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Volkswagen advert unbuttons exciting hybrid image

Volkswagen is tomorrow (1 July) airing a new UK-created television campaign designed to bust one of the myths around the appeal of some hybrid-engined cars.

The brand’s new ‘button’ ad, which champions the responsible use of power available in the sporty Golf GTE, makes its UK television debut tonight during the prime time ITV show The Voice Kids.

Vw, Volkswagen, Sport, Stamp, Logo, Auto, Car, Grill

The humorous, tongue-in-cheek advert created by global agency Adam&Eve/DDB in co-operation with the Volkswagen UK Marketing team, is designed to show how a “responsible use of power” in the potent Golf GTE makes hybrid motoring as enjoyable as it is environmentally acceptable.

The brand’s latest advertising campaign has been created, in part, to address consumer attitudes highlighted in a recent extensive piece of research by global market intelligence agency Mintel.

The authoritative Mintel data, generated as a result of a major study into attitudes around electric and hybrid vehicles*, clearly shows that many drivers who say they would consider a hybrid/electric car are ultimately concerned by factors including running costs, the availability of hybrid and electric cars, and supposed performance compromises. Mintel’s figures show 38% of drivers in their survey said they would consider buying a hybrid/electric car, yet only 4% actually did so.

Volkswagen National Communications Manager Glyn Butterworth explained: “The ‘button’ advert is our light-hearted way of addressing a serious point. Today’s updated Golf GTE – with its 204 PS combined power output and 7.6-second 0-62 mph time – is the antithesis of the ‘worthy but dull’ hybrid image.

“Pressing the Golf’s centre console-mounted ‘GTE’ button allows the combined 1.4 TSI 150 PS petrol engine and 75 Kw (102 PS) electric motor to operate together, unlocking a lively turn of pace in this car.

“Clearly we are not encouraging people to drive irresponsibly – indeed the idea behind the Golf’s advanced hybrid GTE powertrain is to maximise range – but the Golf’s petrol+electric potential is something we are rightly proud of.”

Glyn added: “We hope the gentle nod to various movie genres in the new TV campaign will make people smile, while also making them reappraise their views on hybrids.”

Driving even greater value for money into a growing area of the UK market, today’s petrol-electric hybrid Golf GTE offers a compelling mix of engaging GTI-style dynamics, responsible e-Golf-style sustainability and generous GTD-style range.

The updated Golf GTE is available with a choice of two trim levels. The entry-level Golf GTE is joined by the new GTE Advance in a range line-up that mirrors that of the award-winning Passat GTE.

The hybrid powered five-door Golf, with both a 150 PS 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and a 102 PS (75 Kw) electric motor for a system power output of 204 PS, unites economy and performance in a flexible and appealing package.

The total potential range of the Golf GTE is 514 miles and the GTE’s battery gives an all-electric range of up to 31 miles. This opens up the possibility of driving significant distances cross-country using the TSI petrol engine and then completing the journey into a town or city under zero emission full electric power.

Official performance figures for the 204 PS Golf GTE show it capable of covering the 0-62 mph sprint in 7.6 seconds with a top speed, where legal, of 138 mph. CO2 emissions are 38g/km for the GTE and 40g/km for the GTE Advance, while combined fuel economy is 166 mpg for the GTE and 157 mpg for the GTE Advance.

Sitting alongside the range of the Golf GTE is its ability to offer high performance driving when required. A press of the centre console-mounted GTE button delivers the potential for spirited acceleration that comes via the instant torque of the electric motor working alongside the broad power of the turbocharged petrol engine.

Both the updated Golf GTE and Golf GTE Advance are equipped with a host of premium features such as full LED front and rear lights with sweeping indicators, Active Info Display, and Volkswagen Car-Net App Connect functionality.

The updated Golf GTE offers five operating modes: ‘E-mode’, ‘GTE mode’, ‘Battery Hold’, ‘Battery Charge’ and ‘Hybrid Auto’. In pure electric mode (activated at the press of a button), the Golf GTE can travel up to 31 miles emissions free. Electric power can also be saved – for example when driving to a zero-emissions zone. In electric mode, the GTE is capable of speeds of up to 81 mph.

The 8.7 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged in 3.45 hours from a domestic mains outlet, or 2.15 hours from a domestic wallbox.

