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Now PUMA’s Sort Of A Car

bildeembargogmsegway04_580op

That’s the new GM/Segway prototype vehicle, the PUMA or, Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility…thingy.  Whatever this hybrid vehicle eventually grows up to be, if anything, it’s battery operated and zips along at 35 mph.  Obviously, this is part of almost-bankrupt General Motor’s attempt to “green up” and be part of Team Obama’s overarching and presently over-reaching program to drag reluctant Americans kicking and screaming away from our love of gas guzzling mini-tanks capable of doing righteous battle with buses and trucks on city streets in comfort.  For those loath to sacrifice safety for ecology, the PUMA, a sort of windshield covered Hoveround, is supposed to be able to sense danger, Will Robinson, and…magically disappear, or something.  Popular Mechanics explains it this way:

The collision avoidance tech is probably the most speculative aspect of the P.U.M.A. project. GM has long been working on vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology that should allow vehicles to communicate with each other using short-to-medium-range wireless transponders that use GPS and vehicle on-board telemetry data to avoid collisions. The idea is that if two vehicles can exchange speed, direction and position data, then one of them could make a decision to brake in an emergency situation to avoid an accident—even if that meant overriding the driver.

Gee, when you’re zipping around Manhattan, or LA, or downtown Chicago, I hope that works out for you.  But really, to be honest, clean, fuel efficient transportation is probably an essential element of our continued survival on this planet, so, I’d like to nominate this vehicle from Amsterdam for consideration:

ps0b_amsterdam_bicycle_cell1I’m only being so snarky, here.  If this is the best GM can come up with, no wonder they’re insolvent.  Maybe somebody should grow a pair of huevos (testicles or ovaries) and tell the freaking truth; we’re not buying GM cars ‘cuz we’re broke, and, if we did have money, we’d keep right on buying comfortable road warriors until the price of gas got too high.  When that happened, we’d probably all take the bus, because the last thing any sane American wants is to do traffic battle with other American drivers without proper armour.  But what I really hate is, people will think we had something to do with this, like this guy:

When I first saw this story on the wire I thought of P.U.M.A. the political organization started last year when Hillary Clinton lost the nomination. Well I was wrong it seems like GM and Segway are teaming up to make a two wheel car of sort, the GM PUMA. The Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility vehicle is a joint venture between the two to create a small urban vehicle which is fuel efficient and serves the purpose of getting people around urban areas. This may be just what the accountant ordered for GM’s lagging sales.

I’m sure that had they asked us real PUMAs for input, we could have made some improvements; like, we would have recommended that the thing fold up to the size of a suitcase so you could roll it into work and park it beside your desk, or something.  I dunno about people in Detroit, but, people in the cities I’ve lived in steal, and that little thing looks like any teenagers’ irresistable temptation.  Or maybe, doors, and heat would be good ideas since most major cities have…weather.  But, hey, what do I know?

Cross posted @ Cinie’s World, natch.

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164 Responses

  1. IF we created this car we would have a place for our knitting supplies.

  2. LOL. The only people who can use that to get to work live in Hawaii or San Francisco. Door, heat, A/C, security system would be nice as well as some sense that I WON’T die if I hit anything.

  3. Well, I have a few different responses to this:
    1)my paranoid political side which says: so now when they google PUMA, they will get this car instead of any info on the political movement. Did somebody think of this?
    2) my WTF? side which says that the safety anti-collision technology sounds like it is dependent on both vehicles (that enormous truck, bus or SUV) and the little two wheeler having the same devices to work. If big truck has no avoidance guidance, then
    little row-boat two wheeler is going to be facing a battleship (quick, row faster!).
    3) my “how stupid do you think we are side” which lights up in response to statements that vehicle will be 1/3 cost of vehicles now. What vehicles now? You mean a 4 wheel car? You mean I can grab up one of those little thingies for only 10k or so? Oooh… Sweet!

    • Angela, I’m sure they’ve worked hard on this thing, and, are banking on it helping them stay relevant, if not viable. And, if they attached the PUMA name purposely, then it was a big FU to the Obamites.

    • One way to fix that is to put up ads for the thingie!

      Also, I am beginning to get suspicious too, as didn’t GM get billions in the bailout? Hemmm, they did think Hillary’s Army (what they called us before there was a name) would go away and start back knitting, instead we are weaving cyber yarns and chit chatting with each other. :shock:

      • WV, I’m thinking (with some snark and some just wondering feeling) that maybe there was a meeting with the cigars going full bore, and the O folk say, “so
        ya wants some money? What ya got for us, you autophiles?” And the automakers say (puff, exhale), “I don’t know… you could name the thingie.” And Axelrod says, “hmm, let’s see, I do like the concept of co-opting and dissolving those who oppose our fearful leader” and so they came upon the name….
        They’ve done the strategy before. Them Axelrodians.

        • I am thinking you are onto some thing here. The ‘O PUMA CAR’ will silence those bitter knitters. Except that they didn’t ponder the fact that our memories last longer than the cars battery!

          • Well look at the glass half empty. People could put in PUMA to get the car infor and come to us. That could be fun. Surely Asselrod and Co. thought of That!

