Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BMW Bavaria’s Mistaken Widget.

BMW has a reputation of producing some really fine automobiles and motorbikes. I have to say they simply have gone off-track with their latest car. They are marketing their new Active E as “one car two souls”. I wrote the following email to BMW customer service after receiving a glossy mailing in my Saturday mail.

"I just received your mailing of one car two souls. I must fit into some marketing profile by zip code to have the honor of being on your mailing list. I live in zip code 94920. I am known as the Green Machine as it rhymes with my name Lindsay Leveen. I blog at www.greenexplored.com and write a column titled the Green Machine for our local paper the Tiburon Ark.

Now I will get to the point of my email. Your Active E is just plain dumb as far as saving the planet and I will explain.

The flyer lists a suggested price of $60,375 to calculate the lease payment of $499 a month. This makes sense as a gasoline 128 i costs $30,000 and the Active E has 32 kwh of batteries that cost the extra $30,000. Now I ask you should I lease the 128 i that gets 23 miles per gallon on average for $339 a month or lease the Active E for $499 a month for 24 months with $2,750 cash at signing? The gasoline 128i goes from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds and the active E in 9 seconds. Of course in Iowa in winter when it is -10 degrees C outside I will be warm and toasty in the gasoline car but will almost die of exposure in the Active E. But, wait BMW says I only drive 11,500 miles a year and in two years I will buy 1,000 gallons of gasoline and spend $3,500 for this gasoline. With my lease on the standard 128 i at only $339 a month I save $3,840 in the 24 months on the lease payments compared with the Active E. I also have to pay something for electricity so let’s say the Active E needs 0.3 kilowatt hour of DC power per mile or 0.33 kilowatt hour of purchased AC electricity per mile at 10 cents per kilowatt hor. Thus it costs me 3.3 cents per mile for electricity or another $759 for the electricity I will purchase in the two years. Hence my added cost for driving the Active E for the 23,000 miles in 2 years is $1,099.

Now how much carbon dioxide emissions did I save planet earth? 1,000 gallons of gasoline from oil emits something like 25,000 pounds of CO2 from the well to the wheel. The electricity in Iowa is generated with 1.5 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt hour and is delivered to my 220 Volt plug with 1.8 pounds of CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour. Correspondingly I will emit 13,662 pounds of CO2 for my purchased electric power and I save the world 11,338 pounds of CO2 emissions in the two years. This is 5.15 metric tons of CO2 for an extra cost of $1,099. Therefore my carbon tax is $213.39 per metric ton of CO2. But wait I can buy a carbon offset in Europe for only $8 per metric ton. Why would I be dumb and buy the Active E???

The 32 kilowatt hours of batteries would have been better placed in 64 hybrids that each have 0.5 kilowatt hours of batteries to assist the gasoline engine. Each of these hybrid cars will save the owner 200 gallons a year of gasoline or 400 gallons in 2 years. The 64 hybrids will save in total 25,600 gallons of gasoline in two years. The world will have 640,000 pounds less of CO2 emissions. This equals 290.9 metric tons. As BMW wants to charge me $213.39 per metric ton of CO2 as my added cost for operating an Active E versus the gasoline car that is much faster, I suggest BMW donate 290.9 times $213.39 or $62,075 to the World Wildlife Fund for each Active E you sell. This is the price BMW should pay for having hogged the lithium in the 32 kilowatt hour batteries for a single Active E and not sharing this lithium with 64 others to improve their gas mileage.

Note you share the Gangrene award with Nissan, Tesla, Fisker and the other Green Fake Outs for promoting this plug in nonsense. Shame on BMW for this junk! Back in the 70s I owned a BMW Bavaria and it was a great car."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State of the Union Progression or Regression

I have to thank Colette a reader from Capetown South Africa for the cartoon I used above. I may not have used the F word and would rather have used the S word but the cartoon says it all and is a pretty hilarious commentary on how we have messed up the world. This week I followed an auction on Ebay for a fully restored Porsche 914 from the mid 70s. What interested me was the fact that the owner had converted the Porsche to be electric powered. He installed over 23 kilowatt hours of lithium ion batteries and removed the engine and replaced it with a large electric motor. He even installed a 2 kilowatt electric heater so the motorist would not die of exposure in the winter. The condition on the car of the body, paint, chrome, interior, wheels, and tires were flawless and was so clean that one could have eaten off the floor.

