By on July 23, 2011

The Michigan Congressional delegation’s letter, stating that the Detroit-based automakers are not technologically capable of serving the market while complying with a proposed 2025 CAFE standard seemed strange to me in light of the recent progress made by Ford and GM on fuel economy. Why, I wondered, would these firms boast of their fuel econmy efforts on the one hand while allowing their congressional representatives to portray them as unable to build a CAFE-compliant fleet on the other. Why, I wondered, don’t Ford and GM come out and angrily insist that they can build the most fuel efficient cars in the world? My guess: because they know that they can probably wheedle a loophole out of the feds if they keep pleading inability. Yes, everyone knows they can comply with CAFE… but even the UAW knows that when the government asks you to do something, you ask for something back. Which in turn made me wonder: what might the OEMs want? And, turning to the 2012-2016 CAFE Final Rule [go on, give it a read in PDF format here], I found a glaring loophole that all the manufacturers seemed to want, but which the feds turned down. I have no evidence that this is back on the table for 2017-2025, but I thought I’d put it out there to give a sense of what the OEMs may be pushing for by  pleading inability to comply with the proposed 2025 standard.

In the section of the final rule discussing “flexibilities,” the same section that grants EVs, FCVs and PHEVs a zero-carbon rating, and allows automakers to apply over-compliance credits to its truck fleet, another credit loophole is mentioned: the “super credit.”

In the Joint Notice of Intent, EPA stated that ‘‘EPA is currently considering proposing additional credit opportunities to encourage the commercialization of advanced GHG/fuel economy control technology such as electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. These ‘super credits’ could take the form of a multiplier that would be applied to the number of vehicles sold such that they would count as more than one vehicle in the manufacturer’s fleet average.

Following through, EPA proposed two mechanisms by which these vehicles would earn credits: (1) A zero grams/mile compliance value for EVs, FCVs, and for PHEVs when operated on grid electricity, and (2) a vehicle multiplier in the range of 1.2 to 2.0.228

The proposed vehicle multiplier incentive would also have operated like a credit as it would have allowed an EV, PHEV, or FCV to count as more than one vehicle in the manufacturer’s fleet average. For example, combining a multiplier of 2.0 with a zero grams/mile compliance value for an EV would allow that EV to be counted as two vehicles, each with a zero grams/mile compliance value, in the manufacturer’s fleet average calculations. In effect, a multiplier of 2.0 would double the overall credit associated with an EV, PHEV, or FCV.

Sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? Not only would automakers get to pretend that plug-ins create no upstream C02 for the purposes of CAFE, but they would also get to count those “carbon-free” vehicles as more than one vehicle. And since CAFE is based on fleet averages, that would make a huge impact: in theory a zero-carbon car with a 2.0 multiplier could offset some seriously non-compliant trucks. And not only did the automakers love this proposal, but they all put their own unique spin on it:

Most vehicle manufacturers were supportive of both the zero grams/mile compliance value and a higher vehicle multiplier. Automakers universally supported higher multipliers, many higher than the maximum 2.0 level proposed by EPA. Honda suggested a multiplier of 16.0 for FCVs. Mitsubishi supported the concept of larger, temporary incentives until advanced technology vehicle sales achieved a 10% market share. Finally, some commenters suggested that other technologies should also receive incentives, such as diesel vehicles, hydrogen-fueled internal combustiengines, and natural gas vehicles.

Boy, I bet Honda wishes a fuel cell vehicle could be worth 16 zero-carbon cars… but why would it be? It’s not as if fuel cell cars take carbon out of the air, is it? Meanwhile, the Detroit booster brigade will be thrilled to see it reported that “foreign brand” automakers try to manipulate CAFE just like everyone else. Speaking of which, it was a Japanese automaker rather than the traditional Detroit boogeyman who was used as the example for why “super credits” shouldn’t be included in the 2012-2016 rule.

