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Old 2008-08-22, 00:36   Link #41
Vexx
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I just spent two weeks driving up and down the west coast. My anecdotal observation is that gasoline apparently isn't high enough. With gas at $4-$4.50/gal ... most people are still driving 80mph or higher on a 70mph rapidly failing set of freeways. They seem to be driving in complete denial.

Now, I have noticed a dramatic increase in motorcycles and bikes. Also a lot of SUV/trucks with "FOR SALE" signs....

The real hurt is just now starting: expect food prices to continue skyrocketing - possibly two to three times as much by next year because of energy costs.
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Old 2008-08-22, 01:12   Link #42
tripperazn
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
The US doesn't have the cheapest fuel in the world, Venezuela does. And no offense, but what you wrote sounds pretty spoiled to me. I'm not a car afficionado, so maybe I'm being overly judgemental. Californians also seem to have a love affair with their cars that nobody else can figure out, too. But to shirk efficiency just because one car feels nicer than another? If you're willing to pay the price, I guess that's your business, but when the majority of people feel that way then it's pretty detrimental to innovation and societal trends. If everyone were still big on SUVs and other fuel-inefficient vehicles then we likely wouldn't see companies going for hybrids, including hybrid SUVs.
Yes, you're right, we don't have 12 cent gas, but I'm sure you'll agree that it was a purely political move and definitely a short term policy. But even so, yes, my bad, the US does not currently have the cheapest fuel in the world. Yes, it is a very "spoiled", short-sighted, and simply overall detrimental point of view. The thing is, most people do think like that, we want our gas-guzzlin' SUVs and 10 mpg roadsters. You'll notice that people only started being efficient when they were feeling the burn just recently. Hell, GM came out with the Hummer not too long ago. Gas prices were already sky high. They still sold. Cars are just a huge part of the "American Dream", family cars for utility and luxury/sports cars for enjoyment. They serve as a symbol of status and freedom. No one grows up dreaming to own a Prius. People are willing to pay for this luxury, whether due to cultural reasons or personal reasons, to the point of being unaffordable.

Don't get me wrong, the energy crisis is actually my foremost concern, and has been for a while. I'm simply saying it's not as easy as telling people to buy more efficient cars. Not everyone thinks of the environment or sustainable energy when making these choices. I actually agree with Vexx, gas prices are just not high enough. People still accelerate madly out of intersections and drive at insane speeds on the freeway (esp in Cali). You can do that on a hybrid that it will still cost you an arm and a leg on gas.

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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
That's a very simplistic view on how to cure world hunger. Human love of cars is a non-issue, too. Even if they're regarded as a norm in American society, cars are a luxury in the world. People can do without them, and if it becomes too costly to use them then they won't be used.
That is also a very simple view on the necessity of cars. Living in New York, I'm sure you see your fair share of traffic. Have you ever driven in heavy traffic? I'd rather get my teeth pulled for an equivalent amount of time. I'm sure commuters feel the same way, yet they still commute via car everyday. Why? They need to get around and to their jobs from the suburbs to the city. It's as simple as that. Until you provide them with some alternative form of rapid transport that doesn't take hours and is reliable, cars will be a necessity. Some countries have already done that, like much of Western Europe and Japan. You'll notice car ownership is much more rare in those countries because it isn't a necessity. The truth is, in 99% of America, there is no viable alternative for automobiles.

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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I love this one. You talk about how it's already happening in America, and then cite how Japanese automakers have been devoting their strategy around fuel efficiency.
Uh, yeah, by Japanese automakers, I mean Toyota USA, Honda USA, etc etc. and their marketing in the US. I only used them as an example because they do it better than their American counterparts. Most US companies only have a few models that have respectable fuel economy. Believe me, US companies market those models with the MPG ratings just as aggressively.
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Old 2008-08-22, 01:27   Link #43
Solace
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Not everyone is a fan of this guy, but he sums up the gas issue at the expense of some cheap laughs:

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Old 2008-08-22, 02:41   Link #44
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Originally Posted by Mystique View Post
I see Americans cry left, right and centre over the last few years

When you get to 10-12 dollars a gallon, then come join the misery room with us all where hung rope and chairs are a plenty over in the UK.
(1.20 per litre)

