Is Detroit headed for a crash?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Ugg, Sep 7, 2003.

  1. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #1
    Link

    An interesting look at cars and America. Toyota is now in third place and US carmakers produce only 57% of all the cars sold here. I can remember when GM alone had 50% of the market.

    It would be pretty funny if the SUV turned out to be Detroit's downfall.
     
  2. chadfromdallas macrumors member

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    #2
    Why buy American, when quality<foriegn> is cheeper and last longer? ;)
     
  3. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #3
    styling and innovation was lost at gm for awhile and ford has screwed uplately but i think they are getting it back. but really is gas powered vehicles the future? this is a finite fuel source fella's. what we need is green renewable source that doesnt pollute. hydrogen? solar? electric? i would like all three put into one vehicle and then start saying so long to oil.
     
  4. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #4
    Now there's a hybrid I would love to see!
     
  5. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Fuel cells are already on their way. That's roughly a 30% improvement in efficiency. A combination cell/electric would up the efficiency even further.

    Wind and nuke for electricity would stretch out fossil fuels tremendously...Replacing coal-fired plants would do a heckuva lot for air quality.

    I've noticed that even Toyota is hurting, though. This recent May was the first time I've heard them advertise deep discounts on their vehicles well in advance of the normal cycle of new model introduction. The discounts of up to $8,000 for 2003 models were on the radio in Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans and Houston.

    'Rat
     
  6. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    Even though I do agree with the rest of your post, regarding nuclear power plants I have to object. Considering the long-term problems with atomic waste they are producing and the big impact on the evironment in case of a malfunction or a terrorist attack, they can't be the answer to energy problems of mankind. There are already better solutions in theory, but the nuke lobby is blocking them since there is a lot of money involved.

    groovebuster
     
  7. patrick0brien macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

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    #7
    -groovebuster

    Actually, there is a solution, and it works. It's called an Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) or "Breeder Reactor". It uses liquid sodium in it's nuclear fuel pile instead of water - therefore no thermal pollution of rivers and lakes, it's waste is only ash (from impurities in the fuel), and cannot melt down due to mechanical pellet-based fuel rods.

    More on meltdown. We all know what a meltdown is, it is when the reactor cannot be cooled off, and the nuclear pile "melts down" through the floor of the reactor - usually causing an explosion from the thermal overpressure when the floor of the reactor is breeched. What isn't often talked about is the mechanics that lead up to a meltdown. It can start one of several ways, the coolant (water pool) is too low, or the control rods are pulled out too far too long. As the uranium fuel heats up, it expands, thus jamming the control rods and not allowing shutdown. A meltdown is pretty much inevitable at that point.

    In an IFR, the fuel rods aren't simply solid bars of uranium, but steel tubes that contain within, pellet-ized uranium, these pellets are then compacted with springs mounted in the top of the tubes. So if one were to try to melt this reactor down, the tubes would heat, the pellets would expand, and press vertically on the springs, thus not jamming the conrol rods. Also, due to the expansion, the uranium would move away from critical mass the farther it expanded, so meltdown wouldn't happen regarless of control rod positioning. The reactor would get damn hot, but plateau.

    Also, to retrofit existing reactors is feasable.

    So, gee this is great, why don't we use it? Three problems.

    1. General stigma of Nuclear reactors.
    2. Besides simple ash, the other byproduct of an IFR reactor is small amounts of weapons-grade plutonium (thus the term "breeder").
    3. The scientists first tested the meltdown-proof nature of the reactor, and the very hour they declared it a success, another highly ironic event occured halfway around the world. It was the Chernobyl meltdown. So the IFR's success was vastly overshadowed.
     
  8. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #8
    The sad thing about the Chernobyl deal is that it not only was a poor and inefficient/unsafe design, but it was operating at something like 120% of rating. Comparatively, the same design at Hanford, Washington, has never had an operating problem, running at some 40% of rating. (The Hanford problem is groundwater pollution, mostly stemming from bureaucratic arrogance of the "We're from the Gummint, and we know best." variety.)

