A six-month-long investigation in Central California culminated this week with the arrests of five members of the King City Police Department, the former police chief and the owner of a local towing company.
According to the Monterey County district attorney, for at least three-and-a-half years the city’s top police officers participated in a scheme that took advantage of poor area Hispanics by essentially stealing their cars for profit.
Investigators say King City police ordered hundreds of vehicles to be impounded — most often those driven by Hispanic immigrants — and then either kept the cars for themselves or re-sold them for profit.
- The 1% Don’t Feel The Weather: Ferrari Posts Record Sales In US; Doubled In Jan (ZeroHedge, Feb 18, 2014):
First Mercedes, then Porsche, and now Ferrari and Maserati post record US sales in January…
- *FERRARI POSTS RECORD SALES IN U.S. AND U.K. IN 2013
- *FERRARI AND MASERATI GLOBAL MORE THAN DOUBLE IN JAN TO 2,400
…a month where the non-1%-auto-makers struggled mightily. Of course, the latter missed expectations are blamed on weather (as opposed to dealer inventories stuffed at record levels, a replacement cycle that has run its course, or a consumer that is once again credit-tapped out). So, the clear findings from this is that the 1% – who are buying more luxury cars than ever before in January – clearly don’t feel the weather…
- Porsche Sales Surge To Record – 3 Years Ahead Of Plan (ZeroHedge, Feb 12, 2014):
It seems yet another (luxury) car maker did not get the “but it’s the weather” memo. Following Mercedes record sales in January, Porsche has announced today that expects to hit a target of selling more than 200,000 sports cars next year, three years earlier than originally scheduled. As Reuters reports, Volkswagen-owned Porsche is entering the lucrative segment of compact SUVs with its new Macan model, which has already sold out about eight months of production ahead of its arrival at German dealerships on April 4. Wealth effect, of course, is all that matters… and the promise of higher minimum wages and a Maserati in every garage.
Porsche expects to hit a target of selling more than 200,000 sports cars next year, three years earlier than originally scheduled, as the brand keeps pushing into sport-utility vehicles, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said.
- This iPhone-Sized Device Can Hack A Car, Researchers Plan To Demonstrate (Forbes, Feb 5, 2014):
Auto makers have long downplayed the threat of hacker attacks on their cars and trucks, arguing that their vehicles’ increasingly-networked systems are protected from rogue wireless intrusion. Now two researchers plan to show that a few minutes alone with a car and a tiny, cheap device can give digital saboteurs all the wireless control they need.
- Mandatory “Vehicle-to-Vehicle” Communications Coming To U.S. Cars (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Feb 4, 2014):
“The vision of ‘talking’ cars that avoid crashes is well on the way to becoming a reality. And we’re not just talking about cars talking to cars, but about cars talking to bikes, trucks talking to motorcycles, and even buses talking to pedestrians. This promises to significantly reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our nation’s roads while unleashing a new wave of innovation from advanced traffic management systems and smart mobility apps to real-time traffic, transit and parking information.”
- Scott Belcher, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America
Worried about “pre-crime?” What about “pre-crash?”
The geniuses at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS) are so concerned about your “safety,” they have decided to take it into their own hands and make it mandatory that your car wirelessly communicate with other vehicles on the road. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx went so far as to say the technology could save “thousands of lives and even prevent accidents in the first place.” The concept of “pre-crash” has been born.
As in so many other aspects of life, there is a top down push to remove all control from the individual to the collective (recall the MSNBC host who proclaimed children don’t belong to their parents), typically justified within the content of the “war on terror,” and always justified with “it’s for your own good.” Apparently, we aren’t capable of making our own choices in anything any more, including something as simple as driving a car.
This push to exert control within individual vehicles is nothing new and appears to be a global phenomenon. For instance, just last week I posted an article titled: The EU May Mandate a “Remote Stopping Device” in All Cars for Police Use.
Now we learn from The Detroit News that:
Washington— The U.S. Transportation Department said Monday it plans to propose requiring all new cars and trucks to eventually communicate with one another, which could one day help reduce up to 80 percent of crash deaths.