Although some environmental organizations and State agencies supported the principle of including some type of regulatory incentive mechanism, almost all of their comments were opposed to the combination of both the zero grams/mile compliance value and multipliers in the higher end of the proposed range of 1.2 to 2.0…

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) stated that the credits could ‘‘undermine the emissions benefits of the program and will have the unintended consequence of slowing the development of conventional cleaner vehicle emission reduction technologies into the fleet.’’ NRDC, along with several other commenters who made the same point, cited an example based on Nissan’s public statements that it plans on producing up to 150,000 Nissan Leaf EVs in the near future at its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. NRDC’s analysis showed that if EVs were to account for 10% of Nissan’s car fleet in 2016, the combination of the zero grams/mile and 2.0 multiplier would allow Nissan to make only relatively small improvements to its gasoline car fleet and still be in compliance.

This, in essence is a more extreme version of the basic problem with CAFE loopholes: they underestimate the carbon output of so-called “advanced technology vehicles” and apply the overcompliance credit to trucks, SUVs and other cars. But with the “super credit’ multiplier, this is simply taken to extreme levels. As a result, the 2012-2016 rules state

the incentive program will not include any vehicle multipliers, i.e., an EV’s zero grams/mile compliance value will count as one vehicle in a manufacturer’s fleet average, not as more than one vehicle as proposed. EPA has concluded that the combination of the zero grams/mile and multiplier credits would be excessive. Compared to the maximum multiplier of 2.0 that EPA had proposed, dropping this multiplier reduces the aggregate impact of the overall credit program by a factor of two (less so for lower multipliers, of course).

It’s impossible to know what’s going on behind closed doors in DC, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see this loophole return as a way for Obama and California to keep the 56.2 MPG number while conceding to the Michigan delegation’s argument that the standard can’t be reached without killing off a large part of the market.Another possibility could be the UAW’s proposal for more retooling loans which would shuffle a few billion off to the automakers to lower the cost of retooling for new, CAFE-compliant products. Either way, Detroit wouldn’t be playing opossum on CAFE if it didn’t expect something for its trouble… and this is just a taste of how crazy the loopholes can get. Maybe we’ll look at flex-fuel credits next…

 

 

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50 Comments on ““Super Credits”: The CAFE Loophole That Might Have Been (And Could Be Again)...”


  • avatar
    tced2

    Are the manufacturers supposed to be building reliable cars that meet buyers needs or those that meet loopholes set up by politicians?

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nope – this is supposed to allow manufacturers to keep building whatever the market wants without having to worry about CAFE too much. I’m sure that they have done some crystal ball predictions of future gas prices and have figured out that people will probably still want trucks in 2025.

  • avatar
    timlocke

    Surely in early 2013 a good solid Republican Congress and Senate combined with a republican president can just change the CAFE rules and while they are at it get rid of the Co2 as a pollutant rule. Rather a less aggressive CAFE with no loopholes that could have public support than a set of rules designed to be gotten around. ( Same applies to the US income tax but that is diferrent thread in a different forum)

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    So Ed, do you call the footprint based formula a loophole? I’d say it’s a good refinement of a very blunt measure of eco-goodnes (MPG). Some of those OEM comments like the one about having super credits until the tech is got 10%+ adoption sounds like perfectly logical economic nudging to get something used more and produced more to move it along the development and scale curves. Obviously there is some negotiation going on, but your last couple posts look to me to be very unbalanced towards ‘dumb old car companies just need tougher regulations’.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Ed- In your own emotion framed, technologically challenged world view you write that domestic industry supporters will be “thrilled” by the reality that Japanese makers are also concerned about this CAFE proposal, and then you go back to the absurd notion that Detroit is “playing oppossum”.

    Like any other business, ALL automakers are concerned with the same thing, making money. That is why every one of them exist. To attribute emotions to a car company betrays you fundamental lack of understanding of the truth.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      doctor olds: “Like any other business, ALL automakers are concerned with the same thing, making money. That is why every one of them exist. To attribute emotions to a car company betrays you fundamental lack of understanding of the truth.”

      I think this is why some people claim that corporations, viewed as ‘persons’ (under the law), should be classified as psychotic, for they share many of the same general traits with psychotics (such as lack of empathy, lack of moral conscience, and other socially appropriate emotions). That Corporations are concerned solely and exclusively with “making money” (or maximizing profit with little care or concern for the means of doing so and the collateral effects their actions may have on others) does indeed seem to be a truth of modern economic, political and social life. Nevertheless the fact that we, as free and morally responsible beings, are so willing to accept the truth of Corporate behavior as an acceptable and, for some an exemplary way of doing business likely speaks volumes about the less than virtuous character of our society.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        By the way, I should add that I see absolutely nothing wrong with making money. Getting a fair return for your labour and effort seems more than justifiable to me. It is when the aim of making money is pursued in a psychotic manner, with no empathy, moral conscience or concern for the welfare of others, that it becomes most problematic.

