Automakers Now Openly Admitting to Haloware Ops

If you’ve been reading DbC, you’ll know that we have long been interested in car corporations’ efforts to implant the idea that cars are somehow still high technology, and also that we stand at the brink of a great new era of automotive ease, safety, and ecological sustainability. (Not exactly a new effort, admittedly, but one that carries a new urgency in our obviously endangered times.)

The DbC thesis is that, due to corporate capitalism’s deepest institutional priorities, this social order’s prime movers and primary beneficiaries have no choice but to keep pushing cars-first transportation in the United States and elsewhere, come –literally — Hell or high water.

Well, lo and behold! In a very macro-Freudian slip, none other than the General Motors corporation is now publicly calling its latest batch of pies-in-the-sky the Cadillac Halo Platform!

[Note: This follows earlier flirtations with tipping this particular hand.]

This is quite interesting. It comes extremely close to being a direct admission of the cynical managerial intention behind such macro-marketing endeavors.

Indeed, it begs the question: Why is GM letting this cat out of the bag right now?

Here at DbC, our hypotheses on this are two:

  1. Thanks to the remarkable sanctity of the automobile in our public culture, GM has decided that the odds of any journalist or politician reporting that haloware is being perpetrated on the American public by the makers of our epoch’s most important and dangerous product are close to zero.
  2. This is a ploy to signal investors that GM will do whatever it takes — even such extra-shameless lies — to keep its ROIs flowing for as long as humanly possible.

And voilà: It works!

And while you’re at it, take a look at how hep good old Design Chief Simcoe looks here — the retro glasses and haircut, the boutique duds! What a cool daddy-o! Next stop, the Red Planet, no doubt!

It will be interesting to see if GM keeps being this honest about this increasingly important aspect of car-selling. There is some distinct topical danger in doing so. If people ever figure out that the multiplying forms of automotive haloware are indeed haloware, things could get a bit bouncy for TPTB.


Mary Barra photo I have a vision of living forever in perfect ease and amusement. This vision is of precisely the same quality as the various visions of those promoting and accommodating the continuing reign of the automobile, who have taken to saying they dream of the inherently unsafe and unsustainable product that is and always will be the lifeblood of our epoch’s outdated socio-economic order one day becoming safe and sustainable. Like I said…

Of course, when the “vision” talk emanates from the world’s third largest maker of the machine in question, you know you’re well past the territory of Orwell and Huxley.

To wit, this.

Only in age like ours, one entirely soaked in overclass bullshit, could such a statement not draw outraged howls. But there it sits.

GM’s Brand-New Haloware/Vaporware

Chevy-Bolt-roof-rack General Motors, it says, is the “First Company to Use Mass-Production Methods for Autonomous Vehicles.”

In a society that had either the rudiments of a sane attitude toward transportation or actual journalism, this shameless howler would be getting rightly trashed. Instead, of course, GM’s ridiculous PR claim is generating the usual straight reprints of its press release, under the desired, predictable headlines:

General Motors: We can mass-produce self-driving cars now

Notice the slip from GM’s “mass-production methods” to the corporate news outlet’s “mass produce.” (Need we again mention the nature of the “electric vehicle” deception?)

Meanwhile, the vehicles in question — all 130 of them — are certainly not “self-driving,” as is demonstrated by this picture from GM’s own press release packet:bolt-pr

And, say, what do you imagine would happen to this contraption’s “self-driving” capacities upon the slightest ding to that rather extravangant roof rack? And how much would it cost to fix such problems? Nobody is mentioning such matters, of course. There’s much more loss-leading business to be done here, after all.

Car Capitalists Hoarding Cash

cash_hoard Like the rest of their class, the automobile manufacturers are hoarding cash. Automotive News for October 10 cites a new study by IHS Automotive:

Car companies are holding a quarter-trillion dollars in cash and equivalents, says Charles Chesbrough, senior principal economist at the industry consultancy. And the overall cash-to-revenue ratio is a healthy 19.3 percent, insulating from them a financial crisis.

Leading the pack is Toyota Motor Corp., which is sitting on $42.2 billion, according to Chesbrough’s calculations. Volkswagen AG is a close second with $35.9 billion on the books.

And what of the bail-out recipients, the businesses that won’t be repaying the full amount of the free loans and purchases of radioactive stock they received from Bush and Zerobama?

GM, which went through a quick-rinse bankruptcy during the global financial meltdown, has $32.8 billion.

