Greg Wyatt, our Pitt Meadows correspondent (and car enthusiast), responds to the post on the driverless car:

 

Some of us actually like to drive, navigate and have the personal freedom that the private vehicle allows. Just last week I was one of hundreds of attendees at an Audi driving school held at the Pitt Meadows airport. They gave us new Audi S4’s and we negotiated a slalom course, 1/8th mile high speed oval and skid control on a water course. A truly amazing experience for enthusiasts and those just looking for more control.

My own needs in particular and that of my associates do actually use our cars more than five percent of the time …  my personal mileage is at about 220,000 km over the last six years.  Sometime I think my poor car is going to scream for a rest.

With the amazing options that are available on some luxury vehicles, I would doubt whether those shared or driverless drivers would pass up the superb HID headlights, navigation systems, lane departure warning, backup and overhead parking cameras, wifi hot spots in the car (that one is really cool for those of us that carry around Ipads to communicate while on the road), smart cruise control to hold distances at highway speeds, all-wheel drive with torque split to each wheel.   (I have that one on my car and in our climate it is amazing especially hitting snow squalls near Prince George while climbing a steep hill.) At 34 miles per gallon highway, expense per mile is minimal except for the very expensive service provided by the German dealers.

Would shared vehicles have all these options that I presently use? Likely not. Would I be willing to give them up and operate either a shared vehicle or a driverless with less options? Double likely not.

For some of us who do not have the luxury of riding a bicycle to work and that must travel large distances in suits, we would prefer our current mode.

Comments

  1. “Would shared vehicles have all these options that I presently use? Likely not.”

    I’d like to hear Greg’s rationale behind this statement. It’s interesting to me that the features he is touting are actually computer-controls to mitigate driver error or inconsistency – such as back-up cameras, cruise control, traction control, etc. All those features are more likely to be standard on a ‘driverless’ car, not options.

  2. While reading the last sentence of this entry, I couldn’t help but think of the scenes in Mad Men of advertising executives taking the commuter train out to the suburbs. 50 years ago, taking the train was seen as the optimal way to travel long distances in suits, and was an opportunity for businessmen to read the newspaper and network.

    I once joked with a friend that it is possible to spin almost anything as an activity of the ‘elite’…and the use of ‘luxury’ is framing bicycle commuting as an option for the select, carefree few…who don’t wear suits. It is merely one option, which has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. One could also suggest that renting an apartment is a luxury — spending so much money on a property that you will never own, only the carefree elite can afford that.

  3. Dear Mr Wyatt,

    What you’ve written is lovely and all, and I am sure to you it makes perfect sense (even if it is more a case of after-the-fact rationalization) but it is based on two faulty premises.

    1. That you will not be able to obtain an on demand car service that meets your self-agrandizing “needs.” The well to do already make extensive use of such services with a human at the helm instead of a computer. With computers at the helm it will be possible for luxury car services to have a far broader economic reach since the operating costs will drop considerably.

    And, 2. You won’t be able to afford the insurance premiums to drive yourself anywhere. That more than anything else will end the era of human driven automobiles. Google’s car (effectively a first generation system) has run almost 500,000km without accident on roads populated by highly defective human drivers. In twenty years I doubt any human will be allowed to operate a motor vehicle within city limits.

    There may be economic justification for you to own your own vehicle (but considering that it’s a depreciating asset probably not) but I feel quite confident guaranteeing that the brain operating on the roads will not be yours.

    Welcome to the future.

  4. Everyone has their own preferences.
    Seems like “we would prefer our current mode” to a spare 75 minutes a day (assuming 220,000 km over the last six years at an average speed of 80 km/h.)
    His “own needs in particular and that of [his] associates” don’t appear to allow for time-saving technologies.
    Do our Pitt Meadows correspondent and his associates bake their own bread too?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *