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The Latest Auto Extremist Rants

by Editor
18 Sep 2023 at 11:36am

Editor's Note: Buckle up. This week, Peter delivers the sobering High-Octane Truth about the strike - and the sad and ugly reality that Detroit as we know it is on the precipice of a death spiral. In On The Table, we feature a look at Honda's all-electric take on its early '80s Motocompo, along with some of the reveals at the Detroit Auto Show - the 2024 GMC Acadia, 2025 Cadillac CT5 and 2024 Ford F-150. Our AE Song of the Week is "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis & The News. In Fumes, Peter starts a new series - Famous Front Rows, highlighting various races and the legendary drivers who were front-row qualifiers. And finally, in The Line, we have results from F1, along with results from the IMSA Battle on the Bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Onward. -WG


By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. Yes, the strike happened. And yes, the constant back and forth between the auto companies and Shawn “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” Fain has already grown to be tedious beyond words. Readers from around the country can’t be expected to understand what it’s like to live around here (except for the Detroit ex-pats, of course).  

Remember, this is the company town of all company towns. In fact, the only town rivaling it is Hollywood, where the suspension of belief and the creation of alternative realities is an enduring industry. (Except that enclave is also in the midst of a debilitating strike, one that has already decimated that industry and the people on strike.) 

The Motor City is a mindset as much as anything. The local news media follows auto company news with breathless – and relentless – frequency. Utterances by the company CEOs and their various executives, and of course, the always-engaged PR minions are always front-page news. And I must say that any good news of late covered by the media has been balanced by an endless stream of bad news, which is refreshing.  

Why? Because it didn’t used to be this way, frankly. If a discouraging bit of news – aka non-prepackaged and orchestrated “bad” news – somehow made it to print or the airwaves back in ancient times, the offending writer was summoned by the chief PR minion at the offended company – after the offending writer’s editor was duly informed – and then dressed down and threatened with no further access to the CEO or the other top executives of the company, which was, for all intents and purposes, a professional death sentence. 

And except for a few instances along the way, this “dance” worked perfectly. That is until Yours Truly came along, and the High-Octane Truth became part of the auto industry’s lexicon. Once this website got rolling, you could sense that the tone and tenor of the industry coverage emanating from this town’s media started to change as well. It became far less reverential, and as time went by, the old “go-along-to-get-along-for-access” mentality receded into the woodwork, reminding everyone that times had indeed changed.  

Now? We have writers like Phoebe Wall Howard of the Detroit Free Press, who, while generating cringeworthy puff pieces on Ford’s increasingly obnoxious CEO, has also zeroed-in on that company’s struggles with quality and reliability, including her noteworthy work exposing the problems with Ford’s DPS6 transmission, and her recent coverage of the company’s frequent product launch issues and endless recalls. It’s easy to say that this coverage is consistent with the more accurate and balanced coverage of the industry that exists today, but it wasn’t all that long ago when this kind of reporting would be verboten. 

But I’ve digressed. Because in this town, it’s all about the strike right now. It is consuming every bit of oxygen in any and every room extant here. It is dominating the news cycle all the time. As well it should. (And that’s saying something with the extensive coverage that the resurgent Detroit Lions have been getting, although we’ll see how that shakes out after the excruciating, last-play loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. Ugh.)  

So, let me get right to it. The High-Octane Truth about the strike is that it doesn’t really matter what the “percentage” of the wage increase negotiated by the UAW is. And it doesn’t really matter what COLA allowances are determined, or what any of the other various demands are that Fain is making.  

Why? Because Detroit, as we know it or knew it – is dead. The automakers based here are operating on a crushing cost deficit to competitors like Tesla, as well as the Korean, Chinese and Japanese manufacturers. And that deficit will not shrink with this next labor contract. Instead, it will grow larger. The collective Detroit-based manufacturers are going to be saddled with per-hour labor costs that will make them even less competitive, at a crucial time in the industry when the alleged “Grand Transition” to EVs is supposed to be picking up steam and sucking every bit of cash that the auto companies can muster. 

None of this makes me happy in the least. The thought of that Unctuous Prick in Chief – the Muskian Nightmare himself – lapping up more market share makes my skin crawl. And watching this industry, which has dominated this region and been part of the industrial fabric of this nation for 125 years, become marginalized is excruciatingly painful to me. 

Where is it going? The car companies based here are going to have to rely on making excellent ICE vehicles for many, many years to come in order to survive, while they launch BEVs in fits and starts. I predicted that the “Grand Transition” would be fraught with peril for the automakers based in this region. That is the ugly reality, and I wish it wasn’t the case, but it’s the High-Octane Truth. 

So, what do we do now? What do we do when we’re watching our collective deaths unfold in slow motion? It is a car crash that no one wants to witness. There aren’t enough cotton candy puff pieces to make things seem better than they really are, unfortunately. This industry as practiced here has embarked on long, slow death spiral, and it makes me really, really angry. It didn’t have to be this way, but it most definitely is. 

And that’s the sad, High-Octane Truth for this week.  



Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG


by Editor
11 Sep 2023 at 11:33am

Editor's Note: This week, Peter talks about the ugly reality that consumes this town – the "Detroit Thing" –that everyone wants to pretend doesn't exist but rears its head on an all-too-frequent basis. In On The Table, we get a good look at the Lotus Emeya BEV,which doesn't hold a candle to the Lotus Emira in our estimation. We also see how GM Design is reimaging the Cadillac "Goddess" for the CELESTIQ, and we review the Stellantis marketing efforts for Jeep. Our AE Song of the Week is something different, as we reprise the riveting performance of "Stairway to Heaven" by Heart live at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Led Zeppelin. In Fumes, Peter delivers the final chapter of his most-requested series, "The Glory Days." And finally, in The Line, we have results and video highlights from INDYCAR at Laguna Seca, MotoGP from San Marino and Trans Am from Watkins Glen. Onward. -WG


By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. By all accounts this should be a banner week for the two domestic automakers based here (Ford and General Motors), plus Stellantis N.V. (the multinational automotive company headquartered in Amsterdam with a main presence here in the enclave of Auburn Hills). The “Remaining 3” are gearing up for the beginning of Detroit Auto Show week, with the second attempt at resurrecting the event beginning today (Wednesday, the 13th) with a single press day.  

With last fall’s very tentative relaunch – and first official September show date – after many years of occupying a traditional January stop on the international auto show calendar, the relaunched Detroit Auto Show struggled to make an impact and resonate with the region. Yes, it was good to see it back, but a lot had happened over the years, not the least of which was the devastating impact of the pandemic, and frankly, people didn’t know what to make of the new date. 

The organizers of the show did everything in their power to make it a real event, adding outdoor displays, brief ride-and-drives, and other attractions to lure people back, and though the show was well received by the media, there was no getting around the fact that it had difficulty regaining its footing. 

