Self-driving cars are coming. Thanks to visions of Skynet and Terminators, this is a frightening proposition to many people. Rather than being seen as an unparalleled convenience, autonomous cars have often been viewed as a soul-sucking leech on the driving experience. But that’s a shame, because if you begin to see cars as appliances, the appeal of an autonomous automobile is enormous.
“Where’s the rest of it?”
“Where do you park that thing, on your pool table at home?”
“Hey man, isn’t that Barbie’s car?”
Drive in a Scion iQ and you can be sure you’ll hear jokes like these multiple times per day, each comedian thinking he is the only one to ever loft such creative barbs at the diminutive car and its embarrassed driver.
Yes, the iQ is incredibly small. It actually would fit on a pool table. Barbie though, could never drive it because inside, everything is full-size. The windshield, seats and side windows might as well be from a Corolla, which makes driving the iQ seem like a perfectly respectable thing to do. It *feels* normal. But it’s not.
Back in February, after Penske had given up on selling the Smart in the U.S., we said the Smart ForTwo needed “a basic rework, mechanically,” a lower price, and some new product to succeed here. We also said (I’m so Smart) that there was an obvious failure of marketing.
Then we heard zilch about new product, except for the testing of the Smart electric drive (60-mile range), which costs $599 a month to lease. Around the world 1,500 “passionate” early adopters are providing data, 250 of them in the U.S. Guys, the electric Smart isn’t news anymore, even in the New York Times.
Now, yesterday in fact, we hear that the new generation Smart ForTwo (which may share platform or mechanicals with the Renault Twingo) will have gas, diesel or electric power options but won’t be around until 2014. So the company is producing, with Renault’s help, a Forvision electric concept (above), with a lot of plastic and roof-mounted solar panels. Yup, it will be at Frankfurt.
Maybe you’ve wondered what it takes to produce the most expensive car commercial ever. Or perhaps, like many card-holding car enthusiasts, you harbor an unquenchable desire to watch sleek coupes scream through empty roads (or in some cases, whoosh silently across them).
Maybe you just fantasize about driving cars through a shopping mall while accompanied by pretty girls.
This week’s batch of car vids features a raging Jaguar, a silent Tesla, the making of Poseidon and a shopping-mall trip like no other.