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Bike Dynasty vs. Kingdom of Cars

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From my Chinese Green Car column.

©2009 Isaac Hernández
I’ve just returned from Portland, Oregon, and I have seen the future of transportation: a place where cars and bicycles live together in harmony. Before Portland, I had only witnessed this in Amsterdam and Xi’an City.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the automobile. There’s something meditative about driving a well-built car on a well-built road, being present; being one with the road. But I also love bicycling. I can get the same feeling of power and peace at the handlebars of a mountain bike zooming past trees on a single track, or on a bike lane through city streets.
I thought that a world of bicycles and cars living together could be possible after going to China in 1998. I was there to document world bicycle Trials Champion Hans Rey. We rode around Xi’an, including a visit to the Terracotta Army, and all the way to the Sea of Bamboo and Emei Tan, in Sichuan Province; both by van and by bicycle. Xi’an at the time had impressive bicycle boulevards as wide as the car boulevards.
Amir Moghaddass Esfehani reports that China sent officials to Europe in 1866 to learn the latest technological developments of the Western world. Binchun came back with this report: “On the avenues people ride on a vehicle with only two wheels, which is held together by a pipe. They sit above this pipe and push forward with movements of their feet, thus keeping the vehicle moving. There’s yet another kind of construction which is propelled by foot pedaling. They dash along like galloping horses.” (Binchun, Chengcha Biji, 1866/68).
Since then, China went on to become the “kingdom of bicycles”, as Qiu Baoxing, a vice-minister with the Ministry of Construction, said in 2006, when he announced, according to the British newspaper, The Guardian, “that any bike lanes that have been narrowed or destroyed to make way for cars in recent years must be returned to their original glory.”
Los Angeles, California, was considered a “kingdom of cars” during the same time period. The first cars here were railway streetcars, pulled by horses and mules, starting in 1873, not long after China’s discovery of the bicycle.
By 1887 there were 43 rail car franchises in LA. And in 1881 the first successful electric rail system was completed. By 1911, many rail car companies had merged. In 1944, Los Angeles had two railway companies, Los Angeles Railway, with 1042 yellow streetcars, and Pacific Electric, with 437 red electric cars. The Pacific Electric Railway covered four counties, with 1,150 miles of track and over 109 million passengers that year.
But Los Angeles was becoming the car capital of the world; combustion engines paved the future. Trolley transportation was slow, moving at an average of 11 miles per hour, according to Scott L. Bottles (Los Angeles and the Automobile). But car transportation was slow as well, with automobiles spending 30% of the time stopped at intersections.
In 1937, The Automobile Club of Southern California suggested “a network of traffic routes for the exclusive use of motor vehicles over which there shall be no crossing at grade and along which there shall be no interference from land use activities.” January 1st, 1940, the first “express highway” was born. The term evolved to expressways and parkways, and then freeways, as in “free from congestion”.
But a rapid railway system still was part of the plan. Stone and Webster reported in 1939 to the Transportation Engineering Board of the city of Los Angeles that freeways should be designed to include rail tracks, necessary as densities increased. They even called for a subway system under Wilshire Boulevard. One freeway, over the Cahuenga Pass, did include tracks for Pacific Electric in its median.
The fate of the yellow cars may have been decided in 1943, when General Motors invested in American City Lines, a bus company, which in turn bought stock in Los Angeles Railway (up to 59% in May of 1945), and started dismantling the system. A similar fate awaited Pacific Electric in 1953, purchased by Metropolitan Coach Lines. By 1959 only one trolley line still existed, from Los Angeles to Long Beach. It closed two years later.
General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, Mack, and the Federal Engineering Corporation invested in National and American City Lines, which bought more than 100 electric systems in 45 US cities, replacing them with GM buses. The streetcars were burned, with the exception of a few placed in museums. It was after all, the time for “autopia”; rail lines were seen as a way of transportation for the poor.
