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Affiliate Disclosure: As an affiliate of Advance Auto Parts and an Amazon Associate, Automoblog may earn a commission if you purchase one of the car batteries below. This commission comes to us at no additional cost to you. #1: Best Overall: Optima RedTop Specifications (RedTop Group Size 35) Type: AGM CCA: 720 Weight: 31.7 lbs. Dimensions LxWxH: 9.38 x 6.75 x 7.69 inches. Voltage: 12V Reserve Capacity at 25 Amps: 90 minutes. Warranty: Three years of personal use or one year of commercial use. Why Optima […]
Original article: Top 5 Best Car Batteries (2022 Buyer’s Guide)
Affiliate disclosure: Automoblog and its partners may be compensated when you purchase the products below. Carshield is an extended warranty provider with six coverage options. In our industry study, we name CarShield as the Most Affordable provider. This reputable extended car warranty company offers several plans with additional benefits. CarShield is a popular vehicle service contract provider, which you may have heard of due to their high volume of TV commercials and online ads. But is it one of the […]
Original article: Is CarShield Legit? (2022 Warranty Review)
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Original article: CarShield Plans: Everything You Need to Know (2022)
Automobili Lamborghini has announced the reveal of the Urus S, the successor to the original Urus, which debuted in 2017. As the heir apparent, the Lamborghini Urus S offers more power and versatility, along with new design modifications and interior updates. The Urus S has big shoes to fill, as the original Urus is the most successful model in Lamborghini history. “The Urus’ commercial success, with more than 20,000 vehicles produced, is a testament to its credentials as the first […]
People of all ages have gotten goosebumps from a familiar story: a driver, traveling down the road late at night, spies a hitchhiker who appears on the shoulder. The driver picks up the hitcher and the two have a pleasant conversation. However, when they get to the hitchhiker’s destination, he’s disappeared. It’s a classic ghost story with countless variations, and with nearly four million miles of road in the United States, you’ve probably heard one specific to where you live. […]
Original article: Six Haunted Roads To Drive This October
Ford introduced its 2023 Super Duty shortly after Chevy debuted its updated Silverado HD. It’s no secret the two American brands are engaged in a longstanding rivalry over who sells the most trucks. Ford had the edge in 2021 by selling 380,000 more trucks than Chevrolet, and it seems the dominance will continue with the 2023 Ford Super Duty. “Super Duty customers are builders – the backbone of our communities and our economy,” said Jim Farley, Ford President and CEO. […]
The 2024 Chevy Silverado HD (2500 and 3500) will arrive with new façades, a new interior with boatloads of tech, and updated powertrains. The Silverado HD remains available in regular, double, and crew cab body styles with standard rear-wheel drive and an optional all-wheel drivetrain for most trims. At the same time, dual rear wheels are still optional for the 3500 and offer the highest trailering capacity – up to 36,000 lbs. – across the entire Silverado HD lineup. “We’ve […]
The 2023 Nissan Maxima is the swan song of the Japanese carmaker’s pseudo-luxury sport sedan. It was 42 years ago when the first-gen Maxima entered the North American market as a long-wheelbase JDM Datsun Bluebird. The fourth-gen A32 model produced from 1994 to 1999 was the last great Maxima for offering more interior room and a more engaging driving feel than the iconic Lexus LS, high praise for a four-door Japanese family car. Nissan has yet to divulge if the […]
Original article: 2023 Nissan Maxima: The Last Hurrah For Nissan’s Flagship Sedan
Uniden R7 in Alert Display #2 with a rear Ka band, I696 near Telegraph Road (Detroit metro).
Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Automoblog earns from qualifying purchases, including the movies featured here. These commissions come to us at no additional cost to you. Mildred asks Johnny, “What are you rebelling against?” Johnny Strabler replies, “What’ve you got?” And that, in addition to being one of the greatest movie lines in history, sets the tone, not only for The Wild One but for an entire generation. Is The Wild One a car movie? No, not really, but it is most certainly a […]
Original article: What Are You Rebelling Against? Looking at The Wild One 70 Years Later
Escort MAX 360c MKII radar and laser detector.
Original article: Escort Promises Improved Range With New MAX 360c MKII Radar Detector
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. All of a sudden, hydrogen is back. Hydrogen fuel cell development to power EVs, especially when it comes to heavy trucks, has been ongoing at the manufacturers for decades now. And in a new front, Toyota is stepping up its efforts in leading the charge to adapt zero emission hydrogen fuel to internal combustion engines, joined by Borg Warner – a U.S. turbocharging specialist – and Riken Corp., a Japanese piston ring-focused company. I view this is to be a significant development, because Toyota’s at times visionary leader, Akio Toyoda, has become a forceful advocate of the development of hydrogen fuel, as he believes the EV infrastructure around the world is woefully lacking – it is – and that the life of internal combustion engines is far from over. I concur.
What does it all mean? Make no mistake, the rush to EVs is well and truly underway, and by 2035, the percentage of EVs in our nation’s fleet of vehicles could be as much as 50 percent. Not 100 percent? No. But 50 percent is a huge number of vehicles, although the EV infrastructure will still be catching up.
What about California’s mandate to ban the sale of ICE vehicles in the state by 2035? It’s a noble goal, depending on one’s perspective, but is it achievable? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but again, no. It is not only woefully unrealistic, it threatens to unleash economic calamity on those who can least afford it. It is fine to set a goal – after all, that’s exactly what John Kennedy did when he promised that the U.S. would put a man on the moon – but to expect the automotive infrastructure to be completely transformed in just twelve years, requiring a comprehensive makeover that is almost incomprehensible in scope, is, as I said, woefully unrealistic. I figure that around 2030, when it becomes apparent that the “Grand Transition” to an EV infrastructure is not only ongoing but lagging, watch for that date to be pushed back to 2040.
What does all of this have to do with hydrogen? Akio Toyoda’s push to develop hydrogen as a fuel for ICE vehicles is truly significant, because it takes the onus off of developing hydrogen fuel cell-powered BEVs. Do you think the challenges of developing an EV infrastructure are difficult? You can multiply that difficulty exponentially when talking about developing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles and the infrastructure to go along with them.
In case you’re wondering, I am not new to the hydrogen “thing.” I have had serious interest in the idea of hydrogen as a fuel since the early 90s. My interest gradually increased to the point that I first proposed the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation back in January 2007 to automotive and motorsports executives. We had serious interest from GM and Toyota, and the racing world took note of the concept.
Simply stated, the premise of HERF was to rewrite the rules for the Future of Racing, but in doing so, the idea was to also offer new ideas for our transportation needs as a nation. HERF revolved around the fact that hydrogen electric fuel cell power presented the most compelling solution for our future propulsion needs, one that goes beyond the current battery range debate. If you've been reading about the auto industry's coming transformation to electrification and the mass production of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel cell power still has the potential to be better than BEVs, by every measure. But back in 2007, the idea of hydrogen electric fuel cell power was a concept that was 20 years down the road. In fact, it always seemed to remain 20 years down the road. The HERF concept set out to change all of that.
One thing that has been proven time and time again over the decades is that technical advancements developed in racing end up improving our production cars in terms of aero and mechanical efficiency, suspension, braking and tire development and, of course, power. And the reason that the mass adaptation of hydrogen electric fuel cell vehicles always seemed to be stuck in neutral (except for recent low-production efforts by Honda and other manufacturers) is that the challenges associated with hydrogen electric fuel cell power had never been addressed with the kind of urgency that is associated with the white-hot competitiveness found in racing.
Those challenges were dealing with the heat generated, the secure storage of the on-board hydrogen, the time it takes for refueling, and of course, range. The HERF idea would address those challenges and then some, because racing would radically accelerate those learnings. I also find it amusing that manufacturers are embracing various artificial electronic sound enhancements for their BEVs right now (the noise generated by BEVs is – ahem – lacking to say the least), because the HERF rules package required the participating manufacturers to create their own sound signatures, which would be a combination of audio projection and the noise generated by air flowing over the bodywork.
The HERF concept was strongly embraced by GM and to a lesser extent by Toyota, with other manufacturers waiting in the wings to see who would participate. Bob Lutz introduced me at the meeting and suggested that GM welcomed the competition from the other manufacturers, but in the end it was a case of one manufacturer waiting for the other manufacturers to jump in. Instead, everyone got a lethal case of frigid feet, and HERF was killed in the ice storm.
I still strongly believe in the HERF concept, I also believe that hydrogen as a fuel for ICE vehicles could be the brilliant stroke. As we like to say around here, it's all a giant “we’ll see.”
And that's the High-Octane Truth for this week.
Editor's Note: For more info on Peter's Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation, check out the HERF entry on Wikipedia here. -WG
Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. That I have a deep love of everything Pontiac is well known. I grew up immersed in this business – right in the thick of GM’s heyday – and Pontiac played a crucial role in both my formative years and my early advertising career. That’s why when GM took the bankruptcy pill in 2008, I was crushingly disappointed to learn that the Pontiac Division was one of the assets to be jettisoned. (And Hummer, too, but fortunately that nameplate has now returned.)
It’s hard to believe now, but Pontiac was just another GM division back in the mid-50s. It had a lineup of stodgy cars, and there was nothing to write home about. The division existed under the GM corporate umbrella, but it was decidedly lacking in just about everything when compared to GM’s other divisions: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile. But that would all change when Bunkie Knudsen was appointed a GM vice president and the division’s general manager in July of 1958. Knudsen was given the assignment to inject some life into the division and increase sales, and he was given carte blanche to do it.
As a reminder, if you were a GM vice president and divisional general manager back in the day you were akin to a potentate running a small country. GM’s divisional general managers had immense power with responsibility for engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing. Thinking about that in comparison with how things operate today, it doesn’t seem real, because it was so dramatically different from today's car business it’s like reading from a fairytale book. But make no mistake, it was very real, and GM’s divisional general managers were like giants roaming the earth, swashbuckling their way through the day-to-day of the business while making crucial, pivotal decisions on the fly. Remember, this was a business that debuted new cars every fall with new sheet metal and new features to go with them. Again, in comparison with how things are done today, it’s just jaw-dropping to contemplate how the business churned back then. Yes, as I’ve said many, many times before, it was a different time and a different era, but GM’s heyday was truly remarkable in that the corporation soared because of it, even with the bean counters trying to rein things in every step of the way.
The only arena where GM’s divisional general managers had to take a step back was when dealing with GM Styling, which was run with an iron fist by design legend Bill Mitchell, who inherited the mantle from Harley Earl. The clashes between Mitchell and GM’s divisional general managers were legendary, and I will save those stories for another column. But suffice to say, Mitchell got what he wanted for the most part, even if he had to play the divisional general managers off against each other to do so.
But back to Bunkie and Pontiac. His first hires were two young and gifted engineers – Pete Estes from Oldsmobile and John Z. DeLorean from Packard. The charge to DeLorean was very specific: get Pontiac into the performance business right now. And since Bunkie was a huge racing enthusiast, everything was on the table, from NASCAR to drag racing.
And all of a sudden, hot Pontiacs stuffed with big V8s started to show up everywhere, from Daytona to Pomona. And even in our driveway. Since Bunkie and his wife were social friends with my parents, Bunkie started sending the hottest Pontiacs to our house specifically for my mom to drive. Beginning in the summer of 1959, we had a series of Bonneville and Catalina convertibles that were always bright red with a white top and a bright red interior. And they were always equipped with the hottest Pontiac engine at the time, which at first were 389 cu. in. V8s with 3x2-barrell carbs, and eventually 421 cu.in. V8s. Needless to say, my mom loved her hot Pontiacs. (And my brother and I did, too, especially since he had just gotten his license and we would “exercise” mom’s cars at every opportunity.)
The transformation of the Pontiac Division is a glorious part of GM lore. Pontiacs went from being practical transportation devices to some of the hottest cars in the industry. Offering performance engineering and styling that just weren’t available anywhere else, Pontiac rode a wave of popularity that took the business – and GM – by storm.
I say GM because, remember that part about GM’s divisional vice presidents being akin to potentates of their own countries? Well, that was true, until Pontiac – under Bunkie Knudsen’s tutelage – began to upset the pecking order within the company. Before Pontiac became a “problem” for the other general managers, the GM divisional hierarchy was clear: Cadillac was up and off to the side luxuriating in its own rarified world. Buick was next in terms of prestige, with the super-popular Chevrolet sucking up all of the air in the room because of its incredible sales numbers, followed by Oldsmobile, which just chugged along, and then the moribund Pontiac.
At least that’s the way it used to be before Bunkie and his “pirates” got rolling. All of a sudden, things had changed. Chevrolet, which pretty much had high-performance marketing opportunities cornered within GM, was being seriously pushed by Pontiac on all fronts. Chevrolet operatives became more incensed with each Pontiac foray into their territory, and the intramural battles between the two divisions spilled over all the way to GM’s vaunted 14th floor, with whining Chevrolet executives complaining to top GM execs that Pontiac was deliberately encroaching on Chevy’s territory. As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with Knudsen and DeLorean & Co. The increasing sales numbers, however, were in Pontiac’s favor so GM’s top execs pretty much let Pontiac go, which added even more fuel to Chevy’s fire.
