Ferrari CEO Says GTC4 Lusso Only Car Available

If you’re among the chosen few lucky enough to be shopping for new Ferraris this year, I hope you’re patient. According to Bloomberg, during Ferrari’s earnings call Thursday, chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne said the company’s production is at full capacity for the rest of this year and part of next year. The exception being availability of the 2+2 GTC4 Lusso. “Everything else is pretty well gone,” Marchionne said.

That sort of huge, global demand for the brand has helped it hit record earnings. Last quarter alone, the company made $326 million in earnings. Total shipments for the quarter totaled 2,128 units, helped by a big jump in V-12 models. Compared to the year ago period, Ferrari sold 23.5 percent more V-12 units, led by the 812 Superfast. The company noted that the LaFerrari Aperta is about to finish its limited series run.

Ferrari 812 Superfast

Looking forward to the rest of the year, Ferrari thinks it can deliver over 9,000 units. Further, it plans to invest more than $650 million in capital expenditures like upgrades to its existing production facilities.

Marchionne has been running the show for Ferrari for the last fourteen years. He’s working on one more five-year plan before he retires. The company will unveil this plan in September. Marchionne said his strategy will include details for Ferrari’s upcoming sport utility vehicle as well as electric hybrid cars of the future. The CEO is hoping to boost profits to $1.3 billion this year and exceeding $2.4 billion by 2022.

As far as acquisitions go, Marchionne said that Ferrari has no interest in buying another automotive brand. However, he left the door open to buying non-auto brands in the luxury goods sector.

Kansas Man Caught Having Sex With Car

My father was a musician and in between sets one of his favorite jokes was: “To the owner of a 65 Mustang with Zebra print seat covers, there’s a jackass mounting your back seat.” It’s funny but I never thought I’d actually hear about it happening in real life. You read that title correctly my friends, a Kansas man was caught trying to…have sex with a car.

According to The Newton Kansan, a 24-year-old man was naked from the waist down, trying to put his “banana in the tailpipe” (if you know what I mean). When police from the Newton Police Department arrived at the scene, they commanded the man to stop but he wouldn’t. Lt. Scott Powell of the Newton PD said, "They were trying to get him to stop and come out...but he was oblivious they were even there.” Police ended up tasing him to get him to stop.

I’m sure we’ve all lusted after a car, maybe a few of us have even commented on how nice the rear end of a vehicle looks (mmmm LaFerrari) but it would take some major psychedelics to push me to that. That may have been the case here. Lt. Powell added, “He was high on some sort of drug.”

The man, police say, was very drunk. He rang up a whopping 0.35 blood alcohol level on the field-administered breathalyzer test. The legal limit for driving under the influence is 0.08 which for average people is about three drinks in a one-hour period. At more than four times the legal limit police couldn’t take him jail. Instead, they brought him to the nearest hospital for medical treatment instead.

Police say the man will likely be charged with misdemeanors on suspicion of lewd and lascivious behavior. No word on who owned the car being violated.

Elon Musk Upsets Wall Street with Flippant Behavior on Earnings Call

Wall Street was buzzing yesterday as retail investors and professional money managers alike digested Tesla’s quarterly earnings conference call. The talk wasn’t about cash flows, earnings or revenues but rather, what is going on with Elon Musk?

If you have never listened to a company's earnings call before, they are typically uneventful. Generally, someone will give a small introduction, then turn it over to the CEO who gives a nice little rah-rah speech before letting the chief financial officer or some other numbers person shed more light on the quarter. Then they take questions from a community of financial analysts.

It’s about as much fun as listening to the disclosures at the end of a radio commercial. Like a foreign language that finance nerds speak to one another. It’s a necessary evil as the bean counters need to know what the bean count is. During Wednesday night’s Tesla call, our buddy Elon wandered off the reservation. Some people are now wondering, has Mr. Musk lost his marbles?

Right off the bat, he started the call on a strange note saying, “We’re going to spend extra time on Q&A and try to answer as many questions as possible. I think we should be able to answer, so we're going to go as long as there are good questions to answer."

