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Old 04-10-2007, 02:11 PM   #1
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GM puts brake on rear-drive vehicles



GM puts brake on rear-drive vehicles

Published April 10, 2007


General Motors has put a hold on future rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

"We've pushed the pause button. It's no longer full speed ahead," Vice Chairman Bob Lutz revealed in an interview.

Two of the most important RWD cars in the works are the Chevy Camaro sports coupe due back late in 2008 and the full-size, RWD replacement for the Chevy Impala sedan for 2009. Both are expected to be huge sellers and contribute major profits to a GM till burdened with IOUs the last few years.

"It's too late to stop Camaro, but anything after that is questionable or on the bubble," said Lutz, noting that also means Camaro derivatives -- along with a big Impala sedan, "if we call it Impala."

The RWD cars, you see, would be larger and heavier than front-wheel-drive cars or are high-performance models.

So it comes down to the matter of fuel economy. Or as Lutz says: "We don't know how to get 30 percent better mileage from" RWD cars.

That 30 percent bogey arises from a proposal by the Bush administration to raise corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards by 4 percent a year so cars would have to average 34 m.p.g. by 2017, up from 27.5 m.p.g. today. On top of that, the Supreme Court ruled last week that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate carbon dioxide expelled by cars, a gas that contributes to global warming. The EPA doesn't do so now.

"We'll decide on our rear-drive cars when the government decides on CO(-2) levels and CAFE regulations," Lutz said, adding that limiting CO(-2) would increase mileage, too.

"Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of burning gas and directly proportional to the amount of fuel burned. If we legislate CO(-2) from cars, why not legislate we take one less breath per minute since humans release capricious amounts of CO(-2) each time they exhale?" offered a testy Lutz.

Lutz also points out that higher mileage will come at a price, with the proposal to raise CAFE certain to increase costs by as much as $5,000, which will be added to a car's sticker, an amount most consumers won't be willing to pay. There are no hard numbers for how much CAFE compliance adds to the sticker now.

"Rather than buy new, people would hang onto their old cars. We could eat the $5,000, but that would put us out of business."

Besides, those who see cars as more than just an appliance are eager for the new RWD offerings.

Among other cars affected are a high-performance midsize Pontiac, a replacement for the full-size Buick Lucerne sedan, a compact smaller than the current CTS at Cadillac and possible 300-horsepower versions of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters.

"This is very disappointing," noted Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN Inc., in Grand Rapids, Mich. Most of the cars coming are necessary to GM's turnaround as showroom magnets.

"What the public buys makes CAFE work, not what the industry builds," Merkle added. "To improve mileage you change demand, not supply, by raising gas prices through taxes. But no politician is going to do that so they throw the responsibility on the back of the industry."

Lutz also objects to the talk that carmakers can easily raise mileage with a very low investment.

"Academics assure us that for $200 we can get 30 percent better mileage. If anyone can figure out how to do that for $200 -- or even for $1,000 -- I want them in my office today. Show me how to do it and we'll adopt it," he said. "If I could increase mileage by 30 percent for $200, why wouldn't I? What's my motivation not to when a gas-electric hybrid gets 27 percent better mileage and I hope someday to get the cost down to $9,000?"

Others insist that carmakers simply have to sell more small cars, such as the trio of 1-liter concepts that promise 40 m.p.g.-plus that GM unveiled at the New York Auto Show.

"Small-car mileage only counts toward CAFE if you build them here, and you can't build small cars here at a profit," Lutz said, explaining that foreign-made cars would count toward the automaker's import fleet, and its domestic fleet is where GM needs help.

----------

Read Jim Mateja on Sunday in Transportation and Tuesday and Thursday in Business. Hear him on WBBM-AM 780 at 6:22 p.m. Wednesdays and 11:22 a.m. Sundays.

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Old 04-10-2007, 02:44 PM   #2
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Suprised this hasn't received more attention yet...

I saw this article earier and was blown away! I thought the Zeta platform and GMs RWD program was a huge step in moving forward for GM.

On the one hand, I am infuriated that Global Warming is what is causing this whole situation when there has yet to be any consensus in the scientific community. It just seems like a total knee-jerk reaction.

On the other hand, I am optimistic because with more stringent regulations come innovation. I know that i for one would have no problem being able to go buy a new car and not have to worry about trying to pick one that gets at least 30 mpg because all of them do.

