Never Stop Driving #25: Fall drive and falling dominos

I was shocked to read that the autonomous car company Argo AI is shutting down, its leftover parts to be split between its two main backers, Ford and VW. This is stunning evidence that autonomous technology is years, and billions and billions of dollars, away from reality. A few weeks ago Bloomberg reported that some $100 billion has been spent on autonomous-car development, yet a fully capable robotic driver remains science fiction.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Tesla is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department over claims that its vehicles can drive themselves. This probe joins a similar complaint the California DMV filed last summer.

I’m feeling like the tech euphoria is over, or maybe we’re in the middle of another round where investors look more closely at overly optimistic digital-tech promises—and not just those about autonomous vehicles. Facebook’s Meta saw its stock plunge 24% last week. Meta’s virtual reality unit, the one throwing big dollars into the Metaverse, a digital utopia that might make sure we never have to drive or leave the couch, lost $9 billion. That news caused stock analyst Jim Cramer to tearfully explain how he got Meta wrong.

I know how he feels. Earlier this year, my son and I opened a TD Ameritrade account because I thought it might teach us both some financial wizardry. We bought 28 shares of Meta thinking everyone uses Facebook, so how could Zuckerberg screw it up?

If I’ve proven yet again that I’m not fit for Goldman Sachs, I did at least choose the right app for a driving event that I recently hosted. The app is called Rallista and it allows users to plan routes and share them, and then it provides turn-by-turn directions.

During our Ohio drive event, we stopped at the Cantwell Cliffs parking lot. James Walker

I’ve organized about a half dozen similar events and they used to be very tricky affairs with maps and printed route instructions. Most of my friends want to drive, not navigate, so that meant people got lost or fretted about staying in sight of the car in front. I’ve used Rallista before but it was unreliable so I’m glad to say that the bugs have been squashed.

I started these driving events because I missed the new-car comparison tests I did while at Car and Driver and Road & Track. We keep our drives short, just two days, and have rousing evening debates about the auto industry, since we all work in it. I can’t think of a better way to keep driving alive than by helping people get on the road. With Rallista, the planning is relatively easy. Give it a go.

Here at Hagerty we’ve had a busy week. We expanded our marketplace to include timed auctions. That new service launched last Wednesday and already has several cars I’d like to buy, like this Chevy pickup. We published a new article in the “Homegrown,” series, putting the spotlight on Dave Piontek, a clever Ford engineer who built and sold a handful of cars that likely inspired Elon Musk. My colleague Brandan Gillogly brought us the best new builds from the SEMA show.

We were also very proud to finish the Redline Rebuild series on the Subaru engine. I’ve learned so much watching this engine come together in the capable hands of Davin Reckow, our longtime Redline Rebuild host. We cap off the series with a time-lapse assembly set to thumping music. Those films established Hagerty as a credible video operation. I recommend you watch them all.

Finally, remember the Hyundai Excel? That cheap and not-so-cheerful machine gave Hyundai a foothold in the United States, allowing the Korean automaker eventually to develop its own luxury-car brand, Genesis. In the latest ICONS episode, Jason Cammisa drives the newest Genesis to see if the brand is a match for the long-established Europeans.

Have a great weekend!

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    Larry, I guess I always thought that Ford and VW’s interest in this was potentially for fleet vehicles like tractor-trailers. I read enough on this topic, that the more I read, the less likely it seemed that this technology would ever make it into the mainstream. So not surprised.

    Unfortunately for all who are “believers”, I too used to think Jim Cramer was a God. To use the words of a true tactician, Alan Greenspan, Jim’s “irrational exuberance” has made him more of a pariah. But …. let’s forget about all that and get on with what’s really important – cars.

    …no autonomous driving in the near future – awww, what a shame – looks like the old song “In the 2525” by Zager & Evans isn’t coming true quite yet – people will actually have to pay attention and actively drive their vehicles…and hopefully put their “mobile devices” down while doing so! I too miss those Car and Driver Ten Best drives – from that summer camp near Unadilla – what a fun day that was when the editors let “the suits” have a turn at the wheel…one of my favorite days of the year back then!!

    Rallista is excellent relative to what’s currently available for smart phones, but I’m baffled why there aren’t both more apps out there like it and the complete absence of apps that allow gpx uploads. For 10 years now I’ve been able to create routes for cycling on my desktop then upload them to my cycling gps computer of choice (usually garmin). I’ve been tempted to just buy one and a make a custom mount to use in my car.

    I recently went on a fall drive with a german branded car club and the leader had the route on Rallista for eveyone to follow. The whole paid unpaid thing was confusing, the app not saving the route and having to go back to an email to find the route again, not smart or easy. My opinion is It worked ok and didn’t cause anyone to get lost that I was aware.

    I’ve used RidewithGps for years with great success for organizing bicycle races and bicycle rides and route planning. Not sure why another app is needed to drive a car ona given path.
    It can also support adding markers for food stops, water etc. It also permits others (if set that way) to download or access your routes for sharing. If you have a GPS you might be able to download file to load into your GPS for turn by turn.

    So RidewithGPS uses a unique device? I like Rallista because everyone has a phone. Not perfect as you say, but good enough for us.

    Holy crap! That’s a total game changer for me. I’ve been using their website for years to plan my routes for both cycling and driving, but I had no idea they had an app!

    larry let me know next 2 day ride and drive,,,thanks r ob schneider…..spring thought, we go to local 1/8 mile dragstrip, my turbo s, bolt in your 16 year old son and see if we can run with the bulls?

    I think the most interesting aspect of your piece is that Devon’s Redline Rebuild has been cancelled with little fanfare. The Subaru rebuild signaled to me that you are interested in younger followers and kind of threw Davin under the proverbial bus. You’ve also got the Barn Hunter series looking at “Radwood” cars, not what your established followers are necessarily interested in. Yeah, I know you are trying to cultivate a new younger market but don’t you got where you are based on an established group of followers and buyers.

    Huh. What makes you think we’ve canceled the series? We hope to interest all car people and strive for diverse coverage.

    My daughter worked recently with a start-up in the autonomous vehicle space as a software engineer. She felt the problem to be solved was so immense that she would probably not see true L5 autonomy in her lifetime. She’s 30 years-old. She’s also now in a different industry.

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