A Speed Limit On German Highways: ‘Like Talking Gun Control In The U.S.’

How fast are Germany’s highways, famously without speed limits? Tom Hanks described driving a Volkswagen camper van on an autobahn:
“No matter how fast you’re driving in Germany, someone is driving faster than you,” Hanks said on Late Show with David Letterman in 2012. “When another car passes you when you’re driving as fast as physics allow … a blur goes past you. Sometimes it’s a red blur, sometimes it’s white.”
Now that may change. The transportation minister convened up a panel to find ways to cut carbon emissions from transportation. The panel’s working paper leaked to the German press last weekend, and one proposal was to impose a speed limit.
Quicker than a passing German car, Transportation Minister Andreas Scheuer changed gears. A speed limit was “against all common sense,” the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported him saying. Then he canceled the working group’s next scheduled meeting.
Some 70 percent of German highways have no limits on speed. Whether to force drivers to slow down is a perennial debate with entrenched opponents: in one lane, the powerful car industry and its allies in government; in the opposing direction, environmentalists and safety advocates. The Handelsblatt newspaper compared the fever pitch of the public discussion to Americans’ polarized views on gun control and abortion.
The latest iteration of the speed limit idea emerged out of the National Platform on the Future of Mobility, a government committee tasked with finding ways to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, Reuters reports. The committee’s ideas include a 130 kph [81 mph] speed limit and a fuel tax hike, as well as the end of tax breaks for diesel cars, according to Reuters. When asked to provide further details, the panel declined to answer NPR’s emailed questions.
The Green party supports the proposal. So does the national police union. On Friday deputy federal chairman Michael Mertens compared his country with neighboring Austria and estimated that Germany could prevent at least 1 in 4 deaths by imposing a limit on all its roads.
“In this country, some people legally drive 200 or 250 kilometers per hour [124 to 155 mph],” he told Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “To be clear, that’s crazy. At this rate nobody can control their car in stressful situations.”
By comparison, there is no U.S. road system without speed limits, Joe Young at the Ruckersville, Va.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told NPR. Young said even Germany’s proposed limit of around 80 mph is high, and only a handful of mostly rural American states including Montana, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming let their drivers go that fast.
The German Association of the Automotive Industry called the speed limit proposal “a purely symbolic policy” without a clear climate or traffic safety payoff. In a statement to NPR, spokesman Eckehart Rotter wrote that speed limits would only shave 1 percent of carbon emissions. He suggested digitizing road traffic and introducing electric vehicles would do more for both climate and safety.
An anti-speed limit group says it has collected 50,000 signatures.
“A speed limit in Germany is only another screw in an ideology-driven system that has one goal: to destroy the car in Germany in the future,” the group writes.
Jack Ewing, author of Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal, said the autobahn culture burnishes the reputation of Germany’s automotive industry.
“Carmakers will tell you that demanding German drivers are why German cars are so good,” Ewing, who is also a New York Times reporter, told NPR. “Their home market is in fact very demanding in terms of quality and performance. That’s kind of in a way a proving ground for Daimler, BMW and Audi, and it helped make them successful abroad.”
Emissions from transportation have crept up since 1990, according to government figures. In recent years, Germany has taken measures to limit pollution from cars. Hamburg banned diesels from the city’s center, NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, although residents of the city worried it would decrease business without cutting down smog. Germany has also considered offering free public transportation in cities to bring down car use, NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reports.
Moves like this have triggered battles over German identity. The far-right Alternative for Deutschland party has adopted a “No diesel is illegal” slogan to rally its supporters. The AfD also opposes the newest package of proposals to impose speed limits and raise taxes on fuel and prices on fuel-inefficient cars. Federal AfD lawmaker Dirk Spaniel of the car-producing state of Baden-Wuerttenberg accused the committee of forcing citizens to buy certain products. “This is a planned economy instead of a market economy,” Spaniel writes.
In neighboring France, President Emmanuel Macron was forced to eliminate a fuel tax hike aimed at reducing carbon emissions after yellow vest protesters took to the streets in violent demonstrations, reports NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley.
Ewing said recent events may make Germans more receptive to speed limits despite previous opposition. The Volkswagen emissions scandal has raised the issue of air quality in cities. And Germany risks fines if it does not meet EU targets for greenhouse gas emissions. A survey published last year in Germany by the CosmosDirekt insurer found that 52 percent of respondents supported a speed limit. The staunchest opponents were the youngest drivers, aged 18-29.
So far, the transportation changes exist only as a working paper. A final version is reportedly expected in March.
Annalena Baerbock, co-chair of the Green party, told NPR that Americans are proof that a speed limit will not ding Germany’s car industry.
“The U.S. — in whose states a speed limit applies on all highways — has reliably imported German luxury cars for decades,” Baerbock said.
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Robot delivery dogs deployed by self-driving cars are coming

