Washington, DC, United States
Washington, DC, United States

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an agency of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, part of the Department of Transportation. It describes its mission as "Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes."As part of its activities, NHTSA is charged with writing and enforcing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as well as regulations for motor vehicle theft resistance and fuel economy, the latter under the rubric of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy system. NHTSA also licenses vehicle manufacturers and importers, allows or blocks the import of vehicles and safety-regulated vehicle parts, administers the vehicle identification number system, develops the anthropomorphic dummies used in safety testing, as well as the test protocols themselves, and provides vehicle insurance cost information. The agency has asserted preemptive regulatory authority over greenhouse gas emissions, but this has been disputed by such state regulatory agencies as the California Air Resources Board.Another of NHTSA's major activities is the creation and maintenance of the data files maintained by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis. In particular, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System , has become a resource for traffic safety research not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Research contributions using FARS by researchers from many countries appear in many non-U.S. technical publications, and provide a significant database and knowledge bank on the subject. Even with this database, conclusive analysis of crash causes often remains difficult and controversial, with experts debating the veracity and statistical validity of results. Wikipedia.


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News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2015, file photo, a "Ride the Ducks" amphibious tour bus, right, and a charter bus remain at the scene of a multiple fatality collision on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. With an ability to travel by both land and sea, duck boats have long been tourist attractions for sightseers around the U.S. A spate of deadly accidents has forced safety improvements and has prompted some to call for a total ban on the vehicles. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) BOSTON (AP) — With their festive, party-like ambiance and ability to travel on land and in water, duck boats have long been tourist attractions for sightseers around the U.S. But a string of deadly accidents has left the industry reeling, forced safety improvements and led some advocates to call for a total ban on the vehicles. In Seattle, after five college students were killed in a 2015 duck boat collision with a bus, the company pulled half its fleet out of service. In Philadelphia, a duck boat operator suspended its tours indefinitely after three people were killed in two separate crashes. And in Boston, new safety regulations are set to go into effect in April after a duck boat ran over and killed a 28-year-old woman last spring. Boston has a special fondness for duck boats, which have become a mainstay of parades celebrating sports championships. Earlier this month, two dozen duck boats carried the New England Patriots through the streets of Boston for a "rolling rally" to celebrate the team's Super Bowl win. But duck boats have lost some of their appeal in Boston and other places where people have been seriously injured or killed. "We believe that duck boats in their current design should be banned," said Ivan Warmuth, the father of Allison Warmuth, who was killed on April 30, 2016, when a duck boat ran her over on her motor scooter. Duck boats were originally used by the U.S. military in World War II to transport troops and supplies over land and water, most famously during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. They were later modified for use as sightseeing vehicles. There are now about 130 duck boats operating in more than a dozen U.S. cities, including Boston, Seattle, Miami, San Diego, Honolulu and Washington. Critics say the 2½-ton amphibious passenger vehicles are inherently dangerous because their design creates numerous blind spots for drivers, who sit 10 to 12 feet behind the bow, making it difficult to see directly below and in front of them. Allison Warmuth's parents have pushed the industry to adopt new safety measures. They successfully lobbied for a Massachusetts law that requires duck boats to have blind spot cameras and proximity sensors. The new law also requires a second employee — separate from the driver — to narrate the tours. Kevan Moniri, who was on the scooter with Warmuth, recalls seeing the duck boat accelerate behind them when a light turned green, then realizing the driver did not see them. Video examined by the National Transportation Safety Board showed the driver taking his eyes off the road and turning in his seat to point out landmarks during the tour. "I hear again and again from Boston Duck Tours and any of these other companies that safety is their No. 1 priority, and if that's the case, you can't argue that the safest way to operate the vehicles is for the driver to also be giving the tour," Moniri said. Ten weeks after Warmuth was killed, a New Jersey woman was struck and seriously injured by a duck boat at another Boston intersection. Boston Duck Tours chief executive officer Cindy Brown said the company "places a premium on the safety of its passengers" and touted additional cameras, a second person to narrate tours and new back-up sensors. Safety advocates have sought improvements since 1999, when 13 people died after a duck boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas. In the past seven years, a series of accidents have claimed lives, including a 2010 collision between a stalled duck boat in the Delaware River and a tug-boat guided barge, which killed two Hungarian tourists; a 2015 crash that killed a Texas woman as she crossed a Philadelphia street; and the 2015 collision in Seattle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration determined the front axle on the Seattle duck boat broke, causing the driver to lose control. The manufacturer agreed to pay up to $1 million after NHTSA said it violated federal laws when it failed to notify regulators of a safety defect in the axle and did not issue a full recall. The operator of the Philadelphia duck boat tours suspended operations indefinitely in October, citing a 330 percent increase in its insurance premiums. Critics say part of the problem is that a myriad of agencies regulate duck boats, including the U.S. Coast Guard, NHTSA, and cities and states with varying safety requirements.


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, continues to be a problem in Oklahoma, and nationwide. In 2015, 188 people died on Oklahoma roads in alcohol-related accidents, which is up nine percent from 172 in the previous year. For nearly a decade, McIntyre Law has analyzed data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the U.S. Census to determine trends with respect to alcohol-related accidents. Who is responsible for DUI fatalities and crashes? According to the research, males are behind the wheel during a DUI crash almost three-quarters of the time. They also are fatality victims far more often than females, with fatalities for male drivers in DUI crashes at 82 percent. Which Oklahoma counties have the highest incidences of DUI? Tulsa and Oklahoma counties have the greatest number of DUI fatalities in recent years, likely because those counties are most densely populated. Tulsa County totals 213 DUI fatalities from 2007-2015, which Oklahoma County close on its heels with 209 in that time period. During those years, Harmon, Woods, Tillman, Cimarron and Harper counties had the fewest DUI fatalities. Harmon has seen no fatalities in 2007-2015, and the other listed counties each had three. However, if we look at the number of fatalities in proportion to the population, Roger Mills, Pushmataha, Greer and Beaver counties had the highest, with nearly two DUI fatalities for every 1,000 people in 2007-2015. The fewest fatalities by this measure were in Harmon, Cleveland, Jackson and Oklahoma counties. For more information on Oklahoma DUI statistics, please see the entire McIntyre Law 2015 DUI report. As well, visit our Community Resources page for more on distracted driving, teen driving, drowsy driving, motorcycle accident resources and helmet laws, what to do if you’ve been a victim of a dog bite attack, and oil field accidents and injuries. We can also be reached at (877) 917-5250 or http://www.oklahoma-law.com/.


