Posts Tagged ‘automotive’

Chinese-Backed ICON Aircraft Wants to Build Carbon Fiber Seaplanes in Vacaville? Really? No, Really?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

I can’t see this ending well.

This outfit really, really reminds me of CODA Automotive.

Anyway, here’s the news of the day, California’s Cow Town will soon be California Aircraft Production Town, maybe, someday:

ICON Aircraft to Bring Hundreds of Advanced Manufacturing Jobs to Vacaville, California

LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – ICON Aircraft has announced that it will relocate to the City of Vacaville in Northern California, located approximately fifty miles northeast of San Francisco. Beginning in the first quarter of 2015, the company will begin operating in a 140,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the Vacaville airport, also known as the Nut Tree Airport. ICON intends to consolidate aircraft manufacturing, sales, training, service, and corporate headquarters at the new location. The move follows an extensive nationwide search for a site that would enable ICON to co-locate all divisions. The move stands to create hundreds, and eventually thousands, of advanced manufacturing-related jobs, while providing economic impact on the region that has been independently estimated to exceed $350 million.

http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnvar/20140514/87590

“The selection of Vacaville as ICON’s new home is a major milestone for the company and a significant economic win for the residents of the region,” said ICON CEO and Founder Kirk Hawkins. “The move will play a major role in achieving our goal to not only deliver the best consumer Light Sport Aircraft in the world, but also a comprehensive flight training and operating experience that our customers and employees will absolutely love. The site we have chosen has a rare combination of key elements that makes it an ideal fit for ICON at this next stage of growth. The decision to stay in California and relocate to Vacaville, located in Solano County, would not have happened without the proactive, tireless effort of the airport officials, City of Vacaville, Solano County, and the Governor’s GO-Biz office over the last several years. This has been an impressive demonstration of local, regional, and state cooperation that ultimately made it possible for ICON to remain in California.”

“To say we’re pleased with ICON’s selection of Vacaville would be an understatement,” said Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy. “We have much to offer ICON, as well as other businesses, and this seems like such a natural fit to us. We look forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship with this world-class operation.”

Supervisor John Vasquez added, “ICON will be the needed catalyst to ensure the long-term success of the Nut Tree Airport. Solano County, the City of Vacaville, as well as the North Bay region will benefit from this project. I am thrilled ICON is coming.”

ICON chose the site in Vacaville because of the business-friendly local government, accessibility to a vibrant, talented labor pool, existing facilities adjacent to the airport, and outstanding weather and local conditions for year-round flight operations and training. The site also allows easy access to compelling recreation destinations, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Wine Country, and Sacramento for visiting customers as well as employees. Finally, the San Francisco Bay Area represents a strong cultural fit:  ICON was founded in Silicon Valley, and the company culture draws heavily on the entrepreneurial drive embodied by the area.

ICON’s move also stands to have a significant positive economic impact on the region, according to an independent study. The study concluded that the move would directly and indirectly create hundreds, and eventually thousands, of jobs in advanced manufacturing as well as many other disciplines. The annual economic impact on Vacaville and Solano County is estimated to exceed $350 million through wages paid, local purchases made by ICON, and increases in employee and visitor spending, as well as sales and property tax revenues to the city and county once the company is at full production rates.

ICON will continue to manufacture production aircraft at its existing facility in Southern California before transitioning to the facility in Vacaville. The first customer aircraft is scheduled to be completed in early 2015.

For more information, visit www.iconaircraft.com.

For information on careers in Vacaville, visit www.iconaircraft.com/vacavillejobs.

ABOUT ICON AIRCRAFT:
ICON Aircraft is a consumer sport plane manufacturer founded in response to the new sport flying category created by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2004. ICON’s first plane is the A5, an amphibious sport aircraft that fuses outstanding aeronautical engineering with world-class product design. It has won some of the world’s most prestigious design awards and has inspired a global following. The company has received more than 1050 order deposits and has started manufacturing components of the first production aircraft. ICON Aircraft’s facilities are in Southern California, a hotbed for automotive design and aerospace engineering.