Remember when they told us in school that there are no bad questions? Apparently, there are. And on a Tesla call, the typical earnings call questions are the bad ones.

Veteran analyst Toni Sacconaghi from Sanford C. Bernstein, a big investment firm on Wall Street, asked about capital requirements from Tesla for the quarter. A perfectly legitimate question for a firm that has had to raise large amounts of debt to pay for their factory investments. Elon wanted nothing to do with it. He barely allowed Sacconaghi to finish his sentence before interrupting, “Excuse me. Next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?”

Tesla Model 3

Then another question about Model 3 reservations from Joseph Spak of RBC Capital Markets. Investors in the company want to know how many people who've reserved a Model 3 have actually started to configure their vehicles. That’s a sign of those initial reservations becoming closer to actual orders.

Musk apparently didn’t want to tackle that either saying, “We're going to go to YouTube. Sorry. These questions are so dry. They're killing me."

With all the spite and disregard of a spoiled teenager, Musk was slapping down questions left and right. I know he has a strange sense of humor, so I’m going to say this call was misinterpreted by the analyst community. I applaud the fact that he was trying to get to the YouTube questions. That sort of bold, eschew of convention is part of the Musk appeal. His cavalier attitude gives him a real-life Tony Stark aura. The man does what he wants, when he wants, and doesn’t care what you think.

Further echoing his disdain for the conventional auto industry, Musk took a shot at our friend Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler. YouTube questioner Galileo Russell from business news startup HyperChange LLC brought up something Zetsche said about the batteries for the Tesla semi-truck.

“It seems that a lot of people are speculating that the specs for the Semi truck, even I believe the CEO of Daimler said it breaks the laws of physics. So, I'm wondering is this just a linear...” Before Russell could finish his sentence, Musk cut him off.

“He doesn't know much about physics. I know him," Musk said of Zetsche. "I'd be happy to engage in a physics discussion with him. I actually studied physics in college.”

I didn’t study physics in college either, but I bet if I was Dieter Zetsche, I’d have a lot of people working for me who did and who likely influenced my thoughts on it.

On the call, Musk spent a lot of time answering Russell’s questions, but rather than clarifying things for investors, he clouded them up.

Musk touched on the Model Y, saying that a Reuters article reporting that production would start in November 2019 was false.

“The Reuters report is based on nothing. Like I don't know where that came from. We will not be starting production on Model Y at the end of next year. I would say it's probably closer to 24 months from now. So 2020 is a more likely prospect for Model Y, early 2020," he said. "And the production location for Model Y has not been decided. We're really crowded here at Fremont. I don't know where we'd put the Model Y production, so it's difficult to imagine that. We just could not fit the Model Y production at Fremont. We are jammed to the gills here," he said.

What we learned from the call is that Elon Musk is sick of answering questions CEOs should answer. We also learned that he’s human and sometimes you just don’t want to sit there while strangers pick apart something you’ve built through determination and hard work over the years.

I understand his frustration, but just like NBA players have to sit up at the podium and take questions after they’ve lost a playoff game or series, CEOs have to take the heat on earnings calls. It’s part of the role and it’s why they get paid the big bucks.

I reached out to Tesla to find out if questions from YouTube will be a staple of earnings calls moving forward and they said they don't have any forward looking guidance on future calls.

Buy Larry Ellison’s Apocalypse-Ready Mercedes-AMG G63

Earlier this year, Mercedes announced that the G-Wagen was getting an updated interior. The timeless classic was getting reworked on the inside like so many other Mercedes models. If a new infotainment system and LED screens aren’t what you’re looking for in a G-Wagen, then perhaps some bomb protection will tickle your fancy. That’s right, dictators, war lords, and drug kingpins looking for timeless G-Wagon styling to go along with military-grade protection, look no further. You can buy a fully armored G63 for $250,000 on AutoTrader right now.

