The best car configurator ever! Genesis’ new virtual showroom looks 3D-realistic.

The way consumers buy cars is changing, and Genesis has not only noticed, but is ready to evolve, too.

The auto giant is putting to work new tools to entice modern customers into digitally exploring its product offering.

A new web-based 3D showroom – currently live only in the U.S., with a Canadian equivalent not yet planned – gives users a close-up look at the Genesis line-up, allowing them to circumnavigate the vehicle; open doors to look inside; explore elements like the headlights, dashboard, sunroof and more. Read More

How It Works: Vehicle development

When you buy a new vehicle, you’re paying for the direct costs of its construction: The steel, the rubber, the labour. But you’re also paying for its development — and it’s a long, complicated, and expensive journey from first sketches to the showroom floor.

While designing and building the car is time-consuming and pricey enough, there are numerous other factors — setting up assembly lines, contracting suppliers, and advertising — that all add to the cost and complexity. Once an automaker has done its market research and determined what type of vehicle it’s going to build, the process begins. Read More

Ride on-board as the Bugatti Chiron hits a 420 km/h top speed

Well, this is awkward…

Recently, Bugatti CEO Stephen Winkelmann spoke to Motor Trend, explaining a top speed run of the Bugatti Chiron was “not a priority” for the Alsace-based company.

‘Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds’ has since posted an on-board video of the Bugatti Chiron…being taken to its top speed.

Vicious nest of vipers though it most definitely is, the internet certainly does show it has a sense of humour from time to time. Read More

The 2019 Genesis G70 is Motor Trend’s Car of the Year

 Motor Trend has named the 2019 Genesis G90 its car of the year, beating out the BMW 3 Series and countless other sport sedan offerings from Germany.
Noted standout features that secured the car’s win for the magazine included Genesis’ balancing comfort and handling while keeping the car excellent to drive.

Value earned them marks, too, with loads of features included despite the sensible price point.

The engines are smooth and the power delivery is good, Motor Trend wrote, and the G70 can also be equipped with an increasingly rare option: a manual transmission.

Was there ever a chance Genesis could fail? The entire design team is made up of heavyweights that once worked for the companies the brand is trying to upset, and they’re collectively run by former Lamborghini brand manager Manfred Fitzgerald.

The G70 shares a platform with the also-fantastic Kia Stinger, which won over the hearts of almost every automotive journalist last year. The only thing that stopped the Stinger from being MT‘s Car of the Year is the bland interior and not-so-sporty suspension.

All in all, the G70 is still a car that very much borrows the best design elements from its German Big Three rivals, and so it will be interesting to see what Genesis can do in the coming years to truly make itself into unique brand—one not so often compared to its competition.

Ford wants conveyor belts in its super-big SUVs to move groceries to the front

Ford has filed a patent for what can only be described as a conveyor belt for the rear cargo section of its three-row SUVs, to aid in storage and removal of items.
Companies patent goofy things all the time, like airbags for pedestrians and baby-NSXs, but this seems like something that could actually happen if done properly, and that could actually be helpful.

Most three-row SUVs these days are massive, and to get something in and out of the damn things usually requires two or three trips back and forth from car to house, so it would make a lot of sense to actually improve one aspect of the whole thing.

The system seems to be aimed at groceries, but we can think of a few situations where it would be more helpful.

Imagine you have a dog that doesn’t want to get out of the car to go to the vet: well, you can just run the conveyor belts and it’ll slide him right out. Unless he uses it as a treadmill, in which case you won’t need to take him for a walk that day. Bonus!

Maybe this would also be great if you deliver papers and don’t want to get out of the car: just load the papers in the back, and conveyor them up to you in the driver’s seat to throw at houses. Excellent!

In seriousness, older buyers or one with disabilities might be able to make practical use of a system that helps better manage cargo-loading.

Whether or not Ford actually implements this technology into an upcoming vehicle remains to be seen, but it isn’t the most farfetched idea, and might even be a wonderful selling feature.

Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake Ready for Its Closeup

Last year, Aston Martin revealed that its Zagato line would receive a shooting brake variant of the Vanquish, issuing a teaser photo of the model in red. Then the company went silent, leaving many wondering what happened. Apparently there was no reason to worry, as Aston Martin just released a pretty robust series of images highlighting the vehicle’s bold styling.

With this much fanfare, it must be getting close to launch.

The vehicle, which uses the old Vanquish S platform, makes use of a naturally-aspirated, 5.9-liter V12 and comes with a handful of mechanical upgrades to the steering and suspension. Like the Vanquish Zagato and Vanquish Volante Zagato, the Shooting Brake will be limited to just 99 units. And, if the previous Zagato-designed models are anything to go by, it should be ludicrously expensive.

Visually, the Shooting Brake leans on the classic Aston design but incorporates numerous less-traditional elements. There’s a lot of two-tone paint, including a tapered roof that’s split right down the middle to let in some extra sunlight, and podded taillights that feel a little off-brand for Aston but right on the money for Zagato.

The interior is also receives a bit of the old Zagato flair, with little Zs embroidered all over the seat leather. But the real star is the carbon fiber adorned luggage compartment just behind those seats. While not cavernous, the space should be sufficient for housing whatever items two people might need on an extended road trip or journey to the shops.

Aston Martin still hasn’t said when the Shooting Brake will make its official debut, let alone when production and customer deliveries might start. However, we would assume this most-recent batch of photos are indicative of the wait being nearly over.

[Images: Aston Martin]

White House Seeks To End EV Federal Tax Credit

Can’t say we’re surprised by this.

After last week’s announcement by General Motors that they would be closing 5 plants and discontinuing some of their cars including the Chevy Volt, President Trump went to Twitter to respond to the news. His response was both expected, but also a little puzzling, as his message didn’t appear to really make sense.

President Trump’s Tweet:
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Ford could cut 25,000 jobs in corporate overhaul: analyst

Ford Motor’s US$11-billion restructuring could cost 25,000 employees their jobs, exceeding the cutbacks General Motors announced last week, according to analysts at investment bank Morgan Stanley.
Ford has yet to detail its job cuts, but Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas predicts they could be larger than GM’s in a note to investors.

“We estimate a large portion of Ford’s restructuring actions will be focused on Ford Europe, a business we currently value at negative [US]$7 billion,” Jonas wrote.

“But we also expect a significant restructuring effort in North America, involving significant numbers of both salaried and hourly UAW and CAW workers.”

Ford’s 70,000 salaried employees have been told they face unspecified job losses by the middle of next year as the automaker works through an “organizational redesign” aimed at creating a white-collar workforce “designed for speed,” according to Karen Hampton, a spokeswoman.

“These actions will come largely outside of North America,” Hampton said of Ford’s restructuring. “All of this work is ongoing and publishing a job-reduction figure at this point would be pure speculation.”

Ford also is cutting shifts at two U.S. factories in the spring and transferring workers to plants building big SUVs and transmissions for pickups in moves that the automaker said will not result in job reductions.

Jonas said other automakers will be forced to follow GM’s and Ford’s actions as the industry transforms, first to abandon factories building slow-selling sedans and ultimately to retool to build electric and self-driving vehicles.

“We believe existential business model risk will be prioritized over near-term profits and cash return,” Jonas wrote. “We still do not believe investor expectations have fully considered the near-term earnings risk.”

Trade War Watch: Trump Says China Will Remove Car Tariffs, China Claims Nothing

Last night President Donald Trump tweeted that China had agreed to reduce tariffs. While The People’s Republic already lowered tariffs over the summer, it chose to cut the United States out of that deal as trade relations worsened. In fact, America found itself subject to an increased, 40-percent fine on imported autos while the rest of the world saw their tariffs eased. But the president seems optimistic.

“My meeting in Argentina with President Xi of China was an extraordinary one,” Trump explained in a follow-up post. “Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward! Very good things will happen. We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed. Level the field!”

Meanwhile, China remains silent on the matter.

The stock market, on the other hand, is making noise. The announcement appears to have helped the share price of numerous automakers. General Motors and Daimler shares rose by more than 4 percent in premarket trading while Ford and Tesla increased by about 3 percent apiece. German manufacturers fared even better.

However, the important question here is whether China actually plans to reduce tariffs. Diplomats from the country have been silent, asking that all questions on the issue be forwarded to the Commerce Ministry. But that body is unlikely to say anything until later this week, when it holds its weekly news conference. This isn’t abnormal for China, as most public communications are gone over with a fine-toothed comb prior to release. The nation is extremely careful of what it says to the public (and vice versa).

There’s a chance that China is weighing its options. While it could certainly renege on whatever promise was made to the president, making him look ineffectual, it might not be a good idea to further worsen trade relations — especially with so little to gain.

Most American-branded vehicles sold in China are already built there via joint ventures with Asian firms. Only a small fraction are actually imported directly from the United States. China may feel it has less to lose by opening up the market at this juncture. However, that wouldn’t make the decision meaningful for automakers.  “If they cancel the extra 25 percent tariff on U.S.-made cars, then we will see positive signs for imported cars,” Wang Cun, director of the China Automobile Dealers Association’s import committee, told reporters.

According to Reuters, the agreement went down following an extended dinner with Xi Jinping on Saturday in Buenos Aires. Trump agreed to postpone an increase in the tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent that was scheduled for January. 1st. In exchange, China agreed to resume purchases of some U.S. farm and energy commodities.

While promising, that doesn’t exactly guarantee anything specifically relating to cars and still involves a 90-day period where the two countries discuss China’s policies on technology transfers, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and theft, services and agriculture. We expect China to make an announcement by Thursday.

One-two Punch: Rivian Debuts Seven-seat Electric SUV, Promises 410 Miles of Range

Having just unveiled a rather impressive all-electric pickup for the LA Auto Show, Michigan-based automotive startup Rivian is following up with another model. Rivian’s second vehicle will be a seven-passenger SUV, called the R1S, that uses the same platform as the R1T e-pickup.