I think I would be MUCH more upest if this news meant that they were putting a hold on the Camaro project, but it doesn't, so i am ok with it.
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Old 04-10-2007, 02:53 PM   #3
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It’s still a sad day if this legislation passes… Cars were starting to have personality again, not just the same old cookie cutter wedge with wheels…
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Old 04-10-2007, 03:41 PM   #4
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Old 04-10-2007, 05:48 PM   #5
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not cool at all.
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Old 04-10-2007, 07:22 PM   #6
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It’s still a sad day if this legislation passes… Cars were starting to have personality again, not just the same old cookie cutter wedge with wheels…
I feel the exact same way...this actually kinda scares me. It's going to go to Judge Dredd and the only cars will be electric....until an Olds 442 comes out of the garage and blows everyone away.
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Old 04-10-2007, 08:02 PM   #7
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I feel the exact same way...this actually kinda scares me. It's going to go to Judge Dredd and the only cars will be electric....until an Olds 442 comes out of the garage and blows everyone away.
Cough Cough, Demolition Man…
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Old 04-10-2007, 08:43 PM   #8
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ok the government makes all these bs policies and then dont even give the big three the time of day. they just throw these policies at them and say here meet these or else. well were is the federal money to help fund these new programs that the auto companies have to implement to meet the new standards and pay out of their pockets. instead of throwing all this money towards foreign aide and wars how about we fix the problems here first? hell George W. should just give the whole US auto industry to Toyota if he wants bland foreign cars to be the only thing on US highways.
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Old 04-10-2007, 10:51 PM   #9
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I'm going to go ahead and assume this is some sort of late April Fools joke.
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Old 04-11-2007, 02:47 AM   #10
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Cough Cough, Demolition Man…
Dat's what I said...Judge Dredd....jeeez....just like my pinchers of pal!
Now, if anyone gets that, I'll be impressed!

And, no. No April fools joke. The big three met w/ George W. and all came to some fasicnating conclusion that they would cut fuel consumption by a percentage...think it was 30%. But, to do that, they really have to find ways. Well, I can see exactly how this is going to create a huge problem and how GM would want to cut rear wheel drive veh's. This does not look good at all. I'm suprised this isn't making CNN.....
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Old 04-11-2007, 04:10 AM   #11
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im really upset how he said " its too late to cut the camaro off" i didnt like that.
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:02 AM   #12
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What I don't understand is why they are not focusing their attention and energy to further develop alternative fuels instead of cutting consumption of gasoline.

I mean, why make the auto manufacturers spend all of this money to conform to making gasoline engines more efficient when they are already more efficient than they have ever been, instead of letting them use that money to further develop ethanol or biodiesel programs, or electric cars, or even hydrogen powered cars....

This all seems so rediculous to me.

I have also often wondered.... would it be more beneficial to regulate and force the trucking industry to develop more fuel efficient semi-trucks? Or how about having an aggressive plan that states that by 2017 all semis have to be running on a mixture of 50% biodiesel and 50% conventional diesel. I would have to think that semis are more polluting than 20 cars combined!
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:30 AM   #13
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I mean, why make the auto manufacturers spend all of this money to conform to making gasoline engines more efficient when they are already more efficient than they have ever been, instead of letting them use that money to further develop ethanol or biodiesel programs, or electric cars, or even hydrogen powered cars....

I have also often wondered.... would it be more beneficial to regulate and force the trucking industry to develop more fuel efficient semi-trucks? Or how about having an aggressive plan that states that by 2017 all semis have to be running on a mixture of 50% biodiesel and 50% conventional diesel. I would have to think that semis are more polluting than 20 cars combined!
Just a quick reality check here...

1) The trucking industry probably has the GREATEST focus on fuel economy of any transportation segment because fuel is their major cost driver. If they can get 1% better mileage, it means they can pocket another 1% in profit! If you forced truckers to use B50 they would consume EVEN MORE fuel, and produce EVEN MORE CO2 then they do now, due to the fact that B50 has LESS energy in it. If you REALLY want to improve our emmissions as a country, you have to start using railroads again... they can move WAY more cargo with WAY fewer pollutants.

