No. 997
May 22, 2019

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

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On The Surface



December 17, 2008


arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifFord. Now that the dust has settled (somewhat) from the Washington debacle, Ford is aiming to put distance between itself and the "Old Detroit Two" in the marketplace by building cars and trucks that achieve "bests" in every category in which they compete. The evidence of this new strategy? The new Ford Fusion Hybrid due next spring will achieve an EPA rating of 41 MPG in the city, 36 on the highway - that's better than the Toyota Camry hybrid by 8 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway - making it the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan in America and the second most fuel-efficient vehicle behind the smaller Toyota Prius. The Fusion Hybrid even finishes ahead of the smaller Honda Civic Hybrid. The Fusion (and Mercury Milan) Hybrids can also travel up to 47 mph in pure electric mode, faster than the Toyota Camry and all other hybrids currently on the road. Great news for Ford, and now we'll see if the consumers who insist that, "Detroit doesn't build anything with the kind of mileage I want" will give the Fusion Hybrid (and Mercury Milan) a closer look. (12/23)

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifGM, Chrysler. Publisher's Note: The bridge loans to GM and Chrysler were approved this morning (12/19) - with a series of concessions similar to the original package put together in the U.S. House of Representatives - and if things aren't better for these two companies and they aren't able to show genuine viability by March 31, 2009, the money will have to be returned. A temporary arrangement like this was a necessity, given the fact that the U.S. economy is in the worst shape it has been in seven decades. All idyllic free-market theories aside, a short-term bridge loan package was the most responsible course of action, because the impact of a U.S. auto industry collapse would have been catastrophic for the U.S. economy at this juncture. This also allows the Obama administration to have more input going forward, and gives these two companies much-needed breathing room. - PMD

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifDetroit, Michigan, The U.S. Economy. What more can be said at this point? It's a sense of relief, it buys more time, but the harsh realities still suggest that by the end of all of this there will be at the most two American car companies, and maybe even one. We all have a new clock to start monitoring now.

Toyota. The End of the World as we know it? When Toyota announced today (12/22) that it would post its first loss in 70 years in its core vehicle making business, shock waves swept throughout the global auto industry. The Japanese giant expects a loss during the fiscal year of 150 billion yen, or $1.7 billion, which will be the first operating loss since 1938, the year after the company was founded. That's compared with the 2.3 trillion yen, or $28 billion, in operating profit Toyota earned last fiscal year. “The change in the world economy is of a magnitude that comes once every hundred years,” Toyota’s president, Katsuaki Watanabe, told a news conference in Nagoya, Japan, near the company’s Toyota City headquarters. “We are facing an unprecedented emergency.”

GM. From the "Not Good" File comes word that GM is selling some select vehicles from its GM Heritage Collection - which numbers in the hundreds and hundreds of cars, from 'first-builts' and 'last-builts' to one-offs and SEMA show cars - at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 13-19. According to a very preliminary list, cars like the Buick Blackhawk concept, a couple of 1989 Corvette ZR-1s, several GTOs, some Jon Moss-built specials including big-block Camaros, Corvettes and Impalas, 70s muscle cars, etc., etc., etc. B-J will be assembling photos of these cars on their website in the coming week. Yes, it's good for enthusiasts with the cash on hand, but bad in that it's a measure of just how dire GM's current condition really is. Happy hunting, sort of.

arrowup.gifFord. The Dearborn-based automaker placed two vehicles in the six finalists for the 2009 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. The car finalists are the Ford Flex, Hyundai Genesis (the first Korean-made vehicle to be an finalist) and Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The truck finalists are the Ford F-150, the Dodge Ram and the Mercedes-Benz ML320 Bluetec. The winner from each category will be announced in January on the morning of the first media preview day at the North American International Auto Show.

Chrysler. From the "Desperate Times Demand Desperate Measures" File, Chrysler is shutting down all of its North American factories for a full month at the end of the production day on Friday, December 19, due to dismal sales and the ongoing credit mess. Chrysler will not resume production before January 19. The clock is ticking...

GM. More from the "Not Good" File. GM has been forced to suspend construction on a $350 million factory in Flint, Michigan, which will build fuel-efficient engines for two of its most crucial future products - the Chevy Cruze and Chevy Volt - in order to save cash while waiting on the bridge loan from Washington. It is said that the delay won't affect the launch of the two vehicles, which is slated for two years from now, but still, the news gets more grim by the minute around here.

Toyota. The Japanese auto giant, like the rest of the industry, is running into severe headwinds and the latest indication of that was the announcement this week that it would stop construction of its $1.3 billion manufacturing facility near Tupelo, Miss., as it cuts costs around the globe. The plant was set to build the Prius, but all plans are now on hold. Prius sales were down almost 50 percent in November in the U.S. from the previous year, while Toyota sales overall were down 32 percent.

Honda. The Japanese automaker lowered its full-year forecast for net profits by 64 percent to 185 billion yen, or $2.08 billion, for the year ending March 31. Everyone (including us) thought Honda would come trough this global financial crisis smelling like a rose. Now, not so much. To make matters worse, Honda has canceled the Acura NSX supercar program and pulled out of Formula 1. Not Good doesn't even begin to cover it. 

Japan, Inc. With Japanese automakers - and Japanese companies in general - reeling, the yen rose against the dollar again, to the highest level in 13 years, adding to the financial doom and gloom in Japan. That Japan, Inc. has relied on yen manipulation for years and years to add to their profits is well known. Just how much they depended upon that policy is starting to become perfectly clear.

Toyota. Its annual U.S. dealer meeting was canceled to save around $1 million. Always a production for the automakers, and usually held in places like Las Vegas or New Orleans, etc., the annual dealer meeting was as predictable as the sunrise. Now, the new trend for dealer meetings in this shitty economy? A couple of kegs in the company parking lot - with cold cuts.

Daniel Gross. We tried to understand the point of this writer's article "Southern Comfort, What Detroit Got Wrong" in this week's Newsweek but couldn't for the life of us find it. Was it that the grass is greener and the sky is bluer for the auto business in the South? Or was it just that everything about the business came down to the hoary Import=Good, Detroit=Bad formula for Gross? The revealing clue was how he seemed to be amazed how these import car companies ingratiated themselves to their hosts by endowing professorships at universities, something that the Detroit car companies have been doing for decades. The piece was a giant "whatever" and one more punch thrown against Detroit for the fun of it.