That results in the pair playing host to nearly identical specs. This isn’t a problem, as the automaker vows to provide between 300 and 562 kW (402 and 753 hp) in combined output. Range is similarly good. The company is also promising figures that would make most other electric vehicles of this size blush, especially if you opt for the bigger battery.

As with the pickup, the R1S can be had with a 105 kWh pack capable of about 240 miles of range, a 135 kWh version good for around 310 miles, and a 180 kWh unit rocking 410 miles. Those range estimates are slightly better than those cited for the pickup; they’ll surely fluctuate a bit when traveling with a full load in either vehicle.

Visually, the R1S resembles an EV concept from Land Rover with a dash of Ford Flex for taste. Interesting, considering it looks identical to the pickup from the front. But we didn’t really notice the R1T having so much in common with other models when we first laid eyes on it. Meanwhile, the R1S instantly makes us think we’ve seen it somewhere before.

Rivian’s SUV should be capable of reaching 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, according to the manufacturer. Higher-spec models should be able to shave at least a full second off that time. The R1S will have the same quad-motor setup as the R1T. Working together, the motors will yield around 400 horses on the base model, 750 hp when attached to the 135 kWh battery, and 700 hp with the 180 kWh unit.

The R1S also has the same frunk as the pickup, providing an additional 11.7 cubic feet of storage space where you’d normally find an engine. It also has a bin at the rear intended for a spare tire, but you can chuck whatever you want into it if you’re feeling bulletproof. The R1T’s “gear tunnel” does not carry over onto the SUV, however.

Less utilitarian and work-focused than the company’s pickup (towing capacity is down from 11,000 pounds to 7,700), Rivian claims the R1S will still be able to tackle bad roads and handle its business. There remains a clear emphasis on luxury, though. The SUV’s interior has a massive 15.6-inch touchscreen that’s impossible to miss. A second, 12.3-inch screen serves to provide meaningful data to the driver while a third 6.8-inch screen has been installed in the center console for rear passengers. According to the manufacturer, the model will come pre-equipped with sensors capable of some self-driving assistance at launch and upgradable over the air, like on a Tesla.

Scheduled for assembly in 2020 and on display at the LA Auto Show now, the R1S will be slightly more expensive than R1T pickup truck when it goes on sale. The base model starts at $72,500 (before the EV tax credit). If you’re interested, preorders begin this week via a refundable $1,000 deposit. Rivian has said both the SUV and pickup are both “extremely close” to what it plans to put into production.

[Images: Rivian]

RS e-tron: 590 HP, Audi Sport-Built e-tron GT Concept Finally Unveiled in LA

The wraps have finally come off, and here it is, the 590 hp, all electric e-tron GT. Better yet, the concept previews Audi’s vision for performance EVs since (like the R8 and all of its RS cars) the production car it previews will be made by Audi Sport.

Performance for the concept is suitably extreme. Its 590 hp and full-time all-wheel-drive allow it to get to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds, to 124 mph in just a shade over 12 seconds, and all the way up to 150 mph. Read More

GM kills the Chevy Volt, shuts down factories, and accelerates EV investment

GM announced today a major restructuring that will involve “doubling” the company’s investment in electric and self-driving cars, but they will pay for it by shutting down factories and laying off thousands of workers.

The company has also confirmed that the Chevy Volt will be discontinued.

Similar to what Ford did earlier this year, GM says that it is moving away from sedans and it is instead focusing on “trucks, crossovers and SUVs.”

They now say that they will prioritize “investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures”:

“GM now intends to prioritize future vehicle investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures. As the current vehicle portfolio is optimized, it is expected that more than 75 percent of GM’s global sales volume will come from five vehicle architectures by early next decade.”

CEO Mary Barra said that it would result in doubling the company’s investment in electric vehicles and self-driving technology.

Last year, the company announced several new electric vehicles to launch in the next few years, including 5 crossovers, 2 minivans, 7 SUVs, and more.

The restructuring announced today is coming at a high cost for GM employees.

The company confirmed that they will be laying off almost 15,000 employees and closing down 5 factories (3 assembly plants and 2 powertrain plants):

  • Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
  • Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit.
  • Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio.
  • Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland.
  • Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan.
  • Read More

    How This Bugatti Went from Poker Game Prize to the Bottom of a Lake—and Recovered 75 Years Later

    As legend has it, in 1934, French race car driver René Dreyfus, who achieved fame racing on the Grand Prix circuit in the 1920s and ‘30s—even winning the Monaco Grand Prix in 1930—was in a liquor-fueled game of poker with wealthy Swiss playboy Adalbert Bodé in Paris. Eventually, short on cash, Dreyfus bet his 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia race car on a hand and lost it to Bodé. Read More

    Here is what makes Tesla’s Model 3 the safest car on the market

    The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has discovered, through their testing, what the safest car ever built is with regards to crashes: Tesla’s 2018 Model 3. It aced every single category and subcategory with five-star ratings, displacing its stablemates, the Model S and Model X. The three models now occupy the first, second and third positions on the list for having “the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested,” according to Tesla. Read More

    Elon Musk’s Ultimatum to Tesla: Fight the S.E.C., or I Quit

    Securities and Exchange Commission officials were understandably taken aback on Thursday morning when Tesla’s board — and its chairman, Elon Musk — abruptly pulled out of a carefully crafted settlement.

    After the S.E.C. responded by accusing Mr. Musk, but not the company that he had co-founded, of securities fraud, the board further defied regulators, issuing a provocative statement saying that the directors were “fully confident in Elon, his integrity, and his leadership of the company.” Read More

    Compact, Mid-Size, or Corvette Z06? Hertz Now Renting Special-Edition Vette

    It’s likely that the most memorable car Hertz ever made available for the great unwashed to rent was the Shelby GT350-H of 1966. In that era, we described the extra-zoot Mustang as “a real guts sports car—with hair on its chest all the way down to its navel.” Ford, which later owned Hertz from 1987 to 2005, paid tribute to the original 1000 rentable GT350s in 2006–2007 and again in 2016 with the sorta-breathed-on GT-H, celebrating the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the program, respectively. But to celebrate its 100th anniversary as a going concern, Hertz turned to another former owner, General Motors, for a vehicle endowed with hair from its palms to its toes: the 650-hp Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Read More

    Look at These Wonderful Little Lego Engine Models

    Working on cars and the assembly of a Lego set both have a similar tactile gratification. Whether it’s driving your fixed-up beater or replicating the Eiffel Tower out of bricks, the project’s completion can be equally satisfying. Odds are pretty good that if you like cars, you also have a soft spot for Lego, and that soft spot is going to be manipulated by a series of scale replicas of engine models built by Instagram user Replica Motorsport.

    LS Lego 🏁🏎 Who can name that engine in the back? ____ #lsswap #ls1 #lsxnation #zr1 #zo6 #vette #corvette #bigblock #chevypower #racecar #supercharged #corvettelifestyle #corvettefamily #c7corvette #camaro_porn #visciouscamaros #onesickcorvette #stingray #carstagram #carlifestyle #lowsociety #stancenation #stanceworks #drifting #driftlifemagazine #driftcar #driftworks #classiccars #driftkng Read More

    The Feds Need You to Stop Stepping Out of Moving Cars to Dance to Drake’s New Song

    We may have reached a new low as a nation this week (didn’t seem possible, I know, but here we are) when the National Transportation Safety Board—an agency whose job it is to determine causes of accidents—felt it had to make a statement telling people to stop hopping out of moving cars to dance to Drake’s new banger “In My Feelings.”

    After looking at videos of people getting leveled by cars, you’ll realize that, sadly, the warning may have been necessary.

    On Facebook, the organization wrote a post reminding people that participating in the “In My Feelings” dance challenge on public roads is an idiotic idea:

    NTSB Chief of Safety Advocacy, Nicholas Worrell, told The Blast something that, somehow, isn’t obvious to literally every driver in America, saying:

    “Hopping out of a moving vehicle or jumping into lanes of traffic to show your dance moves is foolish and dangerous – to you and those around you.”

    “There’s a time and place for everything, but our nation’s highways and roadways are no place for the #inmyfeelings challenge.” Read More

    The War on Tesla, Musk, and the Fight for the Future

    Upfront: If you think that anything is justified against a person simply because that person is wealthy, this is not an article for you. If you think it’s okay to lie, mislead, or otherwise attack a person simply because of their financial status, consequences be damned, then you should probably look elsewhere. You won’t have far to look.

    We, Model 3 owners and people on the waiting list, have noticed a strange, disturbing, but all too explicable trend whenever the topic of Tesla comes up with people who don’t follow the company in detail.

    • “Tesla… didn’t they go bankrupt?”
    • “Too bad you’re never going to get your car, given that they’re going bankrupt. They lose money on every car they sell.”
    • “Isn’t that that car that killed people?”
    • “I wouldn’t get into one, with all those fires.”
    • “But all their management is fleeing!”
    • “I can’t support Tesla, they treat their workers terribly.”

    Yet the reasons for these sorts of reactions, as frustrating as they are, are all too clear.  Let us begin with the basics.

    1. It’s hard to overstate how much people stand to lose from Tesla’s success.

    Contrary to a newly emerging narrative that Tesla has “had it easy” in the press, Tesla has been smeared from Day 1. Back in the Roadster Days, TTAC for example ran a “Tesla Deathwatch” series, supposedly counting down the days until Tesla’s inevitable bankruptcy.  Top Gear famously staged a scene where the Roadster supposedly ran out of power on the track and had to be pushed off (it didn’t), suffered a dangerous brake failure (it only suffered a blown fuse and never lost braking power), and a bunch of myths about EVs in general and the Roadster in particular, concerning charge time, range, and general usability.

    But then, it was just an ideology at stake. Today it’s much, much bigger.

    Tesla is the most shorted stock in the United States — 10,7 billion dollars bet against it. What does this mean? In short selling, you pay a stockholder interest to “borrow” their shares, which you promptly sell, with an obligation to buy them back for the stockholder later.  Because these stockholders would not have otherwise sold their stock, it injects new stock into the market, which depresses the stock value.  Inversely, when shorts cover their position by buying the stock back later, this creates extra buying that otherwise wouldn’t have happened, elevating the price.

    Short selling is always dangerous, but it’s unusually dangerous when a large portion of the stock is in short positions.  The downside to a short position is technically unlimited; if you shorted a stock at $1 a share and it rose to $1 million a share, your losses would be a million times your investment. To prevent shorts from getting into a situation that they can’t get out of, short positions come with contractual obligations to cover their shorts (aka, buy back the stock) if the stock price rises too much. However, as shorts buy back stock, this raises the price of the stock, which can trigger other shorts to be forced to cover. This self-perpetuating cycle is known as a short squeeze.  The more of a company’s stock is shorted, the more of a risk there is for a short squeeze, and the more the price will spike during it; in a Tesla short squeeze, the shorts would have to buy nearly a quarter of all of the stock in the market in a relatively short period of time. But most entities holding Tesla’s stock  are long-term investors, and correspondingly don’t want to sell.  This puts even more upward pressure on the stock.

    Tesla has gone through several short squeezes before (due to the large number of people who either don’t believe in EVs, don’t believe in automotive upstarts, or just simply don’t like Musk).  But never on this scale.  To reiterate, if Tesla’s stock rises too much, people with 10,7 billion dollars bet against Tesla stand to utterly lose their shirt

    So far, they’ve managed to control this.  As production delays with the Model 3 have been being resolved and the company moves toward an increasingly clear road to profitability in Q3/Q4, short sellers have been increasing their short positions, offsetting the gains in Tesla’s stock that would normally occur.

    But this tactic has run out of rope; they’re running out of stock to short.  Only a fraction of the available stock is in institutions that lend to short sellers; they cannot endlessly borrow more to sell, and what remains is now charging much higher interest rates to do so.

    Literally the only thing short sellers can do at this point to try to hold the price down is FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt).  And they have $10,7 billion dollars on the line in order to do so.

    2. It should be understood who, exactly, the shorts are betting against.

    When people picture Tesla’s stock holders, they generally picture a bunch of silicon valley hippies investing to save Mother Earth. Reality, however, tells a different story. The largest owners of Tesla stock are, in order:

    T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. (9.21%)
    Fidelity Management and Research Company (8,23%)
    Baillie Gifford & Co Limited. (7,53%)
    Tencent Holdings Ltd (4,95%)
    Vanguard Group Inc (4.20%)
    Capital World Investors (2.62%)
    BlackRock Institutional Trust Company (2.04%)
    Jennison Associates LLC  (2.00%)
    BlackRock Inc (1.29%)
    State Street Corp (1.47%)
    BAMCO Inc (0.96%)
    Invesco PowerShares Capital Mgmt LLC (0.81%)
    Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP (0.75%)
    PRIMECAP Management Company (0.65%)
    Geode Capital Management, LLC (0.61%)
    Goldman, Sachs & Co. (0.57%)
    Morgan Stanley & Co Inc (0,55%)

    Around 3/4ths of Tesla’s stock is held by major institutional investors — companies who have built their empires based on choosing good stocks. Furthermore, institutional investors have recently been increasing their stakes in the company.

    The shorts aren’t betting against dirty ignorant hippies that Tesla is going to fail.  They’re betting against ruthless Wall Street bean counters.

    Why did these firms invest?

    3. Tesla’s vehicles have large margins.

    A common myth is that Tesla loses money on every car they sell. This can only be arrived at by the most naive of calculations: taking their quarterly losses and dividing by the number of vehicles sold. But Tesla has been spending massive amounts of money on capex in order to build huge factories and expand their store, service and charging networks in advance of the flood of new Model 3s.  Rapidly growing companies run negatives (see Amazon), and it’d be utterly irresponsible of them not to. No investor in such a company wants the company to start paying dividends when they’re small; they want them running at as much of a loss as they can sustain while they divert all of their funds into scaleup.

    So how does Tesla actually do on a per-vehicle basis?  To that, we turn to the quarterly reports. Before Model 3 production became significant — aka, just S and X sales — Tesla was earning a 25% non-GAAP margin / 27,9% GAAP margin in their automotive division. These are very healthy margins.  As Model 3 production ramped up — and famously encountered difficulty — Tesla’s gross margins fell, bottoming out at 13,8% non-GAAP and 18,3% GAAP, before rising back to 18,8% non-GAAP and 19,7% GAAP.

    Now, working against Tesla’s budget sheets has always been two big line items: research and development, and SG&A (Sales, General & Administrative expense). The first, however, rises little to none in proportion to the volume of vehicles being manufactured.  The latter rises somewhat in proportion to manufacturing volume, but less than linearly, and more to the point you have to pay much of it in advance ofreaching high volumes.  In short, over the coming years, these will become swamped by the (ever growing) automotive margins. Nothing to mention Tesla’s emerging solar and energy storage product lines, both of which should start becoming significant late this year.

    4. Let’s just pretend that none of that was true.

    And let’s pretend that Tesla was actually in trouble, for the sake of argument.

    • Tesla has significant physical assets which they can borrow against which they have not yet borrowed from
    • Tesla can reduce R&D at will (and to a lesser extent, SG&A) — the two main negatives on their balance sheet.
    • Tesla can dilute its stock by issuing new shares; with nearly half a million people on a waiting list, the intrinsic value of the company means that there’s always going to be a buyer.
    • Musk can create contracts at will from SpaceX (and, to a lesser extent, Boring Company). SpaceX is on a roll and flush with cash.
    • Musk can sell off a portion of his SpaceX stake to personally bail out Tesla.  There’s a massive demand for buying into SpaceX that hasn’t been able to be filled because it’s privately held. And Musk has shown repeatedly throughout his history that he isn’t, if anything, afraid to go personally “all in”.

    To sum up: Tesla is in no way, shape, or form going away. Period.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention the executive departures: there have not been an unusually high rate, Tesla just has an unusually large number of people at the director/VP level or higher. But don’t let that interfere with breathless headlines like “Tesla Executives Continue To Flee As The Company Goes Rogue” (Forbes), “

    There’s something wrong: Tesla’s rapid executive turnover raises eyebrows as Musk thins the ranks Read More

    Autonomous Shared Cars Will Require Different Interior Materials Because People are Slobs

    I’m a member of ZipCar, which I love for the convenience. But one thing that always reminds you that you’re in a shared car is the state of the interiors. I’ve experienced the following in a ZipCar: Sticky steering wheels, candy wrappers and potato chip bags shoved into various orifices, stained seats, liquid stains on the dashboard, and–three times!–cigarette ashes on the dashboard/console/seating. Read More

    Nearly a quarter of Tesla’s Model 3 reservation deposits in the U.S. have supposedly been refunded

    Two years ago Tesla began accepting $1,000 deposits for its new, lower-priced Model 3 electric car, with the expectation that customers would likely receive their vehicles in 2018. Hundreds of thousands of people have reserved one.

    But perhaps due to extended production delays, many customers have been asking for their money back.

    As of the end of April, some 23 percent of all Model 3 deposits in the U.S. had been refunded, according to new U.S. data from Second Measure, a company that analyzes billions of dollars in anonymized credit and debit card purchases.

    These cancellations aren’t necessarily bad for Tesla, since its production rate is nowhere near as high as it needs to be to fulfill the more than 450,000 reservations it still has. Last quarter, it delivered just 8,180 Model 3s.

    Presumably, potential Tesla customers could make a deposit again when production is more regular. The potential longer-term harm would be in alienating them so that they choose a different brand of car altogether.

    A Tesla spokesperson said that Second Measure’s data does not align with its internal data, but would not be more specific as to how far off it is.

    But Second Measure’s numbers did match up last August, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk disclosed that there were 455,000 net reservations out of 518,000 gross reservations, suggesting 63,000 cancelations and a 12 percent cancellation rate.

    Status of Model 3 Tesla reservations, as of April

    About 60 percent of Model 3 reservations so far in the U.S. were made back in April 2016, when Tesla first began taking deposits.

    About 18 percent of the total refunds on the Model 3 happened this past April, the largest share out of any month, according to Second Measure. That’s when Musk explained that Model 3s would be delayed six to nine months.

    That’s also when the largest share of “configuration fees” — a non-refundable deposit customers put down to customize their vehicle shortly before they receive it — were spent, meaning with production ramping up more customers had to decide whether they actually wanted to pay $35,000 (at the very minimum) for their Teslas or ask for refunds. As more Tesla Model 3s become available, we’ll get a better glimpse of what share of reservations turn into purchases.

    Share of Tesla Model 3 reservation actions by month

    Deposits (as a share of total deposits)Refunds (as a share of total refunds)Purchases* (as share of total purchases)

    *Refers to configuration fees.

    Source: Second Measure

    As of April 2018, 8 percent of Model 3 customers have paid a $2,500 configuration fee. We’d note that paying a configuration fee could also mean that the customer opted for a more expensive Tesla model, like the S or X. Indeed, Musk has said that Tesla is doing its best to “anti-sell” the Model 3 so that people buy more expensive models.

    In its latest earnings release, Tesla blamed order cancellations on “delays in production in general and delays in availability of certain planned options, particularly dual motor AWD and the smaller battery pack.”

    Most Americans fear driverless cars

    A lot of Americans are fearful of autonomous cars, but 33% are at least somewhat likely to buy one once they are available, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

    Why it matters: To the degree the survey is accurate and reflects a broad global trend, everything from the world’s sprawling car industry, to roads and cities themselves, could be on the cusp of a fundamental transformation. Read More

    ‘Mustang Means Freedom’: Why Ford Is Saving an American Icon

    When Ford Motor all but eliminated passenger cars from its North American lineup earlier this month to concentrate on trucks and S.U.V.s, it turned the page on a long and storied history of now-defunct but once red-hot nameplates: the Model T, the Model A, the Galaxie, the Fairlane, the Thunderbird and the Falcon, to name several.

    There was one conspicuous survivor: the Mustang.

