Archive for the ‘SUVs’ Category

The Ink is Red

June 2, 2009

The Ink is Red

However much the reactionaries try to hold back the wheel of history, sooner or later revolution will take place and will inevitably triumph. — Mao Zedong, November 6, 1957

The General Motors Corporation has agreed to sell it’s Hummer division to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd. of the People’s Republic of China. Terms have not been released, but the sale should be closed by the end of September.

Diligence and frugality should be practised in running factories and shops …. — Mao Zedong, 1955

GM filed for bankruptcy protection Monday morning, and needs the money. Essentially, the company has been nationalized, as the U.S. government now owns sixty percent of General Motors. Sichuan Tengzhong, based in Chengdu, is a private corporation.

 Factories can only be built one by one. — Mao Zedong, November 18, 1957

Some GM plants in the U.S. will continue building Hummers — for Sichuan Tengzhong — for a least a year.


Note: Military Humvees are built by AM General, not GM; quotations are from the new Hummer Owner’s Manual; the title of this post alludes to a Chinese folk song that became a patriotic march and then an anthem associated with the Cultural Revolution.

Image (Hum-Mao) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Buddy Lanes

May 22, 2008

Buddy Lanes

This morning National Public Radio aired a story on “slugging,” informal carpools, and NotionsCapital will post about this later. First, though, a few thoughts about the highway feature that makes carpooling more attractive, High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. HOV lanes reward drivers carrying passengers (who might otherwise drive their own cars) by allowing use of the faster, less congested lanes.

The purpose of HOV lanes is reducing traffic congestion. Period. It is not saving polar bears or oil or reducing air pollution or encouraging use of hybrid and electric vehicles. Losing sight of this endangers the whole system. That is why the HOV-2 designation is either an interim measure, a cynical wink at the concept, or a sick joke. Allowing driver-only hybrids in HOV lanes, of course, is an abomination, unworthy of further consideration.


Number FIVE? DC Can Do Better!

May 14, 2008

Number FIVE? DC Can Do Better!

What kind of freakin’ jerks put this Road Rage List together anyway?  A list of the worst road rage cities and DC is only number 5? What’s with that? 

Okay, Miami pulls out in front, claro, and New York if you count taxis, but the Washington area cut off by lousy Boston and Baltimore?  Boston drivers are cream pie since they finished that Big Dig, and Charm City drivers have been soft-shelled ever since Cantown got gentrified.


Cadillac Bob

October 29, 2007

Radio Bob’s Cadillac orbits with Canned Heat

When GM’s ad agency learned that Bob Dylan was putting together an hour of songs about Cadillacs for his XM satellite radio program, “Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour,” it raced into top gear.

There will be glossy magazine ads and TV spots featuring Dylan and the Cadillac Escalade SUV (XM radio is standard, natch), a You-Tube campaign about the making of the TV and magazine shoots and, for all I know, a Facebook video about the making of the You-Tube “Making Of” video.

The Sterno® Corporation is kicking itself. On his program last month Dylan played an hour of songs about drinking Canned HeatTM.


Image by GM, XM Radio, Sterno® and Mike Licht. (Kids, don’t try this at home. Read label before using.  Always use in a well-ventilated place so the flame will blow out.)

HD Radio™, Ford Tough — to Receive

October 5, 2007

HD Radio™ — If sidebands fit. you must transmit . . . a litle bit. 

HD Radio™ will be available in 2008 Fords – a dealer-installed accessory, not a factory-installed option. Translation: expensive.  You can also get an HD Radio™ in your very own 2007, 2006 or 2005 Ford if you drive or tow it to the Ford dealership. 

Here in the Nation’s Capital, public station WAMU is riding on top of the Hybrid-Digital (HD is not “high-definition”) wave with three programming streams. Regular FM transmitter: 50,000 watts. Two HD transmitters: 500 watts each. HD Radio™ is perfect if you drive your Ford on a neighborhood paper route. In the right couple of neighborhoods.

The station says your old TV roof antenna makes a dandy accessory for your new HD Radio™. I guess you could put one on top of your Ford.

 Image by Mike Licht and a famous low-speed racer.

Diet Coke Carbon Footprint

September 28, 2007

Global Warming - I fight it my way

The fight against Global Warming has entered a new phase, and we all must do what we can, whether changing light bulbs, driving hybrid cars or vandalizing SUVs. 

I have taken up a personal crusade to minimize the amount of carbon dioxide that escapes into the atmosphere from my Diet Cokes. 

This may not sound like much, but multiplied by ‘leventy-seven cans a day, it has considerable impact.


Gloss-Over on Rollovers

August 30, 2007

One third of all rollovers are fatal

The 2007 Federal SUV roll-over ratings are ready, just in time for the 2008 model year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested 106 vehicles and not one has a rollover risk less than 10 percent (“five stars”). Last year 48 four-wheelers were rated “four stars,” versus 78 this year – these only have a 10 to 20 percent chance of a rollover. A three-star vehicle has a 20 percent to 30 percent risk.  Isn’t that great? It is, according to NHTSA and the softball AP story by Ken Thomas.

The laws of physics make SUV rollovers inevitable, so manufacturers reduce some risk by installing electronic stability controls. SUV drivers and passengers now rely on imported electronics assembled offshore for any safety improvement.   

Rollovers account for 3 percent of all crashes but more than a third of motorist fatalities.  This glass isn’t half full; it’s half broken.

Strain on the Aging Infrastructure

August 29, 2007

More strain on aging infrastructure

Long before the I-35W Bridge collapsed into the Mississippi on August 1st, we heard lots about America’s Aging Infrastructure.
When it comes to the infrastructure of the human body, we know that nothing shortens longevity like excess weight.

When it comes to our roadways, bridges and highway overpasses, that excess weight has a short name: SUV. These things weigh over 3 tons. If they don’t, owners can’t get their tax breaks.
While not all private vehicles strain infrastructure as much as the 5-ton H1 Hummer, engineers of the past did not anticipate thousands of suburban commuters in Ford Expeditions (unloaded weight: 5420 lbs.).

SUVs are not just a danger on the road; they are a danger to the road.

Maybe there’s obesity surgery for SUVs