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IGNORE THE SPINELESS WEASELS, BOOTLICKERS AND THE SHALLOW MEN. AND PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT PR MINION BEHIND THE CURTAIN. OH, ABOUT THAT “GRAND TRANSITION”? EVEN GODOT HAS COME AND GONE. IN THIS YEAR OF PEAK STUPIDITY, THE ONLY SOLACE IS THE AUTOEXTREMIST YEAR IN REVIEW!   – Rants


By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. It has been a hell of a yr, to place it mildly. Along with the same old kaleidoscope of shit that’s half and parcel of the Swirling Maelstrom that churns and defines this business every day, a completely new dimension to the continuing Shit Present reared its ugly head: The EV “factor” turned a factor. A very large factor. And the hand-wringing over the EV “factor” by no means stopped.  

Auto corporations went all in – who you might be – going deep on the “It Gained’t Be Lengthy” mantra that we’d all be shiny joyful customers reveling within the day-to-day efficacy of EVs very quickly. Besides a humorous factor occurred on the way in which to EV Nirvana: 1. The “present pony” six-figure EVs have been relatable – and reasonably priced – solely to a choose few. 2. Talking of EV affordability – or lack thereof – customers genuinely have been pressured to scramble to seek out EVs that have been a minimum of considerably realistically reasonably priced. That didn’t go nicely for too many patrons. 3. The infrastructure for charging – apart from the Tesla superchargers that have been accessible – was not solely nearly nonexistent, however the few that have been accessible have been both not working or underperforming. And the idea of servicing the infrastructure that was in play was both woefully missing or nonexistent as nicely. Clearly, plans for sustaining the EV charging infrastructure have been an afterthought within the “Grand Transition.” And 4. With prolonged charging occasions and the aforementioned piss-poor infrastructure, the thought of realistically occurring a highway journey with an EV turned not solely immediately problematic, it was no rattling enjoyable. (And earlier than all of you EV True Believers elevate your pitchforks, the e-mail we’ve got acquired about this concern – even from the hardcore EV-ers – was decidedly grumpy in regards to the actuality of road-tripping in an EV. As in, Not. Very. Good. -WG) 

In the meantime, sure automakers – once more, who you might be – have been to this point over their skis with their commitments to the EV “factor” that large hassle ensued nearly instantly. CEO after CEO obtained up in entrance of the salivating media and promised all kinds of issues, boasting of many clear factories that will be churning out a variety of EVs to keen EV patrons very quickly. Besides the fervor didn’t final lengthy. Chasing down the uncooked supplies was one factor; assembling the battery packs with a modicum of effectivity was one other. After which truly constructing the automobiles added a completely new – and shaky – dimension to the EV “factor.”  

The end result? Prices skyrocketed and product plans blew up, which destroyed any sense of an affordable product cadence for these corporations. EV fashions promised for 2024 started to slip. Late ’25 turned the brand new timeframe, after which – wait a minute, nicely, on third thought – they began speaking earnestly about late ’26. And now we’re listening to the primary rumblings of, you guessed it, ‘27! 

The fallout has been swift and unrelenting. Ford simply knowledgeable suppliers that it’s slashing manufacturing of its F-150 Lightning pickup in half for ’24. And different producers are blowing up their EV product plans attempting to anticipate what’s subsequent. In the meantime, EV zealots each from inside and outdoors the business are saying there’s no downside with demand for EVs, that it’s a vicious plot by the anti-EV cabal that exists “on the market.” Besides that sellers – each import and home – are watching as EVs are piling up on their heaps and, to make issues worse, EV resale worth is flat-out dismal. 

So, how’s that “Grand Transition” to EVs going, precisely? To be charitable, it’s an excruciating work in progress and realistically, I see the share of EVs on this market not reaching 25 p.c till 2032, or after. This might be a protracted, exhausting highway, and as I’ve said repeatedly, the producers who’re vigorously investing in and pursuing new-generation ICE car applications – whereas selectively competing in viable EV segments – would be the ones that not solely survive, however thrive. 

Oh, and by the way in which, I began a hearth a number of weeks in the past by calling out this phenomenon of silly automobiles working rampant on the streets and byways of this nation proper now. The enormous vehicles and SUVs which are passing for on a regular basis transportation as of late are simply embarrassingly silly. It’s exhausting to think about that these producers and their salivating clients have gotten to the purpose of considering that it’s completely okay to be rolling down the freeway in a 6,000-lb. – and extra – car, that it’s by some means acceptable.   

This simply in: It isn’t.  

Little did I do know (Effectively, we kinda knew. –WG) that it will trigger a lot hand wringing and gnashing of enamel throughout the land. It appears that evidently lots of people have been in deep settlement with the premise that these leviathan vehicles and SUVs masquerading as day by day drivers are peak stupidity, and cringe when encountering them of their day-to-day travels.   

One other dimension to this phenomenon? The aggression displayed by too most of the drivers manning these land yachts. I don’t know what’s triggering it precisely, however I’ve seen {that a} excessive share of those drivers interact in egregiously silly maneuvers, seeming to say, “As a matter of truth, I do personal the frickin’ highway.” That it’s not a very good look is clear; that I’ve witnessed too many dangerous, flat-out harmful strikes is solely unacceptable.   

Am I portray with too broad of a brush? No, as a result of I’m clearly not lumping all truck and SUV drivers on this class. It’s only a growth on our streets and byways that may’t be ignored.   

After which we heard from the faction that I describe as “The Chilly Useless Arms Posse.” As in, “I’ll drive regardless of the hell I would like and nobody’s going to inform me in any other case.” And we are able to relate to that sentiment, as a result of we’ve stated from the start right here at AE that folks ought to drive what they like and like what they drive. And we nonetheless stand by that. However commenting on the descent into stupidity that I’m seeing on the roads was sure to spark feedback from either side of the problem, and I not solely anticipated it however, occurring 25 years right here, I’m used to it by now.    

