Much talk has been made over the past week of turning the auto industry’s manufacturing might into a so-called Arsenal of Health. In the U.S. and Canada, federal governments have turned to automakers for production of much-needed ventilators to save lives of coronavirus patients. Meanwhile, breweries and distilleries have swapped to hand sanitizer production.
Turning on a dime to crank out ventilators and face masks isn’t an overnight proposition, but an emergency effort to expand the availability of life-saving supplies would go a long way to save lives. The Detroit Three are already on it. Tesla, too.
Yesterday’s questionable study regarding self-driving cars — in which the authors foresee a veritable utopia brought on by ultra-efficient, humanless robot cars — inspired the usual twinge of nausea in this author. Beware of any study that gleefully brushes aside massive job losses in certain sectors in order to tout increases in others. It’s usually the work of a zealot or someone who stands to bolster their personal wealth.
In this case, it also stands to separate you from the tactile experience of driving. Yes, there’s plenty of people who would gladly turn over their commute duties to an array of sensors and a digital brain — I think we’d all prefer that in stop-and-go situations — but if future roadways require a complete absence of human drivers in order to hit peak efficiency, we’d also be giving up the ability to de-stress. Driving means different things to different people. For some, it’s therapy.
Just how much of your driving is non-essential?
Kenneth Feinberg, the man behind Volkswagen’s claims fund, stated American VW TDI customers should expect an offer that will make them very happy in an interview published this weekend.
When asked by Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (via Reuters) what he will offer the more than 500,000 Americans who own dirty diesels, he replied, “I can promise that there will be a generous solution.”
What that solution will be is anyone’s guess, including Feinberg’s.
“The jury is still out, and at the moment all options are up for debate: cash payments, buybacks, repairs, replacements with new cars,” he said.
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