By on December 17, 2010

One of the more admirable qualities of the blogging culture is a relentless underdog streak. Anyone who mans the ramparts of a decent blog is forever scouring the worlds of business, media and opinion for an opportunity to attack the most prominent voices of the day. And TTAC is no exception: we certainly came up by attacking the apologists and Polyannas who are still massively overrepresented in the world of automotive commentary. But what a difference a bailout makes. While the mainstream automotive media spent much of the leadup to the auto bailout making apologies and excuses for Detroit’s decline, TTAC told the unpleasant truth, gaining us new readers and credibility every step of the way. Now that I find myself being asked to contribute to one of the most prestigious opinion outlets in the world (the NY Times op-ed page) on a regular basis, TTAC is no longer the underdog, and other blogs have stepped into the breach to attack us as the new status quo. Fair enough… let’s do this thing.

After an embarrassing hacker attack left its commenter base vulnerable and seething, it’s no wonder that Gawker’s Jalopnik car blog decided to lead the charge against my latest Op-Ed on Detroit’s “Guzzling” ways. And because the entertainment-oriented car blog has wisely decided to hire the former Detroit Free Press reporter Justin Hyde, they actually have someone on staff worthy of taking up the debate. Unfortunately, however, Hyde seems more interested in penning a takedown than actually engaging in a debate about the issues raised in the piece.

Hyde thesis is essentially that “Niedermeyer wants to blame Detroit for building the pickups and SUVs that remain popular with buyers” and that “Detroit can rightfully claim a share of leadership in green cars.” Towards the end of the piece he distills the argument:

So according to the Times, if gas prices don’t rise and Americans don’t buy greener vehicles, then the bailout of GM and Chrysler fell short. If gas prices do rise — creating the demand for the more-efficient models Detroit has now shown it can produce — that’s also bad, because the credit markets will suffer, and then flying unicorns attack Detroit and its Bailout II: Electric Boogaloo.

The implication is that I am somehow responsible for creating this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dynamic. What Hyde clearly doesn’t understand is that I never took to a public forum and attempted to make a politically unpopular bailout more palatable among certain constituencies by claiming that it would transform Detroit’s automakers from truck and SUV-dependent “dinosaurs” (the White House’s words, not mine) into green car leaders. My op-ed wasn’t meant to suggest any particular policy, or to push Detroit into either being “Pelosimobile” pushers or SUV-dependent laggards, but to point out the disconnect between an important justification for the bailout (green transformation) and the reality (GM and Chrysler have the worst fleet fuel economy numbers in the business). Hyde accidentally puts his finger on this reality when he writes

It may be news to the anti-SUV crowd, but Detroit can rightfully claim a share of leadership in green cars.

The first half of this sentence explains why my op-ed was necessary (the second half is highly debatable, witness the fleet-wide efficiency reality). Like it or not, SUVs do have a terrible reputation around the world, and Americans who oppose them on moral grounds can’t be blamed for taking Obama at his word and assuming that the government-led “transformation” of Detroit would lead GM and Chrysler to de-prioritize large gas guzzlers. Nowhere do I state that the government should have forced GM or Chrysler to build certain vehicles, but I absolutely understand why Americans might be disappointed to find out that the green rhetoric surrounding the bailout turned out to be just so much hot air.

But there’s that Catch-22 again: either Obama had to intervene in the day-to-day operations of the automakers, exposing him to libertarian and conflict-of-interest critiques, or he had to let GM and Chrysler operate purely on the basis of profit motivation, allowing old, bad habits to continue unchecked. But did TTAC create this lose-lose situation, or did Obama himself create it by justifying the bailout on green grounds? The fundamental problem here is that the American people overwhelmingly opposed the auto bailout, and rather than simply sell the policy as “the right thing to do” (a line that did emerge in the Administration’s rhetoric, but only after the bailout improved the auto-sector job situation) he had to sweeten the pot by promising that Detroit would transform into green car crusaders. Obama, not TTAC, promised the “flying unicorns”… we simply pointed out that

the bailouts have created a perverse new dynamic. With G.M. stock now being publicly traded on Wall Street, taxpayers have every incentive to cheer on the bailed-out automaker as it overproduces vehicles and pushes cheap credit. After all, the sooner G.M.’s stock hits a certain level — likely around $52 per share — the sooner the Treasury can sell its remaining equity and get taxpayers out of risk.

There’s certainly an argument to be made that allowing Detroit to operate as a business, though detrimental to Obama’s green goals, was the lesser of the two evils. But, as is so often the case when Jalopnik strays into heavy opinion, Hyde refuses to even take that stand. Instead, he concludes with a paragraph that oozes the kind of thinking that has enabled Detroit’s complacency for decades:

For this holiday, I’d wish for a few days where we set aside the kvetching about what the U.S. auto industry is or isn’t, and simply enjoy the fact that we as a nation decided a couple hundred thousand people should earn a living in manufacturing instead of hearing their children ask Santa Claus to stop their electricity from being shut off. I would also wish for better insights into the auto industry from the New York Times op-ed page, but I know better than to ask for flying unicorns.

In short, the message is “quit your whining.” For a piece entitled What The New York Times Op-Ed Page Doesn’t Know About Cars, that’s a pretty weak payoff. The American taxpayers made a massive investment in an industry that is constantly plagued by boom-bust cycles, makes huge gambles that destroy billions in wealth, and follows interests which, in the eyes of many, fundamentally trades off with the well-being of America’s environment and economy… but Hyde would prefer that we didn’t discuss any such trade-offs inherent in this kind of intervention. Given that the piece in question raises a number of issues that aren’t huge problems at the moment, but are indicative of industry backsliding into old bad habits (fleet sales, incentives, etc), isn’t discussing their trade-offs and raising awareness of them a fairly reasonable topic for an opinion piece?

And this is where Jalopnik and Hyde let down the blogosphere’s proud tradition of attacking op-ed columnists: if you’re going to imply that someone knows nothing about cars, you need to do better than wishing an end to all criticism of the bailout, or discussion of its fundamental contradictions. Blogs are about ongoing debates, but rather than adding anything meaningful to the war of ideas, Jalopnik simply retreats into the kind of “leave Britney alone” apologia that screams “we can’t handle the truth.” Luckily, readers who share Hyde’s visceral disagreement with my words but want more substance than limp-wristed a plea for censorship can always turn to TTAC’s comment section, where a vibrant exchange of ideas is already under way. After all, we don’t mind at all when people disagree with us; we all learn by having their views challenged. But the debate must go on…

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74 Comments on “On Detroit’s Guzzling Ways...”


