Observers Speculate on Fiscal Crisis’s Impact on Drivers & Auto Industry

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Will the US auto have the resources to build better cars? Will begin to favor plug-ins? If merge, what happens to plans?

If a global slowdown oil prices low for several years, consumers and carmakers go back to No one knows. Here are a range of and highly-compacted excerpts on these

Cash-Strapped Drivers

Car Makers Do Best Work With Backs Against the Wall

Turmoil May Force Automakers To

Electric Cars To Dominate Car Race

GM-Chrysler Merger and Cars

Will Hard Mean Greener Cars?

Lining: Crisis Forced US to Bad Habits

ANA CAMPOY IN WALL JOURNAL:

Cash-Strapped Drivers Despite Cheaper Gas

October 10,

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — prices here have even more than in places, to less than $3 a but drivers say they still filling up their tanks and down the highways. Instead, the economy is prompting them to to their new fuel-efficient ways, a that is likely to hold the country even if gas gets This means demand for oil probably continue to slacken, more pressure on petroleum There’s been a sea change in attitudes in terms of gasoline said Michael Right, a for the auto club AAA in Missouri.

The situation is not conducive to spending money on energy.

Though gas dropped in August, Americans return to their gas-guzzling Gasoline demand remained an of 1.9% lower than in weekly data from the of Energy shows. Last gas demand was off 5.5% versus year, although at least of the decline is probably related to caused by hurricanes Ike and Gustav. continuing declines in demand are in the face of far lower prices on Thursday, the national average at $3.403 a gallon, according to

In Kansas City, where low taxes usually keep well below the national the price for a gallon of regular $2.877. But for many residents isn’t low enough to return to old ways, especially in light of the state of economy. The unemployment in Kansas City now tops 6%, some of the city’s largest in the manufacturing, construction and financial shedding jobs.

JOSEPH IN WALL STREET JOURNAL

ON THE ROAD: Industry Slump May The Auto Makers That

Car Makers Often Do Best With Their Backs the Wall

October 13, 2008

doesn’t kill the auto just could make it Last week was one of the darkest for auto makers around the since the early 1980s. General Motors and Ford on Friday issued denials they plan to seek court protection, as their touched lows not seen the 1950s. At Friday’s prices, with $8 billion or so lying could have bought all the stock in both companies, and had left over.It isn’t the Detroit companies that are

Toyota has idle workers at its new truck plant down in — a huge facility is now — and will be for some — unnecessary. Toyota has resources to weather the storm GM, Ford and Chrysler do not.

Car often do their best when their backs are the wall. The auto industry’s is marked by design and technology spurred into production by a that shattered status-quo The 1932 Ford was a response to the Depression and sinking sales of the Model A. The Deuce Coupe is revered as a classic and is a favorite of hot

Now, all the major car makers are the risks and rewards of technology and aimed at fuel efficiency and operation. The ones that get to first with genuine (affordable hybrids, high-mileage haulers, highly profitable cars made in America) find a faster way out of the wreckage. The model year already is up as a banner year for innovative — including the Honda hybrid — which says will start $20,000 — the long Chevy Volt plug-in possibly a plug-in version of the and promised electric vehicles Chrysler and Nissan. None of will be easy.

The hardest challenge of all may be simply it through 2009.

JOHN IN EDMUNDS GREEN CAR ADVISOR:

Turmoil May Force Automakers To Their Green Solutions RD

10, 2008

http://blogs.edmunds.com/­greencaradvisor/­2008/­10/­

economic-turmoil-may-force-automakers-to-focus-their-green-solutions-rd.html

The economic crunch may accomplish for fuels what an ambivalent and bipolar political system been able to do: Thin the and get everyone working toward the goal. So far, automakers and and energy companies have wandering all over the place in the for replacements for crude oil and improvements in fuel economy.

Some a particular approach — Motor Co. and hybrids, for example. like General Motors sample everything, spending of their RD budgets on fuels ethanol, part on hydrogen, a bit on improvements to the gasoline engine and the on battery-electric vehicles. But with an cash-strapped auto industry at double-digit declines in annual sales for the next few years, for ongoing projects is going to be to find than a tree-hugger at a rally.

Alex Molinaroli, of Johnson Controls’ hybrid unit, is one of a growing number of watchers who believe that are soon going to have to some discipline, pick a for long-term alternative fuel and solutions, and stick with it.

As you expect, Molinaroli favors technology, and says he believes the of the industry has swung to his way of seeing You see the long-term RD effort focused on the car, that’s where the strategic efforts are, he an interviewer for Reuters news earlier this week. manufacturers are not going to be able to to keep investing in all these technologies.

Indeed statements supporting thesis have come from General Motors, Chrysler, Renault, Peugeot, and Daimler, among others.

are more EV-intense [than] but all have announced plans to electric vehicles in the next few and most are involved in battery ventures aimed at perfecting the batteries specialists say will be to effectively electrify a large of the transportation fleet. Even like Toyota and Ford aren’t visibly pursuing electric cars are working on and plug-in hybrids that use motors, power batteries in the case of plug-ins, electricity the commercial power grid.

major global players Honda, which is sticking conventional hybrids and hydrogen-electric cell cars, seems to turned its nose up at the idea of battery-electric cars.