    “Get rid of the Mustang?” asked James D. Farley Jr., Ford’s president of global markets, when I asked him this week how the Mustang had survived. “The Mustang is like Rocky: It survived the 1970s fuel crisis, the glam 1980s, the move to S.U.V.s. It’s made it through every round of cuts.”

    For me, the Mustang’s reprieve came as welcome news: I took my driver’s test in my mother’s 1967 turquoise Mustang notchback. On the rare occasions I was allowed to drive it, it conferred instant status and triggered unabashed envy among my high school classmates.

    Lee A. Iacocca, the Ford executive who helped introduce the Mustang, and a Fairlane in 1961.Associated Press

    Wall Street probably would have been just as happy to see the Mustang go the way of the Fusion, Taurus and Fiesta, current models that Ford said it would phase out and which Mr. Farley dismissed as “commodity silhouettes.” (Ford says it will continue to make passenger vehicles, but they just won’t be in the shape of today’s sedan. The Focus, for example, will survive, but as a crossover S.U.V.)

    That’s because in its last earnings report, Ford revealed for the first time that a relatively small number of products, including the hugely popular F-150 pickup truck series, accounted for 150 percent of its earnings before interest and taxes, with profit margins in the midteens. Another group was barely profitable. By contrast, Ford said its “low performing” products lost money, with negative margins of more than 10 percent.

    Using Ford’s disclosures, Morgan Stanley automotive analyst Adam Jonas extrapolated that the low performing businesses accounted for 40 percent of Ford’s revenue yet sharply reduced the company’s earnings. Ford didn’t say which models fall into the category, but Mr. Jonas included North American passenger cars and Lincoln models. (So far, at least, Ford hasn’t altered its Lincoln lineup, which includes several passenger sedans.)

    The Mustang was introduced to the public with great fanfare at the 1964 World’s Fair, an event depicted in its advertising.Ford Motor

    Mr. Jonas applauded Ford’s decision to drop most of its passenger cars, assuming the company actually follows through on it. “If a disproportionate effort is going into products that don’t make money and consumers don’t want, then what are they doing?” he asked.

    Ford doesn’t break out financial results by model, but Mr. Jonas believes the Mustang is modestly profitable. The base hardtop starts at $25,845, but popular options can quickly drive up the cost. The convertible starts at $31,345. The most popular model, the Mustang GT fastback, can easily top $40,000, and the 526-horsepower Shelby GT350 starts at more than $57,000. A racing version of the Mustang Cobra can hit six figures.

    “I can’t think of another car where some models sell for four times the base price,“ Mr. Farley said. “We sell a lot of Mustangs that are $70,000.”

    A Mustang adapted for Nascar, driven by Cole Custer, leading the pack in a race at Richmond, Va., in April.Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

    The Mustang has continued to sell well. Ford said it sold nearly 126,000 last year in 146 countries and that it was the world’s best-selling sports car. (By contrast, the Toyota Corolla, the world’s best-selling passenger sedan, sold nearly a million cars.)

    But the Mustang’s survival isn’t really about numbers. “Five years from now, whether Ford decided to keep the Mustang or not isn’t going to be a material factor,” Mr. Jonas said. “It’s more of an emotional thing. They’re trying to preserve the sexuality of motoring the way it used to be known.”

    From the day it was introduced 54 years ago, Mustang was positioned as a stylish, affordable and practical alternative to expensive European sports cars. In various tests, the Mustang GT still compares favorably to the Porsche 911, which starts at over $90,000.

    The 1968 movie “Bullitt” featured chase scenes with Steve McQueen behind the wheel of a Mustang fastback.Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

    So iconic is the Mustang that it has been commemorated with a Postal Service stamp — twice. The latest one, in 2013, depicts a blue 1967 model bisected by two white stripes.

    Mustangs have appeared in countless movies and television shows, becoming an indelible image of American culture. In “Goldfinger,” James Bond ran a white 1965 Mustang convertible with red interior off the road.

    Steve McQueen drove a dark green 1968 fastback in “Bullitt,” in which Mustang emerged as a classic “muscle” car. This year Ford is selling a 475-horsepower Bullitt anniversary edition, complete with, in a nod to the original, a cue ball on the stick shift. The Bullitt limited edition sells for $47,495. (The first one off the assembly line sold at a charity auction earlier this year for $300,000.)

    The 2019 limited edition Mustang Bullitt, inspired by the movie of the same name, sells for $47,495.Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    A souped-up 1967 Mustang fastback stars in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” But Mustangs aren’t all about high testosterone. A 1966 convertible is featured in “The Princess Diaries,” and Ford said 27 percent of Mustang buyers are women.

    William Clay Ford Jr., Ford’s executive chairman and the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, is a Mustang fanatic, with 20 versions in his personal collection. Mr. Ford showed up at the company’s annual Mustang birthday party last month in a navy blue 1968 Mustang Shelby 500 convertible with a white top.

    “I put it in the same category as the Corvette,” said Eric Minoff, an automotive specialist at Bonhams auction house in New York. The Mustang “is a cultural icon,” he added. “Even people who don’t know anything about cars recognize a Mustang.”

    Next week, Bonhams is auctioning several vintage Mustangs previously owned by Carroll Shelby, the racecar driver and automotive entrepreneur who developed high-performance Shelby Mustangs in collaboration with Ford starting in the 1960s. A 1968 Mustang GT 350 and a 1969 GT 500 are each estimated to fetch $80,000 to $100,000 at the June 3 auction.

    I found a turquoise 1967 Mustang notchback that looked identical to my mother’s car listed on the Hemmings vintage car site for $37,900.

    Those are surprisingly high prices considering how many Mustangs were made. “After the car first came out, there was a saying that hot cakes are selling like Mustangs,” Mr. Minoff said. “They’re not exactly rare. But no matter how common they are, they’re very attractive cars, and with the V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive, they’re very sporty and fun to drive. The fastback editions, especially with all the options, command quite a premium.”

    Mr. Farley described the Mustang as a “mind-set” vehicle. “When we ask people around the world what they think of Ford, they say Mustang,” he said. “Mustang means freedom. It means taking a road trip in a convertible down the West Coast. That’s what people all over the world imagine America to be. Why would we ever give that up?”

    2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Long-Term Verdict: Award Worthiness Confirmed

    Thirteen months ago, I plugged-in our long-term 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV for the first time—filling it not only with electrons but expectations.

    It had been named our 2017 Car of the Year, I wrote, because it wasn’t just a good EV, or the first affordable EV to eliminate “range anxiety,” but because it was both of those things and (perhaps most importantly) a good car regardless. More than a year and nearly 17,000 miles later, our Bolt has maintained its worthiness of our early praise.

    Everyone who drove Chevy’s EV came to a familiar conclusion: The Bolt is a solid hatchback which happens to be battery powered. Whether providing ample room to take my in-laws out to dinner, hauling four half-barrel planters and four bags of potting soil home from the store in one trip, taking me on an 800-mile road trip, or saving me from setting foot in a gas station for the past year, the Bolt made few demands and never let me down.

    ?

    Watch more videosYour hub for horsepower Get first access to hit shows like Roadkill and Dirt Every Day

    It wasn’t perfect, though. The big infotainment screen developed a tendency to freeze (or not boot-up at all) if I shifted to reverse too soon after starting the car, but it was cured by a software update. On three occasions, the power steering failed to boot-up, but could be fixed by cycling the car off and on a few times. This, too, was cured by software updates. While the Bolt was at the dealer for that fix, the shifter was replaced under recall. None of these fixes cost us a dime. Total maintenance and repair costs: $0.

    Indeed, the Bolt was very inexpensive to run. We charged it 154 times total; 69 times at the office, 47 times at public chargers, and 27 times at home. Altogether, driving 16,730 miles cost us $630.58. Public charging was by far the most expensive at $0.27/kW-hr average ($362.97 total), compared to $0.17/kW-hr ($131.04) at home and $0.07/kW-hr at the office ($136.58). For the sake of comparison the EPA estimates it will cost $550 to drive 15,000 miles in a Bolt (ours had cost us $540.99 at that mark). A Toyota Prius will cost you $800 to go the same distance and a gas-powered Kia Soul of similar size, shape, and mission will cost $1,450-$1,550.

    Along the way, we learned a lot about the particulars of EV driving. In collecting an exhaustive amount of data, we learned that despite numerous staffers driving the Bolt in different environments and weather conditions, our behavior behind the wheel was remarkably consistent. The average distance driven between charging stayed right around 95 miles. We typically plugged it in when the battery dipped under 50 percent and generally removed the charger at around 90 percent. The average cost to charge at home, in public, or at the office varied less than $2 each no matter how many times we charged in each location.

    Interestingly, the average amount of electricity consumed during charging actually rose by 2 kilowatt-hours, despite the average distance between charges remaining consistent. Possible explanations for this could include the growing sample size and increased variety of charging types (i.e. using more DC Fast chargers), or battery degradation. Similarly, the car’s predicted range before and after charging fell by 10 to 15 miles, which may simply be the car learning our typical driving style and adjusting its predictions.

    Like many EV early adopters, we had the option of charging at the office (dirt cheap), at home (pretty cheap), or in public (comparably expensive), so we took advantage of the convenience and cost savings charging at work and at home. With a commute of less than 20 miles roundtrip, I ended up plugging in the car once every five days on average. I could have gone longer if I felt like running the battery below 50 percent. But when charging is as easy as plugging in before I walk into the house or office, why wouldn’t I top-off?

    In between the regular commutes, we performed a number of special tests. We found the steering-wheel paddle to engage regenerative braking can seriously reduce braking distance compared to L mode. As a result, we made “one-pedal driving” an everyday habit. We learned summer performance tires make a big difference in handling and stopping, at the cost of about 30 miles of range and worse ride quality and interior noise. We discovered its real-world range is six miles farther than the EPA estimates at 244 miles. And it’s possible to do an 800-mile road trip using public DC Fast chargers, though it’ll take nearly twice as long as doing it with gasoline. We even decided it’s nearly as good as our tested $60,000 Tesla Model 3, while costing $15,000 less. And you can buy a Bolt on Chevy dealer lots, right now. Great deals. No lines.

