Entrepreneurial Leadership and Management . . . and Other Stuff

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23
Jul

Is Diesel the Solution?

Many people, including me, have espoused the idea that wider use of diesel-fueled vehicles could put a major dent in fuel consumption in the US.  One can look at virtually all other countries in the world and recognize that this is patently obvious.  It’s easy to find diesel vehicles in the EU, for example, that cover almost 50 miles on a single gallon of the stuff.  Try that with a gasoline-electric hybrid.  So why aren’t we all driving cars with diesel engines?

With federally mandated low-sulfer diesel now available everywhere in the US and urea injection technology widely implemented by auto makers, clean diesel fuel is available to meet all our pumping desires.  Add that to the fact that even at the price premium that diesel currently gets over gasoline, diesel is the way to go – using current fuel costs and average fuel economy for gasoline-fueled vehicles and diesel-fueled ones, diesel cars still cost 23% less per mile to operate (see the EIA Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update for some great information on fuel prices).  Complete and utter no-brainer, right?  Bring on the diesels, our new best friends.

Disappointingly, it turns out that it’s not that easy.  Csaba Csere, editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine wrote a terrific editorial that discusses the diesel fuel dilemma in the US.  In the article, Csere states:

Al Mannato, a fuel-issues manager at API [American Petroleum Institute], explains that oil refineries tend to fall into two categories: catalytic cracking and hydrocracking. Most U.S. refineries are set up for catalytic cracking, which turns each barrel of crude oil into about 50-percent gasoline, 15-percent diesel, and the remainder into jet fuel, home heating oil, heavy fuel oil, liquefied petroleum gas, asphalt, and various other products. In Europe and most of the rest of the world, refineries use a hydrocracking process, which produces more like 25-percent gasoline and 25-percent diesel from that barrel of oil. So the rest of the world is already maximizing diesel production. In fact, despite using a refining strategy that minimizes the production of gasoline, Europe still ends up with too much of the stuff, so it exports it to America—about one of every eight gallons of gasoline that we consume.”

Crap.  So, we have this monstrous, difficult to change refining infrastructure that virtually guarantees that the supply of diesel fuel is constrained.  Csere continues . . .

Meanwhile, Americans are already using most of the diesel fuel that our refineries produce, so if sales of diesel cars take off, keeping the diesel flowing here will put further demands on tight worldwide diesel supplies and probably cause the price to rise even more. Our oil industry could, of course, start converting its refineries from catalytic to hydrocracking and start producing more diesel and less gasoline.

Doing so—and here’s the Catch-22—would reduce the output of gasoline and likely increase its price. Moreover, such a switch, Mannato explains, amounts to a major refinery change that would take 5 to 10 years to accomplish. . .

Hmmm . . . limited supply and increasing demand.  Even my basic grasp of economics leads me to see that this is a problem.  I guess that diesel-powered cars are not the panacea that I thought they were or, at least, it’s a more complicated situation than I had considered.

Is there a way to change the oil refining situation in the country faster?  Perhaps there is a solution in there.  The EU countries strategically hiked gas taxes many years ago to drive car buyers to diesel vehicles and aligned demand with production.  Having not adopted such a strategy in the US (or any strategy, as far as I can tell), we find ourselves digging out of what could be (will likely be?) an energy nightmare.  It’s definitely time for some good ol’ reactive American ingenuity.

My friend Lorne proposes micro-refineries that could adapt quickly and meet regional needs.  Is this the way to go?  That is, until we find a way to bag fossil fuels altogether.

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 July 23rd, 2008  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 4 Comments
24
Jun

CAFE Standards Are Stupid

CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), is the set of standards established by Congress in 1975 and subsequently managed by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to limit the number and types of vehicles that Americans can buy – really.  Of course, the Congressional regulations weren’t sold to the public that way.  Officially, the standards were established under the guise of “improving automotive efficiency.”   Like Mom and apple pie, who can’t get behind “efficiency.”

As a knee-jerk reaction to the Arab oil embargo and the associated quickly rising gas prices in the 70s (relatively speaking, of course), Congress decided that it would force manufacturers – all of those that sold cars in the US – to produce cars with better fuel efficiency by setting MPG bars that they all had to leap over at specified periods of time.  By doing this, Americans were supposed to get exactly the cars we wanted.  So, instead of letting the buying public shape the marketplace with our choice of which cars to buy, Congress did it for us.

Not being the type of people who like being told what to do though, most Americans ignored the standards and spent their hard-earned dollars buying vehicles with gas mileage well below the average specified by CAFE (the average specified by the standards is of the cars a manufacturer makes – there is no weighting for which cars are actually being purchased).  As it turns out, the cars that the US government chose for us, were not the cars we wanted to buy.  Shocking, I tell you.

Over the past three decades, Americans chose to buy big cars – huge sedans, then station wagons, then SUVs.  The more sheet metal, the better.  And trucks . . . Americans made trucks, large ones at that, the most popular vehicles roaming our paved countryside.  CAFE standards be damned.

The fundamental problem with CAFE standards should be clear to everyone by now.  It’s not the mandate to car manufacturers and the follow-on limit to what products are available that makes people drive any particular vehicle – fuel efficient or not, it’s the choice of the car buyer.  That choice, of course, is driven by many factors – none of those being what the government says is better for them.

Does anyone believe that the current huge number of Priuses on the road are a result of more restrictive CAFE standards?  The current hybrid craze is entirely driven by the price of gas and the buyers of all those cars choosing, themselves, to find more fuel efficient cars.

Here’s an example.  Honda sold a car called the Insight for a few years in this country.  It was the highest mileage car ever sold here and, as you’d expect from Honda, it was fairly reasonably priced.  Sales of the car were so low, though, that Honda had to discontinue the model.  This was before $4.00+/gallon fuel.  Now, as with the Prius, there would be a waiting list for the car.  Even though the Insight’s fuel economy was above the CAFE standard of the time, no one cared.  The car made too many other tradeoffs to higher mileage ratings and people weren’t ready to make those sacrifices.  At $4.00+/gallon, such trade-offs seem pretty minor to many.  That’s what drives what we buy.

If the government needed to tinker with what we drive and consume (reasonable in some circumstances), then it should have done it by artificially increasing the cost of owning or driving a car.  If each gallon of gas had $5.00 of tax associated with it, driving and buying behavior would change VERY quickly.  Wagging the dog from the tail – enforcing policy through the manufacturer, however is like spitting in the wind.  It’s just stupid.

The bottom line is that if I want to drive a land-bruising monster that drinks gas like Homer Simson drinks Duff beer, then that should be my choice.  And, if the economics of driving such a vehicle motivates me to acquire a fuel-sipping petrol miser, that’s also my choice.  For most, the financial requirements of filling a $100/tank every day and half will drive us to think about more fuel efficient cars.  This, of course, is happening now.  CAFE standards create a synthetic economy that fundamentally fails to achieve it’s goals.  The standards haven’t changed the market.  Buyer choice, driven by loads of factors, but mostly economic ones, has.  High gas prices are making that abundantly clear right now.

 June 24th, 2008  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 21 Comments
07
Jun

The Perfect Storm – Can Our Car-Based Culture Survive?

This is clearly going to date me, but as I was getting my driver’s license, gas prices were jumping from about $0.40/gallon (that’s right – only a zero before the decimal point) to an astronomical $0.75.  At the time, many thought that the high prices would destroy America’s open road driving experience, ripping apart the very fabric of America’s car-based culture.

As we know, this didn’t happen.  We adapted, we changed, we downsized (somewhat).  We did everything in our power to refuse to give up the very definition of our modern cowboy mentality – our trusted multi-cylinder steeds, carrying us individually to wherever the hell we wanted to go whenever we wanted to.  Cars in the US are far more than vehicles, they are extensions of us as individuals.  They are our fortress of solitude, our embodiment of ego, our reliable companion and, in a pinch, a place to reenact Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light.  Ok, Ok, I’ll love you forever . . .

Well, if the increase in gas price from $0.40 to $0.75 weren’t enough to change our relationship with our cars, maybe $4.00+/gallon is.  But wait.  We’re American’s and we’re not going to give up our cars, damn it! 

We may not have a choice.  The current situation is beginning to look like the perfect storm, and trying to keep our love affair with the car alive may end up requiring a Herculean effort, if it’s even possible.  Not only are oil prices going straight through the roof, but it’s happening in an era where are cars are gaining weight rapidly.  Even compact cars are putting on enough weight to generate their own gravitational field.  Crash protection, pedestrian safety, airbags, redundant braking, navigation systems, sound deadening, leather-clad seats – all add loads of weight, and expense to a vehicle.  It’s why even little cars are having a hard time getting past the 30mpg barrier consistently.