For sure, I’d like to see a burgeoning streak of rational thought creep into individuals’s automobile shopping for selections. Do you actually need a large “present pony” 6,000-lb.+ pickup as a day by day driver, simply to select up a number of luggage of mulch within the spring and do assorted different duties all year long that could possibly be achieved in a extra normal-sized car? No, you don’t, however once more, who am I kidding? We’re going to proceed down this highway till there’s a serious “adjustment” out there, sadly. That might occur with a big, surprising monetary disruption to the financial system, or some form of world-altering occasion that will change the whole lot. I would like neither of these issues to occur, however a number of smarter car decisions would certainly be welcome.  

There’s yet another factor that I would like to say so far as these Peak Stupidity occasions we’re dwelling in. I’ve beat on this drum for years now, however automobile and truck pricing and the shortage of affordability has reached the crucial stage. For the individuals who can afford to spend $100,000-plus on a car with out interested by it, I’m certain they is perhaps dismissive of the idea of affordability as being irrelevant to their circle of concern. However that will be a mistake, as a result of the shortage of affordability in our automobiles needs to be everybody’s concern.   

Why hassle getting labored up over this? As a result of, wanting procuring the choose few fashions provided by Honda, Kia, Hyundai and Chevrolet, the common purchaser’s decisions for reasonably priced new automobiles are severely restricted.   

This isn’t solely silly, it’s not sustainable.   

I maintain excoriating the domestic-based producers to get up on this regard, however I’m not seeing any indicators of it. Ford must construct extra Mavericks, however they appear incapable or unwilling to do it. Chevrolet wants to supply a value chief Colorado that also has a modicum of fascinating gear, however there’s nothing within the works. And GM CEO Mary Barra has promised a brand new Chevrolet Bolt for 2025 with built-in Ultium EV expertise, which is nice information, however what can be even higher information is that if this upcoming superior expertise Bolt was priced at or under the value of the 2023 Bolt. I gained’t maintain my breath. 

The truth that our home automakers are principally ignoring this affordability concern shouldn’t be solely monumentally silly, it should chew them within the ass over the lengthy haul. Patrons will merely cease procuring these home automakers and get lost to different manufacturers for his or her transportation wants. And this simply in: They gained’t be again.  

The AE Silly Meter is fairly unforgiving. Individuals concerned on this business must get up and begin actively doing one thing about these points, and fast.  The clock is certainly ticking.  

That stated, it’s time to get into our AE 12 months in Overview. WordGirl goes to open the proceedings with one thing new this yr: her fastidiously curated High Ten Rants for 2023. 

Editor’s Word: If 2023 within the auto enterprise felt just like the 1993 film Groundhog Day, that is as a result of it was Groundhog Day. Besides as a substitute of being a “fantasy/comedy” just like the film, this yr was a relentless actuality present, full with components of boredom, frustration and despair. That stated, we right here at AE did our greatest to carry you the Excessive-Octane Reality every week, in all of its apocalyptic glory. As we combed via the previous 12 months for the highs and lows, a number of Rants stood out and now comprise my High 10 Rants for 2023. Right here you go! -WG  

THE EXCITABLE BOY. Peter’s alternate persona makes a uncommon look on this look behind the scenes at what drives the Autoextremist. 

LOST. A take a look at simply how far the enterprise has fallen from its glory days.  

IT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. A poignant reminder to savor the life that’s proper right here, proper now. 

THE AE BRAND IMAGE METER: THE “WE TOLD YOU SO” EDITION. A perennial favourite – the Autoextremist’s no-holds-barred tackle automotive manufacturers. 

AMERICA WIDE OPEN. It is extra vital than ever to consider what Independence Day actually means. 

SOUL SURVIVOR. A real AE traditional – Peter’s in-depth take a look at the enduring and gone-too-soon Pontiac. 

RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT. A bittersweet take a look at the waning of the ICE Age, full with a number of of Peter’s favourite ICE machines.   

THINKING ‘BOUT THE TIMES I DROVE IN MY CAR, PART I. This now-legendary column reminds us of the inescapable function the auto has performed in defining who we’re. 

RUNNIN’ DOWN A DREAM, PART II. Quick-forward to 2035 in Peter’s dream about what might be occurring within the business. 

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING. EV Nirvana is upon us! Or is it? Who is aware of!  

Thanks! And do not forget to take a look at our Better of “On The Desk” for 2023. And now, Peter wraps up this previous yr. -WordGirl 

 

I’d have liked to have been on the ultimate model naming assembly, as a result of they clearly missed having somebody there who may clear his or her throat and exclaim: “Uh, WTF are you morons considering?” Sure, each now and again, once you suppose that this enterprise couldn’t presumably get extra mired in mind-numbing boredom and tedious company inertia, a lightning bolt of pure absurdity strikes with no warning in any respect. So, there I used to be, at my desk, considering what my first column for the brand new yr can be about – and admittedly not developing with something fascinating – when a present emerged out of the blue. Sony Honda Mobility unveiled the model identify for its new line of EVs at CES in Las Vegas, which can begin arriving in 2026: Afeela. Are you afeeling me? Afeela is the model identify that Sony and Honda alighted upon to current its EVs to the general public? Afeela is the model identify that Sony and Honda will stake their joint technical prowess on? Afeela is the model identify that can encourage customers to take a severe look and possibly even purchase? Within the immortal phrases of the good Vince Lombardi: “What the hell is goin’ on on the market?!?” Straight from the “You Simply Can’t Make This Shit Up” File, Sony and Honda supplied everybody with a piñata of infinite laughs and mock, and it was damn-near priceless. 

 (A LIGHTNING BOLT OF PURE ABSURDITY – 1/11/2023) 

 

Effectively, nicely, nicely. Ford’s “I’m a genius simply ask me” CEO, provided up a monumental mea culpa to monetary analysts for the corporate’s abysmal efficiency in 2022, after the corporate posted a crushing $2 Billion loss for the yr. Jim Farley did his greatest, fall-on-his-sword presentation to the analysts and media by stating: “This has been humbling for each me and the group.” No. Shit. Dot. Com. 