Let’s hope you’re not afraid of dogs, because if Continental gets its way, autonomous robot dogs are going to be delivering your packages. At the Consumer Electronics Show today, Continental unveiled its Black Mirror-esque vision for how driverless vehicles can autonomously deploy bots to facilitate last-mile deliveries.

But it’s not just to look cool while also horrifying you — it’s designed to increase availability, efficiency and safety in the realm of package delivery. The first part is the driverless vehicle itself, called the Continental Urban Mobility Experience (CUbE). Its specific purpose is to carry delivery robot dogs and deploy them to handle the last yards of the goods. So, imagine one of these CUbE pods dropping off a robot dog, and then seeing that robot dog run up to your door with your package.

“With the help of robot delivery, Continental’s vision for seamless mobility can extend right to your doorstep. Our vision of cascaded robot delivery leverages a driverless vehicle to carry delivery robots, creating an efficient transport team,” Continental Head of Systems and Technology, Chassis & Safety division Ralph Lauxmann said in a press release. “Both are electrified, both are autonomous and, in principle, both can be based on the same scalable technology portfolio. These synergies create an exciting potential for holistic delivery concepts using similar solutions for different platforms. Beyond this technology foundation, it’s reasonable to expect a whole value chain to develop in this area.”

It’s not clear if and when these will be deployed, but it’s undoubtedly an intriguing vision of the future. Segway is also at CES this week, showing off its new autonomous delivery bots. The idea is to use the bot to make autonomous deliveries for food, packages and other items. Originally posted in Techcrunch

California restores net neutrality protections

California restores net neutrality protections

California restores Obama-era net neutrality protections

Lawmakers in California passed new legislation that will restore virtually all of the net neutrality protections first introduced during the Obama administration.

The bill is the most sweeping state legislation since current FCC chairman Ajit Pai led a campaign to repeal those Obama-era regulations, arguing at the time that they were too imposing on the multi-billion dollar telecommunications conglomerates that control most of the country’s internet infrastructure.

Predictably, the industry’s largest lobbying group came out forcefully against California’s new bill, which now goes to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto. He has yet to indicate whether he will sign the measure.

If he does, the new law, which passed the legislature on Friday, will prohibit internet service providers (or ISPs) from forking the web traffic of their customers into slower or faster lanes of service based on whether certain websites pay more.

It will also ban ISPs from blocking or slowing down access to certain subsets of data, like video. And it will greatly reduce the degree to which providers can “zero-rate” certain kinds of data, effectively giving certain companies favorable treatment over others. The bill closely mirrors the net neutrality protections President Barack Obama fought for during his administration and imposed with the help of his FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

On Friday, shortly after the state senate passed the final version of California’s net neutrality bill, a spokesman for the industry’s top lobbying firm tried to paint California’s new bill as a matter of state vs. federal governance, disingenuously suggesting that the industry opposed the bill because it means they will have to abide by different sets of rules based on which state the operate in.

“The internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches,” said USTelecom president and CEO Jonathan Spalter in a statement.

What he neglected to mention was the fact that USTelecom — which counts Verizon and AT&T as members—has constantly opposed all efforts to introduce net neutrality, whether at the national or state level. That includes the Obama-era federal regulations.

USTelecom has already threatened to sue California should Gov. Brown sign the bill into law. He has until the end of the month to make a decision.

Originally posted here… 


Bugatti unveiled a new $5.8 million supercar and it’s already sold out


Bugatti unveiled its stunning Divo super sports car Friday in Monterey, California, showcasing a vehicle that the French luxury brand is listing for $5.8 million.

Named after French racing driver and two-time Targa Florio winner, Albert Divo, who won multiple races in the Type 35 Bugatti, the Divo super sports car looks to take Bugatti into the future.

