Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Year in Review

January 1: Celebrate the new year in Atlanta, GA.
January 5: Fly Phoenix, AZ to Managua, Nicaragua.
January 20 - January 27: Trek around Costa Rica with two friends and a Toyota Yaris.
February - April: Read, finish most Peace Corps projects, read.
April 24 - April 27: Secretly escape Nicaragua for a Bachelor Party weekend in Chicago.
May 22 - May 27: Fly into New York, spend night, take train to Boston. Spend weekend in Boston with friends and family. Watch best friend get married. Take train back to New York, spend one day sight seeing with family. Fly back to Nicaragua.
June 10 - June 12: Poop into small glass jar three times in as many days for Peace Corps to medically "clear" me. Deemed physically healthy with no lingering parasites. Worry about status of mental health.
June 12 - July 4: Almost die from boredom, anticipation of pending close of service, and stomach parasites. Cry in realization that the shame of defecating into a small glass jar and presenting your waste to a doctor was all for naught. Worry that though you've been deemed "healthy," you're still spending some nights in an unlit, roach infested latrine.
July 5: Use unlit, roach infested latrine for the last time. Shower in cold water for the last time. Scrub clothes on concrete block for the last time. Smile.
July 6: Bid farewell to my adopted home of the past two years.
July 8: Officially complete Peace Corps service.
July 9 - July 21: Visit Central America's Caribbean beach towns from Managua, Nicaragua, to Panama City, Panama.
July 22: Fly Panama City, Panama to Houston, TX. Eat Wendy's Baconator. Fly Houston, TX to Phoenix, AZ. Return home triumphant and unemployed.
August 10 - August 14: Road trip with brother from Phoenix, AZ to Van Horn, TX in Pontiac Grand Prix. Road trip from Van Horn, TX to Michigan in 17' foot UHaul, towing a Pontiac Grand Prix.
August 14 - August 22: Relax in Michigan summer bliss.
August 22: Fly Detroit, MI to San Francisco, CA.
August 22 - Sept 1: Tour California's coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a convertible.
September 1 - Sept 29: Relax, readjust, and job hunt in Phoenix, AZ.
September 29: Move myself and two suitcases to Chicago, IL.
September 30 - October 29: Job hunt and walk Jake's dog.
October 31: Move myself and two suitcases to new apartment.
November 10: Start life as young professional.
November 23: Buy 40'' flat screen TV.
November 26 - Nov 30: Celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends in Flint, MI. Smile.
December 19 - Dec 21: Give myself an early Christmas gift, spend weekend in Detroit, MI with friends and family.
December 22: Fly Chicago, IL to Phoenix, AZ.
December 22 - Dec 28: Enjoy Christmas without stress of pending return date to the Third World.
December 31: Celebrate the new year in Chicago, IL.

Here's to being privileged! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chevy Volt Now

"The EPA has now preliminarily agreed to a method for testing the Chevy Volt that would lead to at least a 100 mpg estimate." And according to some, the Volt should get a rating of 120 to 200 mpg.

What would that mean to our gas consumption over the course of a year? I don't know. But what if we assume that every new vehicle sold in the United States is a Chevy Volt? How much gas and money would we save? And how much gas and money would we save if we make the same assumption but replace the Chevy Volt with a Toyota Prius?

The first table shows gas consumption and cost in 2007. Assuming each vehicle travels 11,000 miles per year, I used the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for cars to predict the total gallons of gas used per year. Then, assuming that gas costs $3/gallon, I came up with the total money spent per year on gasoline based on the 16.1 million cars sold in the U.S. last year. In other words, if every car sold last year got 27.5 mpg, traveled 11,000 miles, and gas cost $3/gallon, we would have used 6.4 billion gallons of gas and spent $19.3 billion.

