TIME Amazon

This Is How Much Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson Could Make From His New Amazon Show

Top Gear Festival Sydney
Brendon Thorne—Getty Images Jeremy Clarkson

It’s a ton of money

Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson will make £9.6 million ($14.7 million) to host a new car show on Amazon Prime, according to a report in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper.

Clarkson left Top Gear earlier this year after a series of controversies, including his getting into a fight with Oisin Tymon, one of the show’s producers. The BBC’s loss, however, is Amazon’s gain, as the online marketplace competes with other streaming firms such Netflix and Hulu for the most attractive content, and the BBC’s Top Gear show is one of its most popular offerings.

According to the report, Amazon will spend a total of £160 million ($246 million) on 36 episodes over three years, which will give the show a budget ten times as large per episode as it enjoyed on the BBC.

MONEY

Ford Aims to Resurrect this Popular Pickup Truck

Ford Ranger
Swiegers, Waldo—Bloomberg Finance/Getty Images A 2015 Ford Ranger on display in Johannesburg, South Africa on Aug. 12, 2015.

The mid-size truck is set for a renaissance.

It looks like Ford is bringing back the Ranger, its compact pickup truck that enjoyed a long run in the U.S. between 1982 and 2011 before being exiled to overseas markets.

According to The Detroit News, the America’s second-largest automaker has been in talks with the United Auto Workers and aims to bring the truck to production at the Michigan Assembly Plant in 2018. The Ford Focus and C-Max are currently made at the Wayne, Mich., plant, and production of these vehicles could be shifted to Mexico if an agreement is reached over the Ranger.

There are several reasons Ford might want to resurrect the Ranger in the U.S. Though there’s a growing demand for small and mid-size trucks, there aren’t that many currently available. Reissuing the Ranger one would not only satisfy many consumers but also help Ford conform to fleet-wide fuel efficiency standards mandated by the federal government. The U.S. also has a heavy 25% tax on imported trucks, so it would be especially advantageous for Ford to make the lighter, lower-cost Ranger on home turf.

The Ranger’s possible return comes on the heels of the automaker saying in July it was pulling out of the Michigan plant completely in 2018. Ford employs around 4,500 workers there, and if a deal can’t be worked out, those jobs and the Ranger could both be lost.

TIME Vintage cars

How A Tweet Can Make Your Classic Ferrari More Valuable

Ferrari Bonhams
Bonhams

Celebrity social media posts are boosting classic car prices

For the wealthiest car collectors, a picture isn’t just worth a thousand words. It can also boost that vintage vehicle’s value by thousands of dollars.

That’s the takeaway from an analysis by Black Book, which finds social networks like Instagram are helping drive up the valuations of certain exotic cars.

Bloomberg reports that from 1977 through 2008, three of the most iconic cars on the planet – the Aston Martin DB5 coupe, the Ferrari 250 GTL, and the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing – appreciated in value by 5% annually. Each year since 2008, however, they’ve appreciated as much as 60%.

Part of the increase is also due to an improving economy, but Bloomberg asserts photos uploaded onto Facebook and other sites by wealthy celebrities are fueling some of the interest as well.

So if that vintage car you wanted to sell is commanding a healthy profit, perhaps it is best to send a “thank you” tweet to David Beckham.

MONEY Opinion

Innovation Isn’t Dead

177800130
Dave Reede—Getty Images A farmer looks out over his field of canola being grown for biofuel while the encroachment of his farmland by housing development is in the background, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Most important innovations are only obvious in hindsight.

Wilbur and Orville Wright’s airplane flew for the first time in December 1903. It was one of the most important innovations of human history, changing the world in every imaginable way.

To celebrate their accomplishment, the press offered a yawn and a shoulder shrug.

Only a few newspapers reported the Wright’s first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. All of them butchered the facts. Later flights in Dayton, Ohio, the brothers’ home, still drew little attention.

David McCullough explains in his book The Wright Brothers:

“Have you heard what they’re up to out there?” people in town would say. “Oh, yes,” would be the usual answer, and the conversation would move on. Few took any interest in the matter or in the two brothers who were to become Dayton’s greatest heroes ever.

An exception was Luther Beard, managing editor of the Dayton Journal … “I used to chat with them in a friendly way and was always polite to them,” Beard would recall, “because I sort of felt sorry for them. They seemed like well-meaning, decent enough young men. Yet there they were, neglecting their business to waste their time day after day on that ridiculous flying machine.”

It wasn’t until 1908 — five years after the first flight and two years after the brothers patented their flying machine — that the press paid serious attention and the world realized how amazing the Wrights’ invention was. Not until World War II, three decades later, did the significance of the airplane become appreciated.

It’s a good lesson to remember today, because there’s a growing gripe about our economy. Take these headlines:

  • “Innovation in America is somewhere between dire straits and dead.”
  • “Innovation Is Dead.”
  • “We were promised flying cars. Instead we got 140 characters.”

The story goes like this: American innovation has declined, and what innovation we have left isn’t meaningful.

Cancer? Not cured. Biofuel? An expensive niche. Smartphones? Just small computers. Tablets? Just big smartphones.