  4. I still think there’s a huge market out there that anyone can tap into. Those who bought the Obama, will buy anything if it’s marketed right. So perhaps the better name would be to call it the “Yes we car!”

  5. I like the safety anti-collision technology idea but not the car. “Yes We Can” could be a nice name for it.

  6. No doors, not heat, no AC, and vulnerable in traffic.

    So what, again, is the difference between this and a really nice, tricked out, $3000 scooter?

    • The difference is the Bailout Money made this possible and although it didn’t get you to Mars or the Moon it did have the ‘O’ factor…’Yes We Can O Car’.

    • Hey, we could invest the PUMA umbrella for the PUMA CAR!

      • i think a truck body would look good on it

        • What’s up with the color, my first thought was ‘SQUEESH’…the little guy gets it by the big cars that didn’t see it. At least a little flag, saying here I Go in my ‘O Car’.

          • The “Smart Car” is a much better alternative and in Europe they are painted all kinds of great colors with flowers and other things decorating them.

        • It might look just slightly like an Italian APE with a truck body.

      • I think it looks perfect for the 90-something guy who had his drivers licence taken away but still has a thing for ‘speed’ and finds the electric chairs a bit slow.

  7. Have you ever tried out a Segway? I think the price is the thing that is keeping them from catching on because they are a very efficient way to get around town if you’re traveling alone. IAdding doors and heat to this PUMA car would not be a big engineering problem. I assume the PUMA starts with a key so adding the same kind of security to PUMA as you have on your car or truck should be no problem. It’s certainly as secure as a motorcycle or a convertible. There should also be a way to outfit the car with tires that have enough traction to manage some snow – maybe not a blizzard, but my husband borrows my car any time there’s more than an inch or two of snow on the actual road because his sports car has crappy traction. That’s usually only three or four days each winter, and I live in the northeast. Do you object to the name of the car, or are you unwilling to have an open mind about future transportation options?

    • You got that right….$3,000…or get that other two wheel traveling machine out, called a bicycle! I think the scooters are also less money too and you look cool.

    • What the hell are you talking about? We have questions about a battery operated wheelchair for traffic use and you chastise us? It’s not secure, it’s not equipped for inclement weather, and it’s not anymore practical or fuel efficient for city use than a bicycle. What’s the advantage? Besides, if the space age collision avoidance technology has the same sort of bugs most new technology has, are you willing to bet your life on it? Plus, when did Segways make the leap from B movie punchline to practical reality?

      • I think the “battery-operated wheelchair” comment says it all. You know, there was a time when people said the same thing about automobiles. They were not “safe”. I believe that they chastised people to “get a horse”. And I ask you again, “Have you ever tried out a Segway?” If you have, you would know that it is not the equivalent of riding a bicycle. And I bet my life on new technology all of the time. Anti-lock brakes, microwaves, and X-ray machines were all new technology at one time. If the cost of the Segway wasn’t prohibitive, I think you’d find postmen and foot patrol policemen cruising around town. My first calculator in 1970 did addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It couldn’t do square roots yet and was priced at $300. Now it costs a buck at the dollar store, and virtually everyone has one. When the price of the Segway and its derivatives can come down, we’ll see if everyone wants one.

        • The fact that people don’t accept anything at face value is what accounts for advancement in technology. You also haven’t said anything that makes a PUMA a better value than a bicycle on any level. Are we all supposed to live and work within the range of the battery now? What happens if we don’t? Will trains and buses accommodate them? Do we need SUVs and trucks to put them in when we want to drive to the station or bus stop? Where do we recharge the batteries? How long does that take? I’m glad you know how to use a calculator and a microwave, but that doesn’t answer any of my questions.

          • Where did people gas up their Model T’s? Did people build gas stations before cars were invented? If electricity becomes the energy source for transportation, there will be recharging stations built. Maybe they’ll look like parking meters, and we will be able to plug our cars in while we go to work or shop. Maybe we will have personal autos for local travel and take trains and buses for longer trips. Maybe we’ll live in communities where we park our larger vehicles outside the perimeters of the community and use a small electric vehicle to get around the neighborhood. My point is that you have a closed mind. When new transportation options catch on, the support services they need will follow. It may not be the PUMA car that we’ll all be driving. but the ridicule that you dished out without knowing much about it puts you in the group of people who clung to their horses because they feared change.

        • Your point is moot. GM is insolvent NOW. Building impractical prototypes that MIGHT become practical in the future is as sure a method of staying broke in the moment as there is. And, you still haven’t said what makes even the possibility of success for this vehicle superior to embracing the bicycle technology we have now? Police and meter maids could and do, use bikes now, why spend the money to adapt facilities, etc. to Segways, when it’s greener, cheaper, and healthier, to invest in bikes. What’s the possible advantage?

      • Cinie,

        The other thought is you still get stuck in traffic and a bicycle can move around that! Let’s re-invent the bicycle…lol

      • The advantage is pretty simple. It is MORE FUEL EFFICIENT than a car.

        You didnt have questions, you admitted that you were being snarky.

        Even if you had questions, here are the answers to them

        1) No one chastised you. Stop being so damn defensive. She asked why was the hate directed at this product? That is a simple question for you to answer.

