Manufacturing Monday: Numbers, Tesla, world trade reversal, and China overtakes US.

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Greetings folks, welcome to another edition of Manufacturing Monday.  Sorry about last week, it's normally my goal to have a new edition out on the first day of the week, but sometimes life can be unpredictable and throw you a curve ball. Well, several interesting things this week ranging from manufacturing activity to California looking to gain Tesla's plants.  Plus the Financial Times reports on China dethroning the US from it's Manufacturing title.

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Karma's a Bitch.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

With last week GM reporting a $15.5 billion loss in the second quarter, it is quite clear that American car manufactures are getting their come-uppance.

Edmunds.com published a list of the top 10 most efficient 2008 sedans available.  They ranked the cars based on EPA fuel economy numbers.  And sweet moses would you guess that not one from an American manufacturer made the list!  Even the Wall Street Journal, not known for its criticism to big business, has sharp words about American car manufacturers.

Now we see the results of the myopia that has afflicted Detroit auto executives. These are the people who staked their companies' futures on gas-guzzling, heavyweight behemoths.

Auto execs claim they were giving Americans the products they wanted. Really? For proof to the contrary, look at their U.S. market shares, which are slumping to historically low levels as Japanese auto makers gain ground.

In lieu of GM's stunning losses, I was reminded of the complete and utter arrogance they displayed when they crushed its fleet of EV-1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert.  The EV-1 was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry.

The story of the EV-1 is documented in the amazing film Who Killed the Electric Car? It chronicles the life and mysterious death of the EV-1 and it examines the cultural and economic ripple effects caused by its conception and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business.

A summary:

The film deals with the history of the electric car, its development and commercialization, mostly focusing on the General Motors EV1, which was made available for lease in Southern California, after the California Air Resources Board passed the ZEV mandate in 1990, as well as the implications of the events depicted for air pollution, environmentalism, Middle East politics, and global warming.

The film details the California Air Resources Board's reversal of the mandate after suits from automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, and the George W. Bush administration. It points out that Bush's chief influences, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card, are all former executives and board members of oil and auto companies.

A large part of the film accounts for GM's efforts to demonstrate to California that there was no demand for their product, and then to take back every EV1 and dispose of them. A few were disabled and given to museums and universities, but almost all were found to have been crushed; GM never responded to the EV drivers' offer to pay the residual lease value ($1.9 million was offered for the remaining 78 cars in Burbank before they were crushed).

Embedded below, the film in its entirety:

If the above does not work, visit this LINK.

However its not all bad news.  In the same WSJ piece - it would seem that some have climbed aboard the bus.

In a recent meeting with Ford executives, CEO Alan Mulally dared to challenge the Detroit gospel that you can't make money on small, fuel-efficient cars.

At last Ford appears to be making bold moves to design and sell vehicles that people want. In Paris earlier this summer I spotted an unfamiliar car so attractive that I went over to see what it was. It was a Ford. Presumably this is one of the six European models that, as part of the "Drive One" campaign, Ford will introduce in the U.S. Ford is also boosting production of its fuel-efficient "EcoBoost" and four-cylinder engines, speeding up hybrid introductions and converting three truck plants to small-car production.

Even GM seems to be facing reality. It said it's planning for oil prices in a $120-$150 range for the foreseeable future, boosting light vehicle production, and suspending production at four truck plants. It, too, is accelerating production of efficient four-cylinder engines, and announced a global Chevrolet small-car initiative.

While promising, what pulls my chain about the above is that rather than take responsibility for the planet and in the role these car companies play in emissions, the American car manufacturers are only taking these steps because of the price of gas.  Let's hope their successful.  However as they say, karma's a bitch.

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Plug In America's Letter to Governor Schwarzenegger

March 17, 2008

Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger,

President George Bush called on Americans this month to "get off oil" and start to drive electric vehicles. With gas nearing $4 a gallon, global warming threatening disaster, and our national security at risk, the president got it right.

Unfortunately, powerful California regulators are perilously close to killing the electric car all over again.

On March 27, the California Air Resources Board will revise their history-making program that put more than 5,000 highway-capable Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) on the road and reduced our output of carbon dioxide--the main global warming gas--by one million metric tons.

But new revisions by the Board's staff will profoundly weaken the program again instead of propelling our country toward a pollution-free future. This proposal would require each automaker to produce only about 150 ZEVs per year through 2015.

That's less than what consumers are demanding...

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Rally for Zero Emission Vehicles. You're Invited!!!

Plug In America

Plug In America Needs Your Help. You Are Invited!

Plug in America Press Conference and Rally

Date: Wednesday - March 26, 2008
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Where: California EPA Building
..........1001 I Street
..........Sacramento, Ca

Electric Car Drivers: Bring Your EVs!

We want zero emission electric cars on the road, and we want them NOW! Help PIA inspire Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and CARB Chair Mary Nichols to do the right thing by clicking here.

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Turning the heat up - an environmental comparison

The League of Conservation Voters has been tracking where all candidates - Democratic and Republican - stand on 5 key issues related to the environment.  You can read a summary here:

http://heatison.3cdn.net/03947f376282772 998_i3m6bagcw.pdf

If you disagree with this factual summary, please take it up with the LCV and not me!  I have volunteered with them and respect their track record, and thus trust them as a source.

My thoughts from reading this:

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Diaries

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