This year will hopefully be different, as show organizers have had a full year to hone the event and make it even more desirable, with official unveilings of several new vehicles including the new Ford F-150, Mustang and Ranger; Cadillac Escalade IQ, XT4, GMC Acadia and Corvette E-Ray; Jeep Gladiator, and Toyota Tacoma, plus more engaging activities in and around the show. 

But as is often the case here in the Motor City, this town can’t seem to get out of its own way at times. This Auto Show week – which was to be a joyous reminder of what’s special about this business – has unfortunately devolved into a dismal dance of mediocrity as the car companies, desperate to make a good impression by putting their best new offerings on display while welcoming the media and the locals to the show, instead are facing a giant black cloud, which is casting an unmistakable pall over the proceedings.  

That black cloud hovering over everything is helmed by one Shawn Fain, the caustic, belligerent firebrand president of the UAW union, who has threatened a massive strike on September 14, the day the UAW’s contract with the automakers expires and, of course, the eve of the public days at the show. Fain has approached the negotiations with the three car companies based in southeast Michigan with a scorched-earth policy, demanding not only a 46 percent pay increase over the life of the new contract but a four-day work week as well.  (Editor's Note: The UAW has lowered this figure to the mid-30% range at the last minute. -WG)

Fain has dismissed contract offers from Ford, GM and Stellantis with utter disdain, even going so far as complaining to the National Labor Relations Board that Ford and GM are engaging in unfair labor practices which they, of course, have vehemently denied. So far, nothing is acceptable to Fain, and he is threatening to strike all three of the companies at the same time, an unprecedented move that would cripple the entire industry. (By the way, that 46 percent figure? Fain is basing it on the pay increases that the auto company CEOs have received over the current contract. He views those increases as being obscene, and he wants his cut for the UAW workers.) 

That this comes at a perilous time for these auto companies is the understatement of this or any other year. They are expending boatloads of cash – reconfiguring factories and building battery plants, while completely rethinking the fundamental processes of building a vehicle – in a race to be essential players in the Grand Transition to BEVs.  

Except they’re already behind. In fact, they’re way behind. The Korean auto manufacturers are already making substantial inroads in this market, the Japanese automakers are just now gearing up with countless new products, and the Chinese automakers and battery companies – which are fully-backed by that country’s Communist regime – are threatening to overrun this market in an unprecedented onslaught that could threaten the very existence of the U.S. domestic auto industry. 

An overreaction? Hardly. I expect a lengthy strike, which will have devastating consequences to this domestic automobile industry. The loss of production will exacerbate the already precarious vehicle supply problem that has plagued this business for years (it is so bad that Automotive News reported this week that some dealers are resorting to picking up their orders directly from the factories, and the car companies are paying them $1,000 to do it), and it will decimate the financial balance sheets of these companies to the point that they will be put behind the competitive eight ball even more. 

But Shawn Fain doesn’t care. He wants his, and to hell with the Big Picture and the competitive realities of the Grand Transition to BEVs.  

When you think about it, this is the most “Detroit Thing” imaginable. This industry musters the energy to take two positive steps forward and ends up taking five back so frequently that you can set your clock by it. Sometimes it happens in the same week, like Auto Show week. Or sometimes even on the same day. 

A Detroit Thing indeed. 

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week. 


Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG



by Editor
4 Sep 2023 at 11:17am

Editor's Note: This week, Peter brings up one of our favorite topics - the Answers to the Questions Nobody's Asking. Just in case you were wondering, they don't call him The Autoextremist for nothin', folks. We also get a good look at BMW's Neue Klasse Concept in On The Table, which has the German automaker questioning everything and embarking on a destination to The Future. I'm not really digging it all that much, the "circularity" giving me pause. And, not to be outdone, Mercedes has unveiled its Tesla Model 3 fighter, the all-electric Concept CLA Class, calling it the "electric future of desire." Really? That's quite the stretch. And we left the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale up so you could have another look. Our AE Song of the Week is "Daylight" by Maroon 5. In Fumes, Peter delivers Part VI of his riveting series, "The Glory Days." And finally, in The Line we have results and video highlights from INDYCAR in Portland, with 26-year-old Alex Palou winning his second championship in three years, plus F1 from Monza and MotoGP from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Onward. -WG


By Peter M. DeLorenzo  

Detroit. If this business wasn’t a Rolling Shit Show at times, I wouldn’t recognize it. But the ugly reality is that it’s a churning, burning, swirling maelstrom of brilliant, visionary moves punctuated by relentless acts of abject stupidity.  

This business can’t help itself, because the executives in charge can’t help themselves, apparently. One or two positive press clippings, and delusional thinking kicks in like an atomic alarm clock going off. It’s a particular disease among executives in the auto business and there’s no known cure. It results in a grueling, two steps forward and five back Dance of Mediocrity. 

The latest evidence that this sickness is alive and well? We only have to look as far as Mercedes-Benz, the hands-down Kings of Delusional Thinking. In fact, they retired the trophy years ago. (The Trophy? It’s a snow globe, but instead of snow it features black rain that, if you shake it just right, turns into silvery disco glitter that reminds those in possession of it that all of their decisions are indeed brilliant.) This company’s execs – including its “thank you, sir, may I have another” stumblebum board of directors – have done less with more than any other car company in the world. 

They have a scintillating historical legacy that other car companies would kill for, yet they squander that legacy at almost every turn. They seem to operate in a hermetically sealed bubble where all of their decisions are not only brilliant, but they spend half their days admiring their brilliance in the mirror, while wondering why mere mortal companies just don’t get it. Maybe they keep telling themselves that their F1 team is just going through a bad patch too? 

At any rate, back to the latest evidence. In an interview with CNBC last week, Ola Kellenius, the Mercedes-Benz CEO, said that the company would be building a “little G Class” in the coming years. You know the G Class, of course, the favorite of music performers and Hollywood-types, not to mention upscale women drivers in tony suburban enclaves across the country. The G Class, which underwent a substantial and hugely successful upgrade several years ago, has established such a reputation for itself that even its $150,000 (or thereabouts) sticker price is not a deterrent. It is one of those “when I get the money I gotta have one” vehicles that exudes the kind of brand image that other manufacturers would kill for. 

But here comes ol’ Ola with this gem of a statement to CNBC: “So kind of the daughter or son of the big G is also going to come to G fans around the world in a few years from now… If you’re waiting for something good it will be worth the wait.” 

What part of this situation does this guy not get? An absolute star on the road with demand that far exceeds the supply, a platinum-grade profit center that prints money, and a cool factor that has proved to be impenetrable by Cadillac, Range Rover, Bentley et al. in spite of those companies’ best efforts. But wait, as if Kellenius didn’t already emit enough wrong-headed thought balloons, he closed the interview with this missive: “The G Class is an icon, it is difficult to get one. If you do get one you feel like it’s almost like your birthday and we will be very, very careful managing volume with the G Class.” 