The 2014 Mercedes Benz-AMG G63 belongs to Oracle founder Sir Lawrence “Call me Larry” Ellison. Outfitten by Texas Armoring Corp, it comes with supplementary undercarriage improvised explosive device or bomb protection certified to withstand 4 pounds of C4. The doors have a deadbolt system and come with electric shocking door handles. Of course all the windows are made of 2-inch-thick bulletproof glass. Texas Armoring claims that the entire passenger compartment is “impervious to all handgun and sub-machine gun munitions.”

The G63 rolls on impact-resistant reinforced-premium security wheels wrapped in specialized run-flat tires. In case you’re doing some night-time missions, there’s premium Flir night vision that’s hooked up to a four-camera DVR mobile surveillance system. A built-in loudspeaker and flashing strobe lights are there in case you want to make your presence known.

The grey exterior features armored fenders and a lightweight armored hood. There’s also a stainless steel mesh grill and a polished brush guard up front. It looks like the 2014 G63 only has 7,679 miles on the odometer.

Considering that a new 2018 Mercedes-AMG G63 starts at $142,800, the extra $100k may be worth it for the piece of mind that nobody’s going to be able to shoot you up. Just be sure your driver is the one who hops out to refuel at the gas station because you’re going to be filling up a lot.

Famed Collector Drops $1M on Dino Restomod

If you’ve spent any time checking out Jay Leno’s Garage then you may have heard of collector David Lee, owner of Hing Wa Lee Jewelers. A fan of rare exotic cars but he has a penchant for Ferraris. His collection includes an Enzo, an F50 and an F40. But it’s his latest purchase that’s been garnering attention as of late. Bloomberg just highlighted his million-dollar restoration of a 1972 Ferrari Dino.

About a year ago, Lee bought the black Dino for $260,000. His restoration took 3,000 hours of labor to complete. The work was done by Moto Technique, a body shop in Surrey, England. While Surrey is famous for being the home of McLaren, apparently they know a thing or two about Ferraris as well.

It wasn’t so much a restoration as it was an upgrade of the Dino. Think restomod in this case. He replaced the original 192-horsepower V-6 with a new 3.6-liter V-8. A new transmission was bolted up along with modern disc brakes. He added some fender flares, a carbon fiber see-through engine cover, and new rims. The interior sports oxblood leather seats, a new steel shifter nob, and even has a bholder for his iPhone.

Monday Morning #Motivation: With anything you do, do it with an attitude of seriousness, intense focus, and excellence. Achieve what others can do and have done. Then excel and press on to do what others could not and have not done before. And you will see the fruits of that labor.......#workethics #wisdom ???? @iamted7 #monza36evo #hotroddino #outlawdino #dino #fastestdinointheworld

A post shared by David SK Lee (Los Angeles) (@ferraricollector_davidlee) on Apr 23, 2018 at 8:15am PDT

Lee justifies his investment in the car, saying, “I felt like it was OK to put the investment in this, because there are enough people who can accept it. They are not all purists, and that is a change. That is a huge change.”

But this car isn’t just a show piece for Lee. He plans on making more of these and selling them on his own. He’s going to make 25 more of these at a rate of five per year to sell. He’s going to start taking orders this summer. “All these Saudi guys and guys from Europe and Asia are saying, ‘David, I want one! This is a great idea.’”

Of course, Lee’s not the first person to take restomods of old classic sports cars to the market. Singer has been restoring Porsche 911s for years.

No word yet on the pricing but you can bet, it’s gonna cost you.

The Dwindling List of Manual Cars You Can Buy New

The list of cars with manual transmissions is dwindling, much to the chagrin of purists across the globe. There is something magical about rowing through the gears of a manual, controlling the power delivery via the clutch, and interacting with the car using both feet. However, technology in automatic transmissions has come a long way and I’m not only talking about the dual-clutch systems like Porche’s PDK. Even in the Corvette, the automatic is faster in a straight line than the available manual.

In a world with traction control, stability control, lane-departure assist, and a thousand other driver-assist technologies I could mention, the old-school standard transmission is going the way of the dodo. But have faith my friends, there are still several auto manufacturers offering up a more analogue solution in this digital world.

