June 24, 2024


Technology and Age


Editor’s Notice: Peter’s column talks about business pricing, total with an update from James “Jimmy” Fu and S.L. “Sonny” King as the Fu-King Motors boys deal with offer difficulties like everyone else. “On The Table” features Mercedes-Benz legend Rudolph Uhlenaut’s magnificent 1955 300 SLR Coupe, which recently changed hands for the best cost in automotive background. Peter talks about “America’s Cathedral of Velocity” – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – in Fumes. And seem for considerable coverage in the two Fumes and The Line of the operate-up to Sunday’s operating of the Indianapolis 500. -WG


By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. Specified that every little thing is perfectly and really out of sorts proper now (you necessarily mean flat-out crazy, right? -WG) or improved but, “Over Less than Sideways Down” as The Yardbirds once famously sang, how did we get there at this point? Sure, there is the chip “thing,” the lingering offer chain “thing,” the scarcity of all the things “thing.” And then there is the burgeoning pricing “thing” as in, how did we get there at this issue in time in the car business enterprise, the place $60,000 is thought of a mid-priced automobile, and $100,000+ is now the acknowledged cost of admission for the higher close of the current market? 

Sure, I get it, time marches on and all that, but wasn’t it much less than a ten years in the past when autos priced at $100,000 (and up) had been reserved for the Aston Martins, Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotica of the vehicle entire world? 

Now, the typical cost of a loaded luxury pickup truck from Chevy, Ford, GMC or Ram is approaching $75,000. If you get a loaded Super Responsibility variation of one of all those pickup trucks, you are very easily pushing six figures, and far more. Or how about the $75,000 Ford Broncos and V8-powered 392 Jeep Wranglers?

The story is even more so for luxury SUVs in this current market. Let’s facial area it, if a company does not have a quality SUV which is 100 Grand or over, it simply cannot be thought of a major player. The listing of players in that arena contains Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Land Rover, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz, and that’s just for starters. 

But then again, that 100 Grand plateau is swiftly becoming a stepping stone condition, as difficult as that is to understand, since the record of gamers with SUVs approaching $200,000 and above is escalating exponentially. Lamborghini, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are filling that house, with Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and before long-to-be Ferrari (ugh) blowing previous $200,000 and pushing $300,000+. As in, are you frickin’ kidding me?

Welcome to the new typical, seemingly. Indeed, I have noticed all of the studies – the progress of particular wealth and disposable revenue, together with the want of affluent buyers to say “WTF?” and commit large money on their own transportation options to “cocoon” in the course of and right after the pandemic (you know, that pandemic, which under no circumstances looks to go absent). And I applaud persons rediscovering the idea of hitting the road and embracing the strategy of street excursions they never took back in the day, since hitting the road is generally a good matter. 

But 100 Grand starting to be the new threshold for luxurious auto suppliers from below on out is however a minor really hard to swallow. Was not it just a few of yrs back when prices in the $80,000 range ended up eye-opening? Indeed, it was. But then once more turning again the clock is not going to come about either. It looks just a instant ago when the strategy of 100 Grand staying the price of entry for super high quality luxurious was radically steep. Now? It’s emotion like a quaint notion at this point, mainly because the current market has blown previous that. 

Is it sustainable? That is a diverse discussion totally. We are plainly teetering on the edge of a recessionary period of time, introduced on by the ongoing offer chain chaos and lingering COVID nightmare. Not to point out the systemic pressures getting fueled by the “Grand Transition” to BEVs. A giant “We’ll See” as we like to say around here, but I really don’t see price ranges rolling back at any time before long, or ever again for that matter.

I have been immersed in all of this since I am in deep talks with my friends Mr. James “Jimmy” Fu and Mr. S. L. “Sonny” King, as they try to ascertain pricing for their new solution line. 

As longtime AE viewers may perhaps recall from past columns, Jimmy and Sonny have operated in the shadows of the gigantic Chinese industrial device for several years. But for audience new to AE, I will gladly drop some gentle on these two flamboyant people so they can have a far more finish photograph of who they are. 