Let me remind everybody for the hundredth time that Farley was to be “The Savior” who was appointed by Chairman Invoice Ford to steer the Ford ship to the Promised Land, a fantasy world akin to an idyllic mind-set awash in bunny rabbits, rainbows and infinite earnings. As a substitute, the “Boy Surprise” has run the entire enterprise aground.  

In case you’re questioning, this was not solely a spectacular embarrassment for Farley and his minions; it was a stunning report from an organization boasting the F-150 pickup (each ICE and EV variations), the Bronco SUV, and the Mach-E EV. Bear in mind, this was an organization that thrived on the fixed drumbeats generated by its PR minions, who touted the corporate’s “can’t-miss” product lineup at each alternative – in different phrases, daily ending in a “Y”. This company-generated PR “noise” was then projected into the media panorama with appreciable assist from the Detroit Free Press (aka The Ford Instances). It was not unusual for newspaper readers on this city – a minimum of those who’re left – to be burdened with a 5,000+ phrase piece on Ford and Farley, which seemingly occured each different week. Tedious doesn’t even start to cowl it. 

(A GIANT BLUE OVAL OF NOT GOOD. – 2/8) 

 

In truth, too typically the highway to reinvention is riddled with damaged desires left smoldering by the aspect of the highway. And a few executives are supposed to discover that out the exhausting method. Certainly, the smarter auto executives are specializing in the basics of designing, engineering, creating and constructing automobiles first. All of their automobiles. It does no good to brag about future EV projections when you can’t care for the fundamental fundamentals – the blocking and tackling of this enterprise – proper now. EVs are the shiny objects full of promise and potential, however ICE automobiles pay the payments, and they’re going to proceed to take action for years to return. These smarter execs may even reap the benefits of alternatives once they current themselves, whether or not they be in EVs or with ICE automobiles. They are going to steadfastly keep away from skipping a step, as a result of understanding the previous, they know that will show to be expensive, on too many ranges. The highway to reinvention is paved with good intentions, however it’s an unruly one. However then once more, it’s meant to be. Nothing is given or preordained and positively nothing is assured, for people or corporations. 

(THE ROAD TO REINVENTION. – 2/15) 

 

And there’s one ultimate excuse for the CEO Monsters that we’ve nicely documented over time – the all the time in style and predictable, “It Gained’t Be Lengthy Now!” mantra. This phrase is correct in step with “Pay no consideration to that man behind the scenes,” as in, “Don’t dwell on these piss-poor monetary numbers, ignore the truth that we are able to’t launch a car to avoid wasting our life – and once we do the standard and recall incidents are so prevalent that they destroy our backside line each single quarter – as a result of it’s all good! It truly is! We’ve obtained sensational merchandise coming, together with EVs that can flip {the marketplace} on its ear! Issues might look bleak now, however belief us, It Gained’t Be Lengthy Now!” 

Ah sure, it gained’t be lengthy now, certainly. Despite the fact that an organization continues to wallow in mediocrity that shouldn’t in any method diminish the notion that its “I’m a genius, simply ask me” CEO has all of it found out. In any case, don’t be hatin’ on us as a result of we’ve got one of the best group in place that can permit us – quickly sufficient, simply you wait and see – to rule the automotive world.  

If I have been to ship a “State of the Auto Trade” speech right now, it will revolve round two particular themes: 1. How delusional considering is nonetheless working rampant within the enterprise right now. And 2. How the “It Gained’t Be Lengthy Now!” mantra continues to wreak havoc on this enterprise every day. 

All collectively now: Not. Very. Good. 

(CEO MONSTERS AND THE “IT WON’T BE LONG NOW” MANTRA. – 2/22) 

 

 

I typically marvel about this loopy vehicle enterprise, and after I do, the identical query retains developing time and again: Why? As in, why is it that it all the time appears to be a revelation to operatives in The Biz when compelling design sells automobiles and vehicles? Is it actually that arduous? They’ll digest all the strategic advertising evaluation that’s accessible to them, they’ll formulate a logical “can’t miss” advertising technique that covers all contingencies and accounts for all variables, and but they typically ignore the one mitigating issue that can make or break a product launch: Design

It doesn’t matter how sound a advertising technique is, and what number of thousands and thousands of {dollars} have been spent to get to that time, as a result of if the car in query has one thing visually missing, it should arrive out there with a thud. That is very true on this “look-alike” period, the place so-called crossover/SUVs share the identical fundamental form configuration and battle to seek out some worthwhile visible differentiation. Then again, there’s Ferrari… 

(Ferrari)

The Ferrari 296 GTB.

(Ferrari) 

The Ferrari Roma.

(Ferrari)

The Ferrari Purosangue. 

Sure, I get it, it’s straightforward to publish Ferrari footage and discuss excellent design, however that’s precisely the purpose. There’s a cause that Invoice Mitchell, the GM design legend, introduced the newest Ferrari fashions to the GM Technical Heart in Warren, Michigan, and parked them within the GM Styling viewing courtyard. It was to encourage his design troops and expose them to what was occurring within the design facilities of Italy. And it labored. Mitchell was thought of to be the grasp of bringing design idea seems to the mainstream vehicle enterprise right here within the U.S., and GM dominated the market due to it in its heyday.  

GM is main with design statements once more from Corvette and Cadillac, however the Korean producers have the bit of their enamel too, and so they’re main with compelling mainstream designs of their very own. However as I stated, too typically auto corporations come up brief once they carry designs to the general public, which makes me marvel why? 

Right here’s one other query: Why is that vehicle sellers commonly squander the tons of of thousands and thousands of selling {dollars} spent by the producers to place their merchandise? I’ve seen producers nurture and fine-tune their model pictures right down to the final element, making sure that each one doable contingencies are accounted for and correctly vetted, just for the entire thing to return aside on the supplier degree due to a nasty in-person expertise. After all the rah-rah supplier exhibits in Las Vegas, full with the compulsory group-think buy-in and nodding approvals from the sellers in attendance, they return to their dealerships and permit the entire thing to return aside due to their techniques which are, how shall I say this, incongruous with the model picture at each degree. I’ve seen numerous examples of this over time too. 