News Article | January 31, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Autonomous Cars - Five Things To Know About Self Driving Cars The 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty truck has passed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) test with flying colors. The car has received a crash test rating of five stars, making it one of the safest models available. Revealed by Ford in September 2016, the F-250 Super Duty with its aluminium body was touted by the company as its "toughest, smartest and most capable" Super Duty ever. "Thanks to its robust design, advanced materials and safety features developed by the Ford truck team, the 2017 model earns a five-star overall vehicle score in the agency's New Car Assessment Program, as well as a five-star rating for frontal driver crash tests. Side crash ratings for front and rear remain five stars," shared Ford. The 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty earned the highest crash rating courtesy its smart engineering. The current NHTSA rating also happens to be Ford's highest in the New Car Assessment Program. The NHTSA tested the 2017 Ford F-250 Crew Cab 4x2 and the Crew Cab 4x4, while the former raked in a five-star rating, the latter notched up an overall rating of four stars. The Crew Cab 4x4 received five stars for the side and frontal crash tests, as well as three stars in the rollover group. In terms of the ratings of both the vehicles as well, the 2017 Ford F-250 bettered the 2016 edition, which had received an overall four-star rating. Ford attributes the best rating possible from the NHTSA to the car's aluminium frame which is military standards and nearly 350 pounds lighter than the predecessor, which boasted a steel frame. The aluminium frame, the company asserts is 95 percent higher-strength steel. It is also nearly 24 times stronger than the steel frame of the 2016 model. The aluminium frame has six cross beams and has been strategically placed by Ford to ensure protection of passengers if there is a crash. This is not the first time a ford vehicle has received a five star overall rating. The company's 2015 model F-150 model also achieved the same distinction. Incidentally, this model also touts an aluminium frame; however, the F-250's frame is said to be more revolutionary when compared to the F-150. While it is true that newer cars perform better given that the testing parameters keep evolving over a period of time, vehicles are engineered by companies keeping in mind the criteria required to pass safety test standards for vehicles. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Autonomous Cars - Five Things To Know About Self Driving Cars There is no evidence of any defects in Tesla's electric vehicles according to U.S. regulators after investigating an incident where a man's Model S vehicle plowed into a semitrailer truck on a Florida highway in May, killing him. Before his death, he had been using Tesla's Autopilot system, a feature wherein the vehicle takes charge, allowing for a true, autonomous driving experience. It's the first death to be associated with autonomous driving software. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday said that it has decided not to command a Tesla vehicle recall after conducting a six-month investigation. When news of the crash first broke, the incident received considerable attention and raised questions about the safety and reliability of Tesla' autonomous driving software. The NHTSA's probe uncovered key facts about the incident. Joshua Brown, 40, a former Navy SEAL from Ohio, did not apply the brakes, and his last action was to set the cruise control at 74 mph less than two minutes pre-collision. The agency said Brown didn't take actions such as braking, steering, or attempting to avoid the truck before the crash. NHTSA's report states that there could be some confusion over who's actually in control of the vehicle at certain times. The agency also said that its no-recall decision was not influenced by improvements to the autonomous software Tesla announced in September. Tesla detailed its plans to enhance Autopilot last year, implementing limitations to driverless rides alongside other features that Elon Musk, the company's CEO, said would have avoided the unfortunate incident. The decision not to recall Tesla vehicles is seen as a boost to automakers planning to push out near-driverless cars on U.S. roads in the next few years. Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation secretary, says that drivers must take their obligations seriously, and automakers must make clear the limitations of semi-autonomous driving systems. "The (auto) industry is going to have to be clear about what the technology does and what it is does not do, and communicate it clearly," he said. After an analysis of Tesla vehicle data, the NHTSA found out that the vehicle crash rate went down 40 percent thanks to the installation of Tesla's Autosteer feature. The NHTSA's probe included several subpoenas and information requests to Tesla, asking to describe how it monitored the incident and the steps it took before introducing the technology, but almost all Tesla's responses were redacted by the NHTSA. In a tweet, Musk regarded the report as "very positive," while citing the NHTSA's analysis that suggests Autopilot crash rate fell 40 percent post-Autosteer installation. Musk said in October that all new Tesla vehicles will come with an $8,000 hardware package by default that'll essentially support autonomous driving. He also said that before this year ends, a Tesla vehicle will traverse a route stretching from Los Angeles to New York without human aid or intervention. Other automakers have said that their autonomous driving capability will be fielded by around 2020, as reported by Reuters. Most recently, Tesla released software update 8.0.2.52.22, which removed Autopilot limits implemented a while back. The update also comes with additional safety controls that reduces chances of fatal incidents. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

GOSHEN, Ind.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Supreme Industries, Inc. (NYSE MKT: STS), a leading manufacturer of specialized commercial vehicles including truck bodies and specialty vehicles, today announced financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year ended December 31, 2016. “We are certainly pleased to report record full-year net income of $19 million, or $1.11 per diluted share, for 2016,” said Mark Weber, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are disappointed in our fourth quarter financial results, however, we had a solid rebound in order activity during the fourth quarter as retail orders increased 11% sequentially from the third quarter and fleet order intake remained strong through January.” “Our order backlog at the end of January 2017 was $115.8 million, up 13.1% or $13.4 million, compared with January of 2016, excluding $1.2 million of Trolley backlog,” Weber added. Net sales in the fourth quarter of 2016 totaled $61.9 million, compared with $67.7 million in the comparable period of 2015. Third quarter retail orders were down quarter-over-quarter, contributing to the 8.6% fourth quarter sales decline. The lower sales volume, coupled with a less profitable product mix, resulted in a gross margin, as a percentage of sales, of 19.9% in the fourth quarter. This compared with 21.7% in the same quarter last year. Operating income was $2.7 million in the quarter, down from $5.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Fourth quarter net income in 2016 totaled $2.0 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, compared with $3.8 million, or $0.22 per diluted share in 2015’s fourth quarter. Full-year 2016 net sales grew 7.4%, to $299.0 million, compared with $278.4 million in 2015. The increase reflects higher year-over-year sales volume of retail work trucks destined for commercial end users. Gross margin, as a percentage of sales, expanded to 22.4% in 2016, up from 19.5% in 2015. The higher year-over-year gross margin was due to a more profitable product and customer mix, as well as volume-related efficiency gains. Operating income grew 49.9% in 2016, reaching $28.9 million, and was up from $19.3 million in 2015. Full-year 2016 net income increased 47.9% to a record of $19.0 million, or $1.11 per diluted share. This was up from net income of $12.9 million, or $0.76 per diluted share, in 2015. At the end of 2016, order backlog was $83.4 million, down from $98.1 million at the end of 2015. Working capital was $58.2 million at the end of 2016, compared with $51.9 million at December 26, 2015. Cash flow from operations improved to $29.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2016 as compared with $9.8 million for the year ended December 26, 2015. The Company ended the year with $35.2 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $7.5 million in total debt. Stockholders’ equity increased to $101.7 million at December 31, 2016, compared with $88.6 million at December 26, 2015, increasing tangible book value per share to $6.02, compared with $5.32 at the end of 2015. A conference call is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. ET, today Feb. 27, 2017, to review the fourth quarter and full-year 2016 results and the information set forth in this press release. To participate in the live call, please dial 888-349-0089 (International: 412-902-4296) 10 minutes before the call begins, or at 8:50 a.m. ET. The conference ID is 10101214. The call also will be streamed live and can be accessed at www.supremecorp.com. Those unable to participate may access a replay of the call, which will be available on Supreme’s website for approximately 30 days. Supreme Industries, Inc. (NYSE MKT: STS), is a nationwide manufacturer of truck bodies and specialty vehicles produced to the specifications of its customers. The Company’s transportation equipment products are used by a wide variety of industrial, commercial and law enforcement customers. News releases and other information on the company are available online at: www.supremecorp.com or www.b2i.us/irpass.asp?BzID=1482&to=ea&s=0 Other than historical facts contained herein, the matters set forth in this news release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act, as amended, and reflect the view of management with respect to future events. When used in this report, words such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "plan" and similar expressions, as they relate to Supreme or its plans or operations, identify forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, and it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from such expectations include, without limitation, an economic slowdown in the specialized vehicle industry, limitations on the availability of chassis on which Supreme’s product is dependent, availability of raw materials, raw material cost increases, interest rate increases, a change in the number of vehicles subject to a recall, changes in the costs of implementing the recall, actions by NHTSA, including fines and/or penalties, or limitations on the availability of materials used to implement the recall. Additionally, January 2017 backlog may not be indicative of first quarter, full-year or future performance. Furthermore, Supreme can provide no assurance that any raw material cost increases can be passed on to its customers through implementation of price increases for Supreme's products. The forward-looking statements contained herein reflect the current view of management with respect to future events and are subject to those factors and other risks, uncertainties and assumptions relating to the operations, results of operations, cash flows and financial position of Supreme. Supreme assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements or to update the reasons actual results could differ from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements.


