Ford executive hired by Wells Fargo for investment banking post

Wells Fargo & Co. has hired Hunter Patton as a managing director in North American corporate and investment banking, focused on industrials.

Patton will focus on automotive, automotive technology, capital equipment, and other select capital goods and service areas, according to a memo reviewed by Bloomberg News. Patton joins Wells Fargo from Ford Motor Co., where he was on the global strategy and corporate development team, directing strategy and execution of inorganic growth investment. He joined Ford in August 2017.

He’ll be based in Chicago and report to Meara Kelley, head of industrials corporate and investment banking.

“As we continue to invest and grow our presence in the industrials sector, we’re delighted to welcome Hunter, who brings extensive experience in the automotive and capital Goods sub-sectors and a proven track record in corporate development, mergers and acquisitions, strategy, and multi-stage venture investing,” Kelley said in a statement.

A representative for Wells Fargo confirmed the contents of the memo.

The bank’s industrial group has worked on deals including Blackstone Inc.’s purchase of building products firm Chamberlain Group and Oak Hill Capital’s acquisition of consumer-packaging manufacturer Technimark Holdings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Prior to joining Ford, Patton worked at Citigroup Inc. for more than 12 years as part of its industrials investment banking team, having begun his career with investment bank Stout Risius Ross.

‘Conditional’ vehicle automation not ready for takeoff — at least in U.S.

For many people, an automated vehicle means a car that’s fully self-driving in all locations and all conditions, where the occupants could safely nap in the back seat if they wanted.

But there are lower levels of automation to navigate first.

Today’s hands-free driving systems, such as General Motors’ Super Cruise or Tesla’s Autopilot, are considered Level 2 on the scale developed by SAE International. It runs from Level 0, for fully manual, to Level 5, for full-time autonomy, where vehicles might not even have a steering wheel or brake pedals.

The Level 2 systems available today require drivers to stay alert and ready to take over the driving at all times. Level 2 is the most advanced form of automated driving currently available on personally owned vehicles in the U.S. market. The more advanced Level 4 vehicles, such as the robotaxis being tested in various cities, offer full autonomy, but only in certain defined areas such as high-speed, divided highways and pre-mapped city streets.

In between is Level 3, also called “conditional driving automation.” At Level 3, the vehicle does all the driving. That is, until it encounters a problem it’s not equipped to handle, such as an unexpected stretch of road under construction, slippery conditions or a system failure.

When that happens, the driver has to take over, even though the person was not required to pay attention while the Level 3 system drove. If the driver-monitoring system detects that the driver isn’t responding, the vehicle immediately has to find a safe place to park.

That scenario presents some obvious problems — especially the question of who’s liable in an accident.

Some automakers have introduced a limited number of Level 3 systems in other global markets, but not in the U.S.

Honda Motor Co., for instance, introduced a small production run of Level 3-equipped Honda Legend models for the home Japanese market only in March. Audi also has vehicles equipped for Level 3 Traffic Jam Pilot technology, but the German luxury brand still hasn’t turned on that capability.
The U.S. infrastructure is not compatible with the Honda Sensing Elite system that enables hands-free driving in the Legend sedan in Japan, said Jay Joseph, Honda vice president of marketing and customer experience.

In a presentation at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in August, he said the patchwork of regulatory situations in individual states, insurance company policies and other issues are holding back deployment of the Level 3 technology.

David Cooke, senior associate director of the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research, says some automakers may skip straight from Level 2 to Level 4, without first introducing Level 3 automation, to avoid potential liability problems.

“At Level 4, things get cleaner,” Cooke said in a phone interview. “Within geographically bounded boxes, the vehicle is completely responsible. Driver intervention should not be required. Level 4 is straightforward, from a liability standpoint.”

Today’s Level 2 is straightforward, too, he said. “In Level 2, the human is always in charge. Level 3 is where it gets interesting. The vehicle is in charge, until it’s not.”

Meanwhile, studies show it can take up to 15 seconds for a driver who hasn’t been paying attention to get reacquainted with the driving situation, Cooke said. But Level 3 systems, in testing, hand over control with as little as one second’s warning, he said.

Richard Truett contributed to this report.

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Tesla Cybertruck’s “insane” characteristics are entirely intentional

Tesla Cybertruck’s “insane” characteristics are entirely intentional


It appears that the Tesla Cybertruck’s production version would indeed be as crazy as its prototype suggests. As per Elon Musk’s recent comments on Twitter, the Cybertruck would be a technology bandwagon — an insane one at that — and it is intentionally designed that way, from its unique features to its one-of-a-kind look. 

Musk’s recent comments came as a response to a Twitter post about the Tesla Model S Plaid’s controversial steering yoke. The Model S Plaid’s steering yoke has been a polarizing aspect of the flagship all-electric sedan, though some owners of the company’s flagship vehicles have noted that they now prefer the yoke to a regular steering wheel. Musk, for his part, has maintained that the new Model S and Model X’s steering yokes provide drivers with an unobstructed view of the instrument cluster.

