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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

SF Mayor: Closet Engineer

San Francisco's mayor Gavin Newsom is, apparently, a secret engineer. He thinks designing cars that get big fuel efficiency numbers at an affordable price is easy. From the Detroit News:

"With respect to Detroit, it is not good enough to advance by 2012 an ambitious strategy of having 14 different models at GM of hybrids -- when hybrids are yesterday's technology," Newsom said at a conference here sponsored by Newsweek on the future of the auto industry.

He said automakers must move more quickly to plug-in hybrids, noting hybrids like the Toyota Prius have been on the market since 1997.

"We need a very dramatic shift in mentality of Detroit," Newsom said.

Hybrids are "yesterday's technology"?!?

They still aren't entirely affordable, and not every model can make a profit at market prices. The batteries are still very expensive, as well as the power electronics and drivetrain. Hybrids still haven't caught on in volume, with one model (Prius) breaking the 100,000 unit/year sales rate.

If the California legislature had any cojones, they would tax vehicles with poor fuel economy, or institute a high fuel tax. But they won't because then the voters would throw them out of work.

So instead, they shout at Detroit, "Build us a unicorn!", as if Detroit has unicorns stashed away in the basement of ever R&D lab, under digital lock and armed guard.

Things just aren't that simple.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, 'The Man's got Big Auto hiding the $1000 six-seater car that gets 1000 miles per litre of sunshine deep within their research labs. And all the New Government has to do is get them to release it, otherwise Big Auto will continue to release old petroleum-based vehicles designed specifically to kill polar bears and drown citizens of Kiribati.

Yeah. Right. Sure. Uh-huh.

Anonymous said...

The Gavinosi Balchfire 5000