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Tesla Introduces Cybertruck

22nd November 2019

Tesla introduced its Cybertruck on Thursday, to mixed reviews.

Tesla has a cadre of fanboys and girls that will fall over themselves over anything the company does. Its products thus far (the original Roadster, Model S, Model X, Model 3) have great features and (mostly) attractive packages. The upcoming Model Y seems to continue this. Further ahead, Tesla will (someday, one can presume) begin producing and selling the new Roadster and the Semi. Every one of these products has an attractive, distinctive design inside and out, long-range batteries, amazing acceleration and have garnered a cult-like following. A version of the Model 3 is the most efficient vehicle you can buy in the United States, getting a rating of 141 MPGe from the US EPA. Clearly, the company has a lot going for it.

Thursday, Tesla seemed to consciously put all of that on the line with the introduction of the Cybertruck. With a design that can be generously described as “unique”, Tesla seemed to say, “Let’s see how ugly we can make a vehicle and have people still fawn all over it.” This seemed like a joke. One might be excused if they were waiting for the punchline at the end. Surely, they would show the real Cybertruck soon, right? Nope. If there is a punchline, it wasn’t revealed yet.

The design is made up of entirely flat panels – there are no compound curves, no rounded surfaces. Frankly, I think an 8-year old drew this in art class, and Musk decided to make it as a joke. Besides being a (cough…cough) distinctive design, the only good reason to design a vehicle like this is to save tooling cost. When a typical exterior panel has the kind of surfaces you’re used to seeing, the part must go through multiple steps of stamping. The different tools required to do this are quite expensive and can really add up to many millions of dollars. This design requires none of that multi-step process and is certainly a big part in keeping the starting price less than $40,000.

One “feature” in particular has made a lot of news: the supposed armored glass windows. Musk described them as being like a transparent steel. To demonstrate this, well, just watch:

So much for “unbreakable” glass!

What do you think? Will this be a success? Do you like it? Am I being too harsh? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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Nissan began the advertising of its new Titan XD pickup last night during the college football National Championship game with an ad called “Shoulders of Giants”. It was a Super Bowl-like image ad, very much in the way of the recent Super Bowl ads from Fiat Chrysler. This is no coincidence, as Nissan’s Fred Diaz, Nissan’s sales VP until recently (now in charge of trucks and commercial vehicles), was the head of Fiat Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand before moving to Nissan a few years ago.

The ad (click below to watch), elicits images of heroes from firefighters to astronauts to moms and dads – the giants on whose shoulders we stand to reach new heights. Nissan draws a parallel from these heroes to the giants of the pickup market, “Chevy…Ford…Dodge”. Of course, the ad shows very old models of each brand that it is honoring. It would never show their latest models, partially because the styling of the new Titan has been criticized as a weird hybrid of styling of those 3 competitors (the “Nissan F-Ramverado”).

To me, the most interesting part of the ad is in one particular choice of wording. According to Nissan’s Diaz, “We ached and pained over every word, comma, and pause in this ad because we didn’t want our competitors looking at it and thinking we’re trying to give them a backhanded compliment. That’s not the case. We’re not doing this to be shallow. Our thank-you is sincere.” Maybe, but Diaz was instrumental in the rebranding of Dodge trucks into Ram Trucks several years ago. It is beyond belief that referring to his former employer’s truck brand by its old name was a mistake or an oversight. I’m sure some Nissan PR person would tell you that using Dodge vs. Ram was meant to refer to the history of the trucks, but I think it was the subtlest of digs at his friends in Auburn Hills.

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Chevrolet introduced the upcoming Camaro ZL1 at the Chicago Auto Show today. All you really need to know is that it has a 6.2L Supercharged V8 making 550HP and 550 lb-ft of torque. It will only be available with a 6-speed manual transmission. It has a revised suspension and a dual-mode exhaust system, which alters the sound level and character in response to engine rpm. First used on the legendary Corvette, and specifically tuned for Camaro ZL1, the dual-mode exhaust will give the car a signature sound.

