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 12 months, 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 trade each day, a completely new dimension to the continued Shit Present reared its ugly head: The EV “factor” turned a factor. A very huge factor. And the hand-wringing over the EV “factor” by no means stopped.  

Auto firms went all in – you already know who you’re – going deep on the “It Received’t Be Lengthy” mantra that we’d all be shiny pleased 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 had been relatable – and inexpensive – solely to a choose few. 2. Talking of EV affordability – or lack thereof – customers genuinely had been pressured to scramble to search out EVs that had been a minimum of considerably realistically inexpensive. That didn’t go effectively for too many patrons. 3. The infrastructure for charging – aside from the Tesla superchargers that had been accessible – was not solely nearly nonexistent, however the few that had been accessible had been both not working or underperforming. And the idea of servicing the infrastructure that was in play was both woefully missing or nonexistent as effectively. Clearly, plans for sustaining the EV charging infrastructure had been an afterthought within the “Grand Transition.” And 4. With prolonged charging occasions and the aforementioned piss-poor infrastructure, the concept 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 obtained about this challenge – even from the hardcore EV-ers – was decidedly grumpy concerning the actuality of road-tripping in an EV. As in, Not. Very. Good. -WG) 

In the meantime, sure automakers – once more, you already know who you’re – had been thus far over their skis with their commitments to the EV “factor” that huge hassle ensued nearly instantly. CEO after CEO obtained up in entrance of the salivating media and promised all types of issues, boasting of many clear factories that might 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 autos 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 firms. EV fashions promised for 2024 started to slip. Late ’25 turned the brand new timeframe, after which – wait a minute, effectively, 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 making an attempt to anticipate what’s subsequent. In the meantime, EV zealots each from inside and out of doors the trade are saying there’s no drawback 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 tons 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 proportion of EVs on this market not reaching 25 % till 2032, or after. This shall be an extended, exhausting highway, and as I’ve acknowledged repeatedly, the producers who’re vigorously investing in and pursuing new-generation ICE automobile packages – 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 couple of weeks in the past by calling out this phenomenon of silly autos operating rampant on the streets and byways of this nation proper now. The large vans and SUVs which might be passing for on a regular basis transportation lately are simply embarrassingly silly. It’s exhausting to think about that these producers and their salivating prospects have gotten to the purpose of pondering that it’s completely okay to be rolling down the freeway in a 6,000-lb. – and extra – automobile, that it’s someway acceptable.   

This simply in: It isn’t.  

Little did I do know (Nicely, we kinda knew. –WG) that it could trigger a lot hand wringing and gnashing of tooth throughout the land. Plainly lots of people had been in deep settlement with the premise that these leviathan vans 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 have interaction in egregiously silly maneuvers, seeming to say, “As a matter of reality, I do personal the frickin’ highway.” That it’s not a great look is apparent; 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 Palms 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 mentioned from the start right here at AE that individuals 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 certain to spark feedback from each side of the difficulty, and I not solely anticipated it however, occurring 25 years right here, I’m used to it by now.    

For sure, I might like to see a burgeoning streak of rational thought creep into individuals’s automobile shopping for selections. Do you really want a large “present pony” 6,000-lb.+ pickup as a day by day driver, simply to select up a couple 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 automobile? 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” available in the market, sadly. That would occur with a big, surprising monetary disruption to the financial system, or some type of world-altering occasion that might change every part. I would like neither of these issues to occur, however a couple of smarter automobile selections would certainly be welcome.  

There’s 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 dearth of affordability has reached the important stage. For the individuals who can afford to spend $100,000-plus on a automobile with out eager about it, I’m certain they is likely to be dismissive of the idea of affordability as being irrelevant to their circle of concern. However that might be a mistake, as a result of the dearth of affordability in our autos needs to be everybody’s concern.   