You guys dont realise how lucky you are over there, heh...
*almost feels lime importing petrol from America cause it's so cheap*
Well, the reason that it feels just as bad for us in America is the fact that prices for nearly everything is at the rise, while minimum wage at the very least doesn't reflect the changes happening. In fact, here locally, minimum wage went from $7.15 to $5.15. That's another way of businesses compensating as opposed to laying off people. Instead of getting a raise and feeling like you finally have a little bit of money to save and put in the savings account, it feels like you're struggling to get that raise so that you're not under-budget anymore. So, it's not just fuel that's hurting the consumers here in the US. It's everything that has its price inflate over the years. Gas just happens to be something that consumers feel is the easiest to decrease the price they have to pay. Well, that's one reasoning anyways. Another reasoning is how much 1 euro is worth in the US. More than 1 dollar, obviously. BUT I won't go any further than that and let someone else explain it if people want to know because that's the part of economics I really really really don't like to get into since it can get real confusing real quick.
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Old 2008-08-22, 02:47   Link #45
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I just saw, a moment ago on the BBC News Network, that the price of oil has risen $5.62 up to $121 and some change. They also reported that tensions between the United States and Russia could disrupt the flow of oil to the west.

Wouldn't that be fantastic...
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Old 2008-08-22, 03:03   Link #46
Vexx
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I predict gas prices will be held artificially low until after the election and then look out as it rockets up with all the instability in the supplies.

Went shopping today --- produce and imported products have doubled in price. Processed foods are holding steady by reducing the package sizes (and contents).
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Old 2008-08-22, 03:19   Link #47
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Now that's a scary concept, Vexx. People are already feeling uneasy with the current prices. In fact, there's actually reports of gas thefts occurring locally. Straight from the gas tanks of cars. People are actually buying caps with locks because of this.

No matter how we think about it, oil has become much of a need as consumables. Oil, after all, isn't just used as fuel. Oil just happens to be a worldwide problem, thus making people focus on it more.
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Old 2008-08-22, 06:02   Link #48
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caps with locks? that won't do any good. someone that REALLY wants to steal your gas will go under your car, and puncture your tank to drain it.
I'm very glad that I don't feel the burden of increasing gas prices. I live next door to my job, so I walk maybe a minute at most to get there, food for me doesn't cost much since I generally eat pretty cheap. I have a car, but I can't drive it because it's having some emissions problems I need to fix before I can register it.

but I can tell that it is hurting businesses. at work, less and less people are coming in, and even less people tip (quite a bit actually, we used to get about 1.80+ an hour in tips, but it's dropped to like, 1.30+ an hour, which is a pretty big drop since I use that money to eat each week)
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Old 2008-08-22, 08:28   Link #49
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Originally Posted by MidnightViper88 View Post
Ok, and just how long is it going to take in order to make that transition and what will it take to mass-commercialize it for feasible consumer use?
How long it will take is not our concern, because we're not market analysts. My point is that as long as things are cheap, or even "just cheap enough," the transition will take longer. When the situation becomes less bearable, the transition begins. For example, do you know what state in America was the first to have (and may still be the only) experimental hydrogen refueling stations (five, last I'd heard) and has had prototype hydrogen cars in operation for the past year or two? Answer: California. What's special about California? They've traditionally had the highest gas prices in the nation.

Quote:
Obviously electric cars and hydrogen cars are feasible since they're done on scale-life tests in controlled situations...But that's a controlled scale test...
These things exist in real-world situations. Hydrogen cars are still undergoing tests as there's a concern about what will happen when they're used in places where the climate isn't as constant as California. You cited fears about hydrogen's explosive capablities, but those fears are a few years old now and have been disproven: the fact is that gasoline-powered cars are more likely to ignite and explode than hydrogen-powered cars.

Electric cars are already commercial. Tesla Motors is the first company in the US (perhaps the world) to design electric cars that are high-performance. After a long time of product design, they finally started selling their Tesla Roadsters around May of this year. The Roadster is essentially a sports car. It takes approximately three hours to charge and has a driving range of close to 300 miles, if I remember right. You probably know more abouts cars than I do, so please check the tech specs for yourself. If what I've heard from other gearheads is true, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

300 miles with a three-hour charge time may not take you across the United States, but for most commuters this is more than satisfactory. This car is 100% electric. The price tag is extremely high, but Tesla Motors are supposedly working on consumer-level cars (sedans and such). As the novelty wears off you can expect the price tag to continue to drop. Or perhaps I should say, as the price of oil continues to rise, the premium you'd pay for the car will become worth it.

