Henry Payne Blog

Cartoon: Cadillac Goes Electric

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 13, 2019

Cartoon: Boris Wins Brit Election

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 13, 2019

Cartoon: FBI Spy

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 12, 2019

Payne: Three-row SUV battle — Durango SRT, Cadillac XT6, BMW X7

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 12, 2019

What is the best sled to take over the hill and through the woods to grandma’s house this holiday season?

My family and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday putting three top-drawer utes to the test around Metro Detroit to determine what mattered most to five people stuffed into three-row transportation. Our sleds were a similarly equipped lot from three very different brands: a $73,040 Cadillac XT6, a $78,235 Dodge Durango SRT, and $112,245 BMW X750i.

All three have outsized personalities and wave their brand flags — from the sculpted Cadillac to the Hellcat-wannabe Durango to the ridiculously posh Bimmer. But all also satisfied my family’s basic needs: Three rows with second-row captain’s chairs, so everyone had their space. State-of-the-art technology for my 20-something sons and daughter-in-law. All-wheel drive, two-zone climate control and heated seats for my wife who fears a Michigan blizzard might attack at any moment. And finally, V-6/V-8 powerplants to scratch the itchy right feet of the Payne motorheads.

In this Age of Ute, we put these well-dressed hunks to the test across freezing tundra and cratered Michigan roads to determine what matters most in an SUV — personality or utility.

Dodge Durango SRT

I exploded out of our subdivision in the Durango SRT onto Telegraph Road. Shifts barked like an angry sports car. With the throttle wide open, the engine roared like a T. rex at a Texas Roadhouse buffet.

The SRT badge means Dodge’s glorious 6.4-liter hemi V-8 is under the hood. It’s the same engine that motivates the wicked Charger Scat Pack that I flogged around Sonoma Raceway last fall.

Matching its loud voice, our tester also came with an outrageous red and dual-striped-hood wardrobe with big red Brembo brake calipers and a hood scoop in front. All that was missing was a rear wing. With its rear-drive bias and stiff suspension, it was a rocketship to drive around town.

Passengers had a different impression.

“What? I can’t hear a word you’re saying,” my daughter-in-law yelled from the third row. Even after I had settled down to a civilized 55 mph on adaptive cruise-control, the interior of the Durango was loud. At least I could hear my wife’s reasoned advice in the second row: “Slow down!”

The Durango’s interior is beautifully wrapped in leather with cool details like a T-shifter, second-row infotainment screens, digital instrument display and acres of console room. But it hides an aging chassis that rode like a Conestoga wagon over Detroit’s bumpy trials.

The Durango SRT would be a party animal on a guy’s hunting trip. But it’s a tough sell for a daily driver.

BMW X7 50i

The BMW’s face was the most polarizing of our threesome, with signature twin-grille kidneys the size of Ndamukong Suh’s shoulder pads. Otherwise, this three-row Versailles Castle is a collection of the auto kingdom’s best stuff.

The 456-horse twin-turbo V-8 doesn’t have the visceral thrills of the Durango, but it is every bit as potent, hitting 60 mph in 4.6 seconds with buttery shifts from its eight-speed box. Floating on an air suspension, the X7 absorbed Detroit’s bumps with aplomb while its supple rear-wheel drive biased chassis is not averse to a spirited drive.

But cruising luxury is this yacht’s calling card. The interior is whisper-quiet, making for easy three-row conversation and musical enjoyment. Infotainment can be controlled via iDrive rotary controller or touchscreen. The luscious chocolate-leather seats begged to be licked, and the chrome-plated interior is decorated like a Christmas tree with LED lights that can be programmed to glow any color of the rainbow.

Not surprisingly, the X7 was always the family’s first choice to drive because it had it all — speed, comfort, class — plus, we knew that opportunities to cruise town in a six-figure chariot are rare. Who has that kind of money? The X7 spares no expense with third-row heated seats, three-zone climate control, a split rear hatch with a pickup-like drop-down tailgate, the biggest panoramic roof anyone had ever seen and a voice recognition system — “Hey, BMW, go to the Detroit Institute of Arts” — as good as a smartphone.

