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Dan Neil Guest
Dan Neil

Wall Street Journal

Auto critic for the Wall Street Journal and co-host of The Car Show on the Speed Channel; Pulitzer Prize-winning auto critic and former columnist for the Los Angeles Times

FROM Dan Neil

Design and Architecture

Tesla's Quest for the Ultimate Electric Car If you’ve seen the movie Skyfall, you may have noticed that there's one staple of James Bond films that's missing—a sensational new car. The one memorable vehicle is from yesteryear: 007’s old Aston Martin, kept like a relic in a hideaway garage. It’s as if the filmmakers determined there was no contemporary car worth salivating over. In real life however, there is. It’s Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S , an all-electric car that—as numerous excited car geeks will tell you—has a completely reinvented powertrain and a driving experience like no other. Wall Street Journal auto critic Dan Neil tells us exactly why it's so revolutionary. Last month the Tesla Model S was anointed Car of the Year by both Automobile Magazine and Motor Trend—sweet success after years of naysaying from industry critics and even badmouthing on the campaign trail by a presidential challenger. The reason Romney and others poo-poohed Tesla is because it was a clean energy startup utilizing government subsidies that appeared to be unable to deliver its product to the thousands of people who had put down deposits on the car. But it's now clear that Tesla has delivered—and then some. At the Tesla design studio in Hawthorne, Frances meets up with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Tesla’s chief designer Franz Von Holzhausen to find out how they went about creating both a game-changing car, and a new car company in an age of massive corporations. In an industry dominated by long-established, global behemoths, just how did Tesla get off the ground?   And what's it like to drive a Tesla Model S? Tesla's chief designer Franz Von Holzhausen gave his car to his father, Frank Von Holzhausen, who is also a designer, of products. He’s driven every car that his son has designed. Frances called him at his office in Connecticut and asked him first how the car compared to previous ones designed by his son, who has worked for Audi, General Motors and Mazda. Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne A Tesla supercharger at the Hawthorne design studio The huge 17-inch screen on the console Franz Von Holzhausen's father Frank gives the thumbs-up to his new Tesla, designed by his son

Nov 20, 2012

Design and Architecture

Chris Burden's High-Speed Vision of LA's Future Urban Light, a grove of ornate, historic lampposts at the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art , has become a much-loved landmark, and a gentle evocation of the Southland’s past. Now the same artist, Chris Burden, has created a new interpretation of Los Angeles, that’s the opposite of a stroll down a Victorian street. Burden, known for his performance and installation work, has created a kinetic sculpture named Metropolis II , a room-size imaginary city, with multi-level freeways and rail lines looping around cheerful skyscrapers. It’s made of Plexiglas, glass and stone tile and children’s building materials: Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and Haba wooden blocks. It's also a feat of engineering, involving years of experimentation by a team of artists and lead engineer Zack Cook. The result is a delight, an artwork that’s instantly accessible, and appeals to the kid in all of us. But it’s meant to do more that. Burden says the sculpture is meant to evoke an LA of the future, where self-driving cars zip along at 200 miles per hour and one could drive from Pasadena to Santa Monica in a handful of minutes. Thomas Crow, professor of modern art at New York University, comments on this clattering, whirring vision of the future, especially in comparison to the peaceful Urban Light. And LACMA's director Michael Govan speaks about why Burden's interpretation of the city was the perfect addition to LACMA's collection. But could Burden's vision really be a glimpse into LA's future? Frances asks Dan Neil, auto critic for the Wall Street Journal, for his take on whether or not Metropolis II could eventually be a reality. A video of the making of Metropolis II by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman The sculpture is so complex an operator must stand at the center while it's running to make sure nothing goes awry. Photo by Alissa Walker Chris Burden points out some structural features at one corner of the sculpture. Photo by Alissa Walker

15 MIN, 51 SEC Jan 17, 2012

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