Detroit fallout. More grim news about the real cost of a potential Detroit auto industry collapse. This from Chris Vander Doelen reporting today in the Windsor Star: "An estimated $375 million owed for automotive tooling, dies and moulds -- most of it carried as debt by companies in the Windsor region -- is at risk of default by the looming bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler. In yet another estimate of the impact a Detroit automotive bankruptcy would have on the economy, leaders of Ontario's MTDM (machine tool, die and mould) sector say they are owed for at least a quarter of their $1.5-billion output over the past year. Approximately 9,000 people, or 64 per cent of the Canadian MTDM industry's workforce of 14,000 people, are located in the Windsor-Essex Region. That means the local industry employs slightly more than the 8,500 people directly employed by GM, Ford and Chrysler in the region." And to all a good night.

(General Motors)
The all-new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox will make its public debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show next month in Detroit. Besides its more contemporary design inside and out, the new Equinox will be offered with a choice of two new direct injected (DI) engines that use less fuel yet make more power – a 2.4L four-cylinder and a 3.0L V-6. The 2.4L engine delivers an estimated 30 mpg in highway driving (EPA certification pending), placing the Equinox at the top of its segment in highway mileage. The Equinox is part of the new wave of direct injected vehicles from GM, including the all-new 2010 Cadillac SRX crossover and 2010 Buick LaCrosse sedan, which, along with the Equinox, will also make their debuts at Cobo Hall in January. GM will offer more DI models in North America than any other manufacturer for the 2010 model year. “We first introduced direct injection in North America in the 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line and the Pontiac Solstice GXP,” said Tom Stephens, executive vice president, GM Global Powertrain and Global Quality. “We’ve been rolling out the technology across our portfolio as quickly as we can so that our customers will have additional fuel savings options. Direct injection is a state-of-the art engineering solution because it enables improved fuel economy and lower emissions without sacrificing power.” In the 2009 model year, GM offers six engines in 18 models globally with direct injection. By 2010, GM will have eight direct injected engines in 38 vehicle models, covering 10 percent of its global volume. In North America alone, GM will offer 18 models with direct injection. The cleaner, more contemporary Equinox will arrive in showrooms next summer.

Editor’s Note: We’re doing something a little different this year in that we’re keeping the 2008 highlights from “On The Surface” separate from Peter’s year-end column. Enjoy! – WG

Straight into the "Irrelevant" File. Toyota and GM finished in a knock-down, drag-out tie. GM’s reported total global sales of 9.37 million vehicles in 2007, up 3 percent due to rapid growth outside of North America. "We set a record in China with more than a million vehicles sold. We nearly doubled our sales in Russia to an all-time record of more than 258,000 vehicles delivered. And we set a record in Brazil with nearly a half-million vehicles sold," John Middlebrook, GM vice president of global sales, service and marketing, said in a prepared statement. That means the two auto industry giants were deadlocked at the top. Toyota announced on January 10, 2008, that it had sold 9.37 million vehicles in 2007. (1/23/08)

Hey Stefan, how about no? A separate "Green" channel for BMW? You gotta be frickin' kidding, but that's what Stefan Krause, BMW AGs board member for sales and marketing, wondered out loud to Automotive News at the auto show. The last thing BMW needs is to chase its tail by entertaining the notion of bringing yet another channel to the marketplace. Something will cure these guys of wanting to be all things to all people eventually - hopefully - but in the meantime Herr Krause should keep his mumbling meanderings to himself. (1/23)

But dang, if we ever need a Chief Executive of Smoke and Mirrors, he’d be on our short list. We've been waiting for the "magic" to happen from Henrik Fisker ever since he went off on his own to become a coach builder. We're still waiting. Certain members of the media will continue to fawn over this guy and canonize his every move, and for no good reason that we can see, apparently. And that's fine, man, as The Dude would say. Us? We'll continue to wait and see if the guy actually does anything worth noting a few years from now. (1/23)

Those GLKs are just going to look swell at Augusta, aren't they? In a moment of clarity, Cadillac declined to renew its sponsorship deal with the Masters golf tournament. Although reports suggested that Cadillac got "aced out" of the deal, it was clear that the Masters jacked-up the price to the point that it just became silly and then Cadillac execs had to ask themselves the defining question: Would you miss it? Who is stepping in to replace Cadillac? Mercedes-Benz. (1/23)

You have to admit the shit, before you can achieve Shinola, or something like that. After CEO Alan Mulally admitted that a re-do of the Ford Taurus was on the way, Derrick Kuzak, head of Ford global product development, equated the current Taurus to paunchy Homer Simpson in a speech to industry analysts and said that the new one coming would be dramatically better - and better looking too. J Mays recently admitted that he blew the Five Hundred/Taurus design. What was behind all of this public soul-searching at Ford anyway? (1/30)

It was January, it was cold, who knew? The new openness was catching on in the Motor City, apparently. Fritz Henderson, GM's CFO, speaking to a gathering of the Automotive Press Association at the Detroit Athletic Club admitted that: 1. GM was no longer the world's largest automaker. 2. That GM has to be able to make money and do better in the U.S. market and that it can't rely on overseas profitability alone, and 3. Car and truck prices were going to continue to creep up. Lest we think he was becoming the industry's new Captain Downer, he did say that he didn't think the country would slip into a recession because the Feds are taking strong measures to prevent it. (1/30)

Who do you got in the 5th at Aqueduct, Carlos? In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, The Carlos Ghosn Show was in overdrive as he answered questions with a frightening amount of foresight. WSJ: What's your view of the U.S. market? "We've been in a slump in the U.S. now for four years. It's not only in number but also in segment. You are moving from large pickup trucks, vans, luxury products to smaller cars. You know that many car manufacturers don't make any money on small cars. They make money on the larger cars, so when the market moves this way it's a double impact in terms of profit on most of the car manufacturers, if not all of them." WSJ: Who is hurting the most in this market? "Obviously, the Big Three. So how much more are they going to be able to sustain this kind of pressure and what's going to happen? That's a very important question for all the industry." WSJ: Can all the auto makers survive in such a difficult environment? "No." WSJ: So, what will the U.S. automobile industry look like in three years? "The market share of the Big Three, which is shrinking, is going to continue to shrink. Look at [Tata Motors Ltd. of India] now buying Jaguar and Land Rover. You may have European car manufacturers making proposals of taking a bit or a brand or a piece here or there." WSJ: When it's all over, is there a native U.S. auto industry? "Frankly, I don't know. I can tell you it's going to be very different from today. But whether there is going to be one left or two left or none left I don't know." And those were also our AE Quotes of the Week. (1/30)

