The era of the driverless cars is upon us – none too soon, judging by the offerings at the Frankfurt Auto Show last week.
We’ve all had luxury cars blow by us on the interstate with a fat cat in the driver’s seat, deeply immersed in a phone conversation of such import he is impelled to let go of the steering wheel to gesticulate wildly with both hands to underscore the importance of the point he is making.
Women do this, too, but at lower speeds, and in general they do less damage to the people and cars unfortunate enough to be around them.
For men, more than women, a car is a status symbol. Some men, especially highly competitive executives, have a car that says, Not only have I arrived, but I have arrived at a better place than you, peasant.
Automakers are sensitive to their richest customers’ needs, which is why Ferrari is exhibiting its 458 Speciale.
As the Associated Press’ writers breathlessly put it, Should you need to accelerate to 62 miles per hour in three seconds flat and go twice as fast again in another 6.1 seconds, this is your
Most of us, at least those of us in an honest line of work, don’t need to reach the car’s top speed of 202 mph, couldn’t drive a car at that speed anyway (simply aiming doesn’t count) and don’t have the $315,000 necessary to do so.
The auto show features a 1,200-horsepower Bugatti Veyron – $2.6 million and you can drive it off the lot today.
It would be just the thing for running those quick little errands – say, a loaf of bread and a case of Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, except that the 16-cylinder engine takes up all the space the passengers don’t.
If none of these suit your motoring needs, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley and Rolls-Royce stand at the ready. The Rolls-Royce Celestial Phantom has little ceiling lights that exactly commemorate the night sky on the 10th anniversary of the car’s introduction. If your GPS is broken, you can navigate by staring at your roof.
Who buys these cars? YouTube has a video selection of Chinese princelings and heirs to Mideast oil fortunes wrecking their cars, usually late at night.
So, who would you rather have pass you at 150 mph? A princeling, perhaps with diplomatic immunity, working his way through a bottle of Johnny Walker Platinum Label, or a Wall Street fund manager who has just learned that his $20 billion hedge went the wrong way and the dealer is waiting at the office to repossess the 887-horsepower Porsche?
We’d go with the preprogrammed microprocessor in the minivan with the whole family in the back seat watching The Lion King.