ABOUT FAA LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT & SPORT PILOT CLASSIFICATIONS:
In 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) created a new classification of easy-to-fly and affordable two-person airplanes called Light Sport Aircraft. These airplanes enable a new classification of Sport Pilots to fly in lower altitude, uncongested airspace, during the daytime, and in good weather. The Sport Pilot License focuses on the fundamentals of flying and requires a minimum of 20 hours of in-flight training, undercutting the time and cost of a traditional Private Pilot License by about 50%. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has described the new rules as “the biggest change in aviation in 50 years.”

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140514/87590

SOURCE  ICON Aircraft

Well, It Looks Like San Francisco’s Famous “Van Ness Auto Row” Isn’t Dead After All – Nissan and Infiniti Move In Today

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Well it appears as if “A Survey of Automobile-Related Buildings along the Van Ness Avenue Corridorwill need a new chapter ’cause Nissan has just moved into the old Ellis Brook Chevrolet building.

Get your deets below on the big news for our old Auto Row.

Buh-bye, Ellis Brooks Chevrolet. Make way for Nissan:

Click to expand – via sbfisher

“Nissan & Infiniti Open New Dealerships In Downtown San Francisco - Unique Dealerships Owned and Operated by Penske Automotive Group

SAN FRANCISCO, May 1, 2012  – Expanding into a key sales market that is known for a strong interest in leading-edge technology and environmentally smart products, Nissan and Infiniti have appointed a new Nissan dealer and a new Infiniti dealer in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

The new dealerships are located on Van Ness Ave., one of the Bay Area’s most famous and well-traveled automotive retail corridors. Both dealerships are owned and operated by one of the largest automotive retailers in the world – Penske Automotive Group (NYSE: PAG).

“Infiniti and Nissan products and brands directly align with San Francisco’s unique customer profile, making this effort a strategic element of our plan to grow sales volume in the U.S.,” said Brian Carolin, senior vice present of Sales and Marketing for Nissan North America, Inc. “The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF has already surpassed 11,000 sales in the U.S. alone. Along with the forthcoming Infiniti LE all-electric luxury sedan, we will make a defining statement in a region known for innovation and technology leadership. We are excited to be represented in such a dramatic way by a leading retailer like Penske Automotive Group in this pivotal market.”

The opening of the new dealerships will help contribute further to Nissan and Infiniti’s sales and market share gains in the U.S. market. In 2011, the Nissan Division posted its best-ever U.S. sales year – up 17.3 percent over the previous year – and Infiniti continues to gain ground. Nissan North America, Inc reported its March 2012 sales of 136,317 units versus 121,141 units a year earlier, an increase of 12.5 percent, and a record for any month in the company’s history.

“I’m very pleased to offer the Nissan and Infiniti brands in world-class, state-of-the-art dealerships in San Francisco,” said Penske Automotive Group Chairman Roger Penske. “Our new facilities are unrivaled within the city offering an array of automotive services, including sales, service, parts, vehicle preparation and delivery areas all under one roof.”

Nissan of San Francisco and Infiniti of San Francisco are located in the Ellis Brooks Building – which opened for vehicle sales in 1935. The 8-story, 200,000-square-foot complex is unparalleled by any other dealership in the San Francisco marketplace and is one of the largest automobile retailing locations in the United States. The building was completely renovated to provide distinct representation for each brand, and features multiple levels of indoor new and pre-owned vehicle display, service, maintenance and retail parts area, separately branded showrooms, front entrances and signage.

Ever more deets after the jump.

(more…)

Wow, Today’s Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Column Attacks Coda Automotive, Which “Assembles” Electric Cars in the Bay Area

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Today’s Opinion bit in today’s LA Times is all about “China’s Wolf in Green Clothing,” all about Coda Automotive, that Los Angeles company what’s “assembling” Chinese car parts in Benicia, CA.

Coda: Code for a Trojan horse - Much of the electric car, pitched as an ‘all American’ green vehicle, is made in China.

“A Los Angeles firm has quietly assembled a Trojan horse electric car designed to carry the Chinese military-industrial complex deep into America’s auto market. Detroit should be afraid, very afraid. And anyone in the U.S. unemployment line — along with American taxpayers, who are subsidizing this sham — should be outraged.”

Whoa, dude! All right, quietly? No, Coda Automotive crows as loud as it can all the time.  Trojan horse? You mean POS Trojan horse that nobody’s going to buy so I don’t know that the CODA Sedan is going to go “deep” anywhere. Detroit doesn’t need to care at all. Coda Automotive has pretty much zero effect on American employment, but, yes, we are subsidizing it and that’s not good.

