Dell To Sell Their Manufacturing Plants

Dell is planning to try and sell their manufacturing plants here in the U.S. and also located in other countries. What is disturbing about the news is this statement:

Other factories could close

What this basically means is more jobs could be lost here in the U.S. if Dell is unable to locate a buyer. In a global economy which is at a standstill, this could in fact be the final results. Dell has U.S. plants in Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina and in Florida which if not sold, will be closed by the computer company. In a time in which the jobless rate is at a five year high, this is once again bad news for U.S. workers.

The article also states:

Dell’s plants are still regarded as efficient at churning out desktop PCs. But within the industry, company-owned factories aren’t considered the least expensive way to produce laptops, which have been the main driver of growth lately and are complex and labor-intensive to assemble.

Interesting. If the plants are regarded as ‘efficient’ than the real reason for closing the plants has to do with wages. U.S. workers are paid higher than their counter parts in China or other countries in the world.

But what I find it hard to believe is this. How can foreign companies Like Honda, Toyota, Subaru and Hyundai build their vehicles here in the U.S. and are still  able to compete? I saw a program on the History Channel showing Honda’s being built here in the U.S. and shipped back to Japan. If the foreign companies can do this, what is wrong with our American companies?

Comments welcome.


Electric Or Hydrogen Vehicles – Which Do You Prefer?

I know most of us are in ‘shock and awe’ at the high price of gasoline we have been experiencing these past few months or so. Plus I know none of us realized that foreign oil had us in a strangle hold, because obviously we would of done something about it. As we have sat on our hands for some 30 years, oblivious to what was happening and content on purchasing huge SUV’s with big V-8’s, I believe it is time for America to wake up and finally take a look at who is to blame for the oil crisis. All one has to do is to look in the mirror.

We have allowed ourselves to be lulled by our politicians into believing that Washington is working on a solution. When in reality big oil and the American car companies have control on the type of cars we will drive and what fuels they will use. No one can disagree with the fact that the gasoline engine is the most inefficient means of moving a vehicle and that some alternative is needed. The current administration took a path of ethanol from corn and the increased use of diesel as the way to solve the problem. A blind man can see using a food source is akin to throwing a drowning man an anchor. I also don’t believe that anyone would think that diesel, though producing better mileage, is environmentally friendly.

So we now have two other concepts that are being considered by the automobile industries. GM is leading the way in their quest for an all electric car. Known as the Volt, GM projects this futuristic vehicle will be coming to town sometime in 2010. There is only one, maybe two, minor issues. GM admits that battery technology needs to be improved. The second is, what do you do with all of those batteries once they are used?

Over at Toyota and Honda, they are looking into hydrogen technology. Using something called a fuel cell, the concept promises a non-polluting vehicle that produces only water. But the Honda vehicles use natural gas to produce hydrogen which is stored in the cell, and the vehicle uses an electric motor, which uses batteries also to store the juice.

So my question is this. Are either electric or hydrogen vehicles the way to solve our current predicament?  What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Fuel cell source.

GM electric source.

Hybrid Cars – Deal Or No Deal?

Now that we are all feeling the pain at the gas pumps, it is becoming fashionable this week to be ‘green’ and discuss the alternative hybrid vehicles. In speaking with family, friends, and acquaintances two vehicles are mentioned as possible alternatives to gasoline power alone.

The Toyota Prius Hybrid which advertises on the Toyota site a whopping 48/45 m.p.g. Prices start at about $21,500 and according to the awards page is the best when it comes to squeezing out more miles per gallon of gas.


Next we have the Honda Civic Hybrid which according to the Honda site gets about 40/45m.p.g. Pricing starts at $22, 600 and Honda touts their reliability as a well known feature for their product line.


On the flip side we have non-hybrids to consider as well that are easy on the wallet:

Yaris 29/35 starting at $11, 550,  Kia Rio 25/35 starting at $11,450, Ford Focus 24/35 starting at $14,755, Chevy Aveo  24/34 starting at $12,830,  just to name a few of the inexpensive gas only models.

Which brings up several questions that many of us may have on our minds. Is the additional expense of buying a hybrid currently worth it? How is the reliability of a hybrid vs a gas only model?