    But we also found a few things we’d change. The front seats are too narrow and can be uncomfortable. The back-up camera is disappointingly low-res, and the electronic shifter is needlessly frustrating to use. A navigation option with public charging locations would be appreciated, as would the ability to secure cargo to the roof rails without having to buy the $549 cross bars.

    In making the Bolt our second-ever electric Car of the Year—and the only one so far you can buy for under $40,000—we put a lot on its little shoulders. A few easily resolved teething issues aside, the Bolt proved itself the everyday replacement for a gasoline-powered compact car we predicted it would be. If you’re ready to make the switch to electric, it’s the best EV for the money you can buy today.

    Our Car
    SERVICE LIFE 14 mo / 16,260 mi
    BASE PRICE* $41,780
    OPTIONS DC Fast Charging pkg ($750); Driver Confidence II pkg ($495: forward-collision alert, emergency braking, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams); Infotainment pkg ($485: Bose system, 6-speakers, wireless charging, 2 USB charging ports); Cajun Red metallic paint ($395)
    PRICE AS TESTED* $43,905
    AVG ECON/CO2 121 mpg-e / 0.00 lb/mi (at vehicle)
    PROBLEM AREAS Intermittent power steering failure, infotainment screen failure
    MAINTENANCE COST $0
    NORMAL-WEAR COST $0
    3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE** $21,900
    RECALLS None
    *Before applicable tax rebates
    **IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years
    2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
    POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
    DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD
    MOTOR TYPE Permanent magnet AC synchronous electric
    BATTERY TYPE Lithium-ion
    POWER (SAE NET) 200 hp
    TORQUE (SAE NET) 266 lb-ft @ 0,000 rpm
    WEIGHT TO POWER 17.8 lb/hp
    TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic
    AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 7.05:1/7.05:1
    SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs
    STEERING RATIO 16.8:1
    TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.9
    BRAKES, F; R 10.9-in vented disc; 10.4-in disc, ABS
    WHEELS 6.5 x 17-in cast aluminum
    TIRES 215/50R17 91H (M+S) Michelin Energy Saver A/S
    DIMENSIONS
    WHEELBASE 102.4
    TRACK, F/R 59.1/59.1 in
    LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 164.0 x 69.5 x 62.8 in
    TURNING CIRCLE 35.4 ft
    CURB WEIGHT 3,555 lb
    WEIGHT DIST, F/R 56/44%
    SEATING CAPACITY 5
    HEADROOM, F/R 39.7/37.9 in
    LEGROOM, F/R 41.6/36.5 in
    SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 54.6/52.8 in
    CARGO VOLUME BEHIND F/R 56.6/16.9 cu ft
    TEST DATA
    ACCELERATION TO MPH
    0-30 2.6 sec
    0-40 3.6
    0-50 4.8
    0-60 6.3
    0-70 8.1
    0-80 10.3
    0-90 13.0
    PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.0
    QUARTER MILE 14.9 sec @ 92.9 mph
    BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 128 ft
    LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg)
    MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.4 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)
    TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 5,800 rpm
    CONSUMER INFO
    STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
    AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee
    BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles
    POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles
    ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles
    BATTERY CAPACITY 60 kWh
    REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 28.6/26.3/27.8 kW-hrs/100 miles
    EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 128/110/119 mpg-e
    ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 26/31 kW-hrs/100 miles
    CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle)
    RECOMMENDED FUEL 110-volt, 220-volt electricity

    Why Ford Killed Its Cars

    My colleagues, as well as much of the car enthusiast community, are dealing with a collective freakout upon learning Ford will be killing off all its sedans and hatchbacks and keeping one real car, the Mustang, in North America. Ford is doomed, they say. But I don’t share that perspective—no one wanted to buy those cars anyway, and this came down to just being a cold, hard business decision.

    The Ford Fusion, Focus, C-Max, Taurus, and Fiesta—all on the way out in North America as Ford…

    So let’s get this out of the way: the sky is not falling and Ford is not destined for bankruptcy due to the discontinuation of the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus in the American market. Does it sound weird to axe so many cars at once? Sure.

    But when was the last time you, a serious car buyer, got excited to plop your hard-earned money down on a Fiesta, Fusion, Focus or Taurus—that did not have an ST or an RS badge?

    Aside from those fun-filled models for hoonage, the fact remains that the sedan segment is dying. Honda is struggling to sell the Accord Read More

    Watch This Guy Ride His Dirt Bike Across Lake Como

    We’ve seen motorcyclists do some crazy things, but this has got to be one of the most ambitious. Last year, rider Luca Colombo rode his Suzuki 450 clear across the top of Lake Como, setting the world record for a freshwater distance cross on a motorcycle, which is apparently a category of record that needed to be set. This is the first time we’ve seen the video, and thought it’d be a great thing to share. Read More

    Luminar’s New Lidar Could Bring Vision to Every Robocar in The World

    Self-driving cars are nearly ready for primetime, and so are the laser sensors that help them see the world. Lidar, which builds a 3-D map of a car’s surroundings by firing millions of laser points a second and measuring how long they take to bounce back, has been in development since 2005, when a guy named Dave Hall made one for the Darpa Grand Challenge, an autonomous vehicle contest. In the decade-plus since then, if you wanted a lidar for your self-driving car, Velodyne was your only choice.

    Yet Velodyne’s one-time monopoly has eroded in recent years, as dozens of lidar startups came to life, and robocar makers found their own way. Google’s sister company Waymo put years and millions of dollars into developing a proprietary system. General Motors bought a lidar startup called Strobe. Argo AI, which is making a robo-driving system for Ford, acquired one called Princeton Lightwave.

    The latest challenger is Luminar, the Silicon Valley-based startup that already has a deal with Toyota, plus three more manufacturers it declines to name. Today, Luminar is announcing the introduction of its newest lidar unit, with a 120-degree field of view (that’s enough to see what’s ahead of the car, but you’d need a couple to get a 360-degree view). And after a first production run of just 100 units, it’s ready to start cranking them out by the thousand—more than enough to meet today’s demand. And maybe, enough to make self-driving cars cheaper for everybody. Read More

    Lewis Hamilton Previews the Mercedes-AMG Project One Hypercar

    Lewis Hamilton greets me in his air-conditioned trailer holding a box of raw cremini mushrooms. “Want one?” he asks, extending his arm. I decline. “Suit yourself,” he says, and pops one in his mouth. “I quite fancy mushrooms. Well . . . not those kind of mushrooms,” he adds with a laugh. He is still wearing the last look from his earlier photo shoot for Robb Report, an outfit he chose himself after eschewing a more traditional suit. The black trousers and houndstooth-and-velvet coat by Colombian-​born designer Haider Ackermann are far too glamorous for our digs—a Star Waggon parked on a dusty runway in Inyo-kern, roughly 3 hours by car from Los Angeles in Southern California’s high desert. What the locale lacks in panache, however, it makes up for in scenery—an arid pastel landscape set against the Sierra Nevada foothills. For racing fans, Hamilton needs no introduction. Last year he earned his fourth Formula 1 world championship, putting

    him on par with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost and surpassed only by Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher. Back in 2007, I watched from turn 10 at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal as the 22-year-old rookie won his first F/1 race, a victory he claimed without ever having previously raced at that circuit. (He attributed his knowledge of the track to racing simulators.) When he earned his first world championship a year later, he became the youngest driver ever to claim the title. In 2013 he signed with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport F/1 team and went on to win three more world championships, the most recent being last year.

    Of course, Hamilton didn’t do it alone. His accomplishments are shared with the hundreds of men and women who work long, hard hours in design studios, laboratories, and garages, creating and perfecting some of the fastest, most technologically advanced cars in the world. Although Mercedes dominated F/1 racing in the 1930s with its famous Silver Arrows, the German
    automaker was absent from Formula 1 (aside from a brief return to the sport in the 1950s) until 2010, when it bought a minority stake in the Brawn GP team and kept F/1 heavyweight Ross Brawn on as team principal. In a move that shocked the Ferrari tifosi, Mercedes even enticed Michael Schumacher—who had spent the majority of his career driving for the Italian marque—out of retirement for its first three seasons. Since then, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport F/1 team has gone on to rule the sport, claiming the constructor’s championship every season for the past 4 years.

    Project One by Mercedes-AMG  Photo by Jonathan Glynn-Smith

    But we haven’t trekked to the middle of nowhere to rehash past wins. (Hamilton doesn’t watch them anyway, he tells me.) Mercedes-AMG has brought its first hypercar, Project One, to the desert and offered Robb Report an exclusive look at the vehicle with one of its biggest proponents.

    First shown last year as part of AMG’s 50th anniversary, Project One is the company’s answer to the Porsche 918 Spyder and the forthcoming McLaren BP23. The limited-edition halo car takes most of its workings straight from Formula 1, packed into a breathtaking example of style and performance for the road.

    With a price tag of about $2.7 million, Project One will be limited to 275 examples—and the waiting list is already three or four times that number. It will use a high-performance plug-in hybrid drive system—that comes directly from Formula 1—combined with a 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6. Although exact specifications of the mid-engine production car were not available at press time, AMG chief Tobias Moers has said Project One will produce more than 1,000 hp and reach a top speed of nearly 220 mph. Hamilton says it’s about time.

    “I’ve been nagging Mercedes for years, because we’re in Formula 1 and we have all this technology,” says Hamilton, who has pulled up a stool next to the sofa where I’m sitting. His box of mushrooms lies abandoned on the counter behind him. “We’re winning world championships, yet we don’t have a car that can match a Ferrari road-going car. So I guess they eventually decided this is actually a good idea. I’m not saying it was my idea, but I did nag them for ages to do it.”

    Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton’s persistent pleas for higher performance have paid off with Mercedes-AMG’s $2.7 million road rocket.  Photo by Jonathan Glynn-Smith

    As with F/1 cars, Project One’s monocoque structure is made of carbon fiber. Designers, led by Daimler design chief Gorden Wagener, followed the credo of “no styling,” so every detail is functional; there are no scoops, outlets, or power bulges merely for vanity’s sake. Flat LED headlamps frame the car’s face, which is dominated by a large front spoiler. A wasp waist, vertical shark fin, and long tail are all nods to racecar design. Inside the minimalist cockpit, fixed sculptural seats seem to flow out of the surrounding cabin.

    Part of Project One’s achievement lies in the fact that so much F/1 technology will be applied straight to the production car. Certain features, like sequential (paddle-​shifter) gearboxes, have trickled down from racing to road cars in the past, but the direct lineage has never been as clear as it is now.

    Project One, however, wasn’t always a clear fit for Mercedes-AMG. “I always thought AMG was not at the level to have a kind of super-, hyper—whatever—car. But I was approached by customers over the last few years, and that brought everything together,” Moers told us in a previous interview. Once the decision was made to pursue the project, the company was unwavering in the direction it should take. “We see major transitions in the automotive industry for the future, in all segments. It was very clear for us it would not be a V-8 or V-12 because that’s, well, I call it old school,” Moers added. “We are going to move on to electrified power trains and add more efficiency. With today’s spec of Formula 1, the door was opened to make this car happen.”

    Bringing a car from the track to the street is not without its hurdles. In particular, the longevity of the engine is a major concern. In racing, an engine may be swapped out several times each season. And although the road car, according to Moers, will be assisted by two additional electric motors and rev at 11,000 rpm (compared with an F/1 car’s 13,000 rpm), the wear and tear will necessitate a complete rebuild after about 31,000 miles. “It’s the most challenging project we’ve ever done,” Moers said.

    Setting a new paradigm for Mercedes-AMG, Project One packs more than 1,000 hp and plenty of Formula 1 functionality.  Photo by Jonathan Glynn-Smith Read More

    Why U.S. Carmakers Could End Up Wishing They Never Asked For Weaker Fuel Economy Standards

    Since President Donald Trump’s administration took office, the auto industry has been clamoring to have the strict fuel economy standards set by his predecessor reversed. On Monday, that process began with an announcement by Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency. But the automakers themselves could wind up seriously hindered if the standards are drastically weakened.

    Consider the current environment of the auto market: sales, most observers agree, plateaued in 2017. Car buyers are already borrowing record amounts to purchase a car and average to

    loan terms exceeding 70 months Read More

    Where Should the Clock Be Located On a Car’s Dashboard?

    Those of you who own cars are undoubtedly familiar with your own. But because I’m a ZipCar member, I’m used to getting into a different vehicle each time I need a set of wheels. At the mercy of what’s available, I rarely get the same vehicle twice.

    I’m a very smart person with a degree in Industrial Design, so when getting into an unfamiliar car I can usually locate the steering wheel right away. But I often have to cast about for the clock. The clock is important for ZipCar drivers because you have to return the car at a pre-arranged time or you get charged a penalty.

    The last car I owned was a 2001 Volkswagen Golf, for several years. That conditioned me to look for the clock here:

    In contrast, more modern designs for car interiors have the clock towards the center of the dashboard. That makes better sense as both driver and passenger can see it. Here are the interiors for the last seven vehicles I’ve borrowed and where the clocks were:

    Nissan Sentra

    Honda Odyssey

    Ford Escape

    Honda Civic

    Chevrolet Cruze

    Honda Insight

    Ford E-150 Cargo Van

    As much as I like them at the center of the dash, I still cannot get my eyes to quickly land on them. The digital readouts often share real estate with other bits of information, and when glancing from the road to the dash, I often have to visually fumble to register “Ah, clock.”

    Kristen Lee, an editor at Jalopnik, made an interesting observation at the New York Auto Show: “Nearly all of [the cars I looked at] had big screens in their center consoles, which, fine. But the few that featured analog clocks stood out.”

    Among the handful of brands that did was Lexus, who has their analog clocks visually framed and placed dead-center in the dash:

    Now that’s a clock I can get behind.

    Car owners among you: Where is the clock on your dashboard? (If you’re willing to post a pic in the comments so we can compare, that’d be great.) Where would you like it to be? And do you prefer analog or digital for time-telling?

    p

    Detroit Looks to Save Its Floundering Auto Show by Moving to October—And It’s About Time

    It’s official: The Detroit Auto Show is in full-blown crisis. BMW’s decision to ditch Motown’s 2019 show—in a city that’s already seen defections from Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Land Rover, Tesla and most ultra-luxury brands—makes it clear that Detroit’s decades-long reign as the nation’s preeminent auto show is at an end.

    The Drive had it right just a few months ago, when I called out January’s North American International Auto Show—the most boring and irrelevant auto showin my long career of covering Detroit—as largely a fraud. We got it even more right when I argued that, to survive, Detroit must swallow its pride and move its show to fall—specifically, to October. That move would put Detroit front-and-center as the first major American show of each new model year. As things stand, Detroit is being blitzed by the competition; and not only traditional show cities, but also the tech-media-heavy Consumer Electronics Show (or CES) in Las Vegas. Here’s what we said then:

    It’s become obvious that Detroit must move from its January time slot to stay relevant and revive its once-prime position. October would be the ideal month because it’s the traditional beginning of a new model year. It would come on the heels of Frankfurt in September, but well before the LA show and CES, encouraging automakers to introduce the most important North American cars in Detroit. And journalists and attendees from around the world would see Michigan weather at its crisp, fall-color best, rather than a depressing Arctic tundra with perilous roads and the constant threat of flight delays and cancellations.

    Apparently, Detroit show organizers have seen the autumn light. (Hey, maybe they do read The Drive). As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association will vote in coming weeks on a plan to move the show to October, beginning in 2020. People familiar with the plans specifically cited the desire to move Detroit out of CES’s increasingly long shadow, and—wonder of wonders—the possibility of staging outdoor exhibits or events. That switch would require a contract renegotiation with the city’s Cobo Center, which has an $11.8 million contract to stage the show through 2025.

    I’d emphasize that the problem isn’t about public attendance, especially in my hometown of car-crazy Detroit. More than 800,000 people bought tickets for the 2018 show, up nearly 10 percent over 2017. Whether it’s Detroit or Beijing, auto shows are still ideal one-stop shops for consumers who want to kick the tires of multiple brands’ vehicles, or car fans who just want to dream. But just as Amazon is driving brick-and-mortar businesses into irrelevancy or bankruptcy, the Internet has sucked some of the fun, surprise, and newsworthiness from the media’s auto show coverage. By the time the car company CEO whisks the sheet off a new model, the “news” is already old news, with cars often long-since exposed by enterprising journos. It doesn’t help that automakers increasingly tease or leak their own material, or stage “off-site” reveals away from convention centers, hoping to garner more coverage with splashy debuts—and free-flowing booze—in rented studio space, warehouses, or other, hipper venues. Automakers themselves have only so many marketing dollars to throw around, and they’re increasingly deciding to spend them in places other than traditional car shows.

    Just listen to the companies themselves. “BMW Group has decided to withdraw from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit,” BMW said in a statement last week. “This decision was made as BMW Group is constantly examining our presence at trade-shows and other engagements, while, at the same time, also exploring alternative platforms and formats.”

    Those “alternative platforms” range from virtual reveals to the CES extravaganza. Strategically held just one week before Motown, CES has increasingly cuckolded Detroit, forcing it to watch the sexy new cars being unveiled in Vegas instead. I might say “Get a room,” but that raises another issue: Automakers and showgoers alike may prefer flashier, more tourist-friendly Las Vegas to a winter convention in Detroit, thanks to factors like that city’s dire shortage of high-end hotels downtown. Most distressingly perhaps, even the Big Three automakers have been shunning their hometown (and mine) to unveil their coolest technology at CES—including autonomous gadgetry that generates the tech-media coverage they crave.

    Mercedes-Benz, America’s best-selling luxury brand, has already announced it’s spurned Detroit for 2019, adding to a list of recent defections that now includes BMW and Mini, Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Mitsubishi, Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Ferrari. And while public attendance remains strong for now, the AWOL status of such storied brands —okay, Mitsubishi is no real loss—really saddens me. Young people especially, who represent the future of car buyers, aren’t going to care about shows that offer little besides boring SUVs and are bereft of the dream machines that made them love cars in the first place.

    And not to single out BMW, but if I’m a Detroit-area dealer, I’m looking to read the riot act to BMW corporate: You’re not supporting our local stores and customers by shining a once-a-year spotlight on our Ultimate Driving Machines? Then screw you. We figured we were in this together. And we’ll remember this the next time you ask us plow our own money into showroom upgrades, or incentives to keep those X3s and 3 Series rolling out the doors.

    Brand politics aside, Automotive News reports that Detroit’s dealer association envisions a pared-down October show more in the vein of Geneva—a bit less glitz, perhaps fewer multi-level displays, but more focus on product and technology. I’m not sure that’s what Detroit really needs—a little Barnum-style razzle-dazzle never hurt anyone—but I do know what it doesn’t need: The threat of frostbite every time you walk to Cobo Center. Some picturesque falling leaves and a glass of cider sounds infinitely better. Dealers, if you’re reading this, you already know where The Drive stands: To save Detroit’s auto show, it’s time for an October surprise

    Here is the Lincoln Continental we were promised in 2002 and what it should have looked like

    This is the 2002 Lincoln Continental concept. Yes, you read that right: 2002. It’s still so good that it not only puts the current Lincoln Continental to shame, but Lincoln should seriously just go ahead and put it into production.

    Would it be a kind of admission of defeat for Lincoln to go back to a style it showed off back in the first Bush administration? Yes. But again, look at this car.

    Look at it.

    Look at it more.

    It’s basically a retro modern interpretation of the infamous 1960s Continental, the Kennedy one.

    Aside from the styling, the 2002 Lincoln Continental concept was more interesting than you’d think. Ford built two models, as Car Design News reported a few years back: one non-running static display model and one with an engine that ran. What engine? This car got a 6.0-liter Aston Martin V12. Hell yes.