Read more: https://www.automotiveworld.com/news-releases/volkswagen-advert-unbuttons-exciting-hybrid-image/

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McLaren Automotive sees more growth ahead after record 2016

 FILE PHOTO: A McLaren 720S car is seen during the 87th International Motor Show at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Luxury sports carmaker McLaren Automotive said on Thursday it expected to post another record performance this year after reporting a 70 percent increase in pre-tax profits in 2016 off the back of an all-time high in sales.

Founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren and known for winning Formula 1 titles with drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, McLaren set up a separate sports car maker known as McLaren Automotive in 2010 to rival the likes of Ferrari and Aston Martin.

Since then the firm has grown rapidly, with sales doubling to 3,286 vehicles in 2016 and profit rising by 70 percent to 9.2 million pounds ($12 million).

The carmaker said earlier this year it would create 200 jobs as part of a 50 million pounds investment to build carbon-fibre chassis in northern England, its first purpose-built site away from its headquarters in the southern English town of Woking.

With a range of new models expected to drive further growth, the firm’s director for sales and marketing said he expected another all-time high this year.

“Having the new, second-generation Super Series and the first-ever Sports Series convertible in showrooms will give every one of the 80 McLaren retailers worldwide the opportunity to contribute strongly to another record year,” said Jolyon Nash.

The firm expects to reach sales of 4,500 vehicles by the end of 2022, with at least half equipped with hybrid powertrains.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mclaren-results-idUSKBN19K172

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Amazon plans to sell cars in Europe

MUNICH — Amazon plans a digital assault on the retail automotive sector and is sounding the attack in Europe first, sources have told Automobilwoche, an affiliate of Automotive News.

The Internet giant has recruited Christoph Moeller, a partner at the Oliver Wyman consultancy for the effort. He was responsible for the auto industry at the firm up until last February.

“At Amazon, I am overseeing the OEM business in the European market,” Moeller told Automobilwoche.

Amazon is spending large sums to build up its new unit, which will be run from Luxembourg and will start by selling cars in the U.K. “It has been luring experts with fat pay packages for some time,” an automotive consultant said.

“I know that Amazon is planning something in this area,” a spokesman for Fiat Chrysler said. Like Hyundai and Opel, Fiat has already sold cars over Amazon.

Amazon is exerting “massive pressure to add yet another supporting pillar to the market in the form of test drives,” said an executive at one manufacturer. In scattered instances, it is already possible to get test drives of Mercedes models at Amazon.

A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment on European plans and it’s not clear whether new or used cars will be offered. The company last year announced a deal to sell three Fiat cars, including the 500 and Panda, on its Italian website. The program was extended in March and now also includes long-term leases.

Amazon is seeking to fill a gap as traditional dealerships lose appeal.

Read More: http://www.autonews.com/article/20170612/RETAIL03/170619922/amazon-plans-to-sell-cars-in-europe

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A New Way of Thinking About the Automotive Industry

Over the last couple of decades, Silicon Valley has been responsible for inventing and reinventing all kinds of gadgets and technologies: the music player, the phone, the watch, the TV and the computer itself. Recent trends suggest that the automotive industry might be next on Silicon Valley’s disruption list.

Besides a surge of auto tech startups and Tesla’s success, Silicon Valley’s new affair with the automotive industry is heightened by chatter about a secret car project by the most prominent disruptor of them all: Apple. Dan Akerson, retired CEO of General Motors, recently commented on Apple’s alleged entrance into the automotive market with the following remarks:

“We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into a car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that.”

But is this really true? Does Silicon Valley really have no idea what they are getting into? Or might the Valley just have a drastically different idea of the future of the automotive industry?

automotive_blog_1

Are We Reaching Peak Driving?

One reason for Silicon Valley’s interest in the automotive industry is the theory of “peak driving”. In the U.S. and Europe, people are buying fewer cars, driving less and getting less driver’s licenses, suggesting a major cultural shift away from individual car ownership. This is especially true when one looks at the behavior of 16-30-year-olds living in urban areas.

While car sales in other markets, such as China, are still growing, a look at cities, here too, signals that this trend won’t hold for long. For example, in Beijing, a driver wishing to purchase a vehicle with an internal-combustion engine must first enter a lottery and then wait up to 2 years before receiving a license plate.