From the “Life Is Good” File came word that Tom Cruise – a longtime Ducati freak - took delivery of the first Ducati Desmosedici RR arriving in the U.S. at Beverly Hills Ducati. Only 1,500 of these thinly-disguised, 200MPH Moto GP-replica missiles bristling with titanium, magnesium and carbon fiber technology will be available worldwide. The price? A cool $72,500. (1/30)

Yup, Ron, the world does revolve around you. The UAW was on a charm offensive with the media and the public, but did anyone really care anymore? Doubtful. Plus, at the union's biennial four-day political conference in Washington, D.C., Ron Gettelfinger gave his keynote address during the Super Bowl. (2/6)

Tasteless, juvenile - and brilliant. The Go Daddy Super Bowl spot, which directed viewers to the company's website to see Danica Patrick in a spot that they couldn't air on the broadcast due to network censor concerns, drew a staggering two million hits. (2/6)

Sometimes the tired old clichés are preferable. Once the gushing over Audi's Super Bowl spot eased a bit, the bottom line is that it wasn't all that great. We stopped reading some of the reviews when one so-called ad "expert" termed it as being "original." Ahem, how can a spot that rips off a 25-year-old classic American movie possibly be original? Let's just say it was the most egregious case of borrowed interest we've ever seen. And what about the tagline, "Old luxury just got put on notice" - ? What do a faux Rolls-Royce grille and the word "luxury" have to do with Audi, especially the R8? Isn't this the same company that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its Le Mans-winning racing program over the last ten years? Isn't this the same company that has bent over backwards trying to prove its technical credentials and engineering savvy in that same timeframe? Isn't this the same company that has carved out a bold, "marching to a different drummer" positioning to go up against BMW and Mercedes in the U.S. market? Then what the hell do the words "new luxury" have to do with their flagship mid-engine sports car? Audi would have been better off just showing the R8 running down a wet windy road with plenty of authentic engine sounds - at least we would have gotten a good look at the car along with our cliches. (2/6)

But hey, things aren’t that bad. We do have a hell of a hockey team, we've got the Pistons, and Tigers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Friday... Yeah, we were down, and the Detroit jokes grew stale long ago. We’re not just part of the “forgotten middle” of the country, our new state slogan on our license plate is: “The Flyover State.” Our signature defining industry – the automobile business – is under attack from foreign competitors and ant-Detroit zealots masquerading as our fellow citizenry alike, to the degree that we can’t tell the difference anymore. Our mayor is a public and now national embarrassment, the city council makes an average episode of The Jerry Springer Show sound lucid, and to make matters worse, we’re in the throes of one of the worst winters in recent memory and our streets have become a maze of potholes the size of your average sofa that are tearing our wheels, tires and suspensions to shreds. Even our football team remains one of the perennial laughing stocks of the NFL. And now this from Forbes magazine: “Imagine living in a city with the country's highest rate for violent crime and the second-highest unemployment rate. As an added kicker you need more Superfund dollars allocated to your city to clean up contaminated toxic waste sites than just about any other metro. Unfortunately, this nightmare is a reality for the residents of Detroit. The Motor City grabs the top spot on Forbes' inaugural list of America's Most Miserable Cities.” Ouch. (2/13)

The King of Delusion speaks! Henrik Fisker, the CEO of Fisker Coachbuild LLC, responded to a pointed question asked by Mark Rechtin, of Automotive News at the NADA convention in San Francisco that got right to the heart of the matter when it comes to Fisker's now-you-see-it, now-you-don't plug-in electric car called the Karma that's allegedly due two years from now: Q. "How can you sell 15,000 units globally of an $80,000 car?" Fisker: "Look at the iPod. If there is no real competition, you can sell a lot of anything. There is no competition for the Karma." Well, alrighty then! And that was our AE Quote of the Week. (2/20)

Lido and Ronnie G., nailed. In his book, "The Turnaround Kid: What I learned Rescuing America's Most Troubled Companies," published by Harper Collins, Steve Miller, the Delphi CEO pulled no punches with his accurate, searing assessments of some of Detroit's biggest names whom he encountered along the way and throughout his career. Miller nailed Lee Iacocca for allowing success to go to his head, which turned"Lido" into an egomaniacal liability for Chrysler. And he dispatched the UAW front man, Ron Gettelfinger, with obvious glee. (2/27)

He’ll smoke those fools. In turning over a lot of the day-to-day operations of the company to newly-minted COO Fritz Henderson, GM's CEO is said to now be able to focus on "Big Picture" issues and other pressing matters facing the company. But in this analyst-driven environment/schmooze-fest that corporate America has become, that's what GM had to say. But thanks to us, here are the top ten things Rick Wagoner will really do now that he's free of monitoring the daily drudgery of GM's operations, taken from Rick's actual calendar: 10. The entire second half of March and first week of April is blocked-out for March Madness, except for... 9. Tiger opener on March 31st, I'm so there. 8. Kentucky Derby. Yes! 7. Pop in on GM dealership unannounced. 6. Wednesdays - movie matinee day! 5. Go to GM's offices in Washington D.C., put feet up, shoot the breeze. 4. Embed with Corvette Racing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 3. July, China. (rather than several trips, one long one!) 2. Reminder: Don't pop-in on GM dealership unannounced. And 1. Dancing with the Stars!  (2/27)

And we have the proverbial Yellow Frickin' Brick Road up here in Michigan and the Midwest, right, Takeo? Right. Speaking from Tokyo and doing his best Alfred E. Nueman, "What, Me Worry" impression, Takeo Fukai, the Honda Motor Co. CEO refused to acknowledge last week that there was a recession going on in the U.S. "It is true that in states like Florida and California, the numbers are going down. But if you look at the U.S. as a whole, I don't think we're seeing a recession. There are still good business opportunities. There is firm demand for automobiles." (3/5)