“The car is branded Coda and debuted at the L.A. Auto Show. While Coda Automotive salespeople were eager to portray it as “All American” — we got one of them bragging about it on camera — its entire chassis and battery system and most of the metal (apparently 65% of the car) come from China’s factory floors, which are not known for their high labor standards.

Salespeople say stupid things all the time so, I don’t know. (But I’ll add that the phrase “All-American” was used by Coda in marketing a year or two back.) Anyway, yes, the “glider” (the car except itself except for the drivetrain) and the main battery pack are made in China only to be shipped to the Bay Area for “final assembly” near the Port of Oakland. But the prime mover, the motor, is sourced in America, so you do the math. Oh, you did the math, but I don’t think you have all the data from Coda just yet. Let’s agree that this is a Chinese car or a mostly Chinese car.

“From a jobs perspective, the Coda’s arrival means this: American electric carmakers such as California-based Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors, along with the GM Volt and Ford’s Focus Electric, will compete on home soil with a company benefiting from all of the unfair trade practices China has used to bury so many other American industries — from toys, textiles and machine tools to electronic assemblers and, most recently, solar panels. These practices range from currency manipulation to reported illegal export subsidies, counterfeiting, pollution and widespread worker abuses.

Fisker Automotive is working on making its first hybrid cars and those GM Volts are, similarly, hybrids. Coda’s main competition would be the Nissan Leaf (made in Japan but they’re working on getting a U.S. factory going, FYI). “Compete on home soil?” Really? Shouldn’t you use motherland or fatherland or homeland instead? So you want the toy industry to relocate to the U.S.? That would take a lot of work, wouldn’t it?

“Taxpayers should be outraged because the Coda is eligible for the combined federal and state tax rebates on electric vehicles of $10,000 a vehicle, while China blatantly blocked the Volt from its Chinese green subsidy unless GM manufactured it in Shanghai and turned over design secrets.”

I don’t know, maybe. The feds are focused on getting electric cars on the road, for better or worse. You could make a similar case against subsidizing the Nissan Leaf.

“These economic considerations notwithstanding, a closer look at Coda’s supply chain reveals a darker truth. The “new” Coda is actually an updated variation on the 6-year-old Saibao from China’s state-owned Hafei Motor Co. Hafei is a division of Changan Automobile Group, which in turn is controlled by China Weaponry Equipment Group. This state-owned enterprise supplies China’s aggressively expanding military, and its parent, China South Industries Group, owns half of arms dealer Norinco, which reportedly tried to smuggle guns to Libya during the last days of the Kadafi regime.

Well, now you’re on the trolley. I’ll add that the 2005 Saibao III from Haifei was made from Mitsubishi “Carisma” (that’s what they called the car – they wanted a big trunk at the expense of a small back seat) tooling shipped over to China. The reason why the Coda looks like a mid-90′s Honda Civic is that it was designed all the way back in 1994 by a joint Mitsubishi / Volvo effort called NedCar. It didn’t work out so that’s why this vehicle wasn’t developed properly over the years. And actually, the Saibao III wasn’t even good enough for the Chinese market six years ago as a $12,000 gas-engined car.

Oh, here it is, from 2007:

(The thinking at the time was that it would be hard to sell a Chinese car in America, IIRC. Anyway, this Javlon morphed into Coda.)

So, I don’t know, you want the Chinese arms industry only making arms?

Norinco’s other bloody trade has included transferring missile technology to Iran, attempting to sell AK-47s to U.S. street gangs and selling nearly $70 million in arms to Zimbabwe’s Mugabe regime. So, before considering a Coda as a means of going green, remember all the red blood shed by Coda’s real backers.

I guess that’s a fair question. But I suppose you could ask it to the people lined up buying Christmas toys as well…

And speaking of backers, it is disquieting and disgusting that the Chinese government has been able to put so many prominent American faces on such a job-killing venture. Coda CEO Phil Murtaugh is the former head of GM’s China division, and the company has raised more than $300 million from banks such as Morgan Stanley and well-connected private investors that include former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson.