OK, so that’s the one-two punch – gas prices combined with increased mass.  But here’s the kicker enabling the perfect storm.  The price of steel has nearly doubled since January.  The price of oil is a big factor (after all, it is steel and it’s heavy stuff to ship and creating it takes a lot of energy), but China and India are buying up steel like it was crack.  Something I remember from freshman economics . . . supply and demand . . . or something like that.  The bottom line is that the cost of steel required for an average car these days has gone up by about $500.  Yes, that’s the increase per car.  If that weren’t bad enough, the high price of steel also affects the prices of other metals used in cars.  Aluminum is also going up in price.

So there you have it.  Cars are not only way more expensive to fuel these days, they’re also a lot more expensive to build.  My guess is that the trends on both counts are not looking good, either.  Somethin’s gotta give here and it may be our car-based culture.  Can we still afford to maintain our relationship with our vehicles?  Do we have to find another friend?  The back seat of a bus is just not as romantic as the back seat of a Chevy Bel Air.

Shit.

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 June 7th, 2008  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 19 Comments
07
Apr

Speed Racer’s Back!

Speed Racer Movie For those of you who are less inclined to keep track of such things, I’m here to tell ya’ that Speed and the Mach 5 are back.  The new Speed Racer movie will fill a big screen near you on May 9.

The Speed Racer movie was written and directed by the Wachowski brothers of Matrix trilogy fame.  That alone should make it cool.  The movie appears to be a wild combination of colors, animation, and visual effects with real (non-animated) actors.  I’m sure it’s a trip given the people responsible for it.

Speed Racer was my Luke Skywalker long before Luke was a gleam in George Lucas’ eye.  He was my hero.  And the Mach 5.  What can I say . . . In elementary school, I covered every notebook I had with renderings of the car.

The Mach 5 could do everything and was not bound by the laws of physics.  At least not those of this planet.  All this power was placed in the driver’s hands through buttons on the steering wheel.  Year’s ago, I reproduced a diagram of the buttons for my kids.

Speed-Racer-Steering-Wheel

My favorite feature was the rotary saws that extended through the front bumper.  They could mow down a forest at 100mph.  Oh yeah.  The best example is when Speed escaped impending danger in the famous Mammoth Car episode.

YouTube Video – Speed Racer & MAMMOTH CAR

I rarely attend movies on the opening day, but I think I’m going to make an exception for this one.  You can check out the trailers for the movie here.

Maybe the modern Speed will even make out with Trixie.

 April 7th, 2008  
 Will  
 Misc Thoughts, Stuff with a Motor  
   
 15 Comments
27
Mar

Cool Advertising Campaign for BMW’s 1-Series Cars

I love good advertising.  Well, perhaps, appreciate is a better word.  The innovative messages that stick in your head and and drive you to buy a product, understand a position or, at the very least,  make you want to tell others about them.  I think they’re a fascinating study of human psychology.  Often, the great advertisements are humorous.  Some, though, use other inventive techniques to separate them from the chaff of other messages that we’re constantly bombarded with.

BMW has a cool ad campaign for their new 1-Series cars that I saw in last week’s AutoWeek magazine.  On each page, down at the page number, there is a small picture of the car along with some feature of the vehicle – always related to the page number.  For example, on page 5 of the magazine, the following text was aligned with the page number: “Number of spokes on the cast alloy wheels on the all-new BMW 1 Series: 5.”

BMW 1-Series Page 5

Cool.  Here are a few more.

BMW 1-Series Page 6

BMW 1-Series Page 7

BMW 1-Series Page 8

BMW 1-Series Page 19

Obviously, this advertising campaign is doing its job. It caught my attention, made me aware of a product and some of its features (granted, I’m reading AutoWeek, so I’m the sort of person who already knew about the product) and  was interesting enough that I am re-communicating the messages to others.  I have to imagine that the people who created this ad campaign couldn’t have asked for much more.

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 March 27th, 2008  
 Will  
 Advertising, General Business, Stuff with a Motor  
   
 24 Comments
24
Mar

The 2008 New York International Auto Show

I’m not going to read this, take me right to the pictures . . .