Why trouble getting labored up over this? As a result of, in need of buying the choose few fashions supplied by Honda, Kia, Hyundai and Chevrolet, the common purchaser’s selections for inexpensive new autos 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 know-how, which is nice information, however what can be even higher information is that if this upcoming superior know-how 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 mainly ignoring this affordability challenge just isn’t solely monumentally silly, it’ll chew them within the ass over the lengthy haul. Consumers will merely cease buying these home automakers and wander off 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 trade have to get up and begin actively doing one thing about these points, and fast.  The clock is certainly ticking.  

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

Editor’s Observe: 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 an alternative of being a “fantasy/comedy” just like the film, this 12 months was a relentless actuality present, full with components of boredom, frustration and despair. That mentioned, we right here at AE did our greatest to deliver you the Excessive-Octane Reality every week, in all of its apocalyptic glory. As we combed by way of the previous 12 months for the highs and lows, a couple 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 basic – Peter’s in-depth take a look at the long-lasting 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 couple 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 position the car has performed in defining who we’re. 

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

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 12 months. -WordGirl 

 

I might have liked to have been on the last 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 pondering?” Sure, each every now and then, while you suppose that this enterprise couldn’t probably get extra mired in mind-numbing boredom and tedious company inertia, a lightning bolt of pure absurdity strikes with no warning in anyway. So, there I used to be, at my desk, considering what my first column for the brand new 12 months can be about – and admittedly not arising with something attention-grabbing – 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 is able to 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 offered everybody with a piñata of infinite laughs and mock, and it was damn-near priceless. 

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

 

Nicely, effectively, effectively. Ford’s “I’m a genius simply ask me” CEO, supplied 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 12 months. 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 guide the Ford ship to the Promised Land, a fantasy world akin to an idyllic mind-set awash in bunny rabbits, rainbows and infinite income. As an alternative, the “Boy Marvel” 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, every single day 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 reality, too usually 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 manner. Certainly, the smarter auto executives are specializing in the basics of designing, engineering, creating and constructing autos first. All of their autos. It does no good to brag about future EV projections in the event you can’t maintain the essential fundamentals – the blocking and tackling of this enterprise – proper now. EVs are the shiny objects crammed with promise and potential, however ICE autos pay the payments, and they’ll proceed to take action for years to return. These smarter execs may also make the most of alternatives after they current themselves, whether or not they be in EVs or with ICE autos. They’ll steadfastly keep away from skipping a step, as a result of understanding the previous, they know that might show to be pricey, 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 firms. 

(THE ROAD TO REINVENTION. – 2/15) 

 

And there’s one last excuse for the CEO Monsters that we’ve effectively documented over time – the at all times well-liked and predictable, “It Received’t Be Lengthy Now!” mantra. This phrase is correct consistent 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 automobile to save lots of our life – and after 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 Received’t Be Lengthy Now!” 

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

If I had been to ship a “State of the Auto Business” speech at the moment, it could revolve round two particular themes: 1. How delusional pondering is nonetheless operating rampant within the enterprise at the moment. And 2. How the “It Received’t Be Lengthy Now!” mantra continues to wreak havoc on this enterprise each day. 

All collectively now: Not. Very. Good. 

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

 

 

I usually marvel about this loopy car enterprise, and after I do, the identical query retains arising time and again: Why? As in, why is it that it at all times appears to be a revelation to operatives in The Biz when compelling design sells automobiles and vans? Is it actually that onerous? They will digest the entire 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 usually 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 tens of millions of {dollars} have been spent to get to that time, as a result of if the automobile in query has one thing visually missing, it’ll arrive available in the market 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 search out some worthwhile visible differentiation. Alternatively, there’s Ferrari… 

(Ferrari)

The Ferrari 296 GTB.

(Ferrari) 

The Ferrari Roma.

(Ferrari)

The Ferrari Purosangue. 

Sure, I get it, it’s simple to put up Ferrari footage and discuss excellent design, however that’s precisely the purpose. There’s a motive that Invoice Mitchell, the GM design legend, introduced the newest Ferrari fashions to the GM Technical Middle 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-about to be the grasp of bringing design idea appears to be like to the mainstream car 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 tooth too, and so they’re main with compelling mainstream designs of their very own. However as I mentioned, too usually auto firms come up brief after they deliver designs to the general public, which makes me marvel why? 