The seller had a reserve price for the car and stated that he had spent $100,000 to restore the car and change the drive to the state of the art electric system. The final offer made by a potential purchaser was $18,100 and this bid did not meet the reserve price. I also followed an auction for a stock model 914 Porsche that had not been restored but was in good working condition. This car did not meet its reserve price either and the bidding ended at just over $7,000. My guess of the price for a pristine fully restored Porsche with a stock internal combustion engine, that the bidding may have reached $11,000. Therefore the US public was willing to pay the owner of the 914 a premium of approximately $7,000 for the conversion of the propulsion system from gasoline to electric. I too think the electric conversion was worth only a few thousand dollars and I would have paid $13,000 for the electric Porsche.

I think that the results of the auction of the electric Porsche is a metaphor of the upright man walking back towards the apes and saying go back. The owner of the car thought he was pushing a worthwhile envelope of technical improvement by taking out the internal combustion engine. No doubt he spent a lot of money on the restoration and conversion and no doubt he did a fine job of engineering the system. What he did not contemplate was whether his endeavor had any real value? The auction proved the efforts of the owner had very little real value and simply throwing $100,000 and a lot of human labor at a hair brain idea still means the final product was a low valued item. I admire the owner of the Porsche for using his own money and not relying on the department of entropy for a handout. I do not admire him for his final product, it was simply dumb to spend all this money.

The President delivered his state of the Union address. He never had the guts to turn around and say to the apes in congress to back up. The Apes applauded his hollow words because the words are as American as Apple Pie. Last week the President sang some Al Green lines from Let’s Stay Together at the Apollo. Perhaps he should have belted out some Don McLean Bye Bye American Pie to the joint session of Congress. He can also tell the apes who want to ride the elephant to DC in November that a McLean is not a low calorie burger that is served under the Golden Arches. The McLean is the actual state of the Union where there are few jobs and the primates on both side of isle dole out billions to Tesla, Fisker, Nissan, and Coda who like the owner of the Porsche 914 will turn $100,000 into $10,000 on each car they sell. I do like Al Green but the song Let’s Stay Together is quite the opposite of turning around and telling the apes following you how it really is. This is from the Al Green song “Let me, be the one you come running to I'll never be untrue”. This from the Don McLean song “Bad news on the doorstep, I could not take one more step.” The political system requires the President to sell hope and sing Green (note the pun), but I want leadership that can deliver the bad news, change course and then bake a tasty pie.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On The Rebound

Several readers of my blog emailed me that Tesla stock had a rebound this week. Of course it was going to rebound after last week’s big drop and of course Elon Musk the Tesla CEO gave positive pronouncements on the status of the Mosel S. Elon opined that the company expects to sell 20,000 of these cars next year and with a gross margin of greater than 25%. Well Elon’s personal life is also on the rebound. His second wife Talulah Riley, a British actress, and Elon are separating. Elon’s first wife was a Canadian named Justine. Justine was not tight lipped about Elon and spilled a lot of beans on a show called Divorce Wars. I really do not care about the Musk Man’s marriages except to say that Telulah must have given Elon acting lessons prior to the split. 20,000 Model Ss with a gross margin in excess of 25% in 2013 will not be manufactured nor sold, and as they say in the old country if this happens I will eat my hat. Of course Mr. Musk did not say 2013 he said next year. He said this on January 16 so it sounds like next year is a lot sooner than all of 2013. Per Eric Savitz of Forbes, Elon also stated that the departure of the two lead engineers “was actually a slightly positive development”. I guess we will have to wait for Justine or Tululah to remove that positive spin and shed some light on how Elon sees positive from negative. Elon is so cross wired he may actually wrongly connect the terminals on the Model S and have the car go 130 miles per hour in reverse.

