By George Straton
Indeed May 21, 2010 was a historic day for the future of the electric vehicle (EV) in North America when it was announced that Tesla Motors would use a portion of the briefly shuttered Toyota Fremont California Final Assembly Plant and receive $50 million in capital from Toyota. That makes Toyota a co-investor with the not-insubstantial Daimler in the niche sports EV company. Rumors of Tesla’s demise stemming from the divorce of the Elon Musk from his wife obviously aren’t scaring away real investors with real money.
The Fremont assembly plant was most recently and famously known by the name of New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI), a joint venture launched by GM and Toyota in 1982. Once GM axed its Pontiac Division in 2009, and the Corolla-based Pontiac Vibe ceased production, the joint venture ended. By 1980 GM was responsible for building 50% of all cars sold in North America. Roger Smith, mocked by Director Michael Moore in the film “Roger and Me” was the General’s controversial CEO. Yet Smith had foresight. He realized that new government safety and emissions regulations, rising domestic labor costs and advances being made by the Japanese in automation and quality control could spell the end of the General’s domination of new vehicle market share.
By Kevin Miller
I’m an “online” kind of person. While I’ll admit to subscribing to one mainstream print auto magazine and receiving the printed bi-monthly magazines of the Volvo Club North America and Saab Club North America, that’s the extent of my print reading. Now in my mid-30s, I’ve never subscribed to a daily newspaper, preferring to get my news online. I even write for this online media site. Consequently, that’s the way I typically see advertisement- online.
I was on the road all week last week, staying at a hotel oriented to business travelers. Every day the hotel staff dutifully left the Wall Street Journal outside of my door, and every day I picked it up, carried it around in my briefcase all day, and then put it in the recycling bin the next morning when I picked up the next day’s paper.
By Chris Haak
Just weeks after Toyota shut down production, presumably for good, at its NUMMI facility in Fremont, California, there’s a sign of life at the former GM-Toyota joint-venture factory. Electric vehicle maker Tesla has will acquire the empty factory and intends to employ 1,000 individuals there making an as-yet unspecified electric car.
Simultaneously, Toyota will invest $50 million in the EV startup, in exchange for that value in common stock when Tesla completes its planned initial public offering. So, to recap, Toyota is investing in Tesla (which Daimler did almost a year ago to the day as well, and for the same $50 billion figure), while Tesla is buying Toyota’s old assembly plant.
Escape from Silicon Valley
By Kevin Miller
I’ve been spending this week in California’s Silicon Valley. While the area is famous for technology companies like Apple and Google, in my mind the most prominent features of the area are strip malls, office parks, divided parkways and expressways, and traffic. The first three days of my stay were filled with all of those things, tiresome restaurants with disinterested staff and odd menu choices (including Duck Confit Nachos the first night’s restaurant, and Duck Confit Gorditas at the second night’s restaurant; I passed on both).
Fortunately for me, I’ve got a cousin who lives “over the hill” in the coastal town of San Gregorio. She invited me to drive out CA-84 after work for dinner and experience her community and its amazing natural surroundings. The dinner and company were great, the natural setting wonderfully refreshing, and the drive to get there was amazing. The following night, with work done surprisingly early and skies sunny for the first time all week, I decided to re-explore those winding roads.
By Chris Haak
Once in a while, we spot unusual vehicles during our daily travels that only an auto enthusiast might appreciate. To the untrained eye, they may not appear to be anything special, rare, or interesting. Heck, even my reasonably-trained eye failed me in identifying this car.
Earlier this week, one of our readers spotted the vehicle shown here at a parking lot in Delaware. He sent it to me and asked me what it was. Embarrassingly, I didn’t know the answer without looking at the detail shot that he took of the car’s back end. At that point it all started to come together in my mind.