No. 919
October 18, 2017
 

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 Autoextremist.com, 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  witchhuntbook.com). 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.

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Monday
Jul242017

ON DEMON FRENZY, SMOKY BURNOUTS AND THE FOG OF WAR.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. I must say, every time I think some in the automotive media can’t stoop any lower I am reminded yet again that oh yes, they can stoop lower than I previously thought was even possible, so much so in fact that at this point the bar has been lowered – and buried – about two inches deep in the ground.

The latest blow to the automotive media’s credibility has been on full display over the last week as certain esteemed (cough, hack) members of the media fell all over themselves gushing about the new Dodge Demon.

Now before all the muscle heads out there raise their pitchforks in outrage, let me make something very clear about what the Demon is, and isn’t.

The Demon is a factory hot rod created by the True Believers out in Auburn Hills aimed at such a micro segment of the auto enthusiast population that it would barely merit a mention outside of the old-school, drag-racing-oriented prospects it is aimed at, except for the fact that the FCA “brain trust” – and I use that term loosely – decided it would be a perfect smokescreen to distract the media from the fact that FCA has been teetering on the brink for months and there’s no relief in sight.

So, voila! – FCA honchos and their complicit PR minions decide to court the carpal-tunnel-maimed scribes in the automotive media by portraying the Demon as a showcase of FCA advanced technology, hoping that the tire smoke would obscure all the nasty bits long associated with FCA. You must be fully aware of FCA’s greatest – and ugly – hits by now: the reporting of out-and-out fraudulent sales numbers going back years that still outrages this industry a year after first being reported; the company’s orchestrated – and lethal – subprime financing campaign with its partner Banco Santander SA, which is directly responsible for fueling the next subprime crisis in the auto industry; Sergio’s desperate search for a partner or a buyer so that he and his Fiat heir-handlers can cash out while the getting out is good; etc., etc. And of course the ongoing Alfa Romeo fiasco, which is now just a blatant embarrassment mired in the fact that FCA is perpetually incapable of building anything with quality, no matter how good the vehicles look on paper.

Added to this litany of woe is the fact that sales of Marchionne’s heretofore Golden Calf – aka the Jeep franchise and the raison d’etre for his wildly optimistic valuation of the company – have now cooled, big-time. In fact Jeep is spinning its wheels in the market right now, much to Sergio’s chagrin and burgeoning panic.

So sure, why not assemble the gullible automotive media and immerse them in the Fog of War generated by smoky burnouts on a drag strip in Indianapolis? And then why not sell them on the fact that the Demon is living, breathing proof that the company does, in fact, have it goin’ on? They’ll buy it, right?

Except that it’s all unmitigated bullshit. The Demon isn’t a testament to FCA’s advanced technology, it’s a testament to the True Believers in Auburn Hills who worked on it, and their ability to come up with a backroom project using time-honored hot-rodding principles on a ancient, bloated platform and somehow make it all come together enough to build 3300 cars (including 300 in Canada) that will go real yee-hah fast. That the car has no business being sold without a roll cage and that FCA is getting away with offering a missile launcher to anyone out there willing to spend $86,000 on one (not counting the dealers who are asking $75,000 for the “privilege” of buying one) is beside the point.

And damn if FCA didn’t get what it wanted. The accounts by “journalists” who apparently have had little experience with driving seriously fast cars were absolutely gushing with praise as they waxed poetically about the awesome Demon, forgetting the fact that it’s an obscure, backroom hot-rod project relevant to absolutely nothing in the real world. The Demon has zero to do with advanced technology, certainly not the kind of technology that might prop up FCA’s fortunes going forward (unless, of course, Sergio is forced to part the company out and Dodge becomes a mighty – but marginal – muscle car purveyor building nostalgia hot rods and police cruisers). In fact, give me a group of talented True Believers from any car company you choose and a set of targeted parameters, whether it’s creating a drag racing rocket or a road racing track special, and those targets will be met. (Kudos to those involved on the Demon project, but it’s more a testament to The Rebel Spirit, which I can appreciate, than it is an example of FCA’s ability to survive in The Future.)

So as the FCA honchos and their chirping PR minions bask in the glory of the ridiculously over-the-top press coverage generated by a factory hot rod with a severely limited shelf life, while savoring putting one over on too many members of the automotive media (I mean, really, several of you should have your credentials lifted, or at least be banned from the next three press junkets for egregious stupidity), the fact remains that FCA is teetering on the brink of oblivion because the carpetbagging mercenary who’s running the joint has played fast and loose with the facts – and has operated in a self-created, egomaniacal parallel universe that has no basis in reality – since Day One.

Demon Frenzy? Nah. It’s just certain members of the media who should have known better being sucked into a Fog of War orchestrated by an FCA hierarchy hell-bent on creating a giant smoke-and-mirrors distraction.

Nicely done.

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

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