    Yep, this concept got the engine out of the Aston Martin DB7, which was under Ford control at that time. That is what I call corporate synergy. Ford claimed 414 horsepower for the thing, which is more than adequate.

    Might the car have been better suited with a big V8? Possibly. But an Aston-engined gigantic Lincoln concept is not a bad thing.

    And again, this Conti concept was large. The wheelbase alone was over 11 feet (136.6 in.). The whole car was nearly 18 feet long (453.6 in), or about as long as the new Lincoln Navigator.

    Also, it had fitted Halliburton cases for the trunk, which is the most 2002 thing imaginable.

    Now, there’s a lot that the current Conti borrowed from this concept. The central spine that runs through the length of the interior, the very midcentury modern metal accents, the name—these are all good carryovers. You know what isn’t carried over? Any sense of grandeur or presence in the total styling.

    Now, the Lincoln Continental isn’t selling particularly well. Is it fair to entirely blame those poor sales on the car’s weak styling? Probably not. But I’ll do it anyway.

    Enough With The Lies — Electric Cars Are Far Greener Than Gas Cars #Basta

    The weather forecast for electric vehicle (EV) naysayers is getting worse. Storms have battered the entrenched camps, and after successful waves of pushback and myth busting, yet another study tells the world what we all should know → EVs are clean and getting cleaner.

    Tough Day Again For Naysayers…

    All things considered, EV naysayers are getting smaller and smaller in number. A decade ago, the simple mention of dropping a gas engine for an electric motor would raise lively debates that would turn downright vicious online. But as the technology matures, as it constantly beats on gasoline cars, and as numerous carmakers are finally getting serious about EVs, they are becoming mainstream. One nagging myth surrounding them is that they pollute. This new (or updated) study paints a different picture.

    In February 2018, data from the US EPA came out that the Union of Concerned Scientists used to thoroughly analyze hypothetical power plant greenhouse gas emissions from EVs in the US.

    According to the Union Of Concerned Scientists (UCS): “The climate change emissions created by driving on electricity depend on where you live, but on average, an EV driving on electricity in the U.S. today is equivalent to a conventional gasoline car that gets 80 MPG, up from 73 MPG in our 2017 update.”

    By analyzing emissions from fueling and driving both types of vehicles, the organization was able to follow the facts and see where they led. On the gas car side, note that the UCS study didn’t just look at tailpipe emissions — the well-to-wheel study looked at the emissions from extracting crude oil from the ground, from getting the oil to a refinery, from making gasoline, from transporting it to storage facilities, from transporting it to filling stations, and then finally the emissions from the combustion engine that leave through the tailpipe. People don’t often think about all of the emissions that come before the gas is even burnt in the gar, but just listing those other steps should hint at the findings.

    The Report Highlights

    ⊕ From cradle to grave, BEVs are cleaner. BEVs sold today produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, even when the higher manufacturing emissions. Based on modeling of the two most popular BEVs available today and the regions where they are currently being sold, excess manufacturing emissions are offset within 6 to 16 months of driving.

    ⊕ EVs are now driving cleaner than ever before with an average EV results in lower global warming emissions than driving a gasoline car that gets 50 miles per gallon (MPG) in regions covering two-thirds of the U.S. population, up from 45 percent in our 2012 report.

    ⊕ EVs will become even cleaner as more electricity is generated by renewable sources of energy. Consider a grid composed of 80 percent renewable electricity, manufacturing a BEV will result in an over 25 percent reduction in emissions from manufacturing and an 84 percent reduction in emissions from driving—for an overall reduction of more than 60 percent.

    Told You So — EVs Are Cleaner!

    Oh, come on, once in a while, a little “I told you so!” in the face of ill-willed folks just feels so darn good. But this is really not news, per se.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists does warn that personal consumption and emissions will vary according to your environment and how you drive. Overall, though, EVs have shown to not only be cleaner than gas cars, but to be much cleaner and getting cleaner at a faster and faster pace.

     

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    About the Author

    Nicolas was born and raised in the world of classic cars of the 1920s. It wasn’t until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and finally a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he started writing in 2007 for various CleanTech outlets. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: “There are more solutions than obstacles.”

    Cadillac CT6 V-Sport: 550-HP Twin-Turbo V8 and All-Wheel Drive

    Cadillac revamps the big-luxury CT6 with Escala-inspired styling and a brand-new twin-turbo engine making an astounding 627 lb-ft of torque.

    Cadillac just gave the CT6 an aesthetic refresh that greatly echoes the styling of the dramatic Escala concept car. And even better: There’s a new high-performance CT6 V-Sport, with an all-new twin-turbo V8 kicking out 550 horsepower.

    The CT6 V-Sport, shown here, will hit the market in the first half of 2019. The CT6, you’ll recall, is the longest and most luxurious of Caddy’s sedan lineup, above the CTS, ATS, and soon-to-be-terminated XTS. It’s Cadillac’s answer to the German onslaught of luxury sedans, going toe-to-toe with 5-Series and 7-Series, E- and S-Class, and A6 and A8. Read More

    “Top Gear” Has Become What “The Grand Tour” Should Have Always Been

    With The Grand Tour, we hoped Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May would do something new. Freed from the BBC and given a giant production budget, the former Top Gear hosts were given a golden opportunity to break out of the formula they’d perfected. Two seasons in, The Grand Tour has shown moments of greatness, but they’re tempered by the same stale jokes, catchphrases and tropes we came to expect from their final seasons on Top Gear.

    Which makes it all the more surprising that the post-Clarkson Top Gear has become something great. On its third season since the departure of Clarkson, Hammond, and May—the second with Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid handling nearly all the hosting duties—Top Gear has hit its stride.

    Last week’s Top Gear, an hour-long exploration of Japanese car culture, was remarkable. It began with a rather straightforward comparison test between two of the most exciting Japanese performance cars on the market today, the Lexus LC500 and the Honda Civic Type R. Chris Harris is at the wheel for this one, and he’s the perfect man for the job.

    Harris is a great host, and his background as an accomplished journalist and racer gives him an edge. His takes are well informed, and his passion for what he’s doing is obvious. Comparison tests are nothing new in the world of cars, but Harris still manages to make this one feel fresh.

    The episode’s main feature revives an old Top Gear favorite, the cheap-car challenge, but even this takes on new life. LeBlanc and Harris are dispatched to Japan with ¥1 million (around $9400) to buy a 1990s Japanese sports car to bring back to the UK and attempt to sell for a profit. Before putting their cars on the boat, though, there are some challenges.

    Harris buys a lovely yellow Mazda RX-7 while LeBlanc thinks he buys an R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R, but actually gets a rear-wheel drive GTS-T by “mistake.” The challenges involve two celebrated elements of Japanese car culture—a Togue run and a drift competition. Top Gear imbues these with typical antics—the Togue challenge involves Sumo wrestlers, and Harris and LeBlanc tether their cars together for tandem drifting—but they still manage to celebrate Japan’s contributions to the car world.

    In the episode, LeBlanc and Harris are even granted permission to explore the Fukushima exclusion zone, where neighborhoods lay abandoned after the 2011 nuclear disaster. It echoes Clarkson and May’s visit to Chernobyl in season 21, but this time, the location isn’t treated as a punchline. It was a surprisingly poignant moment for Top Gear, one that treats a tragedy with the respect it deserves.

    My only significant gripe with this season of Top Gear is that Rory Reid isn’t featured as much as Harris and LeBlanc. His segment is the best part of this episode. In an exploration of Japan’s underground car culture, Reid finds himself at a late-night meetup for owners of wild Bosozoku Style cars. He commandeers an outrageous Datsun 280Z for a ride through Toyko that’s filmed beautifully.

    As the night wears on, Reid runs into a pack of Lamborghinis all sporting crazy neon lights. He trades the 280 for a bright yellow Aventador and heads out to a quieter part of town to pick up the craziest car yet, a street-legal Porsche 962. In a drive that makes me unfathomably jealous, Reid takes the Rothmans-livery Le Mans race car out for a drive on the mountain roads outside Tokyo. It’s incredible to see this car out on the street, and Reid clearly understands how special the moment is.

    This episode was great, not only because of the production levels and access Top Gear provides—it was great because it approached Japan’s car culture with curiosity and humility. This is a newer, humbler Top Gear than we’ve seen previously.

    That same quality was evident in the final segment of the fourth episode of this season, a tribute to the Citroën 2CV. Speaking to Jalopnikearlier this month, Harris explained how this feature is emblematic of the difference between old and new Top Gear.

    “I think old Top Gear would have just ridiculed the 2CV and the people who drive it,” Harris said. “But we celebrated it, its feats of engineering and how it’s a cultural phenomenon. It’s just a really cool car that’s charming to drive.”

    2018 Kia Stinger GT Review: Serious Contender

    The Stinger makes a name for itself in a segment filled with heavy hitters.

    – Miami, Florida

    Verdict 7.0 /10

    Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, they say. In this case, Kia has cracked open its own history books, and taken a lesson from the chapter of what not to do. The Stinger is no Amanti – that is, a half-hearted attempt to compete with more premium products. The Stinger is the real deal, and it should have companies like BMW and Mercedes-Benz worried (if they aren’t already).

    Still, the question lingers, particularly in the minds of consumers that aren’t familiar with Kia’s recent turnaround: can the Korean carmaker keep up with other established vehicles in this segment? In one word: absolutely.

    Design & Exterior 8.0 /10

    In a world where sporty sedans – or in this case, liftbacks – are becoming increasingly dull, the Stinger stands out. Its over-the-top design cues, penned by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer, are highlighted by two-tone 10-spoke wheels, non-functional (but not tacky-looking) hood vents, functional brake vents, and dramatic taillights with reflectors that extend to the rear quarter panel. Everything about this vehicle screams athletic, which is sort of the point.

    It’s larger than you might think, too. The Stinger stretches out to 190.2 inches, which splits the difference between the Audi A5 Sportback (187.1 inches) and the larger A7 (196 inches), comparatively, with its closest luxury competitor size-wise being the Infiniti Q50 (189.6). The good news is, its larger size compared to, say, a BMW 3 Series doesn’t detract from its overall driving dynamics.