Nothing blows up a model picture extra convincingly – and with beautiful immediacy – than a supplier who conducts its enterprise with an ingrained egregious perspective aimed toward extracting as a lot short-term profitability as doable from prospects, whereas utterly forgoing any sense of name picture in any respect. Sure, that is the automobile enterprise in any case, as sellers will say, and customers need to be savvy earlier than they stroll via our doorways. Actually? There’s a cause a majority of car-shopping customers despise setting foot in a dealership. Merely put, it’s as a result of dangerous issues occur there. And it has gotten a lot worse in these supply-challenged occasions we’re dwelling in. 

Don’t just like the “take-it-or-leave-it-because-someone-behind-you-will” state of affairs? Robust. Don’t like the truth that all the automobiles on a supplier’s lot are pretreated with some form of “mystical” ceramic coating that you simply didn’t ask for and don’t need to the tune of $1,000 additional? Too dangerous. I’ve nothing in opposition to a supplier’s means to make a revenue – that’s the secret in any case – however there’s a superb line between making a revenue and flat-out exploiting customers, and too typically sellers are working on the mistaken aspect of that line. 

I’m seeing that due to the excessive rates of interest and the free fall in used automobile costs (though they appear to be firming up a bit) that some sellers are softening their stance and truly attempting to work with customers as a lot as doable, figuring out that these are troublesome occasions for everybody, as they worth the basic idea of gaining repeat enterprise. However who’s kidding whom right here? All it takes is one unscrupulous rogue supplier – and the unfavorable word-of-mouth fallout that ensues from their actions – to explode a $100 million advertising marketing campaign. In any case, it’s exhausting to embrace high-minded ideas from a producer like “we offer an uncompromised expertise that can envelope you in luxurious” – or one thing like that – when a supplier is enjoying Hose-O-Rama on a client’s head. (And true to kind, sellers are already squawking that the excessive rates of interest are slicing into their means to earn cash on F&I, a supply of pure, unfettered earnings. To that I say, Boo-Fucking-Hoo.) 

There are many different “whys?” in fact. As in: 

Why is a “legacy” auto firm that claims to be a vital a part of the American material at each alternative merely unable to launch a car with out myriad issues exhibiting up? The systemic failures are mind-blowing at this juncture, and the reasons are certainly carrying skinny. 

Why does the U.S. Authorities proceed to permit Tesla to function with impunity? The main recall simply introduced over Tesla’s “full self-driving” expertise isn’t sufficient. The customers who paid $10,000 for a expertise that didn’t come near providing what was promised by its Blowhard-in-Chief needs to be paid again that cash in full. Interval. In any case, individuals died utilizing this alleged expertise. Till there are actual penalties for this ongoing Muskian nightmare, it should proceed to be an entire travesty. 

Why is the EV infrastructure lagging behind BEV growth? I’ve thought of this rather a lot, and I’ve to say that I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s three issues: 1. The concept of a reliable EV infrastructure was considered too late within the course of. 2. The associated fee and technical experience wanted to help and repair new and current EV cost factors was by no means constructed into the equation. And 3.There wasn’t sufficient revenue potential seen. Except and till these factors are addressed, the entire EV “factor” goes to take time, a lengthy time, to return collectively. 

Why do sure auto producers proceed to underwrite NASCAR at this level? And what once more is the purpose precisely? Does the inner clarification revolve across the idea {that a} sure degree of picture wrangling must be maintained? I’m not shopping for that for a second. The NASCAR crucial appears to exist inside these corporations out of sheer “we’ve all the time accomplished it” inertia. And that merely isn’t ok. The OEMs may simply reduce their monetary involvement in NASCAR by 75 p.c and guess what? The NASCAR Circus would work out a method to go on. 

Why do the EV startups (Lucid, Rivian, Fisker, and so on.) get a lot of the consideration from the automotive media? And why is the collective media shocked when those self same startups have severe issues and are unable to satisfy even a fraction of their unique manufacturing/gross sales objectives? That is recurring unmitigated bullshit that should cease if the auto media needs to retain a shred of integrity. Memo to the carpal-tunnel challenged scribes: Name these corporations out proper from the beginning and undertake a large “we’ll see” skepticism earlier than the bullshit pile will get too excessive to get out from below. As a result of the way in which you’ve been doing it makes you look silly. 

(WHY? – 3/1) 

 

The idea of AI automobile repossessions might carry fun now, as in, certain, however make no mistake, this is only one extra step alongside the way in which to the driving equal of a vanilla shake with a shot of mediocrity. Let’s say you need to take your loved ones to the Badlands Nationwide Park one summer time in The Future, with a number of unplanned stops alongside the way in which? And what if, to ensure that all of this to work, and in line with the thought of making use of expertise throughout a broad spectrum of the populace – to the bottom frequent denominator, in different phrases – the nanny technologistas within the authorities went forward and created the Nationwide Bureau of Digital Motion (NBEM), a clearinghouse of kinds to watch the burgeoning transportation wants of the collective “us.” And let’s say that as a way to plan that form of a household trip, you’ll first have to use to the NBEM, plotting out your journey to the smallest element, leaving no cost, meals, toilet or snack cease ignored. 

Sounds pleasant, proper? No? I’ve gone too far – off the deep finish, in truth – and I’m projecting a societal growth that can by no means occur? Don’t be so certain. The speedy growth of AI is swallowing the whole lot having to do with our life as we all know it complete. The indiscriminate onslaught of AI, which is usually portrayed as one thing akin to a benign pressure for good, is extremely naïve and flat-out mistaken. With every “subsequent step” AI growth that guarantees to get us nearer to a societal nirvana the place issues are not dangerous, or hurtful, or unfavorable, or difficult, I cringe, as a result of we’re getting one step nearer to having our fundamental freedoms compromised or eliminated altogether as being irrelevant in comparison with the “larger good.” 