Then, in 1963, when GM issued its official ban against the participation in racing as corporate policy (a monumentally chicken-shit decision, by the way), the divisional general managers had to comply. (This is when Zora Arkus-Duntov, rather than destroying the Corvette Grand Sports, delivered them to trusted racer friends of the company, for basically free. And the company’s deeply embedded relationship with Jim Hall’s Chaparral cars went completely underground.)
The little-known collateral damage from that anti-racing ban was a GM internal edict that prohibited certain sized V8 from being put in “smaller” cars, which is a joke considering those smaller cars were huge by today’s standards. The Chevrolet operatives dutifully complied with the edict, while Pontiac operatives, led by DeLorean and Bill Collins – the gifted engineer who deserves most of the credit for this next piece of automotive history – decided to go in another direction. Before the racing ban, Collins had been busy stuffing Pontiac’s 389-cu.in. V8s into “intermediate” Le Mans bodies, and the result was, needless to say, magical. But when the edict took effect, Pontiac was specifically ordered not to stuff a V8 into a Le Mans to make it into a new Pontiac model.
Then, a bit of genius. Pontiac operatives decided to get around the ban by making the “GTO” a new option package on the 1964 Pontiac Le Mans. And the rest, as they say, is automotive history, as the original “muscle” car was born. Chevrolet operatives were apoplectic, but by the time GM corporate got wind of what was happening, the GTO option had become one of the most sought-after high-performance option packages in the industry. And by 1966 it became its own separate model.
Pontiac was red-hot, with its distinctive brand of high-performance engineering and some of GM Styling’s best designs coming in wave after wave. From there, Pontiac would pile success upon success, reaching, at one point, three million in annual sales. The rebels out in Pontiac, Michigan, had won.
And almost the best part? Pontiac was supported by sensational advertising, clearly some of the best and most memorable advertising in the car business at the time. That pissed off Chevrolet’s ad agency – Campbell-Ewald – on a regular basis, which made it even better.
As for the intramural battle between Chevrolet and Pontiac, it continued. Pontiac came out with the Grand Prix in 1962, and the long-nosed ’69 version pushed by DeLorean was another huge hit. Chevrolet came out with the Camaro in 1967, but the Pontiac Firebird to some, was better looking. The ’70 Camaro, which was dramatic in its own right, was undercut by the fabulous ‘70 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am and Firebird Formula. As late as 1984, when Pontiac came out with the mid-engine Fiero, the battle continued. Chevrolet insisted that it could not encroach on Corvette territory, so the Fiero was restricted to a 4-cylinder at intro and got a V6 right before it was dropped. The 2nd-generation Fiero, which I had the pleasure of seeing, had “Corvette-killer” written all over it, but there was simply no way Chevrolet operatives were going to allow it to see the light of day, so they lobbied against it heavily, and it never did.
The Pontiac story is worth telling. And it’s not just because of the fabulous cars and nameplates like Bonneville, Catalina, Fiero, Firebird, Grand Prix, GTO and Le Mans. It’s because a bunch of maverick True Believers thumbed their noses at the corporate inertia that threatened to overrun GM at the time and dared to go up against an intramural corporate rival to deliver some of the finest and most memorable machines to come out of Detroit.
I had the pleasure of working on Pontiac advertising at D’Arcy MacManus & Masius from 1980-1985, and I will never forget it. Even though the business was rapidly changing and Pontiac was beginning to lose its identity within the GM corporate monolith, the spirit of the former ad greats that came before me and my ad colleagues was as intense, vibrant and visceral as it could be. And we worked to make them proud every damn day.
Is this a plea for GM to resurrect Pontiac? That is a hard "no." Pontiac existed in a fleeting moment in time and left its indelible mark on automotive history – never to be repeated, but never to be forgotten.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
Editor's Note: This is Peter's famous ad for the 1981 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo V-8. As Peter says, "It was a different time and a different era." Truer words were never spoken. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. As the last vestiges of the Detroit Auto Show fade into the twilight, it’s clear that what I said last week, though unpopular in some quarters, is painfully true. I said that “reality has a way of getting in the way. The High-Octane Truth is that the Detroit Auto Show is dead, no matter what form it takes. And what’s happening in its place this week will be a one hit wonder. There’s just not enough ‘buzz’ to sustain things beyond this year.”
As much as it pains me, I stand by those words. That a new idea to revive interest in what’s left of the Detroit show is desperately needed is clear. I’m just not so sure it’s in the cards. As I said last week, there’s no mystery or allure anymore, no waiting with anticipation for the dealers to remove the paper covering up the showroom windows like ancient times. People now know what’s coming a year or more in advance down to the last detail; it’s just the way things are done these days. And besides, people around here are aware of vehicles from all of the manufacturers well before everyone else. We see prototypes on the road all the time, years in advance too.
But therein lies the conundrum. Since the collective “we” who live in this region are immersed in this auto slog 24/7, and the urgency and interest in the Auto Show were basically destroyed by the pandemic, you could tell by the lightly attended charity preview on Friday night and the sparse crowds over the weekend that the air has been let out of the balloon, permanently.
So, can a new event be invented to celebrate the depth and breadth of the culture of the automobile in this region? After all, it’s not called the “Motor City” for nothing. This business permeates every minute of every day around here. You can’t really understand what that means until you’ve lived it, and it isn’t something that can be done from afar, either. But another Auto Show clearly isn’t the answer.
One takeaway from the events of the last week is that people in this business were collectively reminded that this EV “thing” is in its infancy, despite the constant bleating and promises of FSD being right around the corner by that grating “genius” on the West Coast. We are on the cusp of the total reinvention of everything to do with the automobile as we know it, and it is playing out in real time. And the monumental challenges associated with this “Grand Transition” in terms of development of an infrastructure, sourcing of raw materials, improving battery performance, building of new factories, revamping the dealer networks and the supply chain are ongoing.
And there are no “finger snaps” or flipping of a giant switch to make this all happen instantly, either. It’s a relentless grind marked by fits and starts. Major problems are counteracted by little victories, which ultimately result in meaningful progress. It’s the day-in, day-out of it all that’s the reality for the talented men and women in the trenches working on making the EV “thing” happen.
Is progress being made? Absolutely. The pace of noteworthy developments is accelerating. Remarkably enough, it mirrors what happened with the invention of the automobile way back when. Back then, the developments came in waves in little shops scattered around the Midwest and the rest of the world. People with vision and drive transformed the horseless carriage from being a curious novelty to a vehicle that fundamentally changed the world.
And history is on the cusp of repeating itself.
The daunting challenges of this “Grand Transition” to EVs will be solved by visionary True Believers who are working every angle and pursuing every avenue of improvement to make the EV “thing” work. As skeptical and impatient as I can be with the timing of all of this, I realize that those little victories will eventually yield major technical advancements. That said, however, it’s clear that we’ll be living with the duality of ICE and EV vehicles for another fifteen years, at least. And that’s perfectly alright.
Everyone wants things cut and dried and expects them to be fueled by instant gratification these days. It’s just who we have collectively become. It’s not pretty; in fact it’s the ugly reality of contemporary life, something that I’m not a fan of in the least. But if you’ve been around long enough, you gain some much-needed perspective. Things aren’t defined by cut and dried or counted in measures of black and white; instead, most of life unfolds in a vast gray area that is extremely difficult to quantify.
This is where the automobile business finds itself right now: Toiling in the vast area of gray. Letting go of what used to be, while embracing what is to come. Even though what form that will take exactly remains to be seen.
But as Robert Lamm once eloquently stated:
“Only the beginning. Only just the start…”
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 Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. It’s Auto Show week here in the Motor City. Yes, you read that correctly. After two-and-one-half years of postponements, false starts and navel-gazing questions as to “what is it all about?” the Detroit Auto Show, such as it is, is slated to begin with a media day on Wednesday (this week’s publication date – WG).
Actually, this “media day” is a misnomer, because what used to be two jam-packed days of media press conferences, product rollouts and heavily orchestrated and, in some cases, excruciating executive pontificating, has been reduced to a half-assed facsimile of what used to be.
Oh sure, there are outdoor displays, and tightly controlled “ride and drives” in and around Huntington Place (formerly known as Cobo Hall), but the reality is that what was once a proper international auto show filled with crucial new product reveals has now been reduced to a hometown retail show, where the thousands of people who are either directly or indirectly involved in the auto industry in this region can go and revel in the fruits of their labor and say something like, “We did the lower front valance on the new Mustang.”
It’s no big revelation that the COVID pandemic basically destroyed the auto show model. It upended the auto show calendar and hastened its demise by putting the whole circus on a train to Oblivion, which is one stop past Obsolete Station.
Is this the Detroit Show organizers’ fault? Not in the least. These people are struggling mightily to make the Detroit Auto Show relevant and an auto-themed destination for family entertainment. A huge effort is being made - supported by the local media – to make the show desirable again. But the reality is that the plot has been lost and the absence of the Detroit Auto Show has not made hearts grow fonder. Instead it has planted an overwhelming sense of ennui, which has permeated the collective consciousness of the people who used to give a damn.
Yes, the times have changed. The auto manufacturers have realized that the collective hundreds of millions of dollars they used to spend on auto shows was a giant waste of money. Auto shows have been replaced by targeted product rollouts to what passes for the automotive media, alleged social media “influencers” and well-heeled clientele who can spread the word much more efficiently and basically, instantaneously.
It doesn’t help that the retail auto market has inexorably changed too. People don’t shop at dealers anymore; the endless supply chain issues have put paid to that quaint notion. Now, it’s spec-out an order for a vehicle and wait or hope someone on a list to get a vehicle cancels and creates an open slot.
Wait a minute, wouldn’t that make the Detroit Auto Show more desirable? Actually, no. People are used to seeing everything and anything to do with new and upcoming vehicles on the Internet. Right now. There’s no mystery or allure anymore, no waiting with anticipation for the dealers to remove the paper covering up the showroom windows like ancient times. People now know what’s coming a year or more in advance down to the last detail, it’s just the way things are done these days. And besides, people around here are aware of vehicles from all of the manufacturers well before everyone else. We see prototypes on the road all the time, years in advance too.
Is there anything going on at the “new” Detroit Auto Show? The only reveal of note in Detroit will be Ford’s reveal of the last ICE Mustang, Wednesday night. Is this event enough to give the Detroit Auto Show credibility or desirability? No. It’s akin to the Detroit Lions holding “family” day. You basically know what’s going to happen – with a few wrinkles thrown in for the sake of “new” – but we’ve all been there and done that before, haven’t we?
This column will be a bitter pill for some, but reality has a way of getting in the way. The High-Octane Truth is that the Detroit Auto Show is dead, no matter what form it takes. And what’s happening in its place this week will be a one hit wonder. There’s just not enough “buzz” to sustain things beyond this year.
Oh, and one more thing. I refuse to sit by and let manufacturers create artificial sounds for their EVs and call it “good” or acceptable. Stellantis is touting the artificially-created muscle sound emanating from its new Charger EV prototype as something that is authentic and desirable. But that is Unmitigated Bush League Bullshit. Electronic-generated and projected sound – no matter how enhanced – is the quintessential definition of synthetic phoniness. There is nothing “authentic” about it and there is no “there” there. The High-Octane Truth is that it is flat-out stupid, no matter how it’s presented. And it’s the most depressing development to hit this business in a long, long time.
There you have it. Two wildly unpopular topics this week.
The High-Octane Truth has never been convenient, necessarily feel-good popular, or for the faint of heart.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
Even if some of you can’t handle it.
"You Can't Handle The Truth" - A Few Good Men.
Editor's Note: This cover of this week's edition of Automotive News (autonews.com) features a story about GM's pioneering development of the EV "skateboard" and how it set the table for an entirely new direction in the development of the automobile. A variation of the GM "skateboard" is now used by every manufacturer of EVs in the world, and it remains a testament to GM's True Believers in Engineering and Design. In fact, GM has a long history of innovation and pioneering engineering breakthroughs going back to the 1930s. Just one example? The Firebird I, II and III concepts from the '50s were so advanced that many of the features developed for those machines are still found in cars built today. The 1958 Firebird III, for instance, was powered by a 225HP gas turbine engine with a 2-cylinder 10HP gas engine to run the onboard accessories. It had cruise control, anti-lock brakes, air drag brakes, remote opening doors, an automated guidance system, and it was steered by a joystick in the console. There have been other significant engineering programs originating at GM throughout the decades. In fact, what GM is doing today in terms of engineering its new EVs is every bit as breakthrough and innovative as any time in its long history. This week, Peter focuses on one of GM's most significant - and storied - engineering development programs: The 1960 CERV I (Chevrolet Experimental Research Vehicle) and the 1963 CERV II. Both machines were developed under the direction of iconic Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov as a platform to develop and refine Chevrolet body, chassis and suspension systems. At least that was the "official" version. They were really developed, however, as all-out racing machines. As many of you already know, Peter's postings on Twitter (@PeterMDeLorenzo) provide a colorful look at the industry and racing in particular. Peter is a firm believer in historical perspective when it comes to motorsports, and the important stories that need to be told. And we think you'll agree that the CERV I and CERV II are certainly worth noting and appreciating. We hope you enjoy reading about them. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. As many of our readers know, I have a presence on Twitter (@PeterMDeLorenzo). Most - but not all - of my postings on that site involve motorsports, including evocative images from the "glory days" of racing in the 60s and 70s. This week, I wanted to devote some time to the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicles, the CERV I and CERV II - and the True Believers responsible for them.