Right here’s one other query: Why is that car sellers repeatedly squander the a whole lot of tens of millions of promoting {dollars} spent by the producers to place their merchandise? I’ve seen producers nurture and fine-tune their model photos right down to the final element, guaranteeing that each one potential contingencies are accounted for and correctly vetted, just for the entire thing to return aside on the supplier stage due to a nasty in-person expertise. After the entire rah-rah supplier reveals 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 ways which might be, how shall I say this, incongruous with the model picture at each stage. 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 angle aimed toward extracting as a lot short-term profitability as potential from prospects, whereas fully forgoing any sense of brand name picture in anyway. Sure, that is the automobile enterprise in spite of everything, as sellers will say, and customers must be savvy earlier than they stroll by way of our doorways. Actually? There’s a motive a majority of car-shopping customers despise setting foot in a dealership. Merely put, it’s as a result of unhealthy 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 the entire automobiles on a supplier’s lot are pretreated with some type of “mystical” ceramic coating that you simply didn’t ask for and don’t need to the tune of $1,000 additional? Too unhealthy. I’ve nothing towards a supplier’s capacity to make a revenue – that’s the secret in spite of everything – however there’s a superb line between making a revenue and flat-out exploiting customers, and too usually sellers are working on the improper 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 really making an attempt to work with customers as a lot as potential, realizing that these are tough 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 destructive word-of-mouth fallout that ensues from their actions – to explode a $100 million advertising marketing campaign. In spite of everything, 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 taking part in Hose-O-Rama on a client’s head. (And true to kind, sellers are already squawking that the excessive rates of interest are reducing into their capacity to earn a living on F&I, a supply of pure, unfettered income. To that I say, Boo-Fucking-Hoo.) 

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

Why is a “legacy” auto firm that claims to be an important a part of the American cloth at each alternative merely unable to launch a automobile with out myriad issues displaying up? The systemic failures are mind-blowing at this juncture, and the reasons are certainly sporting skinny. 

Why does the U.S. Authorities proceed to permit Tesla to function with impunity? The foremost recall simply introduced over Tesla’s “full self-driving” know-how isn’t sufficient. The customers who paid $10,000 for a know-how 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 spite of everything, individuals died utilizing this alleged know-how. Till there are actual penalties for this ongoing Muskian nightmare, it’ll proceed to be a whole travesty. 

Why is the EV infrastructure lagging behind BEV growth? I’ve considered this lots, and I’ve to say that I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s three issues: 1. The thought of a reliable EV infrastructure was considered too late within the course of. 2. The associated fee and technical experience wanted to assist and repair new and present 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 interior rationalization revolve across the idea {that a} sure stage of picture wrangling must be maintained? I’m not shopping for that for a second. The NASCAR crucial appears to exist inside these firms out of sheer “we’ve at all times accomplished it” inertia. And that merely isn’t ok. The OEMs may simply reduce their monetary involvement in NASCAR by 75 % and guess what? The NASCAR Circus would determine a strategy to go on. 

Why do the EV startups (Lucid, Rivian, Fisker, and so forth.) get many 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 firms 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 deliver 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 season in The Future, with a couple of unplanned stops alongside the way in which? And what if, to ensure that all of this to work, and in step with the concept of making use of know-how 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 types to observe the burgeoning transportation wants of the collective “us.” And let’s say that as a way to plan that type 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, lavatory or snack cease neglected. 

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 fast growth of AI is swallowing every part having to do with our life as we all know it entire. The indiscriminate onslaught of AI, which is commonly portrayed as one thing akin to a benign drive for good, is extremely naïve and flat-out improper. With every “subsequent step” AI growth that guarantees to get us nearer to a societal nirvana the place issues are not unhealthy, or hurtful, or destructive, 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 “better good.” 