  • avatar
    Jeffer

    Jalopnik has really gone down hill, but then their talented writers are all working elsewhere aren’t they?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, for starters, Ed calls out Justin’s award-winning talent as a writer above. We also just brought back Mike Spinelli, our founding editor, (who many claim presided over the site’s claimed “golden age”) and we still have Matt Hardigree who TTAC commenters gave a hearty “bravo” to during the Toyota Recall coverage. So, I don’t think we’re doing too bad in the talent department anymore.
       
      I mean, I suck as a writer. But I’m a constant for five years now.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      @Ray: OT suggestion – get Graverobber out from under NPOCP.  That guy is a f$cking brilliant writer with epic car knowledge and he’s getting ground into the dirt on that feature.  No one can innovate in that format forever.
       
      My unasked-for $0.02.  Perhaps he’s happy there…

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      I was with you until the “limp-wristed” comment.  Don’t use homophobic slurs to put down others.  It makes you look really small.

    • 0 avatar

      Writing’s not the only thing you suck at, Maurice.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it is a bit dingy to suggest that “Edward Niedermeyer does his best Tom Friedman impersonation.” Sorry, but there is huge ocean between those two.
     
    With regards to America’s and Detroit’s old habits, you can use duct tape to strap me into a Fiesta, Fit or a Yaris, but I’m not going to buy the damn thing.  The same for a Prius, Leaf or Volt.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Where’s Adam Smith when you need him?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_of_Nations  (But then I lean a little too libertarian for most of the B&B.)

  • avatar
    imag

    I was waiting for that smackdown.
     
    I grew up in America.  I like America.  I like Freedom.  The problem is that saying “America, F$ck Yeah!” does not help America.
     
    “America, F$ck Yeah!” led us into wars we can’t win, and which drain all of our money into foreign locations and offshore accounts of corporate profiteers.  We could have been energy independent for that 10 trillion dollars, but instead we went to go kill people who never even attacked us.  Nice move.
     
    “America, F$ck Yeah!” leads us to act against our own proclamations of democracy and freedom around the world, as the Wikileaks cables have shown us.  We act like an empire which wants to push its laws and weapons on the rest of the world, a bully which won’t prosecute its own war criminals, which tortures, which kills innocents, and which acts against even common good treaties banning land mines.  The founders of this country told us to watch our country, not chant patriotic slogans, and not demonize people who remind us of our flaws.
     
    “America, F$ck Yeah!” leads people to think that giving a crap about the environment is the act of snobs.  Climate change is going to kill millions this century and eliminate entire island nations.  How’s that for your personal freedom?  You exercising your freedom kills other people.  Way to go.
     
    And “America, F$ck Yeah!” leads people to stick their fingers in their ears when we built crappy cars, or when we put short term profits over long-term thinking, or when we put financing value over profits on the actual things we sell.  It’s the attitude that got Detroit where it is, and it’s an attitude that will put it right back into the red if we let it.
     
    Being a good libertarian doesn’t mean shirking all responsibility.  Being self-sufficient means thinking long term, not acting like a spoiled crybaby whenever someone reminds you that there are implications to your actions.
     
    It’s pretty hard to argue now that the smog rules of the 70′s ended up working out pretty well.  Look at photos of LA then and now and you see the difference – and there were far fewer cars then.  It took over a decade for horsepower to recover, but recover it did.  The people whining about standards now are the people who never learn from history, never learn that theirs is the dinosaur position, the one that always looks absurd in hindsight.
     
    Those who question America are the greatest patriots, for they cause it to improve.  Those who are ever-content with the status quo are the ones who will help our empire crumble.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      You’re right that unwavering and unquestioning flag waving discourages improvement.  I fail to see the link, however, that driving my Jeep, flying a plane burning leaded gasoline, and enjoying other freedoms I cherish are going to kill millions and destroy island nations.  Island nations may fear geological subsidence, tectonic activity, tsunamis, and the normal rise and fall of sea level (both relative and absolute), none of which have any bearing on my freedom or vice versa.
      “The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.”

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      All I can say is “F$ck yeah” for pointing out what should be obvious, but so often isn’t…

      “The founders of this country told us to watch our country, not chant patriotic slogans, and not demonize people who remind us of our flaws.”

      “Being a good libertarian doesn’t mean shirking all responsibility.  Being self-sufficient means thinking long term, not acting like a spoiled crybaby whenever someone reminds you that there are implications to your actions.”

      Both points worth repeating…

      One thing that I haven’t seen discussed about the auto bailout is the perspective that offering assistance to the manufacturers during the economic downturn actually showed faith, trust, and a ‘can do’ patriotic attitude towards American enterprise. 

      While many (on this site and elsewhere) where willing to ‘let Rome burn’…screw em’, they f’d it up and should pay the price, etc etc,….making a short-term investment in the auto industry actually says … we trust that you CAN “get it right”, make neccessary improvements in your business, and compete successfully in the global marketplace (where most ALL of the OTHER maunfacturers are benefitting in some way from various gov’t assistances in their native countries, I think they call that a ‘level playing field’, right?) 

      One thing this country has lost is being willing to do the work, to value education, reason and scientific acheivement, and make the often large investments neccessary to have the best roads, the best infrastructure, the best schools, etc etc.

      Now all anyone wants is to pay no taxes (that’s called loving your WALLET, not your country) and trying to “pin the blame on the minority” (Mexicans? Muslims? gays?) that supposedly is leading to our downfall..instead of correctly identifying that the “America, F$ck Yeah” crowd is AS responsible for the downfall of our international status as anyone.

      End rant.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      @N: It’s not about guilt.  Guilt doesn’t help anything.  It’s about change.
       
      The false reaction I was pointing to was the idea that any long term thinking is a socialists path, an effort at mind control.  They are not the same.  Long term thinking is not mind control.  We have to work together on this planet.  It’s like no one understands the tragedy of the commons.
       

      That’s how the last tree got cut down on Easter Island.  The solution for Easter Islanders should have been simple: manage the harvesting of trees before they all got cut down, and parceling the new growth out to the people.  Instead, everyone took what they could, dooming themselves.  Individuals acting in self interest will kill themselves and those around them if they are in a commons.  In America, we glorify this kind of behavior, acting like it’s an expression of freedom to spew pollutants into everyone else’s air.  It’s an attitude that came from a time when the commons were practically unlimited, when we *could* act that way.   But the situation has changed.  China’s pollution ends up in our air.  We have to think globally.

