September 25, 2022

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BLOWING PAST THE 100 GRAND BAR. – Rants

9 min read

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Editor’s Observe: Peter’s column talks about sector pricing, complete with an update from James “Jimmy” Fu and S.L. “Sonny” King as the Fu-King Motors boys offer with supply concerns like everyone else. “On The Table” attributes Mercedes-Benz legend Rudolph Uhlenaut’s impressive 1955 300 SLR Coupe, which recently changed hands for the highest rate in automotive record. Peter talks about “America’s Cathedral of Speed” – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – in Fumes. And appear for extensive protection in each Fumes and The Line of the operate-up to Sunday’s operating of the Indianapolis 500. -WG

 

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. Offered that every thing is properly and genuinely out of types proper now (you mean flat-out outrageous, proper? -WG) or improved yet, “Over Underneath Sideways Down” as The Yardbirds the moment famously sang, how did we arrive at this stage? Indeed, there is the chip “thing,” the lingering source chain “thing,” the scarcity of almost everything “thing.” And then there is the burgeoning pricing “thing” as in, how did we arrive at this stage in time in the car business, exactly where $60,000 is deemed a mid-priced car or truck, and $100,000+ is now the approved value of admission for the upper close of the industry? 

Yes, I get it, time marches on and all that, but was not it a lot less than a decade back when vehicles priced at $100,000 (and up) have been reserved for the Aston Martins, Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotica of the automobile globe? 

Now, the average price tag of a loaded luxury pickup truck from Chevy, Ford, GMC or Ram is approaching $75,000. If you get a loaded Tremendous Duty edition of one of individuals pickup trucks, you are quickly pushing six figures, and far more. Or how about the $75,000 Ford Broncos and V8-run 392 Jeep Wranglers?

The story is even more so for luxurious SUVs in this industry. Let us face it, if a producer does not have a premium SUV that’s 100 Grand or previously mentioned, it can’t be regarded a significant player. The record of gamers in that arena incorporates Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Land Rover, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz, and that’s just for starters. 

But then all over again, that 100 Grand plateau is promptly turning out to be a stepping stone situation, as difficult as that is to comprehend, for the reason that the checklist of players with SUVs approaching $200,000 and over is escalating exponentially. Lamborghini, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are filling that area, with Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and soon-to-be Ferrari (ugh) blowing previous $200,000 and pushing $300,000+. As in, are you frickin’ kidding me?

Welcome to the new regular, apparently. Of course, I have witnessed all of the figures – the progress of particular prosperity and disposable cash flow, along with the need of affluent consumers to say “WTF?” and spend large revenue on their individual transportation possibilities to “cocoon” throughout and soon after the pandemic (you know, that pandemic, which under no circumstances looks to go absent). And I applaud people rediscovering the strategy of hitting the highway and embracing the strategy of road visits they never ever took back in the day, for the reason that hitting the highway is always a superior thing. 

But 100 Grand turning out to be the new threshold for luxury car makers from below on out is still a tiny hard to swallow. Wasn’t it just a few of many years ago when prices in the $80,000 range had been eye-opening? Certainly, it was. But then all over again turning back again the clock isn’t likely to occur either. It appears just a minute ago when the idea of 100 Grand staying the price tag of entry for tremendous top quality luxury was radically steep. Now? It is feeling like a quaint idea at this level, because the market has blown earlier that. 

Is it sustainable? Which is a distinctive discussion totally. We are evidently teetering on the edge of a recessionary interval, brought on by the ongoing offer chain chaos and lingering COVID nightmare. Not to mention the systemic pressures getting fueled by the “Grand Transition” to BEVs. A big “We’ll See” as we like to say around below, but I never see costs rolling again at any time shortly, or ever once again for that make any difference.

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

As longtime AE visitors could remember from former columns, Jimmy and Sonny have operated in the shadows of the gigantic Chinese industrial machine for several years. But for readers new to AE, I will gladly get rid of some light on these two flamboyant characters so they can have a far more complete picture of who they are. 

Mr. Fu started out producing product vehicles in the late 70s, and it has now been confirmed that he controls each individual toymaking worry in China as a result of a labyrinthian community of mother-and-pop factories and various other massive conglomerates that he lords around. Mr. King turned associates with Mr. Fu immediately after in the beginning giving the elaborate wheels and diligently thorough tires on Mr. Fu’s product vehicles. The two have been companions for a prolonged time in simple fact, they are getting into their fifth decade jointly now.

I first obtained to know Mr. Fu and Mr. King following they approached me at the Los Angeles Vehicle Demonstrate several years in the past. Seemingly, they had stumbled on Autoextremist.com after they initially became common with the World-wide-web, and they regaled me with the simple fact that they both equally learned English by possessing my ‘Rants’ columns translated for them. 

When I initial fulfilled them, it turned into an uproarious come upon as they blurted out some of my patented phrases that they had acquired phonetically, like ‘notgonnahappen.com,’ ‘halle-frickin’-luja’ and ‘the Solution to the Query that Unquestionably No One is Asking.’ (How they uncovered that final one remains a mystery to me.)

Mr. Fu and Mr. King have remained in close get hold of with me ever since. As I have gotten to know Jimmy and Sonny, their frenetic speed and boundless vitality in no way stop to amaze me. The Zoom calls I receive at 3:00 p.m. my time are commonly booze-loaded stream-of-consciousness rants by Jimmy with Sonny yelling points in excess of his shoulder, accompanied by attractive design sorts dancing to disco tunes in the history at their secretive Shanghai lair. And their appetites surface to be even far more boundless. In actuality, Jimmy is even now fond of aspiring woman pop stars, even though Sonny is a pretty generous sponsor of a woman gymnastic academy. 

