Tag Archive | "regular car"

Green Investing & Ecuador Cars


Green investments may have extra value now.

“Green  Cars”  means something different now… than it did when I began to drive.

Today “Green Car” might means this….”Small is beautiful”.

green-investment

45 years ago a “green car” meant something like this!

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“Bigger was better!”

Thinking about this change can help us cash in on green investing.

Actually buying a car like the GTO would have been a pretty good investment.

Rare cars had really good appreciation for many years… but the green, very non green, GTO above can tell us more about where to invest in “Environmental Green.”   A change in green mentality can show us how to spot special investing value that goes way beyond collecting antique cars.

This was my first car.

green-investments

This was a 1958 Chevy Bel Air.  I bought it in 1963, used… for $895. This forced me to get a job…. busing dishes at a steak house in Portland, Oregon.   That car sort of set my lifestyle for decades… a solid member of the “one car per person” society.

I lived a mile from an isolated levy on the Columbia River… so yes, I drove my Chevy to the levy.

No more!   Bye Bye Miss American Pie is a more appropriate tune since Pontiac is about to die.   What could be more American Pie than a Pontiac?

I know because this was my second car…

green-investing

a 1966 Pontiac Tempest LeMans Sprint.

These pictures from www.cardomain.com brought back fond memories.  I can list every car I have ever owned in order… it’s a guy sort of thing… but this is not the point here.

That Pontiac had a special new Pontiac – built 230 cubic-inch overhead cam six power plant, the only such engine found in an American production car at that time.  This was available in this Sprint option package on two-doors with a four-barrel, high-compression 207 horsepower version,  marketed as an alternative to higher-priced European sport sedans, which had similar OHC engines.

This motor was hot and was fuel efficient!  Here is a picture.

green-investing

Then the idea of smaller more fuel efficient engines was lost.  The gas guzzling GTO with a huge eight cylinder took over and this type of engine became hot.  Europe’s idea of smaller, high performance fell to the idea of … just plain… BIG.

Bigger is better.   Faster is good.   Power is king.  These became  the American ideals and most of us (boomer) guys and gals bought into it.

This led society down an incorrect, unsustainable path of consumption worth mentioning now because of Pontiac’s recent death.

A recent BBC News article entitled “Pontiac RIP” by Nick Holland tells the tale.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

The GTO transformed Pontiac into a muscle car brand.

Pontiac has become the highest-profile victim of the crisis in the American car industry.  The decision this week by General Motors to discontinue the brand shocked a generation of petrol heads who fell in love with the all American muscle cars the company developed in the 1960 and 70s.

It is a great shame that one of America’s iconic brands is having to be removed from the automotive scene

We are talking about cars like the Pontiac Firebird, The Grand Am and the GTO.
Like Route 66, roadside diners and baseball all of these vehicles have become genuine artefacts of U.S. culture.

“If ever a car company defined swagger – Pontiac was it,” says Peter DeLorenzo who runs the Autoextremist.com blog.

“Pontiac delivered cars to the market bristling with a maverick, edgy appeal and genuine soul – a commodity so far removed from most of Detroit’s products then that it was striking,” he says.

Things began to change when the company employed John De Lorean, who later founded the ill-fated De Lorean Motor Company, as its new head of engineering in 1956.

Pontiac started test driving a saloon car fitted with powerful V8 engines.

However, the vehicle did not meet General Motors’ corporate guidelines because they were considered too fast and breached an agreement with other manufacturers within the GM group to avoid building performance cars.

Regardless of that, a handful of the cars were built and Pontiac salesman drove them around to test public reaction.  They got 5,000 orders.

Once the board at General Motors found out, the GTO was born.

The popularity of the car encouraged the company to transform itself into a performance brand.

Alongside the GTO the company developed the Grand Prix and the Firebird during the 1960s, all of them muscle cars.

The demise of Pontiac is a clue… the end of a wasteful non sustainable way… plus it’s part of  this economic slowdown that signals huge socio-economic changes.

The global financial correction has pushed equity markets down everywhere and ended as time Magazine puts it, “the end of excess”.

American society revered big. Bigger was better. The more one had… the bigger the house… the faster the car… the greater the consumption… the more a consumer was respected.

Perhaps no more.  Now being environmentally sensitive is cool.

This creates a distortion because green shares have been especially hard hit.