        I should also add that while Corporations may indeed be said to display psychotic behavior, that does not mean that it’s employees must also be psychotic (a point I defended vehemently in an earlier thread). My main point is simply this: While the behavior and general functioning of Corporations may stand as the contingent truth of our current economic ‘reality,’ those kind of behaviors and operations do not represent the essential truth of economic life and so should not be taken as the pure expression of human nature or the ideal model for the conduct of good business.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    No other nation in the world has anything like the CAFE law here. It is dysfunctional, has caused immense damage to our own automakers and is adversarial to consumer choice.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @doctor olds…You have a lot more support here,that what you might think.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree with you Mikey. I think Dr Olds and everyone commenting has the right to express their opinion on the subject or topic at hand. I may not always agree with them, but I will defend their right to express their view.

      What we often fail to keep in mind when we attack someone’s POV is that we each are a product of our own life’s experiences. We do not all experience life the same way and our agendas most assuredly are different as well. So we each have different points of view.

      I want to see the US auto industry do well and repay the tax payers. I often disagree with how we can see that happen because I look to the past and learn from it. The US auto industry has finally reached the point where the foreigners were in the 1980s, and they’re building decent cars. But the foreigners are not sitting on their laurels. They are continuing to evolve and improve as well.

      It is obvious to me that the US auto manufacturers have an agenda all their own but it is an agenda that foreign car makers are not hampered by. And the name of the game is to sell cars, something that all foreign brands are doing exceeding well at the expense of Ford and GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @highdesertcat, again something I can agree with. It strikes me that most of us reading TTAC want to get to same destination, our argument is about the roads that we ought to take to get there.

        I also extend my sincerest apologize to anyone I have ever offended here. I have always tried to stay impersonal. I may not agree with a word you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it, and hopefully all of the B&B will defend anyone’s right to disagree with them.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dan, there is actually a reason why I read ttac and the other automotive sites daily. It is because I have relatives in the new-car retail business and I want to be up-to-date should they ask me for my opinion (which invariably they have done often since 1982).

        But all that is coming to an end. “If we make it through December” is not just a Merle Haggard tune. It also applies to many businesses that will be on the block in 2012, among them my brothers and their partners.

        It’s best to git while the gittin’s good because once the shake out of the US auto industry is complete, all we will hear is the death rattle of many businesses in the US. If successful in their strategy, they will each walk away with millions, and that is a good thing.

        Coincidentally, my wife and her family have also decided that 2012 will be the year that their real estate business will be on the block. They all hope to make a tidy sum of money from the sale, enough for each of them to live life without having to worry about ever having to work again.

        The opinions expressed on this and other boards have been invaluable to me, and I’m sure to anyone from the auto manufacturers on down.

        The commenters who choose to criticize or belittle the opinion of others are a minor nuisance but in no way do they hamper the excellent articles written by Ed, Bertel and contributors.

        Yes, I miss Farago, but ttac as it is now is still the best source of feedback from the great unwashed masses.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        @ highdesertcat, “And the name of the game is to sell cars, something that all foreign brands are doing exceeding well at the expense of Ford and GM.”

        Maybe that’s why Ford is the number 1 selling brand and GM is the #1 MFG in the US with Toyota coming in 3rd in both “races”.

        In reality the name of the game is to make money and it’s not a foreign company that’s coming out on top, again it’s Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        scoutdude, I guess this means that you think that the foreign brands do not sell exceedingly well at the expense of Ford and GM. I think if there were no foreign brands for Americans to choose from, then all we would have to choose from are Ford and GM products, many of which are made outside of the US.

        But since Americans in enormous numbers buy cars from foreign-owned companies, it would seem to me to be a nightmare for Ford and GM, in spite of the numbers of vehicles they each sell, to see each one of those sales that is not theirs.

        My relatives sell Ford, Buick/GMC and several foreign brands and with the exception of the F-series trucks they make more money selling foreign brands. But that is my perspective. It could very well be different in your part of the country.