That’s why they call it Japan, Inc. In the March 24 issue of BusinessWeek, Jim Press, vice chairman and president of Chrysler LLC and a former board member at Toyota was quoted as saying, "The Japanese government paid for 100 percent of the development of the battery and hybrid system that went into the Toyota Prius." A Toyota spokesman issued a denial today saying: "I can say 100 percent that Toyota received absolutely no support - no money, no grants - from the Japanese government for the development of the Prius," Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said. Well, which is it? We told you Press can change his stripes at the drop of the hat, and now that he's "Captain America" in his new role at Chrysler it wouldn't be beyond him to exaggerate to make a point. The Japanese government's close links with its auto industry, however - particularly with Toyota - are well known, so we're choosing to believe Press on this one. It may not have been "100 percent," but it sure as hell wasn't a passive role either. (4/2)

Which "old virtues" were those exactly? The arrogance engineering overkill, or just the marketing incompetence? CEO Dieter Zetsche tells shareholders at the annual meeting of Daimler AG that "We have a clear strategy for sustainable profitable growth." Uh-oh. Didn't he say something similar right before he flew Chrysler into the ground? He also said, "Your Company has made substantial progress over the past two years. Old virtues have given us new strength." (4/9)

Next up? Day-Glo green exterior lights to warn other drivers when you have a latte in one hand and a cell phone in the other, while you're steering with your knees. Ford will put special "Blind-Spot Tracking Mirrors" that show blind spots in the outside upper corners in select Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models to start, eventually making them standard across most of its lineup. It also will offer an optional radar-based blind spot warning system similar to those marketed by other automakers, but with the ability to scan parking lot aisles and warn of oncoming vehicles as a driver backs out of a space. (4/9)

One question: If we could actually dream it, why would we even remotely want Chrysler to build it? Chrysler debuted "If you can dream it, we can build it" as their new touchy-feely, customer responsive advertising campaign last spring. (4/9)

Oh well, we still got a hell of a hockey team. After dealing with a corrupt, defiant and relentlessly embarrassing Mayor, the implosion of our hometown auto industry, year three of our "one-state" recession, the worst roads in the country and a perennial also-ran NFL team, we at least knew we could count on our Tigers. Except now they suck. (4/9)

Wait a minute, what was that again? Chrysler hired the former Nissan quality chief - Doug Betts - to perform his magic in Auburn Hills. Which means he left one job to do the same job for a different car company, only he's probably going to end up working for the original car company in his old job after all is said and done. (4/16)

Why don’t you just admit that you fucked up and be done with it? Stephen A. Feinberg, the "reclusive" founder of Cerberus Capital Management discovered the value of Public Relations a little too late, apparently, as he embarked on a very limited charm offensive for the first time in his life. In a frankly weird story in the New York Times reported by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Feinberg tried to portray himself as just a regular guy caught up in the maelstrom of shit that his company's involvement with Chrysler has caused. Not to mention his company's GMAC troubles. It didn't work. Feinberg's reluctance to understand the power of the media all of these years, on top of the fact that Cerberus is totally overwhelmed by the scope of its Chrysler misadventure, has proven to be disastrous for the company. And there's no amount of "spin" articles or a new, "enlightened" communications strategy that will undo the damage that has already been done to Cerberus as a brand, and a company. (4/16)

Too much power? Never. The SAE certification of the supercharged LS9 V-8 in the new Corvette ZR1 was complete, and the numbers are noteworthy, to say the least: 638 horsepower (476 kW) and 604 lb.-ft. of torque (819 Nm), for a power output of nearly 103 horses per liter, or just about 1.7 horses for each of the engine’s 376 cubic inches. The monster motor enables the Corvette ZR1 to achieve a top speed of more than 200 mph (322 km/h). The LS9 engine is hand-built by specially trained technicians at GM’s Performance Build Center in Wixom, Mich, the unique, small-volume engine production facility that also builds the Chevrolet Corvette Z06’s LS7 engine and other high-performance GM production engines. (4/23)

What’s the German translation for “Fuck You Money” again? Automotive News reported that Wendelin Wideking, the Porsche CEO (aka Piech's "boy"), was the auto industry's highest paid executive, earning close to $100 million in 2007. (4/23)

Priceless. The Onion struck again with a hilarious article about a new NHTSA program to address rising pedestrian deaths in the U.S. called the 'Get the Fuck Outta The Road' program. The Onion says, "Included in the pamphlets are tips on how every responsible pedestrian can learn to 'Get The Fuck Outta The Road,' including 'Move your ass!' and 'Look where you're fucking going for once!' as well as an instructive diagram for removing one's head from one's ass prior to stepping into the crosswalk." (4/30)

It’s still Krusty’s Show. The news that Tracinda was buying into Ford had barely been out for a couple of days before Jerry York started telling Alan Mulally what he would do, which would be to sell Volvo and Mercury. The thing you all have to remember about this Kerkorian-York thing is that while Kerkorian lives for "the game," York lives for the adulation. York is frustrated by the fact that he was never considered to be an Automotive Titan, and he views this as a major slight. So with Kirk's bottomless pockets he gets a forum to grace us all with his views and everyone has to listen to his bullshit until Kirk grows weary of the whole thing and decides to move on. But the fact of the matter is that Jerry will always play Sideshow Bob to Kirk's Krusty the Clown. And that's never going to change. (5/7)

Harley gets it. Publisher's Note: It's rare when a company not only understands its brand, but knows when it is in desperate need of shoring it up and reaffirming its reason for being. Harley-Davidson, which is facing the big cool down in sales after years of explosive growth, is just such a company. In a print ad that ran Thursday (May 1) in USA Today, Harley let it all hang out with the following copy, which gets at the very essence of what makes the brand unique and special: "We don't do fear. Over the last 105 years in the saddle, we've seen wars, conflicts, depression, recession, resistance, and revolutions. We've watched a thousand hand-wringing pundits disappear in our rear-view mirror. But every time, this country has come out stronger than before. Because chrome and asphalt put distance between you and whatever the world can throw at you. Freedom and wind outlast hard times. And the rumble of an engine drowns out all the spin on the evening news. If 105 years have proved one thing, it's that fear sucks and it doesn't last long. So screw it, let's ride." If you want to read more, go to . Congratulations to all involved at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, and here's to Mark-Hans Richer, for making it happen. – PMD (5/7)