You possibly can giggle now, however I don’t discover it humorous within the least. Robotic-motoring shouldn’t be one thing I aspire to. And it’s not one thing it is best to aspire to, both. 

(DRIVING A VANILLA SHAKE WITH A SHOT OF MEDIOCRITY. – 3/8) 

 

 

Memo to automakers in every single place: Watch out for Geeks bearing imaginary presents. It’s going to value you dearly. Proper now, the automakers on this city are falling throughout themselves sucking as much as and acquiescing to hordes of so-called “tech” people who find themselves inundating their halls and having an inordinate quantity of sway with individuals who ought to know higher. Only one instance? The CEO at that automobile firm in Dearborn has been dangerously below the affect of those ex-Silicon Valley-types, and it has proved to be expensive, with the optimistic outcomes lacking in motion from the get-go. However then once more, there’s nobody over there tapping him on the shoulder saying, “Excuse me, however I imagine you’re resolutely stuffed with shit,” so the carnage will proceed. 

One space specifically is being overrun by these geeks, and that’s the advertising enviornment. There are some higher-ups on this city who suppose that due to the fallout from the good tech explosion there are hordes of “gifted” individuals accessible who’re prepared, keen and capable of dispense their “knowledge” on this enterprise, particularly relating to advertising. However it’s a Idiot’s Errand of the primary order. Why? Simply as everybody has an opinion about what makes an awesome car, there are many “armchair consultants” on the market bringing their whims and biases about methods to market automobiles and vehicles to the Motor Metropolis. That a few of these geeks have been given a large berth on this city is embarrassing, wrongheaded and wildly off the mark. Misguided individuals who don’t have any enterprise allotting advertising recommendation being given weight and affect at this juncture is an indictment of the place this enterprise finds itself proper now. It’s each foolish and pathetic, and it’s going to value these corporations thousands and thousands in errors and do-overs.  

Why? Half II. As a result of, the auto enterprise is among the most intricate endeavors on earth, and simply because an individual has seen a model of success within the tech business, does not imply that no matter accrued experience she or he brings to the desk is essentially relevant to a enterprise that isn’t simply outlined by knee-jerk reactions, or topic to the whims of an “armchair” advertising skilled. 

(BEWARE OF GEEKS BEARING IMAGINARY GIFTS. – 3/22) 

 

Am I shocked that this occurred at Tesla? Not within the least. Fueled by probably the most unprincipled chief in all of American enterprise, an individual who has commonly thumbed his nostril at legal guidelines, restrictions and safeguards designed to rein in expertise and/or dangerous conduct, we’re speaking about an organization that has functioned as a company outlaw from the very starting. The truth that this firm has persistently promoted its “Full Self Driving” possibility when, in truth, it didn’t even strategy the capabilities promised, is unacceptable. And the truth that they charged $10,000 for it’s even worse. However probably the most egregious factor this firm did was to enlist its house owners – a few of whom have been unwitting members – into doing so-called “beta” testing of the essentially unproven possibility out in the true world. And it’s past unconscionable. That is no laughing matter, both. As a result of whether or not blind client perception in St. Elon’s Massive Lie about “FSD” or out of sheer private stupidity and/or irresponsibility, individuals truly died whereas partaking this expertise. There’s a cause Tesla is now below the gun from NHTSA for this despicable conduct, and as I’ve said earlier than, I count on the corporate to pay a heavy value – working into the billions of {dollars} – for working with the integrity of a scofflaw.  

So once more, studying that some Tesla staff discovered amusement in eavesdropping on the non-public lives of its clients via the onboard digital camera methods on Teslas is not any shock. However I want to level out that if, let’s say, a home automaker did something even approaching this conduct, you may make certain that firm can be hauled earlier than Congress for a public whipping, humiliation and “penalties.” 

However there have by no means been any actual penalties for Musk’s automobile firm, and that’s the purpose right here. The truth that Tesla has operated exterior the bounds of respectability since Day One has been well-documented. It has collected a protracted listing of incidents of company malfeasance, but it surely has managed to flee severe penalties due to a mixture of Messianic fervor from Muskian devotees blind to the underlying dangerous conduct at work, to Wall Avenue-types who’ve persistently ignored the ugly realities being deployed by the corporate as a way to hyper-inflate its inventory value and capitalize on it. 

This automobile firm is made within the picture of one among its co-founders – somebody who’s decidedly missing in character, somebody who believes he’s smarter than everybody else and needn’t be bothered with conforming to the “mundane” legal guidelines that information mere mortals. In different phrases, it’s a full-blown Muskian Nightmare. And it’s a pathetic commentary about the place we’re right now when it comes to this technological crucial that’s consuming us every day. That we’ve in all probability reached the purpose of no return with all of it shouldn’t shock anybody. 

(IT’S NOT VERY GOOD, IS IT? – 4/12) 

 

 

I ought to level out the opposite dimension to this complete charging factor and that’s that there’s an perspective “on the market” among the many EV cognoscenti that means that buyers needs to be ready to change their interested by highway journeys and get used to the thought of 20-minute – minimal – stops for recharging on the highway. I’m sorry, however WTF? I don’t care what sort of EV charging “oasis” with procuring, leisure, meals, espresso and no matter different accoutrements related to ideally suited highway tripping is created, let me make this completely clear: customers will not put up with 20-minute charging as a matter in fact of their EV travels. The truth that there are prevailing ideas amongst EV acolytes on this business that this could by some means be acceptable and “the price of EV possession” is wrong-headed and flat-out dumb. I’ve stated it earlier than, and I’ll in all probability say it a thousand extra occasions: Except and till a client can pull off of a freeway and totally cost their EV in the identical time it takes to replenish a present ICE car with gasoline, then this complete “EV adoption” factor goes to be excruciatingly sluggish and play out over the subsequent decade, not subsequent week. 

(ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT. – 4/26) 

 

The darkness beckons at 3:00 a.m.
A cup or two or three to jump-start me
The information is bizarre, spinning like a high
On one aspect, sketchy optimism
On the opposite, the ugly actuality
Consider your eyes, not the tales 

On the way in which to the EV Promised Land
The bumps and grinds and guarantees
Are attending to be a bit an excessive amount of
The Future is starry shiny, if we simply cling on
However ’24, ’25, ’26?
Who has that form of time? 

Flying automobiles and IPOs
Takeovers within the seek for extra management
The bootlickers and the shallow males
Hankerin’ for one more piece
Elbows out juggling empty heaps
One thing tells me we’ve misplaced the plot 

It’s all taking place
All the things on a regular basis 

The media goes on genuflectin’
Not even pretendin’
Why hassle askin’ when nobody’s watchin’?
The newly anointed King can do no mistaken
Pay no consideration to these flyin’ roofs
They’re only a blip on the way in which to sainthood 

The Sturm und Drang oozes
It’s the Swirling Maelstrom writ massive
The chaos is the juice, or is the juice the chaos?
Pay no consideration to that PR Man Behind the Curtain
The tongue is forked, the agenda is evident
And don’t child your self, the chips nonetheless set the tone 

The dangerous style is palpable
The wait is lengthy and debilitating
Even Godot has come and gone
However don’t fear, it gained’t be lengthy now
Large-open guarantees, limitless earnings
Simply don’t ask when or how 

It’s all taking place
All the things on a regular basis 

It’s all in regards to the content material, silly
Leveraging the whole lot that strikes
There’s gold in them thar subscriptions
Income for the taking
Cease calling it a automobile firm
It’s a tech firm within the making 

Overlook about Outdated Faculty
There’s no future in outdated
The earlier we get with this system
And go away the previous behind
The higher off we’ll be
It’s so simple as a-b-c 

The Wall Avenue Willies name the pictures
It’s all about what they’re gonna say and do
Thumbs up and the inventory soars
Thumbs down and we advised you so
What in regards to the customers?
So long as they’re payin’ their monthlies, who cares? 

It’s all taking place
All the things on a regular basis 

The prognosticators are having a discipline day
Making it up on the fly
Overlook about tea leaves
Now it’s watching chip mud via an hour glass
Do they actually know what’s coming?
Or are they only spewing by the by? 

We’ll get all of it sorted out
Or so they are saying
However who’s “they” anyway?
What have they ever accomplished to deserve
Greater than a look and a glimpse
As we journey on by? 

Batteries on the mind
Cheaper higher sooner
Smaller lighter longer
The ICE Period is over
Or someday quickly
It was a very good future, Child 

It’s all taking place
All the things on a regular basis 

Too many guarantees
An excessive amount of optimism
Ready for a set off
So the whole lot comes good
I’ve seen this film earlier than
It by no means ends nicely 

The hucksters have come out of the woodwork
New corporations in identify solely
It’s gonna be nice
Till the inevitable wreck
When there’s no “there” there
What did you count on? 

Within the meantime, the sellers
Are hangin’ by a thread
This disaster is messin’ with their heads
They’ll’t promote what they don’t have
Empty heaps, empty guarantees
Can we curiosity you in a ‘17 Lexus? 

The darkness hovers
Simply as black at 5:00 a.m.
How can that be?
And what have we discovered?
Nothing new, nothing a lot
It’s sophisticated 

It’s all taking place
All the things on a regular basis 

(IT’S ALL HAPPENING. – 5/3) 

 

So, on the finish of this dialogue a large query stays. Is the automobile fanatic factor changing into a misplaced trigger? Are we pressured to simply accept the sanitized model of “racing” known as F1? And, whereas we’re at it, are we actually going to slink off and look ahead to EVs to place us out of our collective distress as soon as and for all? Are all of us – collectively – going to affix the go-along-to-get-along hordes being farmed over to EVs despite the fact that severe questions stay in regards to the plundering of uncooked supplies, the shortage of a elementary infrastructure and the substitution of 1 supply of energy (gasoline) for one more (coal)? I don’t suppose so and never by a protracted shot, fortunately. It doesn’t damage to take a step again and keep in mind the next crucial factors: 

You need to love the automobile enterprise. Effectively, let me rephrase that. Some of us immersed on this seething cauldron of runaway egos, shortsightedness, intermittent brilliance and, remarkably sufficient and in opposition to all odds, indomitable spirit, love this enterprise. (Then once more, when it comes proper right down to it, it is determined by the day.) 

We adore it for the unbridled creativity demonstrated by its True Believers, who maintain stepping as much as the plate and swinging for the fences. We adore it for the relentless 24/7 churn – and related weariness – that it entails (despite the fact that everybody complains about it, they wouldn’t have it some other method). 

We adore it for the transient shining moments when an distinctive design or product development emerges to remind us all of what turned us on in regards to the enterprise within the first place, despite the fact that these moments are fleeting, at greatest. 

However then once more and reality be advised, we like to detest it too. It will possibly’t be helped. We despise the carpetbagging mercenaries who appear to rear their ugly heads on the most inopportune moments to wreak havoc on this enterprise. Oh, who I’m referring to, a number of of whom have been even current and accounted for in Miami over the weekend. We cringe on the legions of spineless weasels that populate nearly each nook of this enterprise and the dutiful, sniveling minions who undertaking a optimistic demeanor however who wallow in serial, abject mediocrity at each flip. That a part of the enterprise is all the time miserable and tedious, there’s little question. 

However but, we press on. And for good cause too. 

Sure, the overhyped, overblown and overrated elements of this enterprise, which we detest, aren’t going away any time quickly. However happily, the basic enthusiasm displayed by the True Believers and on a regular basis fans alike who nonetheless like – make that love – the whole lot to do with the auto isn’t going away any time quickly, both. 

Thank goodness. 