You may chuckle now, however I don’t discover it humorous within the least. Robotic-motoring just isn’t one thing I aspire to. And it’s not one thing you need to aspire to, both. 

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

 

 

Memo to automakers all over the place: Watch out for Geeks bearing imaginary presents. It would 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 pricey, 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 consider you’re resolutely filled with shit,” so the carnage will proceed. 

One space particularly 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, prepared and in a position to dispense their “knowledge” on this enterprise, particularly in relation to advertising. However it’s a Idiot’s Errand of the primary order. Why? Simply as everybody has an opinion about what makes a terrific automobile, there are many “armchair consultants” on the market bringing their whims and biases about methods to market automobiles and vans 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 shelling out 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 firms tens of millions in errors and do-overs.  

Why? Half II. As a result of, the car enterprise is among the most intricate endeavors on earth, and simply because an individual has seen a model of success within the tech trade, 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 professional. 

(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 repeatedly thumbed his nostril at legal guidelines, restrictions and safeguards designed to rein in know-how and/or unhealthy 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” choice when, in truth, it didn’t even method 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 had been unwitting contributors – into doing so-called “beta” testing of the basically unproven choice 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 Huge Lie about “FSD” or out of sheer private stupidity and/or irresponsibility, individuals truly died whereas partaking this know-how. There’s a motive Tesla is now below the gun from NHTSA for this despicable conduct, and as I’ve acknowledged earlier than, I count on the corporate to pay a heavy value – operating into the billions of {dollars} – for working with the integrity of a scofflaw.  

So once more, studying that some Tesla workers discovered amusement in eavesdropping on the non-public lives of its prospects by way of the onboard digicam methods on Teslas isn’t any shock. However I want to level out that if, let’s say, a home automaker did something even approaching this conduct, you’ll be able to ensure 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 an extended record of incidents of company malfeasance, however it has managed to flee severe penalties due to a mixture of Messianic fervor from Muskian devotees blind to the underlying unhealthy conduct at work, to Wall Road-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 in every of 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 at the moment by way of this technological crucial that’s consuming us each 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 entire charging factor and that’s that there’s an angle “on the market” among the many EV cognoscenti that implies that customers needs to be ready to change their eager about highway journeys and get used to the concept 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 buying, leisure, meals, espresso and no matter different accoutrements related to very best highway tripping is created, let me make this completely clear: customers will not put up with 20-minute charging as a matter after all of their EV travels. The truth that there are prevailing ideas amongst EV acolytes on this trade that this could someway be acceptable and “the price of EV possession” is wrong-headed and flat-out dumb. I’ve mentioned 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 absolutely cost their EV in the identical time it takes to refill a present ICE automobile with gasoline, then this entire “EV adoption” factor goes to be excruciatingly sluggish and play out over the following 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 prime
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 vivid, if we simply cling on
However ’24, ’25, ’26?
Who has that type 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 tons
One thing tells me we’ve misplaced the plot 

It’s all occurring
Every little thing on a regular basis 

The media goes on genuflectin’
Not even pretendin’
Why trouble askin’ when nobody’s watchin’?
The newly anointed King can do no improper
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 unhealthy 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
Extensive-open guarantees, limitless income
Simply don’t ask when or how 

It’s all occurring
Every little thing on a regular basis 

It’s all concerning the content material, silly
Leveraging every part 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 

Neglect about Outdated College
There’s no future in previous
The earlier we get with this system
And depart the previous behind
The higher off we’ll be
It’s so simple as a-b-c 

The Wall Road 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 concerning the customers?
So long as they’re payin’ their monthlies, who cares? 

It’s all occurring
Every little thing on a regular basis 

The prognosticators are having a subject day
Making it up on the fly
Neglect about tea leaves
Now it’s watching chip mud by way of 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 experience on by? 