Consulting firm McKinsey expects such vehicle use restrictions to grow even more stringent in emerging countries as the level of urbanization and air pollution increases. Globally air pollution already accounts for 6.5 million deaths annually. It is such developments, among others, that attract Silicon Valley disruptors to enter and redefine the industry.

Changing the Worldview About Cars

The purpose-driven Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and executives, following their “change-the-world-mantra”, are viewing the shortcomings of internal combustion engine cars as global challenges, solvable by innovative technologies and business models.

In their view, cars are an old, inconvenient technology, destroying lives, polluting the air, and contributing to global warming. For executives like Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, the argument for disrupting the automotive industry is obvious. Referring to the over 1 million deaths and 15 million injuries caused by car accidents globally each year, Schmidt speaking to shareholders in 2016 bemoaned: “How could you accept that? Why is this not a national crisis?”

Furthermore, from the perspective of Silicon Valley, cars are not only destroying lives and the environment, they are also extremely narrow “computers on wheels“. While cars have become increasingly more computerized, they are still relatively unintelligent, inefficient, and rarely connected to the Internet with no unifying platform that allows third party software to be run. This is where Silicon Valley steps in: The smarter the car gets, the more it becomes obvious that the automobile is but one element of a complex mobility system – a system due for digital disruption.

The individual components which come together to form a car are obviously not all made by the same supplier, in fact there are thousands of satellite companies withint the automotive industry which support manufacturers at various stages in the supply chain. These smaller companies are often responsible for the innovations which have huge impact to the industry as a whole:

  • CAN (Controller Area Network) Bus – the system which allows microcontrollers and devices to communicate together
  • Tires – Optimizing performance is crucial not just for efficiency but also safety
  • ECU (Engine Control Unit) – the processor which manages operation of the engine
  • Windows – innovations in this department can lead to aesthetic design innovation
  • Seatbelts & airbags – innovation with regard to safety features of any car is essential, and new methods are constantly under development
  • Lighting – Whether it’s innovation in luxury class vehicles with the intention to impress, or functionality-focused for headlights and break lights
  • Fasteners – ensuring that all elements are securely attached is crucial when traveling at high speeds

From Selling Cars to Selling Experiences

A recently published report by independent think tank RethinkX suggests that by 2030, 95% of U.S. passenger miles traveled will be served by on-demand autonomous electric vehicles, owned by fleets, not individuals. In such a future, the key customer question that the automotive industry has to answer with innovative products and services is not: “What car should I buy?”, but rather “How do I get from A to B?”.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Automotive_Blog_2.jpg

automotive_blog_2

This dramatic shift from individual car ownership to Transport as a Service (TaaS) is the vision followed by Silicon Valley. Tech companies are racing to deploy the first TaaS solutions to leapfrog traditional car manufacturers and to gain first-mover advantages. Not only would such a shift dramatically shrink the automotive market (unit sales and margins), it would also mean that platform providers, companies developing autonomous vehicle operating systems, and computing platforms would win over traditional car manufacturers. Furthermore, as one billion people get in and out of cars every single day, McKinsey forecasts that aggregating and selling data from these vehicles could grow into a $450 to 750 billion market by 2030.

So, while executives of the automotive industry were still laughing at Google when it unveiled its fleet of little pod-cars without steering wheels in 2014, some traditional car manufacturers like General Motors have now at least begun calling themselves mobility companies instead of car manufacturers.

Key Challenge: Self-Disruption

In this coming mobility revolution, the predominant challenge for traditional players in the automotive industry is self-disruption. These companies have to redefine who they are and what they stand for. Changing the worldview about cars is the best way to start. As Vijay Govindarajan, a world leading expert on innovation and New York Times bestselling author, explains in his book The Three Box Solution: In order to create the future, one must forget the past. Govindarajan explains how older organizations often fall into the complacency and legacy trap, i.e. focusing too much on their past successes and existing structures and cultures. He argues that organizations must establish formal regimes of planned opportunism (i.e. gathering and analyzing weak signals and trends) and thus challenge their internal beliefs and values.

This means that incumbent players in the automotive industry are well advised to continuously irritate themselves and to create a new understanding and vision of the future of their industry. This requires open innovation solutions in order for employees and other stakeholders to first and foremost develop a collective intelligence about disruptive trends, but also to express new ideas that challenge the status quo.