There is a reason for this.  A USA Today article entitled “Going green can cost too much green” by Alan Gomez may help explain why.

Here are excerpts from this article:

Going green isn’t easy, especially during a recession.

For two years, the city of Durango, Colo., bought electricity for all its government buildings from wind farms. The City Council ended that program this year, reverting to electricity derived from coal-burning plants and saving the cash-strapped city about $45,000.

“It’s very hard for us to lay off an employee to justify green power,” City Manager Ron LeBlanc said. “Those are the tradeoffs you have to face.”

Across the country, government agencies are either cutting or shrinking programs that use or fund renewable energy projects. Green power — from wind farms, solar power or other renewable energy sources — remains more expensive than traditional power sources.

As budgets shrink, some people have had to scale back their green ambitions.
Pennsylvania passed a comprehensive energy plan last July that included a $100 million program to encourage people to invest in solar energy. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Program would provide reimbursements to homeowners and small business owners who installed solar electric and solar hot water projects.
The program has yet to begin, and the state will start with only $30 million in grants, according to Scott Dunkelberger, executive director of the Commonwealth Financing Authority, which administers the funding of Pennsylvania’s economic development programs. “We just want to take on the debt that we need,” he said.
That has left some in Pennsylvania waiting.

Buyers and investors have been backing off green because of short term financial concerns. Yet the huge long term problems of sustainability have not been resolved. Driving old Pontiacs might be cheaper in the short run then building new energy efficient cars… but returning to “Gitiup Little GTO” will not solve the problem’s of the high energy costs that those dual quads consume nor deal with the pollution coming from the twin exhausts.

Wise investors with a medium and long term view can gain extra value by investing in the value created by distortions in green shares that are vital to society in the long term… but depressed more than the norm right now due to short term economic concerns.

One example of this is that a no car trend is also growing. Excerpts from A New York Times article entitled “In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars”
by Elisabeth Rosenthal.

VAUBAN, Germany — Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

Ecuador Cars

Ecuador has some green potential in this way because Ecuador has a great import law for cars.  You cannot import used cars to Ecuador.  You can only import new cars only…ie. in 2009 a 2008 or newer.  This helps keep junkers, gas guzzlers and smokey, old wrecks off the road.

Merri and I encourage people to forget the car in Ecuador… for several reasons.

First, it is a hassle.

Second, the taxes are  high for imported vehicles. The norm for taxes for a regular car is near 50% and as the price of the car rises…so does the percentage of tax.  Cars over $100,000 have a 100% tax.

Third, hiring a car with driver (this what Merri and I do) is really inexpensive. Cars used for commerce (i,e. taxis) can be imported into Ecuador tax free. Gas is cheap (about $1.50 a gallon) and drivers do not earn a lot.  These facts often make it cheaper to hire a car with driver than to own a car.

Using a car and driver avoids getting lost.  You eliminate the legal hassle of fender benders and provide employment. Very few of the many people I know who have moved to Ecuador have a car.

Learn more about Ecuador cars at Driving in Ecuador

Owning one’s car is ingrained in the North American mentality. I am reminded of this every time I drive through a city during commuter hours. There are miles upon miles of individuals each sitting in one car.

I understand this… the minute I turned 16  I had to get a car… a big one that was fast.

That mindset was an error that the world (and many individual budgets) can no longer afford… so say bye bye Miss American Pie and so long Little GTO.  Invest in green and when possible do what you can to eliminate one person… one car.

Gary

Learn more about green investing at our upcoming International investing and business courses.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador

Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.  $1,799 for two.

You can read the entire article “Going green can cost too much green” at www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2009-05-03-greencities_N.htm

You can read the entire article German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/science/earth/12suburb.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Cotacachi & Green


One great benefit to living in Cotacachi Ecuador is that no car is required. This a a great benefit for green living.

Cotacachi is colorful beyond green.  This is the mural on the arts center in the middle of Cotacachi.

cotacachi-green

This shot was taken by Dennis Goff and is at his new interactive site for anyone who has been to Cotacachi or wants to find out more about it from other members.

Here is Dennis with us on a trek taking photos.

cotacachi-green

There is more about the new site and more pictures in a moment.  First, a Cotacachi business idea.

Many new residents in Cotacachi have bikes and a desire for cleaner living.