2) Ethanol cannot be efficiently produced on a large scale, and it generally takes more energy to produce it than what you get from it (using current technology). There isn't enough land to produce enough to offset more than 40% of gasoline usage. It doesn't have the same energy density of gasoline, so you will end up burning MORE, which requires EVEN MORE land.

3) Biodiesel programs - See ethanol comments, all of them apply to biodiesel.

4) Electric cars - where does the electricity come from? Coal fired power plants, that's where. Even lived near one? Would you want to? Me neither. This is only a solution if you run your electric car off of a solar panel array... THEN you have a solution.

5) Hydrogen IS NOT A FORM OF ENERGY! IT IS A FORM OF BATTERY! You CANNOT drill for hydrogen, you cannot harvest it, you have to CREATE it using power. In fact, you need MORE power to create it than you could EVER get from using it! It's a decent form of battery, but again, where does the energy come from???


In the end, Solar Panels, Wind Farms, and Oceanic Hydroelectric Systems are the only systems that can get us away from polution...

~LSx
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:52 AM   #14
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Oh, and just to be clear, I am ALSO wicked pissed that GM has halted this development. I was really looking forward to a 400hp Impala... it may have been my next family car.

Damn hippies...

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Old 04-11-2007, 09:52 AM   #15
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this sucks it really does i have been thinking about it and pretty much everything in GM's future is effected. think about this, new CTS-V gone, next gen Solistice/Sky gone, like LSx said the impala gone, gm was talking about bring more products from austrailia with more american flare are out the window, actually every thing cadillac is screwed. not cool
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:59 AM   #16
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Oh, and just to be clear, I am ALSO wicked pissed that GM has halted this development. I was really looking forward to a 400hp Impala... it may have been my next family car.

Damn hippies...

~LSx
First of all, you are obviously FAR more knowledgable about the subject than I. But to clarify, i suggested that we use the money spent in comforming to the new regulations to further develop the aformentioned alternative fuel programs, not ramp up production of them. I understand that they produce less energy than gasoline does and it takes more energy to produce than gasoline does; however, they are also fairly new technologies and as with any new technology it will take time and MONEY to refine and improve the process.

As for the electric cars - I have mentioned MANY times in other threads that its greatest flaw is the fact that it often times creates more pollution to create the energy to charge them, than the polution put out by its gasoline counterpart. However, this is again using current technology. My suggestion is once again not to ramp up production but use the money to investigate new ways of using the technology. With as much energy that is created through the movement and braking of a car, my question is why can't we harness this energy and use it to recharge the batteries? I dunno... I am just saying use the money to research other possibilities or further refine what we do have.

As for Hydrogen... I just threw that out there. I am not at all an expert on hydrogen.

My point is this.... It just seems as though the government is targting the automotive industry because they are the most visible and the gov't is forcing them to spend their money to conform to a regulation that could instead be used to further develop alternative programs that could completely ween us from oil instead of just reducing our consumption...
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:04 AM   #17
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Cough Cough, Demolition Man…

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Old 04-11-2007, 10:06 AM   #18
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agreed casull. i have feel the same way about electric. it really doesnt solve anything. but im like mister hydrogen around here bc im always saying its the way to go. but thats just my opinion. government needs to figure itself out and fix the problem not have the auto companies fix it for them. if they just throw these policies and regulations at the auto companies throw some money at them to to help pay the huge bills to get the solutions they need to meet the new CAFE and CO2 regulations
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:34 AM   #19
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idk but this is a bunch of stupid shit, like you all said look at all the cars that is not going to be made. All and why ain't ford effected by this stupid shit? But about the truckers. If the truckers would go on strike this country would go under. Because they basically hall everything from food to clothes to hazard shit. Beileve me I know my dad drives truck and he travels the whole east coast, carrying just lime to these coal companies, that way they can mine it so it heats some of our asses in the winter time.
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:40 AM   #20
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idk but this is a bunch of stupid shit, like you all said look at all the cars that is not going to be made. All and why ain't ford effected by this stupid shit? But about the truckers. If the truckers would go on strike this country would go under. Because they basically hall everything from food to clothes to hazard shit. Beileve me I know my dad drives truck and he travels the whole east coast, carrying just lime to these coal companies, that way they can mine it so it heats some of our asses in the winter time.
I don't think anyone was questioning the need for the trucking industry....

