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Will ethanol E85 catch on in the US? Will we Live Green and Go Yellow?

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  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I agree. From an engineering perspective multiple drive systems is not ideal. I only support it because I believe it represents going in the right direction, which is better electric motors, better batteries. I think that if someone started manufacturing PHEVs it would be a fairly short step to get them to offer that vehicle without the ICE capability.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    I think that if someone started manufacturing PHEVs it would be a fairly short step to get them to offer that vehicle without the ICE capability.

    I think that you need to realize that you are one of a very small group of people who think that this is important.

    The average consumer does not loathe the gas engine as you do. Sure, they won't mind an EV that works, but right now, they don't work. (And yes, the range and inability to refuel on the fly are significant problems.)

    The automakers need to appeal to customer needs, whether they are current needs or indicative of an unserved but pent-up demand.

    Your EV doesn't do that. There are different market segments with different priorities, but almost nobody wants a car with about as much range as has your typical car when the "low fuel" light comes on, and then requires all day to fill up.

    There is no value proposition in that to anyone but for a few ideologues, and there aren't enough of those to create a market. It's not a conspiracy, it's just the market at work, and the key to success comes from serving the market, not from an Area 51 bogeyman that doesn't exist.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,713
    So had the manufacturers been willing to meet demand and had they been offered nationwide instead of just CA and AZ I think your million vehicle estimate is probably good but I think the demand would still excede supply.

    I was originally thinking a lot more than the million mark, but then I figured that would be more of a demand figure that wouldn't be satisfied.

    How much fuel would 1 million vehicles save. Probably about 500 million gallons per year. Not all that much relative to our total consumption but conservation needs to take place on the individual level.

    Well its been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Or the journey to save a 100 billion gallons of gas starts with 500 million.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    TMC is trying to create a market,

    Create a market? That's an interesting concept from someone that states manufacturers don't offer diesels or EVs because a market doesn't exist. Toyota has been trying to create this market since 2001. That's a pretty big investment on their part based on a future market. So why are you so quick to dismiss EVs or diesels based on current sales?

    In the case of diesels you are really off target. I realize that only about 1% of vehicles sold in this country are diesel. Here's a hypothetical question. If Toyota offered a diesel Camry or Honda offered a diesel Accord do you think it would only account for 1% of these car's sales? Your answer will say a lot about how in touch with reality you really are.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,713
    I don't need to understand the average buyer, I just need to look at what they're buying, and why they buy it.

    Its kind of hard to look at what the average car buyer is buying and then say they won't buy something thats not even avaliable to them. Secondly unless you can read their minds you can't know why they are buying them. maybe they are buying them because there is no alternative.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,713
    Try to imagine the frustration of a buyer being told that he can't have a product because nobody wants it. This buyer then asks, how do you know nobody wants it? Answer, we know that nobody wants it because we only sold 800 units in 4 years. The buyer then asks, how many units were produced? The answer, 800 units. So every unit produced was sold? Answer, yes.

    The sad thing about that is that they had at least 5,000 people on a waiting list. And it was a waiting list you had to wait to get on.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    What is the average consumer? Is there any vehicle that represents more than 50% of sales? Obviously not. I'm pretty sure that no single vehicle represents even 10% of total sales. So its not a matter of going after what Americans want but going after the top niche markets. I happen to believe that EVs could be one of these niche markets and, yes, I believe a bogeyman is involved in it not being represented.

    Most of our decisions involve tradeoffs. Granted EVs aren't suitable for everyone based on limited range and re-charge times. But they do have the positive aspect of reduced fuel consumption and costs. Depending on the individual these trade-offs may or may not make sense. I contend that for a significant number of people the pluses outweigh the negatives. I don't know what this number is but I think it is marketable.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    You still haven't told me why nobody who actually might stand to profit from this hasn't yet done it.