Merri and I love to see this happening. Protecting the environment is of such importance.  This is why we are working with our friend, Mark Owen, to take our North Carolina farm off the grid.

Mark recently wrote this article.

Two Wheels or Four?

By Mark Owen

The ever-strengthening desire for the industrialized nations to reduce their consumption of oil has prompted considerable interest in alternative means of transportation. Today, even the Madison Avenue marketing strategists paint a positive image around vehicles with high gas mileage. We all know that a concept has become mainstream when we see it on expensive television commercials and news segments during prime time. We have seen the Toyota Prius on commercials for a long time. Flex Fuel, Hybrid and All-Electric technologies are currently or soon-to-be available to the general public.  The Big Three American companies, Honda, and Toyota all have an all-electric car in development. BMW put a fleet of 700 hydrogen-powered cars in California last year. On the horizon are hopeful technologies such as chassie-free cars framed with carbon fiber bodies, Lithium-ion batteries for Electric and Hybrid cars, and small hydrogen power plants for the average Joe.

All those technologies are gearing toward making cars that are fundamentally similar to the ones we drive now. Designers and manufacturers have determined that consumer tastes change slowly. And these improvements may suffice, and they may come fast enough to make a significant difference. But there are many of you who are eager to push the envelope, live just beyond the comfort of the mainstream, and ponder the logical extremes of the challenges we face.
I like to venture out there once in a while, out there in those logical extremes. So I purchased an electric bicycle. I have owned it for five weeks now, and I am very pleased. Mind you, I live in Florida where the winters are mild. OK, the winters are better than just mild, they are great. The weather has not yet prevented me from riding whenever or wherever I needed to go. I have fitted my new bike with a child’s bike seat to the delight of my daughter. She and I ride to her school on the smaller neighborhood streets almost each morning now. At a relatively slow eighteen miles per hour and with no car encasing her, she enjoys more of her glorious environment. I have also intrigued many of the other parents that watch us drive up to school.

I also fitted the bicycle with a small canvas trailer. It is intended for transporting children, but I only use it to haul groceries from the store or tools to and fro my jobsites. I am a contractor who works out of a small Toyota truck. I usually go to my jobs in my truck the first day and leave all my heavy tools there. The ensuing days I have the option of commuting to that job on my new bike. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the distance to my jobsite. (It also depends on my mood.)

As you probably guessed, these electric bikes cannot travel far before they run out of steam. They run out of steam even quicker if you are pulling a trailer. Even a ten-pound trailer with skinny bicycle wheels. I learned this on my first commute to work. I got about half way there and the batteries died. I had to pedal the rest of the way there. I also learned that day that I should have brought my charger with me. I made it home for dinner that night, and did not feel the need to go to the gym the next morning, if you get my drift. I won’t soon forget that lesson.

Regarding the range on many of the electric bikes available, most of them can travel up to eighteen miles on a full charge. This varies considerably. The roads in my part of Florida a very flat. So that factor is the same as the “typical” used in most range evaluations. Most electric bicycles are called pedal-assist, so you are supposed to help the motor along by gently pedaling yourself. The weight of the passenger(s) is a factor, as is the weight of any baggage. I also learned that tire inflation and brake adjustment greatly affects range. Under-inflated tires or dragging brake pads will reduce your mileage.

I have found that my commutes to my daughter’s school are a very pleasant six-mile round trip. We can go as fast as she wants, I get a little exercise, and I comfortably make it home to recharge before I turn around to pick her up. Going to my work has proven to be sketchy because I usually drive on busier roads, at higher speeds to keep up with traffic, and the distances have been greater. Splotchy battery performance during my work commutes is what affects my mood some mornings. If I have a lot of work to do that day, I don’t want to also pedal half way home. As a sidebar, a fella gave me two supercharged batteries that he wants me to rig on to my new bike. They will strap into my basket. The electrical connection will be easy enough with a one-dollar connector from AutoZone. These batteries are “glass-mat” type from Harley Davidson motorcycles and have considerably higher amp/hour output than my factory-installed bicycle batteries. If I am crazy enough to do this, my wife or I will report back to you in later issues. That article will be a Must Read.
I will certainly keep riding my electric bike. I like the interest it generates, and the ensuing discussions. I would recommend it, with reservations, to many of you. If you are interested, read on.