Like Versailles, the X7 also doesn’t know when enough is enough. Example: Automatic-folding second row-thrones that were so slow you wished for good ol’ manual-fold seats. And a tailored second-row console that no one used made it harder to get out of the third row.

Cadillac XT6

Not too fancy. Not too macho. Just right.

The Caddy was the only player in the group to feature a sub-400 horsepower, non-V-8 powerplant (310-horse V-6) and front-wheel drive bias. No one seemed to miss them. With a family of five, the consensus was that launch-control out of Woodward Avenue stoplights (my favorite Durango V-8 trick) in a three-row ute is low on the list of priorities.

What was appreciated was the Cadillac’s best-in-test exterior (the XT6 was introduced to the news media this year in an art museum) and quiet, easy-to-use interior. While not dressed to the nines inside like the BMW, the Cadillac nevertheless featured amenities like panoramic sunroof (let there be light for third-row passengers!) and head-up display — while offering extras like a rear-seat warning (if you left a baby seat back there) and easy third-row access.

The XT6 proved that utility is the priority in three-row utes. If you want personality, buy a sports car.

But that begs the question …

Why pay $73,000 for Cadillac when a stylish $51,000 Chevy Traverse or $48,000 Kia Telluride offer the same amenities for a whopping $20,000 less?

Technology has become the great equalizer between luxury and mainstream, and the roomy Traverse and Motor Trend SUV of the Year Telluride come with the same blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise and emergency braking as its pricier peers. Their voice-recognition is no BMW — but like the Cadillac and Dodge, simply connecting Apple CarPlay levels the playing field. Then the mainstream utes add panoramic sunroof, knock-out styling, head-up display (Telluride), one-button third-row access, 20-inch sport wheels and USB ports everywhere.

Yes, yes, brand matters and that’s the Chevy/Kia challenge. But with the tens of thousands you save on a big ute, you can buy an apex-carving, drop-top sports car with loads of personality for when the holidays are over and your better half wants a weekend escape to your favorite restaurant.

I’m thinking Mazda Miata.

2020 Cadillac XT6

Vehicle type: All-wheel drive, 6-passenger SUV

Price: $58,090, including $995 destination charge($73,040 as tested)

Powerplant: 3.6-liter V-6

Power: 310 horsepower, 271 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 6.4 seconds (Car and Driver); towing capacity 4,000 pounds

Weight: 4,644 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA est. 17 city/24 highway/20 combined

Report card

Highs: Handsome looks; roomy, quiet interior

Lows: Lacks Cadillac “wow” factor; milquetoast drivetrain

Overall: 3 stars

2020 Dodge Durango SRT

Vehicle type: All-wheel drive, 6-passenger SUV

Price: $64,490, including $1,495 destination charge ($78,235 as tested)

Powerplant: 6.4-liter V-8

Power: 475 horsepower, 470 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.7 seconds (Car and Driver); towing capacity 8,700 pounds

Weight: 5,510 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA est. 13 city/19 highway/15 combined

Report card

Highs: Challenger V-8 under the hood; wicked exterior

Lows: Aging chassis; loud interior

Overall: 3 stars

2020 BMW X7 50i

Vehicle type: All-wheel drive, 6-passenger SUV

Price: $93,595, including $995 destination charge($112,245 as tested)

Powerplant: 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8

Power: 456 horsepower, 479 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 5.5 seconds (Car and Driver); towing capacity 7,500.

Weight: 5,617 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA est. 15 city/21 highway/17 combined

Report card

Highs: Decadent interior; smartphone-like voice recognition

Lows: Sticker shock; oh, those kidneys!