The Seventh Circuit Court of California tried the companies involved and summarized the case: “On April 9, 1947, nine corporations and seven individuals, constituting officers and directors of certain of the corporate defendants, were indicted on two counts, the second of which charged them with conspiring to monopolize certain portions of interstate commerce…. The American City Lines having been dismissed, the remaining corporate and individual defendants were found guilty upon this count.”
In 1948, the United States Supreme Court (in United States v. National City Lines Inc.) reversed lower court rulings and the case was moved to Illinois. At the end, each company was fined $5,000, and each director was fined one dollar. It was a slap on the wrist for cutting transportation possibilities for millions of people.
From 1963 to 1990, when the Blue Line opened, there were no trains in operation in Los Angeles. Building new lines has proven difficult. If you are elderly or can’t drive for any reason, it’s tough to get around. Today we look back at the one thousand miles of rail that were dismantled and see an asset thrown away. We’re trying to back pedal and have a feasible public transportation system in LA. If only we hadn’t get rid of them 50 years ago!
In the meantime, China thrived on bicycles. Back in 1978, there were less than two million passenger cars in China… and 148 million in the USA. By 2006, the number of cars in China had increased to 27 million, and to 251 million in the USA.
It’s predicted that by 2021 the number of motor vehicles in China could reach 130 million, or one car for every 10 people. In the US there’s at this time one car per inhabitant. In California, due to the number of people with classic car collections, there are 10 cars per person!
Many people in the USA fear the consequences of continuous car ownership growth in China, and its effects on the environment and the economy due to the expected increase in demand of oil. But it’s a selfish approach to think that we in the US can enjoy our cars, but the Chinese can’t. I say let people enjoy cars, but let’s all do it responsibly. Which brings me back to Portland, Oregon.
That city has been fighting for years to increase bicycle traffic, by making it easier for people to ride, with miles of bicycle lanes, and boulevards (for exclusive bike use, away from car traffic). More and more businesses have showers so that employees can freshen up before starting the work day, and priority is given to bikes in many intersections, with the inclusion of green boxes painted on the street at stop lights. Cars must stop behind the green zone, allowing bicycles to go first when the light turns green.
The more people that ride bicycles, and the better public transportation, the more automobile drivers can enjoy their driving without traffic jams. Perhaps that’s why driver are so courteous to bike riders there, because they appreciate that it’s a bicycle in front of them, and not another car. After all, where is the freedom that the car is supposed to provide when you’re stuck in a traffic jam?
As I said, I love automobiles, but I love them under the right conditions. I work at home whenever I can. I couldn’t stand driving a car everyday to go to work and back, especially not in stop-and-go traffic. Whenever I can I walk or bike to the store. When I take classes at the university, I go by bicycle; it keeps me in good shape and saves money. Yes, I use the car when I need to go to Los Angeles, 100 miles south of my home in Santa Barbara. If time permits I’ll take the train; because of our culture of automobiles in Southern California, unfortunately our trains are not very fast, and not well connected.
So while Portland is trying to be more like China, increasing bicycle friendliness, I fear that China is trying to be more like Los Angeles. Believe me, you don’t want to “go” there. The city of movie stars is very unfriendly to communal life. It’s difficult to do anything without a car, so you become a slave to your car, instead of the automobile being at your service when you need it. You need to drive to get anywhere, and the rush hours are longer and longer. And only 0.6% of its population commutes by bicycle. Which reminds me of the sticker I saw on a bike in Portland, “you’d be happy to if you were riding your bicycle”
In the future, cities will be friendly to bicycle traffic and easy to get around by train and bus. In the future you will enjoy the car on a racetrack during the weekend.
In the future, cities will be more like some places in China, where the bicycle is still king. If China wants to look to the USA for ideas in the year 2009, just like Binchum looked to Europe in 1886, turn your eyes to Portland, Oregon, not Los Angeles, California. Don’t buy the streetcar companies and burn down the trolleys. Don’t set your bicycles on fire just yet. In fifty years you may wish you had those bicycle lanes and those train tracks back, just like LA. Cars, trams and bicycles can live together. Just look at Portland.

