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Old 11-21-2008, 07:02 AM   #141
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Quotes from two posts combined:

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Originally Posted by mrmossyone View Post
Not true. We have been building very fuel efficeint motorcycles for a long time. It's just in this land of the free most people don't want to use them for personal transportation.

Well even though Harley isn't the only domestic producer of motorcycles I wasn't just referring to domestic motorcycles even though 40-50 mpg is pretty darn economical. You might also find that some of those you excluded do use them across the pond and they do use them all of the time, rain or snow.

However my point was that the American consumer such as yourself doesn't want them for primary transportation just like they don't want mass transit and just like a majority also don't want a little wind up car. You might also find that mass transit only really works in urban areas not in the rural areas. Not to mention the cost of completely rebuilding our infrastructure to make nationwide mass transit a reality.

If the government wants to build mass transit systems all over this country I'm fine with it as long as they leave me the freedom to choose an alternative if I so desire. I do however believe that mass transit is a better answer than all these little "green" death traps.
RKM, & mrmossyone,

First I must apologize for leaving out Polaris Victory in my first post on the subject. Harley and Polaris are, I believe the only two current domestic motorcycle companies. Since this is a discussion about the domestic markets and domestic economy, I thought it appropriate to only discuss our domestic motorcycle manufacturers.

40-50 mpg is 40-50 mpg whether it's consumed on a motorcycle or in a small car. In the U.S. the car wins hands down every time for safety and convenience for the average consumer. Although popular transportation in Europe, as I explained in my first post, I know the shortcomings and limitations of daily motorcycle travel very well first hand. The average consumer isn't willing to use a motorcycle as primary transportation as they're just not as practical as four-seater sedan for daily use. The U.S. has never, to my knowledge, produced a 40-50 mpg sedans, but Honda and Suzuki certainly have, and there's no reason that the U.S. automakers couldn't and shouldn't have built them. There's also no reason that U.S. consumers shouldn't have embraced them. But they didn't and we didn't.

The bigger issue is that since the Eisenhower era, we (as a country) have spent all of our public transportation dollars on highways and individual modes of transportation to make use of those highways rather than take the more responsible (if less popular) approach toward mass transportation. We've actually systematically dismantled the train system in favor of highway transport for moving goods, services, and people long distance. My point was that in retrospect from today's view, we (again as a country) have been very short-sighted in how we've used our resources.

Econoboxes aren't necessarily the answer, merely part of a solution to transport in this country that involves multi-mode transportation. Europe has, by necessity and subsequently by design, taken a much different course to multi-mode transportation. In our defense there are other parts of the world that are in worse condition for mass transit, but that still doesn't give us a bye on what we need to do into the future.

Again, this economic melt-down, the auto industry financial crisis, and the world economic crisis involve multi-faceted problems. The solution lies not only with the auto industry, but with us (our government speaking for and with us) making some hard decisions about fundamental change in how we transit this amazing piece of ground we call the U.S.

Now we have a situation where our fuel supplies are in jeopardy long-term, our domestic suppliers of vehicles are in jeopardy in the short-term, our highway fuels tax funding is dropping with decreased fuel sales (and subsequently our ability to maintain our highway systems), airlines have dropped hundreds of routes, and air travel has become the most arduous way to get from point a to point b, long-distance busses are disgusting and with limited routes, AMTRAK trains are packed on even their limited routing, and yet most of the country has few alternative transportation alternatives available. Just try to cross the country from your house to your destination without using a car. It can be done, but it sure isn't easy. I've done it several times, but it takes substantial planning, a hundred-mile drive to the nearest AMTRAK station, and always having a "plan B" (like taking a cab to the local airport to rent a car) when you miss a connection between a train station and a bus station. Then you need to have a plan to get from the end bus station to where-ever you're really headed. There's no easy way to do it. There should be.

Hmmm... anyone else see a problem here?