Overall: 3 stars

Cartoon: Impeachment Counts Witch Trial

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 12, 2019

Cartoon: Schiff Phone Spying

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 6, 2019

Cartoon: Kamala Out 2020

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 6, 2019

Cartoon: How Schiff Stole Christmas

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 6, 2019

Payne: Infiniti quickens the pulse with all-season Q60 looker

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 6, 2019

The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 (as in 400 horsepower) is a fun drive on track with its all-wheel-drive power and slippery 0.28 drag-coefficient. At over 4,000 pounds, the all-wheel drive model is heavy.

The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 (as in 400 horsepower) is a fun drive on track with its all-wheel-drive power and slippery 0.28 drag-coefficient. At over 4,000 pounds, the all-wheel drive model is heavy. (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is another mouthful of luxury alphanumeric badging that will make your brain hurt.

Just remember that Q60 rhymes with “cue sexy.”

Infiniti has come a long way from the somnolent 1989 ads that introduced the brand — not with footage of sleek cars — but with quietly narrated commercials about water and geese. I’m not making this up. Thirty years later the growly, aggressive, shapely Q60 has no patience for water. Or geese.

Cresting the curvy hills of west Oakland county, I toggled the Q60’s drive mode to Sport Plus and put pedal to metal. Four-hundred horses under the hood roared in unison, the quick seven-speed transmission firing off shifts like a shotgun. Hustling into a tight bend, I flicked through downshifts as the exhaust barked loudly.

If a flock of geese was anywhere nearby, it would have scattered. Cue sexy.

How sexy? The Q60 Red Sport 400 (400 signals 400 horsepower) is now one of the official driving-school cars of the terrific M1 Concourse test track in Pontiac. Right alongside M1’s ferocious, 700-plus-horsepower Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats, and earth-pawing Viper ACR.

Red Sport, Hellcat, Viper. That’s a lot of underworld references. You get the point. This isn’t your father’s Infiniti.

It’s taken a long time, but Nissan’s luxury brand has finally produced a halo coupe with personality, style and twin-turbo V-6 power. All that sexiness still sits on top of Nissan’s aged rear-wheel drive FM platform which has been the bones of everything from the Nissan 370Z to the late Infiniti G35.

If the Japanese brand can stick with its nomenclature and update its platforms over time, it has a chance to bottle a credible formula of emotion and value.

Start with the fundamentals. The Red Sport’s powerful baritone comes from the same twin-turbo V-6 found in the base coupe that puts out a detuned 300 horses. Infiniti then wraps this playful mill in its updated, head-turning Infiniti design (also found in the compact QX30 ute of all things). The hood and flanks are deeply scalloped. The lines flow to all the right places over 20-inch wheels.

With its lower hood and grille, these new cars eschew the heavy, swollen-cheek appearance of other Infiniti models that reminded me of Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor. It wasn’t a memorable look. The Q’s pouty grille (essentially an inverted Jaguar mouth) is flanked by angry, LED running lights that glow with menace in your rearview mirror.

Sitting next to a hippy $90,000 Lexus LC500 coupe in the M1 Concourse paddock, the Infiniti holds its own.

Slip inside and the premium vibe dulls. The sculpted door handles continue the sinewy lines of the exterior, but the old Infiniti FM architecture shows its age in the console and instrument panels. If you cross-shop with state-of the-art digital interiors from BMW or Audi, you’ll be taken back in time. There’s an old-school truck brake for the emergency brake. Analog displays and screens are from another era, though they make up in utility what they lack in modernity.

The dual-stacked screens remind of old Honda Accords (the 2019 version of that mainstream sedan shames the Infiniti’s interior architecture), but they work together nicely — separating navigation and radio/vehicle information that now have to co-exist on state-of-the-art tablet displays of competitors.

The Q60 may lack the digital pizzazz of its class peers, but it’s up to date on the latest digital driver-assistance features like pedestrian emergency braking, blind-spot assist, and adaptive cruise-control (or Intelligent Cruise Control in Infiniti-speak). After I’d had my jollies at M1 Concourse and exhausted Oakland County’s twisties on my way home, I merged into clogged highways where the adaptive cruise system is useful in maintaining a distance from other cars — and from (ahem) state police speeding tickets.

