First Look: What George Hotz Will Probably Announce Tomorrow

29 Nov

George Hotz

Don’t believe everything you read in the media.” – George Hotz, 11/29/2016

George Hotz — the infamous hacker known for unlocking the iPhone, reverse engineering the Playstation 3, turning down a job offer from Elon Musk, and almost launchingthe world’s fanciest cruise control”, A.K.A. the Comma One, an aftermarket Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) he claimed would replicate Tesla Autopilot for $1000 — is back.

Is he BACK back? He’s certainly up to something, because at 1358hr EST today he tweeted the following, along with a video we’re going to analyze:

Read the rest over at The Drive

Fiat Heir Lapo Elkann Arrested For Partying Like Only He Can. Also, Allegedly Faking A Kidnapping.

28 Nov

Lapo Elkann

This story has everything: Male escorts! Cocaine! Sports Cars! Italian billionaires! Yes, Lapo Elkann is back in action, showing all those other party boys how to make decadence great again. How? Elkann — Fiat heir and the best dressed man in automotive — was arrested in New York this past weekend for allegedly faking his own kidnapping, according to The Daily Beast.

Of course, the story is incredible. How could it be otherwise? Let me tell you, Elkann never disappoints.

An NYPD source told The Beast that Elkann arrived in the city Thursday night, hooked up with a 29-year old make escort, and they “holed themselves up inside a Manhattan housing project” where they began throwing down alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.

Well, that’s a start. Hard to believe a guy who looks like Elkann would need to pay an escort, let alone someone to party with in New York. Hasn’t he been to The Box? Or Provocateur? Or 1 Oak? But those venues don’t kick off until late. Maybe he couldn’t wait.

Read the rest over at The Drive

Eleven Worst Cars For A Cannonball Run Record Attempt

27 Nov

Cannonball Run

What is the best car for a full on assault on the Cannonball Run record? I’m not talking about rallies by any name. I’m talking about a full-on, balls out race from New York to Los Angeles, where the right gear and police avoidance are paramount.

By now the right cars should be obvious. A supercar on a Cannonball Run? Try sneaking through JFK in a Bin Laden costume.

Sadly, people still don’t want to listen. Let’s face facts. The wrong car will lead to one of two outcomes. Death. Or jail. Actually, there’s a third. A visit to a mechanic, assuming you didn’t bring one with you, in which case you’ve probably already lost. To save those with too much time and money on their hands a lot of time, money and jail time, here’s a list of vehicles to avoid for your next illegal cross-country race:

Read the rest over at The Drive…

The Coldest Cannonball Run Record. On Record.

25 Nov

Cannonball

“Absolutely terrible.”
“The dumbest thing I’ve ever done.”
“It’s Stalingrad. On wheels.”

These are just a few of the things my teammate Zach Bowman and I said to each other a little over a year ago, on what has to be the craziest, bravest, and coldest thing I’ve ever done: 2823 miles, non-stop except for gas, in an open-wheeled, wooden-framed, convertible 2014 Morgan 3-wheeler.

Why? To set — to the best of my knowledge — the first (and possibly last) 3-wheeled “Cannonball Run” record ever, from New York City to Redondo Beach, California.

It rained. It snowed. My catheter froze. (Don’t worry, it was external.) Also, it tugged. Every time it caught on something underneath the car. Why? Because I ran the tube down my leg and through a whole we’d drilled through the metal floor of the Morgan.

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An Open Letter to the Tesla Saboteurs

23 Nov

Tesla

I woke this morning to news of the alleged sabotage of the Tesla Supercharger in Barstow, California. Sad! But is it sad? Yes, but not for the reasons you think. A rising tide of Tesla hate—the sabotage, the fake news, the tireless trolls—got me thinking. If you’re judged by your enemies, Elon Musk should have Secret Service protection. By that standard, Musk should be President. Whatever their motive, the saboteurs have Tesla all wrong, as do all of Tesla’s enemies.

Even if you hate Tesla, you must love Tesla.

It’s true. Literally everything the critics hate about Tesla is in fact a strength. Kool-Aid? Here’s a vat of it, for even if everything Tesla’s critics say is true, Tesla has made the American automotive industry great again, and for that every American should all be proud.

Let’s deconstruct the arguments of those who would rather see the Fremont factory crushed between tectonic plates, with Musk tied down spreadeagled to a Space X landing platform during rocket testing.

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Alex Roy’s Best & Worst of the LA Auto Show

21 Nov

LA Auto Show

I grew up on Ten Best Lists. With the arrival of the internet, I came to love Ten Worst lists as well. The problem is, Buzzfeedification has led to the dilution of list quality. When The Empire Strikes Back isn’t at the top of a Star Wars list (and Attack of the Clones isn’t at the bottom) someone was born after 1990. Someone didn’t know enough to care, or care enough to know.