Disgusting? They’re bidnesspeople trying to make money, as many of these these same people were trying to make money with WebVan before it went belly-up a decade ago.

Paulson’s role in saddling up the Coda Trojan horse is particularly galling. As Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush, he repeatedly refused to brand China a currency manipulator; this inaction contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of American factories and millions of American jobs. According to Nobel economist Paul Krugman, China’s currency manipulation alone costs America up to 1.5% of its GDP every year, and Economic Policy Institute economist Robert Scott suggests this kills as many as 3 million U.S. jobs. Now, Paulson stands to personally profit from China’s currency manipulation and other unfair trade practices as an investor in a venture that would worsen the U.S. trade deficit and swell U.S. unemployment lines.

“Kill, killing, kills, blood…” – boy you guys really know how to op-ed.

“Finally, another Coda enterprise adds insult to injury: a planned Ohio battery factory to be built with more than half a billion in U.S. taxpayer stimulus bucks, including an Energy Department loan and incentives from the state of Ohio and the city of Columbus. Great, except that a Chinese-dominated joint venture with Tianjin Lishen Battery will really own it. That’s an enormously expensive way to create “up to” 1,000 jobs, with potential millions in profits shipped back to China.”

Well that’s a good point, the battery factory is a stupid way to employ a small number of people in Ohio. (But I’m sure Ohioans like the idea, and it is a swing state, after all.) Sounds as if you all don’t like international trade in the first place, but you’re assuming that there are profits to be had from that factory.

“When more than 20 million Americans can’t find a decent job and millions more don’t earn a decent wage, the last thing we need is China invading the U.S. auto market and getting U.S. subsidies under the false pretenses of helping Americans “go green and buy American.” Greg Autry and Peter Navarro are the authors of “Death By China: Confronting the Dragon — A Global Call to Action.” They teach at UC Irvine‘s Paul Merage School of Business and blog on the Huffington Post.”

Wow, you’re selling a book? “Death By China: Confronting the Dragon,” hehAnyway, let’s agree that Coda shouldn’t be subsidized. And actually selling that Sedan to regular people, well, that’s going to be a tough row to hoe even after the $5000 reduction in MSRP (all the way down to “just” $41,000!) in a world that has access to the much better and less expensive Nissan Leaf. They’ll get some fleet sales though.

All right, thanks for the op-ed, I guess.

National Transportation Safety Board Holds Tesla Automotive Employee Responsible for Fatal Air Crash in Palo Alto

Monday, November 28th, 2011

(As always, If You Assume That Any Given Plane Crash is Due to Pilot Error, You’ll Probably Be Right.)

Here’s an article about the new NTSB report.

Does it make sense to commute to Los Angeles for work, assuming you had a pilot’s license and an airplane? I don’t know.

Does it make sense to listen to the advice of your air traffic controller concerning the advisability of taking off into heavy fog, even if you don’t have to? Yes it does.

Is there a reason why pilots are told to turn over the Bay after takeoff? Yes there is.

Oh well.

Here’s what people down Palo Alto Way are saying.

And here‘s the “chilling recording” from a SpotShotter tower. (It’s about what you’d expect, with crashing noises and the yelling of the day care center kids who saw the crash.)

The former N5225J, a Cessna 310R with relatively new, perfectly-fine-at-the-time engines: 

(I’ll tell you, I don’t know why our federal government subsidizes Tesla Automotive (and for that matter, General Monkeybusiness in Detroit). Was Tesla paying for the avgas that this Cessna was burning? Does Tesla reimburse CEO Elon Musk for the jet fuel that he burns as he joyrides around the world, as is his wont? I think Tesla used to, but I don’t know about these days. You know, for an electric car company what’s produced not a whole bunch of electric cars, Tesla seems to burn up a lot of petroleum…)

Anyway, here’s the summary – the whole thing you’ll find after the jump.

NTSB Identification: WPR10FA136

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation

Accident occurred Wednesday, February 17, 2010 in Palo Alto, CA

Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/22/2011

Aircraft: CESSNA 310R, registration: N5225J

Injuries: 3 Fatal.