        At the end of this year we’ll know how sales stacked up overall. And I’m certain that ttac will feature an article on the annual sales stats. I bet it will be pretty much like the previous years.

      • 0 avatar

        highdesertcat,

        How dare your relatives try to cash out! They must be some of those corporate fat cats sitting on trillions in cash. You know, the folks who’d rather not expand their businesses and make more money just so that Obama won’t get elected, right?

        /sarc

        Actually, the two examples you cited are exactly one of the reasons why the economy is stagnant. Business owners don’t like facing uncertainty and about the only thing certain is that the current administration is made up of ideologues who think that capitalism is evil, that profit is akin to exploitation (well, when it’s someone else besides them reaping the profit). The executive branch is using its regulatory power to hamper business growth wherever it can.

        Ever notice how so many bad guys on tv shows and in movies are evil businessmen? Well, the current administration is made up of thousands of people who believe just as the writers of those dramas feel, that business is inherently untrustworthy.

        Funny thing is that Rupert Murdoch shuttered a business because of a scandal. When was the last time a government agency got closed down due to malfeasance?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Ronnie, I really didn’t want to give away that much info and my reasons for reading ttac religiously. But in the interest of full disclosure this may help those who like to criticize the posts of others to understand that many readers just like to tap into the wealth of information that’s out there and have no ax to grind, and no points to make.

        As far as my relatives cashing out of the new car retail business it is because, like in the Agribusiness, it can be very profitable to sell your business to a holding company or other large conglomerate. Their wholesaler has made several attempts to get them to sell certain locations. But it is an all or nothing deal for the owners.

        You have to get your ducks lined up, as in the right mix of brands for the location(s) of your storefront(s). You also have to show a profitable operation for 3, 5, 7 years, and they are getting there.

        My wife and her family decided to cash in by selling their real estate business because her mom and dad are getting up in years and her sisters and their husbands want to move on to Wyoming, Utah, and South Dakota, where they have extensive ranch properties, to retire there.

        Real estate is a pretty tough business right now but the properties they manage are a huge source of income and much sought after.

        They are looking at offers from out-of-state buyers because they are the ones with money and New Mexico properties are very lucrative because they are much cheaper than many other places.

        A lot of small business people are adjusting and adapting to the current political situation and uncertainty by ditching as much of their hired help as they can. Better to downsize and be profitable than to have lots of hired help standing around playing pocket pool.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @mikey: YOU bud, were the first lightning rod at this site, when I started reading this blog 5 or 6 years ago. You were the only union member, the only guy who spoke for the line worker, when the vast majority of the commenters on here have or had nearly zero experience working those conditions. Well done sir. Now that you’ve amde it into retirement, keep us posted.

      @Dr. Olds: I’m glad that you continue to post here, it’s good to get the real inside scoop from someone who as actually been there. Long time observers here have seen other actual employees have left due to various reasons. I appreciate your unique insigths and actual experience.

      When I post, I try to keep the comments relevant, and close to my experiences, which include my working life, as a Teamster, a sales man, a graphic designer/supervisor and as a consumer.

      I appreciate the insights I see here.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @geozinger ….Thanks for the vote of confidence. I to try to only comment on my experiences. When “Dr. Olds” came along I was concerned that the “percieved negative GM vibes” {we can’t use the other word} might drive Dr Olds away.

        However…I was wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        geozinger, mikey, Educator (of teachers) Dan, Doctor Olds and many others:

        I’ve only been on here about a year, but I have learned much. I deeply appreciate the insight, knowledge, experience and very interesting and often funny comments and know I have signed up on the right place – and that goes for “Curbside Classic”, too.

        @highdesertcat: What do you attribute your feelings about 2012? Pagan Mayan calendars mean nothing. Please explain your significance about that year?

        In any event, thank you TTAC for a fabulous website!

        Geo, I still owe you at least one beer!

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @Zachman, much has been learned by me too. I’d be interested to see what Highdesertcat thinks but I’m inclined to lean toward those people who believe that Dec 2012 will be some sort of “rebirth.” (Including a deeply spirtual Native American friend of mine who who has had many good insites the last few years. What that new day will look like, who knows.)