Mr. Fu started off manufacturing design autos in the late 70s, and it has now been verified that he controls every toymaking concern in China via a labyrinthian community of mother-and-pop factories and several other substantial conglomerates that he lords over. Mr. King grew to become partners with Mr. Fu soon after at first providing the elaborate wheels and cautiously detailed tires on Mr. Fu’s product vehicles. The two have been partners for a long time in actuality, they are entering their fifth 10 years jointly now.

I 1st received to know Mr. Fu and Mr. King following they approached me at the Los Angeles Automobile Demonstrate many years in the past. Evidently, they experienced stumbled on Autoextremist.com after they to start with grew to become acquainted with the Internet, and they regaled me with the actuality that they both equally discovered English by owning my ‘Rants’ columns translated for them. 

When I very first satisfied them, it turned into an uproarious face as they blurted out some of my patented phrases that they had figured out phonetically, like ‘notgonnahappen.com,’ ‘halle-frickin’-luja’ and ‘the Reply to the Concern that Definitely No One is Inquiring.’ (How they discovered that last one particular stays a thriller to me.)

Mr. Fu and Mr. King have remained in near call with me at any time because. As I have gotten to know Jimmy and Sonny, their frenetic tempo and boundless electricity under no circumstances cease to amaze me. The Zoom phone calls I receive at 3:00 p.m. my time are usually booze-filled stream-of-consciousness rants by Jimmy with Sonny yelling items about his shoulder, accompanied by stylish design sorts dancing to disco music in the qualifications at their secretive Shanghai lair. And their appetites surface to be even far more boundless. In point, Jimmy is nevertheless fond of aspiring female pop stars, even though Sonny is a incredibly generous sponsor of a feminine gymnastic academy. 

As you could possibly picture, with their insatiable appetites for, perfectly, every thing, their underground garage is in a continuous condition of flux. Let’s just say they go by about a 50 %-dozen autos for each yr, each. Rapidly American muscle cars are overflowing in their fleet, which is an enthusiast’s cornucopia of biggest hits, which includes a mélange of Challengers (every single modified to produce 1100HP) an primary “narrow-hipped” 427 road Cobra a L88 Corvette two new Corvette C8s (a single black, 1 white) and a few of tailor made-developed Willys Gasser replicas from the 60s powered by race-organized Chevy 502 major-blocks reserved for terrorizing the neighbors in the middle of the night time. I have recognized that their fondness for Bourbon has progressed from Knob Creek by Basil Hayden’s to now Woodford Reserve, but that would seem to adjust about every 3 months or so. 

1 major alter for Jimmy and Sonny is that they offered one particular of their twin Gulfstream G650s. Because they certainly loved their jets, this is a big deal. Jimmy explained that “We experienced to reduce back, company is not so fantastic suitable now. (They saved Jimmy’s, which is Jet Black and offered Sonny’s, which was Chaparral White.)

The previous time I talked with Jimmy and Sonny, I was in a position to piece collectively some salient details of the Fu-King Motors potential item portfolio (while it took 3, lengthy, Woodford Reserve-fueled Zoom phone calls to do so, with substantially yelling – always the yelling – and the incessant disco pop actively playing LOUDLY in the background). Considering that then, I have been counseling Jimmy and Sunny about the pricing of their forthcoming merchandise.

