Saturday, March 19, 2011

Remember When...?

It's hard to go through a day without being reminded about how bad the economy is. Just make a trip to the gas station, you make pay ransom fees to the terrorists for gasoline.

What? You're scratching your head thinking I've done fell off my rocker. No the terrorists are not Exxon, Shell, Sunoco, BP, and the like. But you have to know that most of our oil comes from OPEC. OPEC is made up of a bunch of countries, too many of which are not our friends.

So think about this. If we import 3 million (that's 3,000,000) barrels of oil a day, and the market rate is $100 a barrel. Do the math, tack on 2 zeros's, that's $300,000,000 a day the United States is paying for Oil. Deduct operating expenses, and many millions are still going to terrorists nations.

The question everyone asks is how do we break out of this? There are no (easy) answers, and none of them will completely or even significantly impact it.

The government and the auto makers are completely off the mark.. Their answers are to get rid of your old clunker and buy a $40,000 go-kart that might be able to go 50 miles on battery, then use gas @35 miles per gallon.

I have some revelations for Detroit, most of us cannot afford to buy their "fuel efficient" cars. They are still obsessed with producing a whole new lineup of vehicles every year, keeping costs high.

Here's a history lesson. Remember the Chrysler bailout in the late 70's? What followed was a brilliant streamlining of automobile assembly lines, the K-Car. They have several different models, all vary similar underneath. They used the same engines, transmissions, etc. They were cheap, economical, and you could drive them till the tires fell off.

For example, in December 1986, I bought a 1987 Dodge Omni. It cost $7000 and had everything but a turbo charger. It got 40+ MPG on the highway, and about 34 just back and forth to work. It was small, front wheel drive that went places in snow I would only now take my big truck. It came of the same assembly line in Illinois as it's cousin, the Plymouth Horizon, only the emblems were different. While the Omni/Horizon wasn't part of the K-Car lineup, it shared the same engines, transmissions, major and minor components are most of the Chrysler K-Car lineup.

The 1990 model year was the last model year they produced the Omni/Horizon. My family had outgrown that little car, so we traded it for a minivan. The Dodge dealer said the Onmi/Horizon was being discontinued because no one made any money off them, not the dealers, the repair shops, nor Chrysler. That K-Car concept was eventually discontinued by 1995, and so did their affordable vehicles.

Want some more history? You used to be able to go to the auto part store and gets parts for a 55-70's Chevy, and they were virtually the same. General Motors put the same engine, the 350 small block for example, in every vehicle, regardless of whether it was Chevrolet, Pontiac, or Oldsmobile. A 15 inch 5 lug GM wheel would fit any GM vehicle designed to use 15 inch 5 lug wheels. Don't try that now. Everything is customized to a given model, again, driving up costs.

It's not really any different for Japan or Germany. For Americans though, Detroit is our problem, and they are far from fixed.

Read full article at

John Crawford

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