Quote:
And no, hydrogen and hybrids not new, but at the same time, if they're not new, then where did that motivation and procrastination come from? BMW and GM and other car manufacturers were looking into hydrogen cars before gas even rose above $2/gallon, and solar panels were around for just as long if not just as longer...Obviously the ingenuity is there; The process of delivery is just going to take a while...
You're confusing two things. The innovation was there, but it wasn't actively being developed or put into use. Why not? Instead of assuming that innovation is a constant factor, think about it from the company's standpoint: why should it have been? If everyone is buying what you're selling and it seems that people would rather pay more for a bigger (and less efficient - but nobody was thinking about that back then) vehicle than to pay more for a more efficient vehicle, what are you going to actively develop?

There's actually a historical bit of engineering that you may be interested in that relates to cars. As most of us know, one factor that impacts fuel efficiency is drag force - that is, the friction and "drag" on your vehicle due to its passing through the air around it. Aerodynamics is the answer to reducing drag, thereby increasing the energy efficiency of the vehicle. I have a wonderful chart in my fluid dynamics textbook that plots the aerodynamic coefficient (can't remember the exact terminology - it was either Moody's or a name that began with an R) of cars over time. Would you be surprised to know that during the 1973 oil crisis and the time directly after it that the aerodynamic efficiency of cars improved at a much more drastic rate than in the time before it? There was a crisis situation, and the response was for greater efficiency. Then we entered another period of luxury, and vehicles such as the Hummer were produced. I don't have the technical specifications, but aside from overall fuel inefficiency, I wouldn't be surprised if the Hummer and other vehicles like it were even less aerodynamic than cars from 10-20 years ago.

That's how it works. Innovation occurs, but just because something is better and more efficient doesn't mean it'll be taken up, utilized, and furthered.

Here's another example for you. Do you know why hybrid development was practically non-existent in the United States? There's a company that owns a significant patent on Nickel Cadmium battery technology. I believe current hybrids are using Lithium Ion batteries, but back then NiCad was the way to go. The company holding the patent is a small company owned by Chevrolet, I believe. It's assumed that Chevrolet used its hold on the patent to prevent other companies from going with hybrids. The first American hybrid I heard of was the Chevy "Volt" - do you remember that? It practically disappeared from headlines for a few years, though, as SUVs blossomed in popularity.

Now you have two nice examples which show that it isn't simply a matter of waiting for the transition to occur. The transition could occur quite rapidly. There's a lot that can hold the transition and further innovations up, however. The reasons largely stem from business interests. What's short-term profitable tends to be embraced and spread by the companies, and that impacts what you and I can buy on the market.


Quote:
And hybrids don't make too much practical sense if you think about other automotive alternatives right next to them that don't use any innovations...
Your example makes use of monetary values to show efficiency. This is also why I say that gas prices need to be high for the innovation and transitions to occur. As of now, hybrids cost more and the cost of gas may not make the purchase worth it. If gas gets much more expensive, then it may be cheaper to use a hybrid even if the car itself costs more than its non-hybrid counterparts. That will be the point when the technology is embraced en masse.

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Originally Posted by tripperazn View Post
No one grows up dreaming to own a Prius.
The second the Prius was announced, I did. I understand the point you're trying to make, of course. I'm well aware that society in general takes a spoiled attitude. It isn't sustainable. We need to become more efficient, or else we're forcefully going to lose many of the luxuries that we have. We're in agreement that the price of gas needs to be higher before the majority of people begin to change their ways. It reminds me of a political cartoon from a century or more ago, when public water systems were put into place. In the cartoon, a man is nonchalant about a water leak; once a water usage monitoring system is installed, the man is very quick to repair the leak (as he is now being billed for any and all water that is used at his house). Very few people are motivated by concepts such as sustainability, the environment, and the greater good. Until they feel personal discomfort, they will not act to change.

