No. 933
February 14, 2018
 

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of Ujian-nasional.info.

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On The Surface


Wednesday
Feb072018

FEBRUARY 7, 2018

Editor-in-Chief's Note: As I wrote a couple of weeks ago - "The Detroit Auto Show Is Dead. Now What?" - the Detroit Auto Show is in desperate need of a total rethink, for myriad reasons. Now, Automotive News is reporting that, according to its sources (2/9), Mercedes-Benz is pulling out of the Detroit Auto Show and won't be back in 2019. Jaguar/Land Rover, Mazda, Porsche and Volvo have already exited the show, but the exit of Mercedes-Benz would be a huge loss, not only because of the money it spends here (the German automaker always stages a costly off-site presentation for the media before the press days), but because many European-based journalists won't bother to come to Detroit if Mercedes-Benz isn't at the Detroit Auto Show. If the Detroit Auto Show organizers don't take this as the last warning that pretty much everything about the show needs to change - starting with moving it to June - then it will become a second-tier auto show once and for all. -PMD

Editor-in-Chief's Note: The successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center was spectacular in every sense of that word. The rocket soared over the Atlantic Ocean before two of its three expended solid rocket boosters fell back to Earth and landed upright, just as planned. Essentially a supersized version of SpaceX’s standard Falcon 9 rocket, the Falcon Heavy has three central boosters instead of one and has three times the thrust of the Falcon 9. The rocket weighs more than 3.1 million pounds and stands almost 230 feet high. It's designed to carry up to 140,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit, or more than 37,000 pounds all the way to Mars. As I said, it was indeed spectacular, but it only served to underscore my issue with Elon Musk and his essentially failed Tesla enterprise. Musk is indeed brilliant and his accomplishments are many, but as I've said repeatedly, he should stick to the rocket business. We've assembled some excerpts from past columns discussing Musk (below). -PMD

(From "America's Master of Deception" - 11/22) The Bright New Automotive Future as promised by Musk and embodied in the Tesla automobile is a canard that has been a failed enterprise from the very beginning. Ruthlessly unprofitable and racking up debt at a prodigious rate, Elon Musk has conned Wall Street and the holier-than-thous in the greener-than-thou enclaves of The New Enlightened to believe that he – through his Magic Pony, aka Tesla – is the solution to all societal ills and if only the rest of the automotive universe would simply cease and desist the world would be a decidedly much better place, free and unfettered by the dismal dullards who make up the defunct remnants of the failed U.S. automotive industry.

Needless to say, if any current automaker, or automotive supplier, or any corporate entity in America for that matter had conducted itself like Tesla, Wall Street would have moved decisively to bury the offending company while branding it as a criminal affront to the tenets of free enterprise. 

Instead, we have the enablers on Wall Street completely flummoxed by Musk, jacking up the stock while relentlessly praising his “vision,” conveniently ignoring the fact that Tesla builds $100,000 vehicles fraught with consistent, serious quality problems, and that the much-ballyhooed Model 3 – St. Elon’s promise of a mainstream, “affordable” Tesla that would doom Detroit with a resounding thud of certainty – has been an abject failure that is apparently un-buildable at anything approaching the promised $35,000 “loss leader” pricing or the fanciful boast of 500,000 per-year volumes. (Actually, that number is sheer lunacy. The real number will be lucky to reach 20 percent of that total, in three years.)

So, with his company about to go down, and the promise of the Model 3 finally making Tesla a respected automaker lying in pieces on the ground, what does St. Elon, this country’s resident con man, do? He holds a séance for the Muskian Faithful to introduce a Class 8 all-electric semi-truck – without an existing national infrastructure to support it (although Musk insists he will take care of that with a network of “megachargers”) – that will “transform the industry!” because, well, you know, everything Musk touches is transformative, didn’t you get the memo? 

And if that wasn’t enough, Musk plans on introducing a super sports car in 2020, which will be, in Musk’s words, “… the fastest production car ever made - period.” And, Musk being Musk, he just had to add, “The point of doing this is to give a hard-core smackdown to gasoline cars.” I’m not even going to bother regurgitating the details of this car because they’re completely irrelevant.

The net-net of this charade? The truck is a pipe dream, and frankly, other vehicle manufacturers will probably beat Musk to market with electrified trucks of their own. As for the sports car? Few people believe it will ever see the light of day, qualifying as even more of a pipe dream than the truck. At least the truck has a believable premise. The sports car is just more unmitigated bullshit and unbridled swingin’ dick-ism from America’s Master of Deception.

Despite Elon’s latest show, the facts are these: Tesla is a failed enterprise by every conceivable measure. And building a few high-priced machines for The Enlightened Elite does not constitute anything more than a boutique car company with nowhere to go but down. The Model 3 was supposed to fix all of that, but that is just not gonna happen, by any stretch of the imagination. Not even close, in fact.

