Can The Vanderhall Laguna Cure Automotive Cancer?

21 Jul

Vanderhall Laguna

“It’s cancer,” said Mr. Sardonic, “with a key.”

He wasn’t talking about the Vanderhall Laguna. He was talking about the Lamborghini Espada, and I knew exactly what he meant. The two would appear to have nothing in common, but don’t be fooled. They are inextricably linked by illness. The Espada is one of its clearest symptoms, and the Laguna seeks to be its cure.

Mr. Sardonic, like myself and countless others, suffers from an acute case of Petrolicious-itis. It starts with a lust for Fourth Cars — which are cars you don’t need because you’ve got three others — and frequent visits to Petrolicious. The most common risk factors are spare time and disposable income. Combine Nostalgia for the Dream Cars of Youth and Chronic Desire To Be Different, and the diagnosis is guaranteed. I should know. I own or have owned all the most unreliable supercars of the past. OK, maybe not supercars. A Porsche 928 GT. With a stick. An E24 BMW M6. A Citroen SM. Cars that were very expensive new, and whose running costs make them — even after decades of depreciation — a bargain by no measure.

Read the rest over at TheDrive.com…

Tesla Is Right. Consumer Reports Is Wrong. And Trying To Kill You.

16 Jul

Tesla Is Right. Consumer Reports Is Wrong. And Trying To Kill You.

Consumer Reports is trying to kill you. It’s true: The non-profit my parents trusted for advice on washing machines, coffee makers and sunscreen has crossed the line. CR, an organization claiming to serve consumers through unbiased product testing has chosen to enter the debate over Tesla’s Autopilot in the most ill-informed and irresponsible way possible. In doing so, the brand is putting additional lives at risk.

No company has done more to bring autonomous driving (AD) to market than Tesla, and yet they are now the target of a misinformation campaign rapidly coalescing around a single message: Tesla Autopilot is dangerous.

This is nonsense.

Read the rest of over at The/Drive.com

In Defense of Tesla’s Autopilot, Part 1

8 Jul

Tesla Autopilot Accident

Before Joshua Brown was killed in his Tesla Model S while watching a movie on Autopilot, I had a conversation with my friend, Comms. “The first person to kill someone in a Tesla on Autopilot,” Comms said, “is going to be responsible for 340,000 deaths.”

Comms is an old friend working in communications for a major automotive manufacturer. He’d just spent an hour failing to convince me Elon Musk was the modern Preston Tucker, but I couldn’t argue with his newest line of reasoning.

“Nonsense,” I said. “It’s great. I know its limitations.” Continue reading

Can George Hotz “Win” Self-Driving Cars?

2 Jun

George Hotz

“Hotz wants two,” said The Spaniard, my new spy friend. I knew he was a spy. He knew I knew. I knew he knew I knew. But I knew he knew I knew first, so he respected me, and now I had a friend with more technical knowledge of Autonomous Driving than I, which made us the perfect duo to walk and talk our way through the broiling pits at SelfRacingCars—the World’s First Autonomous Track Day—at Thunderhill in Willows, California.

“Two hundred million?” I said.

“No,” he shook his head. “Two billion.”

“You know something, Spaniard? If some kid from New Jersey can get a fucking Acura to drive itself around Thunderhill without crashing, he deserves the money.”

In fifteen minutes we’d find out if the kid is worth the money, because George Hotz, a 26-year-old from New Jersey with matted hair and the comic timing of the Upright Citizens Brigade, was here to “win” Self-Driving Cars.

Read the rest over at TheDrive.com

How Not to Flee When You Crash Your Expensive Rental Car in Italy

28 May

Morgan Mille MIglia

“We all need to get the fuck out of Italy,” is what I should have said.

But I didn’t. I was being well paid by The Drive to find out whether the Mille Miglia—the legendary Italian road race—was just the Old Man’s Gumball, with a better publicist. You don’t need to be Nostradamus to know that where there are men, money and cars—sex, drugs and crashes must follow.

Now that our supercharged, wood-framed, 1,857-pound, 350+ horsepower, 1999 Morgan +8 rental car was lying in a ditch outside the third-rate Italian village of Sassocorvaro, all I had to do was find the sex and drugs.

“I don’t know about you guys,” I said to my teammates, the shame-ridden Mr. Horn, the sanguine Mr. Glass and the fake-blogger-with-a-press-pass The Tall Man, “but I’m staying.”

Read the rest over at The Drive…

How to Crash the World’s Most Dangerous Rental Car

25 May

Crash

“This is a very dangerous car.”

Mr. Rapido told me that. He is the chain-smoking Danny DeVito lookalike who owns Rapido Car Rental, and he’s a man you wouldn’t cross even if you hadn’t seen the “Get your shine box” scene in Goodfellas. He was reluctantly offering to rent us a car that he claimed was his personal car, a car he only drove on sunny days around Brescia—the Philadelphia of Italy—a car he loved so much that its rental rate was listed online for $1,000/day.

“Very, very dangerous,” he lit another cigarette, “especially if you touch the gas.”

And boy, was it. Read the rest over at The Drive

How My Morgan 3-Wheeler Stopped A Mugging

12 May

Karate

I once thought The Karate Kid was nonsense. Paint the fence. Sand the floor. Wax on, wax off. Daniel-san thinks his time is being wasted, only to learn that mastering chores is the key to earning a Black Belt. A good movie, but it’s pretty clear that in real life the only way Daniel-san was leaving the All-Valley Martial Arts Tournament alive was if he’d brought a gun.

Then, on a balmy evening in lower Manhattan, I was visited by the ghost of Mr. Miyagi’s long-dead and longer-lost English cousin. He came in the form of H.F.S. Morgan, founder of Morgan Motor Cars, and he came bearing instructions:

Bend the leg. Clutch in, clutch out.

Read The rest over at The/Drive

Ed Snowden Loves Self-Driving Cars, Hates Privacy

12 May

SnowdenSnowden

If Ed Snowden wants to protect privacy and civil liberties, then he’s got some explaining to do re: his remarks on Self-Driving Cars. Yesterday he tweeted the following: Continue reading

Alex Roy Digest 5.11.16: No Steering Wheels, Uber For Gas, People Are Dangerous

11 May

Filld

Transportation Communist/Gizmodo contributor Alissa Walker is back with another pro-Autonomous Driving article, Why Self-Driving Cars Should Never Have Steering Wheels. Citing Google’s Chris Urmson, she adds some predictable commentary to his argument that Self-Driving Cars basically should launch at Level 5. Don’t know your Autonomous Driving (AD) Levels? Here’s a nice chart from SAE. I’ll say this one more time…technology can solve a lot of problems, but it can’t solve for human nature. I don’t think it matters whether AD is Level 5 capable. People want to feel agency, however untrained they are in the art of driving. Article coming… Continue reading

Alex Roy Digest 5.10.16: Snowden’s Self-Driving Contradiction, Ford’s Fake Cylinders

10 May

Snowden

Love or hate Edward Snowden, we all know what he stands for. PRIVACY, right? Wrong. Because Snowden clearly also believes in Self-Driving Cars (SDC’s). For someone who claims to support privacy at any cost – including what critics would call treason – it’s the height of cognitive dissonance to ALSO believe in SDCs. SDCs, but definition, require the near total abdication of privacy.

How can Snowden not see this? And which side does he ultimately fall on?

Continue reading