(F1’S “GREED CIRCUS” WRIT LARGE, AND OTHER HIGH-OCTANE TRUTHS. – 5/10) 

 

Let’s simply name it for what it’s: Hosing on Demand. Wading into this swirling maelstrom – three years too late and woefully out of contact with client views per common – comes the auto business, whose collective “Massive Concept” to speed up future profitability is to monetize nearly the whole lot that strikes in your car. Need heated seats? It’ll value ya. Need a heated steering wheel? It’ll value ya. Need superior connectivity and the newest entry to leisure, mapping and communication? It’ll value ya. Need your superior efficiency and security methods to be engaged and prepared? Effectively, let’s see, that’s a bundle that can positively value ya – each rattling month.  

(HOSING ON DEMAND. – 5/17) 

 

As most longtime readers know, I’ve steadily change into much more aggravated with the state of the so-called automobile “factor” because it exists right now. It is clear that the automobile fanatic tradition – or what’s left of it – has been overrun by con artists, clueless advertising twerps, greed retailers, poseurs and too many (however not all) within the media who show extra go-along-to-get-along, “Thanks sir, might I’ve one other” cheerleading than your common SEC faculty. The place is all of it going? Nowhere good, I am afraid.  Proper this minute there are shiny joyful auto advertising troops gathering out in Pebble Seaside, patting themselves on the again that they are current and accounted for at Monterey Automobile Week, despite the fact that the analysis gleaned and goodwill bestowed to prospects quantities to a large bowl of Not So A lot. As for the few brighter lights on the automobile corporations who understand that the million-dollar payments they accrue at Pebble Seaside actually do not add as much as a lot of something quantifiable, they’re sadly offset by the entrepreneurs who’re whining as a result of they are not there and who cannot wait to get on the market subsequent yr. So, plainly the cycle will proceed.   

(SWINGING DICKISM WRIT LARGE: WELCOME TO MONTEREY CAR WEEK. – 8/16) 

 

 

So, let me get proper to it. The Excessive-Octane Reality in regards to the strike is that it doesn’t actually matter what the “share” of the wage enhance negotiated by the UAW is. And it doesn’t actually matter what COLA allowances are decided, or what any of the opposite varied calls for are that Fain is making.  Why? As a result of Detroit, as we all know it or knew it – is useless. The automakers based mostly listed below are working on a crushing value deficit to opponents like Tesla, in addition to the Korean, Chinese language and Japanese producers. And that deficit won’t shrink with this subsequent labor contract. As a substitute, it should develop bigger. The collective Detroit-based producers are going to be saddled with per-hour labor prices that can make them even much less aggressive, at a vital time within the business when the alleged “Grand Transition” to EVs is meant to be choosing up steam and sucking each bit of money that the auto corporations can muster.  

None of this makes me joyful within the least. The considered that Unctuous Prick in Chief – the Muskian Nightmare himself – lapping up extra market share makes my pores and skin crawl. And watching this business, which has dominated this area and been a part of the commercial material of this nation for 125 years, change into marginalized is excruciatingly painful to me.  

The place is it going? The automobile corporations based mostly listed below are going to need to depend on making wonderful ICE automobiles for a lot of, a few years to return as a way to survive, whereas they launch BEVs in suits and begins. I predicted that the “Grand Transition” can be fraught with peril for the automakers based mostly on this area. That’s the ugly actuality, and I want it wasn’t the case, but it surely’s the Excessive-Octane Reality.  

(THINGS TO DO IN DETROIT WHEN YOU’RE DEAD. – 9/20) 

 

Is all of this sustainable for Jeep? 9 consecutive down quarters means that it isn’t. I’ve seen flat-out greed eat auto producers over time, and the system is all the time the identical, which fits one thing like this: Preliminary success an over-optimistic enlargement of a model xwildly aggressive pricing = diminishment of a model and in the end, sure market catastrophe. Jeep finds itself within the crosshairs of a nasty state of affairs precipitated utterly by its personal flat-out greed. If Jeep operatives aren’t cautious – and don’t get up and alter course – they gained’t have the ability to extricate themselves from this downward spiral.  

(FLAT-OUT GREED THREATENS TO DERAIL AN ICONIC AMERICAN BRAND. – 10/11) 

 

However wait, there’s extra silly to debate. The present advertising of pickup vehicles appears to thrive on stupidity. Take the phrases “robust,” “journey,” “America” and “American Constructed” together with another go-to phrases, put all of them within the Large Promoting Cliché Hopper and voila! – a brand new truck business emerges. Is that this dangerous? I’m unsure if “dangerous” is the suitable adjective on this case. It’s anticipated, predictable, formulaic, rote and unimaginative. It’s additionally a research in abject mediocrity. I’ve typically puzzled – and this goes for all three of the domestic-based truck producers plus Toyota – why these producers proceed to indicate their vehicles blithely pounding the off-road panorama into submission. I suppose that the hoary notion of “tread calmly” is not a factor. As a substitute, these producers present their vehicles partaking in silly off-road conduct each probability they get. I perceive the truth that off-road “cred” is the factor these days when pushing vehicles and SUVs, but it surely grew tedious years in the past, and it appears to be getting worse and extra pronounced with every new business. To what finish, precisely?  