Quote:
That is also a very simple view on the necessity of cars. Living in New York, I'm sure you see your fair share of traffic. Have you ever driven in heavy traffic? I'd rather get my teeth pulled for an equivalent amount of time. I'm sure commuters feel the same way, yet they still commute via car everyday. Why? They need to get around and to their jobs from the suburbs to the city. It's as simple as that. Until you provide them with some alternative form of rapid transport that doesn't take hours and is reliable, cars will be a necessity. Some countries have already done that, like much of Western Europe and Japan. You'll notice car ownership is much more rare in those countries because it isn't a necessity. The truth is, in 99% of America, there is no viable alternative for automobiles.
Worse yet, I went to a university in Los Angeles and have driven there. I'll take NYC traffic over LA traffic any day, because at least in NY everyone accelerates and brakes slowly. In LA you get everyone slamming either one pedal or the other, and they seem to think that having 5+ lanes entitles them to lane shift like crazy.

I don't think my view is simplistic at all. Cars are a necessity, you say? Oh, no they're not. They're only a necessity if you want to keep living the way you are now. To have made that statement, you must be living in suburbia. If you didn't have a car, you'd be forced to live in a place near your job, or in a place with public transportation to your job. You're still assuming that cars are a given (probably like much of the rest of society), rather than recognizing them to be the luxury that they are. You can live without them. Your current lifestyle may not be sustainable without them, but you can live without them, and thus they are not a necessity.

For the record, I do still live in suburbia, but I have to commute to the city. I've chosen to take the train into the city, and then the subways around. At this point, the cost is equal to or less than what the costs of gas would be.

Quote:
Uh, yeah, by Japanese automakers, I mean Toyota USA, Honda USA, etc etc. and their marketing in the US. I only used them as an example because they do it better than their American counterparts. Most US companies only have a few models that have respectable fuel economy. Believe me, US companies market those models with the MPG ratings just as aggressively.
I know what you meant. I was pointing out some unintended irony in your statement. Honda and Toyota were on the hybrid and fuel-efficiency bandwagon long, long before the American car companies were. Even when the American car companies seemed to start into it, it seemed half-hearted and quickly disappeared (see my Chevy Volt example above). Japan in general has a reputation for seeking sustainable and environmentally-friendly technologies. As a result, seeing Japanese automakers aggressively pursuing hybrid technology wasn't terribly surprising. America, on the other hand, has a very different reputation. Toyota USA's and Honda USA's production of hybrids does not give credit to America, but to Japan's innovation. You should be embarrassed and ashamed that America, the great innovator, was not first, second, or even in the race at all. To put it bluntly, our companies and our society need to get our shit together. I don't believe that crediting Honda and Toyota to America is a good place to start on overcoming our national procrastination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom-Takaya View Post
No matter how we think about it, oil has become much of a need as consumables. Oil, after all, isn't just used as fuel. Oil just happens to be a worldwide problem, thus making people focus on it more.
Indeed, since plastics are produced from oil there's a big issue there. You may be able to substitute other materials for plastic bags at the grocery store, but certain areas, such as medical technologies, rely on plastic products and there's no easy substitute.

Just my opinion, but I think that all easily switchable technologies should be switched over. Put the public either on hybrids or electric cars (build some new nuclear power plants while we're at it) and improve infrastructure. Traditional fuel should go toward uses that can't easily be changed at this point in time, such as large trucks and airplanes. It's a pity that our national deficient is the largest that it's been in quite some time, because now more than ever we could really do with massive government spending and it'd be justified.
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Old 2008-08-22, 12:27   Link #50
solomon
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I don't think my view is simplistic at all. Cars are a necessity, you say? Oh, no they're not. They're only a necessity if you want to keep living the way you are now. To have made that statement, you must be living in suburbia. If you didn't have a car, you'd be forced to live in a place near your job, or in a place with public transportation to your job. You're still assuming that cars are a given (probably like much of the rest of society), rather than recognizing them to be the luxury that they are. You can live without them. Your current lifestyle may not be sustainable without them, but you can live without them, and thus they are not a necessity.

For the record, I do still live in suburbia, but I have to commute to the city. I've chosen to take the train into the city, and then the subways around. At this point, the cost is equal to or less than what the costs of gas would be.