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.greencarcongress.com

« Tesla posts 79% gain in automotive revenue in Q$2016 to $1.994B, drops back into red | Main | Auto Alliance urges EPA to withdraw premature Final Determination on light-duty GHG regulations, resume Midterm Evaluation process with NHTSA » Alfa Romeo is introducing its first SUV, the Stelvio. The Stelvio is Italy’s highest mountain pass and Highway 38, which crosses it, more than 20 kilometers in length and with more than 75 hairpin bends, has iconic status. The new SUV delivers sports-car-handling, with balanced weight distribution, the most direct steering ratio in the segment and state-of-the-art suspension with the exclusive Alfalink technology. Stelvio features extensive use of ultra-lightweight, hi-tech materials including carbon fiber for the drive shaft and aluminium for the engines, suspension systems, hood, wings, doors and the tailgate. The Stelvio SUV also features the Alfa Romeo Q4 all-wheel drive system, and can be equipped with mechanical self-locking rear differential on request. Alfa Romeo Stelvio initially offers a choice of a 280 hp, 2.0 Turbocharged gasoline engine and a 210 hp, 2.2-liter diesel. Combined with the automatic 8-speed transmission and Q4 all-wheel drive, these engines belong to a new-generation of all-aluminium four-cylinder units with carbon fiber drive shaft. The Stelvio 2.0 280 hp will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds, with peak torque of 400 N·m at 2,250 rpm. The 2.2 diesel is the first diesel engine in Alfa Romeo’s history to be constructed entirely in aluminium. With four cylinders in-line, it features the latest-generation MultiJet II injection system with Injection Rate Shaping (IRS) and operating pressures of 2,000 bar. The electrically-operated variable geometry turbocharger offers state-of-the-art mechanics, minimizes response times and at the same time guarantees benefits in terms of efficiency. In a market first, the 210 hp 2.2 Diesel is equipped with a turbocharger speed sensor. The Stelvio 210 HP 2.2 Diesel reaches a top speed of 215 km/h (134 mph) and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds. The range will be completed with new engines to come including a 200 hp 2.0 Turbocharged gasoline unit and the 180 hp 2.2-liter Diesel, both with an automatic 8-speed transmission and Q4 all-wheel drive. The 180 hp 2.2 Diesel will also be available with real wheel drive. The 8-speed transmission has a lock-up clutch to give the driver a powerful feeling of in-gear acceleration once the gear is engaged. Depending on the mode chosen with the Alfa DNA selector, the automatic transmission optimizes fluidity, comfort and ease of driving in all environments, including around town, and further improves fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Steering-column-mounted, aluminium paddle shifters are available. Alfa Romeo Stelvio features a large number of advanced safety systems, available as standard or optionals depending on the version. Key among them is the Integrated Brake System (IBS), an innovative electromechanical system that combines stability control with a traditional servo brake to deliver instantaneous brake response and hence record-breaking stopping distances. Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian detection gives the driver an audible alert of a potential front collision and then activates the braking system. Lane Departure Warning warns the driver of straying across the boundaries of the lane. Also included is Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross-Path Detection, for continual monitoring of rear blind spots on both sides of the vehicle, alerting the driver in the event of potential hazards. Active Cruise Control automatically adjusts the speed to traffic conditions.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

The Silverado is not our 2017 10Best Full-Size Pickup, but it made the Ford F-150 sweat for the win. The Silverado offers strong powertrains, serious hauling capability, good real-world fuel economy, and a plethora of features, but it comes up short on ride and seat comfort. Its top 6.2-liter V-8 tows the most in the class and wins our highway fuel-economy test. Its brawn is balanced by looks that mean business, handsome interior trim, user-friendly infotainment, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity. The 2017 Silverado differs little from the refreshed 2016 model. For 2017, there are improved towing figures, where the Silverado comes out on top of its class. It also gains notable safety equipment such as Chevy’s Teen Driver system and forward automatic braking. Teen Driver allows parents to monitor how well their kids are driving. The optional forward automatic-braking system slows the vehicle when it senses an impending collision at speeds between 5 and 37 mph. Because we want a truck that can haul lots of people and an abundance of stuff, we’d choose the LT Z71 crew cab with the standard bed (6.6 feet). The $47,305 LT Z71 package comes with: • 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 • Z71 off-road suspension with Rancho monotube shocks • 8.0-inch touchscreen with Chevy MyLink, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility • EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate We’d also add either the All Star or Texas editions ($1305 each, differing only in badging), which make the Silverado even more comfortable. All Star and Texas trims include: As we’ve configured it, our ideal Silverado prices out at $48,610. .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty The Silverado’s top 6.2-liter V-8 is big, brash, and powerful yet relatively frugal in our real-world testing, while the 5.3-liter V-8 provides more than adequate muscle for almost any task. The powertrains are reasonably refined in real-world driving, but they don’t match the EPA figures posted by the F-150’s smaller but equally brawny twin-turbo V-6 engines. The Silverado comes standard with a 4.3-liter V-6 that produces 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque; it’s mated to a six-speed automatic. The two optional engines are a significant step up in power and towing capability: The 5.3-liter V-8 delivers 355 hp and 383 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard; an eight-speed is optional on some models. The 6.2-liter V-8 rings in with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of stump-pulling torque. It’s backed only by the eight-speed automatic. The 5.3-liter Silverado equipped with the optional eight-speed proved sluggish in acceleration, but the 6.2-liter V-8 was a rocket, quick enough to outgun many a sporty passenger car. Unfortunately, both Chevy V-8s feel slower around town than they actually are; competitors’ throttles are more responsive, imparting the feeling of more low-end power and quicker reflexes. The Silverado shares top towing honors with its General Motors twin, the GMC Sierra. Both have a maximum tow rating of 12,500 pounds, besting their closest rival by 300 pounds. It gives that advantage back to the F-150 in payload rating, an indicator of how much weight a truck can handle in its bed. Even so, the second-place Silverado could handle the weight of a Smart ForTwo minicar in its bed with about 200 pounds to spare. .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty The Silverado sends a mixed message when it comes to its fuel economy: The EPA numbers are towards the top of the class, and in our testing, its real-world highway fuel economy proved to be excellent. However, its two V-8s score lower EPA fuel-economy ratings than their direct Ford EcoBoost V-6 rivals. Compared with the other trucks in this class, the Silverado generally does well; the 5.3-liter V-8 with all-wheel drive bests all of its similarly equipped rivals. Meanwhile, the 6.2-liter V-8 lags in the city but does well on the highway. (We’ve included the Ram diesel V-6 in the chart to illustrate the advantage of its fuel-sipping diesel engine.) Surprisingly, there’s little fuel-economy penalty for choosing the bigger of the two V-8s. In an attempt to replicate how most people drive on the highway, we’ve devised our own fuel-economy test. We perform a 200-mile loop on Michigan’s I-94 highway. We maintain a GPS-verified 75 mph and the cruise control as much as possible, mimicking the way many drivers behave during long trips. Viewed strictly by its EPA ratings, the 6.2-liter V-8 would seem to be a thirsty engine. We discovered it’s quite the opposite in reality. The EPA rates the big-engine Silverado at 20 mpg on the highway, and it matched that number in our real-world 200-mile highway fuel-economy test. Based on our highway testing, a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with the 6.2-liter V-8 and all-wheel drive is capable of tackling 520 miles of highway without refueling. If you can drive that far without a rest-stop break, you deserve to have a country song written about you. .