Friday, April 06, 2012

American Soul

“I think it represents the soul of the company,” said Chrysler executive Ralph Gilles Wednesday in introducing a resurgent Chrysler’s newest vehicle at the New York Auto Show.

He was not referring to the 40 MPG Fiat 500, but the fire-breathing, 640-hp, SRT Viper.

Gilles’ nod to the iconic muscle-car is a slap in the face of President Barack Obama, who recruited Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne to come to Detroit as a missionary teaching the savages how to make proper, fuel-sipping Euro-econoboxes. Indeed, one of the key benchmarks that Marchionne had to meet to assume ownership of the Rochester Hills–based automaker was to bring a 40 MPG car stateside.

Yet, instead of converting American to the green religion, Marchionne has gone native. His conversion is the untold story of Chrysler’s remarkable turnaround from bankruptcy just three years ago.

Marchionne has not only resurrected the gas-guzzling Viper (which was doomed in 2008), he has doubled down on making SUVs, a model scorned by Obama and his environmental base. The result is Chrysler returning to profitability — not by selling tin cans (the 500, with profit margins of less than $1,000 a copy, disappointed in its first-year sales) — but tens of thousands of Jeep Grand Cherokees with profit margins in the neighborhood of $3,000-5,000 per vehicle. That light-truck demand now employs three full shifts at Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant in Detroit. Those are blue-collar jobs. UAW jobs.

Save the planet? Marchionne’s bumpersticker should read: “SUV the planet.”

In short, the Grand Cherokee and Viper prove that an Italian auto executive is more in touch with the American people than their own president. What Marchionne & Co. realized is that SUVs and muscle cars are what Americans do best. And they are exporting them to the world. The Viper will go on the international sports car racing circuit against the best from Ferrari and Porsche. And Jefferson North will soon be building Maserati SUVs — yes, Maserati trucks — on a modified version of the Jeep platform.

“The car is a rock star all by itself,” thrilled Giles to the mob of reporters that came to the Viper’s unveiling Wednesday. The car’s debut has created more excitement than any other model this year. Try that with a 40 mpg compact. While Washington Democrats dream of marching American onto trains or forcing them into look-alike, soap cake-shaped compacts with their 56 MPG mandates, the Viper is an affirmation that cars are an expression of individual freedom. And Americans want a diversity of options to express that individualism — whether in muscle cars, SUVs, or the occasional Fiat 500.

There was nary a word about globe-cooling fuel economy at the Viper news conference. Instead, the talk was about its 640 horsepower, 600 pounds of torque, and 206 miles per hour — 5 mph faster than the previous version.

“It makes more torque off idle than most cars make at full power,” Gilles panted. “Here it is duking it out with some of the best brands in the world. There’s a little bit of this Rocky Balboa story in there that people just love.”

And the Obama Left just hates.


The latest EV News

I like to stay informed on the latest developments in electric vehicles (EVs)—in other words, with the amazing idea of trying to resurrect a technology that died a century ago, with the advent of the internal combustion engine. EVs are a retro-idea so captivating to our genius president that he has been willing to lavish billions of taxpayer money on funding EV makers. It’s easy to play at being a venture capitalist when you’re using other people’s capital.

A new Wall Street Journal article reports that Azure Dynamics, a Canadian company that, in partnership with Ford, makes electric vans for sale in Europe and America, has stopped production of its e-vans and filed for bankruptcy. It did this in spite of receiving millions of dollars in federal grant money, including a recent $5.4 million grant to work on a new electric inverter.

Azure hit the wall after making a miserable 508 e-vans (and retrofitting 1,500 Ford vans to make them hybrids) this year, and only 800 last year.

Ford is now worried about who will service the damn things, and 120 of the company’s 160 workers are looking for work.

The WSJ piece also notes that recent sales of Nissan’s EV (the Leaf) and GM’s EV (the Volt) have been lousy. Fisker Automotive has had two recent recalls and is jonesing for another government loan. Its battery supplier, A123 Systems, has just issued a recall of its products, and is looking for suckers—pardon me, investors — to come up with $55 million to cover the recall.

Earlier this year, Bright Automotive went dim — it filed for bankruptcy when it could not get any more federal subsidies. Last year, EV maker Think Global failed miserably, leaving Indiana with a nice, empty factory. Think Globally, fail locally — what a great business model!


An Update On The EPA’s Den Of Thieves

Last month we told you about the prime speaking spot that the EPA was affording to Ann Maest of Stratus Consulting at this week’s EPA Hard Rock Mining Conference. Dr. Maest and Stratus are being sued by Chevron, under federal racketeering laws, after Maest was caught on video appearing to agree to doctor data in a way that would exaggerate environmental damage and inflate multi-billion dollar damage claims in a long running environmental case in Equador. After Wizbang and others publicized Maest’s participation in the conference she abruptly dropped off the program. The EPA has confirmed that Maest dropped out of the conference.

The Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity is protesting the conference this week as they (rightly) believe that the taint of biased science remains as long as Stratus is still on the program. The group believes EPA’s original attempt to showcase Maest, and any continued involvement of Stratus, highlights the agency’s willingness to use and embrace biased, agenda-driven science in order to justify its overregulation of America’s resource industries, energy sector and economy at large.
“Ann Maest and Stratus Consulting are poster children for the kind of questionable, agenda-driven ‘science’ that federal regulators and their green allies outside government use to block energy production, increase consumer costs, kill jobs and smother the American economy in unnecessary red tape,” said AFP-CO State Director Jeff Crank. “We hope this Give Red Tape a Rest Rally will remind the rogue regulators at EPA, and their masters in the White House, that the American people are losing patience with, and just can’t afford, this regulate-everything, costs-be-damned attitude at EPA.”


Pesky polar bears

A recent aerial survey of Western Hudson Bay polar bears shows the population has increased slightly to about 1,000 animals, according to the Government of Nunavut.

In 2004, a mark-recapture survey done near Churchill, Man., estimated the Western Hudson Bay population at 935 bears, down from 1194 in 1988. A 2006 study hypothesized that if the climate continued to warm, the polar bear population would decline.

The latest survey used planes and helicopters to cover ground from Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut, south to the Ontario border.

Drikus Gissing, director of wildlife with the Government of Nunavut, said the new numbers vindicate the Nunavut government's recent decision to increase the area’s bear hunting quota. He also said it’s a clear recognition of the value of Inuit Traditional Knowledge.

"If I could convey one message here, it's that polar bears are not endangered,” he said. “And this confirms it. They are not endangered. There are concerns about the effects of global warming, but they are not endangered."

Nunavut Tunngavik is also commending the results, as predictions of reduced polar bear numbers were used to draw attention to climate change, but it says no changes were made to reduce the causes or impacts of climate change while harvesting quotas were affected.

"We are quite happy,” said James Eetoolook, vice-president of Nunavut Tunngavik. “The western science was predicting the polar bear in the Western Hudson Bay was declining, but again, Inuit proved them they were wrong."


Planet Green is changing course

(Can you say "ratings"?)

Its corporate parent, Discovery Communications, announced Wednesday that the cable channel will change its emphasis on nature and ecology and focus instead on the country's spirit and culture under the new name of Destination America.

The changeover happens May 28.

Destination America will tackle subjects including American cuisine — from Tex-Mex to barbeque — and American mysteries from Jesse James' lost fortune to Area 51. Other shows will visit amusement park thrill rides and Western ghost towns.

Discovery Communications president David Zaslav said the network will showcase "the essence of American innovation and hard work."

Destination America will be available in 60 million homes.


International climate thuggery

They probably won’t be able to manage the madness anytime soon, but international climate thugs residing within the United Nations bureaucracy are busy thinking up ways to steal your property and give it to others across the sea in the name of saving planet earth.

It’s a bunch of raving United Nations statists proposing the creation of a global "climate court" that would be responsible for enforcing a deluded policy requiring developed countries to cut “greenhouse gas emissions” while compensating poorer countries in order to pay off a "historical climate debt."

You know – like the slave reparations proposals of the recent past. You and I, who had nothing whatsoever to do with slavery are supposed to pay people whose ancestors were slaves hundreds of years ago. Surely all of us have some money coming from that proposal as it is a virtual certainty that we all share at least a few ancestors who were slaves at one time.

Representatives at a forthcoming climate conference in Durban, South Africa are scheming to reach a compromise that negotiators from 194 nations could agree on. Forget about the real question as to whether human beings are responsible in the first place for global climate variations.

One of the provisions is calling for "an international climate court of justice," which would force developed countries like the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and most of Europe to pay the "debt" they supposedly owe to developing countries for causing climate change, and on top of that, take major steps toward cutting emissions.

Developing countries should receive an amount of money equal to the amount "developed countries spend on defense, security and warfare," reads the proposal, in order to help eliminate poverty. This fantasy can be achieved by all involved if they will only agree to a guaranteed end to warfare altogether -- for the sake of curbing climate change.

They reckon that "conflict-related activities emit significant greenhouse gas emissions," so they call upon all parties to "cease destructive activities" like warfare -- and then channel the money that would have been spent on war and other defense projects toward "a common enemy: climate change."

You see, they aren’t interested in eliminating warfare for the purpose of securing peace, individual rights and freedom for all; no, they’re doing it to stop the phantom of global warming and to save planet Earth from its deprecating human inhabitants. It’s to secure the "rights of mother Earth," the proposal explains.

All of this would be comical if these socialist loons weren’t serious. But they are serious; dead serious. They would rather score the elimination of the human race altogether, if it were up to them, than to have the thermostat turned up one degree in the summertime.

And we are actually paying them to come up with this nonsense.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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