Tag: automobiles

Pique the Geek 20100829: Automobiles, Part III. How to Keep Everything Going at Once

We have talked about how engines work in the past couple of installments of this series, and now need to bring together some important engineering factors.  We have talked about intake strokes, compression strokes, and others, but only very superficially touched on how everything comes together.

For an engine to work properly, everything has to be coordinated.  For simplicity, we will consider a conventional four stroke, gasoline powered automobile engine.  Diesel engines are in some aspects simpler, and will be covered concomitantly.

Remember, an engine has to do all of the things about which we have discussed, completely synchronized, and EVERY time.  For an engine rotating at, say, 4000 times per minute, this can be a daunting task.

Manufacturing Tuesday: Week of 1.05.09


It’s the start of the new calendar year, the start of a new Presidential administration (well on the 20th actually), and of course the start of the first business quarter.  We got in some disturbing, ok that’s putting it mildly, some crappy manufacturing news from the gang at ISM.  The steel industry, in hopes of restoring some business, initiates a new campaign. Arizona & Michigan are starting a green jobs plans. All this, but first…

Manufacturing Monday: Week of 12.15.08

My oh my, what an interesting week, and I don’t mean that in a good way.  From our trade deficit to our automakers on the brink of joining our domestic consumer electronics firms, things aren’t looking all that swell.  The latest indicators are showing, at least for November, what has been on everyone’s mind, the economy.  Some are saying, though that things will pick up, that the recession began a year ago and we’ll come through it by 2009.  We’ll see, when the average worker is able to stop worrying not just about making rent or that mortgage payment, but also putting food on the table, then I’ll agree.  Globally, like the United States, things for now look dim.  And like I said, the figures show it…which leads us to the Numbers!

Banks, Cars, Class wars, frustrations, and petty politics

Amazing, simply amazing.  For the past two days I’ve been watching these hearings on the automakers, and find myself more aghast than anything else.  Actually, it’s more than that.  I think I’ve had this almost sickening feeling, a feeling where anger is meshed in with a humiliation and sadness.  It isn’t just the automakers that has been the cause of this, but that they symbolize how far we’ve fallen.

Much Ado about GM, Part 3 of 3

Today we conclude our small series on General Motors.  As you can probably tell by now, I favor helping out the company.  The company has history of market incompetence, it not only failed to meet various customer demands.  Adding to this, it designed its product line in such a way that made it at times more at the mercy of the price of petroleum than anything else.  Saying this, there are reasons to keep GM alive.

Much ado about GM, Part 2 of 3

In our first installment, we introduced you to the current battle for the fate of General Motors. We highlighted why they share some if not all of the blame for their current situation.  We talked about the various sides involved in one way or another with the situation of GM.  Today we tackle the big question, what many deemed “unthinkable” previously, what bankruptcy would mean for General Motors and you.

Manufacturing Monday: Week of 11.10.08

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another installment of Manufacturing Monday. Today we are going to cover something that has been in the news lately, General Motors.  Well to be exact, the potential bankruptcy of GM, and what it could mean to you.  For many, this is a non-issue, who cares about another car company and a failing one at that?  But indeed, it may just be that a collapse of GM could be worse than that of Lehman Brothers and AIG.  Of course we’ll cover, as always, the economic indicators for the past week and what they also mean.  So without further adieu, the Numbers!

The American Automotive Nightmare

When everyone is mad, only madmen are respectable. The sharp collapse of automobile sales in America is supposed to be a dire omen of economic failure, and pressure is mounting on the government to “save” the US auto industry. But on closer inspection, the US auto industry has been encouraging wildly wasteful and environmentally destructive behavior for decades, and “saving” it is the last thing we should do. This industry should be shut down and rebuilt from the ground up. Here is why:

1. Automobiles are ecologically and socially destructive. Producing, fueling, and disposing of them consumes vast amounts of precious resources. Yet their impact on world society has been to spread unsustainable living patterns and isolate individuals from contact with their neighbors.

2. Automobiles have been sold as disposable fashion merchandise, an extremely wasteful practice. There is no reason an automobile cannot be designed to last 20 years, like a refrigerator, stove, or washing machine. (The billionaire founder of IKEA drives a 20 year old Volvo.)

3. Automobiles generate a huge number of deaths and injuries and inflict enormous insurance costs on their owners. Actively selling “high performance” cars and encouraging drivers to drive them as fast as possible contributes to this mayhem.

4. The toxic wastes produced by automobiles are substantial. Discarded tires alone account for a huge problem, since no efficient recycling system has been developed for them. Similarly, vast amounts of plastics and toxic fluids are dumped into the ecosystem because of artificially stimulated junking of cars to permit the frequent replacement that is vital to the current industry model of selling cars as fashion statements.

We need to stop this madness. The world auto industry should be producing only about 1/3 of its current output of cars, and these cars should be engineered to last indefinitely, with a minimal negative environmental impact. GM, Ford, and Chrysler should be shut down, because they are unlikely to reinvent themselves as “green” vehicle manufacturers. New organizations should replace them, and the US government should provide appropriate research and development subsidies to help these newcomers rebuild the US auto industry.

The future of the world automotive industry should be grounded in sustainability, not disposability. We literally cannot afford to keep making and buying cars as we have for the last 60 years.

Manufacturing Monday: The so-called Big Three, and the taxpayers’ money

Greetings folks, the start of new week and thus we kick off another episode of Manufacturing Monday!  Never a dull moment when it comes to covering stuff that either goes into the products you buy, or the impact that that consumption leads to. Now originally, I had these other items on bio-fuels, hydrogen cars, China and oil, and a few other things.  But I see now that my section on the bailout of the US automakers is so big, that the whole thing is too long.  So, if it is OK with you, I will post those items tomorrow.  

Manufacturing Monday: Numbers, Tesla, world trade reversal, and China overtakes US.

Greetings folks, welcome to another edition of Manufacturing Monday.  Sorry about last week, it’s normally my goal to have a new edition out on the first day of the week, but sometimes life can be unpredictable and throw you a curve ball. Well, several interesting things this week ranging from manufacturing activity to California looking to gain Tesla’s plants.  Plus the Financial Times reports on China dethroning the US from it’s Manufacturing title.

Cars Suck

(Cross-posted at My Left Wing.)

I hate cars.  I hate them.  I hate driving them.  I hate being a passenger.  I don’t like crossing the street in front of them.  I don’t like being anywhere near them.

Yet, they are everywhere.  Every single time I step from my apartment, there they are.  Hundreds and hundreds of these steal monstrosities flying around, dominating the cityscape.  According to the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics, every year about 40,000 people die in the US due to auto accidents.



{YIKES!  That’s a scary picture, huh?}