        2) Other things are not secure, like a motorcycle, a convertible and yes, the bicycle that you talk about. While none of the above are great for bad weather, they are useful when the weather is not a major factor.

        Advantages of the car where all listed in the article you so carefully ignored, since you wanted to hate on GM, but more importantly, Obama…

        For the shortform,
        1) Decrease Urban traffic
        2) Less pollution than a car
        3) decreased parking congestion. (Try finding parking in SF)

        The prototype vehicle, called Project PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), is designed to ease congestion and pollution problems in cities. It is based on the Segway Personal Transporter but holds two people, instead of one, and lets them sit, instead of stand.

        A PUMA runs on lithium ion batteries, can reach 35 miles per hour, and can travel up to 35 miles between charges.

        It includes some high-tech touches, including GM’s wireless OnStar communications technology that lets a passenger locate other drivers in a city.

        The two-wheeler is meant to address the mounting problems of urban car transportation, according to the two companies that plan to unveil the vehicle at an auto show in New York.

        So, even if it is a niche car, there are markets for this in the Big Cities. But, instead of debating the merits, you went for the Obama punch (not even a glancing blow) and snark instead of actual answers.

        Finally, yes, I will put my life in the hands of collision tech, just like I do when i hit the anti-lock brakes in my Infiniti or I depends on my Pioneer navigation to guide me to my destination. The car is not going to drive itself…not yet. If you are going to review a product, then try Car and Driver or some other forum.

    • If I had some luggage, where would it be placed?

  8. Saw on the BBC site that this will cost around £4,900 or $7,200. That’s a lot of money. A motor bike would be more fun.

    I bought myself an electric bike a couple of years ago, but have used it perhaps 3 times. Because of the batteries, it’s too heavy-it doesn’t go up hills-the battery is heavy to lug upstairs to recharge- you have to be careful not to leave it out in the rain.

    I ended up using an everyday bike-just like e1 else I know of in Italy who has bought one of them.
    (also a new battery costs €300 or $400)

  9. Oprah’s big show, with Michelle and President Obama on and then she tells the audience: ‘Look under your seats’ and they all find the O’PUMA Car keys…and now they all have to drive them back home!

    • or “look under your seat” and they find one of the cars there.. it looks like maybe it could fold up pretty easy.

    • lol..i can just see it now.hope she didn’t give the o.s one..they need two each..one for each foot..that.s four right there..

  10. How about a photo of how many people you can get in the ‘O PUMA’ car?

  11. I read years back in a mag (lesbian connection?) that a woman had written into Volvo saying that she didn’t
    like that Volvo’s car little front piece on grill (can’t think of name for that) was the symbol for the male sex– the circle with the arrow. A Volvo rep wrote her back that it was the sign of Ares and that in an accident, it would be the first thing to get demolished. I thought that was pretty funny. (in auto related humor category)

  12. It’s cute but impractical. When I was a kid, every blue moon my mom would give me some money to ride the little car in front of the grocery store. Totally reminds me of that. Sigh ~

  13. I don’t know, I can see it’s not a perfect answer, but it still looks like it would be fun to drive and would also help with some of the city traffic congestion (but PUMA versus bus would be ugly).

    When I used to work in a small city, most days it was too much trouble to drive anyplace for lunch and finding a parking space for happy hour was a pain too. We used to have parking lots and garages that were 15 to 20 minutes away from our buildings (those of us who were too cheap to pay the big bucks for premium parking), and it would have been nice to be able to drive one of those PUMAs (of course, walking was healthy for us).

    I wonder if companies, parking garages and/or cities could rent these out for commuters/vacationers to use while in the city (obviously, not that many people could use them for their full commutes). They would be especially fun in any area closed off to through traffic.

    Anyway, for my current rural/suburban lifestyle, I would have no use for one. We have a hard time fitting everything we need into our van, and many of the speed limits on our country roads are 50 mph and above.

    • (but PUMA versus bus would be ugly).

      Ouch!

    • Check out the Smart Car. It’s a little bigger, safer and has all those features of windows, glove box etc. GM, as usual, is a day late and several $$$ short.

    • Well, maybe there will special traffic lanes for buses and other large vehicles when small cars like this become the norm. Like many places have special bicycle lanes now.

      • Many cities are somewhat limited in their ability to create extra lanes just because the existing lanes, especially in the older cities, are already too small. As I said previously, it would seem to work really well in any areas closed off to traffic.

        It might require a little extra planning and thought, but these types of vehicles do seem to be a good idea with some notable limitations. (I think at least one of the linked articles indicates that eventually GM would like to fully enclose them.)

  14. OT question for dakinikat, if she’s around. I am going to play devil’s advocate and accept for argument’s sake the premise that the banksters are correct in their underlying assumptions. I am a financial rube, so bear with me and let me see if I can explain this adequately:

    If, as Gethner and the banksters claim, the big problem is that all those toxic assets are vastly undervalued, then why is propping up their value on the banking end the only solution?

    Their argument is that the underlying mortgages really are worth MUCH more than the market will currently bear, and if we just propped them up long enough, they would come into their “true” value over time, right?