As for Ford, I am sure that all automotive manufacturers are going to be affected equally. Ford is just not a vocal because they are in the process of restructuring and didn't have any big programs on the line that they had to put a halt to like the Zeta program for GM.
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:55 AM   #21
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yea gm has more riding on future rear wheel drive vehicles then ford. their mustang is already out and established unlike the greatly effect future gm projects.
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Old 04-11-2007, 11:42 AM   #22
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I'm just worried that the Camaro will end up being a one or two year deal which will be price gouged by both dealers and private resellers alike. If that happens, My $40-$45k is either getting dumped into my Trans Am in mods or going towards a completely restored 1970 SS396 Chevelle (454s are way too much money. Thanks Barrett Jackson.). Either way I will be happy with a gas hog muscle car that is in no way enviornmentally friendly. If it get's that serious I'll move to Kuwait or somewhere else in the middle east where gas is cheap, nobody gives a damn about emissions, and everybody and their brother drives a V8 RWD American car. I think flying through downtown Baghdad in my TA would be a hell of a rush. I'm deployed here and it makes me quite jealous that nearly every sports car here is the top of the line version, and they are filling the tank for about five bucks. In the mean time I'll keep driving my 23,000LB, 100AWHP M1114 armored Hummer with a hollowed out cat that gets about 150 miles on a tank of diesel. ::end rant::
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Old 04-11-2007, 02:14 PM   #23
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Camaro Safe, but Impala Work Stalls

Lutz on Zeta Future: Camaro Safe, but Impala Work Stalls -

Daily Auto Insider

CAFE fears blamed for forced product paralysis.

BY ALISA PRIDDLE, April 2007


The Pontiac G8 and Chevy Camaro are still a go—barely—but uncertainty over possible strict new fuel-economy regulations has jeopardized plans for a rear-wheel-drive Chevy Impala and other vehicles from this architecture.

In an interview at the New York auto show with CARandDRIVER.com, GM vice chairman Bob Lutz was brutally frank about the uncertain fate of large cars and engines, and his fear for the survival of two separate global rear-wheel-drive architectures.

The best-known program is the Global RWD Architecture, formerly referred to as Zeta. It will serve as the underpinnings of a wide range of cars of varying lengths, from stretched limo-like proportions of the Buick Royaum for China, to the shorter and muscular lines of the pending Camaro.

Engineered by Australian subsidiary Holden, the Global RWD Architecture already is on the road Down Under as the Holden Commodore. For North America, first out of the gate will be the G8 when it goes on sale in early 2008.

And, after years of hype, the Camaro finally will bow in early 2009, followed by a convertible a year later. But everything after that is in jeopardy.

The fly in the ointment is President Bush’s push to reduce dependency on foreign oil, expected to translate into tougher corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger cars and light trucks.

Until the shoe drops, GM has no choice but push a giant snooze button on future rear-drive vehicles, from development of a super Cadillac based on the 2003 Sixteen concept, to halting plans to take the next-generation Impala rear drive.

“If the government wants a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy for each size class, I can’t get Zeta 30 percent more efficient,” Lutz said. “It would be like going from 20 mpg to 30 mpg. We don’t know how to do it.”

The G8 was too far along to pull the plug, but the Camaro was on the bubble, he confides. “But, after discussion, Camaro is still a go.”

Not so lucky is the Impala, which wasn’t due until the fall of 2009 or later. It definitely is on pause and its ultimate orientation up in the air. “Whether we will do it at all, as rear-wheel drive, is now in question,” Lutz said.

The Monte Carlo will not migrate to Zeta, Lutz said. “We won’t do a rear-wheel-drive coupe.”

And plans for the next-generation DTS remain uncertain. If it doesn’t migrate to Zeta or merge with the STS, it could see another lifetime as a front-wheel-drive sedan.

The other casualty is a second platform, the Global Small RWD Architecture that is in its infancy.

Lutz said GM had begun design and engineering work on the Global Small RWD Architecture at a U.S. design studio, for undisclosed brands. Our guess is a rear-drive entry-level Cadillac was in this pool, below the CTS—but not the BRX (a proposed small front-drive SUV based on the Cadillac BLS sold in Europe).