My son and I just returned from our annual pilgrimage to New York to worship the gods of the almighty internal combustion engine. The New York show is not one of the most significant shows in the world – Detroit, LA, Geneva and Tokyo are more important to the auto industry – but it’s still quite large and gets enough attention from the auto manufacturers to have a fair number of concepts alongside production models. 

All major car companies that sell in North America were represented, with the unusual exception of Maserati.  I kept thinking that maybe they were tucked in a corner somewhere, but we never found them.  As always, there were also a variety of small, specialty automotive companies and  after-market equipment producers selling everything from fuzzy dice to ejector seats (yeah, I’m kidding about the latter, but you get the idea).

Most of the show attendees appeared to actually be shopping for cars as opposed to being whack-job auto enthusiasts like my son and me.  While there were a huge number of people at the show, I would guess that attendance was actually down from previous years.  Fill in what that means to you, the economy and life in general here . . .

If there was a consistent theme for the show, it was lean and green.  Loads of hybrids, diesels and electric cars.  There were even several hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.  Some really innovative engineering is going on at a variety of companies and mileage is certainly increasing in several ways.  While there are no real breakthroughs yet, there is a lot of interesting momentum. 

  NYIAS-2008-0004 NYIAS-2008-0001

  NYIAS-2008-0006 NYIAS-2008-0007

The focus on better mileage and cleaning up the environment has not slowed the auto maker’s desire to fulfill man’s basic need for more horsepower and torque, though.  Loads of big engines and high performance vehicles were on display.  Of special interest is the rounding out of the pony car stable with Chrysler and Chevrolet both at or near production of their Ford Mustang competitors – the Challenger and Camaro, respectively.  I’m bettin’ that they’ll sell like hot cakes, even with gas nearing $4/gallon.

Dodge Challenger Chevrolet Camaro

Speaking of power, speed and acceleration that quickly shrinks that Subaru you just passed into a small speck in your rear view mirror, the new Corvette ZR-1 was on display as was the Nissan GT-R.  The GT-R is the US-bound version of the long-awaited Nissan Skyline.  A car that has been the king of the performance heap in Japan for ages.  I’m not thrilled with its looks, but it’ll be one seriously fast car when it hits US roads.

Corvette ZR-1 Nissan GT-R

GM keeps plugging away to find the secret sauce to a comeback.  Besides showing virtually all of it’s multi-ton SUVs and trucks in some form of hybrid/electric/fuel cell configuration, they showed off two new Pontiac performance vehicles recently ripped off from their Holden (Australian) subsidiary.  The G8 and its bastard child, sport-truck, El Camino redux.  The G8 looks good, has a reasonable interior and a big engine.  At its relatively low price point, it should do some damage to the imports which will have a have a difficult time competing with a weak dollar.  The G8/El Camino thing is a no-go in my book.  I love the concept.  I just think the execution is half-baked.

Pontiac G8 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck

Part of GM’s barrage of announcements was the CTS Coupe.  I really like this car.  It’s styling is unique and the platform is solid.  There are going to have to be changes made to it for production (which I read has been green-lighted already), but if they can keep somewhat faithful to the concept, it’ll be a knockout on the road.  Can’t wait to test drive the CTS-V Coupe.

Cadillac CTS Coupe

Finally, I got to see my ultimate dream car at this year’s show.  The Mach 5 was there.  When I was a kid (long before Luke Skywalker was around), Speed Racer was my idol.  The car (one of four) was there to promote the upcoming movie.

Mach 5

You can see all the full-size pictures and more here.

 March 24th, 2008  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 4 Comments
04
Dec

The Impact of Subjective Quality

It seems that every journal these days, whether it be printed or online and regardless of the constituency it serves, does some quantitative analysis of quality.  Of course, there are also loads of third party quality reviewers (think J.D. Power) and several quality awards (think Malcolm Baldrige) all of which attempt to gather loads of data about actual quality to help consumers decide which is the “best” product they can buy.  Most of these analyses miss, however, the subjective recognition of quality.  That is, the quality in a product that our senses tell us exists or not.  This is, of course, not only difficult to measure, but it’s also relative to our expectations and to our life experiences.  In the end, though, it is often our subjective measures of quality that have a greater impact on our perceived view of overall quality than the actual defects and anomalies we experience when using a product.

