Monthly Archives: June 2009

A tale of two green-car markets

The Japanese market is apparently embracing more eco-friendly hybrid vehicles at a much greater rate than the US, largely due to a more wide-ranging incentive scheme. The sale stats don’t lie, as we can see (I’m including the hyperlinks from the original article to make it easier to follow up on what’s going on):

In Japan, where hybrids are now tax-free and gas prices are 78 percent higher than in the U.S., a hybrid (Honda’s Insight) topped the charts for vehicle sales for the first time ever in April. And Toyota’s gen-3 Prius, which took the crown last month, is doing well enough that the company has reportedly brought back overtime and started recruiting workers from other Toyota factories to keep up with booming demand. Chief Prius engineer Akihiko Otsuka told the New York Times recently that he expects hybrid sales to “push up the entire car market.”

Yet a Honda executive has just announced that the company expects to miss its sales targets for the Insight by as much as 33 percent this year in the U.S. That’s partly because of relatively low gas prices — they’ve dropped as much as 35 percent in the last year. As J.D. Power and Associates powertrain analyst Mike Omotoso told us recently, “When gas is cheap we tend to buy large vehicles without too much concern for the environment.”

Making progress

After a morning spent in the sun, I’ve just finished reading through what I laughably call the first draft of my thesis; it’s not so much a draft as the prototype of one. Either way, it’s 15,000 words that at times seem out of sequence and in need of reworking.

Thankfully, I’ve more or less made my arguments and most of what is left to do is structural and cosmetic. With one book awaiting me at the library and a few articles in the bag next to me, I should be well on my way to having this thing done and dusted in a few weeks. If I can hit the magical 20,000-word mark by the end of June I’ll be a rather happy camper, because the psychological pressure will be broken and I can get on with fine-tuning rather than fleshing out.

Real deal: Kaka's off to Madrid called it “letting a screamingly obvious cat out of a transparent bag”, but the Brazilian superstar is moving from Milan to Spain for about €68m, far under the €100m Man City supposedly bid during the season just past and just falling short of the world record €73m Madrid paid for Zinedine Zidane in the halcyon galactico days. The word going around is that he could be joined by Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Ribery, which would be enough to terrify most defences into submission as soon as they saw the team sheet.

A long silence

It’s been a busy few months while I write my MA thesis. I might blog a little now and then on how it’s going and such, but I’m not sure I want to make this a medieval blog. You can keep a track of how I’m doing via the Twitter feed to the left of the screen. I might also one day get around to updating the “about me” page, which is quite out of date.

I’ve also been busy travelling around the place and eating into my savings. Here’s a flavour of where I’ve been since I moved back to Ireland, in no particular order: