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That's not a car - THIS is a car!

How about we engage in a little round of role-play?

To keep things simple, I’m going to stay in character but you’re going to be the marketing executive from one of the biggest luxury carmakers,
the one with the three pointed star..

So, you’re German, just over 40 and wearing a tweed jacket, skinny chinos, brogues and you’ve marked the season by tying your enormous, chunky scarf in a
complex but nonchalant manner.

You start by greeting me with a hearty handshake and show me to a table in your very nice corporate restaurant-meets-café.

I ask how things are; you huff and puff a little and trot out a couple of challenges you’re facing as an industry.

You mention the ecopolitical problems confronting much
of the world and then fret about all those young people who have no desire to drive,
let alone own, cars.

The coffee arrives and I attempt to stop you but you’ve already moved on and you’re getting into a spin about your industry and
Germany in general.

You question why your country hasn’t been able to create a Silicon Valley of its own. You’re worried about Apple bringing out a car and how to respond.

“And then there’s Tesla!” you say. “How do we deal with them? Everyone wants one and they have a business model we’ve never seen before.
You know what I’m talking about?”

Well, sort of. I explain that Tesla has certainly got everyone worried but also admit that I’ve never driven or been shuttled around in one.

“You really should,” you say. “They’re on to something quite special.”

For this part of the role-playing we now need to shift gears slightly because this is where I sample the car for the first time and you need to swap into a black suit
and assume a Latvian accent because you’re going to be the driver.

We’ll also need a big flat screen TV, some exceptionally uncomfortable seats and a few cardboard boxes to build the Tesla. As before, I’m going to play me
and walk out of the hotel and look for my car.

“Good morning,” I say, walking to the nearest Mercedes S-Class that’s tucked between some massive SUVs.

“Hello,” you say in your best Latvian accent. “Our car is over here. It’s not the Mercedes; today we drive Tesla.”

“Oh?” I say. “And why would that be? Are no BMWs or Mercedes available?”

You shrug and smile and run around to open the door.
At this point we need to bring in the stunt double because it’s quite difficult to fold myself into the back seat.

After a few funky moves I land on the back seat and I look around at all the angular surfaces and the massive screen dominating the middle of the car.

“Everything OK, sir?” you ask while swiping and poking at the big screen. “Is this your first time in a Tesla?”

“Yes,” I say, wondering where the handle is for entering and exiting the vehicle and the slab-like surfaces. “It might be my last.”

“You don’t like Tesla?’

“Let’s just see how we get on.”

As we whirr along silently I decide to call my trusty assistant to see if there’s some mistake and if we can change cars.
A few minutes later she calls me back and says all is fine and a new set of German wheels will be dispatched.
Half an hour later I’m regarding the Tesla from the kerb.

Like much of modern design it has all the charm and texture that it had when it was designed on screen, ie absolutely none.
It’s a perfect example of its digital self and therein lies the problem — it’s all angles, edges and too much screen.
It’s not comfortable to sit in, lacks that reassuring door thud and also deletes many of the elements that might
actually make it a proper car.

We swap over to the Mercedes and there’s a reassuring sense of “ahhh” for both passenger and driver.
You’re much happier behind the wheel and I’m feeling right at home in the back.

And therein lies the bigger problem, Germany Inc and too many other respectable companies get themselves in a muddle over all things tech

when they should simply focus on what they do very well and always have. Making comfortable, good looking cars.

Running the A/C system in winter.

The colder days of winter mean many car drivers switch their air conditioning off around this time of year. But is that wise?

“Baby, it’s cold outside.” Well, yes, it is – and these dark winter months mean that the car’s plenty cold enough for most people
without the use of the air conditioning.

But using air conditioning in the winter isn’t just about keeping cool.

So what benefits does it have? 

So, should I run my air con in the winter?

Yes, you absolutely should. Even if you don’t want your car to be any cooler than it is, you should run your air conditioning system at least every
couple of weeks for a short spell on full-cold (5 minutes should be fine), which will allow the coolant to circulate through the system.