Green This. A $4.3 million verdict originally rendered against Toyota in 2005 for infringing patents in order to bring its Hybrid Synergy Drive system to market was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The original ruling came from a federal trial jury in Texas, which found that Toyota had used a microprocessor design that accepts torque information from both an external electric motor and internal combustion engine patented by Paice LLC, a McLean, Va., company, for its Prius. Toyota may have to pay Paice royalties for any future hybrid vehicles produced. It's ironic that Toyota had to crib a U.S. company's technical expertise to become America's Jolly Green Car Company, isn't it? (5/14)

Hydrox lives! The alternative Oreo cookie came back for a limited national run in August after consumers complained to Kellogg's when it disappeared from shelves. Hydrox actually preceded Oreo cookies to market by four years, debuting in 1908 and produced by the Sunshine Biscuit Co. Oreos were produced by the National Biscuit Co. Hydrox was always considered the alternative "cult" favorite despite its unappealing name. Not surprisingly, it was The UjianNasional's favorite.(5/28)

Never mind. The gang over in Auburn Hills touted the fact that its Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids would be almost $8,000 less than GM's large SUV hybrids (the two-mode hybrid system was jointly developed by GM, Chrysler and BMW, with GM taking the lead role). The only problem is that the whole "large SUV hybrid" thing seems to be a non-starter for American consumers. (Chrysler would pull the plug on the program less than three months later.) (6/18)

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, Part I. Automotive News uncovered an internal document that suggested that Volkswagen AG had no intention of choosing the state of Michigan for its proposed new U.S. assembly plant, even though the company insisted right up until the previous week that the state was still in the running. The document obtained by AN clearly shows the German automaker had favored a Southeastern U.S. location all along. As AN reported, in its request for bid proposals to design and construction management companies, VW describes the project as a "greenfield facility with the capability of press, body, painting and assembly operations. For pricing purposes, assume the location is in the Southeast USA," the document says. The document was dated April 23, the day VW released a statement suggesting that it had narrowed its list of states to Michigan, Alabama and Tennessee. D'oh! Is it really any wonder why VW has no credibility in this country - and we mean z-e-r-o - when it comes to their public policy efforts, or just about anything else for that matter? Pathetic. (7/2)

You can go back to sleep now, John. John Warner, the Republican Senator from Virginia, took advantage of the slow news summer doldrums by coming out in favor of restoring a reduced national speed limit, first tried in the 70s. Great, we're all miserable, and now you want to prolong the misery by making us go s-l-o-w too? (7/9)

No, really, you're kidding, we thought it was EZURC spelled backwards! General Motors is calling its new compact car for Chevrolet the Cruze, the automaker confirmed late Wednesday. GM will unveil the production version of the Cruze at the Paris auto show this fall. "The name is a derivative of the word cruise," says Nancy Libby, a GM spokeswoman. (7/9)

Not Good. Lost in the mad media frenzy over GM's "contraction" news was the fact that the company was still trying to justify the existence of all of its divisions (except Hummer) in a market reality that could care less. What has changed? More great new products in the pipeline is fine - and wow, 2010 better be a hell of a year for GM the way they're talking - but don't be surprised when there's another press conference six months from now with GM finally announcing that they can't keep all of its divisional balls in the air and they're finally being forced to address the issue once and for all. (7/16)

We liked it. Publisher’s Note: The Mustang Bullitt represents authenticity without the pretense, and high-performance without the apologies - and without the technological overkill too. Devoid of superfluous add-ons, the Bullitt has an honesty about it that's so welcome and refreshing in these daunting times that it's a revelation. That it's flat-out fun to drive is icing on the cake. The 2008 Mustang Bullitt is everything a high-performance car should be, and if this is truly the end of the last great piston-powered high-performance era, then the Mustang Bullitt will be a car to hold on to and treasure for decades to come. – PMD (8/6)

We liked it, Part II. Publisher's Note: The hue and cry and hand-wringing on the Internet was premature, misplaced and unnecessary, because the design of the Volt is visually pleasing, purposeful and competently executed. I found it to be quite handsome, as a matter of fact; especially in the shape of its aero front end (the overhead view of the Volt also gives a real feel for the overall integrity of the design). And I was frankly relieved, because I thought the original design concept left a lot to be desired to begin with. But the best part by far of the new Volt is its decidedly forward reaching interior. The textures, colors, shapes and the detailing are all superbly executed, and beyond the obvious appeal of 40 miles on a single charge, the interior of the new Volt will do as much to sell this car as anything. In summary, the Volt is another outstanding effort from General Motors Design, and another example of why this tremendously talented group has once again returned GM to prominence at the top of the automotive design world, restoring the vaunted legacy of Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell to its proper luster. Congratulations to Ed Welburn and his entire team for yet another tremendous effort. – PMD (9/17)

How green is your valley? From the "You Probably Didn't Know That" File, the Ford Motor Company maintains nearly 200 acres of sunflower fields, prairies and grow zones around its world headquarters, research and engineering campus in an effort to conserve natural resources, create wildlife habitat and lower grounds maintenance costs. Ford planted 100 acres of corn and sunflowers this year on several large fields near its world headquarters. By replacing what would otherwise be traditional turf grass, the company saves approximately 30 percent on the cost of labor, gas and fertilizer, while creating an attractive habitat. (9/24)

Actually, the sky is falling. September auto sales were the worst in a decade. Not Good didn't even begin to describe it, as a matter of fact. We'd gone from bad, to worse, to grim, to inconsolable around these parts. But the fight continued, against ever mounting odds... (10/1)

Ouch, Baby - but truer words were never written. Nancy Pelosi, The Speaker of the House (aka "The Shrew") distinguished herself yet again as the grandstanding, belligerent politician she truly is. It's never about what's good for the country with Pelosi, it's only about the custom built tunnel she peers through every day. Out of touch, out of time and petty to a fault, she now can be considered the leading candidate for the Worst Speaker in History. The Wall Street Journal nailed it when they dubbed her as "Tom Delay - minus the charm" in an editorial. (10/1)