Even the navigation system — usually a horror show in vehicles these days — was reasonably competent, and Nissan provides a remote control knob for zooming in or out depending on the destination. Still, the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto app compatibility for superior phone navigation is a must, and here Infiniti lags. Compatible systems aren’t due for another couple of years.

Mrs. Payne, my right-seat navigation expert, groaned at Apple CarPlay’s absence. But she didn’t groan at the price.

Loaded to the gills with all-wheel drive, digital goo-gaws and two-tone leather interior, my racy coupe stickered for $62,000 — a healthy $20,000 cheaper than a comparable BMW M4 coupe. For the M4’s stratospheric $80,000 you could walk out of the Nissan/Infiniti dealership with a Red Sport and a low mileage, pre-owned Nissan Rogue for off-the-grid hatchback adventures for which a sports coupe is ill-equipped.

What the Q60 is equipped for is getting your pulse racing.

The all-wheel drive Red Sport is nicely screwed to the road, meaning you can get into the throttle — and that glorious 7-speed box — confidently at corner exits. Corner entry is more a challenge given the all-wheel drive car’s 4,000-pound heft. If you enjoy track days, you’ll want the lighter (if still porky) 3,866-pound rear-drive car.

If you’re buying an all-season sports tourer, then the all-wheel driver is a must for Midwest snows.

Frankly, that’s where the Q60 Red Sport’s value lies.

If you have $60,000 to drop on a performance coupe, then lust after a rear-wheel drive, 405-horse BMW M2 or 500-horse Mustang GT350. They are quicker on track and carry epic brand histories.

But their fun ends with the first flakes of winter. If you want an all-season, all-wheel drive sports car that’s easy on the eyes — and the wallet — then the Infiniti is a solid choice. Compared to its AWD peer group — the 349-horsepower Audi S5 or 305-horse Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD , the Infiniti is the only one to crest the magic 400-pony mark.

Most importantly, that means the Infiniti will walk away from its Japanese rivals. Pity that message didn’t shine through back in 1989 when Lexus advertised cars, not geese, and launched one of the America’s most coveted luxury brands.

Nice to have Infiniti finally in the game. Cue Sexy.

2019 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400

Vehicle type: Rear or all-wheel drive, 4-passenger sports coupe

Price: $55,895, including $995 destination charge ($64,130 AWD as tested)

Powerplant: 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6

Power: 400 horsepower, 350 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.5 seconds (Car and Driver); top speed, 155 mph

Weight: 3,882 pounds (4,047 AWD as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA est. 19 city/27 highway/22 combined

Report card

Highs: Slinky looks; AWD, all-season athlete

Lows: Dated interior; porky on scales

Overall: 3 stars

Cartoon: Bloomberg Scrooge

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 6, 2019

Cartoon: Left Versus Salvation Army

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 6, 2019

Cartoon: Leftover Turkey Schiff

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 2, 2019

Payne: Porsche puts its DNA in an EV with the electrifying Taycan sedan

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 2, 2019

The Porsche Taycan Turbo S carved up Angeles Crest road north of Los Angeles.

The Porsche Taycan Turbo S carved up Angeles Crest road north of Los Angeles. (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

Tesla pioneered the high-performance electric vehicle. The Porsche Taycan has put it on steroids.

The Tesla Model S caught the automotive world flat-footed in 2012. It could shoot from zero-60 mph in under 3 seconds and whip around interstate cloverleafs as if on rails.

Suddenly, EVs were cool. But while other legacy automakers scrambled to catch up to innovations like iPad-sized touchscreens, mega-batteries and on-air software upgrades, Porsche focused on raw speed.

With the Taycan, Porsche has set a new standard beyond Tesla’s Ludicrous-mode performance benchmarks. You know that because Tesla chief Elon Musk is camped out at Germany’s Nurburgring track trying to beat the Taycan’s lap time.