This is because the coolant actually contains a lubricant that helps to keep all the rubber seals and pipework in good condition.
Failing to use your air conditioning for a long period means the coolant won’t move around, and the lubricant won’t act on the rubber parts.

That can lead to leaky seals, which can cause your coolant to ebb away, resulting in more frequent recharging or, in particularly bad instances,
systems which won’t hold gas at all and need to have their seals changed.

Is that the only reason?

No, it isn’t. Without frequent use, moisture can build up within the air vent ducts that the system uses to pipe cold air to the air vents.
This moisture can cause mould and bacteria to form, which are then blown into the car when you start the system again after weeks
or months of inactivity.

Air conditioning is also an important tool to help you maintain your visibility through the winter months. It doesn’t just cool the air in your car
– it dries it out as well.

That means using the air conditioning removes moisture in the air, which is particularly useful in the winter. It helps to keep your windscreen and
windows clear – so if you’re steaming up, turning the air conditioning on will help enormously, and it can help clear mist from the glass sooner,
enabling you to set off with clear screens earlier than you otherwise would.
Using your air conditioning can help keep your screen mist-free

But I want to be warm. Won’t air conditioning cool me down?

Not if you leave it on and turn the heater to warm. Doing this means the air conditioning system still runs, so you can keep it lubricated
and benefit from the drying effect it gives, but you get warm air into the car.

My windows mist up even with my air conditioning turned on. Why is that?

If you’ve had your air conditioning turned off for a while, the moisture that’s collected in the ducts will be blown out into the car at first, which is why
you always get a misting effect if you turn on a system that’s been off for a period of time.
This is why, if you’re running your air conditioning intermittently, it’s always sensible to do so while the car is stopped.

If the mist persists for longer than a minute or so, it could be for one of two reasons. If you’re using your air conditioning in conjunction with the
“recirculate” feature – the one that closes off the outside air to prevent fumes from entering the car – your windows will still steam up, because
air moist with your breath is being recirculated faster than it can be dried by the system.

Turning the “recirculate” function off again will usually solve the problem. If it doesn’t, you could have a problem with your air conditioning or cooling
system, so you should get your garage checked over at a garage.

What about the extra fuel it’s using?

It’s true that your air conditioning system uses more fuel when it’s turned on. But then, if you don’t have it turned on, you might need to crack a
window open to help clear the mist from your screen – and the damaging effect this has on your car’s aerodynamics will cause you to use up
around the same amount of fuel.

And if you want to avoid using your air conditioning altogether for the whole of the winter, remember that not keeping it good condition by
running it every couple of weeks could lead to a bigger bill for recharging or repair later on, making it a false economy.

Can I just leave my air conditioning switched on through the winter?

Remember that that an air conditioning system contains moving parts, so you might find that those parts wear out sooner with constant use than
if you turn the system on and off as and when it’s needed. But if you’re prepared to live with that, and the extra cost of the fuel, there’s no reason
you can’t simply leave the switch in the “on” position, although, if you select the demist position on your ventilation controls, the A/C system
will automatically operate, anyway..

We’ve entered the age of the nanny car.

You are inching toward a stoplight in a new Honda Civic, with one car ahead of you and suddenly a bright red warning flashes on the instrument panel: BRAKE. If you already have your foot on the brake, but  press harder, as the car instructs you to do, it obviously thinks it knows something you don’t.

What the Civic knows, it turns out, is the exact probability of bumping into the car ahead of you, based on my speed, the applied brake pressure and the distance to the other car’s rear bumper. Like most experienced drivers, Iyou've approached stoplights thousands of times when there’s at least one car ahead of you.|Your brain-foot interface always manages to prevent a collision. The Civic’s algorithm apparently doesn’t count on you pressing the brake harder when needed—without even thinking about it.

Such autonomous-driving technologies are becoming commonplace on cars, as the cost of cameras, sensors, software and sophisticated displays plummets. A fully self-driving car is still years away, but technical aids are now helping millions of drivers parallel park, stay in their lane, avoid tailgating, avert collisions and even recover from a dangerous skid instead of careening off the road.

The only catch: Your car will increasingly tell you what to do, and take control of the vehicle if you don’t comply.