    My bet is that what's now called "high level nuclear waste" will become raw material long before there's any need to worry about the longevity/durability of its cladding. Hell's bells, 100 years from now, we'll probably use well-tested anti-gravity equipment to move such "junk" to the sun. 100 years ago, electricity and airplanes were akin to magic...

    Back to the car market: In 1962, I worked a year at Chevrolet's Test Lab in Detroit. At that time, GM had 53% of the US car market. Bobby Kennedy gave his "Anybody with 50% of a market is defacto a monopoly." speech, and GM went berzerk. They were afraid that GM would be broken up. Ford and Chrysler were afraid of the same thing, fearing that they'd be facing Chevrolet as an independent entity, plus GM's other four brands. Can you say, "A combined 60%?"

    But in the 1960s, Toyotas and Datsuns were junk. VW was about the only quality mass-production import worthy of note.

    We've also gone from sales of 10 million new cars per year to some 17 million (before this recent recessionary slowdown to 15 million).

    But all cars are better, now, I gayrawndamntee you. I started "bending wrenches" in the 1950s as a hot-rodder and sporty-car racer, and I just wish we had some of the 1990s goodies "way back then". :)

    'Rat
     
  9. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #9
    We were promised the flying car.

    I want the flying car, now, damn it.
     
  10. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #11
  11. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    #12
    @patrick0brien:

    Thanks for trying to give me a lesson, but I knew about the "schnellen Brüter" how it is called in German.

    This technology has another problem that you didn't mention... It is friggin' expensive! That is also a reason why nobody wants it, as long as a "normal" nuclear power plant costs a quarter. AND... nuclear waste is nuclear waste is nuclear waste is nuclear waste. I think I don't have to elaborate about that any further.

    @Desertrat:

    Your trust in technology that doesn't even exist on the blue-print so far is amazing. Fact is, that we already destroy the environment to an extend that is not repairable anymore. Every day dozens of species vanish from the surface of this planet and pollution (in every way possible) is poisoning the evironment. I would prefer if the human race would start to use "things" after(!) they found a way to reverse their damage to the environment instead of screwing the environment and saying that future generations will have the technology to take care of that. Because if they don't... of which ever reason... we are screwed. So our behaviour is immoral.

    groovebuster
     
  12. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Well, groovebuster, eastern Germany is certainly an example of an area needing cleanup...Lotsa folks dispute your allegation of the rate of disappearing species, however...

    Why is belief in mankind's ingenuity amazing? My grandfather saw the change from horse and buggy and newsprint to TV and moon landings, just from 1885 to 1969--and he lived on to 1981.

    Back to Toyota: Toyota is going to start running Nascar. They're gonna be allowed to use an engine that's not in production (!). Their racing budget is probably twice that of Fraud, Chevy and Chiseler combined. "Race on Sunday, sell on Monday." Anybody wanna make bets on the future ranking of Toyota sales, say in three to five years?

    'Rat
     
  13. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    #14
    Could you please specify what exactly you mean by that?

    groovebuster
     
  14. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #15
    AFAIK, we have made very little progress, and spend next to nothing, on programs designed to figure out how to re-use nuclear material in a safe way. All our money goes to looking into long term storage methods. Until something is at least on the horizon, nukes are not an option IMHO. Living within 10 miles of one of these things (on an earthquake fault no less) is not a safe feeling.

    In addition, the nuclear industry is subsidized by the government to the hilt. We pay for the production of the power in our energy bills, and we pay more for it with our taxes. If we gave as many subsidies for renewables as we do for nu-cu-lar I'd be a lot more receptive.
     
  15. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #16
    groovebuster, you can do your own search. Numerous articles have been published about the areas of contaminated ground in the old GDR.

    mac, dunno 'bout you, but I'd imagine a good bit of research has been going on about other uses for such as spent fuel rods. I'd have to say that "re-cycling" is not cost-effective. (But until energy prices jumped in 1974, re-cycling of aluminum cans wasn't seen as cost-effective.)