    So if that’s the case, then why not take all those loans, and refinance them at a fixed low interest rate, and extend the terms to 40 years? It would achieve what they SAY their objective is: turning bad assets on their balance sheets to “good” assets, by stretching out the time over which they expect to see an eventual return.

    I of course don’t really believe their underlying assumption about those assets, but even if it’s true, I can’t see where propping up asset values on the homeowner end would not be JUST as, if not more effective than propping them up on the bank end. They have proposed allowing private/public partnerships where private parties are subsidized to buy up the loans. So why not offer that SAME sweet deal to the homeowners themselves, to buy up their OWN loan?

    Both approaches would have essentially the same effect, if that’s really what their goal is. The fact that they are pushing the one solution while ignoring the other makes it pretty blatantly obvious that propping up the value of the assets temporarily, until they “grow into their true value” is not really their primary goal.

    Those more versed in economics than I please tell me where I am wrong.

    • Well, it depends on what you’re looking at in terms of the Assets. If you’re talking a mortgage backed bond, then chances are that over 80% of the loans in that bond are good and paying and are paying at rates that are higher than 4%, so if you dropped all the loans in that bond to 4% than it would make the 80% worthless and probably wouldn’t save that many of the 20% because those folks are probably either not credit worthy or don’t have the income to support the house, so it’s better for the bank to take the house rather than renegotiate the loan unless the house is in one of a few handful of states like CA or AZ.

      • Okay, that part makes sense. Thanks. I’m spending lots of time trying to read up and wrap my head around this mess, and I don’t take anything the “experts” say at face value.

        But your response leads to a second question. If 80% of the assets are good, and only 20% bad, then how bad would it really be to let the banks realize their losses on at least SOME of those bad assets? Is is going to crash our entire system if we let 5% go bad? 10%?

        See, this is what I don’t get. If it’s gargantuan, and they are massively insolvent across the board, then say so. If it is only a smaller percentage of bad assets, then say so.

        What I’m seeing so far is that they say the one when arguing why “something must be done, because it’s doooooomsday!”, then say the other (well, most of them are probably good) when arguing against any other solutions.

        • The problem is that the banks underestimated their potential loan losses. 20% bad was more than they planned for so when realized, it will put their capital levels below legal amounts. At that point, the FDIC and FED take control of them. That’s why they’re holding on to all the money they are getting from the TARP.

          Banks tend to hold as little liquidity as they can get away with because it brings them no income, and they make income from arbitrage, borrowing at lower rates than the loan out. That’s a very fragile situation and if anything unexpected happens, it can knock them down very quickly.

          • So how much of a loss did they “plan for”? Any at all? And how much loss can they take, in reality? And why not make them take that amount of loss?

      • Well, the loan loss reserves would depend on the bank’s history and what type of assets it has so that’s difficult to say on an aggregate basis. Loan loss reserves are higher on commercial loans and for credit cards usually compared to say, house loans. Since they are prepared to swallow whatever level, they’d have already done that. It also depends on their asset mix, are they highly invested in credit card debt? If so, has that default gone up and by how much ? That’s one of the reasons we’re seeing rates go up on everyone and credit lines being cut. They’re experiencing greater losses and their expecting that to continue for awhile so their trying to increase their incomes from those assets.

  15. The Obamobile has very limited utility. Meter readers, meter maids, community policing, maybe. It will never be primary tranportation for anyone.

    Why can we have the EV1 back? Is GM (some word other than retarded, that means essentially the same thing as retarded, because I don’t want to insult retarded people )?

    • Cops already use those cool people movers, you know the ones they stand on and can probably jump off of in a half a second. I can’t remember what they’re called, but I’ve seen others using them on walking paths in the city.

    • Maybe the thingie is just step one on the way to bringing in the rickshaw so we can all be gainfully employed. Now with a rickshaw (sp), you get no emissions, and people have a wonderful opportunity to get buff.

    • You know that Limbaugh is having a field day with this. He is turning it into a “Green Is Stupid” object of ridicule. How come only the ridiculous impractical ideas ever get out of the planning stages? It’s almost as if “they” don’t want alternatives fueled vehicles to succeed. HA! I made myself laugh. Can’t we demand and EV2 family car and EU1 electric SUV? We will soon own GM, they can’t continue to suppress technology if we own them right?

      • what do you mean “we”? heh, heh. the gubment?
        That “Who Killed the Electric Car” documentary was really good. Those cars seemed viable and had a market, but they were shelved. Green isn’t stupid, but GM sure seems to be.

        • Who Killed The Electric Car?

          Documentary about GM killing of the electric car. It has been here since ’96 but they killed it off.
          …..
          GM Killed The Electric Car, the same people asking for more BailOut money without any formal plan for money economy based plan on improving their cars to be more efficient, so they give us the Segway with two seats????????? Oh, my!

          • I am not a Limbaugh Person…

          • Right, so GM tanks the electric car which could have been profitable for them; continued building gas guzzling horrors; now cries out for help as though they had nothing to do with poor sales; and then gives us the scooter-mobile? This reminds me of when the Japanesse automakers ruled supreme by bringing us smaller, fuel efficient cars. GM’s reaction? Did they innovate? Or did they ask for bail out money. Seems to me our industires never tire of yapping about free enterprise and then jump in line to get bailed out.
            Hell, why don’t you actually be innovative and intelligent GM, you nitwits?