As you may imagine, with their insatiable appetites for, nicely, everything, their underground garage is in a continual point out of flux. Let us just say they go by way of about a fifty percent-dozen vehicles for each year, just about every. Speedy American muscle mass automobiles are overflowing in their fleet, which is an enthusiast’s cornucopia of biggest hits, together with a mélange of Challengers (every modified to supply 1100HP) an original “narrow-hipped” 427 avenue Cobra a L88 Corvette two new Corvette C8s (just one black, 1 white) and a few of custom made-designed Willys Gasser replicas from the 60s powered by race-ready Chevy 502 huge-blocks reserved for terrorizing the neighbors in the center of the evening. I have recognized that their fondness for Bourbon has progressed from Knob Creek through Basil Hayden’s to now Woodford Reserve, but that would seem to improve about each and every three months or so. 

A single major adjust for Jimmy and Sonny is that they offered a single of their twin Gulfstream G650s. Due to the fact they completely loved their jets, this is a huge deal. Jimmy discussed that “We had to lower again, business is not so excellent ideal now. (They held Jimmy’s, which is Jet Black and bought Sonny’s, which was Chaparral White.)

The previous time I talked with Jimmy and Sonny, I was ready to piece alongside one another some salient details of the Fu-King Motors foreseeable future item portfolio (even though it took 3, lengthy, Woodford Reserve-fueled Zoom phone calls to do so, with a great deal yelling – generally the yelling – and the incessant disco pop participating in LOUDLY in the track record). Considering that then, I have been counseling Jimmy and Sunny about the pricing of their approaching products.

So, as very best as I can convey to, here is the most up-to-date timeline – every little thing has been pushed back various a long time (“Chip Hell,” as Jimmy and Sonny explained in unison) – and the projected pricing for what Fu-King Motors has coming:

2025 (pushed back again from 2021): The lengthy-awaited debut of the Fu-King Gargantuan, the 6-wheeled, all-electric powered SUV is created to embarrass “anything else in the sector,” according to Jimmy. Flaunting some amazing figures: 2000HP 10,000 lbs., electric step ladders (“not actions, ladders,” Jimmy insists) and “a glimpse that will humiliate all that other crap out there,” additional Sonny. When I questioned about the cost, Jimmy and Sonny answered in unison: “Enough to make grown men cry!” So, what, exactly, is “enough to make developed adult men cry?” Jimmy laughed heartily at my hand-wringing in excess of the new $100,000 threshold and stated – with not a nanosecond’s hesitation – that the Gargantuan would have a base price tag of $599,999. Gulp. (But, as Sonny pointed out, that is a $100,000 selling price reduce from where they were.)

2025 (pushed again from 2021): Another extremely anticipated debut – The Fu-King Motors KickBoxer – is the boys’ response to the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco with “unequaled” off-street general performance. Boasting a carbon-fiber unibody and a kaleidoscope of diverse variations, including a pickup and just one 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 questioned if this could possibly be construed as overkill, Sonny rapidly replied: “We will introduce our competitors to the notion of obtaining their asses kicked!” So, how significantly will it price tag to kick your neighbors’ asses in their cherished Wranglers and Broncos? Sonny, who was the driving pressure at the rear of this program, priced it at $199,000 saying, “There is so substantially technologies in this beast that fans will beg to get on the waiting around list. You want to make a splash at vehicles and espresso? We obtained your splash correct below!” (Making an attempt to counsel the boys about pricing self-control has proved to be a futile exercise.)

2026 (I’ll think this 1 when I see it): The all-electric semi-truck that appears eerily like the Bison advanced extensive-haul trucking idea that GM Styling developed for the 1964 World’s Good is “a definite go” for late in ’26, in accordance to Jimmy. When I was proven images of the principle, I considered they experienced resurrected the designers who did the initial Bison, it looked so close to the first (see underneath). But this truck will be a hydrogen fuel cell-run electrical weighty truck with a assortment of “700+ miles,” in accordance to Sonny. The name? “Convoy.” (It looks that Jimmy and Sonny are massive supporters of the authentic “Smokey and The Bandit” film and the whole C.B. radio period in the U.S.) How significantly? $600,000, all-in.

(GM)

The Bison major truck concept from GM Styling was intended for the 1964 World’s Good in New York.

2030 (If it occurs at all): It’s very clear that the advancement of the Fu-King Motors supercar has been fraught with challenges from the beginning. That it has taken its toll on Jimmy and Sonny is clear, as each time I mention it their regular exuberant dispositions convert decidedly glum. To start with envisioned as a substantial-effectiveness, hydrogen gasoline mobile-powered electric hypercar, the machine – code named “Bandini” – has been reimagined as a BEV aimed to eclipse Gordon Murray’s T.50. Stated to have 1+2 seating and a curb pounds of 1900 lbs., Jimmy and Sunny are nonetheless mum – and decidedly glum – on any further more details, which is unconventional for them, even though I know they’re continuously bickering about the information. Which suggests you can wager that even the 2030 time-frame is a pipedream and not even near to happening. And they have not stopped bickering extensive ample to even communicate about the pricing nevertheless. Whilst from what I have noticed so considerably, it will value $4 million, minimum.

When I asked about products and solutions past 2030, the boys mimicked what I generally say, chiming in once more in unison, “It’s a large we’ll see!” And, when questioned if they had any strategies to import their goods to the U.S., the solution was a resounding, “Never!” Asked why, they answered once more in unison, “Too significantly bullshit, also a great deal aggravation. We’re having way too previous for this shit!” 

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

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

“Oh, what a globe! What a environment!” 

What a world, certainly.

And that is the Substantial-Octane Real truth for this 7 days.

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