Some of the biggest automotive companies are now taking notice and beginning to utilize this methodology. For example, in 2016 Ford began working with award-winning innovation management software vendor, Qmarkets, to engage their workforce and overcome their business challenges. Idea & Innovation Management software can help organizations shift their perspectives and jumpstart a conversation about new business opportunities which could prove invaluable to the success of the organization.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/brandviews/qmarkets/new-way-thinking-automotive-industry-01862877#sORH1WKxBsC2wAYV.99

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The speed limits in these parts of Dublin will be reduced from this week onwards

New speed limits will come into effect in a number of areas across the city from midnight on Tuesday onwards.

A 30 km/h speed limit will be enforced in certain urban areas and residential estates throughout Dublin from midnight on Tuesday, May 30, as part of the expansion of 30 km/h speed limits throughout the city.

The new speed limit will come into effect in parts of Sandymount, Crumlin, Drimnagh, Raheny, Artane, Donaghmede, Drumcondra and Phibsborough; a detailed map of the zones where the expansion of the 30km/hr limit will come into effect can be viewed here.

The introduction of the 30 km/h speed limit in those areas comes after it was initially introduced in a number of areas in Dublin city centre in March.

Dublin City Council says that the expansion of the 30km/hr speed limit zones will generally not affect the arterial roads in and out of the city but rather the residential areas of the city.

New signage will be revealed in housing estates and locations where the 30km/hr speed limit is being applied and a Slow Zone will be created.

Bye-laws for the 30km/hr expansion were adopted by Dublin City councillors in December 2016 following a period of public consultation; you can see all the areas of Dublin where it is in effect on the Dublin City Council website.

Read more: https://www.joe.ie/motors/speed-limits-dublin-589977

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Belfast Mechanical expands in Quinte West

Belfast Mechanical

Suzanne Andrews, general manager of the Quinte West chamber of commerce, congratulated David Cowan on the expansion of Belfast Mechanical on Wednesday June 7. – Erin Stewart/Metroland

Trenton — Belfast Mechanical Services Inc. auto repair shop has expanded services and is now open to the public, located in Quinte West.

Owner David Cowan, licensed technician in automotive, truck and car repair, has been a mechanic since high school and has worked in the Quinte area for the last 20 years.

For the past 17 years Cowan has solely repaired Quinte Paramedics Services EMS vehicles but since opening Belfast Mechanical in April 2016, Cowan said he has been able to expand his shop and hire another mechanic, enabling him to service the general public.

“It’s been a special relationship with EMS but working with other customers’ vehicles will be quite natural, we will be doing both,” he said.

“We’re going to be working on everything from passenger vehicles right through to medium duty size vehicles that would need annual safety inspections,” said Cowan.

“We do all repairs on all makes and models of vehicles, everything from tune-ups, to breaks, whatever a vehicle would need for repairs.”

Opening shop in Quinte West is a dream come true, said Cowan.

“I emigrated from Northern Ireland to Canada with my family in the mid 1970s,” he said.

“My grandfather came to Canada at age 55 and I grew up in his shop, learning from him became the foundation for many things and ultimately led me to wanting to become an entrepreneur myself.”

Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison congratulated Cowan on his new expansion, along with Suzanne Andrews, general manager of the Quinte West chamber of commerce, on Wednesday June 7.

Read more: https://www.insidebelleville.com/news-story/7359621-belfast-mechanical-expands-in-quinte-west/

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How Most Insurance Companies Strangle Automotive Enthusiasm

Quick, now: Will you send your children to STEM or to FIRE? It sounds like a question that might be asked as part of the “Hunger Games” but it’s far more important than that. The media continually tells us that not enough young Americans are getting degrees in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Instead, they’re choosing careers in FIRE — finance, insurance, and real estate. Why is this happening?

The cynic in me has all sorts of unpleasant answers to that question, mostly having to do with the fact that you never see a Wall Street bank outsource its trading operations to Asia, but here’s another good, solid answer to the question: One of the major insurance agencies just announced that they were going to raise premiums on the Tesla Model S about thirty percent. They are doing this because they aren’t making enough money on Tesla policies.