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty The Silverado drives confidently for such a large vehicle thanks to peppy performance, accurate steering, and a dose of agility. But on pockmarked pavement, the ride gets jittery, and the Silverado is less composed than its rivals. Silverado engines come in three power levels: adequate, peppy, and please-Officer-don’t-arrest-me. The base 285-hp 4.3-liter V-6 does a reasonable job of hauling such a big vehicle around, at least when lightly loaded. The 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 has good power when you put your foot down hard, but it feels lazy when you don’t; in our testing, it hit 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. The 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 also underwhelms when driven with a light foot, but stomp the pedal to the floor and hold on for fireworks. It lunges out of the gate with a machine-gun-blast exhaust note behind it and flashes to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. That sprint puts it in league with a host of quick sporting passenger cars, as well as with the Ford F-150’s top twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Like the proverbial rose, a truck is a truck is a truck. It’s not going to dance down a country road like a sports car, nor will it ride as if you’re wafting along on a cloud. The Silverado comports itself well much of the time. It’s poised and stable in corners at any reasonable speed, it steers accurately, and it’s as imperturbable as a freight train when you’re cruising the interstate. Badly broken pavement, choppy gravel, and potholes do make for uncomfortable moments, but the ride is never jarring. The Ram 1500 and the Ford F-150, however, are more settled over bumpy surfaces. Other than those intermittent upsets on wonky roads, the Silverado handles everything rather well. Weighing in at around 5300 pounds, decked-out Silverado crew cabs need to have powerful brakes to chip away at momentum. They do handle braking chores well, with a medium-firm pedal that makes it easy to decelerate to a stop. .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty Functional design and good build quality make the Silverado cabin a pleasant place to be, especially in the well-equipped LTZ and High Country versions. The interior suffers from seats that are not especially comfortable and a rear cabin devoid of USB ports. Most materials inside the Silverado are solid and durable feeling, and up-level models are fitted with plenty of soft-touch materials in addition to the harder plastics found lower in the cabin. The Silverado’s interior is ergonomically sound; it’s a short reach to the controls, and buttons and knobs can be operated with gloves on, no doubt to the delight of construction workers and tradespeople. The instrument cluster is businesslike, with legible green and white numbers on black backgrounds. We bet that some owners will register complaints about the angle of the steering wheel, though. It’s canted a few millimeters off center to the left, a position that annoyed several of our reviewers. Need room for five or six burly guys? No problem. All of the crew cabs in this class serve up large-sedan spaciousness. The Silverado has a significant advantage in front headroom and legroom, and rear legroom is midpack but still commodious. Massaging seats haven’t yet found their way into the Silverado’s cabin, but most every other piece of luxury fare you might desire has. If the passing scenery isn’t entertaining, front-seat passengers can stay connected to their personal devices via an array of USB ports, a 12-volt outlet, and a 110-volt household receptacle while rear-seat passengers lose themselves in a movie. We found the Silverado’s seats hard. The fronts could use more bolstering on the bottom cushions, and the rear seats require more thigh support. The Silverado’s optional heated-and-cooled front seats do their work well, though, warming quickly on a cold morning or cooling effectively enough to ease the sting of hot leather that’s been in the sun. Heated rear seats, however, are not available, which is surprising now that they’ve filtered down to inexpensive compact sedans. Base Silverados come with a manually adjustable climate system that covers the entire cabin. You can upgrade to an automatic two-zone climate control system in double or crew cabs with LT trim, while in LTZ and High Country models it’s standard. Rear-seat riders are at the mercy of front-seat occupants when it comes to cabin temperature, however. Despite sticker prices that can climb as high as a luxury sedan’s, the Silverado does not offer a three-zone system that can be controlled by the rear-seat passengers. A lot of coffee is quaffed in truck cabs, so having plenty of places to park those Tim Hortons cups is important. The Silverado can handle 10 cups of caffienation at the same time, with the cupholders in the door pockets able to double as water-bottle holders. At 35.4 inches, the seating height of the Silverado is more than two inches shorter than the Ram 1500 (37.8 inches) and the Ford F-150 (37.4 inches). To accurately measure seating height—the distance from the road to the driver’s hip—we use an H-Point Machine (HPM), a precisely engineered device marketed by the Society of Automotive Engineers. This versatile tool, along with some lasers and simple trigonometry, also reveals the width and location of roof-pillar visibility obstructions. Our H-Point Machine and laser measurement tools determine the length of road ahead obscured by the hood as well as rearview-mirror blind spots. Thanks to expansive windows, it’s easy to see what’s around you when you’re behind the wheel of a Silverado, though no easier than in any of its competitors. Our laser measurements through the front, rear, and side glass reveal that Silverado blind-spot and visibility numbers are virtually identical to those of its competitors. Not so when it comes to the amount of roadway obscured to the front and rear of the truck. The Silverado’s long, flat hood combined with the overall height of the truck and driver’s seating position conspire to hide the most roadway forward. That could make in-close maneuvering more difficult. All of these pickups are a challenge to back into a parking spot, but for the record, the Silverado obscures a lot of visibility towards the rear, as well. Roof pillars protect occupants in a rollover crash, but they also create blind spots. We determine visibility by measuring the location and width of each pillar using an H-Point Machine and a laser beam (surrogates for a driver and eyeball, respectively). .