The fun, sporty cars all seem to still have that manual availability. Yes, you can still get a 911 in a manual, you just can’t get the higher-end trims that way. Plenty of zippy cars are on this list like the Mini Coopers and Mazda MX-5 Miata. As for variety, it appears that BMW has the most robust offering with several classes featuring the manual option.

Thanks to Joel Stocksdale for putting together this exhaustive list:

  • Audi A4 (Quattro models only), A5 Coupe (All models)
  • BMW 230i Coupe (RWD only), M240i (RWD only), 320i Sedan (RWD only),330i Sedan (RWD only), 340i Sedan, 430i Coupe (RWD only), 440i Coupe, 430i Gran Coupe (RWD only), M2, M3, M4, M6 Gran Coupe
  • Cadillac ATS (I4 RWD only), ATS-V
  • Chevrolet Camaro, Colorado (Base I4 RWD only), Corvette, Cruze (2018, all trims/engines except Premier), Sonic, Spark
  • Dodge Challenger (V8 only, except Demon)
  • Fiat 124 Spider, 500, 500X (Pop FWD only)
  • Ford Fiesta (All trims/engines except Titanium), Focus sedan (S, SE I3), Focus Hatchback (ST, RS), Mustang
  • Genesis G70 (I4 RWD only)
  • Honda Accord (Sport 1.5L/2.0L), Civic sedan/coupe (LX, EX-T, Si), Civic hatchback (LX, Sport, Type R), Fit, HR-V (LX FWD, EX FWD)
  • Hyundai Accent (SE), Elantra (SE, Sport), Elantra GT, Veloster (2018, Base, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo), Veloster (2019, Base, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo Ultimate, N)
  • Jaguar F-Type (340- and 380-hp V6 RWD only)
  • Jeep Compass (Sport, Latitude, all drivetrains), Renegade (Sport, Latitude, Altitude, all drivetrains), Wrangler JK, Wrangler JL (V6)
  • Kia Forte (LX only), Forte5 (SX only), Rio (LX only), Soul (Base only)
  • Lotus Evora
  • Mazda3, Mazda6 (Sport only), MX-5 Miata
  • Mini Cooper Clubman, Cooper Countryman (All trims/powertrains except S FWD and PHEV), Cooper Hardtop, Cooper Convertible
  • Mitsubishi Mirage (ES only), Outlander Sport (ES only)
  • Nissan 370Z, Frontier (King Cab: S RWD, SV RWD; Crew Cab: S RWD, SV 4WD, Pro-4X), Sentra (S, Nismo Audi A4 (Quattro models only), A5 Coupe (All models)
  • BMW 230i Coupe (RWD only), M240i (RWD only), 320i Sedan (RWD only),330i Sedan (RWD only), 340i Sedan, 430i Coupe (RWD only), 440i Coupe, 430i Gran Coupe (RWD only), M2, M3, M4, M6 Gran Coupe
  • Cadillac ATS (I4 RWD only), ATS-V
  • Chevrolet Camaro, Colorado (Base I4 RWD only), Corvette, Cruze (2018, all trims/engines except Premier), Sonic, Spark
  • Dodge Challenger (V8 only, except Demon)
  • Fiat 124 Spider, 500, 500X (Pop FWD only)
  • Ford Fiesta (All trims/engines except Titanium), Focus sedan (S, SE I3), Focus Hatchback (ST, RS), Mustang
  • Genesis G70 (I4 RWD only)
  • Honda Accord (Sport 1.5L/2.0L), Civic sedan/coupe (LX, EX-T, Si), Civic hatchback (LX, Sport, Type R), Fit, HR-V (LX FWD, EX FWD)
  • Hyundai Accent (SE), Elantra (SE, Sport), Elantra GT, Veloster (2018, Base, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo), Veloster (2019, Base, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo Ultimate, N)
  • Jaguar F-Type (340- and 380-hp V6 RWD only)
  • Jeep Compass (Sport, Latitude, all drivetrains), Renegade (Sport, Latitude, Altitude, all drivetrains), Wrangler JK, Wrangler JL (V6)
  • Kia Forte (LX only), Forte5 (SX only), Rio (LX only), Soul (Base only)
  • Lotus Evora
  • Mazda3, Mazda6 (Sport only), MX-5 Miata
  • Mini Cooper Clubman, Cooper Countryman (All trims/powertrains except S FWD and PHEV), Cooper Hardtop, Cooper Convertible
  • Mitsubishi Mirage (ES only), Outlander Sport (ES only)
  • Nissan 370Z, Frontier (King Cab: S RWD, SV RWD; Crew Cab: S RWD, SV 4WD, Pro-4X), Sentra (S, Nismo only), Versa sedan (S only)
  • Porsche 718 Boxster, 718 Cayman, 911 (except Turbo S Exclusive, GT3 RS, GT2 RS)
  • Subaru BRZ, Crosstrek (Base and Premium), Impreza (Base only), Forester (2018, Base 2.5L and Premium 2.5L only), WRX/STI
  • Toyota 86, Corolla sedan (SE only), Corolla iM/hatchback, Tacoma (TRD Sport: Access Cab, Double Cab; TRD Off-Road: Double Cab; TRD Pro), iA/sedan, hatchback (L 3-door only)
  • Volkswagen Golf (S, SE, S SportWagen, S 4Motion SportWagen, S Alltrack, SE Alltrack, all GTI, all Golf R), Jetta (2018, 1.4L only), GLI (2018),(2019, S only)