          • I read somewhere…. that the amount of electricity needed to charge the batteries would be worse on the environment than the gas engine. I doubt that somehow – but I wonder if anyone has any knowledge of that. Too much of our electricity comes from coal-fired plants…..

  16. Sorry, off topic, but Washington’s Blog has a great complilation of financial crisis quotes:

    http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/

    “In case you missed them, here are some of the best quotes from the last few weeks on the financial crisis:

    “The way Tim Geithner has structured the banking plan, the Obama Administration will, sooner or later, almost certainly be facing another AIG bonuses-type of outrage.”

    “Worsening economic figures are being used to confirm that more bailouts are needed rather than that previous ones might be failing. The logic is much like medieval blood letting: The patient died because we didn’d erain Enough of kis blood.”

    Senior S&L Regulator Says Government Engaging in Massive Cover-Up of Economic Crisis: “The entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts”

    Paul Krugman: “These days America is looking like the Bernie Madoff of economies: For many years it was held in respect, even awe, but it turns out to have been a fraud all along”

    Congress Grayson: “Stop stealing our money”

    Economist: “What we have is something perilously close to a dictatorship of the Fed and the Treasury, acting in the interests of Wall Street”

    “The real AIG scandal is that the company’s trading partners are getting fully paid rather than taking a haircut.”

    Former AIG chief: Government used AIG “to funnel money to other institutions, including foreign banks”

    Analyst: “Technically, the U.S. is already bankrupt because it has a debt that is almost four times the size of its economy””

    See the blog for even more.

  17. Man, that thing is strange. It looks kind of like those electric scooters for old people who can’t get around anymore.

    • Oh no, your description just made me think of those hover chairs they used in Wall.e.

      • Don’t get me started on those electric wheelchair and scooter companies.

        They are indirectly killing people. No, I am not overstating it, they are KILLING people.

        • Are we essentially talking about what happened to the people in Wall.E? That the lack of exercise caused them to become overweight, loose muscle mass, mobility and coordination?

          • Actually, maybe that’s why we see all those commercials for them telling everyone that the government will reimburse them for the cost. What’s a few thousand for a scooter in comparison to the medical care costs associated with an extra 5 or 10 years of life.

          • Yep. I have personally seen patients die because they got so hustled by those companies, and told they “medically needed” one. I have sat with my husband (he’s a doc, I’m a nurse) and pleaded with our arthritis patients, elderly patients, heart patients, diabetic patients, etc to NOT get one of those things.

            Some of them he told, “I’m telling you, if you get that thing, you will be dead within a year. i know that moving around your house on your own, with a manual chair or a walker, is much harder. But it is the ONE THING that is keeping you alive. It keeps your circulation going, your muscles from complete atrophy, your lung function from deteriorating further. For someone with your conditions, when you stop moving, you die.

            I can’t tell the the number of times he was sadly right. Some were dead faster than a year.

          • WMCB … have you seen WALL.E? Perhaps if some of these people watched the movie with their grandchildren, they would get it (that’s not the point of the movie, but it does become obvious by the end that the people movers have been harmful to those that use them …. they have tiny bones, excessive body fat, and aren’t even able to walk without them).

          • Yes, I’ve seen the movie. It’s a pretty good example.

  18. French egg-shaped buggy could spell the end of the humble British postman on his bike

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1168292/French-egg-shaped-buggy-spell-end-humble-British-postman-bike.html

    ….
    I like the French Buggy better, it has doors and people will see you on the road…looks safer.

    • I like that one. Red makes it look pretty. It even has spacy for the mail.

      Wouldn’t it be cool if they made cars like those we see in sci-fi moves. KITT in Knight rider or the car used in Total Recall or the car that would change color(forgot which movie it was)

    • How come they are using it to replace bicycles though? That wouldn’t seem to provide for any energy savings, and it’s taking away another job that provides for any type of exercise or health benefits (do they want us all sitting on our butts … a new plan to kill us off early so long term health care doesn’t bankrupt our governments).

      • They are going to travel in twos and one guy walks then they alternate. So, lots of exercise, but its cold over there and they will keep warm. I think it would be a good little car for people like me that just putter around locally. Although I am starting my walks again and just put together a grannie grocery cart to go get the vegetables at the local shop.

    • The doors are an extra cost option and it costs as much as a normal car. Doesn’t seem a bargain.

  19. Today’s FT has an article from Profs Kotlikoff (Boston U) and Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia U) that says:

    “The Geithner-and Summers Plan (GASP) to buy toxic assets from the banks is rightly scorned as an unnecessary give-away by virtually every independent economist who has looked at it. Its only friends are the Wall Street firms it is designed to bail out.” And,

    “The situation is even worse than it looks, however, since the Gasp can be gamed by the banks that own the toxic asssets to boost the purchase prices for their bad assets even higher than has been suggested to date.”

    I understand NONE of it, but it seems GASP is not GOOD.