The CERV program originated with Corvette icon Zora Arkus-Duntov, who envisioned it as a platform for engineers to use in order to develop Chevrolet - specifically Corvette - body, chassis and suspension systems. The CERV I was developed between 1959 and 1960 as a functional mid-engine, open-wheel, single-seat prototype racing car. The bodywork was designed by industry legends Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapine.
The CERV I was originally equipped with a fuel-injected 283 cu. in. 350HP small block V8 that weighed only 350 lbs. Intensive use of aluminum and magnesium engine components saved more than 175 lbs. from previous Chevrolet V8s. The body structure was constructed out of fiberglass and weighed only 80 lbs. The body structure was attached to a rigid 125 lb. chrome-molybdenum tube constructed frame, welded in a truss-like configuration. Combining these lightweight components contributed to the CERV I's weight of 1,600 lbs. The 96-inch wheelbase chassis features a four-wheel independent suspension, uses independent, variable rate springs with shock absorbers and stabilizer bar in the front, and multilink, variable rate springs, with double-acting shock absorbers in the rear. The wheels are cast magnesium alloy. Steering is recirculating ball type with 12:1 ratio.
The brake system on the CERV I uses front disc/rear drum, with a two piston master cylinder to eliminate the chance of complete brake failure. Fuel is delivered via two rubber bladder fuel cells (20 gal. total capacity). At one point Duntov refitted the CERV I with a 377 cu. in. aluminum small block, an advanced Rochester fuel injection system and Indy-style tires and wheels. (That 377 cu. in. small block V8 became the mainstay in the Corvette Grand Sport racing program.) To match this mechanical updating, Shinoda redesigned its streamlined body structure for greater aerodynamics. Top speed for the CERV I was 206 mph, achieved on GM's circular 4.5-mile test track at its Milford, Michigan, Proving Grounds.
Excited by its impressive performance potential, Duntov had his eye on bigger things for the CERV 1 - including racing in the Indianapolis 500 - but due to the AMA (Automobile Manufacturer’s Association) ban on manufacturer-sponsored racing at the time - which GM painfully adhered to - the closest Duntov could get to a major showcase for the car was when he drove the machine in a series of demo laps at the U.S. Grand Prix in 1960.(GM)
Zora Arkus-Duntov in the CERV 1 at the GM Technical Center test track, 1960.
The CERV 1.
The CERV I appeared in the international racing colors - white with blue - assigned to the United States.
The next-generation Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle - the CERV II - was conceived early in 1962, developed over the next year and built under Duntov’s direction between 1963 and 1964. By the time it was finished, Duntov envisioned the CERV II as a possible answer to the Ford GT40 racing program. At this point it was also in Duntov's mind to develop a separate line of racing Corvettes to sell, an idea that was later rejected, of course, by GM management. Duntov wanted the CERV II to showcase future technologies as applied to a racing machine.
Chevrolet General Manager "Bunkie" Knudsen wanted to get back into racing so the CERV II was planned for the international prototype class with a 4-liter version of the Chevrolet small block V8. Knudsen has been given strict orders to stay out of racing by upper management at GM, but obviously that didn't dissuade Duntov and his team. Construction was started on the CERV II almost at the same time that the "no racing" GM management edict came down.
As with CERV I, the body was designed by the team of Shinoda and Lapine. The chassis of the CERV II consisted of a glued-together steel and aluminum monocoque with a steel sub frame to carry the suspension and engine. It was powered by a Hilborn fuel-injected, overhead cam, 377 cu. in. aluminum small block V8 with a 10.8 compression ratio and 500HP. By 1970, the CERV II ran a 427 cu. in. ZL-1 V8 with 550HP. Titanium was used for the hubs, connecting rods, valves, and exhaust manifolds helping to bring the total weight of the machine below 1400 lbs.
The CERV’s II engineering of the drive system and torque converter arrangement was handed over to GM’s engineering team and it turned out to be its most fascinating development. The result? An advanced all-wheel drive system using two torque converters. This marked the first time that anyone had designed a variable power delivery to each end of the car, which varied according to vehicle speed. The very wide wheels carried experimental low profile Firestone tires mounted on specifically constructed Kelsey-Hayes magnesium wheels. The ventilated disc brakes were mounted outboard, with the Girling calipers widened to accept the vented rotors.
The CERV II was very quick: 0-60 in 2.5 seconds with a top speed of 190+ mph. During its extensive development Jim Hall and Roger Penske were among the top drivers who wheeled the CERV II.
The plan to use the CERV II as The Answer to the Ford GT40 program ended up being killed by GM management, as was their wont. The CERV II was used as a research tool for a mid-sixties super Corvette program that was also cancelled by management. Never raced, the CERV II ended as a show and museum piece, a tribute to the True Believers at GM Design and Engineering.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Thank you to the GM Heritage Center for the details on the CERV I and CERV II. -PMD
The True Believers at GM Engineering stand proudly by the magnificent CERV II at its roll out at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.
Zora Arkus-Duntov in the CERV II, late 1963.
The CERV II photographed at the famous "Black Lake" at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan.
An inside look at the CERV II.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, this week's images come from GM. - PMD
GM Technical Center, Warren, Michigan, 1957. Zora Arkus-Duntov being wheeled out for the maiden test run of the Corvette SS racing car. GM had a short test track on the Tech Center grounds that saw extensive use.
GM Technical Center, Warren, Michigan, 1957. The Corvette SS racer being finished before being shipped down to Sebring, Florida, for its racing debut in the 12-Hour race.
Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. As hard as it is to believe, we find ourselves at the end of summer. It’s not so much a case of “just like that” as it is, really? For the record, 2022 hasn’t been a stellar year for anything, including the automobile industry. The Swirling Maelstrom – the name I coined for the continuing chaos roiling this business - has ramped up exponentially, and there are no signs of a slowdown anytime soon.
The “Grand Transition” to a world of shiny, happy BEVs is proving to be fraught with peril. Automakers are chasing precious metals and nailing down key resources while trying to execute their various product plans. It’s everything-all-the-time, and it’s exposing deep challenges on multiple fronts. Sourcing components for batteries is one thing, actually producing them in volume is quite another. Battery plants are being assembled as swiftly as possible, but it’s still not quick enough. In fact, everything is taking too damn long. And right on cue, costs to actually produce EVs are accelerating rapidly. The noble notion of “affordable” EVs – except for a few instances - is still a couple of years away. Price increases are becoming a quarterly exercise, as manufacturers struggle to wring profits out of EVs that are exceeding cost targets at an alarming rate. In the meantime, we have various show pony EVs promising the sun, the moon and the stars – as long as you have 100 Grand and much more to spend.
For instance, the Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance BEV sedan ($179,000), which did hot laps at Laguna Seca last week, is a great snapshot of how ridiculous the hyper-luxury EV game is being played at the moment. This car places a serious amount of horsepower (819HP) in the hands of people who, for the most part, aren’t capable of exploiting its capabilities, to put it charitably. And I have a real problem with it. To put a finer point on things, most of the people with access to this machine should probably stand down. Because we’re not talking enthusiasts here, we’re talking about the well-heeled, first-on-the-block types who are more likely to wrap theses machines around a light pole after day-drinking at the country club while showing off for friends. Trust me on this, it is a combustible combination and a recipe for disaster. And if I were Lucid operatives, I’d seriously rethink the direction they’re going. (Except, they're not. Lucid Motors is now touting its Lucid Air Saphire performance subbrand, a car which will have 1200HP, accelerates from 0 - 60 mph in less than 2 seconds; 0 - 100 in less than 4 seconds and has a top speed of over 200 mph. I can only imagine the carnage when the wrong people get a hold of one of these.) But I digress.
Add to all of this hand-wringing and consternation, California has just announced that by 2035 it will phase out the sale of nearly all new, gasoline-powered vehicles in the state. Not that this was entirely unexpected, because California has been telegraphing this move for some time now. Remember, we’re talking about the most influential state in the Union, which, when it comes to the environment, sets the tone for most of the nation. Most of the serious players in the auto industry are preparing for this move and are striving to build mostly EVs in an accelerated time frame, but make no mistake, California has just officially set the date for when the “Grand Transition” will be well and truly at hand.
But in spite of all of this, it’s interesting to see articles still praising the automobile in these difficult times we find ourselves in. Cars and trucks are still an integral part of who we are, and there is no indication that this idea is cooling in the least. It’s as if we have rediscovered our American mobility culture that has powered this country for well over 100 years. The idea of finding yourself in the great outdoors or taking that one grand road trip you’ve been promising yourself for years is a Real Thing now. In fact, I have to laugh at this industry’s frantic product and marketing push to produce off-road ready machines of all stripes, even though the most challenging trek they will embark on is to the Costco Canyons or the Home Depot foothills.
One refreshing development? It seemed like just yesterday that we were being inundated with tales of how ride sharing would rule our immediate future and autonomous pod cars that could be summoned at our whims would be de rigueur in the not-too-distant future. The anti-car zealots were rubbing their hands with glee at the imminent demise of the automobile, because those evil mobility devices responsible for all of the world’s sins – both real and imagined – would soon be relegated to the dustbin of history.
And then once the pandemic happened, all of a sudden, cars – with their unique social distancing properties built-in - were cool again. I for one am not surprised that this has happened. But it’s a good time to take a look at our car culture and ask a few pertinent questions.
How did the car “thing” evolve from desiring faster horses, to the building of transportation that transformed the world? What propelled the automobile from being an extravagant convenience, to a cultural touchstone that’s such an inexorable part of the American fabric that even the most hostile of the anti-car hordes can’t seem to dampen our collective enthusiasm for it? Is it the fashion statement? The fundamental sense of motion and speed? The image-enhancing power that automobiles possess? Or all of the above?
If anything, I keep going back to the one thing that’s undeniable about our collective love for the automobile, the one thing that no computer simulation - no matter how powerful or creatively enhanced - can compete with. And that is the freedom of mobility.
The ability to go and do, coupled with the freedom to explore and experience is not only a powerful concept, it is fundamental to the human experience, which is why the automobile in all of its forms remains so compelling and undeniably intoxicating.
That the automobile has progressed from a device built around convenience and comfort to something more, much more, is easy to understand. That rush of freedom that we all experienced in our first solo drive in an automobile is something that cannot be duplicated or brushed aside. It is ingrained in our spirit and etched in our souls.
I have talked to the most strident anti-car people over the years, and they love to say, “I’m not into cars,” but it’s weird, because inevitably, after acknowledging that it’s fine that they don’t share my passion for the automobile, something very interesting happens.
If the conversation is allowed to percolate long enough, every single anti-car person I have encountered in the 23 years of doing Autoextremist.com comes around to saying something like, “Well, there was this one car that my uncle (or aunt, or friend, or brother, or mom, or dad, or grandfather, etc.) had that I’ll never forget…” And they then proceed to tell me about a car that is so indelibly carved in their memories that they start talking about it in detail, including where they were, how old they were, who was with them, where they were going, what happened, etc., etc. For even those most dispassionate about the automobile – at least on the surface anyway – I find there are always stories if you dig a little deeper. Stories of coming of age, of adventure, of harrowing close calls, of love, and life and lives lived. And memories. Countless, colorful memories that live on forever.
The automobile business itself can be mind-numbingly tedious at times, as I’ve well documented over the years. And it is without question one of the most complicated endeavors on earth, made up of so many nuanced ingredients that it almost defies description. But the creation of machines that are safe, reliable, beautiful to look at, fun to drive, versatile or hard working – depending on the task they’re designed for – is more than just a cold, calculated business. It is and has been an industrial art form that has come to define who we are collectively.
The automobile obviously means more to me than it does for most. I grew up immersed in this business, and the passionate endeavor surrounding the creation of automotive art has never stopped being interesting for me. And it is very much art, by the way. Emotionally involving and undeniably compelling mechanical art that not only takes us where we want to go but moves us in ways that still touch our souls deeply. As I have reminded everyone often in writing this column, I for one will never forget the essence of the machine, and what makes it a living, breathing mechanical conduit of our hopes and dreams.
On occasion, we’ve run an excerpt from one of our favorite pieces of automotive prose, which poet, critic and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, James Agee wrote for the September 1934 issue of Fortune. You can read the entire passage here, but this is the part that resonates the most for us:
"Whatever we may think, we move for no better reason than for the plain unvarnished hell of it. And there is no better reason.”