These nanny cars will probably improve safety and save lives, despite the mistaken impression many drivers have that they will always be better at driving than a computer. Driver error is a factor in around 90% of the roughly 35,000 traffic deaths per year. Override technologies won’t make driving perfectly safe, but they’re likely to prevent some deaths, by saving drivers from their own mistakes.

In the meantime, however, we’re going to have to get used to cars that are a new kind of backseat driver. Like most new car technology, autonomous systems started out on luxury cars and are now filtering into the mainstream fleet. Virtually all automakers offer some self-driving features, usually as an optional package. As costs continue to fall, some of these features will show up as standard equipment. Honda calls its autonomous features “driver-assistive technologies” and offers them as an optional package, costing around $1,000, on some but not all models.

The BRAKE alert on the Civic was a feature known as forward-collision warning, which tells the driver something bad might be about to happen, but doesn’t actually intervene. Honda’s system can go a step further and apply the brakes for you, if a collision seems imminent; that’s called collision-mitigation braking. Another system tracks the lane markers on a highway and sounds an alert if you drift outside the center of the lane without using your turn signal. If you don’t do anything, the car will recenter itself in the lane. Yet another nannybot can tell if the car is leaving the road, and steer it back onto the pavement. And of course many cars already prevent you from using certain dashboard functions, such as Bluetooth pairing or entering an address into the navigation system, lest you lose focus, crash, and sue the automaker.
But not when driving, because you’ll probably sue us if something goes wrong.

I encountered lane-change resistance on a car, which was equipped with optional nannytech similar to that on the Civic. As I glided from one lane to the other (without signaling), the steering wheel suddenly vibrated and a yellow light flashed on the heads-up display projected onto the windshield. It definitely got my attention, while at the same time the car gently tried to recenter itself in the lane I was departing. It was easy for me to outmuscle the car and move into the other lane. I suppose the next step in this sort of oversight might be a Siri-like voice saying, “hey dummy, try using your blinker for once!”

One of the coolest self-driving features is adaptive cruise control, which speeds and slows the car based on the traffic around you. The driver sets a maximum speed, which you’ll cruise at on an open highway. But if there’s traffic or a car cuts in front of you, sensors detect how close the car up ahead is, and backs off accordingly. Then the car speeds up again as the distance increases. It can be uncomfortable trusting the technology at first, because you’re sure it won’t slow the car quickly enough and will promptly cause a pileup. iI works though, and instead of having to interrupt cruise control and activate it again every time there’s traffic, you set it once and let the car do the rest. I’ve driven hundreds of miles on adaptive cruise control and learned to love it.

There’s usually an option to turn some of these systems off, if they turn out to be annoying. If you’re a lazy jerk who hates using a turn signal when you change lanes, for instance, you might get fed up with the beeps or flashes from the lane-departure warning system, and deactivate it. Other features take some getting used to. Some of Cadillac’s autonomous sensors, for instance, make the driver’s seat vibrate when the car wants to get your attention. It’s jarring at first—but it works.

The fatal crash of a Tesla Model S sedan in Florida in May brought some bad publicity to self-driving technology. The driver had activated the car’s misnamed “autopilot” feature, which failed to detect a tractor-trailer crossing the road up ahead, perhaps because glare interfered with the vehicle’s sensors. The car hit the truck, killing the Tesla driver. Despite the name of its system, Tesla says autopilot is only meant to assist the driver, who must remain alert and ready to take over the wheel. In that unfortunate case, the driver seems to have overestimated the car’s capability, rather than his own.

Autonomous technology will hit other speed bumps. In the new Cadillac CT6, while backing down a driveway, which had a grade of perhaps 15%, the seat began to pulse, something lit up on the dashboard and the car abruptly stopped. Sensors in the rear of the car had detected level ground, where the driveway flattened out, and mistook that for an object darting into its path—then applied automatic braking. The system screwed up, but if it had detected a pet or kid suddenly darting into danger, and done the same thing,
then that would be a much more desirable outcome.

The idea of car sharing has one huge drawback - slobs.

After I retired from the energy conservation and combustion engineering business, I needed something to occupy my time and through the influence of my
radio show experience, I ended up owning a garage for 16 years.