    • With a name like “GASP” was there ever a chance.

      Economy, take a GASP, it’ll be your last.

      • I think that name is a joke (not sure, but I don’t think the plan is actually called the Geithner and Summers plan … that sounds like two playwrights).

        • It’s amazing how they continue to forget Obama. Why isn’t it called the Geithner and Obama plan. He is the boss, isn’t he?

          • Geithner Obama Plan? They don’t call it that because it would cut too close to the truth of him being GW2, by calling it GOP.

  20. GASP, I love acronyms. They are a little like a haiku sometimes.

  21. Screw Obama and his “new” America. DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW, and leave my car the hell alone. Freaks.

    • Actually, the one part of the Republican budget I liked was the idea to tap our domestic fields, and set aside 1/3 of that profit to be used to develop cleaner independent energy. (You’d have to watchdog that carefully and make sure it was DONE, though!)

      We are doing something similar in Texas, and it’s working pretty well. We have a larger percentage of our electricity now produced by wind farms than any state in the union, and it’s still growing.

    • DHDN was actually a really catchy song. Could have won a CMA with that one.

    • Um…Mark. That’s isn’t the topic of this post. You sound a bit trollish to me, but perhaps it’s just a “hit and run” comment.

    • Simmer down Mark. We are not O fans here…but we do support a sustainable culture.

  22. Can I go OT for a second to post the most ridiculous headline of the week? Remember Harold and Kumar? Meet our new White House “liaison”:

    http://defamer.gawker.com/5202193/mr-kumar-goes-to-washington

  23. So where do I put the groceries? Or my pocketbook come to think of it. Looks like something I could pick up and carry under my arm.

    • Or, what about the 1.5 offspring (or 3 or 4)? It has obvious limitations. Perhaps it could be redesigned for use as an extremely mobile golf cart.

      • Yeah, that too. Even regular cars no longer work for families who have more than 2 kids. We have 3 boys and I am having to shop for a (heavens to Betsy!) MINIVAN because the backseat of our Jetta is so tight with the 2 carseats that my 9 year old cannot sit back there and still get his own seatbelt on. Aargh. 3 kids! It’s not like we’re the Gosselins — sheesh.

        • It’s not that bad. I’ve been driving a minivan for over 6 years now. We didn’t start our family until we were in our thirties and ended up having three children in under 5 years. I had two in carseats and one in a booster, so a minivan or a huge gas guzzling SUV were just about my only options.

          The vans may have changed in the past 7 years, but one of the things to look out for are good back up lights, and turning radius/general maneuverability. We bought a Chrysler because it was the only all wheel drive option we could afford, and the backup lights are awful (we absolutely needed all wheel drive where we used to live) and it’s difficult to park (I have an easier time parking my husband’s extended cab short bed pick-up).

          • Oh, and I haven’t looked, but if they have one, an SUV hybrid with an extra row would be great. My van was costing about $60 to fill up over the summer.

          • Good advice! There is NO SUV hybrid in our future (they are ridiculously expensive) — my husband is a nice guy but makes zero financial contribution, and I’ve got a laser-like focus right now on building a one-year emergency fund so I can quit my second job without having a nervous breakdown from the financial worry. (I’m a little over 1/3 of the way there, yay!) I’m keeping my eye on Craigslist for something reliable and affordable and hopefully under 50K miles.

    • I have LONG said that if more women designed cars, then more cars would have a place to put our damned purses. I am *sick* of having change, house keys, prescription bottles, Kleenex, and lipstick fly all over the car every time I take a damned right turn.

      I need to bring this up with my sister-in-law, who is an engineer at Peugeot. Not that her input will help us Americans…

      • My Nissan has the usual plastic oversized map pocket/cubby on the drivers door. But it has this neat feature that it “pops out” and expands. My purse fits in there really well, and stays readily accessible (but I do tend to carry fairly small purses, not the giant ones.)

        • What a great feature! I’ll bet a lady had something to do with that. : ) I have actually stopped carrying purses entirely (I shove my drivers license, debit card, and any other cards, like Costco cards or whatever, I need into my pocket instead) because I am sick of picking purse detritus off the car floor, AND I don’t have enough hands to shepherd two toddlers and hold onto a purse at the same time.

    • I think it’s the “city use” part that makes it impractical. Suburban, campus, and other lighter traffic, yet population dense locations might make more sense.

      • I actually see these, like the Segway, mostly being used on big movie lots (seriously) and possibly giganto corporate campuses (Microsoft, Nike, places like that). And maybe Coto de Caza-style gated subdivisions in lieu of golf carts. Are these things even less expensive than golf carts?

    • Where do I put the groceries, the 3 kids, the two dogs, and the carseat for the grandbaby? Because I am often carting them all around, picking up and dropping off and getting groceries on the way.

      • Would love to see a video of that feat of you all getting into and out of the car! Would be worth whatever it cost.

  24. Those small Smart cars have been on the streets of London and Europe for the last 3 or 4 years—maybe more—also in Canada. They were not approved for sale in the US until last year. I think you can get up to 60 mpg with them. That PUMA prototype looks to me like a pure pr move on the One. It will be interesting to see if he goes for it.