So, as best as I can tell, in this article is the most up-to-date timeline – everything has been pushed back various yrs (“Chip Hell,” as Jimmy and Sonny said in unison) – and the projected pricing for what Fu-King Motors has coming:

2025 (pushed again from 2021): The prolonged-awaited debut of the Fu-King Gargantuan, the 6-wheeled, all-electric powered SUV is built to embarrass “anything else in the current market,” according to Jimmy. Flaunting some remarkable quantities: 2000HP 10,000 lbs., electric action ladders (“not techniques, ladders,” Jimmy insists) and “a glimpse that will humiliate all that other crap out there,” added Sonny. When I requested about the rate, Jimmy and Sonny answered in unison: “Enough to make developed gentlemen cry!” So, what, accurately, is “enough to make grown gentlemen cry?” Jimmy laughed heartily at my hand-wringing more than the new $100,000 threshold and reported – with not a nanosecond’s hesitation – that the Gargantuan would have a foundation price of $599,999. Gulp. (But, as Sonny pointed out, that’s a $100,000 value cut from in which they ended up.)

2025 (pushed back from 2021): Another hugely anticipated debut – The Fu-King Motors KickBoxer – is the boys’ solution to the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco with “unequaled” off-highway general performance. Boasting a carbon-fiber unibody and a kaleidoscope of distinct variations, such as a pickup and one particular cryptically referred to as the “RumRunner Edition” (“it can conceal forty gallons of Bourbon!” Sonny chimed in), the KickBoxer will be run by an all-aluminum, 2.-liter, fuel-injected, Twin-Turbo, flat eight-cylinder motor that provides 700HP. When asked if this could potentially be construed as overkill, Sonny rapidly replied: “We will introduce our rivals to the idea of obtaining their asses kicked!” So, how a lot will it value to kick your neighbors’ asses in their valuable Wranglers and Broncos? Sonny, who was the driving drive behind this application, priced it at $199,000 declaring, “There is so substantially engineering in this beast that enthusiasts will beg to get on the waiting list. You want to make a splash at autos and coffee? We acquired your splash correct right here!” (Making an attempt to counsel the boys about pricing self-discipline has proved to be a futile work out.)

2026 (I’ll feel this just one when I see it): The all-electric semi-truck that appears eerily like the Bison highly developed very long-haul trucking idea that GM Styling made for the 1964 World’s Reasonable is “a definite go” for late in ’26, according to Jimmy. When I was revealed shots of the principle, I considered they had resurrected the designers who did the primary Bison, it looked so near to the primary (see underneath). But this truck will be a hydrogen fuel mobile-powered electrical weighty truck with a vary of “700+ miles,” according to Sonny. The identify? “Convoy.” (It would seem that Jimmy and Sonny are large supporters of the original “Smokey and The Bandit” movie and the full C.B. radio period in the U.S.) How much? $600,000, all-in.


The Bison hefty truck strategy from GM Styling was made for the 1964 World’s Honest in New York.

2030 (If it happens at all): It’s apparent that the progress of the Fu-King Motors supercar has been fraught with complications from the beginning. That it has taken its toll on Jimmy and Sonny is obvious, as whenever I mention it their regular exuberant dispositions convert decidedly glum. To start with envisioned as a high-effectiveness, hydrogen gasoline cell-run electric hypercar, the machine – code named “Bandini” – has been reimagined as a BEV aimed to eclipse Gordon Murray’s T.50. Claimed to have 1+2 seating and a control pounds of 1900 lbs., Jimmy and Sunny are continue to mum – and decidedly glum – on any even further details, which is unusual for them, while I know they’re consistently bickering about the particulars. Which indicates you can bet that even the 2030 time-frame is a pipedream and not even shut to occurring. And they have not stopped bickering prolonged plenty of to even communicate about the pricing but. While from what I’ve noticed so far, it will price tag $4 million, minimum amount.

When I asked about products over and above 2030, the boys mimicked what I usually say, chiming in once again in unison, “It’s a huge we’ll see!” And, when asked if they had any programs to import their merchandise to the U.S., the remedy was a resounding, “Never!” Asked why, they answered again in unison, “Too substantially bullshit, as well a lot aggravation. We’re having as well aged for this shit!” 

At that level all I could say was, “I concur.”

And I am reminded of those immortal terms of The Wicked Witch of the West: 

“Oh, what a entire world! What a world!” 

What a environment, in truth.

And which is the Significant-Octane Fact for this week.