Never mind the fact that American insurance companies, as a whole, earned almost half a trillion dollars in net profit over the past decade. There’s always room for a couple more dollars in the hopper. So the premiums on Teslas will rise by a third.

Consider, if you will, how much engineering effort, how much financial risk, and how much sheer willpower went into the creation of the Tesla Model S. Contrast that with the relatively prosaic and uninteresting task of insuring the Tesla Model S. Now consider that nobody is under any legal obligation whatsoever to purchase a new Tesla, but the moment you buy one anyway you will be under a legal obligation to purchase insurance for it.

DOESN’T SEEM FAIR, DOES IT?

Doesn’t seem fair, does it? The STEM guys bust their humps to create a technological masterpiece and they have to shave the cost down to the last penny just to survive in the marketplace. Meanwhile, the FIRE crowd gets to shoot fish in a barrel courtesy of mandatory-insurance laws plus they can raise the premiums any time they feel like it. One side does all the work and takes all the risk, while the other side has a government-guaranteed customer base and the ability to raise prices whenever they like. And you wonder why the Millennials decided to eschew burning the midnight engineering oil in favor of partying their way through a middling business degree before going to work on Wall Street or in the insurance business. Turns out it’s because they’re smart.

Those of us who are a bit older than the Millennials can recall that this isn’t the first time the auto insurance industry has reached down from its profitable perch and put the screws to a particular type of automobile. Consider the following: Thirty years ago, the market was chock-full of two-seater sporting cars. Some of them were pretty tame, like the Escort EXP, and some were absolute corkers, like the 300ZX Turbo. It didn’t matter. The insurance companies decided that two-seat cars should be charged higher premiums–and poof, they just disappeared.

Take a look at the list of the cheapest and most expensive vehicles to insure. The insurance companies love dog-slow tippy-toe misery-mobiles. I guess maybe rollover accidents aren’t such a big deal after all, because every single vehicle on the low-cost list has a hip point well above that of a Honda Accord.

The list of the most expensive-to-insure vehicles, on the other hand, reads like a dream garage, chock-full of desirable stuff like the last-generation Viper, the Nismo GT-R, and the Audi RS7. But it’s the rankings in-between that truly rankle. Did you know that the Lexus IS350 is about ten percent more expensive to insure than the ES350? Why would that be, other than the fact that the IS350 is a delight to drive compared to its staid front-wheel-drive showroom compatriot? The Mercedes C400 costs more to insure than the E400. Why? Again, other than being more fun to drive, what sin has the smaller, cheaper sedan committed?

THE INSURANCE COMPANIES HAVE ALL BUT KILLED THE SPORTBIKE MARKET.

It’s not just cars. The insurance companies have all but killed the sportbike market. It’s prohibitively expensive to insure anything but an “adventure bike.” I decided not to insure my ZX-14R for collision because the tab for doing so was one-third of the price of the motorcycle per year. Mind you, I have never had a motorcycle insurance claim of any kind. It’s literally cheaper to put a motorcycle on a credit card and pay that interest rate than it is to finance a bike with a reputable bank and meet their standards for collision and comprehensive insurance. Surely that’s an indicator of a broken market.

None of this would truly matter if we had a genuine free market when it came to auto insurance–but we don’t. You’re required to purchase it, by the state and by your financial institution. The rates are difficult to compare and subject to change with little notice after you start your policy. Virtually anything you do, from getting a ticket to getting divorced, will raise your rates. Some insurance agencies actually pay the quick-lube oil-change places to send them your odometer readings so they can raise your rates for “excessive driving.” It happened to my wife; they looked at the monthly mileage she put on her Tahoe during the winter and extrapolated that out to the whole year. Oddly enough, they didn’t extend the equal and opposite favor to her regarding the Corvette that doesn’t leave the garage in January. Strange how that works.

Against the above list of sins–killing the two-seater market, forcing young people into high-riding, rollover-prone mommy-wagons, and making motorcycle ownership just slightly less expensive than owning a Gulfstream–the defenders of the auto-insurance game have nothing to say other than the fact that auto underwriting is occasionally unprofitable for the insurance companies. Mind you, it’s not so unprofitable that anybody is quitting the business. The past four decades have seen the auto industry lose dozens of independent manufacturers as diverse as AMC and Lamborghini in a vicious downward spiral of rising costs and increasing regulations. Have you seen any insurance companies go out of business during that time? I rest my case.

