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Innovation

Calling all auto engineers: this is an emergency

They're even talking about it on the radio now--can Detroit automakers survive? If you listened to this show on NPR the future of Chrysler is south of bleak.
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Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

They're even talking about it on the radio now--can Detroit automakers survive? If you listened to this show on NPR the future of Chrysler is south of bleak. Ford and GM may just be bigger and have more blood to lose. The local Detroit paper's headline: auto sales worst in fifteen years. The problem with building and designing new, efficient models--not enough engineers. And that's a global problem, not American. Overall the cost of gasoline is a disruptive force in the auto industry, agriculture and food and the overall global economy.

Over a third of our poll respondents believe the gas price is pushing us into an economic depression, never mind how gloomy it can make you feel. In another poll on our site a third thought all American car companies would be owned elsewhere or disappear in seven years. Very few thought the Big Three (but getting smaller) woud survive and be joined by a new American car-maker like Tesla.

AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERS

I found less than twenty university campuses across the land that offer a bachelor's degree in automotive engineering. There were about ten more offering correspondence courses and degrees. That's it.

AMERICA'S EQUIPMENT WINNERS

The rising food prices and rapid development of China, India, Brazil and other nations is behind continued healthy growth for two American manufacturers, NOT making passenger cars. Both Deere and Co. and Caterpillar are seeing growth of overseas sales. They're not yet challenged by hyrbird technologies and they're already making diesels, more efficient that tradional gasoline engines.

ANOTHER RECORD FOR THE CRUDE CRUD, HO-HUM

Yeah, oil futures set another record today, over $144. Snore. So here's our poll:

[poll id=15]

This is making alternative energy for cars look better and better. Today there's doubt that fuel cell cars will be available in less than a decade, but the focus on electric cars, hybrids, plug-ins, et al. is building. Plug-in America lists nine electric car companies And another site selling used EVs, those nearly extinct first generation plug-ins of yore. One company will convert your Scion to all electric for less than $60,000. At ten dollars per gallon that'll still buy you tons of gasoline, literally.

Courtesy Myers Motors Or for just over half as much you can buy this three-wheeler that's a plug-in. Critics of other alternative cars from biodiesel to fuel cell like to point out how widely available electric sockets are.

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