No better reason, 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
Editor's Note: This week, Peter reminds us of what a charmed automotive life he's led, reprising one of the favorite stories from his formative years: "The Flying Camaro." On The Table features Porsche's wild 911 GT3 RS; Dodge's "muscle" EV - complete with synthetic sound - as well as its new Hornet crossover; Kia's new 576HP EV6 GT; and Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Range Rover and Bentley show up with new pieces of automotive unobtanium. And Led Zeppelin provides our AE Song of the Week. Peter begins a new series - "The Drivers" in Fumes. And in The Line we cover INDYCAR from St. Louis, NASCAR from Watkins Glen, and MotoGP from Austria, with additional commentary from Whit Bazemore. Onward. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. To say that the ‘50s and ‘60s were a different era in automotive history is not painting a proper picture of just how different it was. Detroit was much more of a freewheeling mindset back then. Car executives were bold, decisive, conniving, creative and power-hungry personalities who inevitably went with their gut instincts – which could end up being either a recipe for disaster or a huge runaway sales hit on the streets. The only committees you'd find back then were the finance committees – and they never got near the design, engineering, marketing or even the advertising unless there was some sort of a problem. These Car Kings worked flat-out and they partied flat-out, too, ruling their fiefdoms with iron fists, while wielding their power ruthlessly at times to get what they wanted – and rightly so in their minds – as they were some of the most powerful business executives on earth. In short, it was a world that was 180 degrees different from what goes on today.
Growing up immersed in this business was indeed surreal, but even back then I realized that I had been dropped in an alternative universe – an automotive nirvana punctuated by V8s, open pipes, flashes of chrome and the hottest cars of the era. We reveled in it and made the most of every moment, whether it was me riding shotgun with my brother as he – ahem – was teaching himself how to drive fast, or me going for rides with Bill Mitchell in one of the latest GM Styling concepts – including the ’59 Corvette Sting Ray racer, to this day my all-time favorite car – to the times when I started getting behind the wheel myself.
We had borrowed an early production ‘66 Shelby GT 350 Mustang from Ford PR one weekend (GM and Ford PR swapped cars all the time back then – yeah, I know, talk about a different time and a different era), and my brother Tony decided it was time for me to start learning how to drive – and drive a stick at the same time – and the Shelby Mustang seemed like the perfect vehicle to accomplish that. So, we went to an empty shopping center parking lot, plotted out a course, and I drove for a good hour, getting more proficient by the minute. Needless to say, I absolutely loved it. The only problem was that I was a good eighteen months from being able to get my learning permit, and once I started driving, I. Could. Not. Stop.
Because of my parents’ GM travel schedules – they were away a lot – I found the cars sitting in the garage unattended to be too much of a temptation. Why not take them out for a few minutes? What could possibly go wrong? My favorite was an Electric Blue ‘67 Camaro SS coupe that my oldest sister had at the time. Even though it was an automatic, I found it to be quite entertaining, and I started taking it out all the time.
Now, given that I had been riding shotgun with my brother in countless exploits, I decided that I would set out on my own course of high-speed learning. And my absolute favorite thing to do was to take the Camaro out at night, especially during and after a fresh snowfall, so I could drift around corners in our neighborhood. What made it even better was that our little suburban enclave was patrolled by only two cops (one each shift), and since we referred to them as our “Barney Fifes” we knew their habits and their schedules better than they did, and you can guess what the likelihood of ever getting caught was. But, of course, those nighttime adventures weren’t enough, so, I started driving matter-of-factly, as if I already had my license. And I got bolder and bolder. My nighttime drifting exploits transitioned to me searching out construction sites for new neighborhoods during the day, because the roads were already laid out and paved, and there was usually no one around, a tactic my brother pioneered.
I found one neighborhood development in particular to be most tantalizing. If I turned off the main road, I could accelerate up to a sweeping, uphill left-hander and drift through it with the power on – in the dry, at almost 50 mph – and safely get through it. I did it several times and regaled my buddies about it. So, one day, as we were waiting for another interminable school day to end, one of my buddies said, “Hey, I want to see this ‘track’ you’ve been racing on. Why don’t we follow you so we can see you take the corner?” Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, so, why the hell not? So as soon as school let out, I went home and got the Camaro out and I proceeded to my private race track with two carloads of my buddies in tow.
As you can probably imagine, things didn’t work out as planned (No? We are shocked. -WG). I went barreling into the turn faster than I ever had before, because I was determined to put on a show for my friends. I was flying, all pumped up with teenage adrenaline, only to discover as I turned into the apex of the corner that a truck had pulled out of the construction site only moments before, leaving deep tire tracks of mud all over the road.
You can imagine what happened next.
My painful lesson in “zero grip” was about to unfold as the Camaro instantly washed out to the right, sending me off the road. And before I could do anything, I was staring at a four-foot high (at least) and twelve-foot wide mound of dirt with nowhere to go. I hit it square-on (fortunately), and I was launched into the air. It was one of those “hello sky” moments as I got a brief look at the cloudy afternoon horizon punctuated by an eerie silence, before the Camaro landed with a massive thud on the other side. To hear my buddies tell it, all they recall seeing was the bottom of the Camaro as it disappeared over the dirt pile. The car, amazingly enough, was only slightly damaged, with the front valance crushed and the left rear corner slightly banged up. Although I was highly embarrassed, my buddies thought it was the coolest thing ever, and we managed to convince a construction guy to help us pull the Camaro out of the mud with a rope.
The story gets even more surreal from there. I called Tony, told him what happened, and we hatched a plan to take the Camaro down to Hanley Dawson Chevrolet to get it fixed before my sister came home from out of town. The dealership did a terrific job, but it wasn’t ready by the time my sister got home, so we made up some story about an oil leak that needed to be fixed, and we brought the Camaro home two days later.
But, of course, my sister wasn’t fooled. She knew something wasn’t right, especially given the fact that the two of us were involved. But she wasn’t able to determine exactly what was wrong with our story. It was only later that we realized that the body shop put the wrong front valance panel on the car. Her Camaro had hideaway headlights. The valance panel was for a Camaro with fixed headlights. She never noticed and we never said a word.
It is just one of those stories that never gets old retelling, and the “Flying Camaro” will always be a memorable part of me.
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
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." GMC projects itself into a new, more aggressive arena with its 2023 Canyon, firmly putting distance between itself and Chevrolet, while Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra also make an appearance in On The Table with "Mr. Blue Sky" and our AE Song of the Week. The next chapter of Peter's highly-praised series on "The Muscle Boys" - his glorious take on big-bore V8s in American sports car racing - can be found in Fumes. And in The Line we mention the NASCAR race at Richmond, and Kevin Harvick's resurrection into serious contention for the Cup. 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.
But yet, we 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 right now.
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 the localized "Dream Cruise," the annual car happening on the third weekend 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 the local media collectively defines 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
Editor's Note: This week, Peter reminds everyone that the "Grand Transition" to our Electric Future is fraught with peril and that "We're Not there Yet." Audi decides to waste a ton of money on yet another Ken Block smoke show, while Guns 'N Roses also makes an appearance in On The Table with "Paradise City" and our AE Song of the Week. The next chapter of Peter's much-praised series on "The Muscle Boys" - his glorious take on big-bore V8s in American sports car racing - can be found in Fumes. And in The Line we feature Scott Dixon's 53rd INDYCAR win in Nashville, IMSA from Road America and MotoGP from Silverstone. Onward. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. If you’re a fan of summer around these parts, this has been a particularly memorable one. Blistering hot more often than not, the super-heated days – and nights – have made for an unforgettable summer. And if you think we’re complaining about it, we’re not. At least not yet. All you have to do is remind yourself of what it’s like around here in February, and you’ll find that complaints about the heat are few and far between.
But, on the other hand, complaints in and around the auto biz are multiplying rapidly, especially in August, the traditional “dog days” of summer (or, as we like to refer to them, the Dog Daze). As I wrote in last week’s column about “affordability” (or lack thereof), costs are ramping up dramatically, with Ford announcing today (8/9) that the price of its F-150 Lightning EV pickup is going up 17 percent (between $6,000 and $8,000, depending on the model) due to material costs. Maybe there’s some truth to this, but because the company’s “I’m a genius just ask me” CEO is a super fan boy of Tesla and has observed that Tesla raises prices with impunity damn near monthly because of “costs,” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lightning’s sticker price is increasing simply because the company is exploiting the laws of supply and demand. And that’s fine too. Last time I checked, auto companies are not being run as nonprofits, so if “there’s gold in them-thar EVs!” then more power to them.
GM is looking for profits anywhere it can find them too. The company’s latest strategy is to bake in a comprehensive OnStar Connected Services package – to the tune of $1500 – into some of its vehicles, and even though it is listed as an option, it really isn’t. With the availability of new vehicles not improving in the least, consumers are being forced to deal with the High-Octane Truth about the law of supply and demand, which is, short supplies = higher prices. And this situation is not going to improve anytime soon. Ford, GM, Stellantis and the rest of the automakers doing business in the U.S. market are going to be adhering to this pricing strategy for the foreseeable future. And the same can be said for used car prices as well. To put it simply: If you want it, you’re going to pay dearly for it.
But there’s plenty more contributing to the summer malaise in and around the industry right now. The chip “thing” continues to vex every part of the industry, from manufacturers and their suppliers to the dealers. It has constrained production, reducing the number of vehicles dealers have to sell, which in turn cuts into manufacturer profits, which is fueling a swirling maelstrom of Not Good.
As I’ve mentioned previously, forward-thinking dealers have quickly mastered how to do business in the “European” model, which is based on exploiting limited availability and pushing advanced ordering, and which results in higher gross profits on each vehicle. Ask any savvy dealer at this juncture if they want to go back to the “old” way of doing business, which means carrying back-breaking floor planning costs while presenting a wide variety of available inventory, and they’re going to say “oh, hell no!” or words to that effect. But make no mistake, selling cars at the retail level is a high-stress game, it’s just different – and more profitable – now.
So, all of this sounds rote by now, correct? The “Dog Daze” don’t sound so bad if you’re outside the auto industry, looking in. Yes, the factors, as I’ve delineated, make it a relentless pain in the ass, but, the law of supply and demand looks to be a good thing for all concerned – well, except if you’re a buyer, that it is –right?
Not so fast. I say “Dog Daze” because this business is heading for an existential crisis. The promise of The EV Future has been overstated, overstuffed, pumped up and molded into a golden chest of bountiful rewards that would rival outtakes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. But it’s not “beautiful!” – at least not yet. Visions of endless profits are infecting the dreams of Wall Street types to the point that rational thought is being left at the station as everyone piles onto the EV Train to The Future. If I hear from one more Wall Street pundit fantasizing about the “newly invigorated” auto industry, while fully buying into the promises of The EV Future, I’m going to puke.
This just in: We’re Not There Yet. In terms of the supply chain issues, the endless search for precious metals, realistic charging speeds and the national charging infrastructure itself, this industry is not even close to being there yet.
Add in the fact that consumers, even with sky-high gas prices, have to be sold on the fundamental efficacy of EVs – let me repeat that, have to be sold on the fundamental efficacy of EVs – and you have a Grand Transition to EVs that’s fraught with peril meted out in fits and starts. Going forward, some days are going to be all Blue Sky and Big Dreams, and others are going to plumb the depths of despair.
I know that there are lot of people in this business who don’t want to hear this, but a giant dose of reality at this juncture is better than a giant bowl of Not Good. And patience. Patience in this business is a commodity that is extremely hard to come by.
Just remember: We’re Not There Yet. We’re not even close, in fact.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. With everyday life being upended by a series of challenges, from the price of gasoline and various shortages du jour, to the burgeoning cadence of inflation, which is starting to hit everyone on a daily basis, it is no wonder that the auto industry in particular has been beset with its own series of challenges that have become part and parcel of just getting through a financial quarter.
Supply chain issues initially brought on by the Pandemic – with the industry’s go-to “just in time” production mantra having turned into a “you’ve got to be kidding me!” nightmare – are just one dimension of the industry Hell going on right now. In fact, it may be as bad now as any time in history, with the possible exception of when the automobile industry was supporting the war effort in World War II.
Every key component or raw material has to be locked-down, locked-in or bought-out in anticipation of what will be needed for the future. The silicon chip crisis has devastated the industry from top to bottom. Vehicles are being delivered without key features rather than having them pile up in storage facilities, with the promise that the chips will be retrofitted at a later date. But this just in: as I predicted months ago, the chip “thing” is going to be an ongoing crisis for this industry through next year. In fact, we may be entering a phase for this industry when there will always be a shortage of something going forward, which is, as you might imagine, a giant bowl of Not Good.
Added to all of this pressure is the monumental shift to EVs going on, which is placing a premium on sourcing precious metals and the need for propagating a completely new menu of technical materials that go into the development of batteries and battery infrastructure. Right now, auto companies are running virtual war rooms where teams of people are in constant motion tracking down raw materials all over the globe, while identifying supplier companies that can be partnered with or bought out in order to ensure supplies for the fundamental needs of producing vehicles going forward. This is serious business, and it is growing more critical by the day.