“To date, a modern Bugatti has represented a perfect balance between high-performance, straight-line dynamics and luxurious comfort,” Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann said in a statement.

Compared to the Bugatti Chiron, hyper grand tourer, the Divo is much more focused on driving dynamics. The hypercar’s is 77 pounds lighter while its aerodynamics generate an additional 198 pounds of downforce.

“The Divo has significantly higher performance in terms of lateral acceleration, agility, and cornering. The Divo is made for corners,” Winkelmann added.

However, both the Divo and Chiron share Bugatti’s 1,500, quad-turbo, W-16 engine. The company did not reveal the Divo’s zero-to-60 mph time, but did confirm that its top speed is limited to “just” 236 mph.

The car carries with it key elements of other classic Bugatti-brand cars including the horseshoe-shaped front grille, the famed Bugatti signature line on the vehicle’s side, and the familiar fin that showcases the longitudinal axis of the car when seen from above.

“The Divo is a further example of our design philosophy ‘Form follows Performance’. In this case, the engineers and designers aimed to create a vehicle focusing on cornering speeds and lateral dynamics,” said Achim Anscheidt, Director of Design of Bugatti Automobiles, in a statement.

Parts of the car are colored “Titanium Liquid Silver,” while other parts are painted in “Divo Racing Blue” two striking hues that were developed specifically for the Divo.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t already ordered a Divo, you’re already too late. After being shown to a handful of chosen Bugatti customers, the Divo’s limited production run of 40 vehicles has sold out.

Is Sony’s Aibo Really the Dog of the Future or Just One Really Dumb Dog?


There are many conflicting reviews of Sony’s new release of Aibo

Though Sony waaaaay missed the mark during the 1999 launch of Aibo by selling only 114 units in Japan, they seemed to have gotten it right this time around – at least in Japan, by selling close to 30,000 Aibo dogs in 2018. So now Sony is launching the pups in the U.S. market to very mixed reviews right out of the gate!



When Aibo is standing on its hind legs, tail wagging and soft OLED-lit eyes roving, it’s so dang adorable you forget it’s supposed to do stuff. But after a while the initial charm of its design wears off, and you’re stuck asking what the heck this robot dog even does.

In my experience playing with it at a launch event for Aibo in the U.S., the answer is the bot doesn’t do a whole lot. A Sony rep pointed to the dog, and encouraged met to pet it. The dog’s little eyes would close and its mouth loll open in a clear mimicry of canine pleasure. But while it was clearly responding to the touch, the mechanical doggo didn’t really seem to recognize me. Certainly

not in the magical way I’ve experienced with Anki’s Cosmo and Vector robots. The Sony rep claimed that recognition will be possible when you set up your own pooch. The event went on like this: Lots of hints of charm followed by apologies for Aibo’s inability to do anything sophisticated.

A rep begged a dog to shake, the dog continued wandering around and wagging its little plastic tail—pointedly ignoring the man’s request. “He’s a little young,” the rep chuckled.

Another dog stared at one of the two toys that will come bundled with Aibo. “Can it pick it up,” I asked. Another chuckle. Another joke about Aibo still being a puppy.

The overall experience left me more frustrated than I expected. Aibo has already been available overseas for eight months. It should be able to do more than stare up at me begging for a massage—especially when you consider that at $2,900 it costs ten times the price of it’s closest competitor, the Anki Vector.

As with Anki’s bot, Sony claims that Aibo can memorize faces, respond to voice commands, and understand emotions. Unlike the Vector, which is a palm-sized robot intended to reside on a desk, Aibo can walk around your house, and be cuddled…sort of. I would not, actually, recommend cuddling either robot, but if you cuddled the Aibo you’d feel only a little like a loveless sad sack in an upcoming episode of Black Mirror. Cuddling the Vector would lead to new lows in the “I’m pathetic” department.

Another dog stared at one of the two toys that will come bundled with Aibo. “Can it pick it up,” I asked. Another chuckle. Another joke about Aibo still being a puppy.

The overall experience left me more frustrated than I expected. Aibo has already been available overseas for eight months. It should be able to do more than stare up at me begging for a massage—especially when you consider that at $2,900 it costs ten times the price of it’s closest competitor, the Anki Vector.