The ZL1 name is derived from the all-aluminum racing engine of the same name, which was developed in the late 1960s and installed into a handful of regular-production 1969 Camaros. Only 69 were built with the engine, but they’ve achieved mythical status among enthusiasts, as they represented the pinnacle in Camaro performance – until now.

Camaro ZL1’s design communicates and supports its performance mission. Rather than using decorative elements, ZL1 is visually differentiated from other current Camaro models with elements vital to the car’s elevated capabilities.

“Everything about the ZL1’s design is directly related to its technology and serious performance, especially aerodynamics,” said Ed Welburn, vice president, Global Design. “Our designers’ goal was to execute that function-oriented design with beautifully sculpted forms, creating an imposing, powerful persona. Function becomes the aesthetic. The intent is a car that delivers on the attitude it projects.”

Major elements of the ZL1’s design are a new front fascia and hood with air extractors, designed in tandem to create aerodynamic downforce to aid handling. The car’s hood includes a signature center section constructed of carbon fiber and rendered in satin black finish. New rocker panels, wide tires, 20-inch wheels and exhaust tips portray the car’s handling and power. The ZL1 badge appears on the grille, hood and the brake calipers, all key areas portraying the technology within.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep released images yesterday of the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which went into production this week atChrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit. This is the 4th generation of the Grand Cherokee, originally introduced in 1992. It is completely reengineered and redesigned for 2011 – with a new sculpted body, athletic profile, panoramic dual-pane sun roof and an interior with premium soft-touch materials. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee features Chrysler’s all-new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that boasts an 11 percent improvement in fuel economy and delivers up to 23 mpg and more than 500 miles on one tank of gas. Capability highlights include a choice of three 4×4 systems, new Jeep Quadra-Lift™ Air Suspension and Selec-Terrain™ systems and towing capability of 7,400 lbs. On-road dynamics are improved courtesy of new independent front and rear suspension systems and a new body structure that dramatically increases torsional stiffness.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4×2 models start at a sticker price of $30,995 – $495 lower than the outgoing model. Grand Cherokee Laredo 4×4 models start at $32,995 – $465 lower than the outgoing model. The Overland model is the top of the line, with a price of $42,995 in 4×4 guise. The Limited model slots in between. The 2011 Grand Cherokee arrives in Jeep showrooms next month.

It is hard to overstate the importance of this product launch to Chrysler. Before Fiat’s present management, Chrysler was run by Daimler, which cost-cut the products into irrelevance, and then Cerberus, which cut the cupboard bare of new product investment. There is very little new product coming in the short-term, so it is very important that the new launches it does have are home runs. Chrysler plans to make improvements to just about every product in the next year, but no major launches outside of the Grand Cherokee and the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger due later this year until Fiat-based new products start coming next year and the year after. The Grand Cherokee looks like a winner, but SUV sales are down overall, which will limit the sales potential. Ford and GM, though, have abandoned the true, off-road (mid-size) SUV market, leaving the market to Jeep, Nissan (Xterra & Pathfinder) and Toyota (4Runner).

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

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The Chevy Volt, due out late this year, is being produced in small quantities for testing and evaluation at the company’s Hamtramck Assembly plant in Detroit. Before it was even ready for that step, it was produced at the preproduction facility at GM’s Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. GM gave the National Geographic Channel full access to the preproduction center. NatGeo takes you through the whole process, from creating molds to stamping, welding, painting and final assembly and trim. The videos below make up the whole show. While watching, keep in mind that this is where GM tests its production process. Most of the manual processes you will see do not happen in the “regular” assembly process.

If you’ve never been in a car factory, this show will give you a great idea of the immense complexity of the modern automobile. And as complex as an everyday car is, the Chevy Volt is much more complex. If you have been in a car factory, this will still be very interesting.  Enjoy!

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First, Ford announced the new V6 for the 2011 Mustang with its 305 horsepower and 30 MPG. Then came the announcement of the new GT, with 412 horsepower and 25 MPG. Now Ford announces the upgrades to the Shelby GT500, the big kahuna of the Mustang lineup. The 2010 Shelby made due with only 540 horsepower; the ’11 bumps that up to 550. Torque stays at 510 lb.-ft. The engine is now made of an aluminum block instead of the iron block, and this contributes to a 102 pound weight reduction for the engine. The weight reduction helps the ’11 Shelby improve fuel economy from 14 city/22 highway to 15/23. This might not sound like much, but the 1 MPG improvement results in the first Shelby not subject to the dreaded gas guzzler tax.

New for 2011 is an SVT Performance Package for those who want even more performance out of their Shelby GT500 for racetrack-ready driving dynamics. Complete with all-new Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 tires that SVT engineers worked directly with Goodyear to develop, the car is ready to race. The tires offer superb dry traction and precise handling, complete with a race-inspired high-performance tread compound.

The optional package also offers unique styling, lighter wheels, a higher rear axle ratio and stiffer springs, and it is available on both the convertible and coupe. Ford’s data show the 2011 coupe with the SVT Performance Package is 3.0 seconds faster per lap than the 2010 Shelby GT500 on a 2.3-mile test track.

For 2011, Shelby GT500 also benefits from NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) improvements. Ford improved road noise by 20 percent versus the 2010 Shelby by adding sound-deadening material on either side of the instrument panel, sound absorption behind interior trim panels, and a rear wheel arch liner to reduce noise on gravel or wet surfaces – all resulting in the driver hearing more exhaust and engine sound and less road and air noise.

The Shelby GT500 convertible model features enhanced structural rigidity, with lateral stiffness improved by 12 percent versus the 2010 model. The structural improvements to the convertible gave SVT the opportunity to be more sport-oriented in the chassis tuning, without trading comfort. Along with the chassis and structural improvements, the 2011 model also will get standard 19-inch aluminum wheels.

One of the biggest changes for this Shelby is that the convertible acts and feels like a coupe,” said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief nameplate engineer. “Before, they had a very different character, and the convertible is taking a big step in the sportiness and handling precision area, without degrading the ride.”

GT500 gets a new exhaust for 2011, roaring with an even more aggressive sound than the 2010 model. The 2.75-inch exhaust with all-new tuning helped to deliver the additional 10 horsepower.

Thus completes the powertrain upgrades for the 2011 Mustang. With a lineup that starts at 300HP and goes up to 550, the Mustang has the best engine lineup in the segment, perhaps the industry. Hopefully, I will be able to test drive this demonic engine, or at least one of its tamer brothers, sometime soon.

That’s what I think – how about you? Please leave your comments below.

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Out to make all the other cars green with envy, Chevrolet introduced a new special version of the hot-selling Camaro this week. Dubbed the Camaro Synergy Special Edition, the new Camaro is a 1LT (V6) with a fancy paint job. Along with the fancy green paint job come racing stripes and a special interior, with Synergy Green instrument panel and door inserts. Synergy Green stitching also accents the Jet Black cloth seats, steering wheel, shift knob and center console.

The Special Edition also includes the Camaro Convenience and Connectivity Package, with Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB port for MP3 players, and remote vehicle start for models equipped with an automatic transmission.

“The Synergy Special Edition package is designed for customers who want a unique performance car at an attainable price,” says Camaro marketing manager John Fitzpatrick. “For under $27,000, Camaro Synergy Special Edition offers standout styling, modern technologies like Bluetooth, and 304 horsepower under the hood.”

This class of car has always been about more than muscle (although muscle is a vital part); it’s been about fashion as well. That’s why Camaros, Mustangs, Challengers and others are among the most customized vehicles. Everybody wants one that is different from everybody else’s. Manufacturers have gotten in on the act, catering to those who have no interest in doing the customizing themselves, but still want the unique look. This is just the latest example. Ford tried to institutionalize this with their Vehicle Personalization division, which met with mixed success.

Back to this car, which is a great looking addition to the already hot Camaro lineup. Synergy will be produced in limited quantities from February to May only, so get yours today!