The pilot departed the airport in near-zero visibility instrument meteorological conditions, and shortly after takeoff, struck a power pole and power lines before impacting terrain. Review of recorded air traffic control tower (ATCT) transmissions revealed that the pilot was initially given his instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance to turn right to a heading of 060 degrees and climb to 3,000 feet. Shortly after verifying his IFR clearance, the pilot received his IFR release from the ATCT controller and was informed that the runway was not visible to the controller. The controller further informed the pilot that takeoff was at his own risk. Shortly after, the controller notified the pilot that he had two minutes for his IFR release, before it expired. The pilot stated that he did not hear a “cleared for takeoff” instruction from the controller. The controller responded that he could not clear the pilot for takeoff, due to not having the runway environment in sight and that “the release is all yours and it’s at your own risk sir.” The pilot acknowledged the transmission and proceeded to take off. One witness, who was adjacent to the accident site, reported that she observed an airplane “suddenly appear from the fog” left of her position. The witness stated that she continued to watch the airplane fly in a level or slightly nose up attitude until it impacted power lines.

Accident site evidence was indicative of a level impact with a power pole about 50 feet above ground level (agl) and at a high airspeed. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the wreckage debris path. Examination of the airframe, engines and propellers disclosed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomaly. Weather conditions reported five minutes prior to the accident were wind variable at 5 knots, visibility 1/8th mile, fog, and vertical visibility of 100 feet agl. Weather conditions recorded by the ATCT 11 minutes after the time of the accident were visibility 1/16th mile, fog, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet agl.

Local law enforcement provided recordings from a sound recording system, which captured the accident sequence. The recordings were coupled with airport surveillance radar to interpolate a flightpath for the airplane. The interpolated flightpath indicated an approximate 45-degree left turn shortly after departure to the area of initial impact with the power pole and power lines. A sound spectrum study determined both engines were operating near full power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s failure follow the standard instrument departure as instructed, and his failure to attain a sufficient altitude to maintain clearance from power lines during takeoff in instrument meteorological conditions.”

(more…)

The 2011 San Francisco International Auto Show at Huge Success at Moscone Center – Mini Cooper Coupe, Scion IQ

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Our San Francisco International Auto Show runs through Sunday, November 27th, 2011 down at Moscone Center.

See hundreds of photos of this year’s show courtesy of Eric Broder Van Dyke.

That’s Fisker Automotive down there on the left. They make the Karma hybrid car. (Half a decade ago, Fisker competitor Tesla Automotive had this very space, but they’ve run into trouble since then and they were nowhere to be seen in 2011):  

This is the second thing you’ll see as you descend from Howard Street:

From the Academy of Art University (“the Art School of Art Schools”) collection:

Isn’t it cute?

It’s a 1959 Autobiancho Bianchina Transformabile, “the rich man’s Fiat 500.”

Lot’s of nostalgia on hand this year, as per usual:

Classic 1965 Ford Mustang pool table with working headlights:

Here’s your Best in Show #1, the 2012 MINI John Cooper Works Coupe:

All the deets:

A huge Nissan something or other:

The American Pride Camaro:

Here’s the Aftermarket Avenue. Why would you need even one flat panel TV in your trunk?

Oh look, Tesla Automotive makes gasoline-powered cars now! These Lotus cars are shorter and lighter than those failed Tesla Roadsters, so handling is probably much better. Oh, they’re a lot cheaper to boot:

Does your Rolls Royce convertible have suicide doors? If not, why not?

Toyota will slam your Prius hybrid these days. What’s next, a factory chop and channel job?

And here’s your other Best in Show, the Scion IQ 3+1. That 3+1 means that the seat behind the driver has zero legroom, basically, but the seat behind the front passenger is roomy owing to the front passenger seat being mounted closer to the windshield than the driver’s seat. Check it:

See you there!

Nissan Celebrates Delivering Its 6500th Electric Car – That’s More Than Tesla, CODA, and Solyndra Combined

Monday, September 26th, 2011

During the time period that people from the disappointing Tesla Motors and CODA Automotive electric car “producers” were criticizing the design of the Nissan LEAF, Nissan simply worked hard to become the first mass-producer of electric cars.*

Of course, 6500 units over the past nine months might not sound like a whole bunch to you, but that’s more than what the vaunted Tesla,** CODA, and Solyndra*** have delivered altogether.

(The case from CODA against the LEAF can be found right here. Oh, and you can find Tesla fanboys celebrating the disruptive Northern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami right here.)