Or if OPEC kicks up production and gas prices fall, will the Hybrids go the way of the dodo bird?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

The 100 MPG Prius Mod

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard (or read) folks say that they “wouldn’t buy a hybrid until it gets 100 miles per gallon (MPG).”

A good bit has changed since I wrote about the mod back in the summer of 2005.

That good bit is the price.

Think 100 MPG is so tough to achieve?

Behold the 100 MPG Prius (YouTube) …

As it turns out, all it takes is six grand, a bit of ingenuity, a big box o’ batteries, some cables and other goodies. Truth be told, six thousand dollars is just a start … the ultimate price depends on your choice of battery technology.

Modders rule.

Prius Upgrade Gets 100 MPG Says Startup OEMtek

If you own a Toyota Prius and want to get better mileage in your ride, OEMtek has a upgrade worth considering. Or is it? Priced at $12,500 the upgrade is said to increase the mileage of the Prius to 100 MPG. That’s an expensive alternative for something that is untested. But according to OEMtek in a San Jose News article:

“There are people who want this right now, no matter what,” said Cindi Choi, vice president of business development and the de facto chief executive of the six-employee company.

OEMtek will be ready to convert about 30 Priuses as soon as March, Choi said. It has battery packs on hand and continues to do durability testing and other late-stage engineering work. Its Web site has a “buy” link where customers can pre-order the vehicle.

Choi’s “no matter what” references some questions potential buyers are likely to have.

It is interesting to read about some of the alternatives that some new companies are introducing. But the problem remains. What is the best option to eventually replace the standard gas engine?

Comments welcome.

Full article is here.

Lower Dependence on OPEC Oil: Check Out Plug-In Vehicles Scheduled for Release in 2010

After the Senate last month approved a sharp increase in fuel economy standards, Senator Barack Obama’s co-sponsored a package calling for tax credits for consumers who purchase plug-in vehicles and the companies that make them.

In response Ford Motor Company and power utility Southern California Edison are ready to announce an unusual alliance aimed at clearing the way for a new generation of rechargeable electric cars. This joint initiative between the two companies will be the first-of-its-kind in the area of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Environmentalists laud the alliance as a way of reducing oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, environmentalists are hopeful that eventually these hybrid vehicles will be able to run strictly on electricity for short distances and be made in such a way that they can then recharge using a standard electrical outlet.

Another possibly positive outcome of the development of these vehicles would be that they could potentially transfer stored, unneeded energy back to the electric grid, opening a potential back-up source for the system during peak hours.

While Ford was the first to introduce a hybrid with its Escape model in 2004 it backed off of its ambitious sales targets when it was faced with declining market shares. Criticized for this by environmentalists, Ford announced, in June, that it was developing new hybrid vehicles but that they saw deep-seated engineering problems with plug-ins.

However, with analysts predicting pending legal and regulatory changes additional Ford is determined to meet consumer expectations even as companies like Toyota and General Motors are fervently working to develop their own versions of plug-in hybrid vehicles. So, if you are willing to take a chance on a new technology that would help to free America from dependence on Middle Eastern Oil Barons then you may just find yourself a winner with one of the new vehicles scheduled to be available by 2010.

[tags]Ford, Toyota, General Motors, hybrid vehicles, Barack Obama, regulatory standards, OPEC, oil consumption, plug-in vehicles, Southern California Edison, greenhouse emissions, environmentalists[/tags]

Driving To Valhalla

My husband is an electrical engineer like I am. He is a much better electrical engineer, in part because he still has a memory.

His father has been ill and has let his Toyota Prius sit for a while. Six weeks or so. So my husband went over to take him for a ride in the Prius. The old boy wants to go to Valhalla. Or something like that, he’s been going on about some non-existent amusement park with Ferris wheels and roller coasters up the highway near the bridge. Valhalla.

I suggested my husband set the car on fire and push them both off the bridge, a modern-day Viking burial of sorts. Where is that man’s sense of humor?

So my husband just called. “The Prius is dead,” he said. “The doors don’t unlock. Can I give it a jump without blowing up my car? It’s only been six weeks, it can’t be dead! Is the hood lock electrical?”
Continue reading “Driving To Valhalla”