Editor-in-Chief's Note: Michael Millikin, GM's chief counsel, abruptly announced his retirement last week, a move that surprised no one if you've been following the whole GM ignition interlock recall fiasco. Millikin, vilified by various U.S. Senators at the infamous Congressional hearings early this past summer after it was discovered that the GM legal staff had been aware of the ignition problem for years before GM bothered to do anything about it - and vigorously defended by Mary Barra with a misplaced sense of loyalty that was beyond painful to watch - is exiting the company at a most opportune time, from his perspective, but it may not be enough for him to escape further ramifications still brewing from the legal fallout of the GM recall. Millikin's heavy-handed conduct was legendary inside GM, and his legal troops at times were feared and loathed because of his orchestrations. Millikin made it his business to know all about the inner workings of GM, so his "Sergeant Schultz Defense," as in "I know nothing," rang hollow, at the very least. I said all there is to say about the situation in my column entitled, "MARY BARRA’S MISPLACED SENSE OF LOYALTY WILL COST HER," from last July, so I won't bother to add to it now, except for the fact that Ms. Barra was still defending Millikin in the press release announcing his departure, which was nonsensical, unnecessary and flat-out uncalled for. Oh well, GM careens around with a level of inertia that is still shocking to behold, and every time Ms. Barra fails to distance herself from the "old" GM "culture" that she regularly decries - as in this case - she looks bad. As in, WTF? Mary, give it a rest. - PMD
Tesla. Editor-in-Chief's Note: Elon Musk loses another battle in another state as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed bipartisan legislation yesterday aimed at discouraging Tesla Motors from selling its cars directly through company stores, although Michigan residents can still go online or call Tesla and purchase the Model S if they wish. St. Elon clearly wants to bypass the existing dealer franchise system, which on the surface is a noble idea, but it's fraught with peril too. Shopping to your heart's content on Amazon and the myriad other online shopping venues for various types of goods is the way of the world and has been for quite some time now, but ordering cars delivered to your door is quite another. Though the idea sounds enticing, the reality of it is altogether different. Cars are extremely complicated machines in this modern era, and things go wrong with them, often enough that you need a dealer to take them to in order to get problems addressed. St. Elon hasn't quite figured that part of it out, other than to trailer disabled Teslas hundreds of miles to get them worked on. Yes, the dealer franchise system has a chokehold on this business, but if something goes wrong with your car, having access to a factory-authorized facility where real live humans work on your cars is ultimately essential and can't be circumvented with a simple reboot. St. Elon might be a genius and this direct selling idea might sound brilliant, right up to the point when your precious Tesla is dead in the water one morning when you absolutely have to be somewhere. And even worse, you're faced with the fact that it will take days to get the issues addressed. But Musk and his operatives will continue their quest and their relentless bleating to the press, and I will continue to not give a shit. - PMD
Editor-in-Chief's Note: The next-gen Camaro will be built off of the same platform as the Cadillac ATS, which is excellent news. We expect a great package with a hot-looking design, at the very least. The new Mustang better enjoy its place in the sun - for now - because a tauter, more aggressive Camaro in a tidy package will be a force to be reckoned with in the market. - PMD
(Images courtesy of Ford)
Ford will unleash a gaggle of show-stopping versions of its new, all-aluminum F-150 pickup at this year's SEMA Show in November. Two of those are the Deegan 38 project (above) and the Vaughan Gittin Jr. street truck (below). The Deegan 38 - by Ford Racing stalwart Brian Deegan - enlists some of the top off-road suppliers such as Addictive Desert Designs, Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, FOX Racing Shox, KC Hilites, Mastercraft Safety, Rockford Fosgate, Full-Race Motorsports, Leading Edge Tuning, ProEFI and SCT Performance to provide extreme motorsport enthusiasts with "the ultimate example of the world’s most capable truck," according to Ford. The 2015 F-150 street truck prepared by Formula DRIFT star Vaughn Gittin Jr. features twelve inches of King shock-controlled travel via a Kibbetech custom suspension, Air Lift Performance air ride and a custom interior with Recaro seats, and is designed to take full advantage of the weight savings and torque offered by the all-new F-150.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: It is fortuitous that on the heels of last week's 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe that this week our "Quick Take" has us in a 2015 Audi A5 Coupe quattro with a six-speed manual gearbox. Everything that I said about the Cadillac still applies, but there's no question that this Audi has a more sophisticated feel, a more nuanced sense of composure over the road and a much more pleasing sound coming from the engine. It's at times a subtle difference, but the longer I spent in the Audi the differences became more pronounced. The Cadillac was aggressively-tuned - and there's nothing wrong with that from where I sit - but there is no getting around the fact that this Audi seemed to go about its business with as much pace but with decidedly less effort, as if it was confident of its capabilities and didn't have to try all that hard to match or exceed the Cadillac in overall feel, or performance. And, of course, the Audi interior was expertly rendered as is the company's wont, not that the Cadillac was bad by any means, but again, the Audi gives you the distinct impression that it has been here before, with all the nuanced and sophisticated details that you'd expect from Audi. That aura was enhanced by the fact that the Audi was beautifully turned out in Moonlight Blue metallic with a Chestnut Brown interior, which gave the A5 a presence that was undeniable. A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to drive the Audi S5, which was excellent, but pricey. The A5 seems to neatly bridge the gap between having a sporting demeanor and a machine you can enjoy every day, and it's a very desirable choice if you're looking for a stylish, sophisticated coupe that's fairly quick and resonably efficient. - PMD
2015 Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T quattro: $48,475 ($40,000 Base Price; Moonlight Blue Metallic, $550; Chestnut Brown Interior; 2.0-liter TFSI 4-cylinder with 220HP and 258 lbs-ft of torque; quattro permanent all-wheel drive; Six-speed manual transmission; 18" 10-spoke-design wheels with 245/40 all-season tires; Electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering; ABS; Electronic Stability Control (ESC); Panoramic sunroof; Audi xenon plus headlights with LED DRLs and taillights; Heated power adjustable exterior mirrors; Three-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel; Heated 10-way power adjustable front seats with 4-way driver lumbar adjustment; Leather seating surfaces; 60/40 split-folding rear seat; Three-zone automatic climate control; Audi sound system; AM/FM/SAT radio with SD card reader; SIRIUS Satellite radio with three-month complimentary subscription; Garage door opener (HomeLink); Preparation for mobile phone (Bluetooth); Technology Package - 1CD/DVD-player with HD radio, Audi MMI Navigation plus with voice control, Color driver information display, Parking system with rear view camera, Audi connect with online services (six month subscription), Audi side assist - $2,900; A5 Premium Plus Model - Auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, Auto-dimming heated exterior mirrors, Heated front seats with driver memory, Audi advanced key, S line exterior, Stainless steel door sills with S line logo - $2,300; Sport Package - Front sport seats with four-way power lumbar, Sport suspension, Audi drive select, Three-spoke multifunction steering wheel - $1,000; 19" Wheel Package - 10-spoke design wheels, Summer tires - $800; Front filler panel; Destination charge, $925)
Adherence to Brand Image: The Audi A5 translates into more on-target goodness from Audi. - PMD