Tag Archives: gm

Are You a Pack Rat?

I’ve noticed lately that I seem to save things that most people would simply throw out. I have software that dates back so far, it wouldn’t even install on any computers I currently own. Seriously – some of it is that old! I have cables and cords that won’t fit any plugs. I have clothing that went out of style more than a decade ago. It’s time to face it… I am a pack rat.

However, I just can’t pitch this stuff. There are people who don’t have clothing that I could donate mine to. There are people who have and use older computers, who may be able to use this software. Heck, there might even be someone – some where – who can use some of these damn cords that are lying around!!

My point is, if you’re a pack rat it’s time to clean out. But don’t just throw it all away, guys. Take time to figure out who may really need what it is you no longer want/wear/need. You may just make a big difference in someone’s life, by taking a few moments to donate what you need to get rid of, anyway.

I went through a lot of things today, and wore myself out. I had to take a sanity break to check out what’s going on in our community. It’s a darn good thing I did, or you might have missed out on some of it yourself!

Our downloads team has been working very hard to keep updating the new and hot apps that are available. I hope you’re taking advantage of the savings they’ve found!

Also – the holidays are right around the corner. Our coupon guru is hard at work as well, making sure he’s getting the best and biggest coupons there are! Keep the coupons page bookmarked.. you’ll definitely want to check there often during the next few months!

Is the American Auto Industry Dead?

As noted in an email to me this morning, GM has asked Congress for a short-term emergency aid package to help them survive the credit crunch and come out stronger on the other side. This has caused an intense public debate with media on both sides weighing in on the merits of federal aid for Detroit.

There’s a poll, released today, that explores what the American public thinks about this issue. According to the poll, the idea of federal aid has broad-based support: a majority of adults agree that the government should provide loans to the auto industry. They believe that the automakers will face bankruptcy without federal aid, that aid to automakers is viewed as just as important or more important than aid to the financial sector, and that the majority of people view a Big Three failure as a trigger for economic depression.

Of course, I do ask that you consider the source of the poll (Peter D. Hart Research Associates).

“Do you believe that the government should or should not provide loans to America’s automakers so they have the money to manufacture vehicles?” 55% agreed.

“President-elect Barack Obama has stated that one of his first economic priorities as president is to make sure that the American automobile industry continues to be able to operate, and he favors an economic assistance program to help them. Do agree or disagree with him?” 64% agreed.

“Do you believe that America’s automakers will face bankruptcy without government loans?” 60% agreed.

“The federal government has recently provided financial aid to the insurance and banking industries to make sure that these industries do not fail. Do you feel that providing financial aid to ensure that the U.S. auto industry does not fail is more important, just as important, or less important?” 55% believe it’s just as important.

“If General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler were to go out of business in the next few months, how likely do you think this would be to trigger an economic depression in the U.S.–extremely likely, very likely, somewhat likely, not likely, or not at all likely?” 33% say extremely, 27% say very, and 29% say somewhat.

“If you learned three to five years from now that America’s automakers had successfully weathered the current economic challenges and emerged as leaders in the worldwide automobile industry, how important would that be to America–extremely important, very important, somewhat important, not important, or not at all important?” 44% said extremely, 38% said very.

In my life, I’ve owned one American car – a 1991 Ford Escort. It served me well enough throughout my college years, but definitely had its fair share of problems and ultimately died. I moved on to a Nissan, a Toyota, and have been driving Acura automobiles for the past few years. It’s not like I don’t consider American cars when it comes to getting a new one, I just… find better options, prices, ratings in International vehicles.

GM Didn't Kill It: The Future of the Electric Car

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Back around 1997, General Motors introduced the EV1. The EV1 was a marvel of engineering, absolutely the best electric vehicle anyone had ever seen. It held out the promise that soon electric cars, charged from the grid with wind and solar energy could replace the traditional internal-combustion vehicle. Battery technology at the time was nowhere near ready to replace the piston-powered engine. The early car’s lead-acid batteries couldn’t supply the range or durability required by the mass market. The car itself was a tiny, super-light two-seater, not exactly what American consumers were looking for. And the EV1 was hugely expensive to build, which was why GM’s execs terminated the program. This is how they became known as the company that “killed the electric car.”

Fast-forward to summer of 2008. GM has unveiled the very real Chevy Volt, a Lithium Ion powered car. Mike Davidson of Newsvine asked Bob Lutz if GM is looking at various ways to recharge the new Volt batteries. With ever-increasing electricity costs, even homes are being built with more solar-powered capabilities to save people money. How then, will the Volt be able to save money and power?

Bob was quick to assuage fears in this capacity. The Volt may be programmed with a local schedule of when power is cheapest. The car’s computer would know that, thereby only charging the car during off-peak times and costs. It wouldn’t matter if you leave your car plugged in all day long. The car would only charge itself during those cheaper times.

Lutz also stated that during the first full year of production in 2011, they are realistically planning to manufacture about 10,000 Volts. In the next year, they’ll be up to 60,000. Demand will obviously drive how much manufacturing is done. Of course, you always have to worry about any production problems. You could have supply problems.

Bob has also stated that the pricing for the Volt is going to be around $40,000.00. Even with such a high price tag, the demand is extremely high. People are chomping at the bit wanting this car.

Another question raised dealt with service for the Volts at local dealerships once they hit the market. Will staff be trained properly to work on these completely different cars? Will the quality of the Volt’s be maintained in a way that leads to a happy customer experience? Unfortunately, GM only has a modest amount of control at the retail level. They cannot force a dealership to train their employees for anything specific. They have tried, and failed, in the past to create a standardized method of training and customer service. The dealers have ultimate control over what goes on in their company. Bob pointed out that this is an industry-wide problem, though, not specific to GM.

