I’m thrilled to announce that after four months of strong growth, my podcast Autonomous Cars with Marc Hoag finally has its own home on the web! With 41 episodes at the time of this writing, ACMH is the only twice-weekly podcast on autonomous cars…. in the world.
Back in December, I already wrote about why 2020 will be the most important year in automobile history, and cited an interview with Elon Musk anticipating autonomous (and electric) cars to outnumber human-driven (and, of course, gasoline-powered) cars by about the 2060s-2080s.
Well, it turns out those forecasts were pretty accurate:
On the one hand, this isn’t an entirely surprising proclamation coming from the CEO of the company behind cars with “no substitute.” Porsche is, and always has been, about as pure and distilled a form of automotive perfection as has ever been made. And while the same could arguably be said for the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and other divine works of metallurgy and engineering, no other marque has married together race car finesse with every day driving practicality and reliability with such virtuosity. So CEO Oliver Blume’s claim that “one wants to drive a Porsche by oneself” and that “an iPhone belongs in your pocket and not on the road” is a bold — not to mention cheeky — but admittedly fair point. Arguably, an autonomous Porsche sounds about as sensible as an autonomous horse.
But is the looming horizon of autonomous cars necessarily antithetical to the very essence of driving as an art, for pleasure, for sport, and for just plain fun?
When the Volkswagen emissions scandal broke late last year, it was a pretty big deal. Indeed, Leonardo DiCaprio is even rumored to be producing a film about it. But questions abounded about how the executive team could have allowed such a thing to happen. My theory was that they did not; rather, a small group of engineers had independently orchestrated the entire thing in order to satisfy otherwise impossible engineering demands. It appears I was right. The question then becomes, what happens next? Where does VW go from here? Electric. Obviously.
Fortunately, only one of those statements is true. Unfortunately however, they’re both so mind-bendingly absurd, you’d be hard pressed to guess which one is pure poppycock.
Care to place your bets on which one is true? The least illogical of the two, surely? Arguably, there’s at least some logic — if you’re drunk, comically pro-oil, or believe that solar power plants should be illegal because they will drain the sun of its energy — that electric cars could be mandated to carry backup gasoline tanks, just as cars need to carry a spare tire, no matter how utterly stupid that would be.
In contrast, the notion that “driverless” cars must include drivers is per se a contradiction, and cannot possibly be true. Obviously.
So which is it? Take a long, deep breath. And three shots of your favorite hard alcohol. Maybe seven. Better yet, just pass out and don’t even continue reading because it will likely cause your blood to boil and your face to explode.