So, let me get this straight: He’s going to carefully manage volume by cranking out an imitation “junior” G Class model that will only serve to water down the G Class brand image? I know unmitigated bullshit when I smell it. A “junior” G Class is the latest Answer to the Question that Absolutely Nobody’s Asking, and it will only serve to destroy the aura of the real G Class. (You can see another “big idea” from Mercedes-Benz in “On The Table” – WG)    

The company has unveiled a new advertising theme too: “Defining Class since 1886.” My take on Mercedes-Benz at this juncture? It has been “Defining Delusional Thinking for as long as I can remember.” Nicely done, ladies and gentlemen, you just can’t help yourselves, can you? (Also - isn't saying you are 'defining class' just about the least classy thing you can do??? Read more in On The Table. -WG)

Speaking of delusional thinking, we have the specter of Shawn Fain, the new leader of the UAW, conducting a scorched-earth offensive against the Detroit-based automakers that has put this business into a tailspin of dread. This guy hasn’t just been doing some time-honored UAW saber-rattling, he’s wielding an RPG and threatening to blow up the whole damn thing. 

"Our goal is to bargain a fair contract, but if we have to strike to win economic and social justice, then we will," Fain said on a livestream via Facebook this week, as reported by Automotive News. "I know our demands are ambitious, but I've told the companies repeatedly, I'm not the reason that member expectations are so high. You can't make a quarter trillion dollars in North America profits over the last decade and expect us to keep aiming low and settling lower." 

What is he demanding? A 40 percent raise for UAW members: 20 percent now and 5 percent in each of the next four years. And he has wrapped his demands in such vitriol that he has made everyone sick of him in a matter of months in this town. That’s not all. He is threatening to strike all three companies – Ford, GM and Stellantis at once – if there is no deal by September 14th, which is the deadline. (This just in: No one is expecting a deal by then.) That this would happen in the midst of what’s left of the Detroit Auto Show is just icing on a very bitter Shawn Fain-autographed cake.  

The problem with all of this is that a strike against the Remaining Three at this point would cripple these companies almost permanently. They can’t get their new BEV technology to market fast enough, and the massive investment needed to get the whole EV thing rolling is so crushingly expensive that they’re teetering on the edge. These three companies are already behind Tesla, and now the Korean automakers are unleashing ultra-competitive – and attractive – BEV offerings at a dizzying pace, not to mention the rest of the manufacturers angling for a piece of the BEV pie. Which leaves the Detroit-based automakers, despite the gigantic profits of late, hanging by a collective thread. 

Will cooler heads prevail? As long as Fain is allowed to spew his hatred toward the auto companies unimpeded, I seriously doubt it. This is going nowhere good in a hurry.   

Which brings me to the other Answer to the Question that Nobody’s Asking this week: A crippling strike. It would be the absolute epitome of short-sightedness, and it would slam the Remaining Three with such a crushing deficit on the competitive front that it might just hasten their demise.  

On that note, have an excellent day! 

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week. 

Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG

by Editor
28 Aug 2023 at 10:23am

Editor's Note: In this week's Rant, we’re reprising one of Peter’s most-requested columns as he discusses how our individual and collective experiences with cars have everything to do with who we are, and how this nation was transformed with a wandering spirit that allowed us to roam for the sheer hell of it. In On The Table, some cool little Honda scooters are worth another look. We also feature one of Peter’s favorites – Aimee Mann – in our AE Song of the Week. In Fumes, Peter continues his series on "The Glory Days" - which captures a fleeting moment in time and provides a closeup view of amateur sports car racing in the 60s and 70s, and how it captivated a talented bunch of volunteers and propelled them to achieve greatness at the higher levels of the sport. This series has been one of the most popular and widely read pieces ever to appear in And finally, in The Line, we have the latest race results from IMSA, INDYCAR and F1. Enjoy! -WG 


By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. It’s 3:00 a.m., so often my normal writing time, and it’s time to get it into gear. This business is so dominated by betting on the come of the battery electric vehicle explosion that I’m afraid this industry may have completely lost the plot. Yes, I know, this is nothing exactly new from me, but it bears repeating. This EV transition is going to play out in fits and starts, and to assume everything is going to go according to plan is a fool's errand. But that won't stop certain manufacturers - and their executives - from touting their EV prowess and boasting how successful they're going to be, because that just comes with the territory. I mean, after all, if auto executives stopped overpromising, something would be very, very wrong, wouldn't it?

I am going to set that aside, however, since this is a drum that will need beating for years to come. 

Today I'd rather write about what got us here in the first place. I’m talking about our collective experiences with cars and the road that are all different and individually significant, but all special in their own way. The people you were with, the places you experienced along the way, and the fleeting moments in time that are indelibly seared in our memories. And they’re simply irreplaceable.

As you might imagine, I have a few car stories. I try to dribble them out now and again – people never get tired of my Bill Mitchell columns, for instance – just to keep things interesting, but today I will offer up a few more glimpses of what has amounted to be a pretty special car life.

It was late March 1966, and my brother Tony was in his last year at the University of Notre Dame. He and a friend – Gary Kohs – and others had organized the third edition of a sports car show on campus for the first three days of April. This “Sports Car Spectacular” as it was called, turned out to be spectacular, indeed. 

Because of my dad’s heavy-duty contacts throughout the industry, this little car show was a very big deal. All the manufacturers weighed-in: Ford sent Jim Clark’s 1965 Indianapolis 500-winning Lotus-Ford and several hot production and racing cars from its “Total Performance” marketing era, including one of Fred Lorenzen's cars. Chrysler was represented, too, with a plethora of hot production Hemis and a full-on NASCAR stocker from Richard Petty. But that wasn’t all, because besides several of its current Styling concepts like the Corvette Mako Shark I and II and Monza GT and SS, what GM brought to the show was a shocker and is still talked about to this day.

I will get to that in a moment, but it’s worth talking about how we traveled down to South Bend from Birmingham, Michigan, the day before the show. A remarkable collection of cars was poised in my parent’s driveway for the trip down to the Notre Dame campus, because they were going to be added to the show once we got down there. There was a bright red 1965 289 Shelby Cobra and a 1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang (white with blue stripes) borrowed from Ford. And then there was a Nassau Blue 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray roadster with a removable top and white interior, complete with a 396 cu. in. V8, bulging hood and side pipes. 

This was no ordinary Corvette, however. This car was specially built for Ed Cole (one of GM’s legendary engineers who developed the small block V8, among a thousand other brilliant accomplishments) to give to his wife, Dolly. As I’ve said many times before, many of the legends of GM’s heyday were family friends we hung out with, it was just the way it was back in the day. Dolly was a memorable, fiery blonde from Texas with a razor-sharp wit who loved to drive her “Bluebird” as she called her special Corvette; and she didn’t mind letting my brother borrow it now and again. And this was one of those times.

