Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on August 10, 2017

elio-otc-chart

The past year hasn’t been particularly kind to Elio Motors, the startup trying to launch an economical enclosed-tandem, front-wheel drive three-wheeler. The company seems to be no closer to starting production and in fact has shuttered most of their operations, including assembly of their production-validation prototypes, and laid off most of their staff, to concentrate on raising the money they need to start building trikes.

For a while Elio was flying high. They had over 60,000 reservations and a Reg A+ stock offering raised $16 million. That stock quadrupled in price and briefly gave the company a billion-dollar valuation. Then, starting late in 2016, a pattern started forming. Some kind of bad news for Elio would appear on folks’ screens, either another production delay, a SEC filing with ominous-sounding boilerplate, or local politicians in Louisiana, where Elio promised to start building vehicles in what was formerly a GM assembly plant in Shreveport, would start complaining about a lack of progress. The bad news would get amplified by Elio’s critics, and their over-the-counter stock price would take a hit. A year ago the OTC shares were pretty stable at around $20/share. Down from the high of $60, but still significantly above the initial offering price of $14/share. By the end of 2016, however, it had dropped to about $15/share and since then it’s had a series of drops to about $8, then $7 and most recently about $5/share. Elio seemed headed for penny-stock status, or worse.

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By on August 9, 2017

presidio-terrace-malin-giddings

This is one of those stories that is bound to provoke a range of emotions. It involves a homeowners’ association, rich and powerful property owners, real-estate speculators and parking. None of those first three are likely to engender sympathy but in this case you sort of have to root for the little guys, the speculators.

San Francisco has some of the most expensive real estate in the United States. Pacific Heights is one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in San Fran and Presidio Terrace, a gated, guarded, private street is one of the priciest locations in that area. It’s across the street from the private Presidio Golf & Concordia Club. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi used to live on the circular street, as has Sen. Diane Feinstein. When one of the 35 mansions on Presidio Terrace go on the market, they fetch big money. There’s a house currently listed for $14.9 million dollars.

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By on August 7, 2017

mercury commuter

I’m old enough to remember when the word “minivan” didn’t exist, when American *moms drove carpools and kids to piano lessons in sedans and station wagons. Styles, tastes, and social conventions change, though. Over the decades we saw how Chrysler’s introduction of the front-wheel drive minivan, CAFE standards that favored light trucks, and women discovering that they liked sitting up high in traffic, have changed the American families’ fleet.

Due, in no small part, to consumers’ zeal to keep their mommymobiles from having the stigma of mommymobiles, we’ve seen the family “car” go from wagon, to minivan, to truck-based SUVs (which, much to those consumers’ dismay actually rode like trucks), to high-waisted passenger-car based crossovers. It’s not just the American fleet, either. CUVs are popular worldwide.

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By on July 28, 2017

price-car-2-874x800

When Jared Price tooled through a small town on Monday in a Lincoln Town Car missing all four doors, bereft of any license plate, and with a gaping hole where the windshield was supposed to be (but equipped with an axe embedded, Excalibur style, in the roof) it’s not surprising the local sheriff’s department received a report of a “suspicious vehicle.” (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2017

paul-elio

As TTAC reported recently, Elio Motors disclosed in its most recent annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission it needs an additional $64 million to begin series production of its first vehicle at a former General Motors assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana. This is on top of the $312 million it previously stated it required to bring the high-mileage trike to reality.

That isn’t the worst news.

In the filing, Elio Motors announced it was laying off sales and engineering personnel to conserve resources as it focused on securing more financing, primarily through the sale of stock and taking on more debt. An unnamed vendor is also in a payment dispute with Elio Motors, and the company is running a $100+ million deficit.

“Sure, there’s bad news,” Elio said on a phone call with TTAC, “but there’s also good news in the annual report that people are ignoring.”

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By on April 28, 2017

NanoCar Race Poster

Tata’s Nano is a very small car, but it’s more than brobdingnagian compared to the vehicles racing this weekend in Toulouse, France.

The first international nanocar race — organized by the materials scientists at Centre Nationnal de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and its Centre d’Elaboration de Matériaux et d’Etudes Structurales (CEMES) — brings motorsports down to the molecular level. Four teams will compete under the observation of a special, four-tipped scanning tunneling microscope on a racecourse made of gold atoms just 100 nanometers long.

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By on March 9, 2017

john goodenough the truth about cars
One of the factors holding back widespread acceptance of electric vehicles has been the development of battery storage. Until now, there has been nothing analogous for batteries to the computing industry’s Moore’s Law, which has seen integrated circuits become significantly more powerful, faster, and cheaper with each generation. While there have been incremental improvements in energy density — the primary drawback to battery power — a number of promising new battery technologies have not panned out.