- The EU May Mandate a “Remote Stopping Device” in All Cars for Police Use (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Jan 31, 2014):
Well this sounds like one of the worst ideas I have heard of in a long time. Naturally, it would emerge from the EU, the sorriest excuse for a fake government the world has ever seen.
While I have reported previously on regulatory efforts to put all sorts of invasive mandatory devices in U.S. automobiles (see my piece from October of last year Big Brother is Coming to Your Car), this idea from the EU take things to a whole other level of insanity.
From the BBC:
A device that would enable police to stop vehicles remotely is being considered by an EU-wide official working group, it has emerged.
- Porsche’s 1898 e-car returns after a century in storage (CNET, Jan 28, 2014):
The very first Porsche, an electric carriage, sat untouched in a warehouse for 111 years, but now it’s come home.
On June 26, 1898, Ferdinand Porsche’s “Egger-Lohner C.2 electric vehicle,” better known as the “P-1,” rolled on to the streets of Vienna for the first time. In 1899, the P-1 took the gold medal (by a full 18 minutes!) against a field of other electric vehicles in Berlin. Then in 1902, as Porsche put the first all-wheel drive passenger car into production, the P-1 was parked in a warehouse…where it sat untouched for the next 111 years.
After missing two world wars, the entire Berlin Wall era, and six “Fast and Furious” flicks during the intervening 11 decades, Porsche says in a release (PDF) the P-1 has now been recovered and is on permanent display, unrestored, at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
- Fukushima harms commerce as Russia rejects radioactive Japanese cars (Natural News, Jan 12, 2014):
While officials in the United States astoundingly continue to deny that radiation levels originating from Fukushima pose a significant threat to American lives, despite many troubling pieces of evidence, Russia has shown its willingness to refuse radiation-tainted goods by turning away 130 used cars originating from Japan.
- BMW Builds a Self-Driving Car — That Drifts (Wired, Jan 7, 2014):
BMW makes the Ultimate Driving Machine, and now it’s made the Ultimate Drifting Machine. Except it’s the code that’s in control.
At CES, BMW is showing off a modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe that can race around a track at the limits of adhesion, and slide around corners like a throttle-happy Formula Drift ace.
Both cars are outfitted with a LIDAR system, 360-degree radar, ultrasonic sensors, and cameras that track the environment. Partnered with the electronic braking, throttle, and steering control that’s standard on all new BMWs, the prototypes can run through a high-speed slalom, perform precise lane changes, and slide around corners, without any driver intervention.
From the article:
“Privacy is the real challenge,” Wise said. He said the V2V will likely rely on GPS-type data that could track a person’s movements.
- Feds May Require Cars to Talk to Each Other to Avoid Crashes (ABC News, Jan 1, 2014):
Federal officials will decided in the “coming weeks” whether to require new cars to include smart technology that would alert drivers of a coming crash, even in vehicles that are two or three cars away.
The vehicle-to-vehicle — or V2V — technology has undergone testing in recent years and has already been installed in some cars that are on the road.
A recent study by the Government Accountability Office determined that if the gizmos were widely deployed, “V2V technologies could provide warnings to drivers in as much as 76 percent of potential multi-vehicle collisions.”
- 22 Reasons To Be Concerned About The U.S. Economy As We Head Into The Holiday Season (Economic Collapse, Oct 14, 2013):
Are we on the verge of another major economic downturn? In recent weeks, most of the focus has been on our politicians in Washington, but there are lots of other reasons to be deeply alarmed about the economy as well. Economic confidence is down, retail sales figures are disappointing, job cuts are up, and American consumers are deeply struggling. Even if our politicians do everything right, there would still be a significant chance that we could be heading into tough economic times in the coming months. Our economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline appears to be accelerating. There aren’t enough jobs, the quality of our jobs continues to decline, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty has been absolutely exploding. Things have gotten so bad that former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House. But this process has been happening so gradually that most Americans don’t even realize what has happened. Our economy is being fundamentally transformed, and the pace of our decline is picking up speed.