Written by Isaac Hernandez

noviembre 27, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Publicado en Uncategorized

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Of Hummers, Government Motors and Fuel Economy.

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From my Chinese Column
©2009 Isaac Hernández
It always puzzles me how the English language refers to fuel consumption as fuel economy. Perhaps it’s all relative; I suppose a 100mpg AutomotiveX-Prize contender (see last month’s column) really has fuel economy, compared to the current consumption standards.
While we wait for the X-Prize winner, the US government has proposed a 35.5mpg goal by 2016. This is not new. The Bush administration had already proposed in December 2007 a fleet-wide average goal for cars and trucks of 35mpg, by 2020. In the current regulation, cars must average 27.5 and trucks 23.1mpg. The CAFE standard will increase by five percent each year, building on the 2011 standard, until we get to 2016. The new goal is a national fleet mpg average of 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks.
According to the White House, “the projected oil savings of this program over the life of this program is 1.8 billion barrels of oil. The program is also projected to achieve reductions of 900 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions under the life of the program. That is equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road or shutting down 194 coal plants.”
What the White House has accomplished is for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to work together to set standards for greenhouse gases. From these standards, they’ve come up with the fuel consumption figure.
It took some compromises from everybody. California, for example, had to give up their own Clean Air Act and go along the goals set for the rest of the nation. Under California’s plan, the fuel consumption average still worked out to be 35.5mpg by 2016, but the curve to get there was a bit steeper. The White House wants to give car manufacturers more time to get to the new goal.
And, like all laws, there are exceptions manufacturers can work around. For example, heavy vehicles, like the Hummer H2, are exempt from this regulation because they are considered farm or work vehicles. In fact, during the Bush administration, you could even get a tax rebate for the value of your car, if it weighed over 8500 lbs. and was used for business. Other loopholes include mileage credits for selling flexible-fuel vehicles, even if these never run on E-85 fuel.
In my hometown of Santa Barbara, for example, there are no Ethanol fueling stations. I’d have to drive over 100 miles, to Los Angeles, to refuel on E-85; a short distance, if you consider that a couple of years ago, the only E-85 gas station in California was in San Diego, another 150 miles south. Today there are five of these stations in Sacramento (propelfuels.com), one in Brentwood (conservfuel.com) and the mentioned one in San Diego.
Yes, California has a long way to go, but there are also many agents of change, including Daniel Emmet, from Energy Independence Now (ein.org), who pitched governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the idea of a Hydrogen Highway.
Emmet has an ally in Arjun Sarkar, whose official title at the University of California at Santa Barbara is “sustainable transportation change agent”. He has been championing alternative fuels for many years, and is the brain behind our very own Green Car Show, since 2001. Through this show, our citizens have been able to choose more wisely among many different alternative fuel options, including some electric cars from Miles Automotive (milesev.com), manufactured in China. Sarkar is a big proponent of the use of multiple fuels, from natural gas, to electricity to hydrogen.
Perhaps because of the government credits for flexible fuel cars that can burn ethanol, General Motors and Chrysler invested energy in developing this kind of vehicles. They also touted fuel cell and electric car prototypes, but it wasn’t until 2008 that they brought a full hybrid into the market. While we wait for the promised land of the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, GM is selling hybrid versions of the Saturn Vue, the Chevy Malibu and the GMC Sierra/Cadillac Escalade. Chrysler launched a hybrid Dodge Durango (sharing technology with GM), but never brought it out to dealerships.
The two other big players in the US automotive industry, Ford and Toyota, have been selling hybrid cars for many years now. Is it perhaps a coincidence that these manufacturers haven’t required any government assistance, yet? I’m not saying that the hybrid car saved Toyota and Ford, but the fact that these companies have had these available for almost a decade speaks volumes about the different way of thinking.
Yes, GM brought us the EV-1 electric vehicle back in the 1990’s. And they have shown many fuel cell cars over the years, including a Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell, which is actually being tested in real life in Los Angeles. But where was the GM “Prius” when they needed one?
Manufacturers have claimed that US consumers don’t want fuel-efficient vehicles as long as gasoline remains under $2 per gallon. Last summer, when the price reached $4 per gallon in Santa Barbara, hordes were selling their SUVs and buying small cars.
Will it take a surge in gasoline price to sell cars under the new CAFE standards to the public? An increase in gasoline tax would do the trick, but don’t ask Americans to pay more tax on gas. We have no problem ever increasing taxes on cigarettes, but people have much emotion about their gas. During the last crisis, Oregon tried to pass a law to increase gasoline tax by just 1 cent per gallon with a voter initiative, in order to fund the police force, and it failed to pass.
Some Republicans propose a gasoline tax hike in exchange of lowering employment taxes, thus not increasing taxes, technically, but moving them around. This way we would tax something that we don’t need (CO2) instead of something we need (jobs).
The EPA and NHTSA foresee flexibility in compliance with its proposed standards based on certain credits. Credits can be earned for fleet over-compliance in a given year, and applied in future years. Current consideration is to allow credits to be carried forward for at least 5 years.
And while the new standards are designed to make all type of cars and light trucks decrease their fuel consumption, there probably will be ways in which manufacturers can transfer credits among its fleet. Plus, plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles will count towards “super credits,” by making each of these vehicles count as more than one, with a multiplier to be decided.
And since the mpg figure is actually figured mathematically from the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, critics say that the improvement of AC systems will count towards the figurative reduction of fuel consumption.
The car manufacturers seem to like the new plan as it simplifies the system, by getting rid of different laws for California, and the other States that were going to follow the Clean Air Act. Some say that GM and Chrysler had no option but to stand behind the president, after all, the government owns 60% of GM.
Obama’s office, which has been accused of being Communist by conservative right-wing Republicans, is setting these standards for all car companies, but also its own company, GM, which some say that it stands for “Government Motors”.
The irony is that GM may have not been in such dire straits if it wasn’t for the old CAFE standards, which gave unfair tax advantage to large SUVs, by exempting them. SUVs became the chicken that laid the golden egg. And even though SUVs still enjoy relative strong sales in the USA, given the circumstances, the Big Three became too comfortable with large vehicles and an easy profit, and have not quite learned yet how to make a profit with small cars (or so people say).
Does GM have an unfair advantage with the government on its side, and the possibility of setting up laws that favor their own company? The US legal system won’t let the government get away with helping its own company. It will be impossible for GM to be an exclusive supplier of police cars, for example, or for the White House to give away GM cars with your tax rebate.
Some question the government’s investment in GM. If you were to buy a car company, why buy one with so many troubles at such high price? And if we really want to reduce fuel consumption, why not invest in a new company that makes electric cars already, not one that promises a plug-in hybrid in the future? Look at Daimler, which sold Chrysler before it went bankrupt, and now it’s buying 10% of the electric car company Tesla Motors.
As I write these lines, I hear that Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. is possibly buying Hummer, contracting vehicle manufacturing temporarily, thus keeping the Shreveport, Louisiana, factory (where the H3 and H3T are assembled) open until at least 2010. While the H3 does have to follow CAFE standards, the H2 doesn’t. It’s up to Sichuan Tengzhong to make Hummers that the public wants. A 100mpg Hummer, anyone? Why not? Who says a purely American brand also has to be a gas guzzler?