Raw speed is what the Stuttgart-based manufacturer has been doing for the last six decades. Significantly, Taycan does not go head-to-head against Tesla on autonomous driving, charging networks and minimalist big-screen interiors.

The Taycan is a market of one — a $100,000-plus electric four-door sports sedan boasting Porsche 911-like performance characteristics well above comparable EVs. It’s an EV for Porsche-philes.

Porsche is deserving of its reputation. Scott Burgess, one of my predecessors in this seat, advises journalists to grab a Porsche at least once a year to reacquaint themselves with the driving standard. When I asked K.C. Colwell, Car and Driver’s skilled test driver, which car stood out at the magazine’s legendary Virginia International Raceway Lightning Lap this year (a performance-car showdown including notables like the McLaren Senna and Mercedes-AMG GT63 S), he didn’t hesitate.

“The Porsche 911 GT3,” he said.

When I tested the mid-engine 2020 Chevy Corvette last month, I compared it to the Porsche Cayman, the best mid-engine sports car under $100,000 I’ve ever driven.

Now Taycan is the EV gold standard. Developed by Porsche’s mid-engine chassis team, think of it as a 5,200-pound electric Cayman.

The Taycan’s capabilities are welcome news for us motorheads. Automakers are evolving into highly regulated utilities as governments dictate their drivetrain choices. Michigan says DTE Energy must get 15% of its energy from wind power by 2021. California says about 8% of carmakers’ product must be electric by 2025.

For most automakers, that’s a chore. But for a select few performance shops — Porsche, Tesla, Audi — the EV is an opportunity to explore the envelope of battery propulsion.

We’re talking serious giddyap.

I will never forget my first launch in a Tesla Model S P90D in Ludicrous mode. My brain slapped against the back of my skull by instant 100% torque in the 2.6 OMG seconds it took to get from 0-60.

The Taycan offers the same concussive acceleration in its top-drawer 772-torque Turbo S, which explodes to 60 in a mere 2.6 ticks.

Mash the brake and accelerator pedals to the mat in launch-control mode as you would in a gas-powered 911 — wait a moment for instrument panel approval — then release brake. Zot!

Also familiar is Porsche’s naming convention. Porsche wants you to know its EV has turbo-like capability. It calls the Taycan’s top-drawer trims “Turbo” and “Turbo S” just like the 911 and Panamera, even though EVs don’t use turbochargers like gas cars. (Taycan even options a guttural hum that mimics internal-combustion engine sound.) Porsche wants you to know its EV has turbo-like capability.

That capability is most apparent in the chassis dynamics.

This 5,121-pound beast is nailed to the road. Scraping myself off the seatback after the rocket-launch acceleration, my 760-horse Turbo S hurtled toward corners with alarming pace only to be brought back to earth by huge, 10-pot calipers clawing at ceramic brake discs. Then, miraculously, the Taycan would hug corner apexes as if they were magnets.

Credit Goodyear Eagle II summer rubber as wide as the slicks on my old Porsche 908 racer (12 inches rear, 10.5 inches front). It has the the same all-wheel steer, all-wheel-drive suspension magic that makes 911 the world’s best-handling coupe and the 4,500-pound Panamera GTS feel half its size.

But also credit battery physics. Instead of the low-slung “Boxer” 4- or 6-cylinder engine  in a Cayman or 911, Taycan pilots sit atop an enormous 94-kWh battery between the wheels.

Porsche has ridden to glory on low-center gravity Boxer engines for decades. Low-slung lithium-ion battery packs fit the formula perfectly. Indeed, Porsche says the Taycan’s center of gravity is three inches lower than a 911, already one of the best in the industry.

The Taycan’s purpose is reinforced by its tapered coupe roofline low nose and tear-drop headlights. Inside, there’s more rear-seat room in a Tesla Model 3 Performance than a Taycan, a reminder the Porsche is a compact sedan, not a mid-size grand tourer like Panamera.