That’s what I think – how about you? Please leave your comments below. Just click on “Comments.” It’s so easy, even you can do it. But not a caveman.

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2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

In a move that surprises nobody, Cadillac announced today that it will introduce the production version of the new CTS-V coupe at this month’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Obviously, the CTS-V coupe is the combination of the CTS coupe that Cadillac has show previously with the 556HP supercharged V8 motor from the CTS-V sedan.  It also includes Magnetic Ride Control, racing-bred Brembo brakes and an available automatic transmission with paddle-shift control.

The CTS-V Coupe employs the LSA 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine also found on the CTS-VSport Sedan. Rated at 556 horsepower (415 kW) and 551 lb.-ft. of torque (747 Nm), it is the most powerful engine offered in Cadillac’s history and propels the CTS-V Coupe from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

A pair of six-speed transmissions is offered in the CTS-V Coupe: a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual with a dual-disc clutch and a Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic with paddle-shift control. Performance Algorithm Shifting is part of the auto’s programming and provides a performance-oriented shift pattern during sustained high-performance driving. As with other Cadillac models, the driver needs only to slide the shifter into the manual “gate” to put the transmission into that more aggressive mode.  As I have told you in previous stories, this car should only be ordered with the manual.  Why?  Because it has 3 pedals on the floor – as God intended.  The auto is only offered because some of you can’t/won’t drive a manual – and Cadillac needs the sales.

So what is “Magnetic Ride Control”?  It is an advanced suspension system also found on the Corvette.  GM describes it like this:

Electronic sensors at all four wheels literally “read the road” every millisecond, making constant adjustments to damping to create virtually instantaneous and extremely precise control of body motions. This is of particular benefit for a high-performance car because it helps keep the car very composed during hard cornering, acceleration, braking and other dynamic maneuvers.

The Magnetic Ride shocks also enable a broader range of damping control to optimize the ride and handling for all driving conditions. In the CTS-V Coupe, an extra measure of control is offered, with two selectable modes (Tour and Sport), enabling the driver to tailor the suspension for grand touring or more spirited performance driving.

The CTS-V coupe starts production this summer.  Look for it at a Cadillac dealer soon after.  And don’t forget your driving gloves (and a big checkbook).

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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Badge Engineering Gone Wrong

16th December 2009

So what do you get when you cross an expensive sports car with a quirky economy car?  No, this isn’t the losing joke at a 3rd grade joke contest.  It’s a real car!  Well, sort of.  It will be a real car – if you could call it that.  This past summer, Aston Martin, the maker of uber-expensive sports cars announced it would jointly develop a small car with Toyota.  The car would be based on the Toyota iQ, which is a small city car (think Smart ForTwo) that will be sold in the US in about a year as a Scion iQ.  The Slandy Report didn’t tell you about this, because we thought it was a badly-timed April Fool’s joke.

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

So let’s get into the details, shall we?  Aston Martin makes drop-dead gorgeous, very expensive sports cars in very small numbers.  The cheapest model for sale in the US is the V8 Vantage, which starts at $120K.  The most expensive, the DBS, starts at $270K.  The Toyota iQ is a very small, no frills economy car.  While not for sale in the US yet, It starts at £9763 (about $16,000) in the UK.  It has 2 engines available; the faster of the 2 will get you to 60 MPH in over 13 seconds!

So along comes the Aston Martin Cygnet, of which Aston has released official photos.  This car is so wrong on so many levels it just astounds me.  Boggles the mind.  First, this is perhaps the worst example of “badge engineering” ever.  For the uninitiated, badge engineering is when an automaker “creates” a new vehicle simply by “engineering” a new badge for it.  The Detroit 3 have been (correctly) accused of this for

Aston Martin Cygnet

Aston Martin Cygnet

years.  That Aston Martin, one of the most exclusive brands in all of automotive-dom, would succumb to this with a lowly Toyota city car gives me a headache.  Second, this is also perhaps the worst example of brand extension ever.  Even with Aston Martin’s snout grafted on its nose and a fancy interior, this car might cost $40,000 if/when it comes to the US.  That would still be 67% lower than its cheapest car now.  To say that this car will hurt Aston’s reputation and alienate its present customers is an understatement.  Third, this car, like its Toyota half-brother, is just plain ugly.  Aston Martin cars, as I mentioned above, are known to be works of art on wheels.  So much so that they should come standard with a bib.  I would be embarrassed to sell this.  Or to be seen in it.