I have done lots of research on the various electric bicycles available. Many of them are French or Italian. This concept must be popular across the pond. Most the other bikes (not mine) install their electric motor inside the center of the rear hub. I think this concept will work well in later-generation scooters, but If you run out of battery charge in one of these bicycles, it is very difficult to pedal them the rest of the way home. This arrangement also concerns me because parts for this assembly become very particular, very precise. Improvisation during repairs and maintenance becomes problematic. These European devices, in my experience, seems to be Solid State in that their many curious wires all bundle themselves into the center compartment where there are fuses and too many switches for my comfort. This center compartment contains a motherboard, a very proprietary piece of equipment that could not easily be circumvented. These bicycles are more like a moped than a pedal-assist bicycle. Electric bike technology should not be that sophisticated.

The other main style I saw was a regular bicycle with an electric motor that drives a wheel that you press against the rubber of your front tire for propulsion. This method creates both friction and slippage loss. More importantly, front-wheel-drive in a small car is good; front-wheel-drive on a bicycle is bad. The motion feels un-natural, and the weight of the motor on your front forks is very cumbersome. I felt like I had to constantly worry about endo (end-over-end flipping) or the front wheel slipping out from under me. Besides that, the aesthetics of these vehicles seemed all wrong.

I purchased my bicycle because it was the only one of its kind. It was  second-hand off Craig’s List, and I have no affiliation with the manufacturer. I have looked up their website, though. It is a Synergy Cycle, from Los Angeles, California. I saw yesterday that they reduced their purchase price to only $799.00. This is about half the price of any other electric bike I have seen to date. Their website advertises that a full charge costs between five and 7 cents. I have no reason to doubt this because my bike charges via a small transformer from a regular outlet from empty to full in about 30 minutes. (I will verify electric consumption and report this after I get my new amp-meter for my next birthday.) Either way, this bike has small initial and operational costs. Paltry indeed.

First it is a regular, high-quality, rugged bicycle. It seems they retro-fitted the motor system on after-the-fact. I know, that’s a redundancy, but my old high school English teacher probably won’t see this. And I really want to get this point across. Everything about this bike is as simple as possible. Any bike mechanic can work on most of it. Parts are as easy to find or improvise as any ordinary bike parts.

But then there is the motor/battery system. This stuff is strange to everybody. Who do you get to work on one of these babies? You guessed it…you, yourself, and you. The motor is about as big as a grapefruit, and it is bolted to the right rear main stay. Its got lots of torque and can pull a trailer and me with ease. (Even though extra weight draws more from your batteries.) Its armature runs parallel to the rear hub, about five inches above it. It is connected to the rear hub via a metal link chain and freewheel. This allows the electric motor to operate independent of the manual pedals. The manual pedals can operate independent of the motor, too. One pushes while the other freewheels. Or both can run simultaneous for top speed and longevity.

The motor is wired to the battery pack via two insulated wires that are neatly strapped to the frame. That’s all, just two wires. The battery pack is a plastic case that holds two 12v batteries joined in series to make a 24 volt system. There is a female jack for charging and an on-off switch on the side of this battery pack. The battery pack is removable with one quick-release bolt and one electrical connector. This way you can bring the battery in to your home or office to charge while the bike stays outside. From the battery pack (on the “bike” side of the dis-connector) there runs one cable to a thumb throttle on the handlebars. The throttle is spring tensioned. If your battery pack is switched “on” you may engage and accelerate the motor with a simple push of your thumb. The throttle is spring-tensioned, and its default mode is also “off,” creating a double “off” safety feature. It’s convenient and dummy-proof.

The only wires I don’t like are the two joined at the base of the throttle cable that go to each of the two hand brakes. If you are agile enough to simultaneously push the throttle with your thumb and pull the brakes with your fingers, the action of the brakes will shut down the electric motor. Talk about redundant. I’ve gotta give them credit, though. That is the only fat on the whole machine.

The double kickstand is very stable. It lifts your rear wheel off the ground and allows you to work on rear components while freewheeling, with the bicycle in the upright position. Did I mention the front fork shocks and the double mono-shocks on the main frame? The factory seat is nice enough, but I added a “gel” seat cover I mail ordered off the internet for $15.00. Even at 20mph+ this bike is comfortable and handles nimbly.