      America, and Americans, are actively resisting the idea that their actions cause harm to other people.  Corporations and our media actively casting false doubt on the idea that we should change.  They even admit why they do this: it makes them more money.  OPEC, forty years ago, said they knew that solar would eventually take over – their job was just to delay it as long as possible, to maximize the value of oil.  They said that every time renewable energy investment grew, they would drop the price of oil, making people see renewables as bad investments.  They have done that four times since then.
       
      Sea level rise will happen due to climate change.  That will eliminate vast swaths of real estate (including parts of Florida) and every atoll on earth.  Nations which did not use the energy suffer the impact.  I don’t think it’s just a question of guilt, or a question of going back to living in teepees.  I think it’s a question of us being willing to innovate in energy.  If we had put a fraction of the $10 trillion we just blew on wars into our own energy production, we could have had more energy coming from biodiesel algae, wind, solar, and geothermal than we import from the Middle East.  In the process, we would have helped our economy, increased our national security, and put ourselves in a position to sell our technology to the rest of the world.  Instead, we swaddled ourselves in our little oil blanket, assuring our own nations’ fall while further harming the rest of the world.
       
      It’s not a question of guilt versus happiness.  It’s about reality versus living in pretend land, where we pretend our actions don’t affect anything else.  I don’t expect anyone to be guilty – but I would hope they would see what’s going on around them and support improvement.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      One of the major disconnects in our discussion is that I don’t believe that climate change has anything to do with the activities of man.  There are compelling arguments to be made on both sides and I do not begrudge somebody who believes in it.  I’m a geologist by trade, however, and I just don’t see the correlation between man’s CO2 emissions and sea level rise.
       
      But there’s much more to it than that.  The guilt I was getting at is ubiquitous in today’s culture.  You say it’s not about guilt, it’s about change.  Pundits for change use guilt as a motivator.  It is the vehicle through which policy is to be rewritten.  I believe that there are a great deal of people who begrudge America for her triumphs.  There are people who believe that America’s success has led to selfishness unjustified pride.  Has the country hailed itself when it didn’t deserve it?  Certainly.  But the 20th Century was truly a golden age of American development and it raised the standard of living for every American.  I truly believe that there are people who see this as unfair and would wish us back to the dark ages in the name of equality.  Now these people might be a minority, but they have made guilt for achievement and prosperity seep into every part of our culture.  A man isn’t wrong for earning more than his neighbor, he isn’t wrong for driving a pick-up when he could be driving a smaller car, and he isn’t wrong for taking pride in the country that has allowed him success.  Triumph rather than guilt should be our motivator for change.
       
      While our nation still has potential, I believe its golden age is past.  China is a nation that doesn’t show much guilt for anything lately and look how greatly the Chinese are advancing!  They’re coming out of the dark ages.  They are 150 years late to the party and though many aspects of the country are truly alarming, their recent surge is astounding.  It is indeed ironic that I believe our capitalistic economy should be a bit more like China and embrace production rather than wallow in the guilt of success.  Surly if we allowed our best minds to flourish without the hindrances of guilt for success, America could outdo the Chinese in every aspect and yes, it would be a lot cleaner as well.
       
      So yes, I suppose I do cry “AMERICA F&CK YEAH!!!” but only when American achievement warrants it and right now, achievement is not a popular thing.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Fair enough.  I see China investing massively in renewables and high speed trains, and I think they will benefit in the long term (although I don’t think passenger trains are necessarily a good fit for us with our lower density).  I agree that they are fearless, which is what we used to be, and is what drove our development.  I also agree that we did great things, and should be proud, but that shouldn’t prevent us from seeing the harm we do.
       
      I realize that there is some legitimate debate about anthropogenic climate change, but most of it is smoke and mirrors paid for by people who have a lot to lose if we start acting on the research.  What I can’t understand is why people think it’s so hard to believe that our activities have an effect.  We are throwing up enough pollutants to visibly and measurably change the air over huge land masses every single day, and every day that air blows away and we do it again.  Our emissions can be clearly seen from space.  I don’t see how it’s a big reach to think that all of those emissions might do *something* over the decades.  I would be stunned if they didn’t do anything at all.  The fact that the vast majority of climatologists seem to agree that warming and emissions are connected puts most of science in line with what seems to me to be common sense.  After all, there is very little profit in believing in antropogenic climate change.  I can’t see why people would say it is happening if they didn’t believe in it.  On the flip side, there is a mountain of money to be made in denying it.
       
      Do you think our emissions are just too insignificant to matter, or that the the greenhouse effect is not real, or what?   We killed almost the entire North American population of buffalo by shooting them from trains.  It seems like a small reach that a hundred years of concerted effort at burning a significant chunk of the Earth’s sequestered carbon would have an effect on the climate…

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      I’m not America.  I’m not 300 million Americans.  I’m one individual.   Your collective identity and collective guilt – invariably leading to the trademark socialist solution of collective reprisal – fly in the face of the freedom that allowed generations past to build this country into something great.
       
      Take your self-appointed “we” and shove it.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      @aspade: So you never see a reason to call many people assembled in once place a “crowd,” or use any word which aggregates?  Would you refer to every grain of rice in a sack by its individual characteristics?
       
      I wasn’t trying to presume what you personally are doing, but I think it’s pretty unfair to say that aggregation is presumptuous in general.  But if you want to change the language to avoid being included in any collection, I guess that’s your right.  But if that’s the case, we shouldn’t even have country names at all.

      EDIT: I just saw the “We killed buffalo” bit. If that’s what you’re referring to, apologies. I should have said, “people” killed buffalo”. I wasn’t trying to guilt you or myself. I was just giving an example where people in aggregate had a greater effect than each of them expected.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      To get down to the nitty gritty on climate change, yes, I do think that man’s greenhouse gas emissions are insignificant.  Remember, CO2 is a relatively weak greenhouse gas, especially when compared to others like methane or water vapor which are much more resistant to temperature change and are much more effective “blankets.”  Hydrogen fuel produces only water vapor as an emission and I just don’t see the logic in pushing it as a fuel as some do.
       
      But back to CO2.  Carbon dioxide is also relatively unstable and readily reacts with other molecules to form gases that are not greenhouse gases.  It’s also a common gas found in nature so it’s not exactly a pollutant in the way that NOx or sulfur dioxide are.   Yes, man-made emissions have released a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, but it doesn’t just hang out there.  Everybody knows that trees absorb CO2 to grow, but the biggest carbon sink on earth is the ocean.  CO2 is easily absorbed into seawater.  That’s where sea critters get the carbon to build their elaborate calcium carbonate shells.
       