Chrysler’s cash holdings were rolled into Fiat’s for a total of $27 billion. And in a sign of their strength, Fiat leads the industry with the highest cash-to-revenue ratio, at 36.2 percent.

“Free enterprise.”

GM and Tim Dick’s Latest Macho-Smarmy Lie

57 percent of pickup trucks are used once a month or less to haul anything.  83 percent are used for towing once a month or less, 37 percent never.  Offroad use?  62 percent are never used for that.  17 percent of pickup buyers make no pretense of wanting anything but the image. Car capitalists know all this better than anybody.

Meanwhile, militantly sexist and counter-factual flattery remains the pitch, despite the times:


Suicide by Overkill

pickups In a story that provides more evidence that, as the late Marvin Harris argued and virtually all modern “culture” theorists and most would-be car critics ignore, ideas tend to follow rather than lead infrastructural circumstances, it seems that Peak Oil has begun to kill the Old West/redneck marketing appeal of the pickup truck in the United States. Seems that GM has so over-produced pickups that its dealers are now in possession of enough stock to last them through year’s end.

The reason for this overstock, of course, was GM’s hope that reality would continue on as always. “We thought that this year would bring back the kind of economic activity that would translate into us selling more trucks,” a GM dealer tells Automotive News.

Why that particular hope? Because, vis-a-vis the question of transportation efficiency, pickup trucks and SUVs are double-overkill, and hence much more profitable to capitalists than small, more rational automobiles. Because they pile on even more unnecessary equipment and material than do passenger cars, “Pickups generate more profit per vehicle than passenger cars, analysts say.”

Of course, this is hardly a landslide yet. As Automotive News reports, “Full-size pickups are still the two top-selling vehicles in the U.S. Ford sold 264,079 F-Series in the year’s first half, a 9.9 percent increase, while customers bought 182,785 of GM’s Silverado, a gain of 9.6 percent. The volumes are much lower than before the recession and the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler Group LLC.”

And why do I say pickup equipment is unnecessary?

Percent of pickup owners who never haul items in the truck bed: 27
Additional percent who do so less than monthly: 30

[Note: The above statistics are from the 2005 “Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey” done by R.L. Polk for the Environmental Defense Fund.  For some reason, this piece of research seems to have been disappeared from the whole internet, including the EDF’s website.]

Old Wine, New Bottle

electric fire So, the diversionary pipedream of the electric car continues to roll out, as the tyranny of capitalist decision-making prevents all admission of its inherent idiocy.

Meanwhile, dig this new wrinkle:

The Chicago Tribune…reported that by the time Chicago’s 73 direct-current fast-charging stations are installed next January, they could be mostly obsolete. That’s because the Chicago system is using a Japanese-developed charging protocol and there’s a big effort in the U.S. to adopt a difference standard for rapid charging.

The charging stations are priced at $65,000 each, and the cost of a retrofit on top of that is unclear.

SAE is considering the Japanese protocol, but the group is under pressure from General Motors and other automakers to not use the outlet that is compatible with the Leaf and the i-MiEV in part to create a problem for their makers.

Ah, false difference and phony obsolescence. Same as it ever was.

Today’s Lesson on the “Green Cars” Oxymoron

buick city

Today, we get news of the latest Obama bailout of corporate capitalists. Today, it comes in this form:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has reached a deal on a $773 million environmental trust, the largest of its kind in U.S. history, to clean up dozens of former General Motors sites spread over 14 states, officials said Wednesday.

The funds will target automotive sites containing hazardous waste that were left shuttered by the auto giant’s bankruptcy last year. About half of the 89 sites covered by the trust are in Michigan and others are in Indiana, New York and Ohio.

At GM’s abandoned Massena, New York complex, the pool of PCBs is so deep it has not yet been (and possible could never be) even measured, despite decades of controversy.

One effect of this toxic lake? “[New York] State-conducted studies have found PCBs in the breast milk of nursing Mohawk mothers and in their infants.”

All this and more (dig the name of the bankrupt corporate shell of the “old GM” — Motors Liquidation Company (MLC) — where’d the “General” and the “GM” go, boys?) is interesting in its own sordid Obamian right.

But permit me to enlarge: The more general point is that manufacturing automobiles is inherently energy-, materials-, and toxics-intensive. “Green car” is an oxymoron, whatever motor ones stick in.

Car Materials