Written by Isaac Hernandez

noviembre 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

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Lessons from Fast & Furious

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Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez in FF4. Photo: ©Jaimie Trueblood/Universal

Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez in FF4. Photo: ©Jaimie Trueblood/Universal

About gasoline, Hollywood illusions and Cash for Clunkers.

©2009 Isaac Hernández/AutoTao.com

I recently received the latest DVD release of the Fast and Furious saga, as a media review copy. After a couple of weeks, I finally decided to pop it in my Made In China Mac Book Pro, to finally watch it and write the review. My father, a brilliant magazine publisher in Spain (www.luike.com), told me once that news are like hot potatoes, and you have to pass them on to your readers before you get burnt. With this DVD, I got scolded, taking so long to review it. But I must admit that, even as a car journalist, I’ve never been into the Fast and Furious saga, not even the first one, which it turns out it was called The Fast and the Furious. I’ve never seen any of them, until now. A couple of years ago I was even invited to visit the set for the third installment FF3, known as The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and see the filming of one stunt. If you are a FF fan, you may think, “What a waste that he got to go and I didn’t!”

So I decided to give Fast & Furious (2009, directed by Justin Lin, born 1973 in Taipei, Taiwan) a chance, looking for hidden metaphors and lessons. The opening scene is reminiscent of the great train robberies in Western films, but instead of stealing gold, they’re running away with gasoline. As Michelle Rodriguez’ character, Letty, says in the movie, “Down here gas is gold, bubba”. That’s the first metaphor. In the Dominican Republic, where the scene takes place, gasoline is scarce. Is this the way it will be for all of us in the near future? Watch the special features and you’ll see Los Bandoleros, a short directed by Vin Diesel (who plays Dom in the movie) and you’ll get more details behind the gasoline robbery. They’re stealing gas from the rich for the poor. You’ll also get Tego Calderón´s poignant political commentary from behind bars in a Dominican prison: “There were cars that ran without gasoline, suckers. But what did those son-of-a-bitches do? They pulled them out of the market. Why? Big business. Why the hell are they in Irak, fighting? Fighting for oil. And us, fighting each other for dumb shit.”