Check out This Video of the World’s Fastest RC Jet Going 450 MPH

I remember my Dad bought me an RC plane for my birthday one year. It was made of foam and plastic, was battery-powered, and had a little red propeller on it. I think my longest flight ever covered a full 12 seconds before the thing lost the remote signal and came spiraling down to the ground where it shattered on the concrete. That little RC plane was a far cry from the world-record-holding RC jet plane known as “Inferno.”

Owned by German airplane pilot Niels Herbrich, Inferno set the record for fastest remote-controlled jet-powered model aircraft by going over 465 mph. The small craft only weighs about 16.5 pounds and features a Behotec 180 turbine jet engine that runs on kerosene. The jet itself only weighs 3.5 pounds while delivering 40.5 pounds of thrust. It’s about 4.5 inches in diameter and just over a foot long.

RC Media World recently posted a YouTube video showing the Inferno in action. During this demo run the plane only got up to 451 mph. The clip is a little over six minutes long and shows the red fiberglass aircraft being prepped for takeoff by its owner. It's slingshot into the air with what looks like a giant rubber band which flicks it forward along a skid pad.

Once the turbine is started, the grass behind the craft is toasted just before the craft is let loose. Once airborne, the Inferno terrorizes the skies in a series of loops and flybys with all the intimidating noises of an F-16 Fighting Falcon. The jet finally cuts off and the Inferno gracefully makes its way back down to earth.

It’s definitely worth the time to check out the video as you simply won’t believe how quick and loud such a little plane can be.

Integrated Charging and Payment System From Daimler, Hubject Ready to Go

The infrastructure for electric vehicles is being built out around the globe. While these large-scale investments certainly need to be made, there are other, smaller details that still need to be worked out in order to make the transition more seamless. One of those comes in the ease of charging and paying for the juice your car is getting. Daimler and Berlin-based e-mobility specialist Hubject are teaming up to simplify the process.

The current standard for public charging stations is the use of charging cards and smartphone apps. The current system has been widely criticized. Apparently, these apps and charging cards aren’t the easiest things to use. Hubject’s Plug and Charge system does not require anything to access it. The system uses an automated, secure exchange of information between the vehicle and the charging infrastructure based on the use of digital certificates.

All you need to do is hook up the car to the charging station. The authorization data is then sent from the car, verified by the station, and the charging begins. Once the process is completed, the charging process will start then the payment process is completed, all without having to swipe a card or open an app. It’s like having a gas pump that recognizes your car and automatically charges your account for how much gas it pumps.