The objective of that exercise was to provide the average car owner with an assured quality of service at an honest and reasonable cost.

Why did I ever get into that game? Because of the horror stories that the radio show produced from car owners being blatantly ripped off.

Over the years, fortunately, I identified another group of independently owned garages that also provided honest and competent repair services.

The dealers and Canadian Tire and Sears continued to be questionable in their practices. Sears went out of the auto repair business,
the others still provide a very spotty track record.

One of the things that I insisted upon was that I test drive every car we repaired, before calling the owner to say it was ready.

A proportion of the cars I drove made we wish I could get a shower right afterward.

Spare change scattered everywhere, which is a temptation we manfully resisted; a quarter inch of dust on the dashboard;
wet newspapers all over the foot wells; a strong smell of tobacco smoke and even, yes, dirty diapers behind the seats.

All this and more spoke to the problem that many drivers have actually no pride in the condition of the cars they drive.

Which brings me to the subject of shared driving.
As an engineer, the applied logic that states that a private car spends nearly 90% of its' life standing still and unused appeals to me,
in that surely something could be done to improve this condition and keep a lot of cars off the road by utilising some of them more efficiently.

The car sharing idea, though, will not reduce emissions since running one car full time produces the same pollutant effect as 10 cars
running only 10% of the time. It would, however, reduce traffic congestion substantially.

What the bureaucrats in their ivory towers have failed to realise is that the slobs that leave used diapers in cars will still be around.
In fact, they are likely to embrace the idea of leaving their mess for someone else to clean up.

If this happens, the car sharing idea will die a sudden death.
If the car has to be returned to base for servicing and cleaning every time it is used, the economics will not work out well.

The only way that car sharing can work is if the car is passed from hand to hand for long periods of time.

And based on my years of experience, my reaction to this idea is "Good luck with that".

Will the car become nothing more than a large microwave oven on wheels?

Technology is the driving force in business, industry and the surveillance-control spectrum of what’s becoming an apparent totalitarian-type of society couched in – and implemented – under the guise of ‘smart technology’.

Besides microwave energy tech devices that now are capable of opening or closing our front doors while we are away at work or, perhaps, some other apparent ‘fabulous’ feature which can be hacked into by some two-bit, half-sophisticated hacker, we now have the push for the “self-driving car.”

Self-driving cars are the “dream teams’” next consumer commodity that we are being programmed and acculturated to accept, want and, especially, purchase.  Don’t believe that?  Well, please do some research about it. 

If you are concerned about the utility companies’ AMI Smart Meters being forced upon you, your  homes and the EMF (electro motive force) and RF (radio frequency) they produce; microwave ovens leakages and microwave oven-cooked food deficiencies; Wi-Fi in schools, your place of employment or elsewhere, especially the proposed Wi-Fi in the sky—G5, then maybe you ought to contemplate or do a reality check on what will happen to your physiology  that sitting in a self-driving car with a radar dish directing your life will do.  Its radio frequencies just may not be what you as a consumer-owner will want to become involved with, even as a passenger in a rental car.  Think about the ramifications of sitting under a small functioning radar panel, dish or system!  Read what the World Health Organization has to say about radar.. Radar in the family car?

Don’t we have enough potential problems being forced upon us from all the consumer products that contain radioactive materials?  However, the airlines now are considering placing RFID chips on to passengers’ luggage bags to track them.  Whoopee!!!  More and more EMF contamination—we’re living in a sea of brain-damaging EMFs/RFs.  When will we awaken to that fact?

Control of the vehicle is in the ‘hands’ of technology and the computer program designed to ‘drive’.  We all know how screwed up computer software is and can be.  Personally, I loathe it!  I feel if Henry Ford were to have invented the first automobile with the same efficiency of many of the software programs and computer tech stuff, we’d still be shoveling horse manure out of our garages!

Technology is being forced onto us for the apparent ultimate reason of the total control they can implement as easily as possible and without our recognizing it for what it truly is.