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Zackman: Thanks for the kind words again. Next time I’m in the Queen City I may have to take you up on that. In the meantime, keep the Chevy shined up. Mikey will show you how…

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Mikey: Yes, I feel we’ve lost several good sources of information due to the “percieved negative GM vibes”. Like I’ve noted before I’m glad to see you and Dr. Olds hung around.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Zack, there is no reason for 2012. It happens that my brothers and their partners have built up the dealerships from small mom&pop locations to what they are today through M&As.

        You can’t make money buying onesies and twosies in the new car business. You need a big wholesaler behind you to get the better wholesale prices.

        They’ve been doing it now for nearly 30 years, and it is time to cash in and let someone else run the business. More and more dealerships are selling out to the big holding companies. It’s the way of the future.

        My wife’s dad is 86 and he’s tired. He took over the real estate business from his father in 1962. Neither my wife nor her sisters want to take over the business.

        Her sisters are married to retired military guys who are from different states and long to go home and retire there on the properties they own.

        They entertained offers last year but were contractually bound through 2011 not to transfer management contracts. So 2012 is just a coincidence. It was a long time coming.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Philosophil- Maybe I am dense, but I surely don’t see your comments here as hateful, or even attacking. I am self critical for writing in haste, later regretting my words. “Act in haste, repent at leisure.” “I apologize for being an arrogant SOB, but make no apology for my passion on some of these topics.

        You are certainly right. Corporations do not naturally have a soul. From here, your ideas seem more theoretical than real, though. I am not putting corporations on a pedestal, but am very aware and proud of the social responsibility policies of one company, GM. I feel confident that the other automakers also have a large measure of social responsibility embedded in their policies and operating practices. Still, it has been said that the first priority of any human organization always must be to continue its own existence. Business has to make profit to accomplish this.

        I note reports that $500M in penalties have been levied for CAFE non-compliance, with not a dime from the U.S. makers. In the early ’90′s, we created our own competitive disadvantage at GM by policy. We could not offer trailer towing axles in large cars without incurring a gas guzzler tax on the vehicle. Initially, this was viewed as a fine. Corporate policy prohibited knowingly incurring fines, but competitors did not have that self imposed restriction. Later, albeit somewhat reluctantly,the decision was made to consider it a tax and we let customers decide if they wanted to buy a car with the tax added.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      If you put it that way then yes every non Ford or non GM car represents a potential sale that was “lost” to their respective company. Fact is sales of cars by GM and Ford are up greater amounts than brands from foreign mfg’s other than Chrysler.

      At the end of the year whether you tally sales by the calender or model year you will find that GM and Ford take the top 2 places in brand and MFG.

      It appears that Ford has gotten an unfortunate taste of being #1 and they seem to have put aside the work they have done to increase per unit profit and are going on a quest for being #1 not only as a brand but in many market segments. So unless something dramatic changes big and soon you’ll see Ford go down as the best selling brand in 2011 something that hasn’t happened in many years. So no this years chart won’t look anything like recent years charts.

      Now if you want to talk profitability at the dealer level that’s another story entirely. Historically yes Toyota and Honda dealers are highly profitable. Much of that is due to the fact that in general they have had fewer larger stores while Ford and GM have traditionally had more smaller stores. But a huge factor is the differences in where the money comes from. The average Honda dealer makes the bulk if not all of it’s money from the parts and service depts. The owner of the biggest dealer in my state once told my Dad that he made 110% of his profits from the parts and service depts. A former customer of mine was a book keeper at another large local Honda dealer and she confirmed that parts and service was where the money was, which is why she drove a Ford and didn’t let them touch it.

      So how are your families dealerships set up, stand alone facilities or a format with unrelated brands sharing 1 facility For example a Chevy Mazda store? If they are stand alone facilities could you ask them how their profit brakes down, IE what percentage of the profits come from new car vs used car vs parts and service, and how do they compare among the different brands?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        scoutdude, many manufacturers require contractual clauses that prohibit the selling of competing multi-brands from a single lot, but you can sell from that location by building your admin offices in the middle of the property and allocating quadrants for the different manufacturers.

        In some cases, and at some locations, they were able to acquire existing dealerships at adjoining locations (or nearby locations) and then simply expanded on that, usually by consolidating admin services and firing the people no longer needed.

        One of the partners is a CPA. The other an attorney. It is an arrangement that has worked for nearly 30 years.