Our Horsepower Convoy left at 4:00 a.m. with two additional chase cars (including a 396 Impala). As quiet as we meant to be, it was damn-near impossible as the Cobra, GT350 Mustang and Corvette woke the neighborhood and rumbled out into the darkness. Tony was in the “Bluebird” followed by the Cobra, and I was riding shotgun with my brother’s college roommate in the GT350. The ride was memorable in that it rained most of the time and the rawness of the GT350 - and the wonderful noise - made it even more interesting. And visibility was challenging, to put it mildly, as the wipers were a mere suggestion in the heavier bits of rain we encountered. It didn’t matter, it was a flat-out blast. I mean, how often do you get to be in a convoy of cars like that?

We had some dry road moments on the way to South Bend, where we were able to hammer the cars at will, but there were moments when we had to cool it, too, as the cops took great interest in our little convoy at times. But we made it just fine, with no tickets, which we rightly assessed was a notable achievement.

Not long after we arrived, a GM transporter showed up. Zora Arkus-Duntov had called Tony and said that he’d be sending “something special” down to the show, and he wasn’t kidding. After the back doors were opened and the ramps installed, out comes a silver metallic blue Corvette Grand Sport roadster. Not only were the Grand Sports not supposed to exist after one of GM’s annoying “no more racing” edicts, this roadster had clearly just been finished and refined down to the last detail. It was simply stunning to behold. The transporter driver fired it up and drove it into position on the show floor, and right then and there, that little “Sports Car Spectacular” became legendary. All for just a $.75 admission fee too.

(One other side note: there was a Griffith Ford on display at the show that had been painstakingly hand-painted in a Tartan Plaid. Remember, no “wraps” back then. We all agreed that whoever painted it went crazy soon after.)

The road trip back was memorable for another reason. As some of you out there may have experienced along the way, when you rode in a Cobra back then you could smell the burnt rubber from the soles of your tennis shoes because the floor got so blistering hot. That wasn't all. The Cobra developed a pinpoint fuel line leak under the car that would deposit wisps of fuel on the exhaust pipe about every 20 minutes, which would then flare up with a brief flash while we were driving. Needless to say, that wasn’t good, but we decided to press on and made it back okay.

What does it all mean? As I said, our individual and collective experiences with cars and being on the road are seared in our memories and are irreplaceable. Where we’ve been has everything to do with who we are. This nation was transformed with a wandering spirit that allowed us to roam for the sheer hell of it. And our culture was and is still defined by it. 

I’m afraid if we lose that piece of who we are, we will lose a large part of the soul of this nation. Our machines may change, but our need to wander never will. 

As for the title of this week’s column, it’s an homage to the memorable Eric Clapton/George Harrison composition “Badge,” as performed by Cream. 

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

(Photo by Robert O. Craig)
Editor-in-Chief's Note: This is Corvette Grand Sport 002 restored to as it appeared at the 'Sports Car Spectacular" at Notre Dame; part of the Jim Jaeger collection.


Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG

by Editor
20 Aug 2023 at 2:43pm

Editor's Note: This week, Peter reminds us - yet again - that it's the True Believers who will ultimately make the difference between success and failure for the auto companies. In On The Table, Ford aims to control the Cars & Coffee cottage industry with its new $350,000 Mustang GTD, Lamborghini previews its first EV concept, the Lanzador, Jaguar Classic makes us drool, and Mercedes-AMG unveils the new Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe, its new flagship model. Our AE Song of the Week is one of our favorites, "Unwell" by Matchbox Twenty. Peter delivers Part IV of his much-talked-about series "The Glory Days" in Fumes, the inside story of his brother Tony's exploits with the famous Owens/Corning Fiberglas Corvette Racing Team. And finally, in The Line, we feature coverage of the MotoGP race from Austria, and the NASCAR road race from Watkins Glen. Enjoy it all. -WG  


By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. Though some readers have grown tired of me using the term "swirling maelstrom" to describe this business, I have yet to find a more apt descriptor. It's a land where you're only as good as your last hit, a state of mind where you're forced to make what's happening right now work, while struggling to make what's happening next come into focus. It's a cruel, at times nonsensical world that punishes those who would deign to march to a different drummer, but it's only those who dare to break through that gauntlet who rise to the top.  

It's easy to get mired in the minutiae of this business - the endless meetings, the constant "reviews," the continuous hand-wringing and second (and third) guessing. Overthinking might be an operational component in corporate America, but in the automobile business it's a full-blown cottage industry, which makes effectual decisions extremely hard to come by. Why? Because 90 percent of the time is spent worrying about what an upper executive in question might want or might be thinking, which forces underlings to become interpreters and acquire the skill set of nuanced anticipation.  

This business is unfortunately littered with so-called genius executives who parachute into the decision process, make a few pronouncements, then helicopter out. And the worst part of this phenomenon is that they come back six weeks later and question why a particular direction was undertaken, totally forgetting that's what he or she directed. Thus, time, effort and money are wasted at a prodigious rate because executives are too self-absorbed to get their heads out of their asses and realize how destructive their behavior is. And no, it isn't exclusive to the automobile business, but it's decidedly more pathetic when product programs or advertising campaigns are on the line. 

And yes, product. Product is the straw that stirs the drink, the raison d'etre of the automobile business. It's not selling air. It's not about what a company's vision of down the road will be. That's all well and good and fine and wonderful, but it's not the business right now, let alone the business for the next 36 months. It's about product cadence, which means having the right products, at the right time, for the right market segments. Whatever a company's vision is for the future doesn't matter if it isn't generating serious profits to fund that future.  

Remarkably enough, some companies forget all of this. They get sidetracked and off kilter, they chase their tails, they start listening to the dulcet tones of their own thought balloons, and they become buried under the heavy mantel of their own hubris. In short, they lose their way and start making mistakes. Except this isn't a business that tolerates mistakes. It's not a strike three business, either. It’s two strikes and you're out. And in this league, playing catchup is not only a brutally tough and long road, sometimes it just doesn't work out. And in the new reality of this globally-driven automobile business, when companies are betting their futures on the ability to manufacture EVs while generating real profits with ICEs, some car companies are just not going to make it. 

The companies stocked with True Believers, the ones unafraid to dream, the ones focused on delivering the best in all aspects of this business - Design, Engineering, Product Development, Marketing - will succeed. It not only requires savvy management, it requires a complete cessation of the normal bureaucratic cesspool that paralyzes these companies, which means loosening the reins of the True Believers so that they can do what they're capable of doing. 

When it comes to The Future of this business, I will bet on the companies who value their True Believers, because those companies who refuse to do so will be ringing their death knells. 

And that's the High-Octane Truth for this week. 



Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG

by Editor
13 Aug 2023 at 12:44pm

Editor's Note: This week, Peter puts his foot down hard on the gas, skewering what the "auto hobby" has become due to the hucksters and greed merchants who have taken over the car "thing." In On The Table, we preview another piece of glittering “unobtanium,” this time from Mercedes-AMG. And we kept the pics and details up about the all-electric 2025 ESCALADE IQ, which Peter has dubbed the SUPERSLADE. It’s big and imposing, and if you can find one just over a year from now for less than $175,000 (*base is AROUND $130,000), please be sure to let us know. We also feature a wonderful rendition of “The Weight” with Robbie Robertson and friends in our AE Song of the Week. In Fumes, Peter continues with Part III of his wildly popular series – "The Glory Days" – with a look back at the exploits of his brother Tony and the famous Owens/Corning Fiberglas Corvette Racing Team. And finally, in The Line, we feature coverage of Scott Dixon’s masterful performance in the INDYCAR race on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. That’s all I have this week. Onward. -WG 


By Peter M. DeLorenzo  

Detroit. You have to love the car business. Well, let me rephrase that. Some of us immersed in this seething cauldron of runaway egos, shortsightedness, intermittent brilliance and, remarkably enough and against all odds, indomitable spirit, love this business. (Then again, when it comes right down to it, it all depends on the day.) 

We love it for the unbridled creativity demonstrated by the True Believers, who keep stepping up to the plate and swinging for the fences. We love it for the relentless 24/7 churn – and burnout – that entails (even though everyone complains about it, they wouldn’t have it any other way). We love it for the brief shining moments when an exceptional design or product advancement emerges to remind us all of what turned us on about the business in the first place, even though those moments are fleeting, at best. 

But truth be told, we love to loathe it too. It can’t be helped. 

We despise the carpetbagging mercenaries who seem to rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune moments to wreak havoc on this business, masquerading as corporate saviors. We cringe at the legions of spineless weasels who populate almost every corner of this business, the go-along-to-get-along hordes and dutiful, sniveling minions who project a positive demeanor but who wallow in serial, abject mediocrity at every turn. That part of the business is depressing and tedious, there’s no doubt. “Wait just a damn minute!” I can anticipate the Voices from The Other Side weighing-in on my perspective. “I’m sitting here in our balcony room overlooking the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach, sipping mimosas with my smoking hot third wife. How bad can it be? You’re just envious that you’re not here.” Or something like that. We received a email very similar to that a few years ago after my continuous (mostly) negative commentaries on Monterey Car Week. 

But yet, I press on. 

As most longtime readers know, I have gradually become even more aggravated with the state of the so-called car "thing" as it exists today. It's clear that the car enthusiast culture – or what's left of it – has been overrun by con artists, clueless marketing twerps, greed merchants, poseurs and too many (but not all) in the media who display more go-along-to-get-along, "Thank you sir, may I have another" cheerleading than your average SEC school. Where is it all going? Nowhere good, I'm afraid.  

Right this minute there are shiny happy auto marketing troops gathering out in Pebble Beach, patting themselves on the back that they're present and accounted for at Monterey Car Week, even though the research gleaned and goodwill bestowed to prospects amounts to a giant bowl of Not So Much. As for the few brighter lights at the car companies who realize that the million-dollar bills they accrue at Pebble Beach really don't add up to much of anything quantifiable, they're unfortunately offset by the marketers who are whining because they aren't there and who can't wait to get out there next year. So, it seems that the cycle will continue.  

If you need an excellent indication that luxury automakers and their marketing troops are completely out of ideas when it comes to marketing their wares, you only have to look as far as the week of over-the-top events on the Monterey Peninsula beginning as you read this. 

The relentless, ever-present din that hangs in the air out there is defined by the drunken spending among the luxury automakers, and unremarkably enough, the way they go about it has a stench of sameness attached to it that, in the end, makes it indistinguishable from one brand to another. 

It’s the same luxury accoutrements, the same rote regurgitation of “luxury” words and phrases that are mumbled in an interchangeable soundtrack from brand to brand, and the same platitudes and cloying familiarity that blend together in a dismal cadence of vacuousness that goes by like a blur of marketing cotton candy, a fleeting sugar rush of pseudo substance followed by the inevitable crash of emptiness. 

Yet automakers drop, collectively, at least a hundred million dollars out in Monterey every year like clockwork. Why? Because the lingering question hanging over the marketing troops isn’t, “Maybe we ought to reevaluate this whole thing” but, “What happens if we’re not there?” Which isn’t exactly an answer that makes a lick of sense, now does it?  

As for the whole auction thing or as I refer to it, the 'Circus of Artificial Enthusiasm,' we have received an unending series of come-ons from the auction houses that tout the latest and greatest cars, all of which are pegged at absurd bid levels, and it frankly leaves me cold. There is no excitement generated by these communiques, just a gloomy emptiness hanging in the air over machines that once brimmed with passion and creativity, but are now relegated to marks on a ledger, which will count toward a tally that will be used to promote next year's installment of the circus. This tedious drill went far beyond the "Fools and their money..." adage well over two decades ago. These machines are paraded on stage – souls removed – only to end up in antiseptic, "perfect" garages until they're prepared for another auction down the road. This isn't about the car culture or the sheer passion once associated with these automobiles. Now, it's the living, breathing embodiment of Greed is Good. 

The calculated feeding frenzy manufactured by the auto auction houses has decimated the fundamental enthusiasm that used to define car enthusiasts of all stripes. There, I said it. The whole auto auction game has graduated from being merely tedious to a threat to car enthusiasm itself.  

Speaking of something not making a lick of sense, the fevered business surrounding auto auctions has come to define the car “hobby” for a lot of people, which is a very bad thing. Why? It’s not about the cars anymore, or the fleeting moments in time that defined what those machines represented, or the memories they created for the enthusiasts who drove them. No, as I stated previously, it’s about flat-out greed, pure and simple. 

Whether it’s resurrected cars over-restored to perfection or “survivor” cars brokered “as is” it’s really all the same. It’s a circus marked by overheated auction hucksters in cahoots with the blatant sycophants at the TV networks who all do their very best to add to the faux cacophony, which is only punctuated by the projected “record” dollar figures seemingly for every car. (The usurious buyers’ and sellers’ premiums are barely mentioned.)   

Car auctions have destroyed the last vestige of rational thought that was once associated with being a car enthusiast. In fact, rational thinking when it comes to the car enthusiast experience was steadily reduced to collateral damage years and years ago by the “greed merchants” at the auction houses. And it really stinks. 

As for our localized "Dream Cruise," the annual car happening on the third Saturday in August that went from being a spontaneous celebration of the automobile to an event wearing a leaded cloak of marketing sameness as orchestrated by the manufacturers and suppliers, I reserve particular ire for some of the card-carrying members of the local media who fall over themselves trying to pump up the volume on yet another edition, when the rote regurgitation of sameness hangs over the proceedings in a giant haze of "we've seen this before." The manufacturers and suppliers have their territories marked, the anticipation is missing in action, and the whole thing has been reduced to an annual dirge of predictability. Is this really what it has come to in the "Motor City"? Is this "celebration" of our car culture the best we can do? I certainly hope not, because it has all of the spontaneity of the grim "back to school" ads polluting the airwaves right now.  

