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Risk, Ambiguity and Decision

Risk, Ambiguity and Decision

By Daniel Ellsberg

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Kicking the SUV Habit—Finally

Posted on Aug 18, 2006
Gas-guzzling Ford

Gaz-guzzling Ford trucks like this are quickly falling out of favor—thanks to sky-high fuel prices and growing awareness of higher-mileage transportation options.

Ford announced its largest production cuts in 20 years, blaming high gas prices for customers shifting away from its pickups and SUVs and toward higher-mileage models.

  • We were wondering how long it would take Americans to wean themselves from their SUV addiction.

  • Now, if we could just get a few more of these next-generation electric cars on the road….

  • AP:

    Ford announced its largest production cuts in more than 20 years on Friday, blaming high gas prices for pushing many customers away from its pickups and SUVs and toward higher-mileage models.

    Ford Motor Co. said it would temporarily halt production at 10 assembly plants between now and the end of the year to reduce the need for costly incentives to trim bloated inventories.

    The decision illustrates just how out of step the lineup at the nation’s second-largest automaker has become, as it loses market share to mostly Asian competitors under the watch of Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Ford.


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    By archebald23, April 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

    how can ford blame gas prices on pushing it’s customers away? that’s just off. people dont buy certain cars because of fuel/gas, they buy cars because they have certain preferences like honda may have the most modern look, or it may have the fastest engine. ford just doesnt have the necessary look or ford parts that lures people to purchase from them.

    Report this

    By Todd, August 21, 2006 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Please, if you are going to bother making an argument, at least use facts.

    Traffic fatalities in the US in 2004 were 42,636.  Of those, only 4,735 were killed in SUV’s, or about 11%.  I do not know what % of vehicles on the road are SUV’s, but I know its more than 11%.

    Now, consider also that fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles has fallen every year since 1998.  Hmm, a supposition.  In what year did the SUV (at the time, the Jeep Cherokee and then Ford Explorer) begin to make inroads in the US???

    So, you have far less people dying in SUV’s, and you have overall highway safety falling since the SUV was first starting to be purchased by the mass market.  These are all stats easily available from the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.

    Next fact, gasoline prices.  An average person drives 15,000 miles a year.  At 12mpg (and I get better), that translates into $3,125 in gasoline cost at $2.50 per gallon (1,250 gallons).  A $0.50 rise in a gallon of gas costs me $625 in a year.  Whoop-de-big-f-ing-do.  As the saying goes, if you have to ask how much it is, you probably can’t afford it.

    Now personally, my family has a large SUV because we have 4 children (need space), and I want them safe (see above facts).  Another $600 a year is not a real big deal to most people.  And it is more than worth it to ensure that my family is safer and I can actually fit them all in one vehicle (without the kids beating the crap out of each other in tight quarters).

    The fact that American carmakers are losing money has way more to do with their cost structure and the way they’ve been run than anything.  Again, this is a fact.  Read the data in their annual reports.

    And, finally, another FACT.  A barrel of oil contains 42 gallons of crude.  Of that, the yield of gasoline varies from 5% of the barrel for Venezuelan crude to 30% for Texan and Arabian crude.  The rest goes to items like heating oil (used primarily in some of the most liberal states in the country), plastics, and a whole host of items.

    Please stop spouting hysterics because you don’t understand the facts!

    Report this

    By Broiler, August 21, 2006 at 6:34 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I must be clairvoyant!

    Within 24 hours of commenting here I saw Chevy’s
    new commercial touting this year’s version of
    the Suburban getting 21 mpg. Nostradamus has
    nothing on me!

    Report this

    By Broiler, August 19, 2006 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I’ve owned large vehicles my entire life.
    Large family and work necessity is the causality.
    The actual shame of the American SUV is that we
    have never demanded better. The truth is that we
    could have had economical large vehicles, it just
    did not fit the scheme for the auto manufacturers and
    oil companies.

    You will see in a short time that SUVs will be
    available with much improved gas mileage. Up until
    now, 1 or 2 mpg were enough to tease us as improvements.
    We will see jumps in the 5 to 10 mpg range within a year.
    If those kind of jumps were made in the past we would not
    have been tempted to “re-car” every 5 years. I’ve never
    been in a financial position to drive new cars.

    As for me, my current vehicle (Ford) is 6 years old.
    I bought it used and have had it for 4 years.
    My previous ride (Chevy) was bought used, it was 3 years old,
    and I drove it for 15 years. I maintained it like the dickens
    and someone drove it after me.

    How many years did your vehicle serve anyone?

    Gas mileage is important, how soon the vehicle becomes a
    part of a landfill is perhaps equally important.

    I could get into a further rant on the fuel saving horror story
    that is toll roads in our time but I need to smack my head
    with a ballpeen hammer first!

    Report this

    By GW=MCHammered, August 19, 2006 at 8:35 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    FEAR and SEX sell all too easily in the USA. As thinking beings, you’d THINK we could do better:

    The lifetime odds of dying in a car crash are about once every eighty lifetimes. Falling from bed and dying is about one-third as likely. So how much should we invest guarding ourselves from bedroom perils, one-third the price of an SUV?

    Buying a two-story Ford and believing you’re SAFE and SEDUCTIVE is a symptom of buying-in, being SOLD TO. Besides, all these monuments to SELF are like varicose PORNOGRAPHY. And how sexy is that?

    It’s time to park these crude-guzzlers forever and STOP WARRING over sand-covered oil.

    Report this

    By vjack, August 19, 2006 at 8:12 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Do you really think it is about Americans getting past the SUV obsession? I’m tempted to think that it is more about people realizing that American automakers are still making unreliable vehicles that nobody wants to own.

    Report this

    By Frank, August 19, 2006 at 7:48 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Jon, American auto quality today is ahead of all European makes, and has been for the last few years, though still behind the Honda and Toyota. German auto makers have been in decline in recent years and are at the bottom of the barrel for overall fleet quality these days. “German Engineering” these days means a piss poor vehicle, especially in the areas of electrical systems and drivetrain reliability.

    If you think otherwise, you might want to crack open an issue of Consumer Reports or a related industry quality survey.

    Chrysler is making money these days, posting profits for the last few years in North America and is still expected to post a profit for 2006 even with declining sales.  Ford and Chevy are not faring so well as they are far too dependant on truck and SUV sales to survive another 5 years without a merger or major restructuring.

    Report this

    By jon, August 18, 2006 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    During the oil embargo in the 1970s, japanese automakers established their foothold in selling gas thrifty small cars. What was Detroil doing during the last 30+ years? To make matters worse, japanese, German and Korean automakers kept improving vehicle’s quality while Detroit lags behind. No wonder automakers all over the world make money except Detroit. This is incompetency at its worst.

    Report this
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