A pretty spectacular opening for a movie, with sliding cars, pretty girls and explosions, all that’s necessary to please my testosterone. I tend to like more intellectual movies, but I have to admit Fast & Furious grabbed my attention, with surprisingly good acting and an interesting plot, plus action-packed driving, both with 81 stunt people and with computer graphics (CGI) and green screens. Yes, I would have liked a few more plot twists, but what I got was enough to feed my imagination in order to write this column, which is actually not about the film, even if it seems like it, but about feeding you my thoughts about cars, driving, gasoline, Hollywood and the US government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.

The DVD comes with a warning at the end: “The motor vehicle Action sequences depicted in this film are dangerous. All stunts were performed in controlled environments with professionally trained stunt crews on closed roads. No attempts should be made to duplicate any action, driving or car play scenes herein portrayed.” I would add, the quasy-love making scenes in this film are dangerous too, they can get you pregnant. And a final warning, the words in this column are merely my opinion, don’t believe any of them, or do, but question, always question…

Having gone through the mandatory lawyer-mandated lingo, I will say that the DVD comes with great featurette about the filming of the opening scene. Here you see the stunt drivers performing the 180 slide and then going into reverse without stopping (pretty impressive), and you can also see that the gasoline tank trailer is actually a vehicle in itself, with someone hidden inside driving as he looks down a relatively small opening. See? don’t believe what you see. It could be CGI.

Watching the movie remind me of a personal illusion that I lived. In one of the car meetings in the movie there’s at least one vehicle from Swift Car Club (www.swiftcc.net). I actually know some of the people from this club, including Albert García, its president. During a photo shoot with his tuned Chevy Impala (with a BMW front end and a Mercedes rear end), we met a guy who claimed to be a Hollywood make-up artist. He said he knew Paul Walker and that he was sure that Paul would love Albert’s car and would probably buy it. I didn’t know who Walker is, and it turns out he is the big star in the original FF movie, The Fast and the Furious (2001), the second FF, 2 Fast 2 Furious, this last fourth one, and most probably also in the future fifth installment. To make the long story short, he was/is a scam artist, looking for attention by throwing names of movie stars and doing make up jobs on people. I started the blog when I met him (and it ended when he called me, apologized and said that his conning days were over). Second lesson today, don’t believe necessarily everything you see in Hollywood, or everywhere else.

The next scene in FF4 features a funeral, and Dom watches from atop a hill, with an oil platform behind him; is it a metaphor for a funeral for gasoline? The next action part of the movie includes an illegal street car race in Los Angeles. After watching the movie I happened to drive to LA, and found myself wanted to drive fast like in the movie. Bad idea. Remember the warning about the motor vehicle action being dangerous? People die doing these things in real life. The innocent lives lost to street car racing cannot be brought back for a second take. This scene looks very much like a video game. It even has animations that are supposed to look like a navigation system, but are more video game like. Do they want to sell you the FF video game? Most probably, as Vin Diesel, producer for this last installment also has a video game company and got the video game licensing rights for the FF name. Here’s the third lesson: reserve reckless driving to your video game console. It’s more fun, cheaper, and legal. And easier, remember, it took 81 stunt drivers and many copies of each car, plus computer animators, to make what you see on the screen.

I won’t go into detail about the rest of the film. I don’t want to spoil it for viewers. But I will point out what I see as the future of the automobile. As gasoline prices climb, we will see buyers buying smaller four-cylinder cars for their daily driving, perhaps more hybrids and even alternative fuels. Would Vin then change his name to Vin Biodiesel? No, I guess it doesn’t have the same ring. The Y chromosome will still control our desire to drive big V8 cars like Dom’s 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454, but these will become, more and more, weekend drivers.

Wait a second, it’s already true, people are trading their SUVs, mostly Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Cherokee for Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla… at least for now, thanks to a government program known as Cash for Clunkers that provides up to $4500 to trade in your gas guzzler for a smaller vehicle. A gas guzzler is considered by the government a car that does 18mpg or worse. So my 1998 Volvo V70, with an average rating of 20mpg does not qualify. It’s kind of upsetting for me that the government is giving my money (the 1,000 million dollars in aid, soon to become 3,000 million dollars, comes from our taxes) for people to trade in their cars, but I cannot take advantage of it to trade for a more environmental car. So a person with a 18mpg car can buy a 20mpg car and get rewarded, but I cannot trade my 20mpg car for a 25mpg car and get the bonus. I plan to write a letter to Obama himself. Why do people who bought SUVs when they didn’t really need them, get rewarded now? Shouldn’t responsible people, who are already saving gas and want to save even more, be taken care of too?