But surprisingly enough, from the industry standpoint this daily laundry list of crises has brought with it an unanticipated advantage. The shortage mentality – and reality – has completely upended the old dealer sales model in the U.S. market. The days of going down to a local dealership and wandering around the parked inventory to see what new vehicles it has in stock are over. In less than three years the retail auto industry has been forced to switch to the European way of selling cars and trucks, which means that you either place an order for a vehicle and wait, or you hope for a cancellation of an existing order that you can jump on. The result? Discounting has been severely reduced or eliminated altogether, “premiums” have become part of the deal discussions, and the gross profit-per-vehicle numbers have exploded, giving manufacturers and their dealers supercharged profits. Just one example? The Penske Automotive Group’s second quarter net income jumped 10 percent from a year earlier, while it delivered its most profitable quarter ever.
I have covered this before, but it is the most striking, fundamental change that this business has seen in many decades. This change to high-transactional pricing has also brought something else with it too: Consumers aren’t backing away from buying or leasing vehicles in the midst of these shortages and inflationary pressures. In fact, they’re powering ahead to find what they want when they want it. The average price of a new vehicle in the U.S. market is now around $45,000.00. Think about that for a moment. And it is going up. The average car payment is now well over $500 per month. And vehicle loans are now getting ridiculously long again, which history tells us is never a good sign.
And probably the most mind-boggling development in all of this? Payments of $1,000 per month or more are becoming common in this frenzied atmosphere. It’s as if the whole world has gone frickin’ crazy.
But in the midst of all of these crises and the swirling maelstrom driving this market, there’s one more crisis that this industry has refused to take meaningful strides against, and that is the crisis of affordability. I’ve written about this often, and I will write about it many times in the future I’m sure. But the basic affordability of vehicles is slipping away and we’re watching it unfurl like a train wreck in slow motion.
I’ve mentioned this before, but one manufacturer made an attempt at delivering affordability and actually got it right. The Ford Motor Company. And no, it’s not the much-hyped Mach-E and Lightning EVs that garner this recognition, it’s the Maverick Hybrid pickup truck. To me, it’s by far the most impressive vehicle in the Ford lineup, and the True Believers in Dearborn deserve all of the credit for it.
In fact, it’s the most significant vehicle from the auto industry to come along in a long, long time. You can get a stripped down Maverick Hybrid for a little over $21,000 (with those exquisite steelies), one that’s well-equipped for around $27,000, or you can spend $30,000 (or a little more) for the full-zoot version. Either way, you’re getting a damn fine vehicle for the money.
Memo to auto manufacturers: It doesn’t matter how great your BelchFire EV is, or how much range it’s capable of or how fast it recharges - if people can’t afford it. The prices of new vehicles are creeping upward, fast. Too fast. That $45,000 average selling price? That’s a mere suggestion at this point. Realistically, the norm is more like $50-$65,000.
And it’s just not sustainable.
I hope the other manufacturers have a plan for this affordability crisis, because it’s the one crisis that could derail all of their blue sky EV efforts.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
(Ford Motor Company)
Editor's Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on "Next 1 Entries" below. - WG
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Automotive Monthly Newsletter & Podcast:Detroit Auto Show 2022: An industry in transition
The reimagined 2022 Detroit Auto Show, also known as the North American International Auto Show, finished its media and industry days with limited automakers and brands participating after a three-year hiatus in the city. Those OEMs and brands who did participate - mostly the hometown automakers - most told a brand story that included both internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric vehicle (EV) solutions. While tomorrow's auto market seems to be rushing to be electric, today is in transition. The result is a more dynamic and diverse market than ever, and this was reflected in the vehicles that were on the show floor this year. The show included trucks, cars, SUVs, and sporty cars, with all kinds of propulsion systems. For automakers, this diversity is needed. ICE vehicles will dominate the market throughout this decade, and those vehicles tend to have higher profit margins, creating revenue required to fund EV development. For consumers, there is an unprecedented level of choice. The increased level of choice could be a double-edged sword. Generally, having more options is good. But there can also be a point where too much choice is overwhelming.
Shows across the globe are under increased pressure to prove return on investment, against an environment where there are many platforms for new car reveals outside of the traditional auto show. OEMs will continue to invest in consumer-facing auto shows and events. They recognize that direct exposure and experience with a vehicle is the best sales tool they have. There is no replacement for butts in seats, regardless of segment or propulsion system, but the traditional auto show is not the only venue to achieve that objective. The trend prior to the pandemic was a shift away from traditional auto shows, and we will continue to see limited participation in the traditional format versus pre-pandemic years, both for media-facing and consumer-facing sides of the show. We can find any number of consumer trends that were evident prior to the pandemic and accelerated through it. Automaker participation in auto shows is just one.
Hometown automakers carry the show
Ford, General Motors and Stellantis each took up residence in large portions of the auto show floor, but in a much different capacity than in years past. Ford Motor Company offered different narratives for each of its two brands. Lincoln had its EV story front and center, with two true concept vehicles in the L100 car and Star Concept utility vehicle, which had been unveiled at previous media events. The brand's official show reveal was a refresh of the compact Corsair utility vehicle, with a minor change to the front and rear and a significant technology upgrade. For the first auto show in Detroit in 44 months, Lincoln focused on exploring the future of the brand in its EV concepts - both of which, Lincoln told us, were developed purely as concept vehicles and opportunities to explore the future of Lincoln and its "Quiet Flight" design and customer experience positioning in an electric or autonomous vehicle. The president of Lincoln, Joy Falotico, said during an interview with S&P Global Mobility that the Star concept in particular is closer to what we will see with Lincoln's first EV. Not only is there technology packed in the vehicle that we will see at launch, but other elements will appear in future vehicles- as soon as technology can deliver it.
Photo by James Martin, S&P Global Mobility
The most important element of the Corsair's update is Lincoln's L2-plus hands-free, eyes-on autonomous driving system called Active Glide 1.2. The "1.2" designates an update to the version which Lincoln launched on the latest Navigator early in second quarter 2022 and which Ford launched on the F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E as BlueCruise. The new system adds turn-signal activated, automated lane changes, and a significant upgrade offered in a short amount of time. Both the speed to market and the launch of the update on Lincoln's entry product are significant. Particularly with software, brands simply cannot wait until the next flagship to roll out updates and improvements. Second, the speed in delivering the update reflects a new urgency within Ford. Rival GM's Super Cruise was first to market, but it was several years in before an automated lane-change feature was added. However, GM's system remains more refined, has some features that Ford does not yet have, and offers a larger network of mapped roads. The race is on for expanding the capabilities of these systems. Though Ford joined later, it does intend to have a strong and competitive presence.
The Ford display reflected its more dynamic lineup, and the company's intent to continue internal combustion engine (ICE) products under Ford Blue and launch EV products under Ford Model E. For this show, Ford's seventh-generation Mustang coupe and convertible was revealed during an outdoor event at Detroit's Hart Plaza.
Though Ford is committed to its EV path, there was no news on that front for this year's show. While these products had a starring role in the show display the massive show stand included a ride-along experience: Acceleration rides in the F-150 Lightning and a Bronco capability crawl over several man-made metal obstacles. The Ford stand featured Bronco and its new variants (Everglades and Raptor), as well as the Bronco Sport. Along with the F-150 Lightning, the F-150 Raptor R was displayed.
Photo by James Martin, S&P Global Mobility
General Motors had several large and impressive exhibit areas at this year's auto show. The primary stand, and the company's highest-volume brand, was Chevrolet. This was also the only display with a new product reveal, the performance edition of the Tahoe RST full-size utility. However, the stand prominently featured both Chevrolet's ICE and EV stories. Not unlike the two Lincoln concepts, Chevrolet had revealed several new products over the course of the summer which were on display. Chevrolet highlighted the Equinox EV, Blazer EV and Silverado EV, as well as the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. Though the two Bolt products are set to be discontinued to make room for production of EV pick-up trucks at their Orion plant while the other EVs displayed are just starting their product lifecycle, Chevrolet will have a robust EV lineup by the end of 2023. On the ICE side, Chevrolet had an equally impressive section, anchored with the Corvette Z06 and prominently featuring the new-generation Colorado mid-size truck and recently added Silverado ZR2 Bison.
The Buick, Cadillac, and GMC displays also demonstrated a blend of legacy and future-tech stories. Cadillac had no news, though displayed its first EV Lyriq next to the 682-hp V8 Escalade V; the upcoming Celestiq halo EV was not on display, as Cadillac is holding that for exclusive customer interactions.
Buick, however, has little immediate news on either the ICE or EV side, but built on its earlier announcement of moving toward an all-EV lineup by 2030. The Wildcat concept was prominently displayed, on a slightly lifted center dais; the vehicle is more impressive in person than photos suggest. This does not alleviate the curiosity of introducing EV themes on a two-door coupe, a vehicle unlikely to be built or offered in the US.
GMC had the Hummer SUV on display for the first time at an auto show, though it was formally revealed in 2021. The SUV was alongside the Hummer pick-up, which officially went on sale in January 2022. GM is taking an intentionally slow production ramp-up with this first Ultium EV product, laying the groundwork for necessary learning and process improvements which will presumably mean faster production ramp-ups for subsequent products. The GMC brand was also the one to display an Ultium battery cutaway, a property GMC used during various media and other reveals for the Hummer. While Chevrolet has the new-generation Colorado, GMC has a similarly fresh Canyon; the Sierra AT4X off-road edition is the counterpart to the Silverado ZR2 Bison.
Photo by James Martin, S&P Global Mobility
Photo by James Martin, S&P Global Mobility
Stellantis opted to create pre-show buzz with various events in the days and weeks prior, rather than making major news at the show. While Stellantis outlined near-term future Jeep EV products earlier in September, none were on display in Detroit. The Jeep products shown focused on special options packages for the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler 4xe. While these can build on buzz for the 4xe solution and are well executed in Jeep style, these announcements were fairly minor. The show also marked the first time Jeep has had an indoor off-road simulation display, tucked in the back of the exhibit.
For Dodge, a significant amount of show floor space was dedicated to showing off products revealed at other events in Detroit less than a month earlier. Dodge's sponsorship of the Roadkill Nights street drag racing event earlier this summer in Detroit was a better backdrop than any auto show, as the event truly caters to Dodge loyalists and creates stronger in-person and internet buzz.
The Chrysler brand revealed the special edition of the soon-retired 300, though the model was a bit difficult to find on the show stand. Ram did not have any news for the show, though during the week announced the Ram 1500 would drop its diesel option with the end of the 2023 model year.
Toyota and Subaru displays featured previously announced vehicles as well. Toyota focused on the upcoming Crown sedan, recently launched Sequoia and new Tundra - though it did not display its all-new bZ4X EV for consumers. The GR (or Gazoo Racing) family of performance variations of Supra, Corolla and 86 was also on display. Though Toyota did not announce news for the show, it is the fourth best-selling brand in Michigan, behind Ford, Chevrolet and Jeep, and the stand focused on a consumer-friendly space to relax and look at new products. Subaru has been relatively consistent displaying at auto shows, including its tie-in with U.S. national parks, as well as animal shelters with the potential for adopting a puppy straight from the show floor. For Subaru at auto shows, the vehicles almost seem an afterthought, though the company creates an environment that will connect with its buyers.
Despite the limited OEM participation, most displays worked to tell stories about a transition to EVs, alongside new trucks and sporty cars with internal combustion engines under the traditional hood. The event embodied the dynamics of today's auto market and the interplay between needing to support the current demand for ICE products as well as the need for helping consumers along the path of transitioning to the electrification and electric vehicles.
The three companies with headquarters in the Detroit area -- Ford, GM and Stellantis -- dominated the show floor, just as they do regional sales. According to registration data from S&P Global Mobility, Ford, Chevrolet, and Jeep are the top three brands in the Detroit DMA as well as the state of Michigan so far this year. Through July, these three accounted for 56% of Michigan registrations, up from 53% in 2021. Adding in the fourth and fifth-place brands, Toyota and GMC, the top five account for about 77% of light vehicle registrations in Michigan. Importantly, all the brands with significant sales stakes in the region were present, with fresh products and compelling stories.
However, the show was missing presence from several prominent automakers. Some OEMs have decided to sit out the 2022 auto show season entirely, while others are balancing the effectiveness of dollars spent in this market versus other methods for reaching out to Detroit-area consumers. Still, others simply did not have news that aligned with Detroit timing or felt an alternate reveal was better suited to their go-to-market plans. Luxury German brands decided after the 2018 show not to return, and the events since that decision have not changed their approach. Among the volume brands missing in Detroit were Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, and Volkswagen. For these brands, their luxury divisions (Acura, Genesis, Infiniti, Audi) were also not present.
Though the details vary by automaker, these OEM absences in Detroit are a sign of a larger issue. Auto shows have been under pressure to show a reasonable return on an OEM's investment for years. The Detroit show is no different -faced with rebuilding itself after an extremely long hiatus exacerbated by Covid-related cancellations.
