By Brendan Moore
Tesla received final approval Tuesday of a deal with the city of San Jose in Northern California to lease almost 90 acres of city-owned land for a production facility to build their USD $60,000 Model S, an all-electric sedan.
Chuck Reed, the mayor of San Jose, stated that the lease is a long-term agreement, with a built-in waiver on the first 10 years of lease payments. Reed said the northern California town in the heart of Silicon Valley known worldwide for technology would be home to the factory and was moving quickly toward being the go-to place for so-called clean tech. “We want to be a world-class center of clean-tech innovation, and this fits into our strategy to do that,” Reed said. “We hope to be the home of the electric car like Detroit was for the internal-combustion car.”
The city of San Jose has an ambitious goal of creating 25,000 jobs in what it has identified as the “clean technology” sector in the next 15 years. City planners see the sector as high-growth and wish to establish themselves as one of the locations of same.
By Brendan Moore
Here’s what was announced yesterday:
The company said that there would not be another extension of the employee pricing program when it ends this month. GM originally announced the offer on August 19th, extended it until the end of September when it starting producing results, and there was some speculation that the company was considering extending it yet again. But Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper put that speculation to rest when he stated the GM was happy with the results of the promotion and it would end on the last day of the month.
GM had an okay month in August compared to almost everyone else – results were way behind (20% under) last year’s August results, but that was a lot better than Ford and Chrysler were able to do. The Chevrolet Silverado was also able to grab the No 1 – selling vehicle crown away from the Toyota Camry in August.
Surprising almost no one, GM also announced that Cadillac would add a CTS Sport Wagon model next year. The five-passenger wagon is to be built on the same platform as the Cadillac CTS sport sedan but will provide 25 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. It’s fuel efficiency is expected to be similar to the sport sedan’s 26 mpg on the highway, GM said. Since the stunning 2010 CTS Coupe will also make its appearance in 2009 calendar year, Fall should be a heady time at your Cadillac dealer’s, what with three CTS bodystyles available.
By Brendan Moore
Oil is steadily falling in price (it dipped under $100 USD for the first time in five months last week) and some energy analysts think it may settle in around $100 USD a barrel for the short-term. Some analysts are much more optimistic, saying that they think oil will continue to descend further, until it reaches a plateau of around $70 a barrel.
Either of these scenarios begs these questions: Will Americans go back to pickup trucks and SUVs if gasoline becomes cheap again? If so, will it be in big numbers or a mere trickle? And how long would the lower prices have to be sustained before buyers felt confident enough about the future price of gasoline to then buy something that got 15 mpg that they would then have to fill up, for say, the next 4-5 years?
I talk to consumers about cars and all the issues peripheral to cars every chance I get, whether it’s a one-on-one situation, or in an informal group setting. I stop people in the parking lot at the grocery, or the post office, or at a gas station, introduce myself and my profession, and ask them about what they’re driving, why they’re driving it, etc. When I travel, which I do frequently, I do the same thing so I can get a feel for what people are thinking in different parts of the country.
By Brendan Moore
The price of a barrel of oil has dropped below $100 USD for the first time in five months, but the price of gasoline in the U.S. is going up as a result of refinery shutdowns in Texas and Louisiana because of Hurricane Ike.
The average nationwide price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline has risen for four consecutive days and gone up 6 cents alone in the past 24 hours to $3.73 over fears of reduced refinery output. On a regional basis, however, the Southeast region of the U.S. has seen some huge jumps in specific areas, with some gasoline stations in Florida, for example, showing prices over $5 a gallon. Prices in other parts of the Southeast, like Tennessee, are already as high as $4.55 a gallon for unleaded regular. Increases in other regions of the U.S. have been minuscule so far.
A national survey of retail gasoline prices released by the AAA, a motorist association, Saturday morning shows that the average price of regular unleaded gasoline rose 5.8 cents to $3.73 a gallon, from $3.675 a day earlier.
The almost 6-cent increase was the largest one-day jump this year and the largest since immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, says AAA. The price of gas rose by 14 cents and 16 cents respectively on consecutive days in the days immediately after Katrina devastated the area around New Orleans, which also had a great deal of oil refinery and pipeline infrastructure.
President Bush, reacting to the possibility that there will shortages of gasoline, and therefore price increases, released a short statement saying that the Department of Energy and other federal agencies would do their best to ensure that there are adequate supplies of gasoline for the public. In that same vein, Bush said the Environmental Protection Agency waivers on certain reformulated gasolines were suspended Friday night to make it easier for imports to get into U.S. markets.
It is unclear how effective the Federal efforts to stabilize gasoline prices will be; some energy analysts are predicting a sharp temporary increase that will last a month at the most. It is also unclear at this point how much of the price jump is due to consumer panic and/or localized price gouging. Governors in several Southeastern states have issued statements this morning saying that any firm found to be engaged in price gouging will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
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By Brendan Moore
Timing is everything in life, and I have had the good fortune to have spent a week with the redesigned 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe after also recently spending the same amount of time with its BMW performance target.
Wait, it gets better.
Earlier this week, I was able to do actual track time in both the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe and the 2008 BMW 335i Coupe, back-to-back, and under perfect weather conditions. Neither Infiniti or BMW ran the track event, so there was no stacking of the deck in terms of the track layout.
If only auto journalists made a lot of money, this would be a perfect job. Really, it would be a perfect job if we just made an average amount of money, but since all the people at the bank point at me and laugh whenever I come in, it probably goes without saying that it’s mostly a labor of love.
Let’s get the track impressions out of the way first.
I drove the automatic versions in both cars; the G37 has a five-speed auto-box and the 335i offers a six-speed automatic transmission. Both cars offer the driver the option of using paddle shifters on the steering wheel to go through the gears manually.
The 3.7 liter, 330 horsepower V6 in the G37 Coupe is a wonderful engine and showcases Nissan’s first use of their VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology in a production car. VVEL makes a conventional throttle butterfly valve superfluous (just like BMW’s Valvetronic technology) and gives the 3.7 liter a flatter torque curve than the 3.5 it replaced in the G35 Coupe. The result is more horsepower, natch, as well as more immediate throttle response. It was a lot of fun howling (literally and figuratively) around the track, using the horsepower of the G37 to help steer the car though corners with tail-wagging slides. The BMW 3.0 liter, 300 horsepoer 335i Coupe felt a little faster, but that wasn’t because the Infiniti’s engine wasn’t holding up its end; it was because the justifiably famous BMW chassis and suspension was more communicative and precise than the Infiniti’s. This, despite the fact that the G37 chassis and suspension is a huge improvement over the G35’s, with increases in stiffness, braking ability, track width, and, a lower polar inertia. It’s oh-so-close to the BMW now, but still not there.