Roger
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Old 11-21-2008, 09:24 AM   #142
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I just feel the whole SUV thing is junk, .
The operative word is, you feel. Usually when we put our beliefs and feelings aside, the reality is far different than we supposed. I didn't just get one of the good Explorers. I've had three, and they were all good. How could that be?
Daughter had a Range Rover. I worked on it a bit. Didn't think it was that well engineered. Ever try to put a trailer hitch and lights on one. She got rid of it.
Son-in-law and neighbors have Audis. He loves the performance, but hates the repair work.
I had a 74 Corvette. Great car to drive. Rode like a buckboard! Wife hated to ride in it. Sold it!
Do I want a little greenie weenie thingy? Not no, but H*LL NO! I like my Explorer. Is it comfortable? Sure, leather heated seats, climate control, everything the Lincoln has. I love it.
Our other car. VW Jedda TDI. Yep, diesel, 46 MPG. Comfortable? Well, like all european cars the seats are hard. It does drive well and handles well too.
The conclusion is, you get what you pay for. If you take care of it, it will usually last. If you don't, well then it must be a lemon. If you want to find fault, you will. If you don't, you usually won't. See, its all in the perception.
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:01 AM   #143
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Cooperhawk, Would you take your explorer to moab for some 4x4, If you did it would do ok . But then it does OK on the road just OK.... My point, whether my feeling on not is true... 99% of SUV's don't do either well.. Most are Just ok at both. not many exceed at being a good off road vehicle or on road one..

Wait the best thing to do is put a 4-8 inch lift on it, that will really help.... Man those things crack me up.... Those must handle like a dream

So why do we buy them.


For me I didn't want a mini van, It wouldn't tow my trailer and I like to go up forrest roads. I also need 4 wheel drive because I'm in the snow all winter.

If I didn't need to tow my AS I would have a Volvo, BMW, or Infinity that seat 7... They handle the road so much nicer and still have 4 wheel drive... and get better mpg..

My old Jag gets 19 mpg driving around town and 28 mpg on the highway..

But back to the point of this whole thing...... Sales are down for the big 3, why, lots of reasons but I thing we want better gas milage and better quality from them..

Iv'e had some chevy's and was not to impressed, Stuff rattled, seams didn't line up.... My Totyota's my have plastic in thembut the seams line up very nicely and it doesn't rattle...

I look at where things are made and try not to buy from China, but I will not buy American just to buy American. I will buy a quality that will last, and if it happens to come from China so be it...

And if the big 3 well maybe we should call them the LITTLE 3 now, go under so be it...
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:09 AM   #144
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Originally Posted by 85MH325 View Post
... The U.S. has never, to my knowledge, produced a 40-50 mpg sedans, but Honda and Suzuki certainly have, and there's no reason that the U.S. automakers couldn't and shouldn't have built them. There's also no reason that U.S. consumers shouldn't have embraced them. But they didn't and we didn't.

The bigger issue is that since the Eisenhower era, we (as a country) have spent all of our public transportation dollars on highways and individual modes of transportation to make use of those highways rather than take the more responsible (if less popular) approach toward mass transportation. We've actually systematically dismantled the train system in favor of highway transport for moving goods, services, and people long distance. My point was that in retrospect from today's view, we (again as a country) have been very short-sighted in how we've used our resources.

Econoboxes aren't necessarily the answer, merely part of a solution to transport in this country that involves multi-mode transportation. Europe has, by necessity and subsequently by design, taken a much different course to multi-mode transportation. In our defense there are other parts of the world that are in worse condition for mass transit, but that still doesn't give us a bye on what we need to do into the future.

...
Now we have a situation where our fuel supplies are in jeopardy long-term, our domestic suppliers of vehicles are in jeopardy in the short-term, our highway fuels tax funding is dropping with decreased fuel sales (and subsequently our ability to maintain our highway systems), airlines have dropped hundreds of routes, and air travel has become the most arduous way to get from point a to point b, long-distance busses are disgusting and with limited routes, AMTRAK trains are packed on even their limited routing, and yet most of the country has few alternative transportation alternatives available. Just try to cross the country from your house to your destination without using a car. It can be done, but it sure isn't easy. I've done it several times, but it takes substantial planning, a hundred-mile drive to the nearest AMTRAK station, and always having a "plan B" (like taking a cab to the local airport to rent a car) when you miss a connection between a train station and a bus station. Then you need to have a plan to get from the end bus station to where-ever you're really headed. There's no easy way to do it. There should be.