Furthermore, technology is the perfect addiction meme that society has bought into even though it’s making life more problematic on levels we have yet to realize—loss of jobs and employment potentials; loss of personal autonomy; loss of unalienable rights—even constitutional freedoms!  That, however, I think is the ultimate goal of the controllers and the cabal who program us into cooperating willingly – literally buying into it – and not questioning or challenging their Hegelian Dialectic principles of manipulation: problem-reaction-solution.

What I can’t seem to fathom is how humans are so willing to become addicted—and it’s a verifiable addiction]—to something rather ephemeral—even holographic in a sense—but very real and controlling as this technology.

Only 40% of Obama’s electric cars are on the road. None meet the 150-mile-per gallon standard he promised.

Last year 17.5 million cars, SUVs, and light-weight trucks were sold in America. A mere 115,000 of those (two-thirds of one percent) were electric vehicles.
Let’s press the rewind button back to the 2008 presidential campaign trail, in which Barack Obama declared:

    "We will help states like Michigan build the fuel-efficient cars we need, and we will get one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years."

In March 2009, two months after he became President, Obama delivered a speech at the Southern California Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in which he similarly asserted:

    "We will put one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on America’s roads by 2015."

In these closing months of 2016, it’s reasonable to ask how those green promises worked out.

In short: abysmally.

Governments at both the state and national level have tried to persuade consumers to buy electric vehicles by offering rebates totaling thousands of dollars a pop.
But only about 400,000 are currently on US roads, including those purchased by government bodies.
The only way we reach a million is by counting all the electric vehicles in the entire world.

Despite spending billions, Obama delivered less than half of the electric cars in the time frame he promised.
And let’s not forget his insistence that these cars would achieve the equivalent of 150 miles per gallon.

A 2016 US Department of Energy list of the 11 most efficient electric vehicles indicates that not a single one meets that criteria.

BMW’s i3 achieves equivalent 124 miles per gallon.
The Chevrolet Spark is in second place at 119, and Vokswagen’s e-Golf is in third at 116.

The 11 best-case-scenario electric vehicles on the road eight years later fall 25% short of what Obama said would be entirely normal.
Between them, they average only 112 miles per gallon. In other words, Obama and his speech writers were pulling numbers out of the air in 2008,
confidently promising to meet goals they had no reason to believe were actually feasible.

Time and again, we run up against this problem.
Anyone can stand at a podium and promise to make all manner of green fantasies come true. But even US presidents with billions at their
command aren’t magicians.

Barring unexpected developments, changing the way we fuel our cars and heat our homes will be a long term, gradual process.

There aren’t any silver bullets. We need to stop imagining that there are.

The ultimate cyclist put down.

Jeremy Clarkson’s doesn’t hesitate to let you know what he thinks.

It’s because of his sharp wit and perhaps quick moving fists that he has never been short on controversies, and has also been let go by the BBC back in Spring of 2015.
In his latest column with The Sun, Jeremy Clarkson rips apart Jeremy Vine’s video, where he captured the road rage of a female motorist, as he was in front of her riding on a bicycle, causing a traffic blockage. We know Clarkson is one to praise all things that create massive POWEEERRRR and belittle those machines that try to save the earth, so this latest column is right up Clarkson’s comfort zone as he presents another side of the argument that’s rarely seen through road rage videos on Youtube.

In case you don’t know Jeremy Vine, he’s a presenter for the BBC Radio 2 program who bikes from his Chiswick home to the Radio 2 Studios in Oxford Circus. He also happens to be a cycling safety campaigner. Vine had uploaded a video to his Facebook page, capturing a motorist unleashing a verbal tirade upon him for slowly traveling down a very tight and packed road in Kensington, West London.

As a response to this apparent motorist witch hunt, Clarkson wrote up an awesome response that presents some of the frustrations felt by fellow motorists that has come across to similar sanctimonious and self-righteous bicyclists. Reading the column below reminds us why Jeremy Clarkson is awesome and deserves all of the riches he’s raking in.

LAST weekend, while driving through the Cotswolds, I found myself stuck behind two cyclists who were riding alongside one another.
Of course they were.
Elevated these days to godlike status by modern environmental thinking, cyclists are propelled from place to place on a wave of self-righteousness
and a pious belief that they’re the new knights of the road.