Yes, it’s really too bad, but the High-Octane Truth about the Dream Cruise is that it simply doesn’t ring true anymore, as unpopular as that notion might be with some around here. The spontaneity that once bubbled up organically in the early years has been replaced by manufacturer displays, manufacturer “drive-bys” (the novelty of 50 cars of the same make driving up and down Woodward Avenue was never, ever, cool – trust me), and a rigid sameness that is as predictable as the local media coverage of the event, which is nothing but a regurgitation of the last decade’s worth of stories. 

It’s shocking to me that the local media still speaks in reverential tones about the Dream Cruise. Then again, when some in the local media collectively define the term journalistic “homers” it should be no surprise at all. 

The Dream Cruise has been overhyped, overblown and overrated for years, just like Monterey Car Week. And car enthusiasm is in a dismal state as well, having taken a huge hit thanks to the malicious hucksterism as practiced by the auction houses. 

And unfortunately, none of this is likely to change anytime soon. 

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week. 


Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG

by Editor
7 Aug 2023 at 9:47am

Editor's Note: In this week's Rant, Peter addresses the coming Era of Bad Ideas that's threatening to swallow the automobile business whole. In On The Table, we revisit the latest scam from Porsche - aka "The Greed Merchants" - to extract as much ca$h-ola from its adoring faithful as possible; the return of the Toyota Land Cruiser, which will be the latest "hottest thing in the market" and the Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE SUV, which is soul-crushingly expensive. Our AE Song of the Week is the searingly vicious "Vampire" from Olivia Rodrigo. In Fumes, Peter continues with Part II of his ever-popular series - "The Glory Days" – with a look back at the exploits of his brother Tony and the Owens/Corning Fiberglas Corvette Racing Team. And finally, in The Line, we feature coverage of the INDYCAR race from Nashville, IMSA from Road America and MotoGP from Silverstone. Onward. -WG


By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. When the Ford Motor Company filed a patent application last spring for dealing with owners who are late making payments on their vehicles by remotely disabling features – or creating annoying sounds to get the scofflaw owners' attention – even so far as eventually having the car be able to drive away on its own to an impound lot, we officially entered The Era of Bad Ideas.  

We all knew this was coming eventually. After all, with legions of technologistas overwhelming the transportation sector, and with their Savior-in-Chief – St. Elon – advocating for eliminating the physical act of driving altogether in favor of embracing remotely guided vehicles careening around to parts unknown and unloved, somehow everything is supposed to be better off because of it, right?  

Well, kids, guess what? We’re not only entering the sunset years of one of the last tangible independent exercises that humans can do, but there’s a growing faction out there that wants to remove the privilege from the collective “us” altogether, for “our own good.” Or, even worse, what some not-so-well-intentioned others deem as being for our own good.  

In those quaint, ancient times so long ago and far away now, the “anti-car” movement used to be about removing urban congestion and reducing pollution, with some other noble hand-holding goals thrown in for good measure. Now, with the blistering-fast advancement of AI, the “anti-car” movement has transitioned to the “anti-driving” movement, a crusade operating on the fundamental belief that the sooner human factors are removed from behind the wheel, the better off we’ll all be. Because, well, you know, it just will be, according to the anti-driving crusaders. 

Yes, we’ve watched as the science of robotics has made lots of tedious tasks easier over the decades –everything from manufacturing to countless other repetitive jobs – and we’ve all grown to accept it because it has made a (mostly) positive difference throughout society. But the idea that the personal interaction with controlling a machine – aka cars and trucks – needs to be curtailed or eliminated in favor of glorified rolling robo-conveyances is anathema to the human experience. 

I’ve been scolded by readers suggesting that I’m taking too narrow of a view on all of this, that I’m forgetting the advantages The Future will provide in terms of mobility for the elderly and otherwise infirm. No, actually I’m not. Yes, of course I am aware that there could be practical applications of this robotic technology for certain groups of people, and that is all well and good and could be exceedingly helpful to their quality of life. But you know and I know that isn’t how this will go down. When any idea – good or bad – is applied to the general population “for their own good” in our current society, that inevitably means that the technology or idea will be applied en masse to the lowest common denominator. As in, it will inevitably have to be “dumbed-down” in order for it to have the greatest effect across a broad spectrum of people. 

In The Future, would you want your elderly parents to be able to function on their own to a degree without having to be confined somewhere? Sure, of course, that would be helpful and beneficial to all concerned. And under limited circumstances in an urban environment that kind of robo-mobility should be able to work out just fine, for the most part – at least one would hope. 

But, let’s say you want to take your family to the Badlands National Park one summer in The Future, with a few unplanned stops along the way? And what if, in order for all of this to work, and in keeping with the idea of applying technology across a broad spectrum of the populace – to the lowest common denominator, in other words – the nanny technologistas in the government went ahead and created the National Bureau of Electronic Movement (NBEM), a clearinghouse of sorts to monitor the burgeoning transportation needs of the collective “us.” And let’s say that in order to plan that sort of a family vacation, you would first have to apply to the NBEM, plotting out your trip to the smallest detail, leaving no charge, food, bathroom or snack stop left out. 

Sounds delightful, right? No? I’ve gone too far – off the deep end, in fact – and I’m projecting a societal development that will never happen? Don’t be so sure. The rapid development of AI is swallowing everything having to do with our life as we know it whole. The indiscriminate onslaught of AI, which is often portrayed as something akin to a benign force for good, is incredibly naïve and flat-out wrong. With each “next step” AI development that promises to get us closer to a societal nirvana where things are no longer bad, or hurtful, or negative, or challenging, I cringe, because we are getting one step closer to having our basic freedoms compromised or removed altogether as being irrelevant compared to the “greater good.” 

You can laugh now, but I don’t find it funny in the least. Robot-motoring is not something I aspire to. And it’s not something you should aspire to either. And the concept of AI car repossessions may bring a laugh now, as in, sure, but make no mistake, this is just one more step along the way to the driving equivalent of a vanilla shake with a shot of mediocrity. 

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week. 

Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG

by Editor
31 Jul 2023 at 11:17am

By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. After 24+ years of writing content for this website, you would think I have seen it all. And yes, I pretty much have. But the beauty of the “swirling maelstrom” that churns and burns and defines this business is that there’s always room for one more act of head-scratching stupidity, one more example of flat-out ridiculous behavior, and one more reason to reassess exactly what the hell is going on out there. 