I think the pessimists are wrong. It might take 20 years, but we’ll look back in awe of how innovative we are today.

Just like with the Wright brothers, most important innovations are only obvious in hindsight. There is a long history of world-changing technologies being written off as irrelevant toys even years after they were developed.

Take the car. It was one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. Yet it was initially disregarded as something rich people bought just to show how deep their pockets were. Frederick Lewis Allen wrote in his book The Big Change:

The automobile had been a high-hung, noisy vehicle which couldn’t quite make up its mind that it was not an obstreperous variety of carriage.

In the year 1906 Woodrow Wilson, who was then president of Princeton University, said, “Nothing has spread socialistic feeling in this country more than the automobile,” and added that it offered “a picture of the arrogance of wealth.”

Or consider medicine. Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic effects of the mold penicillium in 1928. It was one of the most important discoveries of all time. But a decade later, penicillin was still a laboratory toy. John Mailer and Barbara Mason of Northern Illinois University wrote:

Ten years after Fleming’s discovery, penicillin’s chemical structure was still unknown, and the substance was not available in sufficient amounts for medical research. In fact, few scientists thought it had much of a future.

It wasn’t until World War II, almost 20 years later, that penicillin was used in mass scale.

Or take this amazing 1985 New York Times article dismissing the laptop computer:

People don’t want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so …

Yes, there are a lot of people who would like to be able to work on a computer at home. But would they really want to carry one back from the office with them? It would be much simpler to take home a few floppy disks tucked into an attache case.

Or the laser. Matt Ridley wrote in the book The Rational Optimist:

When Charles Townes invented the laser in the 1950s, it was dismissed as ‘an invention looking for a job’. Well, it has now found an astonishing range of jobs nobody could have imagined, from sending telephone messages down fiberglass wires to reading music off discs to printing documents, to curing short sight.

Here’s Newsweek dismissing the Internet as a fad in 1995:

The truth [is] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on a computer. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach.

Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet.

Uh, sure.

You can go on and on. Rare is the innovation that is instantly recognized for its potential. Some of the most meaningful inventions took decades for people to notice.

The typical path of how people respond to life-changing inventions is something like this:

  1. I’ve never heard of it.
  2. I’ve heard of it but don’t understand it.
  3. I understand it, but I don’t see how it’s useful.
  4. I see how it could be fun for rich people, but not me.
  5. I use it, but it’s just a toy.
  6. It’s becoming more useful for me.
  7. I use it all the time.
  8. I could not imagine life without it.
  9. Seriously, people lived without it?

This process can take years, or decades. It always looks like we haven’t innovated in 10 or 20 years because it takes 10 or 20 years to notice an innovation.

Part of the problem is that we never look for innovation in the right spot.

Big corporations get the most media attention, but innovation doesn’t come from big corporations. It comes from the 19-year-old MIT kid tinkering in his parents’ basement. If you look at big companies and ask, “What have you done for the world lately?” you’re looking in the wrong spot. Of course they haven’t done anything for the world lately. Their sole mission is to repurchase stock and keep management consultants employed.

Someone, somewhere, right now is inventing or discovering something that will utterly change the future. But you’re probably not going to know about it for years. That’s always how it works. Just like Wilbur and Orville.

More From Motley Fool:

TIME Autos

See Photos of Vintage New York Taxi Cabs

New Yorkers have been hauled around in all sorts of vehicles

From horse-drawn carriages to today’s hybrid sedans, New Yorkers have long relied on cabs to get around town. But no cab is more ingrained in city lore than the boxy Checker. And it was on this day, June 18, 1923, that the first one was manufactured at the Checker Cab factory in Kalamazoo, Mich. By 1930, TIME was reporting that Checker would soon control a full 10% of all of the taxis in the nation.

An even higher percentage were Checkers by 1963, when TIME took a look at where they came from:

The roomy Checker cab, one of the few taxis left that passengers can climb into without awkward gymnastics, is a familiar sight on many U.S. streets; of the nation’s 135,000 taxicabs, some 35,000 are Checkers. Less familiar to the public and the financial world is the firm that makes them: closemouthed Checker Motors Corp. of Kalamazoo, Mich.

Separated from the Detroit automotive world by choice and philosophy, Checker is the nation’s smallest full-scale automaker. Last year it turned out 8,000 cars and, for the first time in a decade, showed an operating profit—$559,000 on sales of $23 million. Partly responsible for the profit is the fact that Checker has been doing a tidy business in selling souped-up dressed-up versions of its spartan, boxy cabs as family cars, stationwagons and limousines. The reason for their success (they now account for 40% of production), says Checker President Morris Markin with understandable prejudice, is that riding in many low-slung conventional cars nowadays is “like sitting in a bathtub.”

The good times couldn’t last. In 1982, the company stopped making taxis. It was the end of an era—but, as these photos show, it was just one of many.

