Buy Manufactured Goods for Jobs – Not Extra Fuel Off-Shore

An important thought to any consideration for purchasing a car like the Volt has to do with how we spend our resources – our money.

Many people will want to look at this car for the purpose of contributing to an improvement in the world’s ecology. There is a lot of talk about the merit of the car for that purpose. I don’t know what’s true. I look at this differently. Please consider the value of manufacturing costs as compared to consumption costs.

Let’s say that there is no difference economically for the buyer of this car. Suppose that the savings in fuel costs are exactly the same as the additional cost for the car itself. I still believe that the vehicle is worth consideration for the social benefits it offers. If we put auto workers back to work and create an increase in our GDP as a nation by buying this manufactured product, then we’ve gained tremendously, as compared to buying fuel and importing it. This sort of trade-off needs to occur throughout the economy, not just for this vehicle, but in many other transactions as well.

Buying a ticket for rapid-transit instead of fuel and parking expenses makes sense for that reason. Wind energy, and the manufacturing and construction jobs that technology creates has a similar attraction. In short, we need to make more solutions to our needs instead of using up resources to create the needed service, be it transportation or mobility, or light and heat for our homes and factories.

We need jobs. I’d like to see jobs created here in the U.S. instead of buying off-shore resources that are becoming more and more in demand throughout the world anyway. Adding a few jobs instead of buying oil just makes sense to me.

Chevy’s Volt

I must have gotten the mileage wrong on the Volt. I’d heard, or thought I did, that the mileage was 238 MPG, but what I am seeing is 230 MPG. Not a big deal but I’ve noted the error.

Also, it is my understanding that the government will be offering Volt buyers a $7,500 tax credit. If that’s true, then my math becomes a lot more favorable and this vehicle becomes more worthwhile in my opinion.

Chevy Volt – 238 MPG!

VoltYesterday General Motors had some publicity regarding their Volt automobile. That’s their all electric car. It runs entirely on electric power stored up in it’s battery and has a range of 40 miles before a small gasoline engine starts adding additional electricity to the battery pack. With that feature, the car is able to travel over 300 miles before needing a full recharge. At least that’s my own understanding of the vehicle.

The Volt is still about a year from becoming available. But yesterday the publicity was about its EPA stated MPG figure, to be placed on its window sticker for comparison to other vehicles. The big news was that Chevy, or GM, was suggesting that the MPG figure for city driving was 238 MPG. A staggering figure.

To be sure, the Volt derives much of its fuel through an electrical charge done overnight in the owners garage. Electrical power though, taken from the grid during non-peak times as will occur with the Volt is very economical as compared to gasoline. My understanding is that it is less than one-tenth the cost. So we’re onto something here.

Now the offset to that impressive fuel savings is the initial cost that these cars carry – $40,000.00 approximately. That certainly thins the ranks of those preparing to buy a Volt when it first becomes available. But Chevy can’t make these in volume immediately anyway, and they need to recoup the high cost for development. Also, it’s possible that the components – primarily the battery – are so expensive that this price-point is justified.

The general appearance of the car, and I have not seen one personally other than photos, appears to be a typical sized family sedan. Probably not much different in size and functionality to say a Chevy Malibu; a car that might cost something like $25,000.00 nominally when fully equipped. If that’s generally true the Volt has to overcome $15,000.00 in fuel savings before you would achieve a break-even value. I drive about 15,000 miles per year – normal I believe. If I were able to save eight cents per mile, and you do your own math on that calculation, it would take about 12 1/2 years to break-even. So I don’t think that this is a car for the masses.

It’s a beginning. It will likely sell to enough people who are not interested in cost as much as the technology and the greenness factor of the car. Hopefully with positive sales figures and enough time the price can be lowered and made more available to all.

Frankly I am not sure that I would want this car. It might be great, but I would worry about heat in the winter months, and the reduced range resulting from air conditioning use in summer. Honestly, I don’t know if these are legitimate concerns, but they do come to mind.

But it’s important that this car does come to market for a slightly different reason. We need to have an option for transportation when gas and oil become just too expensive. It might not happen in my lifetime, but someday gasoline is going to cost $25.00 a gallon and more. The version of the Volt selling then – maybe version 7 – will be well thought of then. So I’m glad of this new vehicle and the technological features that it represents.

I think that you really have to wonder though at the timing of this product in the General Motors story of late. It seems like a product that ought to be created by a company on a solid footing, not one in bankruptcy, or just coming out of it. It seems like a frivolous product and a distraction to what that company needs to be doing now.

I think that I’ll stop this post here, but will consider GM and the other domestic auto makers in another post soon. What I think about them, their situation, and what they mean to me.

Julie & Julia

We went to the movies this weekend to see Julie & Julia. It was a very good story in my opinion. There are two themes in the movie that interested me – food and blogging. I’ll talk about the blogging here.

There is an important point to the story I think as it relates to blogging. Julie, the young woman who was blogging about Julia Child’s recipes and her quest to prepare all 524 of them in one year, had an excellent concept. The subject of her blog was both familiar, being about food, and also unique, given the challenge introduced to prepare all those recipes on deadline. I think that people are interested in things that they can understand and that have a compelling story added. Finding that combination is the challenge.

I’d recommend the movie to anyone. It’s very entertaining and if you are here, reading blog posts, you will enjoy the setting for the story line.