The following are 22 reasons to be concerned about the U.S. economy as we head into the holiday season:
- European Car Sales In 2013 Drop To “Record”, 23-Year Low (ZeroHedge, Sep 17, 2013):
European recovery propaganda may be humming (for the latest proof see today’s German ZEW sentiment index which soared from 42.0 to 49.0 matching the all time high in the Dax), but when it comes to the actual economy – that place where commerce is conducted and where supply and demand curves intersect, the situation has never been worse. And not only unemployment which is at a persistently record high for the Eurozone, but actual transactions, in this case in the form of car sales. As AP reports, for the first eight months of the year, passenger car sales in the European Union were off 5.2% to 7.84 million compared with the same period last year, the European Auto Manufacturers’ Association said Tuesday. That’s the lowest January-August figure since the group started keeping track in 1990. So technically, this is a “record” low.
- Tesla Model S Achieves Best Safety Rating of Any Car Ever Tested (Tesla Motors Press Releases, Aug 19, 2013):
Palo Alto, CA — Independent testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory without exception. Approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board. NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.
Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans. This score takes into account the probability of injury from front, side, rear and rollover accidents.
- European Car Sales Drop To 20-Year Low, Germany Clobbered (ZeroHedge, June 18, 2013):
When the S&P, always so conveniently ahead of the curve, yesterday revised its forecast for Europe from growth in the second half of 2013 to 2014 one couldn’t help but golf clap, as well as wonder if they finally started looking at the fundamental depressionary reality on the ground instead of the rating agency’s infamous “models.” A depressionary reality confirmed by the latest car sales number for May which just hit a fresh 20 year low.
European car sales hit their lowest level for the month of May in 20 years as the region’s recession dragged on, the European automakers’ association said Tuesday.
They meant depression instead of recession, but it’s an honest mistake. Continue reading »
YouTube Added: 24.05.2013
My recent presentation to the 66th Annual CFA Conference in Singapore in which I discuss the disconnect between financial markets and mathematical reality
Grant Williams is a portfolio and strategy adviser at Vulpes Investment Management in Singapore. He began his career in finance with Robert Fleming & Co. in London, where he traded Japanese equity warrants. Mr. Williams also worked at Jardine Fleming in Tokyo before returning to Flemings in London, where he helped establish the firm’s pan-Asian convertible trading business. He headed up Asian equity trading at UBS in London and then ran equity trading books at Credit Suisse in New York, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Mr. Williams has a strong focus on precious metals and miners and is a regular speaker at investment conferences around the world. He writes the Things That Make You Go Hmmm… column for Mauldin Economics’ weekly newsletter.
More info on the conference here: 66th CFA Institute Annual Conference
- Hank Paulson Burned As Another Electric Car Maker Goes Up In Flames (ZeroHedge, Mai 1, 2013):
It would appear that (apart from Tesla, for now) that any thing related to electric cars is going up in flames. From Fisker’s fubar (and blowing all that hard-earned government funding) and Chevy’s Volt dysphoria to A-123 Systems (the Lithium-Ion battery-maker) and now Coda – which Yahoo Finance notes was among an emerging crop of California startups seeking to build emission-free electric cars three years ago. After selling just 100 of its $37,250 five-passenger vehicles, Coda filed Chapter 11 today taking a few well-known investors with it. On the bright side, the government was not involved (from what we can tell), but on the even brighter side, none other than former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was among those burned by the company going up in flames (as was Harbinger’s Phil Falcone).Despite the $300 million the company managed to raise, that quickly went and unable to raise an additional $150 million in new funding (we suspect blaming ‘market conditions’ for its mere $22million raise), Coda had no choice (and Fortress was more than happy to scoop it up and provide the DIP – the cars will make for fancy paperweights in a collateral liquidation). ‘Green’ is the new ‘red’ as it seems when it comes to electric cars, regardless of funding source – private or public – it goes up in flames.
Green car startup Coda Holdings Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday after selling just 100 of its all-electric sedans, another example of battery-powered vehicles’ failure to break into the mass market.