Hey, ledgem. I really hear what you're saying and I like and agree with it. My Aunt once told me YES IT IS POSSIBLE TO LIVE WITHOUT CARS. BUT IT LIMITS WHERE YOU CAN LIVE. And this will be entwined to your Job, life training, skills and life style.

You live in New York State, right? Well, I would ask which part. If your in the the NYC tri state region, then it's REALLY easy to say that. In fact I can think of a few places/metro areas where it could be easy to say that"

Boston
NYC
Philly
DC (maybe baltimore too)

Chicagoland
Inner Cleveland Metro
Inner LA Metro (they seem to have decent rail)
Parts of the bay area (Muni seems really cool)

and certain select parts of the Metroplex, Seattle and Denver areas (you gotta be really close near the city), there could be even more like Albany, Pittsburgh, etc.

However, those aside. I think of people in the breadbasket, the south (specially appalachia and the deep south) and the mountain west (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho) who would probably make contentions about that. In fact, scince your in NYS, what about people near the Airdonrack Mountain area, or near the Champlain Valley? A lotta states known for urban centers have a lotta their own kind of "Country", ya know?
I think in those places, it's car or bust. And many of those kinda states don't have the money for public metro transport, or don't wanna fork over the money cause of other concerns (some legitimate, some less so).

You also say that you'd live closer to your job. Good point, some people who COULD, DO NOT. WORSE, SOME WHO SHOULD DO NOT (bit of a difference there) BUT Not everone can. With gentrification happening in many cities, property taxes rise (Philly is doing this) plus some areas are just plain too damn expensive to live in for some places, like the Big Apple, San Fran or Hollywood.

Example; My Aunt in Philly who is a cop, was telling me about the shitty pay New York City cops get, so for a long time, they lived in philly so they commuted to NYC (until they tightened the rules). In fact sizable professionals live in Philly and commute to New York because while Philly is still an expensive city, it's nothing like the NYC suburbs, let alone the city itself (well certain buroughs i guess).

CBS News and Washington Post did reports on just how entwined the gas tax on driving was integral to fueling the creation/expansion/maintaining of roads cross country, not to mention the rise of the suburbs. It's an ingrained system for one, and it especially serves (or SERVED) poorer, more rural and/or less urbanized places well.

Again, YES in one sense Americans have gotten greedy and complacent with gas guzzling junkers and the government/corporations endorsed it (especially for people in Urbanized areas)

But people in the boonies gotta eat too. And unfortunetly Amtrak just don't cut it. With our government policy of "leave it to the states" it's hard to get true cooperation going for alternatives to cars, when they have been a key force in the growth of america.

(Again not trying to beat up on ya, I am a urban PT advocate myself. I also think we should have been working on alternatives earlier on. But not everyone is so lucky ya know?)

Last edited by solomon; 2008-08-22 at 12:40.
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Old 2008-08-22, 12:59   Link #51
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Originally Posted by tripperazn View Post
Yes, you're right, we don't have 12 cent gas, but I'm sure you'll agree that it was a purely political move and definitely a short term policy. But even so, yes, my bad, the US does not currently have the cheapest fuel in the world. Yes, it is a very "spoiled", short-sighted, and simply overall detrimental point of view. The thing is, most people do think like that, we want our gas-guzzlin' SUVs and 10 mpg roadsters. You'll notice that people only started being efficient when they were feeling the burn just recently. Hell, GM came out with the Hummer not too long ago. Gas prices were already sky high. They still sold. Cars are just a huge part of the "American Dream", family cars for utility and luxury/sports cars for enjoyment. They serve as a symbol of status and freedom. No one grows up dreaming to own a Prius. People are willing to pay for this luxury, whether due to cultural reasons or personal reasons, to the point of being unaffordable.
Lol, let's see how long that "American Dream" you defined lasts when people have to choose between paying bills, buying food, or paying for gas. And lets not even get into the housing and job market for the U.S. right now, which are horrible. For people with long commutes to their workplace, it easily can cost over $100 a week on gas costs alone. And I still can't stand people that insist on having those huge heavy cars, when they know about the energy crisis. To continue supporting the market like that is not only selfish, it is foolish, and only know are the slower people beginning to realize it. (And who the hell would want to own a Hummer, anyway? That car is the ugliest box-on-wheels ever to touch pavement.) As I said in my earlier rant, Americans don't (or more recently I'm thinking can't) think 5 minutes in front of their damn faces. They only cared when it hurt their pocketbooks, but soon enough it's going to hurt a lot more than that.

