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Ronnie Schreiber

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.

By on March 15, 2018

Tesla keeps insisting it’s going to show the automotive industry how to do things differently. The company’s make-or-break Model 3 was put into production without any pilot assembly or validation prototypes. Tesla is also more vertically integrated than traditional automakers these days. It owns its own stores and it makes many of its own parts. So far, with the EV maker as of yet unable to really get mass production underway on the new sedan, the jury is out on Tesla’s strategies.

CNBC now reports current and former Tesla workers saying almost half of the parts made at or produced for the EV startup’s Fremont, California assembly plant don’t meet production standards, forcing rework and end-of-line repairs, as well as impairing morale in the facility.

This raises the question of whether Tesla will be able to mass-produce vehicles in the quantities associated with automotive mass production: hundreds of thousands of vehicles per year. Tesla needs to be able to build and sell its Model 3 at those numbers to be a viable firm. (Read More…)

By on February 26, 2018

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The Uber transportation network has had its share of legal woes. When there’s a Wikipedia entry specifically on protests and legal action, including hundreds of lawsuits, against Uber, you know the company is doing its part in keeping attorneys employed.

Uber’s legal matters include claims of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, invasion of privacy, labor law violations, an intellectual property dispute with Alphabet/Google’s Waymo division over autonomous vehicles, the use of “grayballing” software to avoid detection by police enforcing local taxi laws, the possible criminal use of an application named Hell that tracked its competitors at Lyft, plus continuing drama involving Uber’s previous CEO Travis Kalanick.

That may seem like a unsavory stew of legal problems, but it’s small potatoes compared to the early days of the taxicab business, when bribery, stock manipulation, trademark infringement, jury tampering, bombings, and even murder was how business was done. (Read More…)

By on February 23, 2018

There’s a funeral home not far from my house. On my way to drop off an anniversary present for my daughter-in-law, I drove past their hearse, which appeared to be pulled over by a member of the local constabulary. How often do you see a hearse pulled over by a cop? I drove down the street, made a couple of “Michigan lefts” on the boulevarded highway and stopped to snap a few pics. (Read More…)

By on February 23, 2018

People tend to associate (and with good reason, because he was a founder) the Porsche company with Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. However, the first Porsche car did not spring from the Dr. Eng. Porsche’s fertile mind, but rather from that of his namesake and son, Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche, known as Ferry. It was he who created the 356 model that established — permanently, it seems — the paradigm for Porsche sports cars that continues through today in the latest iteration of the 911 (itself designed by Ferry’s son, Butzi).

In 1998, for the 50th anniversary of Porsche’s beginnings as a car maker (the design firm was founded in 1931 with Adolph Rosenberger and Ernst Piech, the senior Porsche’s son in law, but the first Porsche branded car appeared in 1948), and apparently just prior to Ferry Porsche’s passing, he appeared in a commercial conveying his view of the Porsche company’s mission statement.

There is wisdom in his words that anyone in business should heed. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2018

jaguar e type series i0019_B

If you haven’t noticed, Series I Jaguar E-Types have gotten very pricey. There were only about 75,000 Es made and not all have survived for a half century. The E-Type had one of the early monocoque unibodies and it was almost as if it was designed to trap water and rust. Also, quite a few were roadsters and open cars don’t do well when exposed to the elements. That’s made all E-Types rare enough to become valuable (well, that and things like a supple suspension, the outstanding Jaguar XK DOHC inline-six, and a body that even Enzo said was sexier than his Ferraris).

They’re so valuable that at this point it may well be that there is no such thing as an unrestorable example. A number of restoration shops around the world specialize in bringing back E-Types. Every body component is available, and it’s no exaggeration to say that as long as there is a number plate, they can probably rebuild an E around it. There’s even a chance, what with the E’s insane appreciation, that you might not even be underwater after the restoration is done.