    TMC is proving there's a market for hybrids by selling products as fast it can make them. 100,000 units is respectable for a mass market car. The fact that automakers are scrambling to launch their own version shows you that the industry leaders think that there's something to it.

    All we have is your hopes and dreams, no data that supports your conclusions. Since it is your theory, you need to provide support for your supposition that there's a market. Your theory is built on the notion that everyone in the industry is dumb, and that none of them understand the results of their own research and development.

    If Wagoner means it about the EV1, then he needs to revive it. If GM could use it as a turnaround product, he'd be a hero...but he seems to betting on HHR's, instead.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The average consumer does not loathe the gas engine as you do. Sure, they won't mind an EV that works, but right now, they don't work. (And yes, the range and inability to refuel on the fly are significant problems.)

    I don't loathe the gas engine. Much like the telegraph, it was great for a while but it is now time to move forward. I'm definitely not an expert in the field but I do suspect that an EV could potentially re-charge on the fly, giving it unlimited range. I think it is possible to create roadways that allow for an EV to re-charge while driving over them. I'm not an expert in this field so I don't have a good feeling about the feasibility but it is a potential that doesn't exist for an ICE powered vehicle.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    I'm definitely not an expert in the field but I do suspect that an EV could potentially re-charge on the fly, giving it unlimited range.

    You've either described a perpetual motion machine or a hybrid.

    You need to have another source to fuel the battery and to power the car when the battery lacks power, regenerative braking doesn't provide enough energy to do it. The hybrid basically takes the refueling system and marries it to the engine, rather than relying strictly on another secondary source (the power grid), which is not a bad idea at all given what technology we have and are likely to have.

    One point is that the hybrid need not necessarily be a gas engine, and alternative technologies may come down the pike that can be used to provide power when the electric motor cannot, while keeping the battery charged.

    In any case, we need stuff that works, and this works reasonably well now and will probably improve, and best of all, the market seems ready to embrace it. You can't say that about electric cars, except in very limited circumstances.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I don't want to come across as a know it all. Everything I say is a personal opinion based on the best information I've been able to come across.

    Other manufacturerers are following Toyota into the hybrid field. Its kind of like Toyota following GM and Ford into the FFV field. Its not so much that they think it is a good idea but that they realize it is a big enough market that they can't be left out.

    Wagoner's comment probably reflect a missed opportunity. I'm not entirely sure he could revive the EV1 because I don't think the batteries are available. When GM got out of the EV business they also sold their battery interest to an oil company (Chevron). Its clearly a very complicated issue. I don't know what's going on. I can only speculate like everyone else.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    You've either described a perpetual motion machine or a hybrid

    Not really. I can envision specialized lanes on an interstate for transferring energy to re-charge batteries. It has nothing to do with perpetual motion and the recipient would pay a fee. Its futuristic but its doable. ICEs represent an archaic technology thats clinging on to life.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,713
    Not to much different than how a subway train or an electric street car works. However I do think its not feesable. on a large scale basis.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Exactly. Big difference between a mass transit driver traveling along a fixed route, with the line supporting a fairly low volume of traffic, and having tens or hundreds of thousands of cars in multiple lanes, traveling in multiple directions, utilizing such a system.

    It would be easier to get them onto these more easily managed trains and buses than to try to provide individual customized powerlines for everyone. And you can't wire the entire country to such a great extent.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,713
    Its possible to do I just question the ability to put such a system along the entire interstate system let alone on over a million miles of American roads. It can be done but not cost effective on a large scale. Its not individual customized power lines but a single shared system.

    It can be done but the logistics of it on a large scale is very hard.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Feasible or not it doesn't represent the crux of EV viability. I was merely alluding to a potential that can be utilized with an EV but not an ICE.

    My biggest hope is that gas prices stay high for at least a couple more years. Whether or not EVs end up being part of the solution these high gas prices have definitely increased exploration into alternatives.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    So why are you so quick to dismiss EVs or diesels based on current sales?

