Honda’s stringent mileage standards?

    Baker: I’ll never forget it. I was a rookie leading this MDX team. We’d done the research and we had an efficient package. But when we pitched our business plan to the board of directors, Mr. [Koichi] Amemiya, who was in charge of North America, his No. 1 comment was: “It should be more green.” I made the mistake of saying, “But sir, nobody cares about the green issues.” And he just smiled and said “I know.”

    Naughton: But I’m sure your research showed that gas mileage was a very low priority to car buyers.

    Baker: It certainly was, but I am absolutely ashamed of ever making that remark. Feel free not to include it in the interview.

    Naughton: Does your research now show that people care about gas mileage?

    Baker: If you are talking about large SUVs, yes, they are giving some lip service to fuel economy. But that is sort of a “here today, gone tomorrow”-type phenomenon. The point is not that customers demand it or don’t demand it, because that’s absolutely not the viewpoint of Honda. When you are a philosophy-driven company, you don’t ask the customer if they agree with your philosophy.

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    Rev Junkie :
    “Uh, poltergeist, I’m sure the Accord now has a mulitilink rear suspension.”

    Yes, and two of those “links” are an upper and lower control arm to control camber changes as the knuckle moves up and down.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    They can only effectively push their “green cred” for so long. Fads only last so long. Barring a dumb-assed move by congress (taxing fuel to curb consumption) I don’t forsee gasoline returning to their astronomical prices anytime soon. It’s only a matter of time until consumers start wanting that car that’ll haul ass from a stop light or an SUV that’s bigger than their neighbor’s, and Honda won’t be the ones making them. Like it or hate it we all know that’s how people are. One of GM’s many mistakes was putting all their eggs (trucks and SUVs) in one basket. Sounds to me like Honda’s doing the same thing.

  • avatar
    Eric_Stepans

    reclusive_in_nature wrote:

    Barring a dumb-assed move by congress (taxing fuel to curb consumption) I don’t forsee gasoline returning to their astronomical prices anytime soon

    Please explain to me why it’s better to fund the externalities of fuel consumption through income taxes, property taxes, health insurance premiums, and American soldier’s lives rather than taxing the fuel directly?

    http://www.icta.org/doc/Real%20Price%20of%20Gasoline.pdf

    While you are at, please explain to me why oil/gasoline prices can’t rise by a factor of 3 in six months when they just fell by a factor of 3 in six months?

  • avatar

    @Eric

    The gasoline high was fueled by a demand extrapolation that built on a world economy going full blast, underpinned by easy credit.

    The easy credit element is gone, and the world economy has ground to a standstill, which has taken prices down.
    But the longer term fixed variables remain: the major one being that hydrocarbons represent a finite resource, with exponentially increasing extraction costs, for the “hard half” of the available reserves to be made available.

    But we’ll need to see a major uptick in the world economy before we see oil prices well above 100 dollars again; or major disruptions of available reserves.
    Demand has cratered. For the first time in decades, the globe is drinking less oil, and this is due to the economy crashing. Choose one’s evils, in a way – dreamers were hoping for cheap oil when the artificially inflated economy was going full blast. They got their interim cheap oil.

  • avatar

    @reclusive

    I love the: now that gas is less expensive, we can go back to torching it inefficiently.

    Not going to happen. Energy conservation is going to be crucial from now on, and the profligate manner in which gas has been consumed is over.

    One could wonder who has done the greatest damage to US energy independence. I think it is short sighted Detroit mammoth car thinking, and it’s kind of embarrassing that Honda has been leading the way. Embarrassing to Detroit, that is.

    As we move forwards, energy consumption will be viewed with the same determination that rocket engineers displayed when working out their weight/thrust functions. Every little calorie was put to work.

  • avatar
    don1967

    I have ranted many times about automakers pandering to the Global Warming fad with silly gadgetry (ie: hybrid cars) that make no economic sense, and Honda shares some of the shame in this regard. But the company also deserves credit for its research into “real” technologies like hydrogen power and robotics, and for building everyday cars that are reliable, fuel efficient and fun to drive.