    I think we should be looking more at the energy resources we have here. Natural gas is a fossil fuel but it is pretty clean burning and we have a huge supply of it. I know coal has a huge downside but again we have a huge supply and we could surely solve the carbon problem that goes with it. If CA were to allow drilling off its coast and took the position AL does that natural resources belong to the people and can not be privately held, the depletion taxes on such a resource would more than finance this state in perpetuity. But it is almost impossible to have an intelligent dialogue on such issues because the whole energy thing has been hyped to hell.

    We also have huge potential in wind and solar. But I can tell you since I live near the wind generators, that wind energy is not a pretty site and it is noisy when you get hundreds of wind turbines spinning all at once. So energy resources all have some problems. I have some friends who are real planet protector mimalists—no vehicles, travel only in public transportation or on a bicycle, will go by train but not air, grow their own food organically, shop only at thrift stores yada, yada. I love them but I would not adopt that lifestyle, nor would most people I know. I too liked part of the Repub. plan—all alternatives and do what we can to minimize our energy use without destroying our lives. The ideologues on either side of green are the real danger to the planet.

    • I saw an article earlier today that said there was some type of breakthrough on the process of tuning coal into liquefied fuel (or gas), but that the environmentalists are against it because they don’t want to use fossil fuels (obviously, none of us support killing our selves with exhaust fumes, but we seem to need to do something until the greener energy sources are more viable).

      • http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/03/coaltoliquids.html

        “Electric cars have been getting a lot of buzz lately, but a more immediately viable transportation fuel of the future could be liquid derived from coal. Scientists have devised a new way to transform coal into gas for your car using far less energy than the current process. The advance makes scaling up the environmentally unfriendly fuel more economical than greener alternatives.

        If oil prices rise again, adoption of the new coal-to-liquid technology, reported this week in Science, could undercut adoption of electric vehicles or next-generation biofuels. And that’s bad news for the fight against climate change.”

    • Chevrolet make a GPL car in Europe (liquified gas) called the Chevrolet matiz.
      Italians also use natural gas powered cars. These are slow up hills so then they switch to gasoline. (both systems in one car) Or they switch if they run out of methane gas, because there are fewer distributors around.

  25. Hi Pat, may I suggest a book, that I think you might like for your Bookclub? I loved it reading it years ago.
    It is one of those books, you’re better off not knowing anything about beforehand. So my advise would be to stay away from the flap, backcover or whatever :-)

    http://www.amazon.com/Priority-Iselin-C-Hermann/product-reviews/0802138039/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

    • That didn’t seem to work, so:
      Title: Priority (Prioritaire)
      The author is Iselin C. Hermann
      Translation by G. Forester

      Amazon.com has it

      • Thanks, Pips. I am going to look it up as one of our criteria is that one of the members has to have at least read the book before offering it up for consideration.

        I will take a “peek”. Shhhhhhh!

  26. I have the Honda Odyssey Touring model and I love it. It holds everything and everybody; it holds camping gear, up to 3 bicycles and it is comfy. I can actually drive thru LA now free of panic using the GPS system. And it gets 28 mpg—not terrific but not too bad. I have always thought that people were unfair to the SUV and minivan soccer moms. If you have 6 kids in the vehicle and all their junk, the cost per person, even with high gas mileage is not all that out of whack. I am not trying to bring back the SUV but I am saying that if you look at American family life, the small sedan is not going to do it. And unlike Europe, we do not have readily available public alternatives. And unlike Europe, we have miles to go usually to get anywhere. (Well at least out here in the West.)

    • If we got smaller vehicles, we would need to use two to transport the entire family, which obviously would be counter productive. Plus, with my van I’m able to car pool with other moms. I do, however, want to eventually move to something more fuel efficient, but can’t afford to right now.

    • Not to mention the fact that in most of the cities I have lived in the last decade or so, the SCHOOL BUS seems to be a thing of the past. When did it become the new rule that the wimminz were supposed to spend all day ferrying the kiddles back and forth to public school?

      • Of course, in my day we walked to school, uphill, both ways, barefoot in the snow. : )

  27. As a teenager I had one of these

    http://www.velosolexamerica.com/

    Loooved it! And it was such a relief from the bicycle. Today I’m back to the bike and living in a completely flat city, so …
    Well I still wouldn’t mind a Velo Solex again!

    • Yup, I remember the back holding things or your friend and the sides were great too for carrying things like groceries. People don’t remember when the market could be a mile or more away and there were no mini marts either. Life is rough for these young ones. :-0

  28. If you hated the PUMA car, you’re gonna really love the crazy UNO electric unicycle which goes 25 mph. :-)

    http://www.goodcleantech.com/2008/04/uno_crazy_electric_unicycle_mo.php

    • OH.My.God. – Is that for real? Wow!

    • You know, it’s not a love/hate thing, it’s a practicality and safety thing for me. I’m also concerned that the costs involved with retro-fitting society for a whole new embrace of energy sources might be (horrors) politically motivated, i.e., sponsored by nuclear and electricity industries and not so ecologically pure environmental concerns.