Hmmm... anyone else see a problem here?

Roger
I agree.

For the record, and I don't mean to be pedantic but it underscores your point, the 1985 Ford Escort diesel, back in its time, sported a sticker of 43 city, 52 highway. It didn't lunge off the lot, exactly.
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:51 AM   #145
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I found out in Hampstead's post #136 we do agree on something—we both prefer Lowe's.

Amtrak doesn't work well because for many years it has been starved by inadequate funding. There is a demand, but when people who don't want it are in charge, they will, sometimes subconsciously, try to ruin it. I agree that Americans like big motor vehicles. But there has been little incentive for them to design those big guys to be fuel efficient. I don't want an econobox either (although they can be engineered to be safe and quite a few are), partly because with my back injury it's hard to get in or out of them. I wonder, only partly in jest, when the ocean is several feet higher, who will design the amphibian car—GM, Toyota, or some company in Brazil? Those Floridians living on the Florida island around Ocala will need something to get around. (note—there was one made back in the 50's and 60's—I used to see one on the LI Expressway back in those days and it was a really funny looking thing—looked like a small power boat with wheels and that's what it was.)

I know Americans have not favored mass transit except when they get used to it. NYC is an example of where mass transit works (though it could be better) because driving a car is loony in NYC. I have to admit to looniness when I was in grad school in the '60's and often drove to NYU even though I lived 2 blocks from a subway stop. Provide good mass transit and people will use it. Provide an inadequate system and they won't. We subsidize autos by providing mostly free highways—that's inefficient for commuting, though necessary for trade. But we don't properly subsidize mass transit. With a smaller auto market someday, GM will have to make light rail cars (i.e., trolleys). Most are made by foreign companies now.

I may be wrong but I think Milton Friedman started to pull back from some of his free market views toward the end of his career. He did say many things over the years and could be criticized for inconsistency or praised for flexibility. As for Adam Smith, he wrote in a very different time with far simpler economic systems. Some principles may be timeless, but not all. I think a reading of history shows that when the government operated on the most free market policy, there were constant crashes, recessions, depressions, bubbles and panics, a/k/a, the "business cycle". The business cycle is not inevitable and can be, at the least, moderated. We are presently diving into a very deep hole and it will take years to get out. In the meantime, I'm sure whatever the government does will be criticized as doing too much and let the market solve it. It didn't solve in the 19th century except over time with much damage to the country and many people.

My point, again, is that free markets only work to a point, but some regulation is necessary to protect the free market from its worst inclinations. Government is not the problem, bad government is the problem.

Gene
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:15 AM   #146
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Gm bs

Why are we wasting our time talking about GM and the other worthles car makers and unions on a fourm for good old AIRSTREAM TRAILER?
This BS should not be taking up are time here.
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:48 AM   #147
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Wait, isn't this the "off-topic" forum?

I'm pretty sure we can talk about (more or less) whatever we want in here.

And I, for one, have been very impressed with the intelligence and civility of this discussion. Anyone who doesn't want to be a part of this thread can go talk about axles and black tanks.
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:49 AM   #148
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Originally Posted by jimmini View Post
Why are we wasting our time talking about GM and the other worthles car makers and unions on a fourm for good old AIRSTREAM TRAILER?
This BS should not be taking up are time here.
Well jim', there are 40,704 threads on the forum and let us BS'ers have a few of them. Otherwise, I'd be reading the NY Times and corrupting my mind, or what's left of it. Or, I could be reading about Goodyear Marathon tires and going crazy worrying about when they're going to explode or go look at my trailer and wait for filaform to show up. This, to me anyway, is fun. Yeh, I get my jollies in strange ways, but debating with someone who actually knows who Milton Friedman was is refreshing. Not everyone's cup of tea, certainly.