Passengers will be treated to Porsche’s most advanced cockpit yet. Curved glass instrument panel, buttonless touchscreen and keyless entry are harbingers of Porsche interiors to come. But there is no big Tesla touchscreen here (a second dash screen is optional for the front passenger to fiddle with) that can plot the Porsche’s route to the company’s own network of superchargers across the country.

Porsche’s dependence on a hodgepodge of charging networks — Chargepoint, dealer lots, EVGo, Electrify America — is a reminder of Tesla’s ace in the hole: its proprietary charging infrastructure.

Porsche boasts the industry’s only 800-kW charge system (good for 80% charge at 270-kW in just 22 minutes), assuming you can find an 270-kW-capable Electrify America charger in the Midwest.

The Porsche’s interior signature is its drive-mode selector in the middle of the steering wheel with settings for Range, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. This car wants to be driven fast.

I flogged the Turbo S unmercifully over Angeles Crest twisties and Los Angeles interstates. I arrived at my destination after 174 miles, having taken just 178 miles of the battery. That’s next-level thermal management.

Where the Taycan excels is in its purity, with exquisite craftsmanship and meticulous engineering.

If all that’s worth your paying $100,000 more for a Taycan than a Model 3 Performance, then you fit Porsche’s demographic. Steroids don’t come cheap.

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S

Vehicle type: All-wheel drive, 5-passenger sedan

Price: Starter 4S $105,150, including $1,350 destination charge (Turbo S starts at $186,350; about $198,000 as tested)

Powerplant: Lithium-ion battery pack mated to dual electric motors

Power: 750 horsepower, 774 pound-feet torque

Transmission: Two-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 2.6 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 161 mph

Weight: 5,121 pounds

Range: 246 miles on full charge

Report card

Highs: Sports car handling despite weight; distinctive looks

Lows: Gets pricey; tight back seat

Overall: 4 stars

Cartoon: Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 27, 2019

Cartoon: Thanksgiving Turkey Football

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 27, 2019

What Ford F-150 owners think of the Tesla Cybertruck

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 27, 2019

Ford F-150 owners were impressed by the Tesla Cybertruck's claimed performance. But they worry about battery range and reliability.

Ford F-150 owners were impressed by the Tesla Cybertruck’s claimed performance. But they worry about battery range and reliability. (Photo: Tesla)

And now for something completely different.

A Los Angeles Auto show that started with a Ford Mustang Mach-E electric crossover taking on the Tesla Model Y, ended with Tesla in its familiar position: introducing a vehicle unlike any seen before.

The Tesla Cybertruck pickup caught the automotive world by surprise with its daring sci-fi design, segment-busting performance figures and competitive $39,000 starting price. Conversations with Metro Detroit Ford F-150 enthusiasts indicate the Tesla has their attention. But when it comes to purchase, these users all got hung up on familiar concerns about electric vehicles.

More than perhaps any other vehicle, owners of pickups raise concerns about battery range and reliability compared to gas-powered mainstays.

Detroit auto companies these days are noticeably insecure when it comes to Silicon Valley EVs and autonomous vehicles. They, too, want to be the cool kids on the block. So Ford cheekily launched its first electric SUV, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, at LA’s Hawthorne Airport right under the nose of Tesla’s design studio. The glitzy launch event featured movie star Idris Elba interviewing Ford CEO Bill Ford. Consumers applauded.

Then Tesla reminded everyone how it was done.

“The Mach E was a familiar auto industry reveal,” said Tim Stevens, an auto reviewer with C-NET’s “Roadshow” who used to cover Silicon Valley electronics. “Tesla is probably 95 percent Tesla faithful in the room, emotions are very high. Musk presents the truck and all of a sudden they are hitting it with a sledgehammer. It’s a very different sort of event.”

The Tesla show was populated with lightning-shooting Tesla coils and screaming Tesla employees dressed in sci-fi costumes. When Musk strode on stage, says TFLTruck expert Roman Mica, he was greeted with screams of “I want to have your baby!” and “I want to marry you!” That doesn’t happen to other industry executives.

