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Comment: Re:1000 times (Score 1) 618

by unimacs (#49543327) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs
by your own article (US sales):

number of EVs sold in 2010 - 2011: 17,500
number of EVs sold in 2014: 123,000
Growth rate: 600%

By comparison overall car sales:

2011: 12,778,000
2014: 16,500,000
Growth rate: 29%

So it would seem that the growth in sales of EVs is far outstripping the growth in sales of automobiles as a whole. EVs are still a small fraction of total car sales, but back in the early 1980s cellphones represented a small fraction of total phone sales. Look at what's happened since. It took a few decades but improvements in battery technology have helped make mobile phones ubiquitous.

The are sooo many industries dependent upon and investing in battery technology that the range and cost of EVs will almost certainly improve dramatically in the next 5 years and continue to improve after that.

Another thing to consider is that regardless of how you may feel about global warming, California has some very aggressive goals for emission reductions by 2050. They likely won't meet them. However, to get even close, substantial electrification of transportation (including personal vehicles) is practically required. California represents a huge market for automobiles. There will be a continued push for improvements in EVs from a number of directions.

Comment: Re:1000 times (Score 1) 618

by unimacs (#49536725) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

The Chevy Cruz is an inexpensive vehicle that gets decent mileage. That doesn't mean that someone might not be quite happy to spend the extra money on an eGolf or even the EV version of the Chevy Spark. By all accounts these are fun cars to drive.

You and I have different ideas of what is "fun to drive". A 2015 Ford Mustang GT is "fun to drive", the above cars are cheap commuter econoboxes.

No crime in being that, but fun to drive? Bleh... :)

They are fun cars to drive relative to the Cruz which is a car you suggested as an alternative to a small EV. In fact the EV versions of a particular car usually drives much better than the gas version. They have stronger acceleration and are smoother and quieter. So while they do cost more, you are getting more for that money even if the lower operating costs never result in a lower TCO. That of course assumes that the limited range of EVs isn't a problem for the owner.

Maintenance costs are another matter. Electric motors can last a long-long time but EVs have a lot of electronics in them that may not. Then there is the battery pack. To me the jury is still out but I think that over time EVs will become a practical and enjoyable option.

Trying to reduce the decision of whether or not to buy an EV down to cost alone ignores many of the things that factor into why a person chooses one car over another. Therefore, saying it doesn't make sense to buy an EV given their cost isn't a very convincing argument. For me, if cost is the primary consideration it rarely makes sense to buy a new car at all. The best choice economically is to buy a good used car that you can pay cash for, and drive it into the ground.

For you personally, buying an EV may not make sense given the particular set of things you value in a vehicle but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be a good choice for somebody else.

Comment: Re:1000 times (Score 1) 618

by unimacs (#49534183) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs
The problem is that the article doesn't specify what type of SUV these people tend to switch to. Is there any regard to fuel economy or not? Are they getting small SUVs or big ones? Are they getting FWD models or AWD?

The article also speculates that cheaper gas prices are the motivation behind the switch to SUVs but it doesn't back that up. While I suspect cheaper gas is part of the reason it may or may not be the main reason for these buyers to switch.

It could be:

1. larger family
2. desire for AWD after recent snowy winters
3. improved economy means people are buying boats and other things that need towing
4. Range with the EV was a problem
5. Mileage wasn't as good as expected
6. Just didn't like the vehicle and wanted something different

There is also speculation as to why these people bought hybrids in the first place but again we don't really know if the ones who switched got EVs and Hybrids because they expected to save money, because they were concerned about the environment, or because they liked the way they drove.

And further they mixed EV owners with Hybrid owners so we don't really know which percentage of each switched.

As to the issue of an EV version of the Ford Explorer, I think it's pretty clear that the technology doesn't currently exist to make such an ordinary SUV attractive at the high price you'd have to pay. There are plenty of high end hybrid SUVs though that get rave reviews.

The Chevy Cruz is an inexpensive vehicle that gets decent mileage. That doesn't mean that someone might not be quite happy to spend the extra money on an eGolf or even the EV version of the Chevy Spark. By all accounts these are fun cars to drive. And while the range might be a problem for lots of people, for others it isn't. For example we are a two car family but I ride my bike to work most days. We've even wondered if we really need two cars. I doubt that both of us would ever need to drive more than 75 miles on the same day. Plus I expect that the range of these vehicles will improve with time.