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system is one of the best on the market. Its clear graphics, attractive looks, quick response times, and straightforward configurability make it likable and easy to use. The 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 we tested came with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as SiriusXM satellite radio. Four USB ports in the front console allow you to connect multiple devices and utilize the smartphone interface, but sorry, rear-seat passengers: no USB ports for you. An optional rear-seat DVD/Blue Ray entertainment system includes a single 9.2-inch screen that flips down from the headliner, plus two pairs of headphones and a hand-held controller. .ymmpinfotainment { overflow: auto; padding-bottom: 32px; } .ymmpinfotainment img{ width: 100% !important; opacity:1.0; filter:alpha(opacity=100); /* For IE8 and earlier */ -moz-opacity: 1.0; /* Netscape */ -khtml-opacity: 1.0; /* Safari 1.x */ -ms-filter: "progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Alpha(Opacity=100)"; border: 2px solid #FFF; } .ymmpinfotainment div{ font-size: 13px; padding:0; line-height: 0; } .ymmpinfotainment a{ display: inline-block; position: relative; line-height: 0; width: 100%; } .ymmpinfotainment a div{ position: absolute; left: 0; bottom: 0; background: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.8); padding: 8px; vertical-align: top; color: #222; } .ymmpinfotainment span{ vertical-align: top; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1rem; } .ymmppower { overflow: auto; padding-bottom: 32px; } .ymmppower img{ width: 100% !important; opacity:1.0; filter:alpha(opacity=100); /* For IE8 and earlier */ -moz-opacity: 1.0; /* Netscape */ -khtml-opacity: 1.0; /* Safari 1.x */ -ms-filter: "progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Alpha(Opacity=100)"; border: 2px solid #FFF; } .ymmppower div{ font-size: 13px; padding:0; line-height: 0; } .ymmppower a{ display: inline-block; position: relative; line-height: 0; width: 100%; } .ymmppower a div{ position: absolute; left: 0; bottom: 0; backgraccordcar2016ound: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.8); padding: 8px; vertical-align: top; color: #222; } .ymmppower span{ vertical-align: top; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1rem; } Vehicle Tested: 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 AWD Crew Cab The center-stack infotainment screen responds to inputs quickly. You control it either by touching the screen icons or using the hard buttons conveniently located below it. At 0.4 second, the Silverado rates as “Good” using our rating system; note that its screen responds quicker than an iPhone 6S or a Samsung S7 Edge. It’s still not as fast as the leader here, which is the Ram 1500’s Uconnect system—one of our favorites. By filming the infotainment screen while switching between various menus and then analyzing the high-speed video frame by frame, we are able to accurately measure the system’s response time. We rate infotainment response, or latency, on the following scale: .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty The Silverado is perfect for the American Pickers in all of us. There is voluminous stowage inside its crew cab, it boasts a large bed, and it offers more combined cubby space than any other competitor. The smallest, most basic Silverado single cab has only a few inches of interior storage space behind the seats. Double and crew cabs increase the interior cargo area, aided by 60/40 flip-up rear-seat bottoms that reveal a mostly flat floor (it’s interrupted by a minor drivetrain hump). To help make in-cab storage more understandable, we use carry-on-luggage-sized boxes to measure and rate interior cargo space. For pickups, when available, we fill the back-seat area with the seats folded. The Silverado held 19 of those boxes, one more than all others except the Tundra, which allowed us to stuff 21 boxes inside. How much truck do you need? Like its peers, the Silverado offers several bed sizes to choose from. We measure bed volume to the top of the box’s sides, and the Silverado’s smallest and largest beds are dimensionally similar to their competitors. The Silverado is chock-full of bins and cubbies, with a total of 16 throughout the truck. Using ping-pong balls to measure that storage space, the Silverado held a class-leading total of 1077. Ford’s F-150 came in second at 1041 balls, which, if you can imagine trying to hold 36 ping-pong balls at the same time, amounts to a significant difference. To determine the interior space available to stash travel essentials, we’ve devised a range of measuring protocols. We use six beverage containers ranging in size and shape to gauge cupholder accommodation. We stack, stuff, and arrange 9-by-14-by-22-inch cardboard boxes to quantify the number of airline-carry-on-size suitcases that will fit in a trunk or folded seat’s cargo space. To measure irregularly shaped gloveboxes, door pockets, and console bins, we fill each container with 1.5-inch-diameter ping-pong balls. It’s tempting to convert the number of spheres to a volume (cubic inches), but we resist that calculation because—as with the box of tissues, 12-ounce can of soda, or gallon of milk you might stash in these compartments—there are voids between the balls. Random packing (our procedure) nullifies approximately one-third of the available space. The negative space between the balls could theoretically be reduced to 25 percent of an irregular shape with precise stacking, but while we might be pedantic, we’re not crazy. .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty Big, bold, upright, and macho, the Silverado looks like it means business. Its military-crisp lines make it instantly identifiable as a Chevy. As with all the trucks in this class, the mix-and-match possibilities of cab configurations, bed lengths, interior trims, and special-equipment packages are almost limitless. The Silverado offers an optional easy-effort tailgate that lowers gently, rather than with a crash, and can be closed with one hand. The rear bumper on all Silverados incorporates a clever built-in step that makes climbing into the bed effortless. Optional power side steps zip out from under the truck when you open a door. Better still, they can motor rearward to provide a convenient perch from which you can comfortably reach into the bed. Lock / unlockLiftgateRemote startPanic alarmHold to roll down windowsHold to roll up windowsRemote parking2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500XXX .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty Two agencies evaluate vehicles for crashworthiness in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates tested vehicles from one to five stars in front crash, side crash, and rollover tests. NHTSA also assigns cars an overall rating out of five stars. The non-profit, independent, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) uses a different set of tests to evaluate front and side crashworthiness, roof strength, headlight reach, and ease of child seat installation. IIHS grades cars on a scale from Good to Poor in each test, and awards the cars that perform best across all its tests with Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick + honors, the latter of which requires that the vehicle’s automated forward-collision-braking system performs well in IIHS’s tests. The Silverado performed extremely well on NHTSA’s battery of crash tests. It fared worse, however, in the IIIHS’s markedly different testing regimen. There’s plenty of room inside the huge crew cabs for rear-facing child seats. Maneuvering them through the smaller rear doors of the double cab model and into in the snug second row is more difficult, and can require moving the front-passenger seat up. LATCH points are easily accessible, but hoisting Junior into the high-off-the-ground second row could be a problem for shorter drivers. The Silverado offers most but not all of the latest safety features. All Silverados come standard with three months of OnStar’s automatic crash response service. OnStar offers three subscription plans to continue the service beyond the first 90 days. Gridlines integrated in backup camera view?Do gridlines move with steering wheel?Does volume of audio system reduce when reverse is selected?2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500YesYesNo .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty The warranties in the full-size-pickup segment have only minor differences. The Silverado adds to the basics with two extras: five years or 60,000 miles of roadside assistance plus two years or 24,000 miles of complimentary service (which amounts to the first two service trips to the dealer). VehicleLimited WarrantyPowertrain WarrantyCorrosion ProtectionRoadside AssistanceComplimentary Maintenance2017 Nissan Titan5 years/100,000 miles5 years/100,000 miles5 years (unlimited miles)3 years/36,000 milesN/A2017 Ford F-150 3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years (unlimited miles)5 years/60,000 milesN/A2017 Chevrolet Silverado 15003 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles6 years/100,000 miles (rust-through) 3-year/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles2 years/24,000 miles (Only the first two services)2017 GMC Sierra 15003 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles6 years/100,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles2 years/24,000 miles (Only the first two services)2017 Ram 15003 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years (unlimited miles)5 years/100,000 milesN/A2017 Toyota Tundra3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years (unlimited miles)2 years (unlimited miles)2 years/25,000 miles .indepthnav { overflow: auto; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; margin-bottom: 32px; border-top: 4px solid #E0E4E7; border-bottom: 4px solid #E0E4E7; } .indepthnav img{ width: 100% !important; } .indepthnav div{ font-size: 16px; padding:12px 32px 12px 0; line-height: 21px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } .indepthnav a{ color: #1383B3; display: inline-block; position: relative; width: 100%; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; transition: all .2s ease; } .indepthnav a:hover { color: #222222; vertical-align: top; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; } Overview Engine and Transmission Fuel Economy Performance and Driving Impressions Interior Infotainment Cargo Space and Storage Exterior Safety and Driver Assistance Warranty