Then things really got crazy. Musk introduced a stainless-steel triangular pickup that looked like it had come off a Hollywood sci-fi movie set. After demolishing a Ford F150 door, Tesla designer Franz Von Holzhausen turned his sledgehammer on the Cybertruck’s doors and then chucked steel balls at its windows to prove its toughness.

Musk infamously failed in proving the shatterproof quality of the Cybertruck’s “armored glass” – two windows yielded to steel balls – but such glass is not unknown to the industry. Ford itself was the first to use shatterproof Gorilla Glass on its Ford GT supercar.

The rollout was crazy, yes. But it was also an acknowledgment by Tesla that its space-age truck has to address conventional concerns valued by Detroit Three pickup owners: toughness, performance and versatility.

Ford, Chevrolet and Ram brands have ridden these attributes to dominate the biggest vehicle segment in the United States. Musk is desperate to penetrate the truck truck market to show the mass sales-potential of EVs. On the toughness front, F-150 owners I talked with were impressed by Musk’s demonstration – unconventional as it was.

They were well aware of the Cybertruck after Musk’s circus show. They were unfamiliar with Rivian, Bollinger and Lordstown Motors, the other electric trucks hoping to gain traction in the pickup space.

When Ford introduced its aluminum-body F-150 four years ago, Chevy responded in a similar manner as Tesla: by dropping a toolbox on an F-150 truck bed and puncturing it. By contrast, the Silverado’s bed is made from rolled-steel. The Cybertruck’s skin is stainless steel.

My trucker focus group liked Tesla’s macho, including claimed payload (3,500 pounds) and towing (14,000 pounds) — figures that beat the Detroit Three. At $39,000 for a rear-wheel-drive model, they liked that the Tesla was priced competitively, unlike the Rivian and Bollinger trucks that are north of $70,000.

But where truckers get cold feet is in the practical application of those numbers. The Ford F-150, for example, sold nearly a million copies last year because of its gas-powered versatility.

At TFLTruck, which tests vehicles on Colorado’s challenging landscape, Mica and his team have been testing Tesla’s Model X SUV with a claimed 4,980-pound towing capability – healthy for a mid-sized SUV. But with 2,000 pounds behind it, TFLTruck finds the Model X gets just 30 percent of its predicted 325 miles of range.

For an Oakland County-based construction worker commuting 100 miles to a job site in, say, Ann Arbor, that can be an issue. To an outdoorsman driving up north on a fishing trip to the Manistee River outside Grayling, the lack of charging infrastructure in rural America is concerning. For an electrician working out of his truck in winter cold at a facility without power, battery life is a worry. The concerns translate to other battery-powered trucks entering the market as well.

Those concerns mirror the people who have tested my Tesla Model 3.

Interestingly, my truck experts did not flinch at the Cybertruck’s styling. In fact, they found it refreshing. Technologically curious by nature, these Ford faithful were intrigued by the Tesla’s electronic wizardry. Put the Cybertruck design back-to-back with an F-150 and it looks like it arrived here from the future.

That said, they balked at the Cybertruck’s steep bed sides that would make it difficult to pitch shovelfuls of mulch into an open bed. The innovative midsize Honda Ridgeline introduced a similarly innovative design in 2006 and was met with poor sales.

At the Cybertruck reveal, Musk’s 1976 Lotus Esprit was on display. The angular sports car, which was used in the filming of the “The Spy Who Loved Me,” helped inspire the Cybertruck’s unique looks.

At the Ford reveal, a picture of the 1914 Detroit Electric vehicle that Henry Ford’s wife, Clara, drove was prominently displayed. Innovative and quiet, the Detroit Electric EV failed to sell next to Ford’s popular, gas-powered Model T because it lacked range and affordability.

Cartoon: Nanny Bloomberg for President

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 25, 2019

Cartoon: Musk Cyber Truck

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 25, 2019

Cartoon: Shepherd Schiff Impeach

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 21, 2019

CARtoon: Electric Mustang

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 21, 2019