Batteries on the mind
Cheaper higher quicker
Smaller lighter longer
The ICE Period is over
Or someday quickly
It was a great long term, Child 

It’s all occurring
Every little thing on a regular basis 

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

The hucksters have come out of the woodwork
New firms 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 will’t promote what they don’t have
Empty tons, 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 occurring
Every little thing 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 turning into a misplaced trigger? Are we pressured to just accept the sanitized model of “racing” referred to as F1? And, whereas we’re at it, are we actually going to slink off and watch for EVs to place us out of our collective distress as soon as and for all? Are all of us – collectively – going to hitch the go-along-to-get-along hordes being farmed over to EVs regardless that severe questions stay concerning the plundering of uncooked supplies, the dearth 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 an extended shot, fortunately. It doesn’t harm to take a step again and bear in mind the next crucial factors: 

You must love the automobile enterprise. Nicely, let me rephrase that. Some of us immersed on this seething cauldron of runaway egos, shortsightedness, intermittent brilliance and, remarkably sufficient and towards all odds, indomitable spirit, love this enterprise. (Then once more, when it comes proper right down to it, it will depend on the day.) 

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

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

However then once more and fact 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, you already know who I’m referring to, a number of of whom had 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 at all times miserable and tedious, there’s little question. 

However but, we press on. And for good motive 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 lovers alike who nonetheless like – make that love – every part to do with the car 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 normal – comes the car trade, whose collective “Huge Concept” to speed up future profitability is to monetize nearly every part that strikes in your automobile. Need heated seats? It’ll value ya. Desire 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? Nicely, let’s see, that’s a package deal that can positively value ya – each rattling month.  

(HOSING ON DEMAND. – 5/17) 

 

As most longtime readers know, I’ve step by step change into much more aggravated with the state of the so-called automobile “factor” because it exists at the moment. 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 pleased auto advertising troops gathering out in Pebble Seaside, patting themselves on the again that they are current and accounted for at Monterey Automobile Week, regardless 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 firms who notice 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 don’t seem to be there and who cannot wait to get on the market subsequent 12 months. 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 concerning the strike is that it doesn’t actually matter what the “share” of the wage improve 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 primarily based listed below are working on a crushing value deficit to rivals like Tesla, in addition to the Korean, Chinese language and Japanese producers. And that deficit won’t shrink with this subsequent labor contract. As an alternative, it’ll 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 trade when the alleged “Grand Transition” to EVs is meant to be selecting up steam and sucking each bit of money that the auto firms can muster.  

None of this makes me pleased 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 trade, which has dominated this area and been a part of the commercial cloth of this nation for 125 years, change into marginalized is excruciatingly painful to me.  

The place is it going? The automobile firms primarily based listed below are going to must depend on making wonderful ICE autos 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 primarily based on this area. That’s the ugly actuality, and I want it wasn’t the case, however it’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 devour auto producers over time, and the method is at all times the identical, which works one thing like this: Preliminary success an over-optimistic growth of a model xwildly aggressive pricing = diminishment of a model and finally, sure market catastrophe. Jeep finds itself within the crosshairs of a nasty state of affairs prompted fully by its personal flat-out greed. If Jeep operatives aren’t cautious – and don’t get up and alter course – they gained’t be capable of 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 vans appears to thrive on stupidity. Take the phrases “powerful,” “journey,” “America” and “American Constructed” together with another go-to phrases, put all of them within the Big Promoting Cliché Hopper and voila! – a brand new truck business emerges. Is that this unhealthy? I’m unsure if “unhealthy” 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 usually puzzled – and this goes for all three of the domestic-based truck producers plus Toyota – why these producers proceed to point out their vans blithely pounding the off-road panorama into submission. I suppose that the hoary notion of “tread evenly” is not a factor. As an alternative, these producers present their vans 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 vans and SUVs, however it 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 won’t shut out the 12 months 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 autos in favor of GM’s proprietary infotainment system. This bone-headed transfer, first reported manner again within the spring, resulted in a swift and deserving backlash. As normal, the corporate bumbled and stumbled by way of their causes for doing this, largely lately touchdown on “security” as their justification. Let’s name it what it’s – a shameless and brazen cash seize – to not point out a huge 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 at the moment are legions of people that will cross GM off their buying lists endlessly. This has catastrophe written throughout it for GM, and it is unmitigated bullshit in addition. (Is it simply me, or does it appear to be peak stupidity just isn’t solely “having a second” – it has mainly change into customary working process within the auto biz? -WG)