      There’s a lot of talk made over glacial retreat.  Most glaciers are retreating, but there are some that are advancing to this day.  Glaciers are such temporary features.  Geologically, they come and go, just like rain puddles today.  What we’ve seen over the Quaternary Period (which we’re in right now) have been numerous glacial advances and retreats.  Glaciers are never stable.  Personally I believe that glaciers have been retreating for longer than scientists have accurate data and that this has been a part of a normal retreat since the end of the last ice age.  I believe if there was accurate climate data for the last several centuries, accurate to today’s standards, that you’d find that temperatures have been gradually rising normally with a steady slow loss of glaciation.  Remember that the frozen water that would have an impact on sea levels is locked up in the continental glaciers of Antarctica and Greenland.  The mountain glaciers we see so often are a drop in the bucket, comparatively. Sea ice melting has NO affect on sea levels because it is already displacing its own weight in sea water.  Yes, there are decreases in ice in the continental ice caps, but it’s such an insignificant portion of what’s still frozen.  No civilizations have been lost to sea level rise since the start of the Industrial Revolution and our coastlines look the same, for the most part.
       
      So seeing as CO2 is a weak greenhouse gas and is easily dispersed and that glacial fluctuations are very normal, I do not see that humans have had much of an impact on the climate.  Yes, humans can affect the environment and can wipe out species.  There’s not arguing that and as you mentioned earlier, LA looked terrible decades ago and it looks a lot better now.  On a global scale, however, there have been many lesser species that have had a much more dramatic impact on climate and the environment than humans have.  I believe that now that technology allows for such a big picture, any observed changes may now be taken radically out of context as there was no big picture 100 years ago.
       
      @aspade:  I feel where you’re coming from, I really do.  If things don’t turn around, the world may loose the first person singular, or at least its sense of it, just like in Anthem, but imag has been polite enough in this discussion that I’ve enjoyed responding without hostility.  That’s one of the reasons I enjoy TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      imag


      Thanks for remaining polite N.  It’s what I appreciate about TTAC too.

       
      Just to clarify about the individuality thing – I think I’m pretty pro individual.  I think unions have had occasional uses throughout history, but pay by seniority rather than merit rubs me the wrong way, and I have watched unions screw their own workers and the public.  I think governments can be clumsy at best.  I also think that corporations – the other person-aggregating system – can be equally horrific.
       
      But I haven’t seen a good libertarian solution to the tragedy of the commons, when the commons cannot be owned.  If someone dumps something in a river, it ends up downstream.  Ownership of a part of the river doesn’t solve the problem.  The sky is a commons.  We have to share, whether we like it or not.  Being on this Earth is like being in a lifeboat, or on an island, together.  I don’t want to be stuck with a commons any more than anyone else :)
       
      Regarding climate change, I guess I see this and see much more rapid than geologic change:
      http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/09/23/tech-environment-ice-sheet-melting.html
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retreat_of_glaciers_since_1850
       
      And I agree that CO2 is not the greenhouse gas of most concern.  Spilled hydrogen from a “hydrogen economy” (brought to you by the oil companies) would be worse by unit – and spilled natural gas may be worse than burning coal for energy.  I’m not sure that CO2 is the only reason for the warming.  But CO2 is an indicator of what is happening, and the rate of CO2 increase just looks too fast to be a long-term phenomenon – a 20% increase in 50 years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth's_atmosphere
       
      But I’m happy to agree to disagree.   I knew I should have left out the paragraph on climate change on the internet :)

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Imag – I couldn’t have stated much better my similar beliefs on the idea that ‘the common good’ regarding the environment is not socialism, but simple fact that what any industrial nation does to degrade the planet has increasingly greater effect on others simply for the fact that the world is filling up with people.
      To take a “South Park” look at it – I fart in an elevator, no big deal, when 5 people get on and we all fart… well –
      If the supposedly “weak” greenhouse gas CO2 raises global temperatures just enough to melt permafrost that contains billions of tons of organic matter that once thawed, would start producing the much more powerful greenhouse gas, methane, a “tipping point” could be crossed. If global ice and snow cover is reduced just slightly by a slight warming caused by the “weak” greenhouse gas, CO2, then the decreased albedo would cause less sunlight to be reflected into space, which would warm the planet, and cause more melting, year after year.
      Yes, CO2 is needed by plants, but deforestation (being replaced by agriculture, which is no long-term storage solution foe CO2) forces the oceans to absorb more carbon than normal, causing acidification, which threatens photosynthetic microbes that are responsible for the first steps of converting CO2 into calcium carbonate – the planet’s “long-term” storage solution for excess carbon.
      In other words, the danger is that multiple “tipping point” scenarios exist that even the most powerful supercomputer would generate an error trying to predict – only the human mind (which at its most basic level, is all about self-preservation) can worry about all of the possibilities that could endanger themselves as individuals, then transfer the implications to humanity as a whole.
      There are numerous entities that rely on “business as usual” that are actively convincing individuals that there is no danger, so the aggregate thinking tends towards ‘there is no danger – I can do nothing about the problem anyway’, and that thinking any other way is ‘radical’, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
      I think that if people would start to think that the personal dangers that climate change would have, maybe not to themselves, but to their children and grandchildren, maybe they could gather together and create a “tipping point” of their own – a worldwide acceptance that even with incomplete and sometimes conflicting evidence, that a world that we *could* create by inaction is personally unacceptable.
      We make small sacrifices every day, in order to not endanger ourselves and our descendants, is it just dumb to think that the world we all have to live on is somehow not worth some sacrifice as well?
       

  • avatar

    Jalopnik has visibly declined in the past year and half.  Not only the writing, but the commentary as well.  It is sad, it used to be a very entertaining blog but the writers now seem to be bent on one-upping TTAC and the commenters are in a constant battle to shallowly outsnark each other.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I agree.  Stupid as it is, at least AutoBlog has a kind of dumb honesty about it.  It’s just a bunch of press releases and happy/angry fanboism.
       
      Jalopnik is pushing so hard on its moral superiority that it’s tiresome.  But then people say the same thing about TTAC…
       
      I will say, being part of Gawker can’t be easy.   The constant push for more page views means pulling in increasingly lame commentary and lame tie-ins to the other sites.  I’m sure the best of Jalopnik will be reborn on some small car blog which doesn’t exist yet.   BaT has got a pretty cool little world going…

    • 0 avatar
      voodoojoo

      @imag – have you ever checked out hooniverse.com? They got a lot of Jalop’s good commentariate and the posts are pretty entertaining, too.