Presenting the Nissan LEAF. Adorable, huh?

Click to expand

Heh, what a burn:

“6,500 no-gas Nissan LEAFs™ have now been delivered to excited owners. Across the country each day, new drivers are getting to enjoy the Nissan LEAF™. And as the first and only car manufacturer to mass-produce 100% electric cars, it’s clear that Nissan is 6,500 steps ahead of the pack.”

Ahead of the pack, baby.

You see, Nissan delivers while the others merely promise delivery. In CODA’s case the same basic car has been promised every year since 2007 and in Tesla’s I think it’s similarly been years since Tesla was supposed to have delivered the follow-up to that ridiculous Roadster, you know the car that got an airbag waiver from the feds cause Tesla said it would go out of business if it had to follow the rules that a manufacturer like, I don’t know, Nissan has to follow when it builds a car like, I don’t know, the LEAF.

Anyway, you’ll have to keep waiting for a Tesla Model S.

But don’t let me stop you from writing a check right now for $50k**** for a CODA Sedan, direct from China via Benicia.

Go for it, see if I care.

Oh hey, Nissan’s Drive Electric Tour is coming back soon. Sign up now, if you want:

San Francisco

11.18.2011 – 11.20.2011
11.25.2011 – 11.27.2011

Hurray!

*In the past century or so – somebody else might have been churning out BEVs back in the day. I don’t know how many old-school electric cars were mass-produced back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

**You know how much kerosene Tesla Motors has bought for its globe-trotting CEO? My guess would be hundreds of thousands of dollars worth, by this point. Isn’t it ironic, don’tcha think?

*** Oh, I guess Solyndra didn’t even try to make cars. Oh well. Tell me, is there an issue with “ced[ing] the solar panel industry to China?” I mean, who cares if China builds solar panels?

****Including delivery and use tax, no negotiating! I think that you’ll have to pay normal purchase and registration fees for the CODA, but I’m not sure since I’ve heard that the state of CA waived these charges for some Tesla purchasers…

Electric Car Update: First Privately-Owned Nissan Leaf Sighted on the Streets of San Francisco

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Remember this:

Everybody associated with electric car companies thinks it’s OK to lie to you. All of them.

OTOH, Nissan is not an electric car company, so not everything they say is spun into a lie. Isn’t that refreshing?

As here, where Nissan said it would deliver the LEAF last year and it did.*

(And, of course, the haterz at poorly-performing Tesla and CODA and others defunct and not-yet-defunct are still hating**)

It’s taken a while, all of 2011 so far to be exact, for me to see a LEAF in the wild and not as a part of a Nissan event.

See?

Click to expand

Now, can I ask why Mayor Ed Lee has a gas-powered plug-in hybrid from Government Motors instead of an all-electric Nissan Leaf? (The answer might have something to do with the feds kicking in for half of the cost of Ed Lee’s Chevy Volt, and the power of the UAW, and the fact that people at City Hall thought it was an actual electric car. Oh well.)

Anyway, here’s your number one City runabout, garage definitely required.

*I think it was just five units delivered, which was less than Nissan thought it would do for 2010, but by the standards of the industry this is exemplary performance. 

**It was a guy from CODA who said that “housewives” wouldn’t “feel comfortable” in the LEAF, you know, cause it’s so weird-looking, basically. He made this statement while inside a warmed-over electrified Mitsubishi (Carisma, aka CODA Sedan) straight outta 1996, ironically.

Small Gift Tour – Sanrio Pop-Up Stores Coming to Town this Weekend – Wrap Your Smart Car with Hello Kitty

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Sanrio’s Pop Up Tour is coming to San Francisco October 23-24, 2010, so soon you’ll be able to get iPhone covers (3rd and 4th generation only) for $40 ‘n stuff.

And, whether you attend the tour or not, you can now wrap your SmartCar with Your Favorite Kitteh. See? 