 

So, we’ve come to the tip of one other 12 months of Autoextremist.com. Creating content material for this web site might be exhilarating, debilitating, miserable and sure, even flat-out enjoyable at occasions. Or the entire above, all on the identical day. I discovered early on that the truth of doing this web site signifies that, if I write one thing individuals agree with, I’m a hero. If I write one thing that individuals disagree with, I’m an asshole. Such is life while 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 manner again when. Somebody who was gifted a dwelling, respiration historical past of this enterprise, and who was prepared 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 the perfect issues that outline this enterprise: The creativity by the entire gifted women and men concerned within the precise designing of autos in and out. It’s a real artwork kind, and there may be nothing, and I imply, nothing extra breathtaking than taking a stroll by way of a design studio and experiencing the good work on show. It provides you a sense of hope for The Future that’s tough to place into phrases, even for me. 

After which there’s the sensation from a automobile that has been developed, nurtured and polished to a excessive diploma in each aspect of the sport. Excellent steering, assured braking, outstanding cornering, and, after all, responsive engine and transmission efficiency. Wheeling a outstanding machine bristling with these qualities by no means will get previous – in truth, in the event 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 interact in a distinct pursuit. 

Sure, I nonetheless discover the enterprise thrilling, however I might be lower than sincere 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. Basic 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 every single day is a brand new day. Typically plainly there was no accrued data of any type, and we’re being pressured to witness a slow-rolling practice 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 unquestionably coming, and it’ll nonetheless be coming fifteen years from now. Make no mistake, the developments in battery know-how, weight discount and charging pace are unfolding at a livid tempo, and the seemingly insurmountable issues of at the moment will give strategy to radical options in ten years. However that signifies that the ICE Actuality will proceed unabated for a very long time to return, and as I’ve acknowledged repeatedly, that could be a very good factor so far as I’m involved.  

The place does all of this depart AE? Autoextremist.com has sharpened my focus and my ideas much more, and helped me notice that there are not any free rides or ensures in life. I’m fortunate in that I discovered one thing in Autoextremist.com that has stored me motivated and sharp for occurring 25 years. And I actually recognize the truth that I’ve it, as a result of regardless of the entire negatives occurring on this enterprise at the moment, I nonetheless consider within the essence of the car.  

Sure, the enterprise itself might be mind-numbingly tedious at occasions, as I’ve effectively documented over time. And it’s with out query some of the sophisticated endeavors on earth, made up of so many nuanced components that it nearly defies description. However the creation of machines which might be protected, dependable, lovely 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 attention-grabbing 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 usually in scripting 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 eventually, in case you are questioning, I’m nonetheless hungry. I nonetheless need extra from this enterprise as a result of I consider it’s at all times able to extra. We’re on the precipice of monster modifications on this trade, and I count on that some legacy firms won’t exist of their present kind inside 5 years. Once more, fixed change is the character of the sport.  

And I nonetheless consider within the True Believers. I consider 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 pleased with what we’ve achieved right here, and intensely grateful for the assist, for the type phrases and for the entire True Believers we’ve met alongside the way in which.

It has been all-encompassing. It has been powerful. And it has been, at occasions, soul-sucking exhausting. But when I had a do-over, I might do it over again. As a result of regardless 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 impression. 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 wonderful experience. 

WordGirl and I thanks for listening and, as at all times, thanks for studying. We want the perfect to you and yours for this Vacation Season and a Glad 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 Observe: Click on on “Subsequent 1 Entries” on the backside of this web page to see earlier points. – WG

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