As much as I rave about it, though, I am having a hard time convincing my wife about the comfort of my new bike. She compares it to her car, though. And vehicle safety is another issue I concede to her. Like a good mother hen, she asks that I call her the moment my daughter and I arrive at school. And isn’t vehicle safety one of the biggest impediments to mainstreaming small, efficient vehicles? When I saw a new Smart Car pass by me on the interstate, even I think to myself “that does not look safe from here.” It makes me wonder how unsafe my electric bike looks from the vantage of a regular car in traffic.

Even so, my experience with the electric bike has made me ponder concepts such as electric motorcycles that travel at highway speeds. I have already seen children’s electric scooters that hold large batteries under the footrest for a low center of gravity. Could these toys be made a little bigger? Could they accommodate two or three passenger? Is “Two Wheels or Four?” really the only alternative? What about three wheels? I have also pondered safety seats for adults, safety helmets, and 5-point safety harnesses, similar to the features in NASCAR vehicles. I have faith that one of you readers will someday retrofit an electric motor from an industrial fan onto a beefed-up tricycle frame, bolt on a couple of tractor-trailer batteries, and test-drive your prototype at 70 mph. Another one of you might mold a NASCAR seat and a modernistic faring from carbon fiber and add it to the mix. Now that test-drive would be a productive use of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

We are now witnessing the first generation of electric bicycles. They will improve. Maybe this means they will have to look and act more like cars. Some of these bicycles will accommodate themselves to the existing road systems. Some roads throughout the country will be dedicated exclusively for the use of “ultra light” vehicles. Or something far-reaching and un-knowable will happen to this industry. I’m not saying this industry is going to supplant the possible demise of the Big Three, but who knows? Maybe somebody will retrofit one of those French mopeds with solar wings and try to fly it across the English Channel. I will be right there to cheer them on.

We have been looking at business ideas in Cotacachi such as Ecuador export ideas.

Here is a Cotacachi green business idea.  Import or make electric bikes.

For those interested in Cotacachi organic ideas see  Cotacach Organic Gardens here.

cotacachi-green

Entrance to Meson de las Flores.

This photo is another at Dennis Goff’s new site. Here are some more shots.

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Gary Scott and immigration attorney, Roberto Moreno, at Meson.

Dennis is a professional photgrapher who spends winters in Cotacachi and saw there is an an ever increasing number of readers at our site who want to connect with people who have “lived the experience” in Cotacachi.
cotacachi-green

Ecuador roses at Meson.

Dennis thought it would be fun… and informative to start a light site.

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Start of a parade. Wouldn’t electric bikes be better?

Anyone can join and contribute to the network.  Dennis will monitor content to keep it appropriate.   The intent is to keep it light hearted and fun and a great place for like minded people who enjoy Cotacachi.

Ecuador-tours

Tour delgates at Meson.

You can visit Dennis’s site here.

Until next message, may your world be beautiful and green.

Gary

Learn  more about Cotacachi business ideas at our July 4-8 Ecuador Import Export Expedition

Enjoy savings by attending our real estate tours at the same time.

July 4-8 Ecuador Import Export Expedition
July 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
July 10-13 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

We provide discounts for delegates who attend two or three courses and tours in a month.

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.  $1,799 for two.

Plus during the month of April, (this offer expires April 30) enjoy  our extra 2-4-1 savings.

Because Merri and I will not be conducting the July tours, our 2-4-1 offer lets you attend the July 2009  Ecuador export tour free if you enroll in one of our three International Tangled Web Business & Investing Made EZ courses, in July, October or November that we will conduct.

You get two courses for the price of one.  Enroll in any of these courses that Merri and I will conduct below and choose any one of the three July tours free.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Nov. 6-8  IBEZ Cotacachi + Tangled Web

There is no need to  hurry either. If you are not sure about attending two tours,  sign up and attend the July export tour now… then we’ll knock the tour fee off our International Tangled Web Business & Investing Made EZ courses, in July, October or November fee later.

You can also still take advantage of the two or three course discount as well.

For example, if you choose to attend all three of the July Ecuador tours… both real estate and export tours, then you can have the two or three courses discount and still attend a July, October or November International Tangled Web Business & Investing Made EZ course free.

The 2-4-1 offer expires April 30 2009.

We hope to meet you in North Carolina or Ecuador.

Gary