As with Anki’s bot, Sony claims that Aibo can memorize faces, respond to voice commands, and understand emotions. Unlike the Vector, which is a palm-sized robot intended to reside on a desk, Aibo can walk around your house, and be cuddled…sort of. I would not, actually, recommend cuddling either robot, but if you cuddled the Aibo you’d feel only a little like a loveless sad sack in an upcoming episode of Black Mirror. Cuddling the Vector would lead to new lows in the “I’m pathetic” department.

Another dog stared at one of the two toys that will come bundled with Aibo. “Can it pick it up,” I asked. Another chuckle. Another joke about Aibo still being a puppy.

The overall experience left me more frustrated than I expected. Aibo has already been available overseas for eight months. It should be able to do more than stare up at me begging for a massage—especially when you consider that at $2,900 it costs ten times the price of it’s closest competitor, the Anki Vector.

As with Anki’s bot, Sony claims that Aibo can memorize faces, respond to voice commands, and understand emotions. Unlike the Vector, which is a palm-sized robot intended to reside on a desk, Aibo can walk around your house, and be cuddled…sort of. I would not, actually, recommend cuddling either robot, but if you cuddled the Aibo you’d feel only a little like a loveless sad sack in an upcoming episode of Black Mirror. Cuddling the Vector would lead to new lows in the “I’m pathetic” department.

New Trump power plant plan would release hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 into the air

 coal-fired power plant

President Trump plans next week to unveil a proposal that would empower states to establish emission standards for coal-fired power plants rather than speeding their retirement — a major overhaul of the Obama administration’s signature climate policy. The plan, which is projected to release at least 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compared with the Obama rule over the next decade, comes as scientists have warned the world will experience increasingly dire climate effects absent a major cut in carbon emissions.

Trump plans to announce the measure as soon as Tuesday during a visit to West Virginia, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House was still finalizing details Friday.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s own impact analysis, which runs nearly 300 pages, projects that the proposal would make only slight cuts to overall emissions of pollutants — including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides — over the next decade. The Obama rule, by contrast, dwarfs those cuts by a factor of more than 12.

The new proposal, which will be subject to a 60-day comment period, could have enormous implications for dozens of aging coal-fired power plants across the country. The EPA estimates that the measure will affect more than 300 U.S. plants, providing companies with an incentive to keep coal plants in operation rather than replacing them with cleaner natural gas or renewable energy projects.

By 2030, according to administration officials, the proposal would cut CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by between 0.7 percent and 1.5 percent, compared with a business-as-usual approach. Those reductions are equivalent to taking between 2.7 million and 5.3 million cars off the road.

By comparison, the Obama administration’sClean Power Plan would have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 19 percent during that same time frame. That is equivalent to taking 75 million cars out of circulation and preventing more than 365 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Under the EPA’s new plan, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that help form smog would be cut between 1 percent and 2 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Under Obama, the agency projected its policy would reduce those pollutants by 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively, by the end of the next decade.

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment, and the White House said it was looking into the matter.

Since taking office Trump has sought to roll back several major climate regulations, proposing earlier this month to freeze tailpipe emissions standards for cars and light trucks starting in 2020 for six years. He delivered on a key campaign promise more than a year ago when he announced that the United States would pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, under which America pledged to cut its overall carbon output between 26 percent and 28 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels.

As the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has targeted the burning of fossil fuels that is driving climate change. The power sector ranks as the second-biggest contributor to the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA, accounting for 28.4 percent of the total in 2016. Transportation made up 28.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that year.

Although the EPA projects that the U.S. power sector’s overall carbon output will decline over time because of market pressures and other factors after the new rule takes effect, the policy shift would make it increasingly difficult for the United States to meet the international climate goals it adopted under the previous administration.

Joseph Goffman, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Program and one of the architects of the Obama-era rule, said in a phone interview that the higher emissions that would result from the Trump proposal would damage the climate as well as public health.

“These numbers tell the story, that they really remain committed not to do anything to address greenhouse gas emissions,” said Goffman, who served as associate assistant administrator for climate in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation between 2009 and 2017. “They show not merely indifference to climate change but really, opposition to doing anything about climate change.”

Elements of the proposed rule were first reported by the New York Times on Friday evening.

Utility companies, which had joined states in suing to block the Obama climate rule, would save annual compliance costs for the industry by about $400 million a year.

Many utilities have moved to retire coal plants in recent years and switch to either natural gas or renewable power, which are more economically competitive. But the proposed rule, which focuses on improving their heat efficiency and would allow for upgrades without triggering the kinds of pollution controls currently required under federal law, could shift that dynamic.

Since the outset of the administration, officials have said they intended to replace the Clean Power Plan because EPA exceeded its legal authority in crafting the policy. The rule, which has been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, established a program under which states could achieve emissions reductions by having utilities promote energy efficiency or build renewable power projects such as solar or wind.

“We’re going back to the agency’s historical interpretation and application of its authority” under the Clean Air Act, one official said in an interview. “That is respectful of the boundaries established by Congress.”

Utility industry executives hailed the administration’s proposal as one that adheres to the law and would ease the financial crunch they would have faced under a more sweeping rule. Jim Matheson, chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, said in a statement Saturday that it appears the measure will “provide electric co-ops the certainty and flexibility they need to meet their consumer-members’ energy needs.”

“The Clean Power Plan would have resulted in stranded assets and stranded debt, significantly increasing electricity costs for many consumers,” added Matheson, whose members get 41 percent of their energy from coal-fired generation.

The proposed rule, which does not yet have a name, has a 200-page preamble laying out the EPA’s reasoning for the sweeping changes.

Rather than identifying specific reduction targets and tasking state officials with devising plans to achieve them, it will define what constitutes the “best system of emission reduction” that utilities can undertake with technology that has been demonstrated to work. States will conduct a unit-by-unit analysis of plants in their state and will have three years to develop a plan to make their operations more efficient.

The EPA will have one year to determine whether to approve a state’s plan, and if it does not meet the agency’s guidelines the EPA will have another year to impose a federal plan on the state.

As a result, it is difficult to determine exactly when the new measure will be fully implemented. While the proposed rule analyzes its effects through 2035, officials said, it may not be fully in compliant until 2037.

Bracewell LLP partner Scott Segal, who represents utilities that run coal-fired plants, said in an email that the Trump administration has sought to empower the states as it curbs the excesses of its predecessor.

“The previous administration’s effort to address greenhouse gases was a complex and unnecessarily burdensome overreach that took much of the responsibility for power systems away from the state regulators, who know them best,” Segal said. “It is why 29 states pushed back against the rules and the Supreme Court blocked their implementation with an unprecedented stay.”

Trump has repeatedly praised the U.S. coal industry, and his deputies have sought to enact an array of policies aimed at bolstering it. Those proposals range from relaxing rules for storing toxic waste from coal burning to ordering grid operators to buy power from coal-fired utilities.

The EPA’s analysis estimated that even under the new proposal, the power sector’s overall CO2 emissions would decline between 33 percent and 34 percent compared with 2005 by the time the rule is fully implemented.

Conrad Schneider, advocacy director for the environmental group Clean Air Task Force, said emissions may not drop as much as anticipated because of several policies the Trump administration has adopted to boost coal.

“This is the latest in the Trump administration’s effort to make coal great again,” Schneider said.

While the country’s greenhouse gas emissions continues to decline, scientists say the United States cannot meet the Obama administration’s Paris climate goal without policies such as the Clean Power Plan.

Carbon-dioxide emissions from energy use in the United States declined by 0.5 percent last year, according to the International Energy Agency, because of an uptick in renewable energy and reduced overall energy demand. Globally, CO2 emissions from the energy sector rose 1.4 percent, reaching a historic high after remaining flat for three years.

The original article was posted here…

Tesla Model 3 Much Better Than Expected

Tesla 3


I thought the Model 3 would be great, top of its class, similar to the Model S we’ve had for approximately a year. However, it seems I was caught off guard due to Tesla’s incessant improvements and all of the nitpicky, consistent attacks from Tesla critics (paid or otherwise) — which seem to have somehow influenced me a tad over time (yes, even me). The Model 3 is better than I expected. I expected to love it, but I didn’t expect to love it so much. In particular, there were a handful of little things that made the car significantly more comfortable as a passenger and more enjoyable to drive than our 2015 Model S 85D.

This is not our first comparison of these cars, and it will not be our last. A Tesla Model 3 will be joining the CleanTechnica fleet later this week when Kyle Field receives delivery of a black Model 3 in California. He has had ample time with the Model S (which he used to own), BMW i3, Mercedes B250e (which his wife has driven for years), Chevy Bolt, and a couple dozen other electric cars to write extensively about where the Model 3 excels and where it could use some work. My review here is just based on some short drives, sitting in a couple of Model 3’s for a while (two owners were kind enough to drive their cars down from Tampa for me to experience them), and how all of that compares to years of EV driving in 20–30 different electric cars.