… exit the auto sector and refocus on energy storage, a far less capital-intensive business. Continue reading »
- Tuesday Humor: GM Announces It Is Losing Money On Every Volt Sold, Will Make Up For It With More Losse (ZeroHedge, April 30, 2013):
In what should not come as a major surprise to anyone, GM just announced that:
- GM SAYS LOSING MONEY ON EVERY VOLT SOLD
There is good news: being implicitly funded by the US taxpayer means never admitting failure. In fact, the faster one fails, the faster one gets bailed out.
- GM SAYS NOT GIVING UP ON VOLT
And when failure is not an option, the only other option is even greater failure. And even bigger losses.
- GM SAYS NEXT GEN VOLT WILL BE $7,000 TO $10,000 CHEAPER
Slowly but surely everyone is figuring out that in the USSA, where making a profit is becoming increasingly impossible, the only credible business model is that of Amazon: lose lots of money but make up for it in volume.
- Lamborghini Unveils $3.9 Million Supercar To Celebrate Its 50th Birthday (Business Insider, March 5, 2013):
The Geneva Motor Show is in full swing after opening to the press this morning, but things really kicked off last night when Lamborghini unveiled the highly anticipated supercar it created to mark its 50th birthday.
Named for a legendary fighting bull, the Veneno checks off all the supercar must-haves: Carbon fiber body construction, a striking body style made with aerodynamics in mind, and an eye-popping price tag.
At $3.9 million, the Veneno is the most expensive Lamborghini ever built and is among history’s priciest production cars.
Its 6.5-liter, 12-cylinder engine will produce a whopping 750 horsepower, enough to send the car from from 0 to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and up to a top speed of 220 mph.
- French Socialist Nightmare: ‘The State Cannot Do Everything’ (Testosterone Pit, Feb 8, 2013):
The preannouncement came Thursday evening: PSA Peugeot Citroën, France’s largest automaker, would have a write-down of €4.7 billion. On top of a hefty operating loss. It would be colossal. An all-time record. Rumors spread immediately that PSA would need a bailout. The second in four months.
PSA passenger car sales in France dropped nearly 17% in 2012 from an already awful 2011. In January they dropped another 16.7%. Sales for all automakers dropped 15%, and PSA’s market share had eroded further. Kia-Hyundai sales jumped 21.2%, the only major automaker with gains. Even Volkswagen Group got clobbered: down 23.9%. PSA isn’t internationally diversified enough. It doesn’t have much in China and nothing in the US, the largest markets in the world, both growing. It’s mired in Europe where auto sales have ground to a halt. It’s bleeding €200 million a month. It’s trying to lay off 8,000 workers and shutter its plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois. And its Banque PSA Finance was bailed out last October with €7 billion in taxpayer money.
The government was so worried that it was actively studying a bailout, sources told the Liberation after the losses were announced. It was just hypothetical. “But if a capital infusion would become inevitable, the state could participate,” the source said. Instantly, a cacophony of discord erupted—within the Socialist government.
Audi, BMW and VW ranked in the bottom 10 of a study into engine reliability
- German cars ‘among worst for engine failures’ (Auto Express, Jan 18, 2013):
German-made cars are not as reliable as many believe, according to new research. Warranty Direct has studied its claims data to compile a list of the manufacturers with the most reliable engines – and Audi, BMW and Volkswagen all finished in the bottom 10 out of a total 36 makers.
In fact, the only firm whose cars had a worse engine failure rate than Audi was MG Rover. MINI wasn’t much better, finishing third from bottom, while its parent company BMW came seventh from bottom. And, despite its reputation for rock-solid reliability, Volkswagen came ninth from bottom.
- As Cars Burn In France, The Industry Of Hope Booms (Testosterone Pit, Jan 3, 2013):
New Year’s Eve was the main event. And it didn’t disappoint: 1,193 vehicles were burned in France in the course of a few hours, said Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Up 4% from 2009, when 1,147 vehicles were burned. A tradition no one has the balls to explain. In the days leading up to the annual rite, Valls had promised “complete transparence,” in contrast to the Sarkozy government, which had hushed up the numbers since 2009. But it’s a year-round event: 40,244 vehicles were burned during 2011 and 43,568 the year before. Even Valls was “shocked” by these numbers.