    • 0 avatar

      We actually don’t have a problem with TTAC and aren’t trying to “one-up” the site in any way. I don’t understand why Ed claims we’re attacking the site, when, if you read the article, it’s clear we’re not. We don’t mention TTAC in any way. This was a problem with the Op-Ed the NYT ran. Ed’s the one who’s trying to make a claim we’re on the attack against TTAC — to, in some way, try to gin up a dispute of some kind for god only knows what reason.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      @voodoo – had seen it mentioned, but never been there ’till now.  Thanks for the tip!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’ve stated this before, but I have found Jalopnik pretty uninteresting every time I’ve visited their site. This topic has justified my decision to not bothering with them again! TTAC is not only loads of fun to read and comment, but extremely informative. I learn more about the industry I love each and every day. I’m always amazed how little I do know about the auto industry, although years of experience counts for something, I suppose!

    TTAC, keep up the outstanding work, GM-hate and all.

  • avatar
    86er

    Let me put it this way: Detroit didn’t make North Americans want large vehicles.  I’m less worried about the size and thirst of what Detroit is putting out, and more about whether or not they are reverting to old habits in their corporate governance. 

    Pretty much everyone in NA is driving a 5500 pound truck or a 4500 pound “crossover”, and every last one of the manufacturers sells one or both.

    Should we hold Detroit to a higher fuel efficiency standard than the rest? I don’t see why. They ought to run themselves like a regular business, though; it has been mentioned here on TTAC that this is not always happening. That’s where the greatest focus should zero in. The rest is just wishful thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I have to disagree.  The car makers spend about $500 per car on advertising, and every penny of that is exceedingly well designed and calculated to create and alter consumers’ “needs”.  Relentless glorification of large vehicles that drain the economy of resources much better expended elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Yes, but this “glorification of large” didn’t start with the advent of the automobile industry.  It is the manifestation of the origins of settlement.  A limitless continent. 

      The automakers merely shamelessly exploit this.  It’s not unique to auto industry marketing.  Ever watched a Burger King commercial?

      I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it merely “is”.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike999

      I’ll jump in and say it’s bad.
      At least the constant drumbeat for more horsepower.  With todays traffic jams, 150 hp is just as good a 500.  I bought full size SUV 8 years ago with a 200 hp V6, that was scary fast.  Today, I can’t get less then 250-300 hp in an SUV.  I don’t have a need for an extra 100 hp, yet, I have to buy it.  And it will suck More Gas in Actual Use.
      What this blog fails to recognize is inter-company entanglements.  If you buy an SUV you will use $30,000+ in gas over 10 years.  Just as Intel controls Dell, I think we’re seeing Exxon Control or Influence of Ford and GM.
      It’s not really about buyer preference, because in 10 years, I’ve never heard an SUV buyer say “Boy, I really could use an extra 50 HP”.  What I’ve heard is “Boy, I could really use an extra 5 MPG”.
       

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Enough with the Jalopnik-bashing. Not that I have anything against it as such. I just don’t like kicking people laying down. Let them die in silence, I say. Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    I note Mr. Hyde refers to the NY Times Op-Ed page rather than TTAC, as that might drive even more traffic over here – who would then stay.  My quick snark re the Pres is his tendency to talk to the left of Ralph Nader and govern more like GW Bush II.  But the problem with the bailout(s)is that it was never stated explicitly by the PTB* that taxpayer money would be used to subsidize other people’s jobs,when that is in fact all they are.  Perhaps if Prezzes Bush and Obama had simply stated that part of our deficit would be used to keep certain people employed and then had to justify why those people and not others we wouldn’t have this somewhat bemusing example of hypocrisy.  Oh, who am I kidding?
    *Powers That Be

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      It would have been much cheaper for the government to help everyone buy a new car with a $10,000 out-and-out grant, or just to pay for the whole car up to $25,000!

    • 0 avatar

      Justin points to the NYT Op-Ed piece because that’s who ran the piece. Also, because we don’t have a problem with TTAC. Which is why I’ve asked Ed to explain why he thinks we’re attacking TTAC — when we very clearly aren’t.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I read articles on TTAC nearly ever day. I read articles on Jalopnik about once a month. Nuff said.

  • avatar

    TTAC would do better with more Transformers coverage.

  • avatar
    SweetSandMan

    TTAC has substantially better writers with more interesting and debatable views with a more intelligent level of grammar and verbiage. However, I read both because different topics are discussed on each blog. The best, though, is when both blogs report on the same major controversial topic. Each has a different view and each argues its side differently…but this topic hit interesting grounds with direct jabs at one another. It’s almost like an episode of Battle of the SuperCars with better acting and a tidier script. I <3 automotive journalism.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie


    The fact remains that hunreds-of-thousands of blue collar jobs were saved from the bail out. What was saved from the banking bailout? Huge bonuses worth more than what a single autoworker makes in two years.

    Bailouts suck, but at least the middle class survived. Maybe a little bruised, and healing, but still intact.

    In the end, the truth is that large faceless corporations of all kinds are what is wrong with our free-market system. They answer to hundreds, thousands, and millions of investers that all own tiny little bits of each company (not just automotive). All of these investors want to see large gains in profits no matter what is at stake. New Yorkers could understand this with the loss of the textile industry/garment district.

    What’s good for New York and San Francisco is not good for the rest of the country. If you want proof, I’ll get all of my friends and relatives that have not worked in roughly the last two years. I personally know so many I can’t keep count. They’ve lost their homes, are sleeping on couches of friends and family, and even picking up from the local food banks. Five years ago I knew of NOBODY that had to go through this.

    I’m personally greatfull to our government for helping the auto industry.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      The irony is that most middle Americans vote consistently for the people who screw them over.  The wealthy “elites” at the coast vote to tax themselves to help out middle America.  For their trouble, they get demonized for it by the very pundits which middle Americans worship.
       
      It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    • 0 avatar
      Wagen

      Very well put imag. But just let me also say that those wealthy voters on the coasts that vote to tax themselves to help out middle america also end up helping out the cronies (defence, oil industries) of the pundits who are screwing over middle america. It’s all so schizophrenic.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      @Wagon: True that.  I feel like in the last 10 years, we’ve crossed over into wholesale looting of the government by private corporations.  They aren’t even trying to pretend they deliver value any more – they are just shoveling money out of the coffers as fast as possible.  Look at Iraq – billions of dollars were sent over on no-bids that didn’t even *buy* us anything.  We can’t even account for the money, we’re sending it out so fast.
       
      Buying a politician or a pundit is incredibly cheap compared to the returns…

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I am not sure I understand your point in the article then.  GM sells more SUV, trucks and crossovers and has a lower fleet fuel economy rating.  What is the surprise here?  Did you need to write 2 articles to talk about this?  It is pretty basic math.
     
    But I do agree, this is a damned if you do damned if you don’t article.  If GM was losing lots of market share in SUVs and crossovers, people would be ridiculing the big 3 for that.  Since they are selling more, it is now a problem.  I agree with Jalopnik on this.
     
    I understand that you are also trying to point out the politics behind a green Detroit 3 bailout.  But, you also try to assign blame to it GM and Chrysler, for giving the customers what they want.  Should we be blaming Obama for giving the wrong political message?  Perhaps buyers should be shunned for going less fuel efficient.
     
    At General Motors, sales of actual cars this year have fallen by nearly 6 percent compared with last year’s anemic numbers, while light trucks (which include pickup trucks, S.U.V.’s, minivans and crossovers) are up by more than 16 percent. Despite rolling out the much-hyped Cruze compact and the Volt plug-in hybrid, G.M. still sells half again as many trucks and S.U.V.’s as it does cars.
    You also realize that the Volt only went on sale a few days (maybe weeks) ago and is intended to be low volume.  The Cruze has been on sale for a short time as well.  But, you claim how much GM cars volume has fallen in yearly numbers with then 2 hyped models just got released.  While the numbers are very true.  That simple comparison is full of spin.  The Cruze is a good car for anyone who would actually take the time to drive it.  The Volt, I cannot comment on because I haven’t gotten to drive one.

  • avatar

    Ed, where do we attack TTAC in Justin’s piece?

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I believe it was when Justin said “Why can’t the New York Times find writers who know anything about the automotive industry?”  Then he followed that up with “…Edward Niedermeyer does his best Tom Friedman impersonation,” which is pretty damn insulting where I come from.
       
      No, technically you didn’t attack TTAC.  Not by name, because not once does Justin refer to this website.  There’s no implication that Ed runs this website, which seems like an even bigger slap in the face.  If you’re going to criticize TTAC’s editorial stance, at least be upfront about it, rather than attribute it to the intellectually stagnant NYT.
       
      I don’t have a problem with the “attack.”  Justin disagrees with Ed, and I ultimately disagree with both of them.  And that’s great, because that’s the basis for interesting debate.  But the way Jalopnik went about voicing its disagreement felt like a hit piece, pure and simple.
       
      And that would be fine too, because a healthy rivalry keeps things interesting.  Except you went about it in such an underhanded fashion, and then come over here and deny it.  Look, Ray, I’ve been far more loyal to your site than TTAC, and didn’t even start commenting here until Murilee moved.  I read Justin’s piece before I saw Ed’s NYT article or his very polite rebuttal.  So, trust me, even if it wasn’t intentional, what you guys posted had all the stench of a hatchet job.
       
      This isn’t the first time you guys have played dumb about a very mean-spirited editorial take.  And, trust me, it’s not the first time <i>Jalopnik’s</i> regulars haven’t been happy about, either.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      @Buick: Well put.  And I also have spent more time on Jalop than on TTAC.  That’s changing lately.

    • 0 avatar

      @FromaBuick6: Trust me, it was absolutely an attack on Ed Niedermeyer — he wrote the piece. But at Jalopnik, we’re more than one person. If I write an Op-Ed for the WSJ or the NYT or anywhere, it’s my piece, not Jalopnik’s. I am not Jalopnik and Jalopnik is not me. Just as we did the favor of assuming Ed Niedermeyer is not TTAC and TTAC is not Ed Niedermeyer. This wasn’t a piece that ran on TTAC, it was a piece that ran on the NYT Op-Ed page.
       
      Ed’s manufacturing a disagreement between Jalopnik and TTAC where none exists. Your guess is as good as mine as to why he’s doing so.

    • 0 avatar

      Ray, that’s a good point.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      @Ray Wert:  You’re arguing semantics here and it’s really not becoming.
       
      When Ed writes for the Times, the paper notes “Edward Niedermeyer is the editor of the Web site The Truth About Cars,” the same way CNBC recognizes you as Jalopnik’s editor every time you appear.
       
      Ed’s original piece didn’t appear here.  But he runs this site, and his opinions are very much entwined with the editorial direction this site has promoted since its inception.  The NYT published that op-ed because he’s the editor of this site.  I think he’s more than entitled to view this as an attack on this site and respond to it here.
      Same goes for you, Ray.  No, you didn’t write the piece, Justin did.  But you run the site, and you’re ultimately responsible for it getting published.  So you have to take some ownership of the piece and you really shouldn’t be surprised by the response.
       
      You can split hairs as much as you want, but readers are going to inevitably tie your opinions with your website’s.
       
      Again, I’m not taking sides here.  But you’re either being completely disingenuous or completely ignorant.  I respect your opinion, and every other Jalopnik staffer’s, whether or not I agree with it.  It doesn’t matter to me what you say or who you trash; again, that’s what sparks debate and keeps things interesting.  But it’s very insulting to your audience when you won’t admit that your content is remotely controversial or in any way biased.
       
      All I ask is that you be honest.  And if you still don’t see any problem here, you really need to reevaluate Jalopnik’s content.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      FromaBuick6, you blew Ray out of the water six ways ’til Sunday!

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      Ray, you should be happy, this is bringing page views to your site. The minions at Gawker are telling you to drum up page views ++ at the expense of editorial content, which Murlie went into detail about after he left Jalopnik.

    • 0 avatar

      Ray,

      It seems to me that Justin’s/your decision to not mention Ed’s role as editor here at TTAC was deliberate. It also seems to me that it cleverly allows you plausible deniability. You can deny that you were sniping at the competition while doing exactly that.

      Isn’t it a journalistic shortcoming to describe Ed as a “blogger” without mentioning TTAC, the place where he doesn’t just blog, but is the executive editor and public face of the blog?

      Jalopnik has mentioned TTAC before, sometimes favorably, and the announcement of Murilee’s addition to the staff here was gracious, so the deliberate omission of reference to TTAC seems curious. That deliberate omission creates the awkward situation where Justin conflates Ed’s views with those of the New York Times, when the NYT’s op-ed piece is noted for publishing a range of opinions. Justin worked at a major newspaper and I think he understands the difference between an editorial by the newspaper’s staff and an op-ed piece from an outside contributor.

      Also, and since you’re the head honcho over at Jalopnik so this is your responsibility, your claim that Justin’s post had nothing to do with TTAC is a bit disingenuous when we look at the headline that you may have written yourself and definitely approved:

      What The New York Times Op-Ed Page Doesn’t Know About Cars

      Now perhaps I’m attributing to you more cleverness than you really have, once again it seems to me that the “About Cars” part is a sly reference to The Truth About Cars. I don’t think that you’re an unclever person. איר זענט אַ קלוג איד And I think the headline was as deliberate as the omission of TTAC’s name from the article.