“Duh” No. 1: Reuters uncovered a practice by Tesla to underreport the actual range of its cars, in some cases by as much as 30 percent. Not only that, the company employed a special team of people that dissuaded customers from taking in their vehicles for service complaining about the reduced range, because Tesla service centers were overwhelmed. The team members involved in this calculated deception were rewarded with a clang from a metal xylophone when a customer’s service request was canceled. The team was expected to close 750 cases a week, and team members were closely tracked as to their daily output. That Tesla overpromised and underdelivered on mileage is this week’s No. 1 “Duh.” This goes along quite nicely with the fact that Tesla promised – and charged as much as $10,000 for – a “Full Self Driving” feature that didn’t work, and not only that, expected its customers to do the real-world beta testing on the feature. If any of the legacy automakers carried out this egregious behavior they would be hauled before Congress and fined until their bones cracked. That we are in the throes of a full-blown Muskian Nightmare has been the case for years now. Musk’s brand of “leadership” involves misdirection, misrepresentation and flat-out deception. And when that doesn’t cover it, outright lying is always his final play. That customers are still going along with the scam is disheartening and depressing. But the only shred of light piercing the darkness is that the Feds are slowly but surely closing in on Tesla, and as I’ve predicted repeatedly, it’s going to cost that company in the billions of dollars by the time this game is played out. 

“Duh” No. 2: Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares told reporters this week that the industry must deliver competitive BEVs at a price point of $25,000. Now, to be sure, being a CEO of a major car company is a 24/7 grind that chews up men and women at an alarming rate. And they get paid quite handsomely for that. But for Tavares to come out and say this is so stating the obvious that it “makes my hair hurt,” as one of my former bosses said the morning after a raging advertising party back in the day. Yes, of course there have to be BEVs at the $25,000 price point if this “Grand Transition” to electrification is going to take hold. I just didn’t expect a CEO with the alleged credentials of Tavares to be so painfully obvious. 

“Duh” No. 3. That the “Grand Transition” has devolved into a BEV Zealots vs. ICE Realists dance of antagonistic sparring is about as surprising as the Tigers flailing once again through another lost season. The BEV Zealots want to “flip the switch” and are generally intolerant of those who can’t see the EV light, wielding their pitchforks whenever they want to make their point. Much of their ardor is based on the fact that BEVs – at least on the surface – are much cleaner than ICE vehicles, conveniently forgetting where and how the electricity is generated in the first place. BEV Zealots are touting China as the BEV nirvana, because sales of BEVs are exploding over there. But again, they’re conveniently forgetting that China’s rapid BEV adoption is fueled by rampant use of coal, which is making their air even more unsafe, and unsafe for the world too. On the other hand, ICE realists are often inflexible and quick to dismiss EVs – in their present early stage of development – as a dead-end because of the limited infrastructure available, the limited range, and the limited charging speeds, discounting the fact that improvements to every aspect of the BEV equation will be constant and rapid. The High-Octane Truth about this battle between these opposing factions is that they both have forgotten one fundamental aspect of life: And that is things are rarely cut and dried or in hard-edged black & white, but in reality, are played out in the vast gray area of “the in-between.” Yes, BEVs are coming, that fact is indisputable. But rapid development in zero-carbon fuels and even hydrogen mean that ICE vehicles will be around for a long, long time to come. 

“Duh” No. 4. GM is going to reconfigure the Chevrolet Bolt with its next-gen Ultium BEV platform so that the nameplate lives on. This is about the farthest thing away from being shocking as you can get. The Bolt, despite its recent high-profile recalls, is one of the most recognized BEV nameplates in the market today, and it would be criminal if GM squandered the Bolt name and let it die. I expect the Bolt to be back more contemporary and better-equipped to compete in the future. As it should be. 

“Duh” No. 5. We are two weeks away from the annual Greed-Fest out in Monterey, California. As most longtime readers know, I have gradually become even more aggravated with the state of the so-called car "thing" as it exists today. It's clear that the car enthusiast culture – or what's left of it – has been overrun by con artists, clueless marketing twerps, greed merchants, poseurs and too many (but not all) in the media who display more go-along-to-get-along, "Thank you sir, may I have another" cheerleading than your average SEC school. Where is it all going? Nowhere good, I'm afraid. Right this minute, there are shiny happy auto marketing troops preparing to gather out in Pebble Beach, where they will be thrilled to be present and accounted for at Monterey Car Week, even though the research gleaned and goodwill bestowed to prospects amounts to a giant bowl of Not So Much. As for the few brighter lights at the car companies who realize that the million-dollar bills they accrue at Pebble Beach really don't add up to much of anything quantifiable, they're unfortunately offset by the marketers who will whine because they aren't there and who can't wait to get out there next year. So, it seems that the cycle will continue. That this will continue indefinitely is yet another “Duh” in this business. C'est la vie, y’all. 

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week. 

Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG

by Editor
24 Jul 2023 at 11:03am

By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. I keep waiting for reality to set in when it comes to the auto industry as practiced around here, but clearly that isn’t happening anytime soon. The “Grand Transition” to EVs is running at such a plodding pace that the idea of a date on the calendar as something you can hang your hat on is simply folly at this point. 

Let’s review, shall we? 

Lead times have always been part and parcel of this business, no more so than for the artisans in the design community. Designers are used to introducing products to the media that were “baked” at least three to five years prior, and then they go back to their respective studios to work on products coming three to five years down the road. Designers in this industry live in a perpetual Twilight Zone, a peculiar limbo – in fact a warped reality – where the present is never really present, while the future is immediately urgent.  

This is readily apparent if you have the privilege of being escorted through one of the design studios. Near-production vehicle work – meaning in showrooms three years away – is already baked, while the future work is everywhere you look. As for the vehicles being introduced at the moment? They are simply yesterday’s news. But then again, that has always been the case for the designers and the design community.  

As for the rest of this business, this “Grand Transition” to EVs has upended what passed for the normal order of things. Chalk it up to the Tesla effect, which has caused legacy automakers to collectively lose their frickin’ minds. They are so consumed with gaining credibility in the EV club in the eyes of the consumer and government regulators that they’re pretty much abandoning rational thought altogether. 

The automakers have long operated in the quagmire akin to premature ejaculation when it comes to new products. Desperate to show that they’re in the game – whatever the game of that moment is – they show products to the media and the public that are a long way from seeing reality. Students of the game remember the disastrous launch of the “new” Thunderbird in recent (albeit ancient) times, or the “new” Camaro that was unveiled five full years before it darkened any showroom.  

To me, this is one of the most screwed-up things about this business. The concept of keeping a lid on a new product until it’s less than six months from the showrooms is simply anathema for the current practitioners at these car companies. They not only don’t understand it, they fundamentally don’t believe in it. They offer up all kinds of reasons for this behavior, but it doesn’t amount to anything substantial, or again, rational. Instead, you hear a lot of moaning and groaning about getting the dealers ready, getting the production facilities ready and a laundry list of blah-blah-blahs that makes your head spin. It’s all bullshit too. They collectively just can’t help themselves, and they shoot themselves in the head every time they do it too. 