(THE AUTOEXTREMIST STUPID METER, PART I. – 12/6) 

 

Talking of stupidity, we will not shut out the yr with out mentioning a very silly transfer – so silly, in truth, that we have determined to create an all-new award for it. The AE Award for Peak Stupidity 2023 goes to GM for his or her determination to drop Apple CarPlay from their automobiles in favor of GM’s proprietary infotainment system. This bone-headed transfer, first reported method again within the spring, resulted in a swift and deserving backlash. As common, the corporate bumbled and stumbled via their causes for doing this, largely not too long ago touchdown on “security” as their justification. Let’s name it what it’s – a shameless and brazen cash seize – to not point out a big knowledge seize. GM has gone on file saying it anticipates incomes $25 Billion – with a “B” – from subscriptions by 2030. So it is cash, cash, cash – and knowledge, knowledge, knowledge, pure and easy. There are actually legions of people that will cross GM off their procuring lists eternally. This has catastrophe written throughout it for GM, and it is unmitigated bullshit in addition. (Is it simply me, or does it look like peak stupidity shouldn’t be solely “having a second” – it has principally change into commonplace working process within the auto biz? -WG)

 

So, we’ve come to the tip of one other yr of Autoextremist.com. Creating content material for this web site could be exhilarating, debilitating, miserable and sure, even flat-out enjoyable at occasions. Or all the above, all on the identical day. I discovered early on that the fact of doing this web site implies that, if I write one thing individuals agree with, I’m a hero. If I write one thing that folks disagree with, I’m an asshole. Such is life once you’re a nationwide commentator who is predicted to supply up a brand new column each week.  

Not that I’m complaining – truly, removed from it. Individuals who knew me earlier than AE know that I’m precisely the way in which I used to be method again when. Somebody who was gifted a dwelling, respiration historical past of this enterprise, and who was keen to supply commentary and views that others would both draw back from or wouldn’t consider verbalizing out loud. And somebody who by no means ever suffered fools, gladly or in any other case.  

I nonetheless get enthusiastic about one of the best issues that outline this enterprise: The creativity by all the gifted women and men concerned within the precise designing of automobiles in and out. It’s a real artwork kind, and there may be nothing, and I imply, nothing extra breathtaking than taking a stroll via a design studio and experiencing the good work on show. It provides you a sense of hope for The Future that’s troublesome to place into phrases, even for me. 

After which there’s the sensation from a car that has been developed, nurtured and polished to a excessive diploma in each aspect of the sport. Very good steering, assured braking, outstanding cornering, and, in fact, responsive engine and transmission efficiency. Wheeling a outstanding machine bristling with these qualities by no means will get outdated – in truth, when you haven’t skilled it shortly you owe it to your self to get behind the wheel and have at it. It’s reaffirming. And if it isn’t, possibly it’s time to have interaction in a unique pursuit. 

Sure, I nonetheless discover the enterprise thrilling, however I’d be lower than trustworthy if I didn’t say that some elements of this enterprise piss me off greater than ever. Serial incompetence remains to be rampant on this enterprise. Traditional errors are usually not solely nonetheless being made, they’re being repeated by executives and organizations that ought to know higher. It’s a bizarre Auto Twilight Zone the place what got here earlier than by no means occurred and the place daily is a brand new day. Typically plainly there was no accrued data of any kind, and we’re being pressured to witness a slow-rolling prepare wreck that would have simply been prevented.  

Sure, this inexorable automotive march continues. To the place, nobody actually is aware of for certain. The EV factor is certainly coming, and it’ll nonetheless be coming fifteen years from now. Make no mistake, the developments in battery expertise, weight discount and charging velocity are unfolding at a livid tempo, and the seemingly insurmountable issues of right now will give method to radical options in ten years. However that implies that the ICE Actuality will proceed unabated for a very long time to return, and as I’ve said repeatedly, that may be a very good factor so far as I’m involved.  

The place does all of this go away AE? Autoextremist.com has sharpened my focus and my ideas much more, and helped me understand that there aren’t any free rides or ensures in life. I’m fortunate in that I discovered one thing in Autoextremist.com that has saved me motivated and sharp for occurring 25 years. And I actually respect the truth that I’ve it, as a result of regardless of all the negatives occurring on this enterprise right now, I nonetheless imagine within the essence of the auto.  

Sure, the enterprise itself could be mind-numbingly tedious at occasions, as I’ve nicely documented over time. And it’s with out query one of the crucial sophisticated endeavors on earth, made up of so many nuanced substances that it nearly defies description. However the creation of machines which are secure, dependable, stunning to have a look at, enjoyable to drive, versatile or exhausting working – relying on the duty they’re designed for – is greater than only a chilly, calculated enterprise. It’s and has been an industrial artwork kind that has come to outline who we’re collectively. 

The car clearly nonetheless means extra to me than it does for many. I grew up immersed on this enterprise, and the passionate endeavor surrounding the creation of automotive artwork has by no means stopped being fascinating for me. And it is rather a lot artwork, by the way in which. Emotionally involving and undeniably compelling mechanical artwork that not solely takes us the place we need to go however strikes us in ways in which nonetheless contact our souls deeply. As I’ve reminded everybody typically in penning this column, I for one will always remember the essence of the machine, and what makes it a dwelling, respiration mechanical conduit of our hopes and desires.  

And at last, in case you are questioning, I’m nonetheless hungry. I nonetheless need extra from this enterprise as a result of I imagine it’s all the time able to extra. We’re on the precipice of monster modifications on this business, and I count on that some legacy corporations won’t exist of their present kind inside 5 years. Once more, fixed change is the character of the sport.  

And I nonetheless imagine within the True Believers. I imagine of their imaginative and prescient, their dedication and their infinite capability to dream of what could possibly be, as a result of with out them this enterprise would stop being viable. 

We’re very happy with what we’ve achieved right here, and very grateful for the help, for the sort phrases and for all the True Believers we’ve met alongside the way in which.

It has been all-encompassing. It has been robust. And it has been, at occasions, soul-sucking exhausting. But when I had a do-over, I’d do it another time. As a result of despite the fact that it has been a relentless grind, I’m very proud to say that we’ve made a distinction and we’ve made an enduring affect. We got down to affect the influencers on this enterprise, and that’s precisely what we did and can proceed to do. It has been one superb journey. 

WordGirl and I thanks for listening and, as all the time, thanks for studying. We want one of the best to you and yours for this Vacation Season and a Blissful and Peaceable New 12 months. We’ll see you again right here on January 10, 2024. 

And that’s the Excessive-Octane Reality for 2023. 

 

 

 


Editor’s Word: Click on on “Subsequent 1 Entries” on the backside of this web page to see earlier points. – WG

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