      You want to have it both ways, Ray. You want to be able to get away with saying that TTAC’s editor knows nothing about cars while saying “who me?” because you didn’t use the full name of this site.

      Frankly, Ray, Justin’s post and your recent comments here, to me say one thing: Jalopnik’s management considers The Truth About Cars to be an important competitor. Once again, thanks for the endorsement.

  • avatar
    Morea

    What thoughtful person would visit a website that posts treacle such as:
    hearing their children ask Santa Claus to stop their electricity from being shut off

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    An SUV/truck buyer prepared to go underwater on their deplorable purchase is symptomatic of the pride-in-stupidity that seems everywhere in the USofA at the moment. With $90-$110/barrel ($130 with a possible “recovery” during 2011) and their SUV/truck will be worth exactly $0 almost overnight.
     
    It’s not at all clear that GM (or Ford) can make money on the inevitable change to smaller cars, or that they know how to attract buyers to their smaller offerings. From that point-of-view the bailout is a structural failure micro- and macro- economically speaking.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      As somebody who bought an SUV in 2008 when gas prices peaked and recently traded it (an ’05 4Runner that kept most of its value) for an ’11 Mustang 5.0, I somewhat resent your pride-in-stupidity remark.
       
      That said, I also drive an older Civic that refuses to get worse than 27 MPG.  So, save for the inherent stupidity of buying a new car, or keeping any vehicle a mere two years, I like to think that I’ve hedged my bets pretty well, regardless oil prices.
       
      Oh yeah, and despite what the car rags claim about the Cruze and Volt, I agree that the bailout will probably be a failure, if for no other reason than most buyers just aren’t going to take Chevy seriously after the Vega and Cavalier.  And even though i think the new Focus will be a knockout, same thing goes for Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      One of the things that’s missed in these little contretemps is the fact that, in America, a SUV is one hell of a deal. Even in its darkest days, GM’s SUV line kept the lights on and not the cars because even at a good margin — meaning that the builder was overcharging you versus the cost — they still sold in droves. They’re large, comfortable, reasonably quiet, built well, last forever, have pretty bulletproof drivetrains and will go anywhere. Ok, not all that fuel efficient but let’s get real. Miracles take time.
      Look at what the other countries drive when the going is tough. Fords and GMs in particular. Really noticeable where there’s options and not much reason for patriotism.
      That said, if only they could do the same for small cars. Ford’s trying by bringing over their Euro fleet, for the first time not “Americanizing” it and killing the very things that caused them to succeed in the first place. GM is struggling to do the same and not being all that successful with it. The jury is still out on whether it will work. None of the so called bailout funds will help or hinder this effort and I can’t see how any government can influence the populous at large to change significantly without some draconian edicts like high gasoline taxes or size/weight restrictions on vehicles.

  • avatar

    Good old Internet flame war.

    No one side is right, and no one side is entirely wrong either.

    Detroit hasn’t made this amazing, overnight change into the greenest car makers on the planet. But they are better prepared to deal with the future. I’d say Ford and maybe even GM are at least on par with the rest of the world’s automakers. But it is mighty tempting to stick to selling this high-profit big vehicles that Americans like buying. It’s still too early to call it either way as far as I’m concerned. Detroit has always been a flip of the coin, thats what makes their story so compelling compared to Toyota. There is a reason that the reliable Corolla isn’t a collectible, but $3,000 brand-new American cars are.

    Ray, you keep asking where TTAC is mentioned. Hyde’s article never mentions the Ed is editor of TTAC, and instead portrays him as a know-nothing about cars while waving the flag of awesome American automobiles. The piece had an inflammatory title and no explanation about the author, who does in fact know a good deal about cars, which is probably why he got to write in a prestigious paper like the NYT. Both pieces had good point, and an element of truth. Both missed the mark in places too. None of us have a crystal ball telling us what the future holds. Just sit back and hold tight, because it’s always going to be a bumpy ride.

    I read TTAC and Jalopnik daily, and they are both great sites for car guys of all calibers. Ya’ll should be on the same team. Nobody goes to the NYT for car news anyway, and that piece had a much wider audience than just us wrench-turners. That’s why we read and love car blogs though. You guys tend to know what you’re talking about a lot than 24 hour news networks and talking heads. Calling each other out over differing opinions just seems like a waste of breath when there are bigger gripes to bitch about (like where are my damn flying cars?)
     
    We are all rooting for Detroit. Some of us just don’t want to look like fools should the Big Three make the same big mistakes again.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    F Jalopnik and their childish “bro”. el camino ,and “is this car bruce” BS. They can take their stupid little golden stars and shove them where the sun don’t shine.
    TTAC has Murillee and P.N. doing his curbside classics, along with a great crew of informative writers.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Let’s leave the pissing matches in the urinals.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    I don’t agree with many aspects of Ed’s critique of the bailout, which on the whole I think was a necessary evil.  However, I was impressed with the quality of his rebuttal to Jalop’s piece.  Ed offered a nuanced argument that displays the blogosphere’s promise as a source of tough-minded and independent automotive journalism.
     
    Ray intervenes multiple times here in the comment thread but in my view doesn’t do much for his cause.  If anything he sounds vapid and thin skinned.  Dude:  If you don’t have anything substantive to add why not go back and rule your own kingdom?
     
    Jalopnik had the potential to be the contemporary answer to Car & Driver in its heyday but seems to have turned off on the low road to McCheap infotainment.  Meanwhile, TTAC continues to display journalistic courage and — since Farago left — a real diversity of commentator debate.  TTAC may not possess the bells and whistles of Jalopnik, but it is in most respects the single best source of provocative automotive JOURNALISM in the blogosphere.
     
    Deep down Ray knows this.  I think that goes a long way toward explaining this little dust up.
     

  • avatar
    picard234

    The Detroit Free Press has jumped on board.  Ed Niedermeyer is, of course, “a fountain of wrongheadedness.”
    She makes some valid points but ignores some others.  And the beat goes on….
     
    http://tinyurl.com/25s3tdn

    • 0 avatar

      Ah yes, the Freep… that bastion of objective and unbiased reporting on the marvelous glories of the Detroit auto industry and UAW!
       
      Webster’s opinion on automotive matters could not be more irrelevant if she had instead written about the Kardashians.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Rob,
      TTAC isn’t exactly unbiased either.  But attack the source instead of the article.  That is a great idea.
       
      If you read the Detroit Free Press article, it is actually quite good in its critique.  It talks about crossovers being a big increase in the truck sales.  These are also more fuel efficient than the SUVs they are replacing.  Something the NYT article completely skipped over.  Also mentioned how the Volt is on sale and hasn’t increased the ratio of car to truck sales from GM.  Forgetting to mention that the Volt had only been on sale for a VERY short time.
       
