Passing Of A Legend
With Jerry Flint's passing, you will have a large void to fill on your back page and the industry will sorely miss his lifetime devotion to improvement in all aspects (see WAW — Sept. '10, p.8). As a loyal reader and a student of his contrarianism, I valued his acquaintance for many years. Jerry, where you're going, I hear the roads are perfectly banked, there are no stoplights and everyone drives Stutzes, Duesenbergs and Packards. Happy motoring.
Thanks for your excellent editorial, "Pyrrhic Victory Coming for Toyota" (see WAW — Aug. '10, p.2). Even though I had to look up the definition of pyrrhic, it didn't take much effort to realize that surely you meant the pilot forgot to put the flaps down as opposed to "put the flaps up" on the Madrid flight.
Flaps and slats are normally extended (down) before takeoff and landing to increase lift. Adding to your statement of why airplanes crash, I would offer that vehicles crash every year. Driver error is the most common reason. People are prone to mistakes, and most should not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle, let alone an aircraft. Hence the saying, "I'm only human."
Tax Hike Necessary
You're right on that the U.S. Must prepare for the next oil shock (see WAW — Sept. '10, p.2). It's just a question of when, not if, it happens. The U.S. needs to escalate fuel taxes to push consumers toward fuel-efficient vehicles. Besides helping to trim our fuel usage, more costly fuel would drive consumer demand and thus the U.S. auto industry toward producing vehicle types that aren't likely to suffer huge sales drops if the price of fuel jumps another $2 a gallon.
CAFE is pushing the industry in that direction, but not nearly as efficiently as gas taxes would. Petrol in the U.K. costs about $6.50 per U.S. gallon. Should the price rise there by $2 a gallon, the result would not markedly skew the buying habits of British motorists. There, small cars and/or diesel engines are the norm.
Here, however, such an increase would drive gasoline prices up to $4.70 a gallon, an increase of 74%. Besides being a lesser psychological shock in the U.K., the absolute hit on the pocket book is less as well. A Brit motoring along in a Mondeo TDCI diesel sedan at 40 mpg (5.8 L/100 km) will only have to cough up an additional $600 per year at the higher fuel price to drive 12,000 miles (19,311 km), while their American cousin driving a 20-mpg (11.7 L/100 km) Yank tank suffers a $1,200 annual increase for the oil price shock.
As a result, U.S. producers get whipsawed as consumer demand changes overnight to more fuel- efficient vehicles, while elsewhere in the world auto manufacturers keep on producing the same vehicles they always were.
2-Mode Beats Full EV
I believe the Chevy Volt is segmented for a very small percentage of Americans (see WAW — Aug. '10, p.14). Let's face it, Americans love to drive. But with electric cars, people will always question whether or not the performance is there, how far they can travel and the inconvenience of charging up.
To me, the best match is a 2-mode system with an electric motor for inner-city driving and a gasoline engine for the highway. If I go on a driving vacation to a place, say, four hours away and it's all highway, then I want a gas engine that can perform well and get great mileage. In slow traffic in the city, then I want the option to switch to electric mode.
To me, the electric car will always be acknowledged as an inner-city commuter car.
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