Hubject and Daimler say that the team’s solution is now ready for production. Speaking on the announcement Hubject CEO Christian Hahn said, “Together with Daimler, we are drawing closer to our vision: simple charging and payment for electric vehicles for everybody. Everywhere. Charging with Plug and Charge via ISO 15118 is our next step on the way towards a fully automated, customer-friendly charging experience.”

It sure looks like it’s going to be much easier to spend your money in the future. Pretty soon you won’t even have to swipe to go broke.

Volkswagen Has Record-Breaking Million-Vehicle Month in March

In the aftermath of “Dieselgate” Volkswagen was sent flying to the canvas. Customers were incensed, regulators outraged, and the general public was furious. The emission-fixing scandal rocked the company to its very core, leading to fines and firings. But Volkswagen Group has come roaring back with the company announcing a record delivery month in March. The company delivered 1.04 million cars to set the all-time mark.

The monstrous sales month was enough to catapult its first quarter to an all-time record as well. Over 2.6 million vehicles were delivered in the first quarter of the year, up 7.4 percent from the first quarter of last year. European sales were up 4.1 percent while North American sales increased 3.4 percent. Growth continued at a solid clip in the Asia-Pacific region where 1,090,200 vehicles were delivered in the first quarter. This represented a 12 percent increase year over year. Deliveries in the Chinese market alone grew 10.6 percent in March.

March 2018 deliveries for Volkswagen

There was strength in Central and Eastern Europe during the month. Deliveries were up 13.2 percent from March 2017. First quarter rounded out with 11.4 percent growth in the region. Other emerging markets like Brazil saw growth as well. Brazilian deliveries increased to 32,500 units, 11 percent higher than March 2017.

Speaking on the record numbers Fredd Kappler, head of group sales at Volkswagen said, “The first-quarter results confirm the attractiveness of our products. However, this good performance does not mean we can let up in our efforts; instead we must continue to strengthen customers’ trust in our brands and products in the second quarter as well.”

Volkswagen remained the group’s most popular brand, accounting for more than 1.5 million of the first quarter deliveries. Audi is the second most popular, with 463,800 deliveries. Other brands such as Skoda, SEAT, Porsche, MAN and Scania round out the Volkswagen Group.

Three MINI Coopers to Make Their Asian Debuts at Auto China 2018

Unlike the shows we’re used to here in the states, the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, also known as Auto China, only takes place once every two years. This year, it’s bigger than ever with more than 1,600 exhibitors putting their goods on display. More than 800,000 visitors are expected to check out the show in Beijing this year. Several auto makers are prepping new models for their Asian debuts. Today MINI announced that it's bringing the new MINI three-door, five-door, and convertible models to China.

With an all-electric model due out in 2019 MINI is aggressively trying to take a bite out of Chinese market share. The company previously announced a joint venture with Great Wall Motors to produce the electric cars starting next year.

Taking center stage in Beijing will be the MINI 5-Door. Not sure where they find to the room to keep adding all these extra doors and space but MINI says the newest generationmodels added leg and head room in the rear as well as luggage space. MINI extended the body length of this generation by a little more than 6 ¼ inches.

The display car at Auto China 2018 will feature a new paint color: Emerald Grey Metallic. It’s one of three new colors available. Also on display will be the MINI 3-Door finished in the new Solaris Orange Metallic and the MINI Convertible in Starlight Blue Metallic.

MINI 3-Door S MINI Convertible

There are new customization options coming to the Asian market as well. Customers will be able to add the MINI Yours Interior Style Piano Black illuminated with a Union Jack motif rear-lit strip on the passenger’s instrument panel. The control system also features a touch screen for the display in the center instrument cluster.

Both the MINI 5-Door and 3-Door models will be available in three engine variants in China while the Convertible will feature two. For the more spirited drivers in China, the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman will also be on display at the show. This model features a turbo engine coupled with MINIs ALL4 all-wheel-drive system.