Before I go further, I should say that I suffer from bias — I am hugely biased in favor of high-quality products. I like nice stuff. I like stuff that feels good, looks good, and sounds good. Heck, I even like stuff that smells good. Furthermore, I have cash money riding on Tesla [TSLA] because I think it’s a good company that makes amazing products, innovates like a maniac, and shows true leadership. I wouldn’t invest in the company if I didn’t consistently find that it creates high-quality products that are unmatched on the market. Did I mention that I’m biased in favor of high-quality products?

After having a Model S 85D in my stable for approximately a year, and even driving it from Poland to Paris, I thought I could guestimate fairly well how the Model 3 would feel. I was off on several topics. The Model 3 was better than I expected in at least 7 ways. Rather than doing a comprehensive, overall review (which there are plenty of), I’m focusing on the things that surprised me and things that I specifically find interesting to compare against the Model S and BMW i3, which I consider to be the closest electric competitor to the Model 3 in a few key ways (and not at all a competitor in other ways).


Opening the door: This may seem like a small thing, but I’ve found in time that the routine experience of opening and closing the door has a more important and lasting effect on people’s feelings about a car than we typically assume. Opening the door of a Model 3 from the outside is certainly not as difficult as various people made it sound. It didn’t take me any practice or odd maneuvering. I just pressed the handle on one side and pulled it on the other — easy. It felt good and clean. Maybe it could present challenges in certain situations, but I’d have to test extensively to discover if that’s the case.

Opening the doors from the inside feels awesome. There are two ways to do so in the front seats, with the seemingly preferred way being the press of a button near where your thumb rests when holding the door handle. That pops the door open automagically — in a way that is so typically Tesla. For some reason I can’t explain, I prefer that much more than a normal, manual door handle, which feels less premium and fun.

The doors sound great when you close them and the cars I checked out had superb fit & finish. With our 2015 Model S, I could see what people complained about with regard to the sound of the door when you close it, even though I didn’t see that as something that warranted complaining and don’t think any normal person noticed it. But for anyone complaining about the sound of a Model 3 as it closes, I have to recommend laying off the crack.

In net, while I would love to have the self-presenting door handles of the Model S back, the interior button to open the door makes up for that. And there’s surely less maintenance expense for the Model 3 door handles than for the Model S self-presenting handles.

So, when it comes to opening and closing the door, I’d give a slight advantage to Model 3. (I do reserve the right to change my opinion in time.)

Seats: After so much obsession over the years about Tesla not having comfortable seats, and after some public disappointment about the revealed seats when the Model 3 hit production, I didn’t expect much of the Model 3’s seats. I figured they’d be bearable, moderate. So, I was happily surprised when I sat down in the car and the seats were as comfortable as anything I recall in any car — whether Mercedes, Porsche, or BMW.

Seats are weird since different body types can have vastly different preferences. For my tall and slim body type, the front seats on the Model 3 seem to be as good as it gets. The back seats were comfier than I expected as well, but depending on who’s in front of me, they might be a bit cramped for a very long trip. I’m a bit more than 6 feet tall, and the space was close to cramped behind the 6’2″ driver’s seat, while there was an enormous amount of space behind his partner’s seat (she was not 6’2″).

Comparing to our 2015 Model S, the Model 3 seats are far nicer, but they are comparable to the seats in a new Model S. However, the surroundings of the front passenger seat seem better designed and I think more comfortable if you, say, wanted to write or edit articles while on a long road trip — or just around the city for that matter. Yes, maybe that’s not a normal need, but it’s one thing that gives the Model 3 a slight edge for me. (However, I could use a bit more time in a new Model S again to make sure I’m not forgetting design improvements in newer versions of the model.)

Comparing to our 2015 Model S, the Model 3 seats are far nicer, but they are comparable to the seats in a new Model S. However, the surroundings of the front passenger seat seem better designed and I think more comfortable if you, say, wanted to write or edit articles while on a long road trip — or just around the city for that matter. Yes, maybe that’s not a normal need, but it’s one thing that gives the Model 3 a slight edge for me. (However, I could use a bit more time in a new Model S again to make sure I’m not forgetting design improvements in newer versions of the model.)