        I know what their profit breakdown is but I’m not willing to discuss that except to say that when they were independents things were a lot different.

        Now they are affiliated with a large wholesaler and benefit from the economies of scale. IOW, their profit margins are better and yes, they have been consistently profitable by managing their staff.

        As of Dec 2011, they would be ideally situated to sell. The idea is to milk this cow for all its worth, at the right time, before it sours.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Since I was the only one who actually criticized doctor olds in this thread, then I can only assume that all the comments about unfairly criticizing, ‘belittling’ or being ‘hateful’ are directed towards me. No problem, and I too apologize if I offended anyone.

    I will add, however, that just as everyone here should be given the opportunity to express their views, so too should they be willing to accept criticisms of their views from those may happen to challenge or disagree with what they have to say. When positions are presented, people should be willing to back them up with good reasons and well developed arguments. In the end we should all want truth to win out over tenacity and authority, at least in the ideal.

    I too am here to learn and I make a point of reading the posts of certain people in particular as a potential source of interesting information, but I sometimes get vexed when I see people making statements that I feel need to be challenged (especially when those statements border on my own areas of experience and expertise, however slight that may be). Though I may sound harsh and direct at times, I usually mean no offense (though I do admit to sometimes responding in a more heated manner than I would otherwise like).

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Phil, I didn’t have anyone in mind when I posted my comment, and my comment was not confined to this one thread. However, if you feel the shoe fits…

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        The odd thing is that I’ve been strongly insulted on this site numerous times as well, but I don’t recall ever receiving any apologies. I try as much as possible to just go about my business and state my case as well and as clearly as I can (given the context). I find it amazing how many times my comments are wrongly interpreted (and especially how often people interpret things as personal attacks–I usually try to attack the idea or argument being made, not the person making it), but that’s the nature of the informational medium within which we’re communicating (no body language, no larger context, and so on). Still, I think your so-called ‘shoe’ probably fits a lot of folks here, including some of the very people who’ve been making comments in this thread (and that’s not a personal attack, but a general observation).

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Phil, there are some folks who seem to want to pick a fight with the author of the piece or even the commenters.

        Some of those people THINK they know what they are talking about, but others see right through them, and tell them so. This is not to say that those comments are not helpful. The authors of the article make painstaking efforts to ensure they have their facts right and avoid offending any paying advertisers before publishing.

        I would much rather read comments from someone who spent decades doing something and can bring the practical to the discussion than someone who got all their knowledge from running a Google search or Wikipedia paragraph and presents themselves as an expert, aka a drip under pressure.

        One of the things I was able to discern immediately was the strong emotions that some topics uncovered. And if you know how customers feel… you can market to that.

        And ttac still offers the best feedback from Joe Sixpack —- feedback you can’t find on any other site with as much readership as ttac. Farago started a good thing…way back when.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Well the general tone here seem pretty unanimous, and unlike some other people around here I can certainly take the hint. I see no point continuing to hang around a place where someone like me is obviously not wanted. I’m sure there are more than a few who will be glad to see me go.

    I actually enjoyed trying to contribute something to the discussion here, even though my views were never widely accepted. I certainly learned a lot about different aspects of the automotive industry, and will check back periodically to continue my informal education. I also thought it would be interesting trying to convey some of the ideas and such from my own academic research to a broader, less formally ‘academic’ (but highly intelligent) audience, but as everyone can see that hasn’t worked out so well.

    Thanks to the editors for putting up with me and to those who contributed to the spirit of critical openness and love of learning (or love of truth, if your will) that so attracted me to this site. I’ll still visit the site every now and then, of course, but it takes a lot of time reading through people’s posts and then writing the comments that I make, and I see little point in exerting so much energy for so little return. In the end I think my energies are better spent elsewhere. Besides, I have a lot of work to do on my own more formal academic pursuits (meeting publishing deadlines and such). I have a tremendous passion for the work that I do, second only to the love I have for my family, but it takes a lot of time and energy and there’s a lot I’d like to finish before the years drift by too fast.