    It is something he has never tried and has a fear of anything new. I can guarantee if he drove one of the new diesel cars that are available today he would whistle a different tune. The way it is he is more comfortable behind the keyboard passing on information that the media spews out. Reading books that guess what people want. Knowing what people want is a science that eludes the brightest of minds. Most of which do not hang out blogging on Edmund's.

    I'm like you I was too late to have a shot at any of the EVs. I tried buying a couple of the golf cart type and found they are not allowed on most streets I need to drive on. Batteries are still an obstacle to electric vehicles that are reasonably priced. The savings in gas could be recouped faster with an EV than with a hybrid.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    The sad thing about that is that they had at least 5,000 people

    The real sad part is they jumped out just as they had the donkey by the tail. They had developed what is today the standard battery for all hybrids the NiMH. If they had hung in and followed those that were with them they would probably killed the hybrid market before it ever developed. I can tell you I would buy a RAV4 EV long before I would consider a Prius. And I don't even like the looks of the Rav4 that is currently being sold.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    It is something he has never tried and has a fear of anything new.

    Sorry, but this has nothing to do with me personally, and what I like or dislike, or fear or embrace. My tastes are not of issue here.

    It's about the marketplace. You have not demonstrated any reason to believe that your chosen favorites have any hope of success. Show us the money, or at least some reason to believe that there is going to be some money, some day.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    You've either described a perpetual motion machine or a hybrid

    We have trolleys running all over San Diego on electric. I think he was putting forth an electrified road system that was projected when I was a kid in the 1950s. I guess we just have not advanced very far in the last 55 years. We let the oil companies and the automakers dictate what we should or should not drive. Has nothing much to do with what we want. I have not been able to buy what I really want for 30 years. All my vehicle purchases were compromises.

    and best of all, the market seems ready to embrace it. You can't say that about electric cars

    I can and will continue to say that. I test drove the first Prius in San Diego twice. I thought it was cool. Wife hated it and we did not buy it. They had two and they were there for two months. They called me several times to reconsider. The biggest selling point for me was 8 years 100k miles Bumper to bumper. What did I have to lose $20k even. They were saying at that time in 2000 that Toyota had $35k in each Prius. The Prius Classic was never a success here or abroad. The Prius II came out in late 2003 with all the fanfare and freebies for the Hollywood elite. That is what sold the car. Just like the diesels and EVs the Prius has been dribbled out so that you do not know the true market value. That is the part you leave out. People want what is in short supply. If the market gets flooded with diesels and hybrids, neither one may sell. That is when I pop in and buy at a decent price. Never pay MSRP for a vehicle.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    You have not demonstrated any reason to believe that your chosen favorites have any hope of success

    Likewise, you have not shown that if they are offered people would not buy both diesels and EVs. I guess we will not know who has the insight until they are offered. I can tell you one thing for sure. My phone rang off the hook when I put my 2005 Passat Wagon diesel up for sale. It would have been easy to sell a dozen at more than I paid the year before. looks like about 9 people are trying to cash in on the diesels. Average asking price about $3000 over what was paid new a year ago. Yeah your right no demand. You need to get out more and see what people really want. I had to turn down 3 friends that wanted my Passat. I never sell cars to friends. Kind of a shame as it was a great car. I do miss it as cars go. Not as much as I would miss having a PU truck.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    I think he was putting forth an electrified road system that was projected when I was a kid in the 1950s.

    This was what I alluded to -- electric cars have been all talk and no walk for fifty years now. It's a mature technology that has nothing to show for itself, with largely the same problems that it had during the sixties.

    Whether or not you like it, this is a reality that you have to face in considering its odds for gaining acceptance. And we've had fifty years to find a market for it, with no successful from anyone, large or small.

    The thing I don't understand is why the EV crowd seems so hostile to hybrids. It's as if it's an emotional reaction -- perhaps there is a belief that the hybrid is a "sell out" to the petroleum industry, or that this is part of a conspiracy to keep us hooked on oil?