Gene
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:54 AM   #149
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I kind of lost concentration when someone held up an 89 Jaguar as an example of automotive excellence.

Sincerely,
Scratched by the Cat (members worldwide).
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Old 11-21-2008, 12:21 PM   #150
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Amtrak doesn't work because there's not enough of a market for rail travel for it to be profitable as a business. Mass transit only works in densely populated areas where the cost of driving is high enough to make transit attractive. Light rail projects have been huge money pits. Why? People love the idea of rail travel but they love the reality of having a personal automobile with all of the comfort and flexibility it affords. The only way to move people out of cars is the change the underlying economics including the cost of time. As long as transit takes longer portal to portal, it will lose market share to cars.

Sorry, Gene, but there are wonderful mass transit systems where the ridership is so low it would be cheaper to give people cab fare. As a side note, NYC would do wonders for its transportation system if it deregulated taxi cabs.

Economics is not about how we wish the world were; it's about how the world really works. The genius of Adam Smith is that the "simple" principles he explained have been proven valid by over 200 years of experience throughout the world. Markets work. Governments, not so much. This isn't for a lack of very bright people wanting governments to work, it's just that no matter how intelligent, a person or committee is not as efficient as the marketplace. The proper role of government in a free market economy is not loaning money to businesses or trying to pick winners or losers. It is to protect the marketplace for the manipulation of businesses. Government should break up trusts, punish anti-competitive behavior and avoid being coopted by the businesses government is meant to regulate. Since this is nearly impossible, the second best solution is to keep government's powers weaker so it is less likely to be used by nefarious businesses for anti-competitive purposes.

What you say all sounds very reasonable, Gene, but economic history tells us a different story. The problem is not "bad government." The problem is that all of the good intentions and nobility cannot make government smarter than the marketplace. Every place government tries, its simply takes money from taxpayers and more productive investments and channels into less efficient and effective outcomes... like light rail.
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Old 11-21-2008, 12:44 PM   #151
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Both the proliferation and the size of cars and trucks in this country, and the lack of public transportation correlates to the continued grow of the suburbs. The suburbs are totally dependant for survival on cheap fossil fuels. The low gas price are just a momentary dip in an inevitable increase in price for all types of fuels. The suburbs have been described as the largest miss allocation of funds in the history of the world because they are totally dependent and only exist because of cheap fossil fuels. There will come a day when no one will want or be able to afford the cost of heating or cooling these plastic sided ,brick facade Mac mansions.They are an aberration created by cheap gas.The days of big trucks and 10,0000 lb trailers are drawing to a close. At this point in time there isn't an alternative the can realistically replace the internal combustion engine. The idea of an electric motor is of no use to the big trucks that transport most of the Chinese crap that ends up in the big box stores in the suburbs. I think most people think that technology will come top the rescue and get us out of this mess but I don't see that happening. At least not anytime in the forseeable future. Like my dad use to say: " looks like we're up sh*ts creek without a paddle."
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Old 11-21-2008, 12:51 PM   #152
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and herein lies another bit of the puzzle.
A recent segment on my favorite program featured a bit on a guy entering a rally in Finland. The host showed some clips of Finnish driver's ed, and pointed out that while Finland has produced more rally champions than any other country and more F1 per capita, it takes 3 years to get a license. While he was showing this, there was footage of a teenager getting firsthand experience with hydroplaning on a prepared skidpad.

In short, they were taught not how to parallel park and arrive at a 4 way stop, but how to deal with the unexpected. And if you have an adequate public transit system, you can make the driver's license require some skill. If you have no public transit, you are giving tacit approval for a percentage of the population to have no training, no insurance, and no license.

