Editor-In-Chief's Note: Our AE Quote of the Week comes from Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., writing in The Wall Street Journal about Tesla in a column from Saturday entitled, "Tesla Is a Compliance Company - The electric-car maker’s entire business model is rapidly becoming a regulatory creation." In a piece filled with many excellent perspectives and tidbits (including priceless bits about environmental shills Margo Oge, the recently retired chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel-mileage efforts, and Mary Nichols, delusional head of California’s Air Resources Board), Jenkins had this to say, while referring to Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla vice president of business development, who made a much-touted appearance at the auto industry conference in Traverse City last week: "In reality, Mr. O’Connell’s conspicuous plumping for tougher mileage mandates is about something else. Tesla seeks to foster a political mood favorable to the extension of the tax credit without, you know, actually publicly lobbying for a grotesquely regressive handout. Yet it’s easy to extrapolate that Tesla’s entire market capitalization of $34 billion is nothing but the discounted present value of its expected future subsidies. Tesla, like any business, doesn’t leave money on the table in its pricing. And the tax credit will become even more important, and a bigger part of Tesla’s implicit revenue, when it launches its $35,000 Model 3 for the mass market." -PMD
Hyundai Motor America revealed the “Vision G” Concept Coupe to a select group of media at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). “The concept was designed with coordinated input from Hyundai design studios around the world, but was led by our team here in the U.S.,” said Peter Schreyer, Hyundai’s president and chief design officer. “The design is our interpretation of the idea that Hyundai breathes into all of its vehicles – a DNA that balances design and performance with the idea that you don’t need to be over the top in terms of glitz and stereotypical luxury cues.” Uh, okay, whatever you say... The “Vision G” is powered by the 5.0-liter Tau V8 engine producing 420 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 383 lb. ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. The concept will be shown again this Sunday, August 16, in Monterey, Calif., at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
General Motors revealed the newly installed and dedicated National Historic Landmark bestowed upon the GM Technical Center located in Warren, MI, on Aug. 6, 2015. The National Park Service selected the campus for this honor because it possesses national significance as one of the most important works of modernist architect Eero Saarinen. When the GM Technical Center was dedicated in 1956, it was the pinnacle of engineering, design and advance technology, and marked Saarinen’s emergence onto the international stage as an architect, planner and designer of total environment. In the background to the North East of the land mark (below), is one of the most striking features of the campus - the stainless steel-clad water tower located on the northeast corner of the central lake. Built in 1954, it is 140-ft. high and holds 250,000 gallons of water. The tower functions visually as the counterpoint to the aluminum-clad design dome at the southwest corner of the lake. Both of these shining, light-colored metal elements provide key curvilinear moments in the predominantly rectilinear geometry of the campus. GM’s Research Administration building borders the lake to the North of the footprint. The dedication of the marker, which required a crane and several people to guide it into place, also was attended by Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain and Ed Welburn, Vice President of GM Global Design. “When the GM Tech Center was dedicated in 1956, it was the pinnacle of engineering, design and advance technology,” Reuss said. “We recently announced a $1 billion investment that will bring new construction, significant renovation and 2,600 new jobs to the campus,” he said. The expansion of the Tech Center will continue Eero Saarinen's original design style.
The People's AMG.
Editor's Note: Our "Quick Take" this week has us in a 2015 VW Golf R. First, full disclosure: The last time I gave VW a thought was sometime in the early 1980s, during my "anything used, cheap and cool is better than brand new, even if it does have a warranty" phase. It was a phase that lasted several years and cost me several thousand dollars. But among my consideration set at the time was the Karmann Ghia. I loved that car - still do, as a matter of fact. Problem was every one I looked at was usually extremely rusty and in need of much mechanical repair, but every one was also exceptionally cool. (I ended up with a BMW 2002 during that particular car search - also exceptionally cool but not quite as rusty - in case you are wondering.) But I digress. Fast forward to last week and the arrival of our 2015 Golf R. Except for those glory days of my youth, VW has never exactly been on my radar, and judging by the company's 2.2 percent market share in the U.S., it has been largely absent from just about everyone's radar. And for good reason when you think of their lineup. Not a lot coming out of Wolfsburg that really gets the pulse racing. That probably explains why I was so shocked by the Golf R. I know, I know, you gearheads out there have been all over the GTI for years. I kinda gave up on all that the day I sold my '68 Camaro (to an old boyfriend, no less). So I'll keep this brief. The 2015 Golf R is a fu-king blast. 292 horsepower? Check. Full-time all wheel drive? Check. A funky-cool interior that is damn-near perfect, while also being slightly German retro-cool? Check. An overall understated design that lets you travel under the radar (there's that word again!), except to those in the know? Check. According to VW, the 2015 Golf R is "the most powerful and fastest production Golf ever." VW also says that the competitive set for this car includes the BMW M235i, Mercedes-Benz CLA45AMG and Subaru WRX STi. I say there is no contest. There is now officially a VW on my radar. -WG
2015 VW R: $37,415 ($35,595 Base Price) Tornado Red; Titan Black Interior; 2.0-liter TSI, DOHC, turbocharged four-cylinder with direct fuel-injection and variable valve timing; 292HP and 280 lbs-ft of torque; 4MOTION all-wheel drive system with fifth generation Haldex coupling; Six-speed DSG automatic transmission, Driving mode selection; Four-wheel independent sport suspension; Progressive, variable-ratio, Servotronic electro-mechanical power steering; ESC Sport stability control system with Race Mode; XDS+ with Electronic Differential Lock (EDL); Four-wheel vented disc brakes with "R" logo on the front calipers (ABS); 18" alloy wheels with summer performance tires; Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Front-light System; Automatic headlights and daytime running lights; Rearview camera; Leather-wrapped, multi-function, sport steering wheel with shift paddles; 5.8" touchscreen AM/FM radio with CD player and MP3 playback, 8-speaker sound system; SiriusXM Satellite Radio (limited time subscription included); Bluetooth mobile telephone connectivity; Media Device Interface; Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control; 12-way power adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support; Heated top front sport seats with leather surfaces; 60/40 split-folding rear seats with center armrest, cupholders and pass-through; Heated, foldable, power-adjustable side mirrors with side turn indicators; Leather-wrapped shift knob; Golf R special features including exclusive bumpers and DRL design; Exclusive grilles, air intakes, body panels and exterior trim; Dual-muffler, quad exhaust with chrome tips; Alloy pedals and metal door sill scuff plates; Electric parking brake; VW Car-Net Equipped - limited emergency services temporarily active on delivery, full trial available, subscription required; Destination charge, $820)
Adherence to Brand Image: As I said a few weeks ago, the VW Brand Image is so incredibly scattered and unfocused that I can't even begin to discern what it is at this juncture. I know what it should be, however, and that is premium driver-oriented machines with Germanic road star overtones offered at a more affordable price point. The Golf GTI is, hands-down, one of my all-time favorite performance machines. I've often said that if I was allowed only one car for the duration - something that could handle the daily slog while delivering enough driving fun to make it tolerable - the GTI would be at the top of my list. As for the Golf R? I like it even more than the GTI. Everything about it pleases me - the responsive power, the overall driving feel and the pure driving fun. It's that good. Even at $38,000, the Golf R delivers a incredible bang for your driving buck. Paint mine black and it would officially be The Autoextremist's favorite tear-around car. -PMD