My disdain for Tesla is only matched by my disdain for academic chemical engineers who are at the pig trough of department of energy funding for pure junk science. We still have fools teaching in California state universities who are converting SUVs to run on hydrogen and only getting a 60 mile range but claiming zero emissions and we still have the department of entropy funding this junk. Talking of California, governor Moonbeam just fired the head of the high speed rail project that is supposed to whisk passenger from San Francisco to Los Angeles before the 22nd century arrives. This project is now estimated to cost $98.5 billion. Hey Jerry why not heat it up a smidgen to 98.6 so we can reach body temperature and keep the project alive? This puppy is so cold its temperature is that of Anchorage in mid February. For my overseas readers 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is about 37 degrees Celsius. If the Chinese were to build the California High Speed Rail it would cost $37 billion but heaven forbid we have two trains on the line at once, we would all experience a Chinese Fire Drill.

The good news in these Ignited States is that we have 240.5 million private vehicles with an average age of almost 11 years. The way things are going for the economy, I predict by the time Tesla produces 20,000 vehicles a year and enjoys a gross margin of more than 25% there will be 11 million private vehicles registered to the inhabitants of the US with an average age of 240.5 years. Of course TSLA stock will rebound in 240.5 years and when this happens and folks who paid $26 a share on January 16, 2012 will be able to say the rebound was real and their belief in Elon paid off.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

A partly good and partly bad day. The bad part first. The drain to my bathroom sink clogged and the instant hot water heater for my tea leaked. It took a couple of pretty expensive visits to the old homestead by two plumbers who turned my body into a torso by taking an arm and a leg. The good part of the day is my best friend Sam turned 60 today. Sam and I became best friends in second grade back in Joburg when we were 6. We have a friendship that spans from six to six oh. As much as I love Sam and his becoming a sexagenarian had me thinking is life better or worse after sixty? If the first part of age group holds then of course life is better after sixty. Sam, I wish you a happy birthday and wishing you many more years of health and happiness.

If my friend Sam had it good who had it bad this Friday the 13th? Well I have to say my old enemy Teslacle had it real bad. They trade on the NASDAQ as TSLA and for most of Friday the 13th their stock was a flat line. Then with thirty minutes to the close of trading the news hit that their VP and chief engineer and the head of their vehicle and chassis engineering have left the company and the stock dropped. See the chart above. This is just months prior to the launch of the government funded pile of junk that transfers wealth and the pursuit of happiness from the 99% to the 1%. It is kind of like the ball has dropped at Teslacle. Prior to this happening today the want to be auto company had suffered from cryptorchidism. No doubt that Secretary Chu Chu is not happy that his wonder child no longer suffers from cryptorchidism and had wished that the two high level engineers could have stayed till after the November election.

Tesla continues to prevaricate on their website as to the range of the Model S. They fib about the pile of junk attaining a range of 160 miles when traveling at 55 miles per hour. Yeah this may be the case on a perfectly level and straight road at night when the prevailing temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. With no heater or air conditioning and no braking or acceleration the pile of junk will yield a range of 160 miles using its 40 kilowatt hours of stored energy. I opined a while back that a motorist in upstate New York dealing with an outside temperature of only 14 degrees Farenheit and driving an electric car, they had better be wearing some Northface clothing to not die of exposure when their cab does not warm up over freezing point. But don’t fret for this person from the 1% in a Teslacle, they can fork over $80,000 and get an upgraded battery pack with 85 kilowatt hours of stored electricity. Now the pile of junk weighs in at over 5,000 pounds and many more of the 99% will be deprived of their share of the lithium. The 85 kilowatt hour battery will support a larger heater that brings the cab temperature up to the perfect 68 degrees Fahrenheit. But wait the added 900 pounds for the larger battery and the added draw for the heater now make the $80,000 behemoth only go 200 miles on a single charge. The driver will be not be able to go from Buffalo to Albany he will however be able to reach Utica where he can have a urologist check on the condition of his urethra. He had better hope the urologist has two things. Skinny fingers and a spare 40 amp 220 volt circuit. Of course the motorist will have to recharge in Utica for 10 hours before making the trip to Time Square in order to really see the ball drop. I have no idea how to spend 10 hours in Utica.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How Stupid Can We Be?