And when asked if the upcoming Cybertruck would be released with a steering yoke, Musk responded by stating that the all-electric pickup truck’s insane features are intentional. Musk later added that the Cybertruck will “reach far into a post-apocalyptic future & bring that technology to now.” 

Musk’s recent comments about the Cybertruck suggest that Tesla would be fitting the all-electric pickup truck with a variety of features that are not found in the company’s current vehicle lineup. This could go both ways for Tesla, as the vehicle’s designation as an “insane technology bandwagon” could make it extremely attractive for buyers. On the flip side, it could also make the vehicle very challenging to build and ramp due to its complexity. 

Needless to say, the latter scenario would be quite ironic as Tesla designed the Cybertruck to be easy to manufacture as possible, as hinted at by its flat body panels that require no paint nor traditional stamping. Considering that Tesla would most likely utilize new innovations such as its 4680 cells for the Cybertruck’s production and ramp, having the vehicle loaded to the teeth with insane technology might be quite risky. The company, after all, learned hard lessons during the Model X’s ramp, which Musk himself noted was partly due to “hubris.”

That being said, Tesla is a far different beast today compared to the young EV startup that attempted the Model X years ago. With the company’s experience in the auto sector, perhaps it may be feasible to launch an insane vehicle like the Tesla Cybertruck without being plagued by self-inflicted blows due to overconfidence.

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Tesla Cybertruck’s “insane” characteristics are entirely intentional





Hennessey’s Project Deep Space arriving in 2026 as six-wheel, 2,000-plus-hp electric GT for $3M

Hennessey’s Project Deep Space arriving in 2026 as six-wheel, 2,000-plus-hp electric GT for $3M

Hennessey Performance Engineering is known for tuning internal combustion engines to make more and more power, and for special projects like the Hennessey Venom F5 supercar that aims to top 300 mph.

For HPE’s next trick, the Texas tuner is going electric with Project Deep Space.

This isn’t just any electric car. It’s a $3 million, six-wheel, electric GT with a massive battery pack, and four-seat diamond interior arrangement. It’s set to enter production in 2026. Company CEO John Hennessey detailed the car to Motor Authority in a Zoom call.

Hennessey Project Deep Space sketch by Nathan Malinick

Hennessey Project Deep Space sketch by Nathan Malinick

In 2019, Hennessey had Hennessey Special Vehicles (the division of Hennessey’s company that’s producing the Venom F5 vs. the modification division known as Hennessey Performance Engineering) director of design Nathan Malinick drop by his house. Hennessey recalled describing his vision for an electric GT and Malinick stopped to sketch what Hennessey had described. The above sketch is the result of that initial discussion, and was the beginning of Project Deep Space, which for now is simply the internal code name for this electric GT.

Hennessey wouldn’t go into deep technical specifics at this early juncture, but the Texan said Project Deep Space will be powered by six electric motors, two per axle. It will have a total output of 2,000-plus hp and the goal is to deliver more than 500 miles of driving range, though 621 miles would be even better, Hennessey quipped (noting the 1,000-km mark).

The long wheelbase will provide space for a large battery pack, though Hennessey wouldn’t share the pack size. Shell Pennzoil will be a partner for the project, possibly providing the battery. The executive also wouldn’t discuss what type of battery cells or whether they would be solid-state, but he did say Delta Cosworth will engineer the batteries, electric motors, and powertrain systems.

Hennessey Project Deep Space

Hennessey Project Deep Space

Project Deep Space will ride on a new lightweight carbon-fiber chassis and feature carbon-fiber body panels. The shape has nods to the past with a hint of GM’s EV1 and more recently, the McLaren Speedtail, but the simple teardrop shape gives way to dramatic gullwing doors. As it stands today Project Deep Space will be about 21 feet long, according to Hennessey.

Inside, Project Deep Space has four seats with a central driving position flanked by two outboard seats for passengers. Hennessey noted the outboard seating postions are staggered a bit to allow even the tallest passengers stretch-out room. The fourth seat is mounted directly behind the centrally positioned driver and is being dubbed the VVIP (Very Very Important Person) seat. It will be similar to the lie-flat seats in a Gulf Stream jet.

The custom chassis and electric powertrain will allow the super GT to haul ample cargo, according to Hennessey. The frunk will be capable of holding up to four carry-on pieces of luggage, while the rear cargo area will hold up to four sets of golf clubs, Hennessey claimed.

Hennessey said some customers have already placed orders, though he didn’t say how many of the Project Deep Space’s 105 build slots have been spoken for to date. Each order requires a refundable $100,000 deposit. A full-scale model with an interior will be revealed in 2023, according to Hennessey. Around the same time, the team will be “pretty far along on engineering the battery, powertrain, and chassis,” Hennessey said. The interior and electronics won’t be locked in until much further in the future.

The car is ccurrently early in the engineering phase.

Production of Project Deep Space will take place in the facility in Sealy, Texas that is currently producing the Venom F5.

Why exactly 105 cars? For exclusivity. “McLaren built 106 F1s, and so I’m building one less,” Hennessey quipped.