The dreaded Delusional German Car Executive Disease strikes again. The DGCED is trickling down from VW Group's megalomaniacal Ferdinand Piech (aka "The Colonel") to his underlings. Stefan Jacoby, the president of VW in the U.S., is making noises yet again about how VW is going to have it goin' on here and that "it won't be long now!" before VW is a big-time player again. We see a few problems with Mr. Jacoby's optimism. 1. No matter how special VW execs say their future product lineup will be in the U.S. they invariably deliver vehicles to this market that are overpriced, no matter what the segment. 2. Once they do deliver these new "world beater" products here, which inevitably fail to inspire U.S. consumers (see Point No. 1), they then spend the rest of the model year making excuses to the media, back-pedaling from their sales projections and even blaming the "weird" American consumer for not understanding the superior goodness of their products. And 3. After sorting out the latest mess that they've created for themselves in the U.S. market, they start the whole process over again by sounding off to the media that "it won't be long now!" before they have it goin' on again. Just once we would like to hear the leader of VW in America give a realistic assessment to the media, and it would sound something like this: "We have been a niche player in this country for years, and our woeful cost structure and relentless product feature overkill - not to mention our unbridled arrogance - have cost us dearly at every turn. Instead of getting up here and saying how good we're going to be and how competitive our new stuff is gonna be, we're going to shut up, pick and choose our battles - and segments - carefully, and we hope to deliver noteworthy products in whichever segment we feel we can be competitive. Please let us know when you feel we've done that. Over and out." (10/8)

It sucked, frankly. The four-seat Mini Crossover Concept at the Paris Auto Show, how shall we put it - sucked. Memo to High-Flying Mini Executives: Stop reading your press clippings and get a grip. Everything you come up with is not brilliant and/or great. Shut the lights off on the room where that Mini Crossover Concept came from, turn, and then walk slowly away. Please. (10/8)

Make it a $100. Right about now we're quite sure you're reading a report from the Paris Auto Show on some fan-boy auto website that positively gushes about how sensational the four-door Lamborghini Estoque is. Don't be fooled. The Estoque is this year's hands-down winner of AE's Answer to the Question that Absolutely No One Was Asking. The thing is an absolute abomination from every angle. Just remember one thing, while you're trying to rationalize that "for a four-door Lamborghini, the Estoque doesn't look half-bad," repeat the words four-door Lamborghini to yourself, and hopefully, you'll come to your senses. If that doesn't work, pay the high school kid next door $50 bucks to hit you across the forehead with a 2x4, because your sorry ass deserves it. (10/8)

And guess what? It worked. Magnifique! The Parisians put on a great auto show. Beautifully art directed displays - especially by Citroen, Peugeot, Fiat, Renault, Alfa Romeo and Nissan - and an overall feeling of taste and sensibility that just can't be found in the U.S. And it's about those high-fashion babes. No dour, politically correct, "product specialists" in Paris. Non. Instead, there were sensational beauties everywhere, especially at the Citroen, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Nissan, Ferrari and Maserati displays. And their only role was to look good standing next to a car. What a concept. (10/8)

You remember Tesla, right? The chip-head geniuses who were going to teach Detroit a thing or three about making cars and the car business? Oops. Looks like all is not shiny and happy for the Tesla gang. Automotive News reported late today that a story in the San Jose Mercury News has Tesla running low on cash and that as many as half of its 200 workers would be laid off. For the record less than 50 of the $109,000 Tesla Roadsters have been delivered. Tesla chief investor Elon Musk is replacing Ze'ev Drori as CEO, while Drori will become vice chairman, according to the Mercury News. Gee, that will make a huge difference. Not. Musk also said Tesla would delay its next model and close its suburban Detroit operations (the operations they had to set-up when they realized they didn't have a frickin' clue as to what they were doing). Musk had this to say on the company's website: "Our goal as a company is to be cash-flow positive within six to nine months. To do so, we must continue to ramp up our production rate, improve Roadster contribution margin and reduce operating expenses. At the same time, we must maintain high production quality and excellent customer service." Hmm, sounds like car making 101 too us. Too bad you guys thought you could shortcut your way to success. And too bad you had to lead your employees down the primrose path of promises that you didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of keeping. Fucking brilliant. (10/15)

As a matter of fact, pathetic is the word that most comes to mind. Publisher's Note: The Wall Street Journal weighed-in today (10/25) with Paul Ingrassia's view of how it all went wrong for Detroit with his piece entitled, "How Detroit Drove Into a Ditch." Besides the fact that the story is filled with questionable "tipping points" from throughout Detroit's history - he once was the WSJ's Detroit bureau chief - which caused the Detroit Three to fail, he seems strangely out of touch with the reality of what the Detroit auto manufacturers are about today, especially in terms of product. The evidence? He claims that, "These days, Detroit's styling advantage has largely disappeared, and excitement over new designs is reserved for iPhones." Huh? That single comment is simply laughable and tainted the credibility of the rest of the article (which was dubious to begin with, but I digress). One thing that even the most relentless critics of Detroit have agreed upon of late is that automotive design in the Motor City has undergone a genuine renaissance, and GM in particular has lead the way with a wide array of visually exciting designs that have rejuvenated the craft itself. Ingrassia has clearly been out of touch with the car biz for too long, so he has somewhat of an excuse. That the WSJ views him as one of their Detroit "experts" says it all about the kind of coverage we've been seeing from that paper of late, however. Uncharacteristically speculative, flat-out wrong (they've had to retract parts of their coverage of the GM-Chrysler deal) and tediously written, The Wall Street Journal continues to miss the mark when it comes to its auto industry coverage, and by a wide margin too. – PMD (10/22)

Oh Please Just Shut Up. Jurgen Schrempp, the former CEO of Daimler AG, is still carrying the torch for his failed "Merger of Equals" with the former Chrysler Corp., apparently. Schrempp defended the disastrous coupling with Chrysler as "vital" for Daimler-Benz during testimony in a German state court. You remember that, right? At the time of the "decoupling" Daimler's $34 billion - what it originally paid for Chrysler - was gone with the wind in just eight years. That one of the world's foremost delusional thinkers is still touting his remarkably warped view of the events that transpired under his watch is no real surprise, given the millions that Schrempp absconded with upon his exit from the company. But it still doesn't change the fact that Schrempp's relentless bungling during his reign over the Daimler empire established him as the worst auto executive - and one of the worst corporate executives in any sector - of the last 50 years. (10/22)

As if we needed any more bad news. David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. had this to say to Bill Vlasic of the New York Times: "It's reaching a point where we'll have to decide if we're willing to let the U.S. auto industry fail. It depends on the urgency that the government feels to save these companies." (10/22)