Five days later, near the South Coast, the same thing happened again, only this time it was a lone cyclist, his gnarled and nut-brown thighs beating out a Victorian rhythm as he crawled slowly up the hill, proud that behind his wizened, Lycra- clad buttocks there was a queue of cars stretching half way to Dover.

Then in London, we have hundreds of them, ignoring the new multi-million pound cycle lane on the Embankment so they can make a nuisance of themselves on the main carriageway.
There was a time when you could take these morons to task. You could shake your fist and shout and point out that it’s absurd for a fully grown adult to be
playing in public on what is a kids’ toy.

But not any more…

Today they all wear helmet cameras to record your rage.
Then, when they get home, they upload it to YouTube and you’re made to look like a short-tempered fool.

Which brings me to the BBC radio ­presenter, and keen cyclist, Jeremy Vine, who this week uploaded some footage of a woman who’d become frustrated with his slow progress through Kensington, West London.
In it, he can be seen cycling down the middle of the road, deliberately blocking the cars in his wake, and when one gets too close he stops
— still in the middle of the road — so he can record the woman driver’s foul-mouthed tirade.jeremy vine cyclist road rage

The message is clear.

He’s been verbally assaulted while on a noble quest to save the polar bear.

But hang on a minute, Vine. How did you know that the woman in the car behind wasn’t rushing to see her injured child in hospital?
How did you know there wasn’t a pregnant girl on the back seat who was about to give birth?

Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to be stuck behind a sanctimonious cyclist when you really are in a genuine, tearing hurry?
Vine says he was cycling in the middle of the road because that way he’s unlikely to be hit by people opening their car doors without looking.

Really? Because if safety is your number one priority, why are you wearing a helmet festooned with GoPros?

Are you not aware that it was, in all probability, a camera attached to Michael Schumacher’s helmet that caused his terrible head injuries?
In fact, if safety is your number one priority, why are you on a bicycle in the first place?

Of course, it is not illegal to cycle slowly down the middle of a narrow street. But it is selfish and annoying for everyone else.

How would he like it, I wonder, if I followed him around for a month, blowing gently on the back of his ears?

That’s not illegal either, but after a few days I’m sure he’d turn round and have a strong word.

I may try it.

Clarkson is right here in that tantamount to safety is the ability for motorists and cyclists to respect the rules of the road and to respect each other.
It’s unclear what happened right before, during, and after the entire video was recorded, but what is clear is that Jeremy Vine’s sense of cycling
and road entitlement has overtaken his ability to exercise common sense and the ability to share the road. While we don’t condone the driver’s
behavior in this case either, this entire situation could have been prevented had everyone just worked together instead of acting like entitled jerks.

Prepare to be totally underwhelmed by 2021’s so-called autonomous cars.

BMW, Ford, and Uber have all recently said they plan to have “fully autonomous” cars ready to drive themselves on the road in 2021.
Ford says its fleet of vehicles will lack steering wheels and offer a robotic taxi service.

But don’t expect to toss out your driver's license in 2021. Five years isn’t long enough to create vehicles good enough at driving to roam
extensively without human input, say the researchers working on autonomous cars.
They predict that Ford and others will meet their targets by creating small fleets of vehicles limited to small, controlled areas.

Probably what Ford would do to meet their 2021 milestone is have something that provides low-speed taxi service limited to certain roads
—and don’t expect it to arrive when it's raining.

Many media outlets and members of the public are overinterpreting statements from Ford and other companies that are less specific than they appear.
The dream of being able to have a car drive you wherever you want to go in the city, country, or continent remains distant.
It ain’t going to be five years, the hype has gotten totally out of sync with reality.

One of the main reasons that 2021’s robotic fleets will be more limited than some people expect is the difficulty that software has understanding the world.

Computers can react to things much faster than a human, and self-driving cars’ sensors can look in many directions at once.
But software is at a significant disadvantage when it comes to interpreting what it “sees” to identify and understand objects and situations,
such as a traffic cop gesturing in the road. Nor is software very good at planning how to deal with out-of-the-ordinary situations.