I thought about that when I saw this heavily patinated ’64 E-Type coupe for sale on eBay for $47,000. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2018

One of the red-circled events on my calendar every year is the Detroit Autorama, arguably the world’s best custom car and hot rod show. As is fitting for an event in the Motor City, the vehicles competing for the Autorama’s top prize, the Ridler Award, must actually function, they have to be driven onto the show floor under their own power, and the hoods are up during judging so the judges can evaluate the engine compartment.

While that makes for fair competition, it also makes for less-than-ideal photography of the cars’ styling. No kid sitting in seventh-grade study hall ever drew a hot car with the hood up.

It might surprise you, then, that I was excited to find out about the Engines Exposed exhibit running until the end of February at the Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America display. (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2018

Tesla’s Model 3, described by many as a make-or-break product for the EV startup, has had a very slow launch, with production falling far short of the numbers Tesla had predicted.

CNBC is now reporting that, according to current and former Tesla employees, one of the factors in the launch delay is the failure of Tesla’s battery “Gigafactory” in aptly named Sparks, Nevada to come up to speed. Ironically, the highly automated factory apparently needs so much human hand work that Tesla has had to “borrow” dozens of employees from its partner in the facility, Panasonic. (Read More…)

By on January 26, 2018

Ilin Talem TA6

Obscure cars fascinate me, which may be why I so much like Corey Lewis’ Rare Rides series on unusual and limited edition vehicles. Unfortunately, when you’ve been to as many car shows as I have, you can become a bit jaded; sometimes, unusual limited-edition vehicles don’t quite satisfy that jones for the weird and strange.

Corey’s Rides are usually some kind of actual production vehicle, something you might actually be able to buy. I’m thinking more like something you’d find tucked away in the corner of some private car museum somewhere outside of BFE.

Sometimes you need a hotshot of pure uncut obscure right to the mainline. That’s what Misfit Machines is all about. I’d like to say it’s going to be completely strange, but they’ll most likely all have wheels, so I’m aiming at 99 percent weird. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2018

Nissan Go On Artisans naias 2018

Nissan introduced the Xmotion (pronounced Cross Motion) CUV concept at the NAIAS in Detroit the other day. The company says the Xmotion is inspired by the Yokahama-based automaker’s Japanese heritage, particularly the practice of traditional Japanese crafts.  The crossover is said to connect “traditional and modern Japanese craftsmanship and technologies.” Artisanal techniques such as weaving, metalsmithing, and woodworking were used to craft the interior of the Xmotion.

To emphasize that connection, master shokunins from Kyoto’s GO ON consortium of traditional Japanese artisans were brought to Detroit to demonstrate their skills to assembled media and the general public after the big auto show officially opened later in the week. (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2018

gurney rip

He called his cars — made in California — Eagles, and his friends and fans nicknamed him Big Eagle. His company and team were the All American Racers (though they raced Toyotas for some time). He was one of less than a handful of American drivers to win in Formula One, but the only one to do so in an American race car, built in his own shop. He, along with A.J. Foyt and Roy Lunn, helped The Deuce kick il Commendatore’s ass at LeMans, in a car designed and built in Dearborn, Michigan. There was even a lighthearted attempt to draft him to run for president.

Dan Gurney was quintessentially American, one of the people who have made the United States a great country. (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2018

Frankfurt Auto Show 2016

Every year about 5,000 people are credentialed as media to cover the big NAIAS, better known outside the industry as the Detroit auto show, and every year there are articles written about whether or not auto shows are a relic of the pre-internet past of printed magazines and their lead times.

When new product information can be instantly transmitted directly to potential customers, who needs to cater to jaded journosaurs, soon to be extinct? When new product information can be teased and leaked to build buzz on social media months ahead of any physical reveal, who needs an actual physical car show? Even for the automotive journalists, there is less excitement with each big auto show, a sense of deja vu.