GM didn’t kill the future of the electric car. They just put it off a little bit.

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Car Batteries: Acid-Lead vs. Lithium Ion

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Bob Lutz, GM Vice Chairman of Global Product Development, recently discussed different types of batteries and the forecast for each during a round table interview. Which is better? What is more cost-efficient? Let’s start by defining the two types of batteries in question.

Lithium Ion batteries are a type of rechargeable battery in which a lithium ion moves between the anode and cathode. The lithium ion moves from the anode to the cathode during discharge and from the cathode to the anode when charging. Lithium ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronics

Lead-Acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable battery. Despite having the second lowest energy-to-weight ratio and a correspondingly low energy-to-volume ratio, their ability to supply high surge currents means that the cells maintain a relatively large power-to-weight ratio. These features, along with their low cost, make them attractive for use in cars, to provide the high current required by automobile starter motors.

Bob stated that 18 months ago when GM announced the new Volt, there were many nay-sayers. Those people said that GM were crazy, and said that using Lithium Ion would never work. Yet, these same people and companies have announced that they are now working on the very same things.

All the technology for the car is here today, except for the battery pack. It will use lithium-ion (li-ion) technology. Current hybrids use nickel-metal hydride (NiMh), which carry much less energy per unit weight. The li-ion cell technology exists but putting it into tested and safe packs is what will take some time. There are companies working with GM and trying to get these Li-ion batteries and their packs ready for automotive use.

As the technology proliferates across the industry, the price will come down. How many labor hours do you think goes into making just one of these kinds of batteries? I bet you’re surprised to find out that the entire process is so automated, it only take four minutes’ worth of ‘man labor’ in order to create each one.

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Franklin Language Translator

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http://live.pirillo.com/ – While in Frankfurt recently, we had an amazing time. The food was great, the people were friendly, and the city was beautiful. However, Ponzi and I neither one speak a lick of German.

We managed to get around by using hand gestures, pointing, smiling a lot, and saying “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” often. I am a coffee fanatic, and there is ONE thing I must have in my coffee… real, heavy cream. When I would ask for it in Germany, they kept bringing me milk or half and half. So, off to Conrad’s we went. This store is kind of like a Best Buy meets Radio Shack. The prices weren’t bad, I suppose. I picked up a handy little Franklin Language Translator. I was able to type in a word or phrase, and instantly translate it into German. Of course, my pronunciation still left a lot to be desired. But overall, it helped Ponzi and I communicate a bit better during our stay.

Even though the word Internet is apparently pronounced the same in every single language I tried… for the most part, this little device works really well.

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World's Sexiest Car Unveiled…? :)

GM unveiled their latest concept car: the GM Opel Flextreme. It’s a very eco-friendly car featuring the flexdoor, flexload, and e-flex systems.

The Corsa Hybrid concept car’s hybrid technology combines the functions of a starter motor and electric generator. Its highly efficient diesel engine is also switched off by the hybrid system when the car is stopped, and restarted when the brake pedal is released. When extra power is required, such as when accelerating or overtaking, the motor provides significantly higher torque. This combination of 1.3-liter diesel engine and electric generator reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The lithium-ion battery provides the necessary electrical power for the belt-alternator starter, and the battery itself is recharged by the concept car’s regenerative braking function: when decelerating, the fuel is shut off and the vehicle’s kinetic energy is transformed into electrical energy.

Check out the footage we’ve uploaded to YouTube:

General Motors Opel Flextreme Concept Car Reveal

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http://live.pirillo.com/ – GM’s Opel Flextreme concept revealed at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show featured flexdoor, flexload, and e-flex systems.

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Travel Gear

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http://live.pirillo.com/ – In a couple of weeks, my wife Ponzi and I are going to Germany. General Motors saw our live stream, and asked us if we would like to stream live from an auto show in Frankfort, Germany. Uhm.. DUH! Stay tuned in September, when we become an International show for awhile!

So many gadgets, so little suitcase space. Ponzi has to have clothes… and shoes… and probably do-dads… and maybe some like whatever that stuff is that women can’t live without! Of course, I have to have my gadgets. How can I stream from Germany without them? Let’s take a look at some of what I keep in my backpack, and the things I’ve had to buy for this trip.

Verbatim’s USB Kit is hands down the best thing I have in my backpack. I mean, look at all this!
There’s a tiny little 4-port USB hub, a USB extender, and even a crossover cable! It all comes in this handy hard case, to make traveling with it even nicer.

Cable. I HATE cables! Look at all these long cables! ARGH! Probably the best invention ever is the retractable cable. Any manufacturer of a portable device who does not make a retractable cable is doing their customers a serious disservice. I have a couple of these floating around, and use them for literally everything I can.

I also have my PSP charging and sync cable. I had to buy this separate from my PSP. Why Sony gives you two separate cables is beyond me. I have this wrapped up nice and neatly, using a small black velcro strap. Too bad I can’t get a retractable one of these!

Then of course, the biggie. Since Germany is on an entirely different electrical system, I bought a Belkin converter. This thing has so many settings, I’m not sure I’ll ever figure them out. I know I’m going to have to hit an electronics store (or an Apple store!) in Frankfurt. Keep your fingers crossed that I can get everything I’ll need to keep all my gadgets working in Germany!

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