Figuring out how sensors limit the situations a vehicle can reliably handle on its own is one of the most crucial challenges for companies working
on autonomous driving.

The crash earlier this year that killed a driver using a Tesla sedan’s Autopilot feature underlines the problem. Tesla said the car’s sensors did not detect
the side of the tractor trailer it ran into.

Because the real world and its roads are a complicated place, it will take a lot of testing to be sure that automated driving technology has run up
against all the scenarios it needs to handle to be reliable.

Weather is also a problem for automated cars. Rain, snow, and hail challenge the laser-based lidar sensors that many prototypes rely on to track
their surroundings in 3-D, for example.

It's all about inexpensive, reliable, convenient mobility.

We are nearing the "second great electric-car extinction." The first extinction happened after the financial crisis, when numerous electric-vehicle
startups went bankrupt and vanished.

Since then, the EV market has been dominated by the single significant survivor, Tesla, and by the experiments of the major automakers.
The best-known example of the latter is probably the Nissan Leaf.

But various other all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids dot the automotive landscape. And they aren't long for this world.

That's because the narrative in the future of mobility is shifting. Since the mid-2000s, it's been all about alternatives to gas-powered propulsion, chiefly EVs.
The remaining, ambitious players for this story are of course Tesla, which is hoping to bring out a mass-market vehicle, the Model 3, in 2017;
and General Motors, which wants to rival the Model 3's 200-miles of range with its own all-electric Bolt, slated to hit the road in late 2016.

Tesla sales have been growing year after year, but overall EV sales are declining.
It's possible that GM's Bolt will validate the long-range concept, something that Tesla has kind of already done, albeit at a much higher price point.

A sexier idea

But the real issue is that the sexier idea right now in the car-tech realm is self-driving.
Uber is rolling out a small fleet of autonomous Volvo SUVs in Pittsburgh, Ford has committed to a fully autonomous test fleet by 2021,
GM is talking about using its $500-million investment in Lyft and its acquisition of self-driving startup Cruise Automation to set up a self-driving fleet in big cities,
and Google's work on its driverless Google Car continues apace.
For its part, Tesla has stressed that the Model 3 launch and the continued development of its Autopilot technology are the company's highest priorities.

To get to full autonomy, you don't really need to go electric. Plain old gas-powered platforms are fine.
They're available in massive numbers, are large enough in the case of SUVs to lug around all the processing power, sensors, and radars you need to
advanced autonomy, and can be refueled in a snap.
No waiting around for an hour or two, which you're up against even with fast electric recharging.

The self-driving all-electric car is an elegant solution to several problems, from the theory of global warming to highway fatalities to time lost in traffic.
But it's also two new technologies being engineered at the same time. Focus on one or the other and you probably stand a better chance of winning.

The pace of driverless advancements also seems to be accelerating faster than what's happening with battery chemistry, meaning that widespread
electric mobility for the masses might not happen before cars can drive themselves.

It's obviously unclear whether consumers will actually want cars that drive themselves, outside of ride-hailing fleets and taxi services.
I don't thnk that they will.

The tech is currently expensive, and even if the cost comes down, it will still be an add-on that has to be absorbed by someone, eventually.
It remains to be seen whether car buyers will want to cough up a few thousand more on the purchase just to get a hyperactive version of cruise control.

But it is clear that the advanced-mobility storyline has changed, probably sooner than anyone expected.

And it isn't about what makes the cars go — it's about who controls them once they get going.

Other blogs worth reading

41) In praise of the good old station wagon.

44) Future shock, the unending complication of electronic devices in you car.

47)  The case for annual safety inspections.

51) The piston engine is going to be with us for a very, very long time.

52) Avoiding rip offs in the car repair business.

58) Electronic brake force distribution.

61) Hydrogen vs electricity - no contest.

63) Why flushing brake oil makes sense.

64) When should I change my oil?

66) W/W antifreeze and long term warranties.

67) Nitrogen

68) Recirc A/C

70) Electric car radiation danger

71) Fuel saving devices that don't

75) Scheduling appointments.

78 Modern design of alternators and batteries.