Ep 44: VW’s EV car sharing, AV traffic woes, people love driving


Today, Episode 44! We talk about VW’s new EV car sharing program “WE”; we discuss the paradox of increased traffic caused by AVs; and (some) people will always love driving.

PLUS: I spotted that mysterious, unmarked, debadged, white Subaru autonomous test vehicle roaming the streets of SF! Photo over at marchoag.com!

I photographed that mysterious Subaru autonomous test vehicle in SF!

To be specific, I’m pretty sure I was driving down Fillmore St (plus or minus one block), just north of Union St, on my way down to Lombard St. It was driving the opposite direction up the hill. I wasn’t going more than 10-15 mph, but of course by the time I realized what I was seeing, it had already passed me.

Obviously I immediately pulled over, stopped, and tried to grab some photos: this is the best I could capture.

Mysterious Subaru Test AV
Unmarked. Debadged. Decidedly a Subaru. Fully kitted out in AV tech. What is this thing, and who owns it?

So then: what is this thing? I can confirm a few things: it is a Subaru; it has had all corporate badging removed; there are no logos of any kind anywhere to be found; and, oh yeah, in case you missed it, the thing is absolutely covered with (apparently) autonomous vehicle tech.

If anybody has any idea what this thing is, who it belongs to, what it’s up to, and what exactly it’s testing — that’s an awful lot of kit — please please please let me know!

VW’s new EV car sharing platform “We”

So VW has just announced it’s new all-electric car sharing platform. Dubbed “We” (is that pronounced “we” or “vee?”) it’s an announcement rather scarce on details, about which, you should head over to Electrek.co where they’ve got a good story on it.

The general idea is that the program will first roll out in Germany in 2019, with deployment in North America by 2020. Meanwhile, it’s not clear what electric vehicles will be included, but the press photo showcases VW’s I.D. electric vehicle so it’s a safe bet it will be amongst the various options offered.

(Some) people will always love driving; AVs will increase traffic

This is a huge discussion, and something we’ve touched on, and will continue to come back to, repeatedly in future episodes. It’s this ongoing notion that the only viable solution to today’s traffic woes round the world is to arrive at the perfect trifecta of autonomy, electrification, and car sharing.

This segment discusses two very important points: namely, that (some) people — yours truly — will always love driving as a pastime; and that, if not adequately kept in check, autonomous vehicles could actually result in an increase in traffic, to the tune of increasing commute times by 5.5%.

NB. Please let me know if you’d like me to create a YouTube channel for this podcast, essentially, just a video version of the audio track, with closed captioning of course so you can enjoy without audio.

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