Storage: The Model 3 trunk is huge. It’s not as expansive as what the Model S has to offer, but my wife and I are fine with the i3 trunk, so we definitely wouldn’t have any trouble with the Model 3’s much more cavernous storage areas. YMMV.

The frunk is also not as large as the Model S’s, but it’s clearly enough for groceries, small luggage, tennis equipment, or various other goodies you might prefer to put in the frunk than the trunk. This is one thing I miss now that we have an i3.

Drive quality: Acceleration felt extremely similar to me as acceleration in our Model S 85D. It would be hard for me to distinguish between them. Of course, a P100D is in an entirely different league — horsepower is horsepower — but I’d have to get behind the wheel of a Performance Model 3 and a P100D to chat more about those high-end options. (Maybe soon.)

Handling, as expected, was much more enjoyable in the Model 3. The smaller size, nearly invisible hood, and cool steering wheel make the Model 3 a special kind of Tesla. I expected to enjoy the Model 3’s handling, and long expected it would be one thing that would make me prefer the Model 3 over the Model S, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It is truly awesome. The turns also felt more enjoyable as a passenger than they did in our 2015 Tesla Model S 85D, which I assume is in good part because of the seats. (I need a bit more time in a new Model S to make a comfortable comparison.)

I was concerned that the Model 3 would still feel “too big” to me, but it didn’t. The short hood had a similar effect as the short hood of our BMW i3. The clean, minimalist dash similarly helps you to feel that much closer to the road and helps you to enjoy the driving experience that much more.

The roof: The glass roof of a Model S is wonderful, but I found the Model 3 roof a certain kind of cool. It is particularly helpful in the back seat. For a fairly tall person (not that tall, but as I wrote, over 6 feet), the glass roof makes the back seat much more comfortable than the back seat of a Model S. If I sit up straight in the back of a Model S, my head presses against the car. In the Model 3, it doesn’t. It doesn’t feel cramped at all thanks to the open, expansive windows in the roof.

One of the Model 3 owners who came down from Tampa to let me explore the car didn’t seem bothered by the glass roof despite the sun & heat of Southwest Florida, but the couple with the other Model 3 got full tinting because one of them found both the sun and heat pouring through to be too much. In my time in the car that had only a bit of tinting on the back, I couldn’t notice anything unpleasant with the air conditioning on, but this was later in the day and shortly after a thunderstorm in which I wiped out on a slippery sidewalk and got soaked, so I’ll have to evaluate another day. In the end, though, you know the phrase: YMMV.

The touchscreen: Dude, after so much freakin’ concern about the location of the speedometer, I have to say that I trust Tesla critics even less and trust Elon Musk even more. The location of the speedometer makes it extremely easy to see without distraction. The touchscreen is also easier to access than I expected — more so than in the Model S. This is in part because of the car’s smaller size and in part because of the horizontal orientation and the way the touchscreen pops out of the dashboard.

Center console: I like the Model 3 center console a bit more than the Model S center console. I just like the interior design and orientation a bit more, but don’t take this as a dramatic preference. Maybe my opinion will change next time I sit in the car. Both are more useful than the dinky console we have in the i3, but they also block the nice empty floor space between the front seats of the i3 that I actually love and do use every time I go somewhere. I’d call it a wash in net.

Minimalism: As I’ve said and written several times before, I’m a big fan of Tesla minimalism. The minimalism of the Tesla dash is unbeatable. Nothing that I’ve experienced compares to it. I hear it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one of those “little things” about the car that pull me closer to the checkout register.

The hood: There are some things you just don’t notice well enough until you drive the car. I noted above that the hood is “nearly invisible” from the driver’s seat. However, there are some sharp, “muscular” lines toward the sides of the hood that pop up. They are subtle, but they also look freakin’ awesome from the driver’s seat. The Model S has something similar, but as I’ve said too many times, the Model S is too big for my tastes, and I think those lines on the hood of the Model S make the car seem narrower than it is, creating an invitation for an accident or at least a scraping.

The colors after a rain: The beautiful colors of the water drops on the roof after a rain are one of my favorite little things about the car. I’m surprised they don’t get more attention. These are the things that just make a Tesla a Tesla, imho. A Tesla’s not just a better BMW. A Tesla is special.