      Lots of holes in the NYT article.  The Jalopnik and Detroit Free Press critiques are fair and spot on.

    • 0 avatar

      Steven, the source makes the story irrelevant. Like any of us expect a Detroit newspaper to agree with anything that rightfully criticizes the local industry (and Detroit’s only reason for its existence.)
       
      Ed wouldn’t be out of a job if GM goes under. Webster would be in a bread line. There’s your objectivity.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Rob,
      Maybe you have missed several articles form the Detroit Free Press that are negative towards what the Detroit 3 have done.  There are plenty of them.  You should know the source before you criticize it for its name.
       
      Also, you should actually read the article.  It made several valid points not addressed in the TTAC rebuttal.  The source doesn’t make the article irrelevant.  But after seeing several of your opinion based posts where you can’t be concerned with actually digging up the facts, I am pretty sure that we can put all of your posts into that bucket of irrelevant because of the source.

    • 0 avatar

      Clever, Steve-O. Have a cookie. You’ve earned it.

  • avatar
    brunorab

    Regardless of the whole bailout debate, and whether Detroit is building green vehicles or not, there’s one thing I think people here get confused: everybody, americans or not, love SUVs and bigger cars.
     
    Let’s be honest here: Europeans don’t buy (more) bigger cars because they are more expensive to buy and to mantain (taxes and gas prices) and because of smaller streets and parking spaces. Otherwise, they would be parking Suburbans and Durangos under the Eiffel Tower for weekend picnics.
     
    Every major automaker has launched a new crossover in Europe in the last 10 years – From the Nissan Qashqai to the Ford Kuga, VW Tiguan and Opel Antara. Even the french are investing in crossovers now – see the Peugeot 3008 and Renault Koleos. That’s because crossovers are the closest thing to an SUV they are able to drive in Europe – a big(ger), high-riding station-wagon that gives you the ilusion you can drive anywhere. It’s as simple as that.
     
    In countries like Brazil (where I live), Russia, India and China, SUVs are more popular than ever, thanks to rising income. In Brazil, SUVs and big pick up trucks will never be as popular as in the US simply because 01) we pay three times what americans pay for gas; 02) most people can’t afford a $50k car like a Dodge Journey – and yes, I realize even the Journey, as big as it is, isn’t considered a real SUV in the US.
     
    Americans should stop beating themselves because they love SUVs. People don’t love SUVs because they are americans, they love SUVs because SUVs are nice and because, right now, they can afford all that comes with them. A 40-mile family trip to the mall in a 2011 Explorer is probably going to be really pleasant. A 40-mile family trip to the mall in a 2011 Fiesta will take you there (eventually), but it will drive you to divorce and teen suicide, even if you have Sync and an illuminated shift knob.
     
    If you live in a world where gas costs $ 3,00, I can’t blame you for opting for the Explorer, it’s all about comfort and what you’re willing to pay for that – but I’ll call you dumb because gas can go up to $ 6,00 and you know that.

    The real task here isn’t taking on automakers because they build SUVs, but because their SUVs aren’t more efficient and eco-friendly.
     

    • 0 avatar
      PeteMoran

      A 40-mile family trip to the mall in a 2011 Explorer is probably going to be really pleasant. A 40-mile family trip to the mall in a 2011 Fiesta will take you there (eventually), but it will drive you to divorce and teen suicide, even if you have Sync and an illuminated shift knob.
       
      I’m struggling with this “logic”. How ’bout a 40-mile trip in a regulation Camry or Fusion?
       
      Your statements about Europe are not true either. They have extremely popular vehicles called “estates” (wagons) which do the jobs needed by families just fine. European SUV-like offerings are nothing like the absurd SUV/trucks that perform the work commute or down to the mall for beer and amo in NA.

  • avatar
    e85_STi

    Human-caused pollution rates are so instense, the only instances that
    the pollution rate declines substantially = when a major volcanic eruption
    disrupts our “business as usual”.
    Each week, well over 400 million tons of: carbon dioxide (oil, natural gas, coal,
    making cement), methane (“big” agriculture, production/transport of coal,
    natural gas & oil), Nitrous oxide (“big agriculture”, industrial manufacturing,
    burning fossil fuels) not to mention the worst of the worst hydrofluorocarbons,
    perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.
    Click here for graph.
    Using data from Deutsche Bank’s Carbon Counter.

  • avatar
    capdeblu

    I think this has been tried before but it would be nice if we could get a tax break for buying a fuel efficient car.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    Ed’s journalistic brilliance is best observed by noting his complete absence of references to Ford, despite his many disparagements of “Detroit.”   I am sure I am not the only one willing to remind NY Times readers of TTAC’s countless Ford Death Watch posts, had Ed provided the opportunity.

  • avatar

    Consumers need a bigger nudge to make the move away from SUVs to more efficient cars and the best way to do it would be a hefty increase in the gas tax.  And when Detroit starts producing non-electric cars with MPG numbers that beat Toyota and Honda, their car inventory will shrink and they move all the cash incentives to the hoods of their SUVs.  
    For everyone who is keeping their ride for another year or two, there are plenty of ways to improve on fuel economy and save money.  We have a few ideas at http://www.earthgarage.com

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      You first. With every fillup, mail a check for the same amount to DC.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Bob,

      Why do I need to be nudged toward a small car? I love my F-150 and I will find a way to feed it no matter what fuel costs. Maybe you need to nudged toward a smaller house with a hefty increase in property tax. You’ve got your luxuries and I’ve got mine. Yeah, my F-150 has never seen a day of work but what if I did need it for work? Taxing my purchase of gas would be an income tax. If you happen to see the Sierra Club, tell them Denver Mike said to kiss my A$$.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @bob: In so far as ‘nudging’ consumers to purchase more fuel efficient cars via the gas tax, we don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do so. Additionally, with the mood of taxpayers these days, even if the tax were only aimed at being used for one purpose, it still wouldn’t happen. I’d like to see folks choosing more fuel efficient rides, but it’s still a (semi) free country.
       
      Me personally after the summer of ’08, I decided to downsize our main family car when it was time to replace it. After paying $60 (or more) to fill up a mid-sized car, that was my ‘come to Jesus’ moment. For me, fuel economy went to #2 or 3 in the priority list rather than 5 or 6 like it used to be.
       
      If the domestics (all of them) produced small cars as competent and complete as their larger trucks and SUVs they would have no issue selling them. Domestic small cars are considered inferior to their foreign counterparts, but the mileage is close, the difference is almost negligible in some cases.


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