The DC establishment’s falling out of love with Elon Musk continues.
As I’ve pointed out before, Washington, D.C. has fallen out of love with Tesla, once its golden child, thanks to behavior it simply cannot tolerate from CEO Elon Musk. Adding to the recent dogpiling on the American automaker is Ralph Nader, a man who rose to prominence by sounding the alarm about the Chevy Corvair.
Some call Nader an opportunist. That’s a cynical take, but it’s understandable why. After all, the man nuked from existence a car he unclaimed was “unsafe at any speed.” That statement was categorically false and the Corvair has since been vindicated. Still, in many people’s minds, the Nader smear job sticks readily.
Porsche proudly declared today that it set a new record for a production electric vehicle lapping the Nurburgring Nordschleife, which is a big deal in the car world. Using a Taycan Turbo S, a driver got around the Green Hell in 7minutes 33.3 seconds. In case you haven’t been keeping track, that edged out the previous record held by the Tesla Model S Plaid at 7 minutes 35.6 seconds.
For quite some time, automakers have been using the Nurburgring Nordschleife as a measurement of overall performance for production vehicles. Considering the 12.92 mile track comes with a little bit of everything from tricky chicanes to elevation drops and big straightaways for hitting top speeds, enough people consider it to be an important measurement.
Here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in the industry.
I haven’t been able to get a post up for a couple of days and have several interesting items I want everyone to be aware of since they could have a huge impact on the automotive industry in the near future. Click on any of the links to get more info from the source for each story and don’t be scared to leave a comment below – I like discussing topics, even if you don’t entirely agree with my take.
1. Tesla Is On A Roll
Last night was the Tesla annual stockholders meeting and it was a pretty wild time. Yet again, many are comparing Musk to Steve Jobs, especially as he came out on stage almost an hour late and wearing black head to toe. Still, he gave quite the presentation, making the automaker’s challenges seem like mere anthills.
One of the more troubling items presented during the meeting, at least for luxury automakers, is Tesla’s forecast that it will build 1.5 million vehicles in 2022. The company also believes at the end of the year it will be building EVs at an annualized rate of 2 million units. To put that into perspective, last year BMW delivered 2,521,179 vehicles to customers last year. In other words, Tesla is almost on its heels.
I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall when this was discussed in marketing.
I want to share a lighter topic, a photo montage shared by Daimler back in December 2014 to promote the Smart Fortwo Brabus. That’s right, the high-performance tuner took a shot at the all-electric version of Daimler’s two-seater microcar. For some reason, marketing thought the best way to promote the vehicle was parking it inside a mall in Berlin featuring a model dressed as Santa Claus and an angel.
In a way I can see what they were aiming for. The marketing copy accompanying the photos talks about how impossible it is to find a parking spot in Berlin, something anyone who lives in a dense urban area can certainly identify with.
He tells the truth about doing business in China and pays the price.
Thanks to the oddities of local laws, virtually every foreign automaker wishing to manufacture and sell cars in China must do so through a joint venture with a domestic automaker. Those joint partnerships don’t always go so well as clearly evidenced by the implosion of the marriage between French-Italian-American company Stellantis and Guangzhou Automobile Group or GAC. In a stunning reversal, Stellantis said it will no longer be making Jeeps specifically for the Chinese market.
It was just in January when GAC was angry with Stellantis for claiming the venture would no longer be 50-50, the foreign automaker claiming it would increase its stake to 75%, since the legal documents hadn’t been signed. The Chinese auto market is notoriously xenophobic and touchy, a sad fact Jaguar Land Rover learned by successfully pursuing legal options against a copycat brand only for Chinese consumers to react adversely.
The latest example of this is being largely passed over by the media.
During the 2012 presidential debates, Mitt Romney landed some solid punches against Barack Obama, even though he ultimately couldn’t reel in the presidency. While many have focused on how he’s been vindicated on topics like his warning about Russia, he also got it right when it came to the Obama Administration’s picking of winners and losers. For a long time, supporters of the 44th President of the United States tried hard to ignore the abject failure of Fisker and Solyndra, choosing instead to celebrate Tesla’s success. Many enthusiastically purchased a Model S or Model X and revered Elon Musk. In case you haven’t noticed, leaders in Washington, D.C. have done a sudden about-face on Musk and Tesla fairly recently.
The most recent example of this souring attitude comes via the $430 billion drugs and climate change bill Joe Manchin has agreed to after months of wrangling with Chuck Schumer. While spending our way out of inflation is absolute insanity, what really caught my eye was the electric vehicle tax credit.
You’ve likely heard about the wildfire that’s been raging in France since it’s been all over the news while being touted as an example of the ravages of global warming. While it’s tempting to dive into why weather becomes climate at the convenience of alarmists looking to grab power or the debate about how unchecked conservationist policies led to improper forest management and an abundance of fuel to keep the fire raging, there’s another aspect of this case which isn’t getting even a whisper of a mention in American corporate news.
This defeats a major talking point used to promote EV technology.
For years electric car enthusiasts have been incredibly smug about the lower costs associated with their vehicle of choice (never mind that the acquisition costs exclude most of the population). Pretty much everyone has seen the quippy personalized plates like “GASLOL” to taunt all the plebs who haven’t made the switch. Well, who’s laughing now?
Written by Winnie Yeh, the article titled “3 circular economy approaches to reduce demand for critical metals” reasons why we can’t let people continue driving their own cars. As I’ve noted often, transitioning from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles will require considerable innovation and likely much longer than 10 or 15 years to realize, if you want to do it through a free market economy system.
A revolution in transportation, energy, and city planning is brewing in the kingdom. But is everything as advertised?
Something strange is happening in Saudi Arabia. Several years ago, I remember reading stories about the Saudis realizing the days of fossil fuel energy were numbered so they were investing heavily in “green” energy. At the time I filed it away as more hype for solar panels and wind turbines and moved on. Then Saudi Arabia’s public wealth fund became a major investor in electric car startup Lucid, claiming about a 62% stake in the company. Most largely ignored this involvement since Lucid wasn’t a player in the automotive market, only having some proof of concepts to show off at the time.
Things have changed in 2022 with Lucid pumping out luxury EVs for well-heeled customers around the globe. Many corporate media, both automotive and mainstream, have been fawning over Lucid. Some have gone so far as to openly question if the Newark, California automaker will knock Tesla off its lofty perch in the EV space. The $77,400 starting price tag for the Lucid Air might make some laugh at such an assertion, but compared to the $106,440 starting price of the 2022 Tesla Model S, a car that started at $57,400 back in November 2012, such speculation doesn’t seem quite so ridiculous.
Back in April of this year, Lucid finalized a deal with the government of Saudi Arabia for the purchase of up to 100,000 Lucid EVs over the next ten years. The agreement guarantees the purchase of 50,000 units over a decade, with the option of buying another 50,000.