Personally, my dad and stepmom are barely getting by as it is, and I'm somewhat worried. Yet, despite this, my dad keeps on using the huge, stupid GM truck of his. It gets at best 21-24 mpg, and I am glad that my dad wants to get a more fuel-efficient car. In fact, he said he would never drive another GM car if he could avoid it.
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Old 2008-08-22, 13:07   Link #52
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Originally Posted by solomon
I think of people in the breadbasket, the south (specially appalachia and the deep south) and the mountain west (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho) who would probably make contentions about that. In fact, scince your in NYS, what about people near the Airdonrack Mountain area, or near the Champlain Valley? A lotta states known for urban centers have a lotta their own kind of "Country", ya know?
I'd concede one very important point that you've raised above — the population density of the United States certainly does not appear to make mass interstate railways viable:

World Map of Population Density

One glance at the map makes something immediately obvious: It's no wonder that Western/Central Europe, China and Japan have some of the most extensive railways in the world — in terms of population density, they are among the most crowded places to live. Mass transit makes sense in these territories simply because there are so many more people moving around everyday. In terms of economies of scale, mass transit railways get much more bang for the taxpayer's buck in these countries that they would in the US.

So, if we're going to compare rail systems, it seems that it'd be fairer to compare Russia against the US, to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.

However, Ledgem's points remain excellent. Why must Americans continue to use bigger, less aerodynamic cars? The only reason why they do so is because petrol used to be almost dirt cheap in the US. Even if Americans choose not to use hybrid or electric cars, there remains no compelling reason not to choose smaller, fuel-efficient cars to get from point A to B. Other than, of course, cheap fuel.

That's why I'd very much like to see pump prices stay high in the US, at least long enough to force a change in wasteful habits.
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Old 2008-08-22, 13:13   Link #53
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I'd concede one very important point that you've raised above the population density of the United States certainly does not appear to make mass interstate railways viable:

World Map of Population Density

One glance at the map makes something immediately obvious: It's no wonder that Western/Central Europe, China and Japan have some of the most extensive railways in the world in terms of population density, they are among the most crowded places to live. Mass transit makes sense in these territories simply because there are so many more people moving around everyday. In terms of economies of scale, mass transit railways get much more bang for the taxpayer's buck in these countries that they would in the US.

So, if we're going to compare rail systems, it seems that it'd be fairer to compare Russia against the US, to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.

However,
Ledgem's
points remain excellent. Why must Americans continue to use bigger, less aerodynamic cars? The only reason why they do so is because petrol used to be almost dirt cheap in the US. Even if Americans choose not to use hybrid or electric cars, there remains no compelling reason not to choose smaller, fuel-efficient cars to get from point A to B. Other than, of course, cheap fuel.

That's why I'd very much like to see pump prices stay high in the US, at least long enough to force a change in wasteful habits.
the question is will American's driving habit change first or will the economy collapse first. The economy need affordable oil. Not just for transportation but just about everything else.
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Old 2008-08-22, 13:44   Link #54
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That is the 64 million dollar question
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Old 2008-08-22, 14:27   Link #55
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Days of the gas powered car are far from over. Both electric and hybrid electric cars are more something to soothe the buyers conscience than any real solution for pollution and thus global warming. And fuel savings of hybrid cars are mostly much ado about nothing.

Electric cars have a few major problems. Firstly the range. Battery technology is still quite undeveloped so the range of 200 miles or so is about the maximum that can be achieved. Secondly the efficiency. Primarily the efficiency of the batteries, electric motors win internal combustion engines hands down. Still batteries alone drop the efficiency to 65-70% range. Thirdly, from environmental standpoint. Electricity that's used to power electric cars still needs to be produced. Sadly quite often this is done by fossil fuel, be that coal or some other. And the emissions of the fossil fuel power plants are quite astronomical in relation to energy produced when compared to modern fuel powered car.