What’s the fix for this state of affairs? I can’t tell you. I don’t have the education to know. I didn’t major in STEM or FIRE. (I majored in SCREW–Sleeping, Cycling, Racing, English, and Working a second job while I was in school.) But given that we live in an era where a lot of attention is being paid to how “fair” and “equal” everything is, at some point there is going to have to be a national conversation about the fact that our regulations are written to benefit the FIRE folks at the expense of the STEM people. It shouldn’t be less risky to insure a car than it is to design, engineer, build, market, distribute, and warranty it.

Read more: http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a9994252/how-most-insurance-companies-strangle-automotive-enthusiasm/

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3 Automotive Brands Dominated Spending on New Creative Last Week

Need a new car this summer?

Three automotive brands populated Kantar Media’s list of last week’s top spenders on national broadcast placement for new campaigns. Spending on new creative increased last week, with 594 advertisers devoting around $95 million on placement for new campaigns, an increase of nearly a third over the previous week’s total of roughly $72 million, although well short of the $122 million mark set the week before that. Of that, advertisers devoted nearly $8.7 million on placement during the first two games of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers last week.

Total spending on broadcast placement was down, however, with advertisers spending around $746 million last week, compared to $828 million the week prior.

While three automotive brands made Kantar Media’s list, Toyota lapped the competition, spending some $9 million on broadcast placement, 81 percent of its $11.1 million budget, for a pair of spots promoting its 2018 CH-R cross-over vehicle. Of that, $5.3 million was dedicated to prime-time programming, spread out between a variety of shows including Mom and Life in Pieces. Lethal Weapon received $400,000, which was the most spending on new creative of any show.

The ads feature the 2018 CH-R, not a fantasy prince, saving modern-day depictions of Cinderella and Rapunzel. Both spots made their debut on May 29, running in both English and Spanish. As of the compiling of Kantar Media’s report, the “Cinderella” spot had run a total of 1,142 times with an expenditure of $5.6 million, while “Rapunzel” had run 1,216 times for a total expenditure of $3.5 million.

Read more: http://www.adweek.com/agencies/3-automotive-brands-dominated-spending-on-new-creative-last-week/

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$20 Million Hypercar Gathering Is a Symphony of Automotive Music

CARSPOTTER JEROEN/YOUTUBE
When any automotive enthusiasts sees more than three supercars (or hypercars) together, their skips a beat. When an automotive enthusiast hears more than three supercars start up and drive around, their heart just stops. But when hundreds of supercars get together—like the gaggle that recently gathered at TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands—well, it can even cause cardiac events among gearheads who are just watching on YouTube. So you’d better be sure you’re sitting down for this.

In the video shot by Carspotter Jeroen, we can see some truly amazing cars. Between the McLaren P1s and a Koenigsegg Agera RS and Agera RS ML, this event isn’t falling short of truly insane cars. Put it this way: The Bugatti Veyrons look like regular cars compared to some of the insanely rare vehicles darting down the front straight.

As the video continues, we get to see and hear some high-speed passes as these rolling works of art blast past Jeroen and his camera. A fun math exercise would be to estimate the cost of all the cars on the truck, but since we aren’t mathematicians, we’ll just play it safe and say north of $20 million. Other cars that can be seen are Ferrari LaFerraris, Lamborghini Huracans, Nissan GT-Rs, Mercedes-AMG GT S, Aston Martins, and much more.

Read more: http://www.thedrive.com/watch-this/11160/20-million-hypercar-gathering-is-a-symphony-of-automotive-music

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Karma Automotive cranks out $130,000 cars in Moreno Valley

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The employees of Karma Automotive cheer as Krishnan Menon, of Los Angeles, drives away as the first customer to take delivery of the new Revero built at their Moreno Valley factory on Monday, June 5, 2017. (Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Karma Automotive aspires to “take customers to a place they didn’t expect,” according to president and CEO Dennis Dougherty.

It got a little closer to that goal Monday when it delivered its first commercial car to its first customer.