The High-Octane Truth. Ron Tonkin, noted mega auto dealer in the northwest U.S. (of his 18 stores only two are domestic) sent a letter to the CEOs of the Detroit Three urging them to ask President Bush to offer an immediate $2500 tax credit to people who buy a vehicle from the Detroit automakers, according to Automotive News. He also copied the heads of Toyota and Honda. Of course Toyota's Jim Lentz didn't like it - this business of favoring the Detroit Three over the other automakers - calling it "...a path to protectionism and none want to relive those days. Let's stay away from creating additional class warfare in the open market." Huh? To his credit, Tonkin double-barreled him: "If Detroit 'closes down,' then thousands are out of work and no one will buy Toyotas or anything else. " (10/29)

Thanks, Tom. The chief of all things Corvette since 2006 retired on November 1st. Corvette ran flat-out under Wallace's expert tutelage, and the sensational ZR1 - the finest car ever made by General Motors in its entire 100 year history - will remain a fitting tribute to Wallace's memorable reign. (10/29)

Getting 'bucked up. It's the new term around here being used by white-collar refugees (WCRs) from the auto companies who are stumbling around in a daze after losing their jobs. No, there are no bread lines, but the idea of spending money on lunch has become a luxury best left behind, so instead you can see these WCRs loading up on decadent venti coffee drinks at Starbucks in the early morning, figuring the extra calories will last them through the day. (10/29)

We're talking about survival here, not good times. Pundits are weighing-in that the Obama win means good things for the Detroit 3 and the UAW. Maybe, but maybe not too. Will there be money forthcoming? Yes. Will it automatically mean good times again for Detroit and the UAW? No. (11/5)

From the "You Just Can't Make This Shit Up" File. Susanne Klatten, a 46-year-old married mother-of-three and Germany's wealthiest woman - and allegedly one of its most discreet - has gone public with an account of how a lover filmed their hotel trysts and demanded millions of Euros not to reveal them. This from the German mass circulation daily Bild as relayed by Automotive News. Munich state prosecutors confirmed yesterday that they were pursuing a case against a man accused of blackmail by Klatten, a member of the secretive Quandt family, the leading shareholders in car-maker BMW. Klatten met the 43-year-old Swiss at a hotel bar. In her account, he had described himself as a multilingual special envoy for war zones, although in reality he sold chicken at a fast-food stand. The hotel encounters were later secretly filmed by an accomplice and used in an attempt to extort 40 million Euros ($51 million) from Klatten, Bild said. Ouch, Baby. (11/5)

From the "Assholes Be Us" File. The New York Times blowhard Thomas Friedman was at it again with a piece that blamed Detroit for the cumulative ills of the western world - his pat stump speech over the last three years - and even went out of his way to agree with that other font of wildly misguided information concerning all things automotive, Paul Ingrassia, from the Wall Street Journal. Wow. Together these two guys couldn't even run a 7-11, let alone come up with a cohesive plan to run a major industrial concern like a car company, so the fact that we have to be subjected to their simplistic view of how to fix Detroit is beyond torturous. It borders on the criminal as a matter of fact. Friedman tops it all off by suggesting that Steve Jobs be given free rein to "fix" General Motors. Yikes. (11/12)

Oh, the horror. Looking at the New York Times' plummeting financial fortunes of late, we can only hope that the days of that newspaper are truly numbered. But then we'd probably have to endure endless columns by Tom-Tom Friedman about why the paper needs a bailout from Washington. (11/12)

Cease and desist, please. Lost in the din of bailout loans and imminent bankruptcies, Cerberus is escaping the level of ire from the mainstream media that it so richly deserves. These glorified carpetbaggers have made things worse with their obstinate stewardship of GMAC and the devastating effect it has had on GM's ability to do business. At this point it would be in everyone's best interest if these guys were summarily drummed out of the auto biz and Chrysler's assets were distributed to people who actually know what the fuck they're doing. (11/12)

Something to look forward to. Not. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat is seeking to replace John Dingell (he did), the Democrat from Michigan, as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which would be an absolute disaster for the domestic auto industry. Imagine this scenario: Detroit gets a cash infusion from the government only to die anyway in a few years after Waxman and his horde of environmental whack-jobs regulate the auto industry into oblivion. (11/12)

Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R - MI). We don't need to add anything to Mr. McCotter's words. His was the one voice, make that the only voice of reason in Washington this week - (11/19)

They don't call him Dick for nothin'. Richard Shelby, the stumblebum Senator from Alabama could barely contain his glee at the sight of the CEOs of the Detroit Three sitting before him asking for bridge loans. His mind was as closed as the incentive-laced back room deals that he helped grease in order for Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Toyota to build plants in his home state. It's not a national problem, he insists, even though Toyota and Honda are both extremely fearful that if one of the Detroit Three goes down, it will take their shared suppliers down with them. Shelby is a clueless, self-serving buffoon who displayed his true colors for all of America to see on Tuesday. Nicely done. (11/19)

Boneheads Be Us. The opening remarks by the Senators from the U.S. Senate Banking Committee bristled with enough half-truths, un-truths and flat-out inaccuracies to fill up the airwaves for a month. What, did they send their staffers home early for the break, or is that just the standard operating procedure and level of interest that they bring to work each day in the Senate? Yikes. (11/19)

Hello, New Jersey, you actually voted for this guy? Wow. It's hard to make Dick Shelby look august, but Bob Menendez, the Senator from New Jersey, was a tightly wound, boiling cauldron of mediocrity from the time he first opened his mouth. (11/19)

From the Self-Promoting Hack File. The fact that Peter Morici was allowed to testify before the Senate committee on Tuesday was unconscionable and a measure of the "setup" that was in place before the hearings ever took place. Morici is consistently more interested in promoting his brand than he is in presenting useful information, and his command of the facts in the case of the crisis in the domestic automobile industry left much to be desired, needless to say. Why this abject embarrassment was allowed to impart his "wisdom" at the hearings is beyond us. Pathetic. (11/19)