Beep beep:

More deets on the dressing up your microcar after the jump. And here are you Pop-Up Store deets:

October 23, 2010
San Francisco
Justin Herman Plaza
1 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94105
11am to 7pm

October 24, 2010
Pier 39
Beach Street & The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94133
11:30am to 7:30pm

Oct 28: Portland, OR

Oct 30-31: Seattle, WA

Nov 4: Sacramento, CA

Nov 6: San Diego, CA

Nov 7: Orange County, CA

Nov 13-14: Las Vegas, NV

Nov 16: Tempe, AZ

Nov 19: Austin, TX

Nov 21: New Orleans, LA

Nov 26-28: Atlanta, GA

Dec 2-5: Miami, FL

Dec 10-11: New York City, NY

See you there!

(more…)

New York Times Writer Tom Friedman Gets All Excited About Electric Cars – Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Listen to Him

Monday, September 27th, 2010

New York Times writer Tom Friedman visited a battery factory in China and then took a test ride in a Coda Automotive Sedan listening to an electric car CEO all the while.  Now he’s so excited, he wants you to give more money to the United States electric car industry.

Basically, Tom thinks we need to have the government spend money to keep up with the Euros and the Reds, just like back in the 1960′s when we paid Boeing to waste money building supersonic aircraft, because it was The Future, because the Euros had the Concorde and because the Russians had the TU-144, because Everybody Else Was Doing It.

Should we trust the CEO from this company when he asks us for more money?

Now, here’s a bit of the reaction to Tom’s op-ed so far, and here’s my reaction, bit by bit. Let’s let Tom go first:

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports…

Not exactly sure how building airports is a “moonshot”  but oh well. Anyway, he goes on about high speed rail and stem cells and then gets to electric cars:

Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities.

This is industrial policy, this is government picking winners and losers. This is automatically, necessarily a good thing? Really?

In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

That’s a big assumption, right – Tom knows what the “next industrial growth engine” is going to be? 100% sure about that?

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

America plus about four dozen other countries, right?   

Moving on:

The electric car industry is pivotal for three reasons, argues Shai Agassi, the C.E.O. of Better Place.

Shai “Music Man” Agassi is a nut. He’s another rich guy wants to change the world. It’s not a foregone conclusion that his battery-exchanging scheme will function as planned, right? I mean, A Better Place might not work out even with all that government money he’s getting.

First, the auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class.

So what. What’s so magical about building cars as opposed to refrigerators and whatnot? Was there ever a time when the average middle class worker worked in the auto industry or anything associated with the auto industry? Nope.

Second, the country that replaces gasoline-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles — in an age of steadily rising oil prices and steadily falling battery prices — will have a huge cost advantage and independence from imported oil.

Petroleum produces the electricity that powers the cars, right? Oh, what’s that, we’ll need some more moonshots to get solar and wind power going? Yes we will. 

Third, electric cars are full of power electronics and software. “Think of the applications industry that will be spun out from electric cars,” says Agassi. It will be the iPhone on steroids.

Spin-offs? Now we’re talking. That’s just like the Apollo program – it’s Whitey on the Moon! The point of Apollo was to make spin-offs, is what some people think. Why not just build iPhones  and “power electronics and software” if that’s what you think we need. What’s magical about building electric cars?  Weren’t the Apollo missions cancelled when people realized what a big waste of money they were? Wasn’t the entire Space Shuttle Program a c0lossal waste of money as well? Wouldn’t a manned mission to Mars be an even greater waste of money? That might be a good program for Morton Thiokol or whomever, but would it be a good program for America? Shouldn’t moonshots have a raison d’être before we start writing checks?

Europe is using $7-a-gallon gasoline to stimulate the market for electric cars…

Lot’s of luck with that one. First of all, “Europe”  had $7 a gallon gasoline long before the electric car companies started to lobby the influential writers of the New York Times. But anyway. And didn’t Hillary Clinton just run for President saying how we needed a cut in gas taxes? Might she do that again? Yep. So, that’s a tough row to hoe, raising gas taxes. I’m with you, Tom. Let’s raise gas taxes if we can. But we should do that independent of what they do in Europe, right? Otherwise we’d get most of our electricity from nuclear power the way they do in France and we’d have a nuclear waste dump in Napa County the way do in their Champagne region.  

China is using $5-a-gallon and naming electric cars as one of the industrial pillars for its five-year growth plan.

Boy, that’s what we need, a five-year plan?

Sure, the Moore’s Law of electric cars — “the cost per mile of the electric car battery will be cut in half every 18 months” — will steadily drive the cost down, says Agassi, but only once we get scale production going.

