As promised, a Western Addition Volvo wagon:
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What are the odds?
Note the “I park for free wherever” decal in the window:
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Someday, I’ll be a rich, white Marin Native, you know, if I work hard enough at it, if I apply myself…
Or maybe I should have had the foresight, you know, in the womb, to have arranged things so I would have been born a rich, white Marin Native…
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.
“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,” heh. Anyway, 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.
Remember when them German cars were screwed together better?
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But your MB or BMW? Not so much.
Do these brands stand for luxury? Sure. But do they stand for quality these days? No.
(At least these German brands rank slightly above above rock-bottom Government Motors and Chrysler (nee Daimler Chrysler))
Check the website of that Famous Newspaper for the News of the Day.
12. General Motors
Remember back in the day when you could see the Hanging Gardens of Sutter Street on Sutter Street? Here they were:
No longer. The front yard of this place had recently been converted into a “private drive.” Not saying that this is illegal or anything - don’t know what all the rules are.
But check it, as the place looks today:
“Oh yes, we’d love for you to pop on over. Just park on our private drive!”
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Of course anybody parking in this private spot needs to pull in at an angle to keep the back end of the Volvo wagon from hanging out over the sidewalk. The problem with the current setup is that, even with diagonal parking, the back end of the Volvo wagon hangs out over the sidewalk. Oh well. Maybe if they got a Smart Car, they’d have an easier time.
Now you’d think the trees would have slowed them down, but no, the trees are still there on the sidewalk.
And the ridiculous sign isn’t to prevent anybody from parking on the former front yard of the house, cause who on Earth would try to park there, right? No, the sign is to prevent people from parking on the street and inadvertently blocking the driveway’s owners from parking on their lawn, so to speak.
Call it the World’s Shortest Private Drive, if you want.
Welcome to San Francisco.
Here’s the thing about bicycle U-locks in San Francisco – bicycle thieves don’t want to deal with them. Now, back in the day, back in the 1990′s, bike stealers would first break into a Volvo to get a car jack to use to crack open your U-lock. It s0unds like a lot of trouble and it was.
These days, this is what you’ll see on the streets of San Francisco (and Daly City, at the BART station).
Stolen wheel or the sign of a cautious owner – you make the call:
Of course, people can break your heavy U-lock as well, but that doesn’t happen too often nowadays. The vast majority of thieves will just move on to an easier target of opportunity when they see a U-lock.
This yuppie got delayed up a bit during his evening drive through the “Theatre District” and the Flank on his way back to San Mateo County the other day. He looked a little peeved due to the pedestrian on the left smashing her fist onto the hood of his Volvo. It was quite the scene.
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Note the undercover cop avec bicycle and camcorder at the ready.
Hey Volvo drivers of the Bay Area – what’s the deal? Why are some of you the way you are? For a description of the problem, let’s hear from famous writer Jon Carroll on the topic of le Vølvö:
“It bullies, it meanders, it stops in the middle of the street so its occupant can have a long conversation with someone standing on the sidewalk. I have done my best to provide loving correction; I have been met only with denial.”
Here’s a typical example – the driver here in Laurel Heights slowly intrudes into the crosswalk and then tentatively creeps forward past two red lights into cross traffic. Hello-ooo! The S40 (S60, S80?) can be seen here backing up in order to let southbound traffic through:
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Now of course, lately, Toyota Prius hybrid drivers have been going to great lengths to keep up with the bottom quintile of Volvo drivers. With these Priuseses around town, if they’re not provoking others, they’re getting Denver booted, and when they’re not getting pulled over, they’re being used for remedial driving lessons.
So yes, some Prius drivers have issues (specifically driving around at night with the lights off, no daytime running lights, no nothing, why Prius, why?) but Volvo drivers take the cake, because they keep coming up with new ways of disappointing you.
Like entering MUNI train tunnels and then driving along like there’s nothing wrong. There’s no video of that incident available but it must have looked something like this.
So, read Jon Carroll’s columns above for nuance and then come to the conclusion that, on the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area, the refrain of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike is:
“It’s always a Volvo” (unless it’s a Prius).
Bank on it.