New 2015 Corvette ZO6 is a beast

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The Detroit Auto Show has had plenty of cars generating buzz, but the all-new 2015 Corvette ZO6 is getting plenty of well-deserved attention. The new Corvette Stingray is impressive on its own, particularly with the ZR1 package. But now track afficionados will have even more performance with the new ZO6. This is now a well-established tradition with Corvette and it’s a natural addition to the new C7 lineup. For the money, you won’t get better performance anywhere in comparison to the Corvette lineup of cars. The ZO6 starts to rival some of the supercars out there.

Many of the modifications might appear to be subtle but they help to create incremental improvements in performance. You’ll see some minor changes to the exterior of the Corvette, including a wider back side. But it looks very similar to the Stingray.

If you love sports cars, see this one in person and then set up an appointment to drive the ZO6 along with the Stingrays. You’ll come away impressed.

Marry Barra and a new era at General Motors

1 2015 Cadillac Escalade

What a difference a couple of years makes. GM was left for dead by many after the 2008 economic meltdown. In our polarized political climate, it seemed that watching GM collapse was essential to validate their view of the world. The notion that the government would extend a lifeline and not let GM and Chrysler liquidate was heresy in many circles. Never mind that it would have decimated countless auto suppliers as well and destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The auto bailout, however, was much more than a government handout. It was an event that made it possible to make stryctural changes to GM that were necessary for the company’s survival and long term health. But even after the bailout, many were skeptical that GM could survive, let alone thrive. This is where the new management team found itself, and they deserve credit for moving the company forward. BusinessWeek noted the progress as GM made the hsitoric announcement that Mary Barra would take over as the new CEO:

As Barra takes charge, GM is looking stronger than it has in decades. It’s in its third straight profitable year and feasting on the fruits of bankruptcy, which in its case include lower labor costs, less debt, and the elimination of weak brands and redundant dealers. Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays (BCS), expects it to earn about $6 billion in 2013. As the automaker sees the benefits of all the products it’s launching and additional cost reductions, its profit could reach $10 billion in 2017, according to Johnson. In 2010, GM had the second-biggest initial public offering in U.S. history; shares are trading at a high; the company returned to the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index; and it won back an investment-grade credit rating for the first time in eight years from Moody’s (MCO). Warren Buffett has been buying the stock. China, where Buick is a status symbol—it was the ride of China’s last emperor—is now the company’s biggest market.

And GM is no longer “Government Motors.” On Dec. 9, the day before Akerson announced his retirement, the Department of the Treasury, which had been selling about 1 million GM shares a day as the year was ending, declared it had sold the last. The federal government will recoup about $39 billion of its $50 billion investment. Supporters of the Obama administration’s decision to take over GM, who now include Akerson, contend that the jobs saved at both the company and its huge network of suppliers more than repaid U.S. taxpayers. According to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., the takeover preserved 2.6 million jobs in 2009 at automakers and companies that depend on the industry. The center calculates that a collapse would have eliminated $284 billion in personal income in 2009 and 2010 and cost the federal government $105 billion in unemployment benefits and reduced Social Security contributions. GM says it has invested $8.8 billion in U.S. facilities since 2009 and created 25,500 jobs for new and existing workers.

Barra’s promotion is historic given her gender, but it also marks a new era in the history of GM. The bailout years are now behind the company, and Barra has an opportunity to continue the progress made over the past 5 years. Read the entire article, as she seems particularly qualified to lead this effort.

New Corvette Stingray delivers impressive gas mileage

6 2014-Chevrolet-Corvette-047

The all new, 2014 Corvette Stingray has generated a ton of buzz with the new C7 body style, and now it’s making headlines for . . . gas mileage! That’s right. GM announced that the 2014 Corvette Stingray will deliver up to an EPA-estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city, and 29 mpg on the highway, when equipped with an all-new, seven-speed manual transmission. The estimate reflects an average of fuel economy in both the default “Tour” mode, which delivers 28 mpg highway, and driver-selectable “Eco” mode, which delivers 30 mpg highway.

So you’ll get some serious power with 455 horsepower, incredible new styling, and now some decent gas mileage as well. It looks like a hit.

Electric competition coming for Tesla?

Tesla Model S f

Tesla is riding high right now, as the Tesla S is a beautiful car and it’s piling up awards. The company is certainly worthy of all the praise directed its way. But, things are changing quickly in the auto business, as technological innovation is progressing rapidly. Thus, things can change quickly for Tesla as well with competition lurking.

GM and Honda made big news this week with an announcement that they’re teaming up to develop a mass-market fuel-cell system for future cars. The system, which is expected to debut in about 2020, chemically “burns” hydrogen to generate electricity without toxic emissions.

That electricity can then be used to power an electric motor: In other words, these will be electric cars, only without the batteries. GM and Honda also pledged to work on storage technologies for all that hydrogen, as well as on infrastructure — places to “get gas” for your future hydrogen-powered ride.

This doesn’t mean that the world is giving up on battery-powered electrics, of course. Batteries remain heavy and expensive, and take a while to recharge, but Tesla Motors has recently made it very clear that a great car can be built around a big heavy battery pack, despite the trade-offs.

But the GM-Honda link-up, along with Toyota’s recent confirmation that it would launch a fuel-cell car next year (a car that seems likely to be aimed directly at the Model S, by the way), is a good reminder that battery-electrics aren’t necessarily the way forward, just one of several possible ways.

That’s something that investors in any car company, including Tesla, should keep in mind.

Of course, this article is aimed at Tesla investors, and the stock issue is separate from the company and its current and future prospects. The stock may be a bit overpriced yet the company’s outlook can be fantastic.

Tesla has proven to be a leader in this space, and I think they can handle the competition. But the competition will be there.

Jay Leno checks out the new Corvette Stingray

Here’s a great video from Jay Leno’s garage about the all-new C7, the badass 2014 Corvette Stingray. The new model is definitely a game-changer as opposed to some of the more evolutionary designs we’ve seen from Corvette.

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