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Akerson wants a presidential commission set up to form a 30-year energy policy

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said this week that the U.S. is close to achieving long-term energy security thanks to several factors. Those factors include the rise of fuel-efficient vehicles, energy-efficient homes and factories, and improvement in domestic oil and gas production. Akerson also said that he believed it was time for consumer-driven national energy policy.
Akerson wants President Obama to appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission with the goal of developing a 30-year policy framework for energy security with progress reviews every five years. He believes that the commission would need to include a cross-section of energy producers and energy consumers.

Akerson made the comments when speaking at the IHS CERA Week energy conference. The executive also took the time to talk up GM's technologically diverse range of fuel-efficient vehicles, which include the Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbodiesel and the Chevrolet Volt.

GM also plans to help increase fuel economy by using advanced materials in the construction of their vehicles that reduce vehicle weight such as carbon fiber and magnesium. GM is even looking at better ways to construct vehicles using traditional materials such as nano steel and resistance spot welding for aluminum structures.

“A good rule of thumb is that a 10-percent reduction in curb weight will reduce fuel consumption by about 6.5 percent,” Akerson said. “Our target is to reduce weight by up to 15 percent” by 2016."

“Everywhere you look there are opportunities to seize the energy high ground,” Akerson said. “Indeed, our leaders have been presented with an historic opportunity to create a national energy policy from a position of strength and abundance.”

Source: GM

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Consumer driven
By wookie1 on 3/7/2013 10:49:28 AM , Rating: 4
He wants a committee with a very selective "cross-section" that would steer policy into these more expensive vehicles with turbodiesels and advanced materials.

A consumer-driven energy policy is what would occur if the government would move out of the way and allow consumers and producers to find the solutions that serve their needs the best. A few beaurocrats in an office somewhere can't determine the needs and desires of 300M people.

Of course, the government doesn't want to release the reins, politicians derive power from controlling these policies, which means that they can extract donations and favors from companies in exchange for steering policy in a way that benefits the biggest supporters. Look at ethanol mandates!

RE: Consumer driven
By djc208 on 3/7/2013 11:27:55 AM , Rating: 2
While there will always be political motivation, and financial backing is heavily tied to all motivation there is little benefit behind driving toward more expensive and complex technologies for the auto industry. They loved gas guzzling SUVs because the profit margins where huge. The Crown Vic didn't survive so long because it was a superior vehicle.

But in an ideal situation the govenment shouldn't release the reins because the consumer is remarkably short sighted in most cases. Investment in these technologies doesn't happen unless forced to. An energy policy can help drive adoption which means improved research, development, and improved economies of scale.

CAFE requirements will push vehicle prices, complexity, and design, but it will also drive innovation, technology, and manufacturing.

The hard part is finding the balance.

RE: Consumer driven
By Spuke on 3/7/2013 12:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
The hard part is finding the balance.
There's no balance when the word "force" is involved. Force requires a "my way or the highway" mentality. Being forced to comply only results in compliance not innovation. I can come up with some interesting stuff when I'm forced to do something but it's NEVER been my best work or even my best effort. As a matter of fact, I typically spend more time trying to figure out how to comply with exerting little to no effort. My best work comes when I have free reign. These current "innovations" are already on the books. Nothing new here. They just couldn't justify the expense (ie they were afraid of alienating some customers with the price tags) to implement them before. They don't have a choice now.

Expect cars prices to rise from the current $30k average to well over $40k before all is said and done. I also expect the average ownership of cars to nearly double from its present 11 years to somewhere closer to 20 as more people are alienated from the new car market. Soon there will just be wealthy people with new cars. The hate will move from SUV owners and anyone with a new car. LOL!

RE: Consumer driven
By Lord 666 on 3/7/2013 12:22:51 PM , Rating: 2
Deadlines are reasonable and a part of life.

Using another cliche, "Build it and they will come." Would I have purchased a reliable diesel minivan for maybe $5000 more, absolutely.

RE: Consumer driven
By Spuke on 3/7/2013 5:16:20 PM , Rating: 2
Deadlines are reasonable and a part of life.
Deadlines. Who said anything about deadlines. Nice way of not addressing anything I said.

RE: Consumer driven
By Lord 666 on 3/7/2013 5:56:53 PM , Rating: 2
You mentioned deadlines, but without calling it that.

They just couldn't justify the expense (ie they were afraid of alienating some customers with the price tags) to implement them before. They don't have a choice now.

MPG mandates are a poor metric to measure efficiency. Look at the FCX, how much petrol does that use? Thats using off-the-shelf technology as well. A $300 a month lease isn't that bad.

Unfortunately, a well thought out energy policy needs to include cradle-to-grave costs in favor of the people versus flavor of the month approach that benefits corporations. Check out, to shift the expensive cost, they want to move to a subsidized model similar to cell phones, but lease the batteries.

Either way, we need to dump into the pot or get off. The way thats done is deadlines.

RE: Consumer driven
By Dr of crap on 3/7/2013 12:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
and what better way to get us off our addiction to our personal cars than have them priced to high and have gas priced to high as well.

The masses will be moved around by some other form of transportation when that happens.