Essentially since the 2009 recession, automakers have been putting the expense of auto shows under increasing scrutiny, especially given that there is no shortage of digital and other platforms available, and many are less expensive. During a virtual media roundtable at the show, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said that Stellantis still plans on being in shows, but only if they are cost-effective: "I think everybody now understands that the show is not made for the egos of the top executives of the automotive industry. Everybody is looking at the return on investment in a more business-oriented way. If we are looking for a better return on investment, it makes more sense with a more frugal and more focused way of displaying the products and technology." Much of Tavares' view is shared across the industry.
The use of auto shows as a venue for revealing new vehicles is contracting, and if the Detroit show is any indicator, investment in the consumer side may also be under cost pressure. The brands with automaker support had a strong presence - if less lavish or complex than in some prior years - and brands supported by local dealers had cars displayed with little support from their parent companies. That said, while extravagant stands may be a thing of the past, being too frugal casts a negative light on a brand as well.
As automakers look to balance strained costs related to EV development, questions arise as to the value of splashy new-vehicle introductions. Against the backdrop of increased costs and the opportunity for new media platforms with the potential to create a more direct consumer relationship, this year's Detroit show is just the most recent example of the intensified budgetary pressure these events are under.
Dive Deeper — Check out our automotive insights
S&P Global Mobility analysts expect US light vehicle sales to be limited to 1.105 million units in September, marking an annual rate of 13.4 million units. The cumulative impacts of supply shocks on auto manufacturing in North America and globally continue to severely constrain sales by limiting the availability of new inventory to consumers. While wholesale prices for new vehicles are up a subdued 3.7%, consumer prices for new vehicles are posting double-digit year-over-year gains. Consumers' willingness to pay for available vehicles at these prices is evidence that pent-up demand remains in the market.
"Production issues relating to ongoing shortages, especially for semiconductors, and other supply chain, labor, and logistics issues will continue to translate into US inventory remaining at below-average levels, under 2.0 million units or a 40 days' supply, well into 2023," said Joe Langley, associate director, US production analysis, S&P Global Mobility.
Despite the tight inventory picture industrywide, the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) segment continues to see share gains. Numerous automakers are introducing BEV models in new body style segments, spreading the technological impact of electric vehicles to an increasing population of buyers. BEVs sitting beside legacy internal combustion engine vehicles in dealer showrooms are enticing more consumers to the new segment. The importance of the transition to BEVs was highlighted at the recent Detroit Auto Show.
"The event embodied the dynamics of today's auto market and the interplay between needing to support current demand for ICE products and the need for helping consumers along the path of transitioning to electrification and EVs," added Stephanie Brinley, principal research analyst, S&P Global Mobility.
Through September year-to-date 2022, volumes will likely be down an estimated 1.6 million units compared to the 11.7 million units year-to-date in 2021. Through the end of the year, the S&P Global Mobility forecast for 2022 sits at 14.0 million units, although risks to the downside remain.
On a manufacturer level, September volumes will remain consistent with recent results. One less selling day in September compared to August will result in slow m/m volume comparisons but expected manufacturer performances for the month reflect the ongoing market conditions.
At a time when transportation is expected to shift to electric drivetrains and commercial vehicle OEMs scale back investment in combustion engines, these electric vehicles pose a huge challenge to South Africa, which has an unreliable power supply. The current power constraints lead to reduced output of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in 2022.
Since 2007, South Africa is suffering from a higher power demand than supply. Power cuts have been the result. Eskom, the state-owned firm which supplies more than 90% of South Africa's electricity, then came up with the term, load-shedding, for the power cuts. In the past years, load-shedding increased from 21 days in 2019 to a record 48 days in 2021. January to August 2022 already exceeded this number. The latest analysis on the topic forecasts power cuts to continue throughout the decade. More than 90% of South Africa's energy is produced by coal, about 6% by nuclear power and the build-up of alternatives is very slow.
The global developments in electric trucks and buses are also seen in South Africa and the country needs to be integrated into the global value chains for these vehicles. This was why the South African government drafted in 2021 a government Policy Discussion Paper, on the 'Advancement of New Energy Vehicles in South Africa', which dealt with this specific agenda.
South Africa's path to production of new electric vehicles needs to be considered within the context of the significant impact of on-going load-shedding. The constrained power grid on electricity generation and ensuing power interruptions are catastrophic especially for the industry. The automotive logistic value chain has already been affected, leading to partial production stoppages in truck and bus manufacturing. This could cause a major barrier to future investment in assembly facilities in South Africa.
Apart from global supply chain disruption and fuel price hikes, load-shedding has become the biggest challenge to the medium and heavy commercial vehicles in the country. It is now expected to disrupt and negatively impact the truck and bus assembly recovery. S&P Global Moblity (formerly IHS Markit | Automotive) has reduced its outlook for the truck and bus industry that is expected now to assemble less than 20,000 units in 2022, a decline of nearly 1,000 units compared to the prior year.
In addition to prolonged load-shedding which has contributed to
increased production costs, the industry is continuously faced with
semiconductor shortages; and global supply chain disruptions that
have resulted in insufficient completely-knocked-down kits for
truck and bus assemblers. The global chip shortage conundrum is
expected to continue in 2023, with the backlog carrying over into
2024. Despite increasingly tough economic circumstances, the
semiconductor supply chain shortage will revert to normality from
2025 onwards. The key drivers behind this path to a long-term
sustainable growth for the industry will come from continuous
growth in infrastructure development, increasing logistics
services, and ongoing replacement demand.
Throughout the forecast horizon to 2029, trucks and buses are projected to be completely powered by fossil fuels. Unless concrete policies for sustainable development are adopted, fossil fuels will continue to dominate the market; even though leading OEMs have commenced with their own strategic plans of importing electric trucks and buses from their parent companies for local testing, with commercialization mostly planned after 2025.
The South African government already has plans of progressively increasing the carbon tax rate and is expected to reach at least $30 per tonne by 2030. This demands that OEMs develop plans that gradually reduce their emissions; by investing in carbon-neutral assembly facilities and phase out the internal combustion engine. The switch to electric vehicles can only be successful if the power constraints are solved and the charging infrastructure is built up, since most long-distance land freight in South Africa is transported by road.
Menzi Nkonyane, Sr Research Analyst - Truck & Bus Research, Middle East/Africa
The global auto industry continues to be influenced by near-term challenges of navigating ongoing supply chain pressures coupled with economic headwinds and intermediate-to-longer term dynamics involving a structural shift from internal combustion to electric propulsion. While semiconductor availability continues to improve, having the right chip for the right vehicle at the right plant can still prove elusive and impact the ability to accelerate production.
Further, in several markets, we continue to adjust for macro deterioration contributing to demand destruction. In the longer term, vehicle pricing will be a key consideration and a potential headwind to demand, particularly as many markets shift to much higher levels of electrification.
The September 2022 forecast update reflects a near-term upgrade for Greater China due to stronger demand post-COVID lockdowns and robust stimulus effects as well as a stronger near-term outlook for South Asia and Middle East/Africa. However, equally important are the near-to-intermediate term downward revisions particularly focused on Europe and North America, among other regions.
In the extreme near-term, semiconductor availability remains a key factor in the ability to accelerate production growth. Further, we continue to see demand destruction pulling ahead into 2023 for key markets which has direct implications to production and impacts the magnitude/need for inventory restocking.
With June 2022 industry 'number of days supply' coming in at 26 days, the automotive industry now has experienced an unprecedented 14 consecutive months of inventories below a 30-day supply. "Normal" inventories are usually in the 55-65 days range, so a drop below 30 days for just one month would be extraordinary. For such a shortage to continue for over a year is unheard of.
Predictably, as the automotive inventory began to shrink, leverage shifted towards the sellers, including brands and dealers. Both these constituencies have taken advantage of the suppy and demand for vehicles imbalance to raise prices for both financed and leased vehicles. Resulting monthly vehicle loan payment on average have surged 8.5% in the last 14 months when compared to those in the previous 14 months, while vehicle lease payments have climbed 11% over the same time. The average April 2022 new vehicle monthly loan payment of $663 is the highest of any month dating back to (at least) the start of January 2020. While the April monthly vehicle lease payments of $527 is down from its November 2021 peak of $542, the 14-month average, as mentioned, remains elevated.
The Full-Size Luxury Car Segment's 13.5% monthly payment increase among owners surpasses that of any other segment and is 5 percentage points higher than the industry-wide jump (see chart below). The average Compact Utility Segment loan monthly payment ranks second with a 10.6% increase, followed by the Full-Size Half Ton Pickup Segment.
As the model-level data below illustrate, though, these averages mask noteworthy model-level dynamics. Specifically, the averages are pulled up by the recent introduction of several new, high-priced (and frequently EV) models in each of these two segments. When these recent entries are removed, the segment increases are more modest.
Going forward, as more electric vehicles are launched, we are likely to see their price points continue to pull up segment averages.
Sources: S&P Global Mobility - Catalyst for Insight with TransUnion, Autodata (days supply)
Electrified powertrain new registration volume (which includes electric and hybrid) exceeded 1.5 million units for the first time in the 12 months ending June 2022 (RYTD 2022).
Read our full US Mobility Insights from S&P Global Mobility. Our September 2022 report on the US Market focuses on Electrified Powertrain insights on new registrations and the industry fuel type loyalty.
If, on one hand, there is concern over the end-of-life treatment of batteries, on the other hand, BEVs will require significantly fewer lubricants (also potentially dangerous for the environment) throughout their lifetime.
Tesla Motors has not just thrived in the first six months of 2022; it has reached new levels of success based on two metrics - record-high brand loyalty rates and significant brand loyalty among Model 3 owners. Tesla brand loyalty (the propensity of return-to-market Tesla households to acquire another Tesla) has climbed to 67.5% in the first half of 2022, more than 12 percentage points higher than its brand loyalty in any preceding year (its next highest result was 55.2% in 2020). Driving these results is the Model 3, with a first half 2022 brand loyalty rate of 70.7% - higher than any other model on the U.S. market. In two of the first six months of 2022, Tesla's brand loyalty exceeded 70% (March - 73.1% and June - 72.8%). How does this compare to its luxury rivals? Tesla's June loyalty of 67.5% was almost 17 percentage points ahead of luxury runner-up Mercedes-Benz at 50.7%.
Tesla's market share results in the first half of 2022 are equally strong. With 20.5% share of the luxury market, Tesla share is more than 6 percentage points above that of runner-up BMW. Tesla's June 2022 new registration volume of just over 50,000 units represents the first time in (at least) the last 10 years that a luxury brand has registered more than 50,000 new vehicles in one month. In fact, the 40,000 threshold per month has only been surpassed four times in 10 years - three times by Tesla and once by BMW.
Tesla's high loyalty and share results demonstrate a challenging situation for the rest of the industry. Not only are an unprecedented number of households acquiring a Tesla, but a high proportion of these owners are sufficiently happy with their vehicles to acquire another one.
However, the U.S. luxury landscape is changing, and three newcomers have shown, in their early days, their ability to conquest Tesla owners. As the three charts below indicate, the number one brand conquested by each of Lucid, Polestar, and Rivian in the first six months of 2022 is Tesla. Moreover, one-third of Lucid's conquests, and one-quarter of Rivian's, are coming from Tesla owner families, according to the S&P Global Mobility Household Loyalty Methodology (the newly acquired vehicle may be an addition to the household fleet.) One key indicator to Lucid and Rivian conquests: They are competing against the older-sheet metal vehicles in the Tesla lineup - the Model X and S - at premium price levels where consumers having the latest trendy item is seen as essential. Conversely, Polestar is competing against the newer Model 3 and Y. If these trends continue, these three EV luxury brands and other newcomers may offer a viable alternative to Tesla.
This automotive insight is part of our monthly Top
10 Trends Industry Report.The Report findings are
taken from new and used registration and loyalty data.
The August report is now available. To download the report, please click below.
It focuses on the three elements of automotive decarbonization, from the impacts of electrification to a clean grid under energy transition to a greener supply chain which has long-term efforts to make. Life cycle assessment methodology is applied using mostly 2021H1 forecast datasets.
Automotive Monthly Newsletter & Podcast:Automotive Marketing Signals: How inventory and loyalty impact investment
We are in year two of the great supply chain crisis. There are a handful of factors — from chip supply to impacts from climate and conflict — as to when "normal" production will return. Here is what we do know now: profit margins are near historic highs for OEMs while consumer loyalty scores are near historic lows. Here are the important data signals for automotive marketers:
Industry supply has been at or below 26 days for an unprecedented 14 consecutive months. As observed in this chart (fig 1), lack of days' supply drives a direct drop in brand loyalty — now below 50%, an eight-year low. This is not only costly for OEMs in the near term, but the lifetime value lost from defecting customers over the long term is significant.
Luxury leads the decline, despite the Tesla buoy
Luxury brand loyalty has outpaced the industry in loyalty decline, now at just 46%. When you remove Tesla models from luxury, it sheds another four points to 42%.More than 7 out of every 10 (73%) return-to-market Tesla owners buy another Tesla.
Another contributing factor is the sharp decline in leasing — generally higher with luxury segment — which has dropped 10 points since 2018 and accounts for just 20% of new registrations in 2022.