"Hi, I'm Neal, Fly Me!" Continuing the Wall Street Journal's relentless jihad against Detroit and the Detroit-based automakers, Neal Boudette weighed-in with an item on on Tuesday afternoon (11/18) that takes Detroit's top executives to task for flying to the hearings in Washington D.C. on their company jets, instead of flying commercial. Boudette said, "There are good reasons for flying the company plane to Washington – it’s corporate policy, ensures their security, saves executive time, which is a legitimate and limited resource. Still, taking the corporate jet costs thousands of dollars more than flying commercial and that may not help the auto makers’ already controversial request." Then Boudette adds, "Now GM’s Rick Wagoner will try to make the case he’s doing everything it can to stave off disaster. It may have helped if he were able to add: 'And the sacrifices are starting with me. I've cut my pay and in fact I took a Northwest flight to get here today to save the expense of using the corporate jet.' " I'm sure UjianNasional readers would love to know that this is the same Neal Boudette who has availed himself access to flights on many of these automakers' corporate planes himself, so it's more than a little puzzling that he would choose to slam the top executives of the Detroit car companies on this issue, don't you think? The Wall Street Journal's coverage of the crisis in the American auto industry has been reprehensibly flawed and blatantly biased from the beginning, a classic example of how piss-poor hacks masquerading as front-line journalists can screw-up a story on a grand scale. Boudette closed his little post with the following: "When these three executives turned to politicians for money, the political implications of their travels and salaries became relevant." To that we say when a publication with the reputed reputation of the Wall Street Journal allows this kind of crap to go out under the guise of "responsible journalism," then that publication becomes fair game for the kind of brutal attacks that are sure to ensue. (11/19)

Huh? Autoweek is going to every other week in January with a newly-designed format. Wait a minute, the one product differentiator between Autoweek and the car monthlies in this Internet Age is the fact that it came out every week. When that (relatively speaking) immediacy goes away, then what? Or better yet, why? (11/19)

From the Fools and their Money File. Publisher's Note: From the "Just Another Car Company" File comes word that the Porsche Panamera has now been officially unwrapped, and the result isn't pretty. As a matter of fact the photos reveal the most egregious design "statement" to come along in oh, the last 25 years at least. Boasting all the elegance of a stretched AMC Pacer, the Porsche Panamera is hideous from every angle, despite the best efforts of Porsche to conceal the obvious in the press photos. Did anyone expect anything less? We all knew that the early design sketch they teased us with bore little resemblance to the actual car, especially when the early prototypes were caught running around in the obligatory spy shots. It can't really be that bad we all thought to ourselves. Oh, but it is. And then some. I've been down this road about Porsche many, many times before on this website. Once they sold their soul to the SUV Devil in the guise of the Cayenne, there was simply no turning back. Porsche's "Four, uncompromised" marketing schtick doesn't fool anyone, either. The Panamera is a butt-ugly four-door sedan designed to lighten the wallets of fools with too much money and too little common sense. What a joke. – PMD (11/26)

The AE Quote of the Year. Daniel Alpert, the managing director of Westwood Capital, an investment bank in New York, told CNN, on the subject of so many companies lining up for assistance in the U.S. right now: "Washington is Oz right now. Everybody is marching in asking for a heart, a brain or a lot of cash. What Congress told the Big Three is to go back and bring them the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West." (11/26)

Is this the final "Plan" or is this just another transition step on the way to GM consisting of Cadillac and Chevrolet? Saab will be sold, Pontiac will be marginalized and become a niche brand, Hummer is already on the chopping block, and all options are on the table for Saturn. GM COO Fritz Henderson, when asked what the future holds for Saturn, told the media yesterday that the brand "is just not successful." Oops. The only problem is the time frame GM is talking about. The company says it will have one-third fewer dealers by 2012 and will focus on its core brands of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC by then. (12/3)

Pontiac. Publisher's Note: Could GM's "Plan" of reducing Pontiac to a specialty niche vehicle be the nameplate's salvation? If the brand doesn't have to fulfill some warped notion of being all things to all people - something it has been saddled with for too many years - why couldn't Pontiac stand for high-performance RWD and AWD cars only? A Firebird Trans-Am, a GTO and a big Bonneville sedan would do nicely., but it's an interesting thought... – PMD (12/3)

GMATS. Publisher's Note: GM announced yesterday that it would cease operations of its General Motors Air Transportation Services (GMATS) at Detroit Metro Airport due to significant cutbacks in GM travel volume over the last few months, ending one of the longest running dedicated corporate aircraft operations in the country. GM is exploring options for transferring its aircraft to another operator, and looking into the sale of four aircraft so it can terminate the leases. GM will shutter the facility effective January 1, 2009. The GMATS started out by flying propeller-driven Lockheed Loadstars and Douglas DC3s in the 50s, and from there progressed through turbo-prop Convairs and on to the jet age. The logo used for the GMATS originated on GM's famed Turbine-powered Firebird concept cars - seen on the tail of the Firebird III below - but was eventually phased out from use on its jets in favor of a more contemporary paint scheme. The logo is still prominently displayed on its aviation facility at Detroit's Metro Airport, however. The end of an era. – PMD (12/3)

(Photo courtesy of GM)

No Gutz, No Glory. The one person glaringly missing from the Detroit flogging in Washington? Bob Lutz. It was a calculated move on GM PR's part to keep Detroit's resident lightning rod from being pilloried by the Senators and Representatives for his past anti-green statements. In hindsight, it was a bad move. A double-shot of Lutzian wisdom and acerbic rejoinders is exactly what the boneheads in Washington deserved. A. The sound bites would have been immeasurably better, and B. The American people would have at least seen that Detroit has a pulse. (12/10)

Don't hold your breath, E. Tesla, the green car company with its feet planted firmly in the blue sky is asking the U.S. government for a $350 million loan to help it develop a four-door sedan or else its introduction will be delayed, this according to its CEO Elon Musk. (12/10)

Nicely done, Mitch. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader (R-KY) captures AE's Mr. Transparency Award this week (No, Senator "Dick" Shelby, R-AL didn't retire the award as was originally rumored), with his blatant anti-Detroit tirade against the loan package on the table in Washington, saying the industry deserved its fate because of "decades of complicity between management and labor." Hey, Mitch, was this before or after you received your latest "thank you" from Toyota? (12/10)

(Digital Art by Casey Shain)

The 600cc Ford GT-Kei, another piece of whimsical automotive art from our friend Casey Shaine - otherwise known as "artandcolour" - in Madison, CT.

(Digital Art by Casey Shain)

This time, Casey Shain has envisioned a Lincoln Continental Coupe with modern day tweaks. Casey started with an early 60s Lincoln sedan, but instead of just changing it to a 2-door he changed every panel, "giving it more 'Mark-like' proportions than the sedan," he said. Then he executed the design of the hubcaps and wide whites as if they were on 20" wheels. Good stuff.