      • Cinie, Something tells me we’re pretty damn close to, if not actually on, the same page here. :-)

        • Remember this?

          http://www.newsweek.com/id/138519

          “Axelrod says there are still huge differences between him and top McCain advisers, including the fact that he doesn’t work in D.C. But his corporate clients do have business in the capital. One of them, Exelon, lobbied Obama two years ago on a nuclear bill; the firm’s executives and employees have also been a top source of cash for Obama’s campaign, contributing $236,211. Axelrod says he’s never talked to Obama about Exelon matters. “I’m not going to public officials with bundles of money on behalf of a corporate client,” Axelrod says.

          Commonwealth Edison (Chicago) = Exelon

          http://www.exeloncorp.com/ourcompanies/comed/

          • Axelrod wouldn’t need to talk to Obama about it, because he’s probably has input over what’s input into the teleprompter (why bother explaining or having a discussion when it’s so much easier to just upload the appropriate language to the prompter).

          • You sure don’t need “lobbyists” when you own the President and his brain.

          • That is unforgettable. One of many I’m sure.

    • I think that’s only intended for use by clowns.

  29. Very nice cheap Fiat runabout. Over 60mpg, easy to drive. Friends who have bought one over here, don’t look back. Good for kids too, as it has rear doors.

    http://www.topgear.com/uk/fiat/panda

    Another goodie is the Peugeot 107.

    (Smart cars are fine but they only hold 2 people)

  30. This could make me happy, happy! In this exact same colour. Swoon.

    http://www.volkswagen.dk/vw/personbiler/Eos/

  31. The next thing you know, they’ll say you can fold it up and take it with you on the plane.

  32. Forgive my male insensitivity but I maintain that a woman’s entire car is a big purse with wheels. I know that certainly true of my girlfriends car.

    Anyway, we can not let GM of the hook with this ridiculous little toy car.

    They have designs for a practical electric car that goes faster that 35 MPH and is highway ready.

    Is this what the fired Wagonner for? This ugly little Obamobile!

    God why do we tolerate these insults!

    • ” … a woman’s entire car is a big purse with wheels.” Oh, Ron4Hills, I cannot stop laughing!

    • I really think they let Wagonner go because he was popular with the rank and file employees, including the union. He was a 30 year veteran of GM and, like VP Bob Lutz, knew something about the car business.

      It takes 5 years at minimum to bring a new car to production. When the price of gas jumps in months, they’re screwed. Turning a company like GM is a decade(s) long process.

      Now they’ve got a fucking investment banker in charge. Are we happy yet?

    • I know one thing. I would never try to drive that thing in Boston traffic! Can you imagine getting rear-ended in that “car” sitting in a traffic jam? You’d be flat as a pancake. Also people could throw things at you from other cars (and here they would). And a 35mph, you wouldn’t be able to go on most of the parkways around here where people do 50 or more. Even on roads where there is a 30mph speed limit, most people go faster.

      • The one thing in Boston I never really caught on to was exactly what a blinking green light was for. I wasn’t sure if it meant you could turn left or that the t was coming (actually, the t and road intersections were intimidating to me, perhaps because I didn’t drive there that often).

        The more I think about it, these vehicles would only be useful where there is no car/truck/bus traffic. Perhaps a large campus (but it’s better for people to walk), or a section of the city that’s closed off to traffic.

        • Blinking green light? That’s a new one on me. I’ve never seen one of those.

          • Okay, it’s going back a number of years ago. I’m originally from Connecticut and would drive into Boston on occasion. I thought I remembered a blinking green light at some intersections, but perhaps I have that confused with something else (children can do that to you … I have some concerns about not being as sharp as I need to be when I eventually transition back into the workforce …. that is, assuming there is a workforce to transition into).

  33. This Segway/PUMA is much like the original Segway. It’s cool little invention without a real practical application. They more or less had to invention niche applications for the Segway. It was never going have mass transit applications. Neither is the PUMA.

    This whole liquified coal thing is not about anything but making sure that people continue to at t he Texaco station every few days. Anything that interferes with that is going to be sabotaged.

  34. This little car looks like a unmanned rickshaw. It’s kinda cute, but I dunno…

    I’ve owned just one car in my life – a 1980 Mazda RX7 (named it “Rex”), which I sold over 10 yrs ago. We are a no-car family, with my husband licenced only to drive motorcycles (you wouldn’t believe what we’ve transported on his bikes when necessary).

  35. O/T but this is funny, h/t LD at noquarter:

    http://www.markfiore.com/zombie_bank_0

  36. well all sorry to have been so absent but I have had awful car problems and am forced to drive a “loaner” which is nothing but a big billboard for my mechanics shop….but I had to have a care becuase its tuesday night which we all know is….

    “Steaknight with the Obots”

    Really its become steaknight with my friends and to Obots….seems in my crowd the koolaid is wearing off!

    wish me luck!

  37. Ron4hills:

    It’s a cool little invention without a real practical application. They more or less had to invent a niche….

    Isn’t this just a perfect description of Obama?

  38. NEW Thread UP

  39. Funny how they picked that name for this little thing — hey, where’s that logo?

    It’s the perfect vehicle for it. It’s so much like him, no?

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