Segment over brand: Utility reigns supreme
Loyalty to the SUV body style is growing and is now at an all-time high of 74%. With nearly 150 SUV models, shoppers have an abundance of choice and will more easily leave brands that don't have the desired Utility vehicle available. For the first time, more car owners are buying a Utility (47%) instead of another car (42%).Utility-to-Utility migration for in-market shoppers has grown 48%, nearly one million units, in the past five yearsGoing bigger is getting bigger. About half of those gains come from up-sizers, households that moved into a bigger Utility have grown 93% over the same time period (fig 2)
Recovery will fluctuate by region
Since the beginning of 2022, inventory levels have been trending up, but the lifts are relatively low, and recovery varies by market. The nation's top market, California, has inventory levels ~20% higher than the state's low in late 2021. Meanwhile, in number two state, Texas, inventory has increased at a slower pace, improving less than 10% from its 2021 low.
How marketers are responding:
Even with record profits, smart, healthy brands are
staying in front of customers
Data strategies and marketing dollars have responded to marketplace conditions. There has been a shift from in-market and incentive messaging to vehicle acquisition, EV and service initiatives. At an investment and activation level, Polk Automotive Solutions by S&P Global Mobility has seen monthly activity across Trade-In, Service, EV and Future In-Market audiences increase 2x since the beginning of the year.
At the retail level, dealerships have developed responsive messaging and targeting strategies that best match audience segments with inventory, adjusting monthly to align with available vehicles, both new and used.
From OEMs, we see brands increasing their efforts to search for Lost Souls or Orphan Owners— the second or third owners/sellers of a vehicle. Recruiting these owners into their CRM programs with specific offers can develop long-term customer value.
The great data race: Fortifying CRM programs for peak performance
Auto marketing's biggest competition is taking place in first-party data arenas. The increases in identity complexity are growing. The headwinds of data restrictions are stronger. Advantages will go to those that know the most about their customers and prospects and what motivates them through their first-party data. Best practices include:Go beyond the most recent purchase to develop complete garage, financial and household profilesReduce waste by verifying ownershipAppend, enhance, and cleanse lists regularly
S&P Global Mobility expects the chip supply shortfall to improve further in 2023 with increases in chip fabrication being better aligned with demand in 2024. OEMs and dealers should be mindful of the growing wedge between profit margins and eroding consumer loyalty as the long-term implications could be substantial. As the EV transition approaches, the competition for customer attention — particularly in the Utility segment — will be fierce. Auto marketers that can leverage loyalty, inventory insights, and develop stronger customer connections, will be able to create and tell their own success stories.
Dive Deeper — Check out our automotive insights
The Fed's recent interest rate increases to curb inflation have quickly cascaded to the auto industry. The average interest rate on a new vehicle loan rose to 4.8% in May 2022, its highest rate since pre-pandemic March 2020 (5.3%). After being in the 4.0 range from last September to December, this metric quickly climbed almost a full point from December to May 2022.
S&P Global Mobility new vehicle registration data combined with Trans Union financial data indicate not all credit score tiers have been equally impacted by the rate increases. As the chart below illustrates, the average APR has risen this past May when compared to a year ago for the upper level credit tiers, but not for the lowest tier, including credit scores between 300 and 600. While scores in this lower tier have risen in the past several months, they remain below a year ago, the only tier for which this is the case.
Further, the range between interest rates has narrowed from pre-pandemic levels. The gap between the APR for the lowest tier customers and the highest in June 2019 was 9.3 PP, but that range has narrowed to 7.3 PP this past June.
Lastly, these interest rate increases have propelled loan and lease monthly payments to four- year highs; as the chart below indicates, the average loan APR in June of $686 is the highest payment dating back to at least the start of 2019, and it is $79 a month higher than the payment a year ago. Similarly, the May 2022 lease payment of $559 is the highest in this time horizon and up $71 from June 2021. In the near time, these higher interest rates and corresponding monthly payments will curb retail demand, though natural demand is still being masked by the inventory shortages.
This automotive insight is part of our monthly Top
10 Trends Industry Report.The Report findings
are taken from new and used registration and loyalty data.
The August report is now available. To download the report, please click below.
The exceptionally low inventory levels plaguing the US new vehicle industry continue to negatively impact brand loyalty. According to S&P Global Mobility loyalty data, brand loyalty dropped to just 49.5% in June, the lowest monthly result since September 2014 and the second consecutive month below 50%. For the past two months, then, consumers have been more likely to defect to another brand than to remain loyal to the brand in their garage.
Not all brands are suffering equally. Brand loyalty for the twenty luxury brands overall has declined more than that for the nineteen mainstream brands, as illustrated on the chart below. From June 2019 to this past June, luxury brand loyalty decreased 5.9 PP while mainstream results eased 4 PP.
Brands pulling down the luxury metric include Land Rover, Infiniti, Acura, Audi, and BMW, all of which suffered double-digit three-year declines. In contrast, Maserati and Tesla enjoyed increases, led by Tesla's 13 PP climb from June 2019.
One driver of the declines for seventeen of the nineteen luxury brands is household migration to Tesla. This past June, Tesla was conquesting more than three competitive luxury households for every one household that defected, with the exception of Porsche; Tesla's conquest/defection with Porsche was 1.9, still an inflow to Tesla, albeit smaller (these results exclude the four new luxury brands, which have not been on the market for a sufficient period of time for defections to reach a natural level). Tesla conquests are defections from the other brands, which lower their brand loyalty volume and rate.
This automotive insight is part of our monthly Top
10 Trends Industry Report. The Report findings are taken
from new and used registration and loyalty data.
The August report is now available. To download the report, please click below.
This release covers S&P Global Mobility US light vehicle sales estimates for the month of August 2022. S&P Global Mobility will be reporting these highlights monthly moving forward.US Light Vehicle Sales to mark first YOY gain in 12 months, according to S&P Global Mobility projection
S&P Global Mobility's analyst team is predicting the first year-over-year gain for new light-vehicle sales for the trailing year — with an estimate of 1.123 million units, equivalent to a 13.1 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. Moreover, the increasing consumer acceptance of electric vehicles shows it to be an increasingly important segment of the market, comprising 6.0% of the market in August. S&P Global Mobility forecasts that the rising BEV sales trend will continue. However, the overall August results are unlikely to signal an easing of challenges facing the beleaguered automotive industry. Constrained inventories, stemming from continued supply disruptions, preventing sales from rebounding more aggressively. At the same time, S&P Global Mobility sees increasing economic uncertainty crimping fourth-quarter consumer demand. Double-digit increases in new-vehicle prices are likely weighing on consumers' willingness to enter the market.
As a result, we believe US auto sales will be limited to a 14.1 million unit total for the year, a downgrade from the 2022 14.6 million unit calendar-year forecast that the S&P Global Mobility team published in July. On a manufacturer level, August results are expected to reflect the prevailing market conditions: Potential for slight month-over-month share advancement for OEMs that have available supply to sustain sales levels, compared to continued retrenchment for OEMs struggling from an inventory standpoint.
Electric vehicle mix reflecting strong momentum
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are expected to reach 6.0% of light vehicle sales in August, compared to a share of 3.3% mix level in August 2021. With new model launches and continued high gas prices despite recent easing, we expect a mix of approximately 6% to be the new floor for BEVs going forward. According to S&P Global Mobility new registration data, BEV sales surged to 6.6% of total light vehicle sales volume in June 2022, its highest monthly share level ever. However, BEVs are subject to the same supply chain, labor, and logistics issues as their non-electric counterparts, as well as the sector still in a position of ramping up capacity versus established non-EV capacity. Therefore, although momentum is expected to be sustained, monthly share of EVs could be subject to volatility in the near and medium term.
S&P Global Mobility Sub-Segment Mix
Sport-utility vehicle sales continue to rise at expense of passenger cars, specifically against sedan and hatchback. SUV mix is expected to reach more than 55% of August sales volume, up from 53.6% a year ago, and a 54.7% reading from the month prior. Pickup mix is expected to remain above 20% for the third consecutive month as new entrants are supporting the segment's strong share. Contributing to the ongoing car decline has been reduced model offerings and throttling back of production, a result of automakers funneling scarce supplies to more lucrative sport-utilities and trucks.
For more information, contact: email@example.com
For the latest on global car sales market performance, please see the S&P Mobility Global Auto Demand Tracker:
July 2022: +52.9%; 250,481 units vs. 163,836 units
YTD 2022: +23.8%; 1,814,156 units vs. 1,465,179 units
July 2022: +36.0%; 282,144 units vs. 207,443 units
YTD 2022: +13.9%; 2,204,597 units vs. 1,935,963 units
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) strives to shore up the battery supply chain to North America. OEMs who can fulfill the "component" and "critical mineral" requirements will be awarded with USD7500 tax credit. In addition, a production tax credit as large as 10% for the battery mineral and material processing companies and 35USD/kWh for the cell manufacturers is considered in the "advanced manufacturing production credit".
The component criteria, which constitutes half of the USD 7500 credit, as seen in the chart, puts a threshold for the minimum percentage of total value of the battery components including modules, cells and cathode and anode that are produced in North America. Despite a strong localization trend for the cell and module, cathode and especially anode materials, are still predominantly imported from other regions. In particular, in 2029, 100% of the battery components need to be produced in North America to satisfy the IRA requirement whereas the soon-to-be-published battery raw material forecast shows that only 3% of vehicles are expected to use locally produced anode active material.
National Enhanced Fuel Type Trend
When compared to H1 2021, new vehicle registrations fell by 11.8% overall and the combined volume of xEV light vehicles (EV/PHEV/HEV/FCEV) did increase by 15.5% in H1 2022, xEVs now account for 14.8% of all new registrations, while traditional ICE vehicles account for 85.2%.
Further comparisons of H1 2022, BEVs and PHEVs saw volume gains (11,960 and 2,844), while HEV and FCEV each saw volume declines.
Continued inventory constraints, new BEV and PHEV entrants, and increased fuel prices have accelerated the uptake of BEV and PHEV vehicles in the Canadian market.
Rechtin will lead editorial efforts in transforming S&P Global Mobility insights
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (August 15, 2022) - S&P Global Mobility, a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) and a world leader in data, technology, and expertise, today announced it has hired award-winning journalist, analyst, and editor Mark Rechtin for the newly created role of Executive Director and Executive Editor.
Rechtin brings three decades of automotive editorial experience to the new role, having worked for 20 years at Automotive News covering the Asian OEM presence in the U.S. market, as well as the rise of Tesla. Rechtin also led Consumer Reports' automotive team, transforming how the organization analyzed data editorially. Most recently, he was editor-in-chief of MotorTrend.
Rechtin is the recipient of numerous prestigious honors for his prescient and detailed dissection of the auto industry, capped by the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for his previous work.
Rechtin will be part of the automotive leadership team and will report to Kristen Balasia, vice president of consulting, S&P Global Mobility.
Joe LaFeir, president, Automotive Insights, S&P Global Mobility, said, "I'm delighted to bring Mark on board during the industry's transformative period into electrification, autonomy, and mobility. Mark's exceptional understanding and knowledge of the industry - from R&D and product development, to sales and marketing and service, to supplier and dealer business, will provide significant value for our clients moving forward. His ability to lead the editorial analysis of competitive market trends will be essential to enriching S&P Global Mobility's client interactions and distilling our authoritative voice."
Rechtin added, "It is a thrill to join S&P Global Mobility, unquestionably the leader in syndicated automotive data and analytics. This is a critical time when the industry is transitioning legacy business models into dynamic new solutions. I look forward to helping transform S&P Global Mobility insight and information into editorial guidance that helps drive engagement and catalyzes S&P Global Mobility's clients across the value chain - from OEMs to suppliers and retail clients."
Rechtin will be based in Los Angeles and work with S&P Global Mobility clients worldwide.
About S&P Global Mobility
At S&P Global Mobility, we provide invaluable insights derived from unmatched automotive data, enabling our customers to anticipate change and make decisions with conviction. Our expertise helps them to optimize their businesses, reach the right consumers, and shape the future of mobility. We open the door to automotive innovation, revealing the buying patterns of today and helping customers plan for the emerging technologies of tomorrow.
S&P Global Mobility is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI). S&P Global is the world's foremost provider of credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help many of the world's leading organizations navigate the economic landscape so they can plan for tomorrow, today. For more information, visit www.spglobal.com/mobility.
The following reflects the S&P Global Mobility August 2022 Light Vehicle Production Forecast update:
The August 2022 light vehicle production forecast update reflects deterioration in the near-term expectations for semiconductor supply coupled with enhanced risk for demand destruction due to macroeconomic conditions being pulled ahead into 2023. The implications are that the transition from "supply constrained" to "demand driven" will happen sooner rather than later and will also influence the amount of inventory rebuilding that will be required.
Automakers are expected to be somewhat less aggressive in their inventory builds, with many signaling concerns over aforementioned demand destruction, in order to avoid what could be a rapid shift from a low inventory profile to a return to overstock conditions.
