No. 969
October 24, 2018

About The Autoextremist

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

Follow Autoextremist




By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. I love the fact that Wall Street has decided that “Detroit” is worth paying attention to now. It seems that Wall Street now deems that making noise about electric vehicles in the planning stages – which Detroit automakers have done in recent weeks – is tantamount to the Big Bold Idea, something that has been decidedly lacking, according to these self-proclaimed “investors in America.” 

Why is this happening now? Maybe it has something to do with the bloom coming off the Tesla rose, and the realization that St. Elon’s prodigious pronouncements about the Model 3 can’t be transitioned into deliverable cars. After all, the parasitic trolls on Wall Street breathlessly touted Tesla as the "magic bullet" that would transform and revolutionize the "moribund" domestic auto industry, which caused a run-up in the stock that was simply indefensible. And now that regular Jack and Jill investors have participated in the Tesla stock run-up with both feet, Wall Street is saying “never mind” – well, except for a few diehards still insisting that Elon walks on water – and moving on to something else, which is why the notoriously undervalued domestic auto stocks are suddenly hot.

This is ironic for a couple of reasons. First of all, the denizens of Wall Street have dismissed the industrial fabric of this nation - aka the auto industry - because it just wasn't sexy enough or profitable enough for their tastes. As if providing efficient mass transportation for the country was some sort of sin. And this has been a common refrain for decades.

Consistent with that attitude, the huckster-speculators on Wall Street have gone out of their way to ignore the fact that GM developed the Chevrolet Bolt, the all-electric machine that delivers more real world range – and value – right now, long before the Model 3 even becomes available in any notable quantities. But remember, anything to do with Detroit just isn’t sexy enough for Wall Street, because it doesn’t have the glittering facade of Silicon Valley attached to it.

Now? GM stock is up dramatically. What’s different? Have the clouds parted so much that the Wall Street-types can see the light? Not really. Sure, GM promised over 20 new, all-electric vehicles globally by 2023 or thereabouts, but is that all it took for Wall Street to flip the proverbial switch? No, it’s because Wall Street is participating in its specialty, which is betting on the come. (Oh, and the fact that Tesla isn’t delivering much except bad headlines connected with production delays for the Model 3 while still burning cash like a homecoming bonfire.)

This new light shining on Detroit from Wall Street is a double-edged sword, however. On the one hand it’s good to be recognized as one of this country’s technological centers of expertise when it comes to electrification and autonomy. In fact Silicon Valley did it long before anybody on Wall Street even thought about it. And it’s good to see Wall Street investors finally attaching real value to what Detroit does and can do, again. But I’m afraid this newfound attention has its liabilities too. And the news that GM is actively looking to acquire autonomous-based companies is a warning sign. 

One thing that hasn’t changed about Detroit is that if there’s even a shred of good news or prosperity auto executives’ brains get scrambled. The thinking goes like this: If a little bit is good, then a lot more must be exponentially better, even though that’s not necessarily the case. And because of this attitude they run things into the ground with impunity. It’s just the way they roll.

Right now Detroit is all-in with autonomous technologies, ride sharing and The Future. I’ve seen it and I’ve heard it. Some Detroit auto executives – let me stress some – have gone completely off the rails. These people believe that the corporate entities they work for will be tech companies, autonomous companies and digital communication companies; in fact anything but car companies. And in the process they’re forgetting that individual modes of transportation – as in cars and trucks – are going to be the primary component of their business for years and years to come.

This headlong rush into autonomous technologies has other warning signs attached to it too. Detroit car companies’ propensity to throw money around like drunken sailors is well documented. Add to this the fact that Detroit car executives achingly want to be thought of as being hip and on the bleeding edge of things, with the looming shadow of Silicon Valley constantly hovering over them, and it’s a recipe for disaster. As you read this there are legions of undiscovered autonomous geeks working in their mothers’ basements just chomping at the bit to be discovered by some earnest explorers from Detroit loaded with cash and looking for the Next Big Thing. 

And the potential for Detroit auto executives to go nowhere good – and nowhere fast – is high.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.