Which brings me to my last point. You can drive an economic car, or even a bicycle to work, and you can still play with cars. As you can see in the DVD extras, even Vin goes to driving school to have fun. When he drives around Los Angeles he doesn’t go crazy. He drives responsibly. With the abundance of racing driving schools, you don’t even have to own a V8 to experience one. Heck, you could just play the sound of a V8 engine out the speakers of your electric car. In Fast & Furious, Dom’s Buick Grand National sounds like a V8, but in real life these cars, also known as GNX, are powered by V6 engines. If Hollywood can do it, why can’t you? Come to think of it, I wonder how many of the crashed FF cars did Universal Studios trade in for new ones under the Cash for Clunkers program…

Written by Isaac Hernandez

agosto 5, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Video fenomenal

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No tiene que ver con carros, pero hay motos.

Written by Isaac Hernandez

julio 13, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Publicado en Uncategorized

Cambio de Aceite en el que Podemos Creer.

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Existen muchas opiniones acerca de cada cuánto tiempo hay que cambiar el aceite. ¿Qué historia nos creemos?
Para que funcione un motor de gasolina es fundamental que esté bien lubricado. Para ello no solo basta que este tenga aceite, sino que tiene que estar en buen estado.
Con el uso y el tiempo el aceite se contamina. El filtro de aceite limpia las impurezas hasta cierto límite; llega un momento en que este no filtra y hay que cambiarlo, junto con el aceite.
Muchas empresas de cambio de aceite anuncian que lo mejor para su motor es cambiar el aceite cada tres mil kilómetros. ¿Les podemos creer? Seguro que sus consejos, aunque sean buenos para nuestro motor, son mejor para sus bolsillos.
No quiero decir que el motor no se beneficie reducir el ciclo del aceite, pero no es absolutamente necesario un cambio tan frecuente. Muchos fabricantes recomiendan el cambio de aceite cada 5000 y hasta 7500 millas, bajo manejo normal, y cada 3000 o 5000 millas para carros que se manejan en tráfico, en viajes diarios de menos de cinco millas o en lugares contaminados.
Conviene seguir las recomendaciones del fabricante, pues nos ayudarán también a mantener la garantía del carro. Es importante leer qué recomienda el manual de su carro. En el caso de no cambiar el aceite en el ciclo recomendado por el fabricante, su carro seguramente perderá la garantía. Pero hacer el cambio más a menudo no le garantiza una garantía mayor.
Consumer Reports explica que basta cada 7.500 millas para casi todos los coches, salvo en los casos de “conducción extrema” antes mencionados. AAA avisa que 5.000, y 3.000 en casos extremos.
Jiffy Lube dice que casi nadie maneja en condiciones normales, así que hay que cambiar cada 3.000. Y ExxonMobil dice que 3000, a pesar de que su aceite es sintético, que dura más tiempo que el aceite vegetal.
El cambio de aceite prematuro puede parecer bueno para su motor, pero no para el planeta. El aceite usado representa un peligro ecológico, por las toxinas y metales pesados que lleva
¿Hace falta llevar el carro a un taller o puedo hacer el cambio yo mismo? La ventaja de un taller es que estos cuentan con máquinas para aspirar el aceite y sacar todo el aceite viejo, que además reciclarán por usted.
En el caso de hacerlo en casa, tenga mucho cuidado de no derramar nada de aceite. En EEUU la gente que cambia su propio aceite genera 150 millones de negros galones al año. A pesar de estar prohibido, se calcula que la mitad lo vierte al suelo. Un galón de aceite usado puede contaminar un millón de galones de agua.
EEUU genera 5000 millones de litros de aceite usado (incluyendo para uso industrial) al año, de los cuales se estima que menos del 60% es reciclado.
En Illinois, las estaciones de servicio y puntos de venta al público de lubricante aceptan aceite de motor para su reciclaje. También puede visitar la página web en inglés. California cuenta con una página web en español, y el teléfono gratuito 1-800-CLEANUP. Además el gobierno paga 16 céntimos por galón de aceite usado. Puede no parecer mucho, pero más caro es el precio que debemos pagar cuando el aceite usado contamina la tierra, las fuentes de agua y los océanos. Debemos cuidar el mundo para nuestros hijos.

