When I told him I write about connected cars he said, “You can’t have an electric car, unless you own a home, are rich or have another car!”
He had a limited view of the connected car space. He was talking about electric cars. Yes, it is nearly impossible even in large cities to drive an electric car without access to an electric outlet either in your own garage or nearby. His statements also made me realize that I live in the ideal place with the best of accoutrements for writing about connected cars and new car technology.
I’ve seen reporters in the San Francisco Bay area review the BMW i3 or other electric car and instead of writing about the car, write about the anxiety of trying to find a charging station when they go anywhere. One reporter who lived in an apartment, barely had time to drive the BMW i3 because he had no place to charge it at night, most of his time was spent trying to find a charging station.
The man at the gym calmed down when I told him that the Chevy Volt has a backup gas engine and that reviewers are telling electric car buyers to lease electric cars because new models will be available in the future. Used electric cars in a few years will be more affordable. Cities in California also offer incentives and rebates for landlords installing charging stations in apartment buildings.
The angry guy’s comments, however, got me thinking about what city is the ideal place to test drive connected cars. Since Los Angeles features many climates and is designed for car driving, I would say it has the best city for test driving a car.
I lived in San Francisco for a summer during college with a manual transmission. Most of my time, I spent rolling backwards down hills as I tried to stay at a stop light. The hills in San Francisco are not the best place in the world to test drive a manual transmission car. Instead of worrying about when to charge the car, I would be worried about the clutch and transmission.
I grew up in New York on Long Island which is a flat place and would be a good place to test drive cars. However, New York City where a parking space can cost more than some condos in Los Angeles would make test driving car very difficult. A car reviewer in New York City would have to drive far outside the city to get somewhere to go 50 mph. The price of parking the car would cost more than what most publishers can pay the writer.
When I bought my house in 2001, I didn’t care that much that it came with a two-car garage. Men in the first-time home buyer class demanded a garage. Now, I’m very grateful for my garage, I’m even more grateful that the garage is secure and has electric outlets.
Most EVs will charge over night with a regular 120 outlet and come with a cord and adapter. Although, I found charging stations within in a few miles of my home, it was way too far to walk home.
The garage is also important for test driving cars because the automakers only carry liability insurance and I have to sign a form stating that I will be responsible for the car. For example, I get a BMW i3 to test drive for week — I park it on the street and it is vandalized, I would be responsible for repairing it. In my garage, it is not likely to be vandalized. My insurance agent assures me that my car insurance covers any car I drive. I always keep full auto coverage with uninsured motorist and medical payments.
Los Angeles has access to mountains where there is snow and also a huge network of different kinds of roads to drive on. On top of that, it is the home of the LA Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo, voted the best connected car convention and winner of the Tech CARS Award.
Los Angeles is the home of offices for Toyota, Kia, Honda/Acura, Mazda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Hyundai and Volvo N.A. BMW and GM have design studios in the area. I live near aftermarket companies such as Pioneer and Kenwood.
I have access to an oil pit and car lift for under car inspections otherwise I’d have to crawl under the cars.
I also have access to all the newest smartphones to test with in-car connections and live in an area where there excellent coverage by carriers Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. I was able to live auto-blog tests of OnStar Wi-Fi hotspots both in my garage, on a mountain and on the freeway.
The are many elements in my life that make my garage, my insurance and my city are ideal for writing about connected cars and new transportation technology.