This month's forecast update reflects a near-term upgrade for Greater China due to stronger demand post-COVID lockdowns and robust stimulus effects as well as a stronger near-term outlook for South Asia. However, more consequential are the near-to-intermediate term downward revisions, particularly focused on Europe and North America, among other regions.
In the extreme near-term, semiconductor availability/capacity has been marked down impacting the ability to accelerate production recovery. Further, we are seeing demand destruction pulling ahead into 2023 which has direct implications to production and impacts the magnitude/need for inventory restocking.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused prices of nickel, lithium, and other materials to soar, compounding the pain of the global chip shortage and other supply chain woes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prices of nickel and aluminum have been breaking records. Propulsion & Sustainability team at S&P Global Mobility has analyzed the impact of raw material prices for different cathode chemistries and the potential impact on battery pack cost. The purpose of this paper is to describe the trend of changing battery chemistries and battery pack cost forecast till 2030 under the foreseen raw material prices trend.
Battery demand and chemistry in passenger
In the European Union (EU), the ambitions of 55% CO2 target reduction from 2021 to 2030 and a zero-emission 2035 passenger car market will accelerate electrification. According to H1 2022 powertrain-based sales forecast from the S&P Mobility team, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) share for EU passenger cars is projected to increase from 9.8% in 2021 to 67.9% in 2030. This will result in a yearly capacity of 592 gigawatt-hour battery demand in 2030 from just 56 gigawatt-hour in 2021. Lithium-ion batteries will ace the race amongst all other battery chemistry types. The EU passenger vehicle market for lithium-ion batteries is estimated to reach a cumulative size of nearly 3,000 gigawatt-hour between 2021 to 2030. The battery pack and electric drive unit that make up a BEV powertrain are anticipated to increase in value from 13.8 to 50 billion euros by 2030.
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The Dodge Durango is a mid-size three-row SUV that has a heart of a muscle car. The base model comes with a V6 engine while the mid & top-end models are equipped with a gas-guzzling V8. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and it is available in two drivetrain variants. Here on Mototechindia, …
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The Yamaha YZF-R25 is a supersport motorcycle that is powered by a twin-cylinder engine. It churns out around 35 hp of peak power and its powertrain comes mated to a 6-speed transmission. It gets a sharp and fierce design that is inspired by its bigger sibling the Yamaha R6. The new model of this supersport …
The post 2022 Yamaha YZF-R25 Price in India, Specs, Mileage, Top Speed, Images appeared first on Mototech India.
The Yamaha YBX 125 is one of the few 4-stroke commuter bikes from the late 90s. It existed in the era when 2-stroke bikes used to rule the Indian roads. It is powered by a single-cylinder air-cooled engine that comes mated to a 4-speed gearbox. Here you can find the YBX 125 price in India, …
The post Yamaha YBX 125 Price in 2022, Specs, Mileage, Top Speed, Images appeared first on Mototech India.
Bajaj is one of the leading brands in the entry-level premium bikes segment and it is coming up with a new model named the Pulsar 350. Possibly this upcoming streetfighter will be based on the Dominar 400. It will be equipped with a single-cylinder, four-stroke engine with triple spark and fuel injection technology. We expect …
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The Vespa ZX 125 is a retro-classic scooter that comes with a very elegant design. Along with a pink colour variant it is also offered in five other colour options. It comes with a 124.45cc single-cylinder engine that is mated to a CVT automatic gearbox. This Vespa scooter comes fitted with premium components and it …
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The Honda Monkey is a funky looking entry-level 125cc bike offered by the brand. The new model continues to be powered by a single-cylinder, four-stroke engine with fuel injection. It comes with a compact design like the Honda Grom and looks very eccentric. It is packed with premium features like a digital LCD console, LED …
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The Royal Enfield Classic 350 Orange Ember Edition is the latest variant of this 350cc classic bike. It comes in an orange and black colour combination that looks very appealing. It is packed with a BS6 compliant single-cylinder engine that is mated to a 5-speed gearbox. Here you can find the Classic 350 orange ember …
The post 2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350 Orange Ember Price, Specs, Images appeared first on Mototech India.
The YTX 125 is a commuter bike offered by Yamaha. It comes with a simple design and it is available in three colour options. The YTX is powered by a single-cylinder engine and it gets a 4-speed constant mesh gearbox. Here you can check the Yamaha YTX 125 price in India specs, mileage, top speed, …
The post 2022 Yamaha YTX 125 Price in India, Specs, Mileage, & Top Speed appeared first on Mototech India.
Yamaha offers some of the best adventure bikes in the world and the brand has a wide range of bikes in its lineup. Yamaha has adventure bikes of different engine sizes and specs in their portfolio. Here is the list of all the latest Yamaha adventures bikes that are currently available around the world. New …
The McLaren P1 is one of the best hypercars ever made in the 21st century. These exotic beasts are available in only limited numbers and are owned by only a few lucky people around the world. The design of this hypercar depicts substance as well as style. If you adore this beauty, here is everything …
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RusAutoNews.- Vehicle production in Russia has decreased by 59.0% year-on-year within the January-July period of 2022. According to ASM-Holding data 387.8 thousand transport vehicles (passenger cars, commercial vehicles, buses)
RusAutoNews.- As announced by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, during a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of Avtovaz with the Deputy Prime Minister Denis
RusAutoNews.- As announced by the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, the Russian car market has decreased by 62.4%, or by 69,172 units year-on-year in August 2022, and amounted to 41,698 vehicles.
RusAutoNews.- Avtovaz has resumed production of the Lada Granta model with driver and passenger airbags, as annouced by the company press office. Starting from August 23, all 2022 model
RusAutoNews.- Vehicle production in Russia has decreased by 56.8% year-on-year within the first half of 2022. According to ASM-Holding data 357.4 thousand transport vehicles (passenger cars, commercial vehicles, buses)
RusAutoNews.- The Russian state will subsidise about half of the costs of businesses and citizens for the conversion of cars from petrol to natural gas (methane). This resolution was
RusAutoNews.- According to the official announcement of the Russian Government, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov met in Moscow with Fatemi Amin, Iranian Minister
RusAutoNews.- As reported by the journal Za Rulem, the top Iranian automaker is keen to prioritize exports to Russia as both countries are under Western economic sanctions, Iran Khodro
TASS.- The development of an internal combustion engine and its components, as well as an automatic transmission, ABS and ESP systems, airbags and seat belts were included in the
Vedomosti.- The Ministry of Industry and Trade has prepared a draft government regulation approving a new strategy for the development of the automotive industry up to 2035. A new
It was sub rails and then rusty floors in the last couple of videos and now it is welding in the new floor bits in this one. The “DeLorean” roadster is under the knife and it’s going to be an awesome project. Iron Trap has got all kinds of great projects, but this ’32 Ford […]
The post Iron Trap 1932 Ford “DeLorean” Roadster: Welding The Body Back On! appeared first on BangShift.com.
ST. LOUIS (Oct. 2, 2022) – Four-time defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence is back in the title hunt, powering to his second straight win at World Wide Technology Raceway on Sunday at the 11th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals. Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) […]
The post NHRA MidWest Nationals Results And Video! Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Mod And Pro Stock Bike! appeared first on BangShift.com.
Want to talk about daring to be different? How about making four digit horsepower at the wheels with a Porsche 928 V8 engine! Carl Fausett owns this car and he is the guy who not only has developed the engine package you see here but he’s also the guy that races the thing incessantly. The […]
It’s been a while since I posted a BangShift Daily Tune Up but this song is too good not to share. This is one of the songs I can clearly remember jamming to in the back of my dad’s 1964 Pontiac GTO on Saturday nights heading either to or from Nick’s clam shack in Natick, […]
The post BangShift Daily Tune Up: Expressway To Your Heart – The Soul Survivors (1967) appeared first on BangShift.com.
My friend Jack sent me this video link in an email yesterday with the simple phrase, “prepare to ruin your shorts…” The sad fact is that the man has sent me some terrifying links before so I was peering through barely spread fingers when I clicked it and was happily surprised to see a video […]
The internet makes us smile REALLY BIG some days. Most others we want it all to fall down a hole but today is a big smile day. Why? Because have found a jaw dropping Speed Week 1957 film that shows the salt how it was in full color, with full sound, narration, and brilliant clarity. […]
The post Speed Week 1957 Film: This Incredible Movie Is In Color, Has Full Sound, Narration, and Goodness! appeared first on BangShift.com.
The battle of Ford vs Ferrari may have been the highest profile example of Ford’s “Total Performance” era but this was not just a fight between Ford and the Italian company, it was literally Ford vs the World. The company wanted success in drag racing (Cobra Jets), SCCA road racing (Boss 302), Indy cars (Lotus […]
The post Bathurst 1969 Video: At The Peak Of Total Performance Ford and Holden Fight An Aussie War appeared first on BangShift.com.
There is a lot of serious racing going on at LS Fest events, but one special thing about LS Fest East is the Powerwheels downhill race which is anything but serious. The competitors, who are all adults by the way, show up with all kinds of weird powerwheels combos, dress themselves is weird “safety” equipment, […]
The post LS Fest East Photo Coverage: Powerwheels Downhill Racing At LSFest! appeared first on BangShift.com.
Here’s our second gallery of photos from the Will County Auto Rebuilders show, and a big thanks to Jim Hrody for sharing his photos! If you missed any of the previous photos, use the link below to check them out too. Jim Hrody is back at it with more car show photos to share with […]
In the last video from this series the Nova, aka Nana, made it to the coast of California and we asked if that was a good Omen for the rest of the trip. Ooops, we might have jinxed them. Cause it looks like some work is going to get done for sure. Does this idea […]
Audi Q3 S Line 45 TFSI quattro Class: Premium Subompact Crossover Miles driven: 402 Fuel used: 17.2 gallons Real-world fuel economy: 23.4 mpg Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway EPA-estimated fuel economy: 21/28/24 (mpg city/highway/combined) Fuel type: Regular gas Base price: $38,700 (not including $1195 destination charge) Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($595), Premium Plus Package […]
Note: The following story was excerpted from the October 2019 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine. Hudson trucks always were a rare sight, even when new. Hudson Motor Company, founded in 1909, didn’t offer a true truck line until 1929. It instead concentrated on cars. The Hudson Super Six, introduced in 1916, had the industry’s first counterbalanced […]
If you’ve been following auto stuff long enough, you’ve likely come across the descriptor 2-door sedan. Some will argue that all 2-door vehicles with a trunk are coupes, while other folks argue otherwise. According to the editors at website Curbside Classics, this is the real story: “…a two-door sedan is a two-door version of a […]
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Class: Compact Car Miles driven: 320 Fuel used: 10.8 gallons Real-world fuel economy: 29.6 mpg Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway EPA-estimated fuel economy: 30/37/33 (mpg city/highway/combined) Fuel type: Regular gas Base price: $31,460 (not including $1015 destination charge) Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($395) Price as tested: $31,460 Quick Hits The […]
2022 Mazda CX-9 Signature Class: Midsize Crossover Miles driven: 1330 Fuel used: 57.3 gallons Real-world fuel economy: 23.0 mpg Driving mix: 40% city, 60% highway EPA-estimated fuel economy: 20/26/23 (city, highway, combined) Fuel type: Regular gas Base price: $47,210 (not including $1225 destination charge) Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($595), Price as tested: $49,030 […]
It may appear to you that the criteria for our popular classic ad galleries are somewhat random, and you wouldn’t wrong. The model year for this particular collection of vintage magazine ads was indeed selected randomly, but the net effect was pretty cool, nonetheless. Included below are ads for Ford’s arguably great looking van-based Econoline […]
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX AWD Class: Compact Crossover Miles driven: 159 Fuel used: 4.7 gallons Real-world fuel economy: 33.8 mpg Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway EPA-estimated fuel economy: 38/38/38 (city, highway, combined) Fuel type: Regular gas Base price: $30,990 (not including $1215 destination charge) Options on test vehicle: EX Premium Package ($1500), carpeted floor mats ($150) […]
Note: The following story was excerpted from the October 2021 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine. Perhaps one of the most unexpected automotive icons of the Eighties is Toyota’s humble Hachi-Roku, Japanese for “8-6.” This nickname refers to Toyota’s AE86 model code for the top 1600 GT APEX performance version of the Japanese-market 1983-1987 Corolla Levin and […]
2022 Lexus LX 600 Ultra Luxury Class: Premium Large SUV Miles driven: 206 Fuel used: 12.2 gallons Real-world fuel economy: 16.7 mpg Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway EPA-estimated fuel economy: 17/22/19 (city, highway, combined) Fuel type: Premium gas recommended Base price: $126,000 (not including $1345 destination charge) Options on test vehicle: Roof-rack cross bars ($450), carpeted cargo […]
2022 Audi RS3 Sedan Class: Subcompact Crossover Miles Driven: 462 Fuel Used: 21.8 gallons Real-world fuel economy: 21.2 mpg Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway EPA-estimated fuel economy: 20/29/23 (mpg city/highway/combined) Fuel type: Premium Gasoline Base price: $58,900 (not including $1095 destination charge) Options on test vehicle: RS Technology Package ($2750), RS Sport Exhaust System ($1000), Black […]