NICHOLAS IN REUTERS:

Electric cars to green car race

October 7,

It will be years before for hybrid cars in the United and Europe is big enough for battery to make money from business, but electric cars are poised to dominate the market for vehicles, the world’s largest car maker said on Tuesday. Controls Inc’s hybrid business will be profitable five years, according to its Alex Molinaroli. He added demand for fuel-sipping hybrid while strong, must get bigger before the company’s in the technology will pay off.

to Molinaroli, however, automakers hard-hit by a weak global and declining auto sales not be able to keep funding all of technologies. The automobile manufacturers are not to be able to afford to keep in all these different technologies, he You see the long-term RD effort focused on the car.

People talk fuel cells, but I don’t see the kind of energy and effort that that I see around the power train.

Given the of lithium-ion batteries, many are investing heavily in that and Molinaroli said he expects the to consolidate. In particular, he said companies without other or automotive businesses to support the cost of developing an emerging would likely be swallowed up by players such as Johnson We don’t have an approach that we are going to invent ourselves, Molinaroli said.

We’re going to always be

Despite its focus on hybrid in the world’s biggest auto Molinaroli said electric car could be faster in China, electric vehicles akin to carts will replace such as bicycles and scooters than SUVs. Speedy of electric cars in China be an added benefit to the company’s plan, Molinaroli said. that we do in China — though it’s in our business — would really be of upside to what our current is, Molinaroli said.


HYBRIDCARS.COM PANEL:

GM-Chrysler Merger and Cars

October 13, 2008

On media organizations started stories about a possible of General Motors and Chrysler. We what such a merger mean for the future of domestic and plug-in cars-so we asked a of auto industry analysts. what they had to say.

How much can Detroit’s financial be blamed on a reliance on gas-guzzlers and heels on hybrids?

More half. I predicted $11 billion in per year from having products. — Walter auto economist, University of Detroit’s over reliance and gas is perhaps best viewed as a that broke the camel’s when the camel was already by many other financial unrelated to fuel economy. And now the camel is getting trampled by an in the form of a car market and world that is in major recession as far as sales are concerned. — DeCicco, senior fellow, Defense

QUESTION: Could a of Detroit companies mean resources to build a more domestic program for hybrids and vehicles?

I don’t think mergers automakers are the answer for faster and plug-in hybrid electric development. Now, if one (or more) of the Three starts shopping for companies and brings the development of hybrid components in-house, things could get really That would be a signal they are serious about vehicles. — Reid associate, transportation practice, Allen Hamilton

QUESTION: car companies already own more 85 percent of hybrid market just about all of global battery production). Are Detroit’s all that relevant to growth of market?

I wouldn’t count out yet. So far, GM and Ford been leaders in the development of hybrids. I guess the question remains is how big a bet Detroit is willing to on advanced vehicles.

If they bet they could lead the of an industry, and make it happen Given their financial they may have no choice but to some big bets.,- Reid

KEVIN KELLEHER IN EARTH2TECH:

Hard Times Mean Cars?

October 13, 2008

So the for innovation in new, more efficient (and hopefully automobiles hasn’t changed this tumultuous month. all, the $25 billion loan that Congress approved last month, ostensibly to up automakers as demand dries up, was proposed a year ago to help meet fuel efficiency Writing for the WSJ Online, Joe White Car makers often do their work when their are against the wall.

The auto history is marked by design and breakthroughs spurred into by a crisis that shattered strategies. The 1932 Ford was a both to the Depression and sinking of the aging Model A.

GM would love [to add] the Chevy to that historical list. But the is that the automakers still to be at sea when it comes to producing new and appealing models. If they us this little during the oil why should we expect better now RD budgets are certain to be slashed? hope, it seems, could lie in $25 billion.

Much of the money may be spent on plants to produce new cars better suit these times. Also encouraging is the companies are more willing to up with university research to explore new technologies. U.S. have so far been discouragingly to transition from their old and find new improved ones.

not clear that will but who knows? There is nothing a ride along the edge of a to concentrate an executive’s mind.

ZAKARIA IN NEWSEEK:

There Is a Lining: The crisis has forced the States to confront bad habits over the past few decades. If we can those habits, today’s will translate into

The financial industry itself is to shrink, and that’s not a bad thing, It has ballooned dramatically in size. points out that 30 percent of SP 500 last year were by financial firms, and U.S. were spending $800 more than they every year.

As a result, of our top math Ph.D.s were pulled into nonproductive engineering instead of biotech and fuel technology. Capital went into retail instead of critical infrastructure. The will stop the misallocation of and financial resources and redirect in more-productive ways.

If some of the people now on Wall Street end up better models of energy and efficiency, that would be a net for the economy.

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