    IF homo sap's CO2 output is responsible in part for global warming, the only alternatives to coal/gas/oil-fired steam power plants are wind and nuke. An added benefit is that of dramatically reduced emissions of particulates from oil/coal plants. (There ain't no more worthwhile hydropower sites.) I'd like to see more solar, particularly for uses where it's not the U.S. homeowner who "doesn't do" the maintenance.

    Question: Does anybody know the cost of a wind generator? I've read that the design output is 1.2 megawatts, each. (Which means California needs some 3,000 or more of them by 2010.) What subsidy? And, the cost of the electric lines to "gather" an array?

    'Rat
     
  16. wwworry macrumors regular

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    #17
    I know wind power is down to 5 cents a watt as compared to 2 to 3 cent per for oil, coal gas. This is an amazing improvement as wind was at 25 cent per about 20 years ago.

    One other thing to consider is that the oil industry is really heavily subsidized and they nevr consider the cost of polution in the final energy cost. Asthma alone might push fossil fuels over the cost of wind power.

    Also solar chimmenies are interesting. Also geo-thermal heating/cooling is great.

    And one comapny has gotten solar voltaic cells up to 30% + effiecency. This is above the 12% that is common now.

    Houses are now being built with Insulated concrete forms. They are stronger, faster to build, way more energy efficient, and no wood for termites, warpage, and rot. I am about to build one myself.

    Really we are almost there with wind, solar and hybrid vehicles (not to mention clean diesel). We can make a big dent in our fossil fuel consumption with existing technology. The up front cost is greater, but with some things you make it back in as little as 7 years.

    What we need is leadership and imagination in Washington instead of empty talk about "sacrifice" and the "American way of life". Has anyone of us been asked to personally sacrifice to achieve energy independence? It's not even a sacrifice! Just drive a smaller car for god's sake (6 cylinders instead of 8, 4 instead of 6 - not a big deal)! Build an energy efficient house that's more comfortable, quieter and cheaper in the long run!
    In WWII all Americans recycled, conserved energy and resources. Now it's tax breaks for SUVs. ridiculous! stupid! short-sighted! This guy is mortgaging our future and what are we getting? Layoffs, deficits and world animosity. Where is the better tomorrow?
     
  17. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    #18
    OK, so I guessed right what you meant... and thanks that you unnecessarily try to teach me about my own country (things bzw that everybody with a little bit brain here in Germany knows anyway)... thanks! ;) And what does that have to do with the discussion we had before? Did you want to proof anything by pointing at the former GDR? Does that mean you don't have any contaminated ground in the US.? Did I ever say that this is not a global problem? Actually I don't get what your point is and that was the reason why I asked you what you meant by your statement.

    I don't get what your motivation was to bring up especially eastern Germany as an example...?

    Just in case you intended to attack me indirectly by bringing up my origin I have to disappoint you. I was born and grew up in West-Berlin, which was never part of the GDR, just surrounded by it... so again, what was your point?

    groovebuster
     
  18. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #19
    groovebuster, my point is that there are heavily polluted areas, world wide. SFAIK, pollution control efforts generally either started sooner in the U.S., or there has been more progress, here, as compared to many other countries.

    As a "for instance", I have friends in the car-repair business. A couple of them specialize in upgrading pollution control equipment on "gray" imports. These are cars from Europe which meet European standards but aren't up to the U.S. standards.

    I'm not knocking any particular country. I do get a bit tired of listening to some folks complain about the U.S. as though it's the only major polluter, and as though things aren't one heckuva lot better here than, say, during the 1950s/1960s.

    The Cuyahoga river won't catch fire again. Lake Erie was brought back from eutrophication. You can see the buildings of downtown Houston from out at the Intercontinental airport. You can actually see the Los Angeles basin when flying over it, instead of nothing but a yellow-brown cloud hiding the entire basin. Power plant emissions are far more stringently controlled, now.

    Other countries are making progress, although all of us have more that we can do--but we're doing it.

    'Rat
     

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