It’s this reason why so many products with good user interfaces are often recognized as being of higher quality than those with poor user interfaces.  Maybe books shouldn’t be judged by their covers, but they frequently are.  For software products, a sexy GUI, which is so strongly visually oriented, is seen and interacted with constantly.  For many, it gives a much stronger indication of the quality of the product than the computational guts underneath it, which are only experienced through their interfaces.  In this light, hardware products are even more interesting since our interaction with them involves many more senses – sight, of course, but also touch and sometimes even smell and hearing.

[Note: I’m not referring to ease-of-use here, which I believe is a different, although related, dimension.]

As you might expect, cars are a perfect example of this.  Since most of us have had the experience of interacting with many cars through our lives, we all have some perspective on how a car should work, feel, sound and even smell (ahh, that new car smell).  As we approach a vehicle, we make a subjective judgement of the quality of the car.  Is it rusted?  Is it dented?  Is a tire flat?  Is it dirty?  The really interesting valuation, however, comes as we enter the car and start to interact with it.  Does the door open easily?  Doesn’t it close with a reassuring, solid “thunk?”  Is the seat comfortable?  There are so many sensory inputs, it’s difficult to even list them.  Yet, our brain is taking them all in and using them to calculate that important, subjective analysis of the quality of the car – whether we realize it or not.

Particularly interesting (to me, anyway) is the immediate feedback I recognize from the materials used inside a car and the look and feel of the switchgear.  The switchgear consists of the various knobs, dials, buttons, sliders, levers and switches that let us physically interact with the car and/or give us tactile feedback of the car’s various settings.  While the functions of most cars are relatively standard, almost every vehicle manufacturer makes different choices when it comes to a car’s switchgear.

First, materials.  The materials chosen for a vehicle are often determined by its target market or price range.  Even with virtually limitless advances in plastics and manufacturing, cheaper materials still tend to give most people a quick sense of the subjective overall quality of the finished product with less expensive vehicles often sporting harder, shinier plastic surfaces and perceived of having lower quality.  Again, these are not indicative of the functional quality of the vehicle, but its subjective quality.  Even people who have never been in a Rolls Royce (most of us) will recognize the difference when sliding into a hand-sewn leather seat made from 42 manually-selected hides harvested from cows raised for the specific purpose of donating their overcoats to the drivers butt versus the vinyl, sweat-inducing material in cheaper vehicles and relate that difference to a difference in quality.

Interestingly, the look and feel of switchgear may have even a greater impact on the perception of quality that a driver gets from his/her vehicle.  When the turn signal stalk takes Arnold Schwarzenegger size biceps to move and engages with a deafening “snap” sound, leaving the driver to suspect that he/she may have broken the stalk in half, the driver will not likely perceive this as a sign of quality.  On the other hand, when a knob is rotated on the dashboard with detents that are subtle, yet precise, the switchgear can exude a sense of quality that is profound, but almost too difficult to describe.

As you would expect, the greater the perception of quality will frequently translate into a decision to by your product over your competitor’s.   Does it cost more to increase subjective quality?  Probably, but not always inordinately (as in the case with the Rolls Royce, above).  The lesson here is to not to focus all of your quality efforts on the underlying function or performance of your product.  For many products, the customer may be buying the product for those factors, but it’s not the ones they will interact with on a regular basis.  The user interface and feedback that your customer receives from the product will drive much of their overall view of the product and even more of their subjective analysis of its overall quality.  A positive view will lead to happy customers who buy more and help market your product to others.

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 December 4th, 2007  
 Will  
 General Business, Stuff with a Motor  
   
 5 Comments
27
Sep

Turn a Pencil Into a Light

When I was a teenager, I felt that I made my fair share of MacGyver-esque moves. I could do a complete carburetor replacement on the side of the street using duct tape (in-a-pinch gasket replacement) and pencils (for the vacuum lines, of course). I circumvented the security on my high-school’s teletype machine using a paperclip and a telephone cord and I made a canon that fired potatoes using a plastic tube, an old barbeque igniter and a can of aerosol antiperspirant.

My moves always paled in comparison to what my friend John could do, though. John had and has the ability to diagnose a problem and then take an almost instantaneous inventory of the tools he has at hand to deal with it. This was never more clear than when the two of us hopped into a rental car late one night in a San Francisco parking garage. When I turned the key to start the car, nothing happened. We could see that there was plenty of power – lights and accessories worked great – but there was not even a hum from the engine compartment. We popped open the hood and saw . . . nothing.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, John diagnosed that the solenoid that engages the starter motor wasn’t moving into place. He then went at how to fix it with the tools we had at hand which, in a rental car, don’t amount to much.  John then – don’t try this at home – pulled out the oil dipstick and used it to short the starter motor directly to the battery (you only need one connection because the starter motor, like most of the car’s electronics, is grounded through the chassis), routing the roughly 1 zillion amps of current through a skinny piece of metal that although wiped fairly clean, was still covered with a layer of flammable liquid.  The car started, we didn’t die in the process, John saved the day.