News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

As soon as Rick Perry is confirmed as the new Secretary of Energy and finds out where his office is, he will be deluged with requests—for policy changes or new policies, requests to hire somebody’s friend, to have a meeting with every interest group in town, to make speeches at conventions, to testify before various House and Senate committees, and on and on.  He will be very surprised at how many new good friends he has, people he may never even have met.  Mostly he will get requests to spend money, the government’s money, really your money and my money.  Everyone loves you when you spend money. It’s the easiest thing in the government to do.  And everyone who asks for money will have a justification that’s not laughable as to why spending this particular amount of money on this particular worthy cause is in fact worthy.  Nobody comes to you and says, “Please spend money on this, even though it’s really worthless, and benefits no one but me.” Secretary Perry, don’t do it!  Don’t do it especially if the amount of money is consequential, which in my definition is over a hundred million dollars.  The late Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois is said to have observed during a budget markup, “A hundred million here, a hundred million there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” There are several potential candidates hanging about, project sponsors who will ask for money to bail out bad projects or bad policies.  Here are suggestions to avoid the worst opportunities to waste government money. Don’t bail out Kemper.  This is a complicated project undertaken by Mississippi Power to demonstrate the wonders of “clean coal” technology.  It was initiated in June of 2010 with an initial cost estimate of $2.2 billion.  This was when President Obama had decided incisively that his energy strategy was “all of the above.”   He had, perhaps, never heard of Nigel Lawson, the longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer in UK history, who said, “To govern is to choose.” In pursuit of this “strategy” Mississippi Power was given a $270 million grant from the Department of Energy and received $133 million in investment tax credits approved by the Internal Revenue Service.  The plant is designed to generate 582 MW’s of power and was expected to be online in May of 2014. The most recent extension of the original schedule has brought the total cost to $7.1 billion.  All the Mississippi Power web site says now about the schedule is “In Service: 2017,”  three or more years late on a four year construction schedule.  That’s hard to do.  It should also be noted that a simple gas fired power plant of 582 MW would cost around $600 million dollars, not $2.2 billion.  Or $7.1 billion. The design and construction is being done by KBR, a major and well pedigreed international construction company formed in 1998 by the merger of M. W. Kellogg and Brown and Root.  It is likely that they were chosen because the company has developed, according to their web site, a proprietary coal gasification technology. But there is no evidence that this technology has ever actually been built and operated at commercial scale.  Except at Kemper, where it is not operating yet. The drama has not been without consequences.  Southern Company’s affiliate, Mississippi Power, owns the project, and its President was fired in 2013 for not keeping the project on schedule. Last year the SEC instigated an investigation of both Mississippi Power and the Southern Company, focusing on the Kemper project, with concerns that there was insufficient disclosure of Kemper status and risks to shareholders.  Two weeks ago, lawyers representing Southern Company shareholders filed a class action lawsuit against the company, due to Kemper cost overruns. Last week Moody’s announced an investigation with the possibility of downgrading Mississippi Power’s rating to below investment grade. Why has this project proven to be so difficult?  It’s just a power plant with some fancy additional hardware, isn’t it? The project is very elaborate. It consists of converting coal to gas by a complicated process in a large pressure vessel, burning the gas in a combined cycle power plant, then capturing the exhaust gas, separating the CO2 and piping it to an old oil field where it will be inserted into the void created by the oil which has been pumped out.  Lots of engineered metal, lots of rotating equipment. As noted above, the project is well past its projected start date and more than three times is original estimated cost.  The unfortunate government contribution of about $450 million to the capital cost of this project is lost.  More unfortunately, several congressmen have authored legislation which, if passed, would create a tax credit for this facility.  This would benefit its owners, Mississippi Power and the Southern Company, and not really anyone else.  The Southern Company is one of the nation’s largest electric conglomerates; it owns not only Mississippi Power, but also Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Gulf Power.  It owns eight gas distribution businesses and even a telecom company.  It has 44,000 MW of generation and 9 million customers.  According to its web site, it prides itself on “inventing America’s energy future by developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, 21st century coal [sic], natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency.”  So it is not a novice at the electric energy business.  Why bail out a business of this size and competence? Why is Kemper in trouble with such a distinguished sponsor and constructor?  There are a number of things wrong with the project.  First, turning coal into gas is not easy, nor is it simple.  It has been done for a long time, with the result originally being “town gas.”  The process was used to generate a heating and lighting fuel in the US from the 1850’s until replaced largely by oil and natural gas after WWI.  The way it works is that coal is ground into a fine powder, injected into a large pressure vessel, and then oxygen, heat and steam are added.  The carbon in the coal partially oxidizes into synthetic gas, or “syn gas” which isn’t really synthetic at all, it’s just carbon monoxide.  But you also get carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide (a poisonous gas as well as evil smelling), water vapor and some molecular hydrogen.  There may be other trace elements oxidized or not, depending on the chemical characteristics of the coal used.  The unwanted by-products in the resulting mixture need to be cleaned up, and the CO2 removed by one of several “scrubbing” processes.  More vessels, more pumps, more energy use, more chemicals.  Making the coal into gas is a very inefficient process from an energy balance point of view, and CO as a gas is also low in energy content. This resulting gas, once removed from the vessel and cleaned, is ready to be burned in large gas turbines. But it is not a great fuel, as its energy content is about one fifth that of natural gas, (CH4, or methane) the fuel usually used in gas turbines. CO is 4368 btu/pound and methane is 23,875 btu/pound.  