President Obama visits the Detroit area on Friday, and his timing couldn't be better: Today's Detroit Free Press brings more good news from the auto industry: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all plan to add jobs in Michigan, which stands to benefit more than any other state. Nissan, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Kia and Mercedes-Benz also are hiring. Suppliers are looking to add engineers and technical people, but at a more gradual pace. About 15,000 auto-related Michigan jobs could be created this year, said Sean McAlinden, economist at Ann Arbor's Center for Automotive Research.
Monrovia, Liberia—The sirens usually sound on Monrovia’s Tubman Boulevard in the early evening. In the Sinkor district of the Liberian capital SUVs belonging to NGOs, motorbikes, and local jalopies pull over to either side of the road to make way for the absurdly over-sized motorcade that follows. There are men with guns in pickups, cars and four-wheel drive vehicles, perhaps an ambulance, and U.N. personnel in bulky Nissan Patrols.
Auto industry buffs love the Chevy Volt, the new electric car from General Motors. But buyers? Not so much. At least, not yet. Chevrolet sold just 281 Volts in February, after selling just 321 in January. The car is selling far better than its closest competitor, the Nissan Leaf, but the volume is obviously low. GM says the problem is lack of supply, not lack of demand, and that sales will pick up once the company can make more cars. Fast Company has the story: Slow sales of the Volt are actually part of a planned strategy, explains Volt spokesperson Rob Peterson.
George Will again decries electric car subsidies: The government already offers $7,500 tax incentives for people who buy electric cars such as the $32,780 Nissan Leaf and, more to the point, General Motors' $41,000 Chevrolet Volt. As The Post's Peter Whoriskey reported, these prices are "well above" those of "comparably sized cars with gasoline engines that can cost about $20,000." Obama's goal of getting 1 million such cars on America's roads by 2015 cannot be met unless innovative government rigs the market. Introduced in 2008, the $7,500 bribe was limited to the first 250,000 cars.
The Chevrolet Volt was supposed to symbolize the resurgence of America's car industry while fostering energy independence.
The Wall Street Journal has a great piece today on some of the obstacles preventing electric cars from catching on in the United States. Most of the looming uncertainties are things we've covered before, like that pesky chicken-or-egg problem of how to build a critical mass of charging stations to make electric cars viable for drivers.
In early April, silly flags were already flapping all around Beirut. A non-resident would think that dignitaries from the entire United Nations were about to make an appearance, adding a touch of color to our city. According to numerous sources, the flags had sprouted much earlier. As early as January, my sister made sure to tell me. I don’t think any earlier than that, my mother said. People were too busy with Christmas and New Years, and in 2009, Ashura, the Shiite holiday fell at the same time—far too much going on for anyone to concentrate.
The only good result of this trauma is that nobody died. And, of course, we now know—as if we didn’t know before!—that we can count on the local police, the FBI, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force to actually come through with the culprit and the evidence against him. (The fecklessness of the Justice Department is another matter. At first, it did not read Faisal Shahzad his Miranda rights. Then, when he began copiously to spill the beans, the Holder folk did inform him. Maybe they were afraid that they’d learn too much.
This is certainly one way to entice people into plug-in vehicles: Perhaps the main reason to think electric cars might have a shot in Denmark is their remarkable tax advantage. The country imposes a punitive tax of about 200 percent on new cars, so a vehicle that would cost $20,000 in the United States costs $60,000 here. For a quarter-century, electric cars have been exempt from that tax.
Well, that's really up to you, but if you're wondering whether GM's pricey new plug-in hybrid will pay for itself in gas savings, Daniel Indiviglio over at The Atlantic does some back-of-the-envelope scribbling. According to GM (and these numbers aren't yet verified), the Volt will get the equivalent of 230 miles per gallon in the city.