    The pursuit of truth is a very difficult and dangerous thing, for it often requires that one abandon one’s most cherished and comfortable beliefs as well as challenge and sometimes undermine the cherished and comfortable beliefs of others. I’ve seen students break down in tears because they had begun to doubt some of the things they once held to be true, and I’ve seen others take up a threatening stance, ready to defend their beliefs with violence if necessary no matter what arguments and evidence might be raised against them. It is not a task to be undertaken lightly, and requires a openness to new ideas that few people seem able to bear (and I include myself in this as well). The old philosopher Socrates long ago noted that the first step to wisdom is recognizing one’s own ignorance, and that is something that very few of us is truly able to do.

    Best,
    Philosophil

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      philosophil, don’t make it a habit of staying gone. I read every post and every comment, and even though I may not agree with a lot of what is said, I enjoy every word! This is the best automobile site on the web, and as I stated earlier, I’ve learned much.

      Besides, with recent comments by commenters like VanillaDude last week, I’m anxious to see what’s next!

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Philosophil, having known you as a long time poster here, I just spent a good 25 minutes reading and reviewing this thread.

      I think most of the long time posters here were referring to the historical anti-GM bias of TTAC. I don’t think it’s a reality today. But given the fact that we have written well over a hundred GM Deathwatches, dozens of anti-UAW and anti-bailout editorials, and even banned those who were strongly pro GM or the UAW during the pre-bankruptcy days (albeit the debate here wasn’t exactly civil at the time)… our core audience still has a ‘free market’ bent that strongly discourages government interference.

      TTAC tends to be far more open and civil than most sites I have frequented. That’s what prompted me to start writing here. Even though I had been warned once and banned another time for my own opinions WAY back in the day, I soon found that I could convert folks to my point of view while improving my own understanding of how the car business works.

      I live this business. But having said that I still understand less than one tenth of one percent of it. The community here helps me understand about 9.9% of it with the other 90% yet to be touched.

      Take it easy and enjoy life for the next few days. Then come back. I happen to also be in the extreme minority when it comes to many car based opinions at TTAC. After a lot of complements and a fair amount of insults throughout my life, I have realized that criticism is only worth an emotion when it’s well thought out.

      Let’s face it. It only took a deep recession and an even deeper level of personal ignorance to convert people to my own ‘enlightened’ way of thinking when it comes to used cars… and yes… I am calling myself ignorant. I still consider myself as little more than a ‘cottage industry’ businessman in an industry that is global, intricate and complicated.

      I still have a lot to learn and wouldn’t mind having you teach me a few things between now and next Thursday ;) All the best…

  • avatar
    mikey

    @philosophil… Dude…I’ve left here,and come back.more times than I can count. Your intellegence, insight, and writing skills are an asset,here at TTAC.

    Take a breather for a week or two,if you must. But don’t make it a permenent thing.

  • avatar
    beefmalone

    Just because they “can” build 60+ mpg cars doesn’t mean any actual BUYERS will want to ride around in 2-seater, 1200lb crapboxes that make a Smartcar seem roomy.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Most two seaters that get 60+ mpg are far more roomy than the Smart.

      At least my 1st gen Insight is far more roomy.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        I know a rig that weighs 1200 lbs and seats two but I wouldn’t call it a cramped crapbox. It can out-tow my Mazda, too!

        http://www.canamoffroad.com/side-by-side/commander/commander-xt/1000/specifications.aspx

        And, somehow, it can be plated! One of these days I’ll find out how….

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @mazder3… check your local laws. This is the second time you’ve brought these up (for frequent readers of TTAC and CC) but each state is different. My grandmother (living in Ohio) considered getting one for puttering around town. Long story short she tested one out and just driving from her house (where the dealer had left it off) to the corner drug store a cop stopped her and (did not ticket her) but gave her a long list of upgrades that would have to be made to make it street legal. Mind you this is in a small Midwestern town that will not allow you to go faster than 35mph on ANY of the roads within town limits.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        @Educator(ofteachers)Dan

        Third time, actually. It started with the Honda Beat CC. I wouldn’t have brought it up if beefmalone hadn’t given those specs. Much to close to Commander specs. Can-Am dude does runs on Dunkins but the speedlimits are 25 to 35 and we are as rural as all getout. The cops are more concerned with domestic disturbances and drunkards. I know locally you can’t plate Kei trucks anymore for whatever reason. The independent Kei seller stopped selling them back in ’09.

        Three times is more than enough to mention the Can-Am, though. Lame running joke. I’ll stop.


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