By Peter M. DeLorenzo  
Detroit. On June 1, 1999 in AE issue No. 1, I opened my column with the following: 
“You’ve come here for a reason. You’re either curious, bored, or in some internet-fueled haze that’s taken over your body and turned you into a quivering jellyfish that has lost all concept of time and space. Well, for whatever the reason, welcome. I’m not going to sit here and make promises about what will or won’t do for you. I will say, however, that you will not read anything like it when it comes to the weird world of automobiles, because the people here are the most committed automotive enthusiasts in the world. So much so, that we operate in a dimension that other so-called “car people” find bewildering and even frightening. The Truth will do that to people. Especially in Detroit, which is one of the strangest places on earth…” 
It has been 24 years since that column, and I’m grateful to say that people are still coming here. Everyone from CEOs, COOs, CMOs, Engineers, Designers, PR minions, Journalists, Advertising Agency combatants and the obligatory hate-filled scumbags, all the way to real-world enthusiasts – you’ve all come here for a variety of reasons.  
Some of you come specifically for my commentary, because even after two-plus decades of writing my “Rants” – and despite the countless imitators and rip-off artists who have dined off of my commentaries for years – is still the place you come for your auto industry fix. And some of you come for my commentaries on Motorsports, because even though I have been a lifelong racing enthusiast, I don’t suffer racing fools gladly or otherwise. (And anyone even remotely familiar with racing and the business of motorsports knows that the racing world is full of misguided fools in high places making stupid decisions on a frequent basis.) 
Quite simply, we write about the things auto company CEOs and their PR minions absolutely do not want you to read. They expend incredible energy to prevent you from knowing about the missteps by their egomaniacal stumblebum execs, the flaming hucksters and the Masters of Hubris masquerading as “very important industry people.” And the misguided and ultimately failed product and marketing strategies they’re responsible for. That’s a lot to keep away from interested enthusiasts (and journalists wishing that they could just once write something on AE). And in spite of the fact that these industry overlords continue to try to squelch what they consider to be “malicious misinformation,” even though it’s painfully accurate, they have failed miserably at it, and it’s all because of us. and The Autoextremist (aka me) is anathema to these industry overlords. They don’t want you to know that they – at times, or frequently depending on the company in question – don’t have their collective shit together. They don’t want you to know that a large portion of their company’s upper echelon executives think that their CEO is a grandstanding Unctuous Prick willing to take credit for the good news but laying down a gauntlet of distractions to avoid being blamed for the bad stuff. We see through all of that bullshit, fortunately, which is another reason why you come here. 
As I’ve said countless times over the last two-plus decades, designing, engineering and building automobiles is one of the most complicated endeavors on earth. It is a relentless grind that demands the utmost effort from all involved, and when certain individuals fail to hold up their end of the bargain it usually results in embarrassing missteps and product failures. And these myriad failures and missteps cannot be swept under the rug. If you screw up in this business you don’t last long, unless, of course, you work for certain companies that enthusiastically support the promoting and nurturing of excuses, which is a burgeoning cottage industry at some automobile companies.  
My latest take? In the midst of this Grand Transition to the EV-dominated auto industry, I am seeing positive signs of some serious hedging going on. New ICE engines are being developed, and ICE factories are being newly renovated and updated, all to be able to build ICE vehicles well into the next decade. Much to the pearl-clutching dismay of the “Flip the Switch” hordes out there who insist that our nation’s fleet is going to be fully-electrified by 2030. I got news for them: It ain’t happening.  
I wrote several years ago that this transition to EVs was going to be slow. Excruciatingly slow. 2030? Forget about it. 2035? I envision EV share of the market by then to be approaching 35-40 percent, if that. And that is only if everything goes perfectly well, which, if you know anything about this business is laughable and an impossibility. Yes, developments in battery technology – and charging – are continuing at a feverish pace, and breakthroughs are bound to occur. But two crucial things are not subject to technical breakthroughs: the cultivating of natural – and finite – resources needed in order to assemble the batteries, and the daunting infrastructure requirements. (And then there’s that critical issue of where the electricity is coming from and how it is generated, but everyone seems to just shrug their shoulders and assume it’s going to all work out. This just in: It will not.) 
And by the way, everyone is shouting Huzzah! because industry giants are acquiescing to Tesla’s EV charging infrastructure, which in effect has created the new industry standard. But even this development will be nowhere near enough. It will take at least until 2035 to put a sizable dent in the infrastructure needs in this country, and even then, it will not be enough. (Don’t believe it? You’re figuring in eleven years we’ll get there? Just asking – where have you been and have you been living under a rock until just recently?) 