Women in Saudi Arabia haven’t yet had a chance to become jaded about car shows. That’s because as the automotive (and other) journalists were starting to arrive in Detroit, the first car show ever for Saudi women was being held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Read More…)

By on January 15, 2018

One of the talking points at Ford’s reveal of the North American market Ranger, Edge ST, and the latest coming of the Mustang Bullitt, was the automaker’s commitment of $11 billion dollars to the further electrification of Ford’s product lineup. An upcoming hybrid version of the F-150 pickup truck was announced and the presentation ended with the tease of a “performance” battery electric vehicle to be on sale for the 2020 model year under the Mach 1 name.

While it’s now clear that the new Mach 1 will be a purely electrically powered vehicle, Ford was less forthcoming about what kind of vehicle it is going to be. Don’t assume that it will be based on the Mustang. (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2018

2018 Toyota Camry Georgetown Kentucky assembly plant - Image: Toyota

While it’s definitely not the same doom and gloom vibe felt around the domestic auto industry as it was financially circling the drain in 2008, headlines in the new year seem to forecast storm clouds on the horizon.

After nearly a decade of sales growth, the American market for passenger cars and light trucks flattened out in 2017. Actually, sales didn’t just flatten in the U.S., they dropped 1.75 percent for the year. Not only has the overall U.S. market shrunk, we’re seeing predictions of the death of an entire segment of that market, the sedan — a segment that has pretty much defined the American automotive world for a century. It’s one thing for an iconoclastic website like TTAC to be talking about a sedan deathwatch, but when that prediction is on the front page of the Detroit News, with reports that Ford may very well stop building sedans in America and that Buick sedan sales have been cut in half over the past year, people will take notice.

I’m not here to depress you, though. Despite the gloomy cast to things, in reality the automotive industry as a whole is doing very well. (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2018

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I’m old enough to remember when self-serve gasoline stations were an innovation. That was some time after filling station attendants stopped washing your windshield and checking your oil, or even giving you a free set of steak knives  or glass tumblers with a fill-up along with actually pumping your fuel. Age perhaps makes my memory imprecise, but I believe the change from full-service to self-service happened sometime after OPEC started jacking up the price of petroleum.

Since it was a way of saving a few pennies a gallon as fuel costs were increasing, self-serve was so popular that it spread across the fruited plains to the point where in many places in America today you can’t find anyone to pump your gas, let alone provide what used to be considered full service. Self-serve was embraced at the gas pump and it has pullulated to other retail establishments. I can’t remember the last time I went through a checkout lane with an actual human cashier when buying groceries, much as it annoys me to have a machine say “Thank you for shopping at Meijer.”

We now live in a self-serve world. Well, except for New Jersey and Oregon. Until now, both of those states have prohibited self-serve gasoline stations, but it looks like starting this year New Jersey will have that distinction all to itself. (Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

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We live in polarized times, when acknowledging the existence of one group of evil people is considered to be a defense of a second group of evil people that the first group of bad actors consider their enemies. Some folks have trouble holding the concept that it is possible to despise both sides of a controversy, without having to identify with this or that tribe. I dislike having to use caveats in my writing but let me say at the outset that I think that people and businesses should not unduly take advantage of situations during natural disasters and other catastrophes.

We’ve seen a lot of inspirational stories out of Texas and Florida in the literal wake of two mammoth storms. We’ve also seen some price gouging and looting. Catastrophes bring out the worst and best in both those that are directly affected, and in those who observe from afar.

A couple of Florida car dealers, in Hollywood and further north in Tallahassee, decided to shelter their inventories from Hurricane Irma in public parking structures made available to residents trying to keep their personal vehicles above flood waters (and somewhat protected from flying debris). The dealers may have protected their vehicles from Irma, but that didn’t protect them from a storm of bad publicity. Every car those dealers parked in those structures meant someone’s daily driver couldn’t be saved from the maelstrom. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • Dave M.: RAM is a huge money maker. Don’t see that going away.
  • FreedMike: Lovely car. Kind of surprised to find rust spots on it after a bare-metal restoration, though.
  • slavuta: Art, don’t throw away the context and the meaning. You might eat your neighbor first. You never know.
  • Inside Looking Out: “America’s best days are still ahead of us.” Nobody mentioned America so far. But...
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  • Adam Tonge
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