    The same could also be said of F1; that it is more marketing fluff than practical technology. Considering the cost and politics of F1, Honda is probably wise to get out. Now if only it would convince that stupid kid up the street to get rid of his 100-horsepower-200-decibel Civic…

  • avatar
    IC Turbo

    mel23: The manufacturer’s don’t actually spend that much money on NASCAR.

    From yahoo:
    Estimates of Toyota’s annual motorsports budget – for NASCAR alone – range from $150 million to $200 million. These figures are for technical, competitive and team support only and don’t include marketing, an amount rumored to dwarf what the other three are spending.

    In contrast, GM invests just over $100 million for its motorsports effort – which goes toward other racing forms, including drag racing and sports cars – Ford spends $75 million and Dodge $50 million, according to informed sources.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/news?slug=bm-bigthree102208&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    Not significantly small amounts, but compared to individual teams in F1 and overall advertising budgets they are. Individual NASCAR per car budgets are in the $10-25 million range IIRC. Toyota is probably spending a bunch because they have 50+ years of experience to catch up on. Also, a significant portion of spending is by affiliated companies, like Delphi, Visteon, XXX Area (Insert OEM) Dealers, (Insert OEM) Dealer Association, the finance arms, etc, not just the OEM specifically. As much as I’d advocate eliminating unnecessary spending, eliminating the NASCAR budget would probably hurt a lot more than help.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Hey, Eric_Stepans, is the CR-Z really making it to production? Will it have the K20Z3 engine from the Civic Si? What is the target weight, and what is the target price? IS it going to have a mid-engine, rear-drive layout, like the CRX was originally planned to, or will it be FWD? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to the last question, but there’s always hope! And, finally, will it be a two-seater?

  • avatar
    IC Turbo

    Rev Junkie: Workers, especially contract workers are on a “need to know” basis. This means if he is not directly working on that project (chances are very good he isn’t), he really doesn’t know anything more than the general public. Even if he does, he would be fired immediately for violation of the confidentiality agreement.

  • avatar
    Eric_Stepans

    @Stein X

    I agree that oil/gas prices are unlikely to rise anytime soon. However, I think that the 3x shift in prices in such a short time frame illustrates that the market is not rational over the short term, so I think some event (terrorist attack, Somali pirates blow up tanker, etc.) could send prices skyrocketing again.

    @IC Turbo – I don’t have a formal confidentiality agreement with Honda, but since I’m a contractor I can be out on my butt in 5 minutes. I do sometimes get bits and pieces of info ahead of the general public, but usually it’s just minor details (e.g. TTAC reported facts/figures on the ’09 Acura TL prior to launch that I could confirm as true).

    @Rev junkie – My expectation for the upcoming CR-Z is that it will be very much like the old CRX (front-drive, 2-seater, inexpensive).

    It will probably share powertrain with the next-generation Civic (out in 2011?), and I expect we’ll see a three-model spread: base (with Civic-common K18 engine), hybrid (with Civic-common or Fit-common powertrain), and Si with a high-performance engine (either a K20 or a reduced-displacement variation).

    This is all very much “up in the air”. As the economy craters, Honda is adjusting plans as quickly as they can. For example, they had planned to introduce an Acura TSX turbo-diesel, but that has been delayed/canceled because of the collapse of fuel prices.

  • avatar

    @Eric

    Rational, my foot! :-)

    Let’s see – when oil is below USD20/barrel, a gallon at the gas station is USD 1.50.

    When oil hits USD140/barrel, that gallon is USD 4.5???

    When it goes down again to USD40/barrel, that gallon is USD 1.50

    Nope – no connection.

  • avatar

    NASCAR sponsors hit by sticker shock – NYTIMES:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/business/14nascar.html?_r=1

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Everybody, thanks for your interesting comments! I was more or less on the road over the weekend and was not really aware this piece would be published when it was.

    I have nothing to add at the moment, but I appreciate the lively debate.

    Just one thing to folkdancer: Bobo is marketing lingo and refers to a perceived class of consumers, the “bourgeois bohemian”, i.e. artsy (-fartsy) people with money. It was silly of me to use jargon without explanation — sorry about that. I do hope nobody thought I meant “Bobo” as in “Jamaican slang for cannabis”, or “A common nickname for Boise, Idaho”, or as “portuguese slang for Fellatio”.


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