Take all of this predictive industry behavior into account and add the “EV Thing” or more accurate, the “EV Frenzy” to the mix, and you have an unmitigated disaster that has been unfolding in real time for going on three years now. Companies touting vehicles that they can’t produce and, even worse, spending hundreds of millions of dollars of marketing money advertising upcoming products on big-ticket events when they’re not going to see the light of day for over three years, at least, is not only stupid, it borders on the absurd.  

Apparently, there’s no end in sight to this madness, either. It’s almost as if the auto industry is operating with calendars that don’t actually exist in reality. For example, the current auto industry calendars are promising a brace of all-new EVs that will flood the market beginning late this year. And that is flat-out inaccurate and wrong. (Even St. Elon got it horribly wrong with the Cybertruck. It’s allegedly being built – I’m not buying that for one second, by the way – three long years after he first displayed it. And it’s going to be at least another year before it shows up for sale, at least.) 

If you want a real-world reality check to this overpromising and underdelivering, here’s an easy, one-step AE Guide to Upcoming EVs that makes it simple for consumers to understand.   

If a manufacturer is promising a new EV model this year (2023), that means you can add at least 18 months to that promised date before you see it in any measurable quantities at your local dealership. And it’s easy to extrapolate that out into the future too. If it’s promised in 2024, that really means sometime late in 2025, but only if things go as planned. (And remember, in this new EV production reality with raw materials shortages, supply chain disruptions, and myriad other issues that prevent things from happening with any level of predictability, things seldom go as planned.) 

So, there you have it. Add basically two years to any EV product intro date from a legacy manufacturer, and you’ll probably be close to accurate. It’s a damn good thing the legacy automakers are fortifying themselves with brand-new ICE engines and ICE manufacturing facilities, because this “Grand Transition” is going to play out easily well into the next decade. The end of the next decade. And, in case you’re wondering, these legacy manufacturers simply can’t afford to play in the EV space unless they keep churning out ICE vehicles in mass quantities.   

Meanwhile, Tesla keeps flooding the market at will. 

As the Wicked Witch of the West once famously said, “What a world, what a world...” 

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week. 

Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG



by Editor
17 Jul 2023 at 10:11am

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. Reaching the end of an era in any pursuit is fraught with peril and consumed by endless hand-wringing about its place in history. Was it as good as we thought it was? Or was it even better than we realized? Or is the future so bright that the previous era will be relegated to a quaint but fleeting moment in time?

The endless assessments and evaluations of the Internal Combustion Engine era of the automobile have already begun. It was an era marked by historic developments and relentless achievements. It began with the celebration of a newfound reliability (as compared to the traditional horse power) and progressed through a kaleidoscope of advancements that fueled the idea of creating transportation for the masses, through to a glittering showcase of speed, power and luxury.

There’s no question that putting America on wheels accelerated the development of this vast country. The automobile and the business of manufacturing automobiles became an inexorable part of the industrial fabric of this great nation. And when called upon, the industry responded to the desperate manufacturing needs thrust upon us in World War II with unheard of speed and relentless dedication. And during the post-war era, when this nation was on a relentless upward trajectory, the automobile industry responded again with a dazzling display of innovation and creativity that helped power its way right through to the end of the last century.

But things don’t stay the same forever, and the pace of change in the world and the onslaught of new technologies affected the automobile industry as much, if not more, than anything that came before. The business became global in a 30-year span, a blink of the proverbial eye. And with that globalization came new pressures brought on by the population explosion, the depletion of essential resources and the burgeoning impact on our global climate, which cloaked the industry in a blanket of uncertainty.

The automobile industry has arrived at this point in time with a glowing track record of technical achievements, but there’s no doubt that with those accomplishments comes a legacy that has its share of negativity and low points.

No, the automobile isn’t the only source of pollution on the planet – certainly not when the overarching industrial pollution is taken into account – but it’s the most visible and by far the easiest target of politicians who believe the solution is just a finger-snap away, whether by legislative decree or by eliminating the problem altogether. It’s in this Big Picture arena that the automobile and the automobile industry find themselves in right now and for the foreseeable future – and to pretend otherwise is simply denying the fundamental reality of this time and place.

I welcome what’s coming, because I believe that technical innovation will transform what has been a transformative industry since its very beginnings and propel it – and us – to new and unimaginable heights. Will I miss the Internal Combustion Engine era? Oh yes, very much so. But we will celebrate the ingenuity, the technical achievements, the speed and, of course, the breathtaking style for many decades to come.

Assembling a garage of milestone cars from the ICE era would be fun, but I have never been a collector like that and at this point, I never will. But off the top of my head I have a few favorites, as you might imagine. The following is my list, but your list will probably be different. The beauty is there are no wrong answers.


1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider. What else would you drive down to the Amalfi Coast? It's simply one of the most seductive combinations of speed and style ever created. 


1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray. Of the many achievements to come out of GM Styling under the great Bill Mitchell's tutelage, the Corvette Sting Ray remains a singular achievement that is still stunning to this day.

Another one of Bill Mitchell's milestone cars: The 1963 Buick Riviera. I actually prefer the '65 with the hidden headlights, but you get the idea.


1964 Shelby American 289 Cobra. Shelby's original creation is still my favorite – compact, lithe and like a bolt of lightning in its day. I am fortunate to have experienced it in its prime.


1966 Shelby American 427 Cobra. Shelby took his original concept and said "more." The result? A better, wider chassis, better suspension, better steering and brakes, and, of course, big horsepower. It is still, to this day, one of the most ferocious sports cars ever built. (And no, not the "S/C" version; the street version with under car exhausts.)

(Richard Michael Owen/

1966 Lamborghini Miura P400. Groundbreaking in design and engineering, the mid-engine Miura remains one of the most significant cars of its era. 


1973 Porsche 911 RS. I have many "favorite" Porsches from over the years, including the present-day 718 GT4. But if I could have only one - actually, if I could only have one vehicle in my ICE Garage - the 911 RS would be it. 

The Ferrari 296 GTB is just a spectacular machine in every respect.

And the 2023  Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06. It's everything the new mid-engine Corvette is, and much, much more. It's a tribute to GM's True Believers, who deserve all of the kudos coming their way.


2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Shaker Widebody. I would need to have one, purely Bad Ass car in my ICE Garage, and no, I don’t need a Hellcat. The normally-aspirated 392 Hemi V8 would do just fine.

Yes, it’s a list, I’ll say that much. Is it complete? Oh hell no. But if this is the end of an era, and these are the cars in my ICE Garage to visit and drive while I motor around in the latest BelchFire Electric GT, then I would be exceedingly happy.

Needless to say, I don’t plan on going gently into the night. I will hammer whatever I have for all it’s worth and make every single moment count as the glow from the ICE era slowly fades into the twilight.

As Dylan Thomas famously wrote:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.


Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG



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