Extra special thanks to Paul Fosse (photo below next to the guy with the lunatic eyes and Bugs Bunny teeth) for taking his Model 3 on a road trip to let me test drive it and also bringing along a couple of friends in their own Model 3 — which might have sold me on white.

Link to the original article

Guess what is the Most Loved Brand on Social Media

Instagram is reportedly the “most loved” brand globally on social media. This is according to a report published by NetBase, which looked at 361 million English-language posts from people in 200 countries. Researchers found that Instagram came in first place with 246 million mentions on social media between May 2017 and May 2018. YouTube was second (86.5 million mentions), followed by Facebook (47.3 million). – Read the full story here… MARKETINGCHARTS

Also,  Millennials (18-34) are more likely to document their travel on social media than Gen Xers (35-54) and Baby Boomers (55+). This is according to the 2018 Vacation Confidence Index recently released by Allianz Global Assistance. In addition to turning to social media frequently on vacation, 36 percent of millennials admit to posting photos that make their trips look better than they are; the tendency is highest among male millennials. – CTV



Smart Glasses that Look Normal ~ by Intel

Smart Glasses by Intel

Exclusive first look at Vaunt, which uses retinal projection to put a display in your eyeball

Top 10 Podcasts of 2017

Podtrac’s ranking of top podcasts (below) for 2017 is based on average U.S. downloads per episode across all listening devices for episodes posted in 2017. I have to say however, after listening to each of the podcasts below, as much as I enjoyed each and every one, (especially  S-Town) I have to say that I still disagree and Up and Vanished is by far, hands down, the absolute BEST podcast of all time. I dare to say, even better than Serial! I’m guessing it’s not on this list because it started in 2016 — but it did run for two full years… so technically, the second season was new in 2017. Certainly it got more downloads. Check it out! 

Visit our Top 20 Podcasts of 2017 ranking 

#1. S-Town

S-town.pngS-Town is a new podcast from Serial and This American Life, hosted by Brian Reed, about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks Brian to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But when someone else ends up dead, the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.


#2. Dirty John

Dirty john.pngDebra Newell is a successful interior designer. She meets John Meehan, a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they get entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival. Reported and hosted by Christopher Goffard from the L.A. Times.


#3. Pod Save America


Four former aides to President Obama — Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor — are joined by journalists, politicians, comedians, and activists for a freewheeling conversation about politics, the press and the challenges posed by the Trump presidency.

#4. The Daily

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This moment demands an explanation. This show is on a mission to find it. Only what you want to know, none of what you don’t. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Powered by New York Times journalism. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.

#5. Up First

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NPR’s Up First is the news you need to start your day. The biggest stories and ideas — from politics to pop culture — in 10 minutes. Hosted by Rachel Martin, David Greene and Steve Inskeep, with reporting and analysis from NPR News. Available weekdays by 6 a.m. ET. 

#6. Ear Hustle

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Ear Hustle brings you stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it. The podcast is a partnership between Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and Nigel Poor, a Bay Area artist. The team works in San Quentin’s media lab to produce stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny and always honest, offering a nuanced view of people living within the American prison system.

#7. 30 For 30


Original audio documentaries and more from the makers of the acclaimed 30 for 30 series. Sports stories like you’ve never heard before.

#8. Rough Translation

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How are the things we’re talking about being talked about somewhere else in the world? From a Ukrainian battlefield to a Somali prison cell, an Indian yoga studio and a Syrian refugee’s first date, host Gregory Warner tells stories that follow familiar conversations into unfamiliar territory. At a time when the world seems small but it’s as hard as ever to escape our echo chambers, Rough Translation takes you places.

#9. Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

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Awaken, discover and connect to the deeper meaning of the world around you with SuperSoul. Hear Oprah’s personal selection of her interviews with thought-leaders, best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts. All designed to light you up, guide you through life’s big questions and help bring you one step closer to your best self.

#10. Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked

Snap Judgment.png

Spooked features true-life supernatural stories, told firsthand by people who can barely believe it happened themselves. Be afraid. Created in the dark of night, by Snap Judgment and WNYC Studios. 



Podtrac publishes two Podcast Industry Rankings each month: the Top 20 Podcasts and the Top 10 Podcast Publishers. This Rankings uses proprietary and consistent measurement methodology to allow apples-to-apples comparison of podcast audience sizes. You can check out their demographic info and measurements and more info here…

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