TIME BMW: A Company on the Edge

The Race to Sell BMWs

How the car maker uses the track to shape its image and its product

On a crystalline day in late-July 1894, the Parisian gazette Le Petit Journal organized what is widely considered the first motoring competition. The paper’s editor, Pierre Giffard, surmized of contest of then-new, so-called horseless carriages from Paris to northern Rouen would boost circulation. It was a rough trial. Many of the 69 vehicles that entered never made it. Those that did traveled at a glacial average speed of 11 miles per hour. But the stunt coincided with the beginning of the automotive era, and manufacturers ever since have seen in racing a chance to test their technology and influence potential customers in the process. (A vehicle made by Peugeot was among the top finishers.)

Today, automakers from Ford to Ferarri count on motorsports to help spread word of their worth. It gives engineers and designers bragging rights over their competitors. The marketing doesn’t hurt either. In this video, TIME takes a look at BMW’s racing history and how its participation in motorsports influences the cars even the most cautious customers drive.

TIME BMW: A Company on the Edge

See the Army of Robots It Takes to Build a BMW

Inside BMW's Biggest Manufacturing Plant, in South Carolina

Automakers depend on a lot to get consumers to buy their wares: quality, performance, design, technology. But the single most important factor in keeping an automaker profitable in the long term is likely manufacturing. Investing in a new model—and the plants and components that of into making them a reality—can easily run into the billions of dollars.

BMW, the world’s top-selling premium automaker by sales volume, has been expanding its lineup while attempting to maintain its profitability. As part of a strategy, partly overseen by its 49-year-old CEO, Harald Krueger, BMW has been aiming to make 30% more vehicles with the same number of workers while trying to reduce production costs per vehicle by raising economies of scale in components, drive systems and modules. Here take a closer look at what goes into making a BMW.

TIME Audi

Audi’s Latest Product Is Unlike Any Other

INDIA-GERMANY-AUTO-AUDI
SAJJAD HUSSAIN—AFP/Getty Images The Audi logo is seen at the launch of the new Audi TT car in the Indian capital New Delhi on April 23, 2015.

Looks pretty fast though

German car manufacturer Audi and California-based shoe-maker Toms have together created limited edition alpargatas-style shoe. The slip-on is asphalt grey with stoplight red stitching, a meld of Audi’s brand colors. Like the interior patterning, a tag on the outside displays the car’s logo, its signature conjoined rings.

Otherwise, it’s hard to tell them apart from a regular pair of Toms shoes.

The unusual promotion is part of Audi’s “summer of Audi sales event,” which takes place from June 3 to Aug. 4 in the U.S. To own a pair, you’ll just need to purchase or lease an Audi [fortune-stock symbol=”AUDVF”] vehicle first.

As part of the deal, Toms has agreed to donate 55,000 pairs of shoes to children in need through its “giving partners” program in the U.S. Since 2009, the company has donated more than a million pairs of shoes through the program.

Audi Toms Shoes 2015
Audi USA

“We are excited to be partnering with Audi, a company that shares our passion for progressive ideas and positive impact, to create a unique giving experience for Audi customers,” said Toms founder Blake Mycoskie in a statement.

Here’s the pair of company’s joint commercial, which features an Audi RS7 “sportback” car alongside the special edition espadrilles:

TIME Transportation

General Motors Says 100 People Have Now Died from Faulty Ignition Switches

Faulty Ignition Switch Repair At A General Motors Dealership
Jeff Kowalsky—Bloomberg/Getty Images Shop foreman John Chapman performs a service recall on a General Motors Co. (GM) 2005 Saturn Ion at Liberty Chevrolet in New Hudson, Michigan, U.S., on Friday, April 25, 2014.

The malfunctioning switches have prompted the recalls of millions of GM vehicles

The death toll from faulty ignition switches in General Motors’ vehicles officially reached 100 this week, putting a grim tally on the long-running saga of the company’s delayed recalls.

The automotive firm’s compensation fund said it had approved the 100th compensation claim resulting from the issue on Monday, the New York Times reported.

This number, according to the Times, is significantly higher than the 13 deaths that GM claimed were the only ones from malfunctioning ignitions on multiple models.

Several lawsuits against the company allege that the actual death toll far exceeds even the latest number, and accuse the company of downplaying the number of deaths in multiple congressional hearings.

“The success of the cover-up for over a decade leaves most of the victims unaccounted for,” Robert Hilliard, one of the lead lawyers, told the Times. “One hundred is not even the tip of the iceberg.”

Read more at the Times

TIME Environment

Flying Is Sometimes Greener Than Driving

The energy used per person can be lower on a plane than in a car

Next time you feel guilty about booking a flight when you could have driven, cut yourself some slack: in many cases, flying may be the more environmentally sustainable choice.

New research by Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute suggests that the energy expended per person is often higher when driving than when flying the same distance—more than two times higher on average, the Washington Post reports. This calculation depends on the energy efficiency of the vehicles involved, as well as on the fact that passenger planes are often crowded, dividing the necessary fuel among many people. On the other hand, drivers are often alone.

It’s important to note that most of the time, drivers are only traveling short distances, while flyers are traveling long ones—so the overall impact of drivers vs. flyers isn’t a clean comparison.

[Washington Post]

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