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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Today, Ford announced details of the 2011 Mustang V6, which will receive substantial upgrades in the powertrain.  Gone is the SOHC 4.0L Cologne V6, which has powered the V6 Mustang since the present generation (S197) was introduced in 2005 (and which traces its lineage back to 1968).  In its place will be the newest version of the Cyclone engine family, a 3.7L V6 with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT), which can adjust the valvetrain “in microseconds”. With Ti-VCT operating its four valves per cylinder, the new Mustang V6 powerplant sends significantly more horsepower and torque (305 hp and 280 ft.-lb.) to the rear wheels than its predecessor (210 and 240, respectively) – despite its smaller displacement.

While the extra horsepower and refined engine operation are great, the 2011 Mustang 3.7-liter V6 also achieves projected class-leading fuel economy:

  • 19 mpg city/30 highway with six-speed automatic transmission, up from 16 mpg city/24 highway on the 2010 model with automatic – a 25 percent improvement
  • 18 mpg city/29 highway with six-speed manual transmission, up from 18 mpg city/26 highway on the 2010 model with manual

Refinements throughout Mustang’s body, powertrain and chassis design also contribute to the improved fuel economy numbers, including the new Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system which eliminates the drag of an engine-operated hydraulic power steering pump (it also reduces noise), six-speed transmissions that allow lower cruising revs without sacrificing off-the-line performance and aerodynamic improvements such as a new front fascia, tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, a taller air dam and an added rear decklid seal.

Enthusiasts who want a premium performance-oriented Mustang V6 can opt for the new Performance Package, which will be available August 2010. Designed for driving enthusiasts, the Mustang V6 Performance Package comprises:

  • A 3.31 rear axle ratio for quicker off-the-line acceleration
  • Firmer Mustang GT suspension
  • 19-inch wheels (1st time available on a V6 Mustang)
  • Summer performance tires
  • A strut tower brace for increased chassis rigidity
  • Unique electronic stability control calibration with sport mode for performance driving

For 2011, Mustang also includes new technology and convenience features, including a standard driver’s message center in the instrument cluster, integrated blind-spot mirrors in the side-view mirror housings, Ford’s MyKey™ system, designed to encourage safer teen driving and safety belt use, also is newly available on Mustang.

So where does this leave the V8 Mustang?  While today’s announcements did not discuss the V8 Mustang, Ford will obviously have to do something. The new V6, as noted above makes 305 hp and 280 ft.-lb. of torque, while the present 4.6L V8 makes 315 and 325, respectively. The torque difference is enough to notice, but the horsepower is way too close. While Ford has not yet announced the details, word has leaked that the 2011 V8 Mustang will be powered by a new 5.0L V8 that will make at least 400 hp and 400 ft.-lb. – stay tuned for more details.

So who’s on top in the latest chapter of the Pony Wars? It’s a complex comparison, but the Mustang, which already beats the Camaro and Challenger in several areas besides power, will now be very competitive in power as well. As you can see, all 3 vehicles are about the same size, with the Mustang smallest in most dimensions and the Challenger the largest in every dimension. If the 2011 Mustang GT matches the Camaro SS in power, it will indeed be a very compelling package – especially if they hold the line in pricing.  Sadly for Dodge, it will now be underpowered in a bigger, heavier package.

2011 Mustang

2010 Camaro

2010 Challenger

V6 HP/Torque




V6 Fuel Economy




V8 HP Torque

400+/400+ (est.)


372/400 (5.7L)

425/400 (6.1L)

V8 Fuel Economy



16/25 (5.7L)

14/22 (6.1L)


$21,845 (2010)



















That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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