Sí se puede.
Yes, we oil can.

Written by Isaac Hernandez

noviembre 9, 2008 at 12:21 am

Publicado en Uncategorized

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Ahorrar combustible

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Cuando la gasolina llegó a los 4 dólares el galón, mucha gente cambió su SUV por un carrito chico… los que podían permitirse la inversión, porque los precios de carros pequeños usados subieron como la espuma. ¡Un Geo Metro se vende ahora por hasta $6000!
Pero no tienes que cambiar de carro para ahorrar. Hay otras opciones, que menciono a continuación.
Neumáticos. Es fundamental llevar la presión de los neumáticos correcta. Esto no sólo reduce el consumo de gasolina, también el desgaste de las gomas, al mismo tiempo que hace que el carro sea más seguro. Es importante también llevar el tamaño de neumáticos recomendados por la marca, y si puede ser unos de bajo consumo, como los Michelin Energy MX 4 Plus. Las ruedas tuning más anchas aumentan el rozamiento y el consumo.
Aerodinámica. Llevar una bandera enganchada por fuera puede demostrar tu amor por tu equipo o país, pero es poco patriótico, pues aumenta considerablemente el consumo, dado el rozamiento que genera; y hoy en día el consumo de petróleo no ayuda a la patria. Las ventanillas bajadas también perjudican la aerodinámica, sobre todo a partir de las 25 millas por hora. Y el aire acondicionado aumenta el consumo, por lo que es recomendable usarlo a una temperatura agradable, no demasiado fría. Si tu carro lleva un portaequipajes removible en el techo, quítalo cuando no lo estés usando. Este genera rozamiento en el aire y además aumenta el peso del vehículo.
Reducir peso. También es importante quitar los trastos que llevas para arriba y abajo en tu carro pero que no necesitas diariamente, como puede ser ropa, muebles, herramientas… Claro está, deja lo que te pueda hacer falta en una emergencia, como un triángulo reflectante, cables para la batería, linterna…
El carro a punto. Si el motor está funcionando como debe, consumirá menos. Existen aditivos que prometen reducir el consumo de combustible, pero no conozco ninguno que merezca la pena la inversión. (Si usted tiene uno que le vaya bien, me puede escribir). Use el octanaje recomendado por el fabricante. Usar gasolina de 91 octanos en un carro que sólo necesita de 87, no reduce el consumo.
Manejo suave. La mejor manera de ahorrar es no pegar acelerones, ni frenazos bruscos (claro está, excepto cuando sea necesario). Si la luz en la distancia está roja, podemos dejar que el carro continúe con la inercia sin necesidad de acelerar, y quizás tengamos la suerte que la luz se vuelva a poner verde antes de que paremos del todo, evitando una arrancada de cero -el carro consume más cuando nos movemos a partir de parado-. Entonces aceleraremos suavemente hasta alcanzar la velocidad deseada. Es cierto que si manejamos a 65 millas por hora en autopista consumiremos mucho menos que a 70 ó 75.
Maneje menos. Por último, consulte con compañeros de trabajo, de escuela o iglesia para compartir el paseo en carro. O vaya en autobús o tren. Y si usted puede desplazarse caminando o en bicicleta consumirá lo mínimo. Antes de subir al carro para ir a la tienda a la vuelta de la esquina, piénselo dos veces. Quizás en lugar de un carro nuevo, lo que necesita es un carrito de la compra para llevar la carga con menos esfuerzo, y de paso ponerse en forma. Es lo más patriótico y saludable.

Written by Isaac Hernandez

noviembre 8, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Hyundai Genesis

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Hay varios coches que tengo muchas ganas de probar, y que espero traeros a estas páginas pronto:

Dodge Challenger, Nissan GT-R y Hyundia Genesis Coupe.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai Genesis Coupe rear

Hyundai Genesis Concept Coupe

No estoy hablando del Genesis Sedán, aunque la verdad es que es muy bonito, sino del Concept Coupe que pudimos ver en el Salón de Los Ángeles, que en principio será tracción trasera y contará con 300 caballos y costará menos que un Mustang… Tendremos que esperar hasta el 2009. Mientras tanto nos tendremos que conformar con el Sedan…

Hyundai Genesis Sedan

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Podeis ver el video de LA AUTO SHOW aqui:

Written by Isaac Hernandez

febrero 17, 2008 at 11:38 am

Publicado en Uncategorized