Standard grades of coal run in the 10,000 to 12,000 btu’s per pound range.  Even lignite, which Kemper plans to use, is a low-quality coal, hitting the scale at 6900. The Kemper plant at this point in the process will have gone to a great deal of trouble to produce an inferior gaseous fuel, one with only two thirds the heating value of the input lignite.  Well, that’s impressive. The syn gas, once burned, results in an exhaust of almost pure CO2.  This exhaust is further purified, compressed, put in a pipeline and pumped sixty miles to be injected into a spent oil field reservoir.  The gas presumably will now reside forever in the old oil field, and not go into the atmosphere to contribute to global warming.  But wait, isn’t the purpose of an oil field to have lots of holes drilled into it so the oil can be extracted?  Doesn’t an old oil field rather resemble a pin cushion?  Sure, old wells are supposed to be shut down and some concrete poured into the casing, but this would hardly be a sensible person’s first choice for a place to sequester a gas forever.  And let’s not even think about geologic conditions in the rock of the reservoir, and the risk of fissures, earthquakes, water erosion, etc.  The subsurface doesn’t stand still, and even slight movements can create passages for the escape of this colorless, odorless gas.  Good luck on monitoring that. Everything about this is hard, some of it is new, and some of it is not only hard and new but a bad idea.  The US government in 1980 created the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, whose mission was to support coal gasification.  After doing a grand total of one project, Great Plains in Beulah, ND, the corporation was mercifully shut down in 1985. Just as hard cases make bad law, hard infrastructure projects make high costs.  Southern Company cannot be said not to have understood what it was getting into, or what the risks were.  Taxpayers should not bail out a bad project badly executed. Don’t bail out Toshiba, Westinghouse, SCANA and Southern Company.  Yes, here Southern is again, but this time the power plants in question are nuclear, not some coal to gas concoction. Toshiba is building two nuclear plants of two units each in the US, using a new technology of nuclear reactor which has never been built before, the Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor.  Does something about this start to sound familiar? The first company, SCANA, is a holding company for three regulated utilities, and provides electric service in South Carolina and natural gas distribution in North and South Carolina and Georgia.  It operates one nuclear plant, V. C. Summer Unit 1, and Toshiba is building two more units for it at the Summer site. Toshiba’s other customer is the Southern Company.  It is building units 3 and 4 at the existing Vogtle nuclear site.  Southern operates six nuclear units in three sites already. But as is traditional with nuclear construction in the US, things haven’t gone well. Constructing began in August of 2009 on both the new units in Georgia.  The Vogtle units are three years behind schedule and $3 billion over budget. The units in South Carolina began construction in 2008 and are also three years late and several billion dollars over budget. One of these plants has received financial help from the government, sad to say.  The new Vogtle units were given a $6.5 billion loan guarantee, from the Department of Energy, finalized in 2014.  While this did not amount to a direct cash payment from the government, it did let the Southern Company borrow at a reduced rate based on the credit support for the US government.  While this may sound like a clever way to finance such plants, the bad news is that the risk of default on loan guarantees, as calculated by the CBO, is greater than 50% for nuclear guarantees. So how bad is the situation?  In January, Toshiba announced that it would take a major write down on its nuclear construction business, perhaps as much as $6.1 billion.  When this news was disclosed, Toshiba shares fell by sixteen percent by the end of the day.  This was a $1.7 billion hit for a company with a market value of $11 billion.  And on the 14th, when it had promised to release the audited financials, it did not, asking for a further delay.  Toshiba did note that the anticipated number was now $6.3 billion, and the Chairman resigned, with apologies.  And since the number really wasn’t final, who knows what will happen when the company issues its final numbers in mid-March. Wall Street analysts began speculating on a Toshiba bankruptcy. Toshiba only got into this line of work when it acquired Westinghouse, which actually had the nuclear business, in October of 2006. The press release announcing the finalization of the acquisition stated: “Toshiba Completes Westinghouse Acquisition, Heralds the Dawn of a New Era for Nuclear Energy.”  At the end of January of this year, dawn became dusk.  Toshiba announced that it was exiting the nuclear construction business.   Easy come, easy go?  Not exactly.  It still has to finish Summer and Vogtle, and it has taken on fixed price risk on the construction contracts at both of these plants.  It is hard to see how this will end well for Toshiba, and perhaps for SCANA and Southern Company as well. Maybe it all goes swimmingly from here on, although that’s not the way to bet.  There are two especially ugly outcomes:  Toshiba goes bankrupt, or Toshiba decides to just walk on the construction contracts, betting that the ensuing litigation will be less costly than finishing the plants with its own money.  In either case, one can expect cries for help to go out from the two affected utilities, help from Uncle Sam. These cries should be resolutely ignored.  The government is already on the hook for Vogtle, and that’s more than enough subsidy for this situation.  And one final note: a $6.5 billion payment would make the government’s failed Solyndra investment look like chicken feed. Don’t bail out Elon Musk.  I have never met Elon Musk.  He is held out to be a business genius, and investing in PayPal and then selling it before people realized that it was just a credit card substitute was pretty smart. It is less clear that starting Tesla was smart, or that starting Solar City was smart.  I don’t have an opinion yet about SpaceX, but I will say that he’s been active in a bunch of different business spaces which have no real relation to each other.  But let’s focus on Tesla. I like electric cars, and at one point convinced my company to invest in one, which subsequently failed and our investment went to zero.  This could make me an expert or prove that I have no credibility here.  I would buy an electric pickup truck tomorrow if the industry made one that was normal and not the size of an iceberg recently broken off Antarctica—Ford 150 Super Duty, we’re talking about you.  As the race to upsize continues, US trucks will soon resemble Hummers with a small cargo space in back, but we digress. Tesla has had an interesting history.  The first car they made was a very rich person’s sport car, the Roadster, introduced in 2008 at a price of $100,000.  Movie stars bought them, but only 2800 were produced and production stopped in 2012.  There were several interesting innovations in the roadster, including the first use of a lithium ion battery in an electric vehicle, in a shape, called “form factor” in battery lingo, that was the same as that used in many lap top computers.  This allowed for easier procurement of the battery.  But the goal of the company was to make a mass market car, not a limited edition rich kid toy. The second Tesla vehicle, the Model S, was introduced in 2012, with several remarkable characteristics and much well deserved fanfare.  NHTSA gave it a 5.0 safety rating, its highest assessment.  EPA rated its range at 285 miles, and it was also blazingly fast, the third fastest production car ever produced.  It won buckets of awards, including car of the year for 2013 from both Automobile magazine and Motor Trend, and car of the century from Car and Driver in 2015. It was still, however, quite expensive, retailing for between $95,000 and $105,000 in 2012.  