There is no “Moore’s Law of electric cars.” Sorry. Shai Agassi sold you a bill of goods, Tom. He feels it’s his job. That means that he’s the last person in the world people should listen to to learn the truth about electric cars. People have said the same thing about Telsa and its use of 7000-whatever AA-sized (or whatever, close enough) industrial batteries but we’re not seeing anything like this kind of improvement in this part of the battery market.

U.S. companies can do that on their own or in collaboration with Chinese ones. But God save us if we don’t do it at all.

“God” save us? Thanks NYT, I learned something new about you today. GM can build an electric car is it wants to. Nissan is doing so right now. Why do electric cars need to be from U.S. companies? Why do we need more corporate welfare for building cars in America?

Two weeks ago, I visited the Coda Automotive battery facility in Tianjin, China — a joint venture between U.S. innovators and investors, China’s Lishen battery company and China National Offshore Oil Company.

No, Tom. You visited a Tianjin Lishen Battery facility in Tianjin, China

Kevin Czinger, Coda’s C.E.O., who drove me around Manhattan in his company’s soon-to-be-in-production electric car last week, laid out what is going on.

KC is yet another smart guy on a ego trip running a crap electric company, so let’s immediately buy into everything he has to say, shall we?

The backbone of the modern U.S. economy was locally made cars powered by locally produced oil.

Tell me in which era this mythical time was and I’ll tell you how you’re wrong.

It started us on a huge growth spurt. In recent decades, though, that industry was supplanted by foreign-made cars run on foreign oil, so “now every time we buy a car we’re exporting $15,000 of capital, paying for it with borrowed money and running it on foreign energy sources,” says Czinger.

So Kev, you don’t like foreign things, huh? Let’s make a note of this. Oh and BTY, the top two suppliers of foreign oil are, can you guess, Canada and Mexico. That’s not all that foreign, is it?

“We’ve gone from autos being a middle-class-making-machine to a middle-class-destroying-machine.”

Autos are not a “middle-class-destroying machine.” Sorry.

A U.S. electric car/battery industry would reverse that.

Ooh, I’m an millionaire NFL football team owner. Now, build me a stadium and pay for it and then all sorts of wonderful things will happen. No no, even better, I’m a bored former Goldman Sachs partner and now I’m a millionaire Chinese electric car company CEO. Now, build me a battery factory and pay for it and then all sorts of wonderful things will happen. Promise.  

The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000).

Whoa, slow down Tom. 1) 14,000 of might be on the road in California over the next year. Never ever trust what the CEO of an electric car company says, right? Maybe Coda will unload 7000 units to the govmint as promised (the state of CA has changed its mind about buying electric cars before, right?) and 7000 units to consumers of the next 12 months or maybe they won’t.  2) Final assembly will take place in Oakland? First I’ve heard of this. First it was L.A. County, then it was going to be in Benicia and now you say it’ll be Oakland? Is this a scoop, Tom? But does anybody know about this in Oakland yet? Nope. Oakland is either a scoop or an error - Only Time Will Tell. 3) The price, she is $44,900.

It is a win-win start-up for both countries.

Again, Only Time Will Tell.

If we both now create the market incentives for consumers to buy electric cars, and the plug-in infrastructure for people to drive them everywhere, it will be a win-win moon shot for both countries. The electric car industry will flourish in the U.S. and China, and together we’ll tackle the next challenge: using auto battery innovations to build big storage batteries for wind and solar. However, if only China puts the gasoline prices and infrastructure in place, the industry will gravitate there. It will be a moon shot for them, a hobby for us, and you’ll import your new electric car from China just like you’re now importing your oil from Saudi Arabia.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t we importing new electric cars from China right now? I think so. The Coda Automotive company is doing it, right? Helloooo, Tom? Lot’s of luck putting gasoline prices “in place” (or, in other words, raising federal gas taxes sky high), Tom. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. And haven’t we thrown too much money at American auto companies the past few years? Making cars is nothing special, despite what CEOs tell you when they’re driving you around Manhattan, Tom.

What’s next? Maybe a CEO from Big Corn could drive Tom around on a John Deere somewhere in the Midwest and then he could write about how we need to throw more money at corn ethanol?

What do you think, Tom?