Hybrids are a bit of a fad at the moment. Manufacturers promise massive MPGs which are more than often grossly false. What seems to be forgotten really often is that all of the energy that's used to move the car is still produced by a gas powered internal combustion engine. The only benefit over normal gas powered car is that some of the energy normally wasted in deceleration is stored. But in order to do so an electric motor and a load of batteries is required. These add weight to the car, actually quite a bit of it. A Prius would weigh about 300kg less if all the hybrid crap would be pulled out of it. 300kg weight loss makes a massive difference in fuel consumption of a roughly 1.5 ton car. Nickel-cadmium batteries used in the Prius on the other hand are special waste so disposing them is a bitch. Only less than a half of materials used in a Prius are recyclable in comparison to about 80-90% of an average modern gas powered car.

I had a chance to test Prius. As a car it's absolutely horrible. I wanted to drive it directly to the nearest landfill burn it and piss on it's smoking remains. As a car it SUCKS. And as far as fuel economy is concerned, got only about 5mpg more out of it than my current 20 year old 3 liter Merc. And that's not great. Every single similarly sized diesel has beaten Prius in my tests hands down.

So if you want to save fuel or save the planet buy a small diesel.

The real alternatives are coming. I'm quite eagerly waiting for the hydrogen fuel cell technology to become commercially viable.
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Old 2008-08-22, 14:39   Link #56
Xellos-_^
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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Originally Posted by solomon View Post
That is the 64 million dollar question
The question comes boiling down to the government and whether the new president and washington will have the political will to push american (whether they like it or not) form gas cars to hydrogen cars.

Hydrogen cars exist however their numbers are limited because lack of fuel station and fuel stations are in lack because there is only a small number of hydrogen cars. The problems basically feeds on itself.

If Obama really wants to make a really change in the world he can push a plan to built hydrogen fueling station all across the US.

As the saying goes:

When you built it they will come. When the hydrogen stations are built people will buy more hdrogen cars which will lead price decrease which will make it more afforable.

This comes down to if the the next president is for real change not just slogans and prep rallies.
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Old 2008-08-22, 15:32   Link #57
solomon
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Does political will to enact controversial practices outside of impending doom exist in Washington?
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Old 2008-08-22, 21:22   Link #58
yezhanquan
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 29
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Originally Posted by solomon View Post
Does political will to enact controversial practices outside of impending doom exist in Washington?
Well, that is a good question. Those chaps in the House of Representatives are up for re-election every 2 years, so they are literally always in election mode. A Senator's tenure is 6 years, while the President's is 4.

Still, The US is too big a place to generalise. If you're living in some rural area where your neighbour is 20 miles away, then the automobile is the only way to go. If you're working in an office somewhere in town, public transport may get you there. Again, fuel efficient cars is the next step.
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Old 2008-08-22, 21:46   Link #59
Ledgem
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Originally Posted by solomon View Post
Hey, ledgem. I really hear what you're saying and I like and agree with it. My Aunt once told me YES IT IS POSSIBLE TO LIVE WITHOUT CARS. BUT IT LIMITS WHERE YOU CAN LIVE. And this will be entwined to your Job, life training, skills and life style.
You're still not thinking big enough. Imagine if cars were completly unaffordable, or if it became imposible to run them (say, due to a complete global gas shortage). Do you think society would just turn over and die?

My point is that society as we know it has built up around the idea of cheap personal transportation in the form of a car. This is why suburbs formed in the way that they did, and why the general layout of things is relatively stretched out. I've heard from plenty of foreigners that America's overall layout, aside from some of the cities, seems to have had absolutely no thought go into it. It's largely true. Why should careful planning have taken place as long as a road connected to it at some point?

Now that's not the case. Personal transport is becoming expensive. If society and technology don't change fast enough, then society and life as you and I know it will need to change to adapt. There is no use in complaining that some areas are too expensive to live there, or certain jos you can't live near: you'll move and get a new job, not because you want to but because you'll have to. Society will do that and if it results in the restructuring of regions and changes to the job field, so be it.

That's an extreme case, of course. It's unlikely that cars and personal transport will either entirely vanish or become a luxury item in America. But don't take anything for granted - you never know. I don't disagree with your other general points, except for the fact that you're still saying that cars are a necessity. I maintain that cars and transport as we know it is a necessity to maintain certain societal structuring and lifestyles as we know them. If those structures and lifestyles are not compatible with a lack of cheap private transport, they'll cease to exist. Adaptations will occur and life will go on.
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