Computer scientists study the darndest things, or at least the ones at my alma mater, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, do. They write algorithms to predict presidential election outcomes and March Madness basketball brackets; they analyze aviation security risks; and now their dot-connecting computer codes are pointing an accusatory finger at the automobile for causing America’s obesity epidemic. Preposterous! Or is it? Dr. Sheldon Jacobson’s team in the simulation and optimization laboratory started its long journey toward that outlandish accusation by gathering data on personal vehicle use because, as Jacobson rightly points out, “Obesity is an energy imbalance, and driving is one of the lowest-energy-expenditure activities we do in any day.” Well, maybe not the way some of us cut and thrust through rush-hour traffic, but point taken. Vehicle miles traveled by non-commercial passenger cars and light trucks were divided by the number of licensed … [Read more...] about Rolling Fat: Is Our Auto-Centric Lifestyle Making Us Obese?
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And no, this is not news. What is, however, is the effect that our crumbling infrastructure is having on our still fragile economy.According to a new feature from The Wall Street Journal, the American Society of Civil Engineers predicated that between 2012 and 2020, bad roads and freeways will drive up expenses for companies and hurt overall productivity, sapping up to $3.1 trillion (yes, trillion, with a "T") from the nation's gross domestic product.The impact for some companies is severe. UPS, for example, is losing $105 million each year. Congestion in some cities is forcing the company to use three trucks to guarantee on-time delivery for two trucks worth of packages. In other cases, companies are being forced to pay so-called "impact fees," to make up for the lack of government road funding.WSJ has the full article, which delivers a rather interesting take on America's decaying infrastructure. … [Read more...] about Neglected roads draining US economy
Those who long for the days of bell bottoms, massive Afros and dominance of the Philadelphia Flyers may think of the mid-'70s as a good time, but when it came to how much of our dollars were being spent on gas, times were tough. According to the most recent version of a report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the distance driven per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) peaked in 1977 and has dropped 22 percent since then. Fuel use per GDP dollar hit its high in 1972 (ever fill up a '72 Buick Riviera like the one pictured above?) and has plunged 46 percent since then.Keep in mind that the average fuel economy for new light-duty vehicles has doubled to from the early 1970s to its current rate of about 25 miles per gallon, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Still, consistent with a previous version of the UMTRI reports, which said driving mileage per person maxed out around 2004, we are indeed driving less, thanks to factors such … [Read more...] about Has motorization in the US peaked?
Maruti Suzuki S-Cross After a stellar 60% rally thus far in calendar year 2017 (CY17) and outperforming the S&P BSE Sensex and S&P BSE Auto indices that rose 26% and 25% during this period, can Maruti Suzuki hit the five-figure mark over the next one year? Analysts at Nomura believe that Maruti, which is already trading near its 52-week high level on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) can come close to hitting this figure. In Nomura's latest report on the outlook for global auto companies for 2018, Maruti Suzuki with a price target of Rs 9,843 features among the top regional pick for 2018 along with China’s BYD and United States headquartered Tesla, with Toyota being their preferred global pick in the auto sector.Suzuki lifts outlook on strong India sales“Strong demand for new models, benefits from market trend towards premiumisation, and healthy cash flow generation, are key positives which make Maruti Suzuki our top pick in the Indian auto … [Read more...] about Can Maruti Suzuki stock hit Rs 10,000 levels?
For any journalist covering the American auto industry, The Big Two Point Five's insularity is a constant source of amazement. And so it has been, for well over six decades. Over the last forty years or so, the names have changed, but the message hasn’t. The party line: “foreign” cars are a fad (especially the small ones), ours are as good as if not better than theirs, prosperity is only a couple of cars away and, oh yeah, it's all the union’s fault. One insider coined the perfect term for this combination of reckless denial and mindless optimism: “Grosse Pointe Myopia” (GPM).Note the term’s geographic specificity; Grosse Pointe is the swanky suburb just outside of Detroit favored by highly-paid automobile executives. Every member of The Big Two Point Five– which includes no less than fourteen domestic sub-brands– are headquartered in and around Detroit. This concentration of industrial energy, all directed towards the … [Read more...] about Grosse Pointe Myopia
US SecTreas Timothy Geithner quickly got out of DC for the Monday curtain call of the artist now known as Government Motors. Geithner went as far as Beijing to distance himself from the performance. Keeping a distance didn’t mean keeping his mouth shut. From Chrysler and GM, “we want a quick, clean exit as soon as conditions permit,” Geithner told students at Peking University in Beijing. Reuters took notes. “We’re very optimistic these firms will emerge from restructuring without further government assistance.” Strangely, everybody shares his optimism . . .Back home, Geithner’s subalterns at the Presidential Task Force on Automobiles (PTFOA) are digging in for the long haul. To paraphrase Richard Nixon, we’ll have the twenty-five member team (plus assistants) to kick around some more.It’s not like they need the money; Bloomberg reports that PTFOA bureaucrat-in-chief Steve Rattner is worth some $188m. He’s in it to … [Read more...] about Editorial: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in China for GM’s C11
Dear Secretary Paulson:We are writing to urge you in the strongest possible terms to use your authority under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) or other statutes to immediately address a significant and systemic threat to the U.S. economy and provide emergency assistance to the domestic automobile industry.The U.S. auto industry represents almost four percent of U.S. gross domestic product and represents ten percent of U.S. industrial production by value. One out of every 10 U.S. jobs is auto-related. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler account for roughly 70 percent of U.S. auto production and are estimated to support around five million jobs across all 50 states. According to a report released last week by the Center for Automotive Research, the failure of even one US automaker would mean the loss of millions of jobs and cost our economy hundreds of billions of dollars. Inaction is not an optionThese last years have seen the domestic automakers pursue an unprecedented … [Read more...] about Bailout Watch 165: Captain Carl Writes Home for Money
We are still waiting for the September sales numbers for China (at least we were spared the usual CATRC drama of faux numbers – maybe because there was a one week holiday?) But here comes something interesting (or shocking, depending on who’s side you’re on.) Auto sales in China could hit 17 million units this year, up from 13.6 million in 2009, Chinese state media said today, citing the China Association for Auto Manufacturers (CAAM.) And that was the harmless part.According to a Xinhua news report, brought to us by India’s Economic Times, because the Xinhua report can’t be found, the CAAM expects a rise of 25 percent to 17m units when the year is over. Xinhua also adds that sales of 17 million would equal the highest yearly figure ever reached in the United States. Rub it in boys, rub it in.The CAAM is not known for wild projections. Actually, their guesses are usually on the conservative side. Like any good executive, they only make projections … [Read more...] about Chinese Car Sales: 17m This Year, 40m in 2020, 75m in 2030
Long before mobility became an auto-industry buzzword, before partyers could summon a ride via an app on something called an iPhone, and before Silicon Valley and Detroit became alleged rivals, William Clay Ford Jr. could foresee the tectonic forces pushing to upend traditional transportation. As early as the turn of this century, he prodded Ford Motor Company to reckon with a future that would demand more energy efficiency and pollution reduction from its vehicles while also understanding that future populations would be more concentrated in megacities that couldn’t absorb additional traffic. In 2007, with a mind toward creating business models that matched such a future, he proposed that the company explore alternate modes of transit. “I’m not sure the term ‘mobility’ existed, but I wanted to invest in transportation solutions that were different,” Ford says. A few years before that, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency lured … [Read more...] about Who Wins in the Autonomous-Car Economy?
A sign up ahead reads, "Worms 1000 meters." I know just how those people feel. We've been ravaging these European highways for about 19 hours and subsisting on a gas-station diet of vacuum-packed tomato sandwiches and a mysterious starch product called Crispers. Our supply of cookies is dangerously low, as are our vitamin E, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Should we really be doing 137 mph? Most press-introduction drives follow fastidiously planned routes. In this case, Porsche gave us a brief presentation, tossed us the keys at the factory in Zuffenhausen, Germany, and asked that we return in 36 hours-with the car. We went straight to a gas station and bought a book of maps. It had Europe, Iceland, and a few places in Turkey that we just might reach if we chose to give up sleep. Later, we figured out how to operate the Cayman's navigation system, so the map book went under the seat. For those just returning from the seasonal whale hunt, the Cayman S is the new hard-hat … [Read more...] about Porsche Cayman S