Karma was once Fisker Automotive, which went bankrupt in 2013 after several years of missteps in bringing its luxury hybrid EVs to market. It was revived in 2014 and now has headquarters in Costa Mesa and a factory in Moreno Valley as well as a presence in Detroit.

Moreno Valley was the scene of Monday’s ceremony as company executives gathered to hand Los Angeles businessman Krishnan Menon the keys to its only model, the 2018 Revero, priced at around $130,000.

Applauding employees made way as Menon got behind the wheel and rolled out of the 550,000-square-foot facility.

“Watch your knees, boys,” chief revenue officer Jim Taylor told factory workers. “He might make that circle a little wide.”

The Moreno Valley factory, which doubles as a warehouse, has 198 employees in an industry that has been absent in Southern California for 25 years. Once, 15,000 workers turned out half a million cars a year in places like South Gate, Maywood, Pico Rivera and Long Beach. That era ended with the closure of General Motors’ Van Nuys facility in 1992.

The Bay Area’s Tesla Motors, a key competitor in the luxury market, has headquarters in Palo Alto and a factory in Fremont. In 2016, Fortune and Bloomberg News reported its Model S was the best-selling luxury sedan in the nation, followed by Mercedes-Benz.

But the market for electric cars is not large, less than 1 percent, according to Kelley Blue Book analyst Tim Fleming.

“People right now want SUVs,” he said. “They aren’t thinking about fuel efficiency.”

Dougherty said for now Karma is building one car a day.

“From the get-go, they’ve been straightforward. They’re not trying to be a volume manufacturer,” said Akshay Anand, also with Kelley Blue Book.

“There are inevitable comparisons to Tesla. They’ve already told people they’re not trying to be Tesla. Karma has described the brand as ultra luxury. They’re going for a certain brand image and not volume or a sales quota.”

Menon had two specifications for his Revero: that it be Borrego Black, one of Karma’s eight colors, and that it be numbered 007.

“This car actually makes me feel like James Bond,” he said. “This is something I’m going to be able to tell my friends and kids, when I have them – if I have them. Right now my cars and my puppies are my kids, so this is amazing.”

Menon is founder and CEO of a marketing company called Phenomenon and an enthusiast of Tesla Motors.

Menon entered what Taylor called Karma’s “very elite space” several months ago when the Costa Mesa company was looking for ways to promote Revero.

“Krish had a lot of great ideas how we ought to take our vehicle to market and specifically how we should be selling them to customers like him,” Taylor said in the key hand-off ceremony. “He’s now rapidly changing from Tesla to Karma.”

Menon’s drive from the factory floor to the front parking lot was his first time behind the wheel of a Revero.

“It was incredible,” he said. “It felt sturdy and solid, just substantial, but so quiet, which is exactly what you want in an electric vehicle.”

Menon said the Revero is going to become his daily drive for awhile.

“If you’re in the car business, this is one of the days you wait for. It’s kind of like having your first child or grandchild,” Taylor said. “Especially when you’re a startup company because the car business is a tough business to be in and to get all the moving parts that have to come together to actually deliver a car is huge.”

In mid-day, Karma sent two demo cars each to 10 dealerships. Taylor said interest in the demos has been high. Karma’s immediate goal is to translate that interest into more sales.

“Like golf, you can’t just hit the ball once. You have to hit it again and again and again. … The next is actually the hard part about the business, keeping everybody happy.”

Hannah Madans and Richard K. DeAtley contributed to this report.

KARMA TIMELINE

2008: Fisker Automotive’s Karma four-door luxury plug-in hybrid sedan is unveiled.

2009: The U.S. Energy Department agrees to lend Fisker $528.7 million.

2011: The first Karmas are delivered, two years behind schedule. In December, Fisker recalls 239 of them.

2012: Fisker discloses that the Energy Department cut off $336 million of its loan after the company missed key sales and development milestones. A $107,850 Karma breaks down during a driving test by Consumer Reports.

2013: Fisker lays off workers and goes into bankruptcy.

2014: Wanxiang Group buys Fisker.

June 2015: Fisker announces Moreno Valley plant. It holds a job fair in July.

October 2015: Fisker changes its name to Karma Automotive.

September 2016: Karma unveils Revero at a Laguna Beach launch party.

Read more: http://www.pe.com/2017/06/05/karma-delivers-glossy-luxury-car-to-first-customer/

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