RE: Consumer driven
By wookie1 on 3/7/2013 2:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
Addiction to cars? A personal car is the best way for most people to meet their transportation needs at the lowest cost. Artificially raising the cost of transportation provides no benefits, just harms the population by making everyone poorer.

Mass transportation is subsidized so that non-riders pay up to 95% of the cost for each rider (this is about normal for light rail, buses are more like 60-80% I believe). There's a big math problem here if more people take mass transit, obviously the fewer and fewer non-riders would have to pay even more for services they don't use and/or riders would have to pay more for the rides. Trips to work, grocery store, etc. would take much more of people's free time as well. A loser of an idea all the way around, and for what benefit?

RE: Consumer driven
By mikeyD95125 on 3/8/2013 3:08:24 AM , Rating: 2
Huh? If more people riding mass transit (using the system closer to capacity) the cost per rider goes down, total revenue goes up, and those not using the system pay less. Not to mention other benefits like reduced traffic which reduces fuel consumption and increases productivity.

Can public transit be setup up poorly requiring huge subsidization? Definitely. A local example for me is San Jose's light rail system which has low ridership and high cost per mile, because San Jose, although highly populated, is a suburban kind of town. Basically a poor area for a light rail system.
Go up the peninsula and there is San Francisco, a 7x7 mile section of land housing almost 900,000 people. A great place to have multiple kinds of public transportation systems.
I guess my point is that you can't paint public transit as a loser idea all the way around. It works when it takes people where they want to go, at a cost that that is worth it to them.
Keep in mind that in human history driving an ICE powered vehicle has only been viable for a little over a century, due to resource constraints will probably only be viable for a most another century. New methods of transportation are invented all the time, and will continue to change as our resources and demands change with time.

RE: Consumer driven
By Manch on 3/7/2013 1:22:28 PM , Rating: 2
Expect cars prices to rise from the current $30k average to well over $40k before all is said and done. I also expect the average ownership of cars to nearly double from its present 11 years to somewhere closer to 20 as more people are alienated from the new car market. Soon there will just be wealthy people with new cars.

All you have to do is look at several countries in Europe. The more socialistic the country is, more this holds true. Only the super rich have new cars here in Norway.

RE: Consumer driven
By Spuke on 3/7/2013 4:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
All you have to do is look at several countries in Europe. The more socialistic the country is, more this holds true. Only the super rich have new cars here in Norway.
One of the problems with having that happen here is we have a population of 300 million and are the largest car market. Any lessening of our buying power for cars hurts everyone meaning car prices across the board rise as a result of less people here buying them. Also, less money for R&D meaning CAFE, emissions and other requirements of those types become increasingly harder to meet and require even higher prices for cars to meet them. No problem for me in the short and medium term but eventually I would get priced out of the market as well.

RE: Consumer driven
By wookie1 on 3/7/2013 2:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
Why did companies profit from SUV's? Somehow they forced people to buy gas guzzlers against their will? Consumers generally preferred these vehicles for the space and comfort they provide and were willing to pay extra for this. If an automaker didn't provide what the consumers wanted, another automaker would and they would reap the profits.

Consumers shifted to gas guzzling SUV's becuase the government outlawed station wagons. Once upon a time you could buy the Griswald Family Truckster, which had quite a bit of space and a smaller amount of weight and aerodynamic drag. Some beaurocrat at the EPA decided that wasn't right and outlawed station wagons by imposing higher CAFE standards for cars. Whoops, the net effect was worse mileage as consumers were forced to get SUV's to meet their needs. Beaurocrats have zero chance of finding the right balance due to the information problem. There is no way for them to figure out how best to balance the needs and tradeoffs for 300 million people. This is best left for consumers to decide.

Sure, CAFE requirements will drive new technologies to be developed, but they ignore the cost/benefit tradeoff. It's best when that is determined by the individual actions of the consumers. Automakers would experiment and compete with each other to find combinations of features that best meet the cost/benefit balance for their customers. Consumers would vote with their wallet. A large variety of options would be available.

I don't buy the argument that politicians or beaurocrats are more far-sighted than consumers. They're only in office for 4-6 years at a time, and have many votes to buy and favors to repay. How is the consumer's needs even in their top 5 list of priorities?

RE: Consumer driven
By flubaluba on 3/7/2013 9:58:35 PM , Rating: 2
Just look at the difference with private businesses building electric cars and the big player, the private industry has a range of almost 300 miles per charge and the oil industry led leaders only 80miles range if you are lucky. Big oil will do anything to stop electric from being used, but they have lost, eventually after decades of people wanting them electric cars are here and they are not going back in the box, if anything the government has provided the funding to get better batteries and motors and other tech, the private industry want to remain on oil as they get a lot of kickbacks, but the world has moved froward , even Nissan has announced their basic car will get close to 200 miles per charge. Enough for 80% of the population to commute for a week. It is only the government that is going to be able to force the move to electric that the country, nay the world needs.

last thing we need
By Ammohunt on 3/7/2013 12:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
Last thing this country needs is another committee! what this country needs is leaders the spines so they even exist any more? Either way energy policy is bottom of the list of issue for me treading water in the new sea of government oppression is my primary concern.

Govt help me sell my cars
By tallcool1 on 3/7/2013 2:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
Basically GM is having trouble selling cars like its overly expensive volt and wants government regulations put in place to make people have to buy more of them...

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