I've never bought a new car in my life and I'm 50 so I'm not really the target market for any of these vehicles anyway.

Comment: Re:1000 times (Score 1) 618

by unimacs (#49533323) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

A Prius and a RAV4 are not the same type of vehicle.

A nice midsize SUV like a Ford Explorer isn't either, and you can get a nice one of those for under $30k.

I'm not suggesting that a Prius and the RAV4 are the same. I mention the price of the RAV4 because it's an SUV. It wasn't clear to me when article says that people are switching from EVs and Hybrids to SUVs what type of SUV they tend to get. A RAV4 is a compact one and a Toyota Highlander is a midsize one. A Highlander is going to cost close to 30,000.

FWIW, s Nissan Leaf is about 28,000 but you get a hefty Federal rebate so the actual cost is in the low 20s.

Anyway, my point is that unless you're talking about a Tesla which is a luxury performance car, these weren't stupid people spending a fortune on EVs and Hybrids thinking that they're going to make it up in fuel cost savings. In most cases they spent less on the hybrids and the EVs than the SUVs they are supposedly buying now.

I suspect a major reason why these people are switching isn't so much about falling gas prices as it is about the increasing size of their families. Gas prices might be a factor in making going the SUV route a bit easier but I don't think it's the predominant one.

When we were dating and after we were first married my wife and I both drove small cars. After our second child I reluctantly caved into the idea of getting a minivan. That was about 10 years ago and minivans are even less of a fashionable choice than they were then. We now have one small car and one mid sized SUV. My brother's family has a Prius and a Ford Escape.

Comment: Re:Buying cars based on fuel price... ugh (Score 1) 618

by unimacs (#49528961) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs
MPG estimates in the UK would be higher than the MPG estimates in the US for the exact same car. There are two reasons. The most important is that an Imperial gallon is more than a US gallon. The other is that the MPG estimates are done by different organizations using a different means of calculating them.

The difference in the size of a "gallon" alone means that 45 mpg in the UK translates to about 37 mpg in the US.

Comment: Re:Interstate Water Sharing system (Score 1) 670

by unimacs (#49517251) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California
Here's another way to look at it. There are lots of small towns and even cities in the Midwest that would welcome an influx of people, industry, and agriculture. Instead of making herculean efforts to get water out of the Midwest to the Southwest at huge expense, let's make it easy for the people and industries that need the water to move to where the water is.

Frankly, I do not trust that redirecting any significant amount of water halfway across the country can be done without high ecological costs, unintended or not.

Comment: Re:Interstate Water Sharing system (Score 1) 670

by unimacs (#49517175) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California
Pennsylvania exports natural gas because it's worthwhile for Pennsylvania to do so. If they were to decided that the ecological price for extracting it is no longer worth it, that is their right. Whoever is getting natural gas from them will have to get it from somewhere else or do without.

The Great Lakes aren't some vast untapped resource waiting to be exploited. They are used for shipping, recreation, commercial fishing, tourism, fresh water supplies, etc. They are home to an important ecosystem. All would suffer if any significant amount of water were diverted someplace else. In many ways, the Lakes are already being exploited at a level that can't be sustained.

And it goes deeper than that. The lakes are treasured part of the region just like the Grand Canyon is to Arizona. Would they be OK with us filling in part of the Grand Canyon with some of the garbage we don't have room for? They'd give us the finger and we'd deserve it.

No one is forcing anyone to live in squalor but people may be forced to live in a more sustainable fashion. It's not just a lesson for California but everywhere else.

Comment: Re:Well done! (Score 3, Insightful) 536

by unimacs (#49513573) Attached to: George Lucas Building Low-Income Housing Next Door To Millionaires
There's a definite correlation between money and academic achievement. You're looking in the wrong place. Kids in more affluent areas do better in school.

In the study you linked it's pretty clear that school districts with higher levels of poverty have a lower return on investment. In other words, they spend more per kid but get poorer results. However, it is not an apples to apples comparison. Neither is comparing 1970 to today. The early 1970's represented an historic low in the number of people in poverty.

You have to look at what the schools are spending money on now vs 1970 and what poor districts spend money on vs affluent ones. In my school back in the 1970s there were no ESL students (English as a 2nd language). There was very little attempt to mainstream kids with significant disabilities. There weren't the onerous testing requirements created by "No Child Left Behind" and other well intentioned but flawed ideas. There weren't the outlandish health care costs that are crippling many of our public institutions. There weren't nearly as many kids getting "free and reduced price lunch" if there were any at all.