As I said last week, I predict that Musk, after being horribly embarrassed by the total failure of the Model 3, will finally grow tired of the whole auto thing and wind down Tesla, selling off its technology to whoever will give him the most cash money for it, so he can then focus on his real love – firing off rockets and colonizing Mars. -PMD 

(From "PMD Unplugged, Part II" - 12/13) As for Musk, for all of his brilliance and vision, the fact that he can’t build the Model 3 in quantity and with quality is an indictment of his entire automotive adventure. And his calculated distractions – an all-electric semi-truck! and I’m gonna launch my sports car to Mars! – are just that. And I love the fact that these companies are already lining up to order his trucks, when he has demonstrated repeatedly that he can’t build his vision with any semblance of consistency or quality. Do they live under a rock, or what? I do have a new name for him though: Teslon. Because he has become the Teflon Tech Guru in that criticism bolstered with facts just rolls off of him. -PMD

(From "The Greatest PR Show on Earth" - 8/2) No, I will tell you what the Model 3 is. It’s a testament to the fact that “Detroit” – aka the U.S. auto industry – collectively lost the PR war a long, long time ago. I wrote about this in my book Witch Hunt, which chronicled the bailout and subsequent bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. Remember those Senate hearings when the CEOs of what used to be known as the “Big Three” were bludgeoned for hours? The recurring theme was that Detroit built crappy cars, the CEOs were stupid and the whole damn enterprise was collectively an embarrassment. I distinctly remember one Mitch McConnell piling on the CEOs and the U.S. automobile industry for being incompetent and worse in a withering display. The High-Octane Truth? Less than eighteen months before, that same Mitch McConnell was in Detroit with his hand out at a dinner organized on his behalf asking for, you guessed it, donations from the automobile companies. (But then again, if I were to go after the practicing scumbags in Washington we’d be here all frickin’ day.)

The point is that the lingering hangover from those hearings and the pain of the subsequent bankruptcies has never gone away. It doesn’t matter that Detroit is part of the industrial fabric of this nation. It doesn’t matter that Detroit was essential in creating the “Arsenal of Democracy.” It doesn’t matter that the auto industry based here has been one of this country’s leading technological centers and still is right now (something that Silicon Valley has found out the hard way). It doesn’t matter that the U.S. auto industry (for the most part) is building the best cars in its history, some truly outstanding machines, in fact. What matters is that for a burgeoning group of consumers in this country – led around by the nose by the card-carrying Muskians in the media – the U.S. auto industry is inconsequential. And worse, it simply isn’t cool.

We have arrived at a point where everything about Tesla = Good. And everything about Detroit = Irrelevant. It doesn’t matter that The Cult of Elon has robbed people of all rational thought. It doesn’t matter that for many Tesla owners the reality of ownership has them mired in a quagmire of mediocrity and poor quality that would shutter other companies. U.S. automakers represent a kind of Old School that a growing number of consumers don’t care about anymore.

Example No. 1? The Chevrolet Bolt is a real production car that offers everything most people want in a fully electric car without the wait. But consumers don’t care. Why? Because GM blew the introduction of the car. They adhered to Old School Detroit marketing think and thought that the humble, hat-in-hand approach was best because, well, they couldn’t offer them across the country and well, you know, they were doing the right thing. The result? An unmitigated disaster. An absolutely stellar engineering job by the True Believers at GM utterly wasted. Can you imagine if St. Elon was shilling the Bolt? It would be the greatest thing since sliced bread and GM couldn’t make them fast enough. But because Mary Barra and Dan “I Am” Ammann don’t think having a CMO is necessary and they fundamentally don’t understand what real marketing is to boot, the Bolt – a really excellent machine, by the way – is left withering on the vine. It’s simply unconscionable. And depressing.

And finally, as if we needed yet another reason for people to heap derision on the U.S. auto industry, the news that some jamoke executive at FCA colluded with a senior executive from the UAW to skim cash away from a work training initiative funded by FCA in order to fund lavish lifestyles is just icing on the cake. This story is going to blow up like a fireworks barge on the river of Not Good, and it’s going to be yet another black eye for this business. No, you can’t make this stuff up, unfortunately.

No wonder a guy like Elon Musk can rule the media landscape with a car that’s as much a state of mind than anything else. The Cult of Elon is the Greatest PR Show on Earth, and don’t you ever forget it. -PMD

(VW images)
The new 2019 Volkswagen Arteon - the replacement for the CC - made its official U.S. debut at the Chicago Auto Show. The Arteon is based off the VW Group's MQB architecture. VW is touting the Arteon's upscale interior features, premium materials and modern design. The Arteon is powered by a 2.0-liter 268HP TSI® 4-cylinder engine, paired with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, with 4Motion® all-wheel drive optional.Standard features include 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, full LED headlights, Front Assist, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and DCC® adaptive damping. The Arteon will be available in SE, SEL and SEL Premium trim levels, and is expected to arrive at U.S. Volkswagen dealers in the third quarter of 2018.


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