Albert Einstein once said “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.” Well we now know that universe is expanding and at even a faster speed than previously thought and no doubt human stupidity is doing likewise so is there a number beyond infinity? Let me shed a little light on what I think is the most stupid government policy in these Ignited States. If you buy a Chev Volt, a Nissan Leaf, or some other plug in vehicle you receive a $7,500 gift from the Treasury of the United States. This is a supposed noble idea to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Of course the EPA gives the plug in car a green star and lets the manufacturer claim that the electricity was produced with 100% efficiency when calculating the equivalent gas mileage for the vehicle. So not only does the US government give the purchaser of the heap of junk a gift, they allow the manufacturer to make claims that disobey the laws of thermodynamics. Of course Steve Chu Chu is the engineer steering this runaway train of fake out and payola.

Now that I have got my disdain for old Steve out of my system, let’s investigate just how much money was spent by Uncle Sam in 2011 to subsidize the sales of Volts and Leaves. 9,674 Leaves were sold in 2011 in the US and 7,671 Volts were likewise sold. By my estimate, had consumers bought a Chev Cruze instead and drive 15,000 miles a year the quantity of CO2 emissions that are saved by the Volts and Leaves sold in 2011 amounts to a paltry 17,216 tons a year. The Treasury of the US spent just over $130 million in 2011 to affect those savings in CO2 emissions. Had Dr. Chu Chu provided one of the electric utilities in the Midwest such as Ameren or Duke with a $130 million gift to build a 144 megawatt combined cycle natural gas fired power station to retire a similar old coal fired power station, we could have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 578,166 tons a year. Because old Chu Chu is beyond infinitely dumb we wrongly spent the $130 million and actually will have 560,950 more tons a year of CO2 emissions continue indefinitely.

But this is not where the stupidity ends. Had the money been spent on the natural gas combined cycle generation station, GE would have supplied US made equipment for the project. Instead the Japanese supplied the batteries for the Leaves and the Koreans supplied the batteries for the Volts and GE was left scratching its butt for something to do. Of course Chu Chu is instructed by the Commander In Chief engineer who runs the administration on what is best policy for these Ignited States. Heaven forbid the man with a Noble Prize in low temperature physics actually tell the Nobel Peace Prize winner that we are flatulating in the wind when it comes to reducing carbon emissions with Volts, Leaves, Karmas, and Codas. An update on the Karma batteries there were only 239 recalled cars and of those only 50 had been delivered to customers. Yippee after over $500 million of government subsidy the Fisker motor company got 50 Karmas into the hands of customers like Leonardo De Crapio (intentionally misspelled). This week the morons on Wall Street have upped A 123’s stock price on news that they will supply batteries to Via for trucks. Who is Via one might ask? Via is the remnant of Raser the famous firm that had the other side of the isle, in the form of Senator Hatch, excited about the “100 MPG Hummer” that he drove around the US Capitol. Now tell me with all the stupidity in DC is it not time for a third party? DC is owned by Wall Street and Wall Street is owned by who knows who but stupidity like greed is universal and is growing and actually may reach a value that is larger than infinite. Perhaps old Eistein should have postulated the largest number that is post infinite and is called superinfinity. We have super PACS that can pay for negative ads in the presidential elections. These super PACs can make Gnats out of Newt so perhaps the super infinite number can make Chu Chu understand that shift happens and that DC like Exergy is being destroyed by changes in temperature. I will explain Exergy sometime in the future but for now think of Exergy as the maximum useful work in a system. Exergy is about zero in the department of entropy.