In short, I'd think riding a motorcycle (or bike) in Europe might be a slightly different experience than in a comparable US city (Italy excepted maybe? )

[Edit: for the record, my first vehicle - with which I commuted to my job at a grocery - was a 750 Suzuki. I've also commuted extensively on foot, by bicycle, and one time only by canoe. Mostly though, I've been a cager.]
I agree with you about the training and education required here, it is a joke and much more should be required to get a license. I also agree that it would be a different experience riding in other countries where motorcycles are a viable primary transportation vehicle and auto drivers are used to seeing them frequently. Automobile drivers here would have to become more aware of motorcycles and motorcyclists would have to be much more extensively trained for them to become viable transportation here in the states. Plus Americans are just more attached to their cars or trucks.
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Old 11-21-2008, 01:30 PM   #153
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The suburbs exist because people want to live there. The contention that the suburbs are terrible is not a matter of fact, but of opinion. The issue of sprawl is far more complex than some would have us believe.

As for apocalyptic fears, people have predicted the end of the world since the beginning of the world. Recently (in relative terms), Malthus scared us with food shortages. In my lifetime, Malthus was updated by Paul R. Ehrlich in The Population Bomb. The "we're running out of everything" fear lead to the delightful Ehlirch-Simon Wager. Peak oil was the rage until oil prices fell recently, but of course, the doomsayers would have us believe the lights are going out on civilization.

I remember how people got caught up in the great Y2K scare. As it happens, Y2K was a nonevent... not because we had a government czar, but because private firms and individuals acted out of self interest. Apocalyptic literature (and films) always sell, and I suspect they always will. And no matter the adjustment of markets or breakthroughs in technology, there is always something sinister just over the horizon that makes for a good scare.

The simple fact is that even with the economic downturn, it is better to be alive in America today than at any point in our history. And students of history will point out that during every decade of our existence of a nation, there were people predicting our future would be worse than our past. No matter how many times the naysayers have been proven wrong, there are those that argue that somehow this time is different. I expect they will continue to do so every decade until someone is eventually right.
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Old 11-21-2008, 01:59 PM   #154
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Amtrak doesn't work because there's not enough of a market for rail travel for it to be profitable as a business. Mass transit only works in densely populated areas where the cost of driving is high enough to make transit attractive. Light rail projects have been huge money pits. Why? People love the idea of rail travel but they love the reality of having a personal automobile with all of the comfort and flexibility it affords. The only way to move people out of cars is the change the underlying economics including the cost of time. As long as transit takes longer portal to portal, it will lose market share to cars.
And in the meanwhile we shore up the auto and oil industries by continuing pouring untold billions of tax dollars into unsustainable highway systems. Herein lies the dichotomy. If we began to neglect some of those overloaded roads in the major metro areas, and replaced them with better mass transit, what do you think would happen? Mind you, it wouldn't be popular... but popular isn't always right. (I offer the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy Red Scare as evidence of very popular programs that most of us are pretty appalled at today).

Since this is a political thread, and without intent of starting any arguments pro/con, Republican/Democrat, or liberal/conservative, it's pretty well accepted that in the '06 and '07 Federal budgets, the Bush Administration intended to bankrupt AMTRAK to force those riders into cars and planes. I won't conjecture which lobbies the Administration was catering to, but such a closure certainly wouldn't have been in the best interests of the public, particularly as seen from today's perspective and where we've recently seen energy costs. This is exactly the kind of policy that we absolutely need to reverse. Good public infrastructure can and should be built at public expense, and rather than continuing our dependence on oil and roads, mass transit buildouts with those same dollars makes a lot more sense for the future, at least IMHO.

Build out solid public transportation in the big markets, and then, eventually, connect the big markets through the rural markets. Everyone benefits, and it doesn't cost any more that what we're spending on highway maintenance today. How many highways could be abandoned today as auto roadways and converted to light and heavy rail? The expensive part of road building is acquiring right-of-way and bed prep. Both of those have already been done for all of our highways.

Much of this has nothing to do with market forces, but everything to do with public transportation and energy policy.

When something doesn't look right, follow the money trail to see who stands to benefit. Following the money trail is a pretty good way to figure out why things happen the way they do. Who has seen the most benefit from a build-out of roads using vehicles with petroleum-burning internal combustion engines?

Roger
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