That's not to say that all money given to school districts is spent wisely and that giving them more money will automatically lead to better results.

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 533

by unimacs (#49506131) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power
Hawaii also pays about 3x the national average for electricity. They mostly burn oil which for them is neither cheap nor clean. Generating power locally via solar makes a whole lot of sense for them so they really should figure out how to make this work. My brother lives there and intentionally had an oversized PV system installed. Over the course of a year he generates more power than he uses. His system will pay for itself in less than 5 years.

Solar aside, both in Hawaii and the rest of the US we are suffering the effects of an aging and archaic power grid. The utilities could benefit by being able to more easily develop and take advantage of demand response systems. This would give them a greater capacity to manage peek demand without having to operate as many power plants, or buy as much power from somebody else, - which saves them money. They could also make themselves less susceptible to having interruptions in service due to not being able to meet demand or just plain old natural disasters.

Of course no one wants to spend money to do that even though both consumers and utilities would benefit in the long run. This is where government can play a role in moving things forward.

Comment: Re:Long View (Score 1) 482

by unimacs (#49489317) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries
I didn't say our prosperity was based on skilled workers. We had prosperity because businesses were willing/forced to train and provide decent pay to UNSKILLED workers.

Take a look at how Scandinavian countries do it and you'll find actual working examples of a more equitable system. Your every day Jane and Joe get paid well, have significantly more vacation time than we do plus have a shorter work week. The lowest paid worker at a McDonald's in Denmark makes the equivalent of $20 an hour. Yes, the cost of living and taxes are higher but they still come out way ahead.

Their health care is affordable and so is college. Retirement is not something they have to scrimp and save for while at the same time trying to save for their kid's college education. And yes there is still room for executives and others to make huge sums of money. Just not as extreme as they are here.

This is reality for them but we've been brainwashed into thinking it won't work here.

What's funny is that it used to work that way here too. Not exactly but closer than it does now. Part of the reason is collective bargaining. It's the norm there but becoming increasingly uncommon here. Collective bargaining has been proven to both improve the pay of the average worker while having a dampening effect on CEO pay. It's not that unionized companies were less profitable, it's because it's very hard to argue to a union that you can't afford to pay the workers more after you just gave the executives a huge pay increase.

Comment: Re:"deserves" (Score 1) 482

by unimacs (#49488459) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries
It's not that easy changing your economic status. If you're born poor, you're likely to stay that way. It's no one's "personal decision" to be born poor. You're probably going to go to a crappy school. You probably won't be able to afford college. Even middle class people now start out in debt by the time they graduate from college. Maybe you're one of the exceptionally bright ones that get a full ride, but probably not.

I'm not saying it's impossible to do. I'm just saying that if you were born to a relatively affluent family you have no business telling people they're poor because they made bad decisions. You have no idea.

Comment: Re:Long View (Score 1) 482

by unimacs (#49488347) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries
Wow. Let's just pay everybody crap because they aren't smart enough to spend their money wisely if we were to pay them more. They'll just gamble it away or do something stupid with it.

I'm sorry, but what a crock.

We had a substantial middle class in this country not be because we had a highly skilled workforce where everybody busted their ass and had skills that were hard to find. We had a substantial middle class because companies actually trained people and paid a decent wage. Collective bargaining gave leverage to workers even if they didn't have much in the way of skills.

Healthcare was cheaper. Funding retirement was easier. Paying for college didn't mean you started out 30,000 in debt.

It's not that people are stupid. It's that they are not getting paid enough to enjoy the same standard of living that people in this country enjoyed a generation or two ago. Even though on average, people in generation X, Y, or the millennials are better educated. This while the 1% are getting compensated ridiculous amounts of money. People say that redistribution of wealth won't fix the problem. Wake up. Redistribution of wealth to the top is what's causing the problem.

Comment: Re:Long View (Score 1) 482

by unimacs (#49488031) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries
How many CEOs actually started the company they run?

In 1965 an average CEO made 45 times what the average worker made. Today it's about 248 times (400 to 500 times more for fortune 500 companies). Is it that much more work to run a company now than it was 40 or 50 years ago? Does the average worker have it that much easier?

Real Programmers don't write in FORTRAN. FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies. FORTRAN is for wimp engineers who wear white socks.

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