    Performance & Handling 8.0 /10 Read More

    Leaked images show digital gauge cluster for Mazda3

    Most everything divulged about the 2019 Mazda3 so far has focused on the trick Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) Skyactiv-X engine. If a series of photos posted on a Chinese website are accurate, it looks like Mazda has novel plans for the cockpit as well. The three images show a three-color, all-digital gauge cluster in two different configurations. The first configuration places a three-digit speedo in the center of a blue-ringed tachometer, with gear indicator and water temp displays on the left, fuel range calculator and what appears to be a funky clock on the right.

    The second configuration splits the tachometer to the left and the speedo to the right. In between them is what looks like a road surface display for automatic cruise control. Trip info lies just under the blue-banded road, while water temp, fuel gauge, gear indicator and range info line up across the bottom. A swath of empty space on the left could be where Mazda’s relocated the current car’s passel of warning signals.

    Of note: Everything around the digital gauges appears to come straight from the current Mazda3. The instrument panel surround, the steering wheel and buttons, the stalks, all of it is lifted from today’s car. If the photos are what’s headed our way on some trim of the 2019 Mazda3, though, they show a clean, handsome evolution of the no-nonsense cluster in the current compact hatch.

    Mazda’s worked up a head of good press on the run-up to the Mazda3 launch for both the engine and the dynamics. We’re told we’ll get between 10 and 30 percent more torque from the 2.0-liter SPCCI Skyactiv-X, and about 25 percent better fuel economy compared to today’s 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G. Handling-wise, the jinba ittai philosophy — horse and rider as one — has led to engineers reworking everything from tire sidewall stiffness to multi-contoured torsion elements and the mounting and shape of the seats. The hatchback’s torsional stiffness climbs by 30 percent, any excess rigidity countered by 7.5 meters of “matrix resin material” applied in 16 places on the body “to absorb vibration and dissipate it as heat.”

    The point has been to eliminate dynamic static between the driver and the road, and then to give the driver the best natural seating position to take advantage of the body’s reflexes to dynamic input. At the same time, this digital gauge cluster might also give that driver something tasty to look at.

    Tesla Model 3 review: the fast and infuriating

    I was standing next to the Model 3 when a guy on a bike rode by and yelled, “How is it?” My typical interactions with people who ask about Tesla’s affordable sedan (so many people ask me about the car) typically take about five minutes. I point out the highlights and issues I’ve encountered while driving. Without thinking, I threw him a thumbs up. It was a gut reaction to a car I’ve come to adore but have also been confused by. I should have yelled, “It’s complicated!

    Pros
  • Quick off the line and far more nimble than the X and S make it a joy to drive
  • Minimum EV range of 220 miles
  • Outstanding voice control
  • Lots of techOTA updates will fix things. Maybe.
  • Read More

    Reviewed: The 2018 Ford Mustang

    It used to be a pony car that was laughed at in places with turns. These days, however, the Ford Mustang is a real-deal sports car that competes with the best the world has to offer. The Blue Oval brand has updated its mean machine for the new model year, and the 2018 Ford Mustang is packing a bit more heat and some fancy new tech behind the steering wheel.

    Many hours were spent to bring us the new customizable digital display. More important than that, however, is the horsepower bump. Now the Mustang makes 460 horsepower and 420 pound feet of torque. Additionally, the clutch has been beefed up for the increase in twist and a new flywheel improves the overall NVH.

    What’s also rising… is the price. It’s now possible to pay way too much for a new Ford Mustang. This is one damn fine machine, and it’s worth the price to entry at most levels. Spec it out too far though, and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t opt for that flat-plane crank V8 and some Shelby badges.

    [Disclaimer: Ford tossed us the keys to the 2018 Mustang and included a tank of gas. We only tested line-lock once. Okay fine… twice.]

    Consumer Reports ranks Genesis its top brand, Chevy Bolt top green car

    Hyundai’s Genesis topped the annual ranking of new vehicle brands by influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports, while General Motors’ electric Chevrolet Bolt was named top pick for compact green car.

    Millions of prospective auto buyers consult the magazine’s rankings, which are based on road testing, reliability, safety and owner satisfaction scores.

    The top 10 brand rankings (for the whole list, check out CR’s website):

    1. Genesis
    2. Audi
    3. BMW
    4. Lexus
    5. Porsche
    6. Kia
    7. Subaru
    8. Tesla
    9. Honda
    10. Toyota

    Reliability, customer satisfaction, road-test performance and safety are components in Consumer Reports’ rankings. CR points out that Genesis and Audi stand apart in that every model they offer is recommended by the magazine. (That said, Genesis currently has only two models.)

    Toyota had four of the top 10 individual vehicle picks on the list, the most of any automaker, with the Corolla, Camry, Highlander and Sienna taking honors. Toyota’s vehicles had the top scores for predicted reliability. And in a year when both the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are new, the Camry won CR’s top spot among midsize sedans. Though both models are recommended.

    As for the Chevy Bolt, Reuters reported last week that some potential buyers of Tesla’s long-delayed Model 3 sedan are concerned they will miss out on big federal tax breaks and are looking for alternatives like the Bolt. GM sold 23,297 Bolts in 2017.

    Tesla has told some holders of Model 3 reservations that they would not get their cars until 2019. Frustrated Tesla buyers, afraid that waiting could cost them a $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit, have factored into brisk demand for Bolts, according to GM dealers in California, the top U.S. market for electric vehicles.

    U.S. brands lagged other automakers in the CR rankings, but FCA’s Chrysler brand ranked 11th — the biggest improvement of any brand, thanks to the Pacifica minivan. The automaker’s Fiat unit finished last among 34 brands rated, with Ram 26th, Dodge 27th and Jeep in 33rd place.

    GM’s top-selling Chevrolet brand ranked 23rd, while the Cadillac brand ranked 24th and GMC 28th.

    Ford ranked 20th and Lincoln 17th. The F-150 was named best pickup.

    The brands that saw the biggest drops were Buick, falling eight places to 19th, and Acura, falling six places to 22nd, because of declining reliability.

    Reporting by David Shepardson

    The American Sedan Is Dying. Long Live the SUV

    With lucrative sport utility vehicle and truck sales on the ascent, Detroit automakers are racing to ditch slow-selling cars in favor of the big rigs that mint them money.

    Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne started it off by killing the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 to reorient Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV around Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups. The profit boom that’s followed has emboldened Detroit’s other CEOs to consider snuffing out sedans such as the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Impala.

    “The industry thought Sergio was a mad man when he did that, and now he looks like a genius,” said Jeff Schuster, an analyst with LMC Automotive. “He paved the way for everyone. Now, with the Detroit brands, virtually every car is under review.”

    Keep reading at Bloomberg.com >>

    The Le Mans-Winning Chevrolets: Corvette C1 Coupe and C6.R

    For the first Made to Drive installment in 2018, we got back together with our good friend and all-around good guy Bruce Meyer and a pair of American heroes from his impressive collection. We met up with him and his ‘Vettes at Thermal Club for some track time in these iconic endurance racers—specifically, the Briggs-Cunningham-prepared C1 that brought the Corvette name to Le Mans for the first time in 1960, along with the indomitable force of red-blooded horsepower that won its class in 2009, known simply as the C6.R.

    The duo is the perhaps the perfect summation of Bruce’s collection, which features a number of noteworthy American hot rods alongside Le Mans champions like the 1979-race-winning Porsche 935. The Corvettes he brought out for our cameras occupy both of those worlds, and as he puts it, “I’ve always been a hot-rodder, a bit of a patriot and I love to see the American dominance in sports, and in motorsports. I love the American effort at Le Mans, and I decided to go see if I could find one of the original Le Mans Corvettes. So my first entry was with the C1 Corvette, and this was the very first Corvette to ever run Le Mans.”

    “This car has an extraordinary race record. Never having been destroyed, and having won an incredible number of races. In its career, it raced 15 races, and of those 15 it finished 1st in 10 of them, and when it didn’t finish first, in four of them it finished 2nd, and one time it DNF’d. So it’s come through unscathed, and as you see it today, is exactly how it finished Le Mans in 2009.” Read More

    WATCH: Tesla Roadster’s acceleration is like nothing you’ve ever seen

    A short while back Elon Musk announced the introduction of a surprise model in Tesla’s line up, the Roadster. Yes it comes at an opportune moment in trying to divert attention from the woeful production delay surrounding the Model 3 (the company expected to have rolled 1,500 off the line by now but only 260 have actually materialised). But let’s take nothing away from the Roadster as a pure exercise in what electric vehicles can achieve.

    So, the stats then. The Roadster will go from 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 1.9 seconds making it the first car to accelerate to this speed in under two seconds. It doesn’t stop there either. 0-160 km/h will take just 4.1 seconds and it’ll cover a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds. Provisionally the top speed has been set at 400 km/h.

    Being an electric vehicle the question of range is always a big one. With near 1,000 km available on a single charge, thanks to its 200 kWh battery, it’s safe to say the Roadster is as complete as a performance oriented electric car one can get.

    Those are all just numbers on a page though. Until you’ve seen this video below it’s very difficult to quantify just how electric (see what I did there) the Roaster’s performance really is. It’s mind bending stuff.

    I’ll leave you with a final thought from Mr Musk alluding to the belief that the Roadster is capable of even more…

    1991 Acura NSX: The Multi-Tool Supercar

    In this week’s film, we sit shotgun with Sean Lee for a drive around Los Angeles and its famed canyon roads in his first-generation 1991 Acura NSX. Tastefully modified with period-correct parts, this lithe streak of silver is an evolution of the stock car that was already a fantastic blend of sport and practicality, and though it isn’t factory-original, it has respectfully followed the trajectory, embodying the idea of “OEM plus.” It is, in a sense, more of an NSX than it was before; Sean has built upon the car, honing and enhancing this Honda (sorry, “Acura”) without coming at the cost of the car’s original identity. Read More

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