    If anything, the best hope for the electric car is the hybrid, because of all of the R&D work that will ultimately contribute to the electrical aspects of the car. You should be happy that Toyota is behind this, you have one of the most creative, profitable and well managed car makers on the planet taking an interest in this stuff.

    And if there are companies on earth that would be most interested in electric cars, it would be the Japanese. Japan is wholly dependent on imported oil -- it has no oil of its own -- and gas is taxed to a point that pump prices in Japan are among the world's highest. Not only do the high prices prepare the consumer for an alternative, but the government would probably appreciate a way to make the economy more immune to oil shocks and the inflation that comes from them. If the Japanese automakers saw a bright future with electric cars, they'd be pushing forward to build them, but obviously they don't.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Likewise, you have not shown that if they are offered people would not buy both diesels and EVs

    For one, that's a logical fallacy, it's not up to me to prove a negative. If there is a market, then those who claim there to be are obliged to show it.

    For another, the past sales data and the behavior of automakers make it very clear that they don't see it. Nobody who understands the market sees this becoming anything more than a niche product, I've not seen a single source that validates your view that there is a great future for diesel in the US. Europe, yes, but the US, no.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    You should be happy that Toyota is behind this

    Another case of not learning the facts. The Prius was a direct result of TMC R&D on the RAV4 Electric Vehicle. Without GM the Prius would have never gotten on the road. Toyota tried to steal the NiMH batteries without paying royalties and lost a big lawsuit. Toyota is a copy cat company since inception. Nothing has changed other than they are doing a better job now than in the 1960s. Chrysler was several years ahead of Toyota on hybrids and junked the project because they were too expensive for the public to buy into. They misjudged the "sucker factor" in America.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    that's a logical fallacy

    Only in your mind. Do you think that Toyota and now Honda were successful in the EU with their gas guzzling cars. No they were not. They had to sell diesel cars to have any market share. So they have the technology and now that Honda is using their own diesel engines it will be interesting to see if they make a concerted effort to regain their position using diesel. Their hybrids were all but a flop, Civic excepted.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Do you think that Toyota and now Honda were successful in the EU with their gas guzzling cars. No they were not. They had to sell diesel cars to have any market share.

    OK, Gagrice, would you care to explain why Europeans like diesel, and Americans don't? If you can, it might give you a sense of why its popular in one place, and not the other.

    (If your answer involves some sort of conspiracy theory, I'm going to skip over and ask you again, so please, something based upon actual facts as you understand them.)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    Three good reasons:
    Diesel is taxed less than gas.
    Diesel gets better mileage than gas.
    Diesel cars perform better where most drivers like them to.

    Why Americans don't like diesel:
    Ignorance and lack of choices.
    PS
    Diesel costs less to refine. I know in CA it is taxed higher to cover the highway abuse by truck drivers.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Diesel cars perform better where most drivers like them to.

    You were doing well with the first two, but I don't know what this is supposed to mean.

    For one, most drivers in Europe still seem to prefer gas cars, given the sales figures, and that's despite the higher cost of the fuel and the ready availability of the alternative fuel. For another, I think we've already covered that two turbocharged engines of equal size will see better acceleration and top speed performance from the gas version than from the diesel.

    Ignorance and lack of choices

    You need to learn from GM's mistakes -- the customer is always right, and blaming the consumer for not liking your product is the fault of the seller, not the customer. You can bet that the product and/or the marketing is flawed.

    For another, you don't seem to see the correlation between the lack of demand and the lack of desire by automakers to provide choices that nobody wants.

