Editor’s Note: In this week’s Rant, Peter comments on the disarray that the “Grand Transition” to EVs has brough to the car business, focusing on Porsche in particular. In On The Table, Nissan bores us to death with its new Kicks. Our AE Song of the Week is “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House. In Fumes, Peter brings us Part X – and the final chapter (for now) – of his riveting motorsports series, “The Muscle Boys.” And finally, in The Line, we’ll have coverage of INDYCAR from The Thermal Club, F1 from Australia and MotoGP from Portugal’s Portimao. Onward. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. As has been well-documented in this column for almost 25 years now, the auto business is made up of a kaleidoscope of factors and factions that run the gamut between innovations and unbridled creativity, to moribund thinking and head-in-the sand intransigence; from nuts and bolts drudgery, to mechanical artistry and true visionary brilliance; from noteworthy and remarkable progress to a three-steps-forward and five-back dance of abject mediocrity. I don’t use the term “Swirling Maelstrom” to paint a picture of this business lightly. I just haven’t found a better way to describe it.
That the produced machines (particularly in the past) were executed by everyone from the gifted to the impaired, it’s no wonder that the finished results were mixed… and that’s putting it charitably. But right now, we’re in the midst of the pinnacle of the Internal Combustion Engine Age. These machines are technical wonders capable of remarkable levels of performance and efficiency, with environmental integrity, safety, comfort and even versatility – if that’s the selected mission. The wide range of vehicles at our disposal is truly amazing, in every sense of that overused word. But it’s also true that we’re not destined to enjoy this new level of excellence in our ICE vehicles for much longer, or so say the powers that be – from governments around the globe to ultra-green groups in Europe – who are attempting to dictate our future vehicle propulsion choices for us. (Just to be clear, despite these efforts ICE vehicles will be around for decades to come.)
And, as if to emphasize that we’ve arrived at this inexorable shift in propulsion priorities, the “Grand Transition” to Battery Electric Vehicles has been thrust upon us, whether we’re in fact ready for it or not. Here in the U.S., we were clearly not ready for it, as we’ve seen senior operatives at Ford and GM walking back their predictions about our EV Future due to myriad factors like cost, lack of charging infrastructure, supply chain issues, the shocking inability to build EVs without major production glitches, and the fact that consumers just aren’t convinced of the efficacy of BEVs, at least not to mainstream levels of acceptability, anyway. (Refusing to deal with this reality, our own government is pushing for BEV and Hybrid adoption in the majority of vehicles sold by 2032, as was announced last week.)
The story for other manufacturers in the global auto industry is different. The Korean auto manufacturers are all-in on the “EV Thing” and are forging ahead, while the Chinese auto manufacturers are – if given the green light – prepared to “dump” millions of low-cost EVs on the American landscape. (Stay tuned, because this is far from being a fait accompli.) Honda is predictably moving carefully in the BEV space, while Toyota looks like the smartest car company in the world with their fundamental understanding that our future propulsion scenarios will feature a plethora of technologies not limited to just BEVs.
And then there are the German auto manufacturers. Forced at figurative gunpoint by government decrees and lobbying by ultra-green environmental societal factions, the German companies have committed to the “Grand Transition” to BEVs with considerable fervor. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and the Volkswagen Group, including VW, Porsche and Audi, are launching waves of BEVs into the U.S. market, even though buyers are very hard to come by. (To be fair, BMW seems to be doing better than the rest at selling their BEVs.)
For purposes of this column, I am going to focus on one German car company in particular: Porsche. Way back when, I predicted that Porsche’s transition to become a mainstream truck and SUV manufacturer would spell The End for the company. And I was proven to be dead wrong. Porsche’s various truck offerings allowed the company to print prodigious amounts of cash, which funded more of the product efforts that were more consistent with the company’s founding values – in other words, the sports cars. (For the record, however, I consider the Macan, in standard configuration, to be one of the best all-around vehicles I have ever driven.) 
But now, Porsche has reached another inflection point, because the company’s own transition to BEVs is threatening the brand once again. I wince every time I read another glowing review of the Taycan, because I find it to be a bloated, soulless appliance with all of the charm of a rheostat. But Porsche, not content to focus on BEV development of a vehicle that might be consistent with its company values, is embarking on the most aggressive new product wave in its history. What does this mean? A new, all-electric Macan is on its way, as are electric versions of the 718 and the Cayenne as well. And a new “three-row” SUV is in the works, said to be considerably larger than the Cayenne. (Why? Ugh. -WG)
Remember, all of these product entries will have an artificial sound signature that can be engaged – like the Taycan – with a touch of a button. The company that once built some of the most visceral, emotionally-engaging machines in the world will become just another purveyor of “juice machines,” with their most distinctive feature being the egregiously usurious price tags and option lists. Porsche operatives insist that this will all work out, underpinning their profits with even more cash added to their coffers. And that they will protect the existence of its iconic 911 for the foreseeable future, as it becomes hybrid only.
But those same operatives are dreaming. Porsche’s transition to BEVs, though initially profitable – after all, it’s considered to be one of the most profitable car companies in the world – will prove to be problematic. Porsche’s raison d’etre is being systematically eliminated. Porsche used to be about mechanical artistry not found anywhere else. It was stocked with Beautiful Dreamers and tremendously talented True Believers who dared to march to a different drummer, while bringing to life some of the most desirable machines in the world. Now, it’s just another manufacturer of electric skateboard platforms wrapped with bodywork designed to extract as much ca$h-ola from its faithful brand lickers as is humanly possible.
It’s a sad, but the only Beautiful Dreamers – make that not-so-Beautiful Dreamers – left at Porsche, are in the finance department. 
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

Editor’s Note: Click on “Next 1 Entries” at the bottom of this page to see previous issues. – WG

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