I thought of John when I was pointed to this YouTube video by a post on Toolmonger.  It demonstrates how you can create an emergency light source out of just a pencil and a couple of pieces of wire.  Very handy.

 

(Misspellings courtesy of YouTube poster)
 

Did I ever mention how I once used my then girlfriend’s pantyhose as a fan belt replacement?  I’ll leave that for another post.

 September 27th, 2007  
 Will  
 Misc Thoughts, Stuff with a Motor  
   
 4 Comments
05
Jun

Honda Dumps Gasoline/Electric Hybrids for Diesels

No one can say I didn’t warn ’em.  I’ve been talking about this for a while on this blog, to anyone who’ll listen and to many that are smart enough not to.  Diesels are a better solution to minimizing the drain on dead and rotting dinosaurs than gasoline engines, even when coupled with batteries and electric motors.  According to AutoBlog, it looks like Honda gets it (I’d love to take credit for it, but I doubt any Honda employees read this blog) and is dumping the current hybrid technology in their popular midsize cars, including the Accord Hybrid, and replacing both the gerbil and it’s running wheel with a real motor – one solely motivated with black gold, Texas tea . . diesel fuel.

According to the post:

. . . Honda seems set to make it official. There will be no new Accord Hybrid in their lineup. Instead the North American market will get a diesel Accord to fight the mileage wars.”

It looks like the diesel engine of choice will be a 2L+ size, 4-cylinder motor using the new ultra-clean diesel fuels that meet California’s strict Tier II / Bin 5 standards.  As you’d expect from California, these are the toughest diesel emission standards in the world.  This engine should offer more torque than the current V6 hybrid (lower HP, though – it does have two fewer cylinders), with better fuel economy.  While the first engine will be a 4-cylinder, it looks like Honda will back it up with a V6 offering more torque and power while remaining on a petrol diet.

The new Honda engine will be available in 2009 cars.  Start looking for diesels from other manufacturers passing you while you’re refilling your Prius starting next year.

 June 5th, 2007  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 4 Comments
29
May

Diesels to Outsell Hybrids in the US Within 5 Years

Oh, how I love when the market research and resulting SWAGs of reputable people or organizations backup claims I’ve fabricated out of thin air!  In this case, it appears that two such organizations – UBS and Ricardo – are projecting that diesels will outsell hybrids (gasoline/electric) in the US by 2012.  Their report (download the full UBS report in PDF form here), according to AutoBlog, states that 2.7M hybrid and diesel cars will be sold in the US in 2012 with 1.5M of those units being diesel consuming beasts.

To be fair, I never made that exact claim.  I have repeatedly stated, though, that hybrids are reasonable solutions made way more reasonable when using diesel powerplants instead of gasoline ones.  As it turns out, the report says exactly that.  According to the blog post:

More likely is a scenario in which fuel efficiency and emissions requirements reach a point where diesel-hybrids become a necessity. As batteries improve and Series Hybrids like the Chevy Volt become a reality, diesels will be the likely choice as range extenders.”

The full report also makes a convincing argument that economically, it makes more sense for auto companies to invest in diesel.  Simply put, diesel engines cost much less to produce and maintain than hybrids.  Add that to the fact that the technology is already well understood and it’s benefits – both ecological and economic – are better in most cases than gasoline/electric hybrids, it’s really a no-brainer.

The AutoBlog post wraps it up pretty succinctly:

The report concludes that the added complexity of hybrid systems with their batteries, electric motors and internal combustion engines won’t be able to overcome the cost advantage of a modern diesel engine, even with the expensive exhaust treatment systems needed to make diesels meet our new stricter emissions requirements.”

The UBS report with it’s focus on investment conclusions has a pretty complete description of the technologies, markets and economics of the alternatives.  Definitely worth a browse if you’re interested in this stuff.

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 May 29th, 2007  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 Comments Off on Diesels to Outsell Hybrids in the US Within 5 Years