But Tesla sold all the cars it could make, frequently with a waiting period between ordering and delivery.  But it has not become the leader in the field, that distinction falls to the Nissan Leaf which has sold more electric cars. In 2010 Tesla received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy, to allow it to build its Fremont manufacturing facility.  It has also received government subsidies from selling “zero emission credits” to other car makers who are not able to make emission targets.  The Energy Department loan was fully repaid in May of 2013, nine years ahead of its due date.  Good for him. There is a wide divergence of opinion about Tesla as a company. On the one hand, the stock market values the company at more than 43 billion dollars. The negative view is based on fundamental analysis.  At about $250 per share, Tesla as a company is “worth” $43.35 billion.  But its cash flow is decidedly negative, its debt to equity ratio is high, its earnings are negative and its return on equity is negative.  More troublesome, it has a history of missing production targets.  We should admit that making cars is a difficult manufacturing feat.  If it were not, there would be lots of successful car manufacturers in the US, rather than three.  Nonetheless, Tesla made 50,931 vehicles in 2016 versus earlier forecasts of 80 to 90,000, which was to include both the Model S and the new mid-size Model X.  No Model X cars were made in 2016 and production is now expected to begin in late February.  It is interesting to note that if you multiply the $100k sales price by the units sold you get, obviously, $5 billion.  Divide that by Tesla’s market cap and you get a ratio of 8 times revenues.  Which is a conservative calculation, because some of the sales price goes to dealers, so the eight times number is really too low. Ford has a market cap of $50.68 billion, and in 2015 manufactured 2.6 million cars.  No matter how you calculate it, Ford is selling for less than 1 times gross revenue.  It is hard to believe that in the long-term Tesla will keep its value at eight times that.  One more comparison: The S&P sales to value ratio over the last ten years has ranged from 1.4 to 2.03.  Never eight. The market is not totally asleep.  More than 25% of Tesla’s shares have been sold short, a number that one newsletter characterizes as “extraordinary.”  And when one fourth of the people holding your shares believe, and make money only, when your shares go down, that’s a big number. It would be nice to see Tesla succeed, in an industry where startups have been few and unsuccessful.  Elon Musk has certainly brought interesting change to Detroit, and that is wonderful.  But we’ve already given him $465 million of our money.  If he gets in trouble raising capital, which is what could happen if Tesla fails to meet its production targets and his stock price declines dramatically, don’t bail him out.  He’s had his turn at the Uncle Sam cashier window.  And I don’t care if he is President Trump’s best friend.


Always three jumps ahead of the competition, Tesla has begun including the cost of insurance and maintenance into the price of its cars in Asian markets. During the conference call with analysts last week, one caller asked if Tesla is considering creating its own insurance company because traditional insurers are not offering Tesla drivers steep enough discounts. Recently NHTSA announced that Teslas with Autopilot functionality are involved in 40% fewer crashes. The caller suggested the companies are only offering discounts of between 5% and 10% to Tesla drivers despite the lower collision rate. Yes and no, replied Tesla vice president of Global Investor Relations Jeff Evanson.“We’re actually currently doing that. We’ve been doing it quietly, but in Asia in particular where we started this, now the majority of Tesla cars are sold with an insurance product that is customized to Tesla, that takes into account not only the Autopilot safety features but also the maintenance costs of the car. It’s our vision in the future that we’ll be able to offer a single price for the car, maintenance and insurance in a really compelling offering for the consumer. And we’re currently doing that today.” Making the buying experience as seamless and comfortable as possible is one of Tesla’s primary goals. Later, Elon expanded on Evanson’s remarks.“This is not to the exclusion of insurance providers if we find that insurance providers are not matching the insurance proportionate to the risk of the car. If we need to we’ll in-source it, but I think we’ll find that our insurance partners do adjust rates proportionate to the risk of a Tesla.” So the answer is that Tesla will work with established insurance companies as long as it thinks its customer are being treated fairly. Some industry observers have suggested that automobile insurance may go the way of the dodo once self driving technology becomes the norm. Lawrence Walker of the Rocky Mountain Institute estimates insurance premiums could fall by 90% over time, driving many companies out of the auto insurance business. Adding in maintenance cost to the price of the car is another innovative strategy. Most traditional dealers rely on income from their service departments to generate the majority of their profits. If Tesla disrupts the service business the same way it has the sales business, it could have a devastating effect on dealers. Including the cost of maintenance in the price of the car means it can be included in the loan or lease price. The result will be just a tiny increase in the monthly payment. Most car owners would rather have a root canal without Novacaine than go to a dealer for service because they fear having to pay a big bill when it is over. Knowing service is paid for in advance will give Tesla owners peace of mind seldom found with other brands. Musk also told the audience at the Q4 earnings call that 80% of service issues are minor and can be fixed with just a simple adjustment or a software upgrade. As it looks forward to more Teslas on the road once the Model 3 goes on sale, it is instituting a mobile service program in which a Tesla service technician will come to the owner’s home or place of business to make needed repairs. Not only will that reduce the wait time for an appointment at Tesla Service Centers, it will build greater brand equity. Imagine how jealous your neighbors will be when they see your Tesla being serviced in your driveway by a factory trained professional. We have come to expect such innovations from Tesla. The wonder is not that Tesla always seems to be leading the pack so much as it that the legacy automakers don’t seem to fully appreciate the size of the tsunami that is about to hit them. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

If you're a Lamborghini Veneno owner, you're going to want to read this. As reported by Bloomberg, Lamborghini is recalling every Veneno ever sold-all 12 of them-over a fuel system fault that could result in fire. This recall includes three Veneno coupes and nine Veneno Roadsters. Oh, and 5900 Aventadors, which use a version of the 6.5-liter V12 found in the Veneno. Per a recall report on NHTSA's website, the Aventador's (and Veneno's) emissions-control system can malfunction under certain conditions, increasing the risk of gasoline vapors coming in contact with hot gases and potentially causing engine fires. The report states that the problem is exacerbated by "over-revving the engine at idle," and compounded by use of aftermarket exhaust systems, making this a particularly ironic risk profile for Aventador owners. The issue affects all Aventadors–and model variants like the Veneno–built from May 22 2011 to December 5th 2016. The new Aventador S and recently-produced Aventador SV are unaffected. According to Bloomberg, Lamborghini is unaware of any injuries related to this issue, and will begin notifying customers of the recall in the coming weeks. The recall fix can be completed at any Lamborghini dealer. Recalls like this typically aren't a big deal, but they're especially funny when they affect such a small group of cars. Of course, this isn't as funny as the time Koenigsegg recalled a single Agera. Supercar owners: They're just like us! You Might Also Like

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