I can’t end this week without reporting on a local phenomenon that is causing much hand-wringing and intense consternation. If you’re a car person of any kind you’ve heard of Woodward Avenue, that legendary –in every sense of that overused word – thoroughfare that runs from the heart of downtown Detroit through several notable suburban communities, all the way to Pontiac. Besides being a main transportation artery, Woodward was the epicenter of the Detroit-dominated car culture back in the day. Woodward, for some, wasn’t just part of life, it was life. 
The hot-rod scene and culture grew up organically around these parts. After all, the Detroit-based automakers are all headquartered here, and the young citizenry embraced that scene wholeheartedly throughout the 60s. Woodward is eight lanes divided by a substantial median, and “Whaddya got?” and “Wanna run?” were pretty much the call of the wild back then. Impromptu four-lane standing starts at traffic lights were the norm on Friday and Saturday nights, while hordes of cars cruised through the Totem Pole Drive-In in Royal Oak, out to Ted’s Drive-In almost to Pontiac, a twelve-mile stretch with several stops in-between. (The more serious racing went on beyond the highly-populated suburban communities, and for real money too.) 
Besides people showing up with the latest high-performance machines from the factory, there were serious – and talented – individuals who hopped-up various home-built machines to run as well. And last but not least, factory engineers would occasionally show up with the latest and greatest experimental high-performance machines from their respective car companies, just to give the locals a live and in-color preview of what was coming next. Yes, it bordered on being a free-for-all at times, but it worked, and for many people of a certain age there will never be anything remotely like it. 
With that brief historical perspective, fast forward to today, with citizens in various communities along Woodward are up in arms over the “out-of-control” noise from high-performance machines and superbikes. To be fair to those concerned, it used to be that this kind of high-performance display would go on during the weekend of “The Dream Cruise,” which always happens on the third Saturday in August. Then, it sort of just morphed into a Dream Cruise “Week,” which meant that the hot-rods and high-performance machines would descend on Woodward for the week leading up to the “cruise.” Now? Let’s just say that from Memorial Day to Labor Day Woodward Avenue is the center of the hot car culture universe. At night it sounds like a cross between the long-departed Detroit Dragway and cars coming off of Turn 4 at Daytona, hard on the gas. 
I will grant the critics this much: Back in the day, the occasional 600HP machines would shake the ground and leave the crowd in awe. Today, when you can walk into a Dodge dealer and drive off the lot with an 800HP ground-pounder, it’s different. Way different. You can hear the sounds of the supercharged V8 Hellcats mixed in with flat-plane crank V8 Mustangs and big-inch V8 Chevrolets doing burnouts and causing all kinds of commotion, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. And many of these machines have hi-tech controls that allow for louder exhaust. Much louder. And this horsepower parade is not just going on intermittently, either, but rather it’s a constant teeming cacophony. 
On the one hand, I can understand the pissed-off citizens’ perspective, at least somewhat, which focuses on the noise and the “pollution.” After all, on a hot summer night when you want to just chill on your porch, and instead the still of the night air is punctuated by legions of high-horsepower V8s gnawing and growling away from stoplights, it may get a little old. 
And, right on cue, local community leaders are grabbing their pitchforks and demanding action, with some state legislators doing saber-rattling of their own over the issue. The City of Birmingham’s cops wrote 1,000 tickets this spring for various infractions, according to the Detroit Free Press, from speeding and reckless driving to excessively loud exhaust. The hand-wringing even merited the front page of the Freep last Friday. The Headline? Oakland County cities declare noise war on muscle cars and motorcycles.”  We’re talking high-dudgeon here, folks. 
On the other hand, they don’t call it The Motor City for nothin’. It’s who we are and it’s what we’re about. It’s not subtle, and it’s not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. It’s a Detroit thing, or if you must, a Dee-troit thing. And we should be proud – and most of us are – of what that means.  
I know the anti-car zealots and the No-Fun Fanatics are going to wail away on this subject for the next couple of months, and they’re free to do so. But let’s be realistic – we do have some pretty wonderful falls here, followed by dismally shitty, gray winters and an intermittent – as in seemingly every other year –spring. So, if our summers are punctuated by hot-rods and horsepower, so be it. (Message to all of you un-funsters out there – just give it 20 or 30 or 40 years, and you can cruise Woodward in total EV silence or enjoy the fabulous – not – sounds of faux engine noise from said EVs to your heart’s content. Meanwhile, I’ll be enjoying the ICE AGE on the Avenue, thank you very much. -WG)  
As I’ve said, some of you come here for the High-Octane Truth, even though some of you despise the High-Octane Truth.  
Life is good. And you know why.
And that is the High-Octane Truth for this week. 


Editor’s Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on “Next 1 Entries” below. – WG

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