But the massive destruction of functional vehicles (most of them paid for by insurance) wasn’t nearly enough to bail out the automakers. New vehicle sales for the year 2012 dropped 13.9% from the already miserable levels of 2011. Only 1.89 million vehicles were sold, a low not seen since 1997, despite the growth of the population. Particularly alarming: sales by French automakers collapsed, PSA Peugeot Citroen by 17.5%, Renault by 22.1%. All hopes had been riding on their new models—the Peugeot 208 and the Renault Clio 4—which hit the market in the fall, but those hopes have since evaporated.
Other automakers got clobbered as well: Ford was down 19.8%, Fiat, which hardly anyone is buying anymore, fell 23.7%, only to be outdone by GM’s beleaguered Opel, down 23.8%. But there were winners: BMW was up 2.3%, Mercedes 5.3%, and Hyundai-Kia 28.2%! So the French automakers, like other French industries, have a complex problem: uncompetitive products in a morose market with unemployment that has been climbing with incessant brutality, and a tax quagmire of unprecedented proportions [“Trench Warfare” Or “Civil War” Over Confiscatory Taxes In France].
- Chart Of The Day: The Unprecedented Implosion Of European Car Sales (ZeroHedge, Dec 4, 2012):
The graphic below, which presents an unvarnished picture of Europe’s true economic state, needs no explanation:
In the context of the above, no explanation is also needed that quietly, and without much fanfare, French car-maker, Peugeot, and Europe’s second largest after VW, was recently GMed, and received a government bailout.
Carmaker Peugeot gets $9.1B government bailout
The French government has agreed to underwrite up to €7 billion ($9.1 billion) of bonds issued by Banque PSA Finance SA, the financing unit of carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen SA, allowing the French automaker to offer low-cost credit to its dealerships and clients amid a slump in sales.
- Fisker Karma Is First Car To Burn Underwater (ZeroHedge, Nov 1, 2012):
The plight of the infamous, and quite inflammable, Fisker Karma (not to mention its now defaulted battery vendor A123) has been extensively documented on these pages in the past. Today, we bring it up again, to observe a curious extra feature which its proud buyers may have been unaware of. It appears that, as Jalopnik reports, the car only free government loans with a 0% (or even negative) IRR hurdle rate could conceive, is now the first one to proudly announce it is the only one of its type that merrily burns down… while submerged underwater. We fully expect that the next generation of Fiskers will charge at least $995 for this non-optional standard feature. In other news, perhaps it is time for Karma to issue yet another comprehensive total recall of all of its cars due to “fire risk” – the last one seems to have missed a spark plug or two: they can say this is a recall for the risk of “burning down alive while fully submerged underwater.“
Approximately 16 of the $100,000+ Fisker Karma extended-range luxury hybrids were parked in Port Newark, New Jersey last night when water from Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge apparently breached the port and submerged the vehicles. As Jalopnik has exclusively learned, the cars then caught fire and burned to the ground. Continue reading »
- More Bad News Imminent: August US Auto Production Set To Plunge By Most In 16 Months (ZeroHedge, Aug 20, 2012)
Over the past several months, many pundits were scratching their heads at the peculiar patterns in summer hiring and layoff trends, which threw all NFP, claims, and JOLTs forecasts in a loop making a mockery of even the best forecasters. The reality is that there was a very specific reason for this abnormal seasonal pattern: numerous car plants worked throughout the summer, avoiding traditional temporary shutdowns and furloughs, in an attempt to provide an optical boost to the Union-endorsed administration. And as always happens (see Cash for Clunkers), every attempt to pull demand or supply from the future to the present results in an eventual collapse in either of these two. Sure enough, with June and July reaping the benefits of advance demand, August is set be an absolutely abysmal month for US auto assemblies and for Industrial Production. Because as Stone McCarthy calculates, based on projections provided by Wards Autos, the U.S. motor vehicle assembly rate for August is projected to decline by 8% to a 10.1 million annualized rate after rising by 4.4% in July. This would be the biggest monthly percentage decline in the assembly rate in about a year and a half, since April 2011′s 9.5% drop.
SMRA continues: Continue reading »