Now, a research team headed by John Goodenough, whose 1980 invention of a cobalt-oxide cathode made powerful lithium-ion batteries possible, has announced the development of a solid-state battery cell that not only has the potential (no pun intended) to store three times as much power as a conventional lithium-ion cell, but also replaces the cells’ liquid electrolytes with a glass compound. That would eliminate the fire and explosion hazard known to Li-ion power packs. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

vwgticrushed-by-tree-close-up

If you live in the Upper Midwest or in southern Ontario, this won’t come as news to you: one of the worst windstorms in the region’s history swept through on Wednesday. Wind gusts of up to 68 miles per hour were recorded in the Detroit area. In southeastern Michigan alone, over 800,000 households and businesses were without electrical power after winds tore down trees and utility lines.

Fortunately for Lincoln Russell, who lives in Detroit’s Westbridge neighborhood, he was in Montreal when the storm blew through town. Unfortunately for Mr. Russell, he also left his dearly beloved 2007 Fahrenheit Edition Volkswagen GTI parked on the street back home. Shortly after noon, the high winds apparently encouraged a large tree with a trunk about three feet in diameter to make like one of Tolkein’s Ents and try to cross the street. Unlike Middle Earth’s traveling topiary, Detroit’s trees are not supernatural and this one came tumbling down, crushing Russell’s GTI and nearly knocking down a utility pole in the process. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Perhaps you’ve noticed, by its absence, that there isn’t any advertising for Tesla products. Elon Musk is pretty good at generating buzz without having to pay for it. For example, a number of media organizations recently ran the news that Musk took the advice given to him by a fifth-grade girl — via her dad’s Twitter account — on how to publicize his electric cars.

Bria Loveday had a school assignment involving writing and mailing a letter to a noted person and, the way the story goes, she chose Musk. In her letter she noted that while Tesla doesn’t advertise, a number of Tesla enthusiasts have produced their own entertaining commercials for the EV maker, and Bria suggested that Tesla hold a contest for the best one. The winner would get his or her ad aired and then receive some kind of prize like a free year’s worth of supercharging at a Tesla station. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2017

ktmbull

Much to the chagrin of a couple of generations of small truck enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, the United States got into a bit of a trade tiff with France and Germany over a protectionist tariff the European countries had placed on imports of American chicken in the early 1960s. The result was a 25-percent tariff levied on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imported into the U.S. Brandy was listed to retaliate against the French while the light truck duty targeted commercial versions of the VW Type II.

Due to another trade dispute over a different foodstuff, in this case beef, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (OUSTR) has proposed a 100% tariff on small to medium displacement motorcycles and scooters manufactured in the European Union. Motorcycles and scooters from 50 to 500 cc displacement were tucked in at the end of a long list of beef, pork, and other food products covered under the proposed duties. (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2017

hindustan-ambassador-ck-birla_021117014658

The Hindustan Ambassador, in production from 1958 to 2014, is an iconic vehicle. Iconic enough that news of Peugeot SA’s acquisition of the Ambassador brand from the C.K. Birla group’s Hindustan Motors got a fair amount attention despite most of the automotive news media being focused on Peugeot parent PSA’s proposed purchase of Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors.

As it happens, the $12,000,000 Ambassador deal is part of a much larger play in India by PSA that may work out to be as significant a move on the subcontinent as the Opel deal is in Europe. Now that the French government has bailed out PSA, they have big plans for India. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2017

If you’re going to a party to watch the big game this Sunday, there’s a good chance pizza will be on the menu. According to the good folks at the National Restaurant Association, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for the pizza industry. Pizza Hut will sell at least 2 million […]

By on January 19, 2017

traffic speed camera

Abraham Lincoln said that someone who represents themselves in a legal proceeding has a fool for a lawyer. Somewhat removed from his popular homespun image is the historical fact that Honest Abe was an experienced, high-powered attorney whose clients included entities like railroad companies. The man knew a thing or two about the practice of law.

The same can probably be said about Adam MacLeod, who teaches law students how to litigate at Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. Prof. MacLeod not only risked living down to Lincoln’s aphorism, he also violated many of the rules that he teaches his students how to act in court when he fought a ticket generated by a traffic camera in Montgomery, Alabama. (Read More…)

By on December 27, 2016

Boss Chrysler's Garage Walter P Chrysler Museum, Source: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Museums are among my favorite places in the world, but it was difficult to genuinely enjoy my last visit to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum on the Chrysler campus in Auburn Hills. That’s because it was indeed my last visit.

About 15 minutes after I left the museum on December 18th, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles closed it forever and began moving the vehicles to the Highland Park warehouse where Chrysler keeps its corporate car collection. The automaker has said the museum will be turned into office space.

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By on December 8, 2016

1968 plymouth valiant the truth about cars

We called our 1968 Plymouth Valiant 100 “Slithis” after a cheesy horror movie about snakes. I’m not sure why, in retrospect; most likely because it was a green. It wasn’t that metallic gold green popular in the early 1970s, sometimes called “baby shit green” (parents will understand). Just eight years after production, Slithis’ verdant topcoat was starting to lose its lustre. It had 98,000 miles on the odometer and we paid $50 for it — a genuine “$50 special.”

Today, something comparable would have twice as many miles, cost 10 to 20 times as many dollars, and likely be in far better shape. (Read More…)

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