U.S. Vehicle Sales 16,100,000
Average Miles driven/year 11,000
CAFE Standard 27.5
Gallons/Year/Vehicle 400
Total Gallons/Year 6,440,000,000
Cost/Year ($3/gallon) $19,320,000,000

Now, rather than using the CAFE standards of 2007 let's use the conservative estimate of 100mpg rating of the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius rating of 46mpg to determine total gas consumption and cost if all of the vehicles sold last year were Volts or Priuses. Using the same assumptions (11,000 miles driven per year, $3/gallon of gas, 16.1 million vehicles sold), the U.S. would consume 1.8 billion gallons and spend $5.3 billion if all vehicles sold were Volts or $3.4 billion gallons and spend $11.5 billion if all vehicles sold were Priuses.

Chevy Volt Toyota Prius
U.S. Vehicle Sales 16,100,000 16,100,000
Average Miles driven/year 11,000 11,000
Estimated MPG 100 46
Gallons/Year/Vehicle 110 239
Total Gallons/Year 1,771,000,000 3,850,000,000
Cost/Year ($3/gallon) $5,313,000,000 $11,550,000,000

With the Volt technology, the U.S. would save 4.7 billion gallons of gas and $14 billion per year. The Prius would save us only 2.6 billion gallons of gas and $7.8 billion per year. The cautious comments of Toyota's national manager of vehicle technology, Bill Reinert, suggest that Toyota is commited to the Prius and skeptical of the Volt technology and market. GM, on the other hand, is fully vested in the Volt and the technology needed to reach its goal of releasing the car in November 2010.

It's clear that this car could drastically change the automobile, blowing away even the most fuel efficient car on the road today and saving us lots of money and gas. So rather than wasting more time talking about the GM of the 20th century, let's start talking about the GM of the 21st century and what we need to do to invest in the most innovative project currently happening in the auto industry. Let's put the Volt on the road today.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Why do we still have to read articles that state "The real problem is that many people don’t want to buy the cars that Detroit makes" when last year GM sold more cars and trucks worldwide than any other car maker? They managed to do this with less workers than Toyota, Nissan, and Volkswagen. GM's Cheverolet Malibu was named the 2008 North American Car of the Year, beating out the Honda Accord (and it has better fuel economy than the Accord!), and GM's Saturn Aura and Chevy Silverado were named 2007 North American Car and Truck of the Year, beating out the Toyota Camry and Honda Fit.

Why is Thomas Friedman saying "If we miss the chance to win the race for Car 2.0 because we keep mindlessly bailing out Car 1.0, there will be no one to blame more than Detroit’s new shareholders: we the taxpayers," when Detroit, and specifically GM, will release Car 2.0 in November 2010? Why is he willing to tout Japan's "government led electric car project" and yet spit on any effort of the American government to invest in a company developing an electric car that will destroy the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius?

Why, if the domestic auto industry problems are all self created, would a relative start up in Silicon Valley also be asking for government money to continue to develop the automotive technologies of tomorrow?

Why are we not talking about the Chevrolet Volt and what our nation needs to do to get it on the road today? Why are we willing to watch GM fail when the company holds our nation's best chance at lowering our oil consumption?

Why is no one reporting that our nation's highest paid autoworkers work at Toyota's Georgetown, KY and Fremont, CA plants?

In the follow-up memo, Toyota pointed out that workers at Georgetown and at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. in Fremont, Calif., which Toyota owns with GM, are the highest-paid autoworkers in the United States.

Why didn't anyone remind Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Richard Shelby of Alabama that all of their states have always received more federal funding than they've paid in federal taxes? Before they killed the auto deal, why didn't anyone remind these senators that much of the excess federal money their states receive comes from the workers in the states they've turned their back on?

Why can the American government quickly pass a bill that shells out $700 billion to financial institutions, but can't, over the course of a month, come up with a bill that releases $14 billion to the auto industry?


Friday, December 05, 2008

Free Press Editorial

Dear Members of Congress:

Remember, too, that Detroit helped rescue America as the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II and, through GM's no-interest loans, helped jump-start the battered economy after 9/11. Now, when our automakers and autoworkers need a hand up, will America really turn its back?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Domestic Auto Industry 101

Great coverage on regarding the domestic auto industry and the bridge loans. I hope America reads this, this, this, and this.

"And indeed, we now know what happens when a society runs its industrial systems not to manufacture products but to manufacture cash.

You end up with neither."