Chatter was a five-seat GMC also would be part of the new lineup designed to compete with the likes of the BMW 1-series, Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class.

Lutz now says that, if faced with extreme fuel economy legislation, GM might need to convert vehicles planned for the Small RWD Architecture to a mid-sized front-drive platform instead. One such candidate could be the future TE (enough letters for you so far?) architecture, which would build car-based utility vehicles beginning in the 2010 model year, from components of both Epsilon (Global Midsize Vehicle Architecture) and Theta (Global Compact Crossover Architecture; vehicles such as the Saturn Vue and Chevy Equinox).

For now, work on this family must wait, lest the platform prove too thirsty to meet potential CAFE regulations that seemingly would favor front-wheel drivers that weigh less and sip less fuel.

Trying to make rear-drivers compliant would consume engineering and capital resources, Lutz said at the New York show. “It’s a huge problem. Even if we could meet new proposed standards, it would be cost prohibitive.”

Lutz earlier told reporters the Bush Administration’s plan to raise fuel economy standards four percent a year through 2017 would add about $5000 to the cost of each GM vehicle. It is all part of a proposal to decrease oil dependency some 20 percent by 2017, five percent of which would come from improved fuel efficiency standards. The other concern is the recent Supreme Court decision that allows the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for limiting carbon dioxide emissions—which can be accomplished by increasing fuel efficiency.
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Old 04-11-2007, 05:34 PM   #24
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At least the Camaro still goes into production. Every major car co. wants to improve gas mileage, just like Lutz was saying. That first article put out I thought was a good idea....until the after effects are seen. Not good for a on the rise rear wheel drive GM car co. Not good at all. So, does this mean we will pretty much be the only country in the world working on saving our Earth while 3rd world countries continue to pour out pollutants into the environment??? Uh....yeah....
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:26 PM   #25
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No Crap....I was watching C-Span last night - shut up, it became interesting. - It was John Kerry, and some other guy(rep.) debating over pollution(CO2) and a little on the auto industry. Tag: it turns out that We- America- actually are one of the worst countries, as far a fixing pollution goes. All of Europe is in on a plan to fix themselves, even China (who took some of our technologies to do so) are in better shape than the US. I'll be plain in saying: it's our governments fault. Kerry said two things that I almost cried with joy over.

1) He commented on the Toyota Prious, saying that it got great fuel mileage and minimal emmisions, but wished to God it was an american car. That the government should be funding our Auto industry instead of leaving them out to dry......

2) If he and his opponent(the rep.) were in charge of fixing CO2 problem, they could create, and in fact already sort of have a solution they could implement tommorrow. But they are in fact not in charge, only loud annoyances, because the government is still "deep in thought"(that's me talking).

This is going to suck on sooo many different levels - and yes, even for the Camaro. My biggest fear was not so much "is this car going to be good" but "will people like this car an keep it running". I was finally settling on a positive answer, when this hits me in the face.
This may make the Zeta archetecture - the best thing for GM since hydramatic - obsolete and useless. We already know that this has halted other car models. But this could also end up causing any future generations or even model years of Camaro to be non-existant. That's point one, Point two is this; that that $5 000 dollars will be able to be tacked on to the Camaro. I will have this car, but I don't want to have to buy a V6.

Ohh, I don't know. :(Why the bloody Hell does Bush have to be such an Idiot. First He puts us into a meaningless war started by a personal vendetta, and now he's got the great Idea to reduce our international fuel dependancy ----- by choking the crap out of the US car companies....Why not punish the foriegners too, or help our boys, "well, um.........uh, nucler....." - Dumbass


Oh and in regards to the alternate fuels...I won't say I'm an expert. But I did do a thesis paper on this(lots of research:o). And In no way can Ethanol be an end-all solution. To that I agree. But neither can any other fuel source. I see, and I hope others can too, that the future of fuel in the US, and the world will be diverse. Depending on the area, and the climate - what works for one of us won't work for the other. So we will incorporate a many number of different fuel sources. This is where GM is going with thier E-flex system. Hydrogen in some areas, ethanol in others, possibly still a little gasoline, and completey electric in others.

And on a final note: to produce any of the alternate fuel sources, it will make some sort of pollution, but the difference between those and the pollution to make gasoline - just to burn it and make more - is HUGE........
(Deep Breath)
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