No. 1018
October 16, 2019

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.

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By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. As this business – and life itself – hurtles toward inexorable change, the idea of “taking stock” seems to be a quaint notion from a different time and a different era. As in, why bother? What good does it do? After all, the march of time and the wheels of progress stop for no one.

Whatever is in store for this business - and we the people - is coming hard and fast, and to pretend otherwise is a fool’s errand. Thus, we are perpetually teetering between what once was and what could very well be. 

The comfort is always with what we know, of course. We have seen it and touched it and lived it. We have etched the memories and the experiences in our minds and there they stay so we can tap into them whenever the need arises or the situation demands it. And it is good, at least for the most part.

The Future? That is another thing altogether. It can be disquieting and uncomfortable. The unknown can bring with it a fear that is palpable. It’s that old “life as we know it” chestnut writ large, reimagined and then warped into an unrecognizable shape. Futurists who dwell in such things are giddy with the fantastic possibilities, or gloomy with the ugly scenarios, depending on which part of the glass they occupy.

Yes, new discoveries and new breakthroughs have always fueled us in the past, so why not now and going forward? There will always be a place for “blue sky” thinking, correct? Indeed, we hope so. After all, accumulated knowledge has to count for something. And technological developments and discoveries are accelerating at a dizzying rate, so it will all work out somehow, right? 

Yes, that could certainly be the case. But we’re not sure, are we? Doomsday scenarios are always popular, especially in this relentlessly tedious Internet age, and by the time we digest some of the leading theories about The Future, more than a few of us plan on staying in, basically for the duration.  

Where do I land in all of this? My thought pendulum can careen wildly depending on the news of the day, as I suspect it does for most people. We can’t possibly survive any more of this (fill in the blank), can we? And then somehow, we do. I do sense, however, that there’s more gloominess than sunshine at the moment, that just seems to be the temperature of the times we live in.

I am hoping against hope that the pace of discovery and the accumulation of new knowledge will propel us to a new age of enlightenment and tranquility, or something like that. At least I hope that we get it together enough to protect this blue orb and the people and animals that inhabit it.

This column came about due to the fact that this week marks this country’s biggest celebrations of the automobile and its myriad contributions to our society and way of life at two vastly different venues: The majesty - and cubic money - that powers Monterey Car week, and the free-form, march-to-a-different-drummer irreverence of the Dream Cruise on America’s Main Road, Woodward Avenue, right here in the Motor City.

These car events are 180 degrees apart from each other, yet when it comes right down to it, they are more similar than different. They both celebrate the “blue-sky” thinking, engineering achievements and creative artistry that have powered this industry for decades. They both pay homage to the visionary imagination that was responsible for some of the most remarkable, breakthrough innovations that allowed this industry to thrive and prosper. 

And yes, as much as I hate to say it, they both celebrate an automotive culture that could be rapidly fading from view, which takes us back to contemplating The Future. A predominantly battery-powered electric future is going to fundamentally transform everything about our automobile culture as we’ve come to know it. Some of the coming changes will be good, and some of them will not be very good at all. 

It is highly likely that the two aforementioned signature auto events on the calendar will quickly become even more nostalgia-tinged than they already are, and these celebrations of a bygone era that will never return will begin to occupy a different space in the overall scheme of things, and I’m not sure how that is going to sit going forward for a lot of automotive enthusiasts. 

Yes, change is inevitable. And as I mentioned, some of it will be good, too, opening up new vistas so people with unbridled ingenuity can imagine new, “blue sky” possibilities that will result in dramatic innovations, technical breakthroughs that will take us into an entirely new dimension that we couldn’t have possibly imagined before. It will definitely be interesting, I have no doubt. 

Oh, and one more thing about The Future?

As we often like to say around here, the more you know, the more you just never know.

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