    Makers such as Audi and BMW make diesels for Europe that they don't sell here. I'd say that they're pretty wise, and can't see why they should work hard to sell cars that not many people would buy. Their US customers have other preferences, and they market what they think will be profitable. It's the same reason why Baskin Robbins doesn't sell ice cream made out of garlic and jalapenos -- not because they can't or of some grand conspiracy, but because they can't see anyone wanting to buy it.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    Diesel cars can give drivers what they lust for: low end torque. Typically this low end torque is from a relatively small displacement engine (but with high -- relative -- volumetric displacement [a.k.a. not naturally aspirated].)

    Despite this, you have identified with facts the truth of the situation: 30% of the EU mkt is diesel. We know that means 70% is not. 70% of the premium and super premium mkts, however, are diesels. How long will be required for the trickle down? until the total market reaches 50+% diesel?

    Beats me. It does appear that the total mkt for diesel in that part of the world continues to grow.

    Will that translate to US sales. Again, beats me. Predictions, at this point, from folks apparently far more in a position to know that are we, range from 5% to 20% with 30% being a kind of holy grail number that I really doubt can happen without some impetus that is neither here nor on the immediate horizon.

    The Bosch interview link I posted, despite its self-serving bent, does seem to argue that 15% penetration is what it believed to be likely. According to the EPA that would, however, cut our middle eastern oil importation by 50%. Time will tell.

    The Germans, thus far, have not brought the recent generation of diesels to the US for the reasons you cite -- overall they would not be purchased by many folks. Die hard Mercedes diesel owners are probably the exception to that.

    But another reason for the lack of diesels pushed by the three Germans we often cite: they run on a type of fuel that we have not, still do not, offer -- this fuel is mandated to be available starting now and the transition has to be complete by 2007.

    Even such a switchover to this so called clean diesel fuel is certainly no guarantee of sales for Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Apparently, they have decided to test the waters with the US buyers, though, as they will be bringing the diesel powered vehicles here within the next one to two year time frame.

    Will diesel catch on? It hasn't so far -- but there have not been reasons for it do be able to do so. If the diesel sales in the US don't make sense, Audi, BMW and Mercedes will withdraw them -- assuming they bring them to market in the high end and "big dog" cars. Even the BMW 3 series, eventually, will need to be offered in a diesel and available to be ordered with all the toys of the gas versions if they are to succeed.

    At this point, Audi sells 50% of its total production as diesels; one can assume some pretty decent numbers from BMW and Mercedes, too -- but in full disclosure, I haven't found these data points.

    Maybe if and when US customers get a taste of the "feel behind the wheel" there will be sufficient demand to "encourage" a go to market strategy from other companies (US companies perhaps?)

    I tend to agree, however, that diesel may have a tough row to hoe in the US. Some things never catch on here.

    On the other hand, there are cycles of popularity (and that is what it would take -- popularity) that originate elsewhere and do catch on here. I remember trips to Italy over the past two decades where I will eat certain foods and wonder "why not in America" -- then a few years later, they pop up here "as if" we discovered them.

    Hope is not a strategy -- hope is hope. I hope for modern, clean AND very powerful diesels to be in my future.

    As an army of one, I would vote thusly with my dollars.

    Screaming voice in the wilderness, out. :surprise:
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,907
    As an army of one, I would vote thusly with my dollars.

    I'm in your army. Experience is hard to beat. Very well stated.

    If we have any real desire to cut consumption of fossil fuel we will have to do more than sell a fleet of GM & Ford trucks that get 12 MPG on E85.

    Just for the record DCX Group sells over 50% diesel in the EU.

    On the USA sale of 140k Dodge Ram trucks: 80% were diesel. That includes sales in CA. How many would buy a smaller PU truck if diesel option available? I say many. How many would buy an SUV with diesel option? I say many. DCX agrees as they are lining up the diesel options for the USA when ULSD is universal. They are not standing by to see if Toyota becomes number one by default as Ford & GM seem to be doing.

    Factors affecting diesel sales
    - Cost of technology
    - Consumer demand


    http://www.osti.gov/fcvt/deer2005/godwin.pdf
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