This — my Best & Worst of the LA Autoshow, assembled after several days of insomnia, four flights, three packs of Airborne and a gallon of Imodium — is an icepick in the face of Buzzfeedification.

My colleagues have already weighed in with the Jaguar I-Pace, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Chevy Bolt, Porsche 911 RSR & Hyundai Ioniq. All great, but it reads like a laundry list of the obvious. Show up with anything new/good, and you’ll rise above the flotsam of a calcified industry. The Stelvio looks great, but does it deserve to be on the same list as the I-Pace?

The Best

And The Dumbest Criminal In The Automotive World Trophy Goes To…

21 Nov

Car Theft

I’ve always wondered what goes on in my garage at night. You know, after I hand the keys to the attendant. Will he take my Morgan out for a spin? Then I survey row upon row of AMG, RS, and M cars, and I know beloved jalopy is safe. There are cameras everywhere. This is Manhattan. If someone saw it cruising around, it’d be on Instagram in fifteen minutes, and it wouldn’t take long to figure out where it came from.

I’m not saying stealing cars is ever a good idea — although trying can be fun — but I AM saying that stealing cars entrusted to you by the owner is a VERY bad idea.

Incredibly, It looks like one Umair Bhatti — the man behind London-based sports car storage business Garaged.comis exactly that dumb.

Read the rest over at The Drive

We Need An NRA-Type Lobby for Human Driving

15 Nov

NRA For Human Driving

I love cars, and I love driving. I’m lucky enough to spend my life around amazing cars and drivers as passionate about them as I am. Most, I assume, are good people. The others? They’re killing it for the rest of us. Being passionate about cars isn’t the same thing as being passionate about driving. If it was, insurance rates for Evos and STIs would be cheap. For Ferraris? Free, except for theft coverage.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for autonomy for those who need it, but human driving—and enthusiast culture with it—is doomed unless those who would claim to love it do more than lease high-end cars and buy aftermarket wheels and exhausts. If enthusiasts want to retain the freedom to drive anything, anywhere, at any time, driving has to become as sacred as the cars on the posters on our childhood bedroom walls.

We face two possible futures, with but a single bitter dose of medicine separating one from the other. There’s still hope—if we take action before it’s too late.

Read the rest over at The Drive

What Tesla’s Paid Supercharging Announcement Really Means

7 Nov

Tesla Supercharging

It couldn’t last forever. Tesla will begin charging for use of its Supercharging network, according to a statement released this morning. Free charging was one of Tesla’s big selling points, but it wasn’t the only one. Tesla possesses the largest high-speed EV charging network in the world, but with wait times climbing and the Model 3 inbound, Tesla needs a lot more infrastructure, and someone has to pay for it.

But there’s a lot more going on here than just charging.

Here’s what we know:

“Teslas ordered after January 1, 2017, 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) will be included annually so that all owners can continue to enjoy free Supercharging during travel. Beyond that, there will be a small fee to Supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”

“These changes will not impact current owners or any new Teslas ordered before January 1, 2017, as long as delivery is taken before April 1, 2017.”

Now let’s read between the lines, and also pose some questions:

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The Cancelled Comma One Would Have Embarrassed The Car Industry

31 Oct

Comma One

George Hotz—the infamous hacker known for unlocking the iPhone and reverse engineering the Playstation 3—has cancelled his first product, the Comma One, an aftermarket Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) he claimed would replicate Tesla Autopilot for $1000.

Hotz’s initial tweets suggested his move was in response to an inquiry from NHTSA, stating that he “would much rather spend life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers,” and that Comma.ai would be “exploring other products and markets.” Twenty-four hours after the cancellation, Hotz called me from China. Asked if he was genuinely intimidated by NHTSA’s letter, he said, “I’ve got two words for you: stealth mode.”

“Stealth mode” sure doesn’t sound like he’s backing down.

Does anyone really believe Hotz would give up with $3M+ in the bank and VC firm Andreessen Horowitz behind him? Hotz could have responded to NHTSA. He just didn’t want to. With a lean operation, a growing pool of crowdsourced data and seemingly unlimited swagger, Hotz just bought himself press, time and additional mythos. Three things every founder prays for in bed at night — courtesy of the NHTSA.

Most importantly, Hotz has a working prototype — which I recently witnessed in action — that was functionally superior and theoretically safer than the ten legacy manufacturer systems I tested just last week.

Read the rest over at The Drive