Automotive

Right-Hand Drive: My first experience

It’s never too late to do something new

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It was a Friday, my birthday. I, along with the local media team, flew to Hong Kong for an annual event on electrifying cities to achieve a greener environment.

After the warm welcome of the event’s hosts, they started briefing us of the day’s itinerary. We were to use the company’s electric vehicles and drive them through Hong Kong’s three main regions to get a feel of how they ride and put their features to real-world use.

Exciting, right? Thing is, Hong Kong is a right-hand drive territory and I live and grew up in a country with left-hand vehicles. I’ve never driven on the opposite side of the road. I figured I’d just wing it.

I figured I’d just wing it.

They finally sent us out to the cars in pairs and assigned us an official rep either to make sure everything went well or that we didn’t run away with the car — pretty sure it was more of the former.

My partner for this ride was a fellow journalist in the automotive industry. He would always crack jokes on almost anything he saw which somehow took my mind off the fact that I’d be driving in a foreign country with unfamiliar roads during my first right-hand drive experience.

We agreed that I’d take the wheel for the first half of the trip and switch seats halfway so we both could experience the electric vehicle. I grabbed the door handle on the right side, opened it, and gave my weight to its cushioned driver seat.

I was faced with the cockpit of the vehicle. As a person who likes things neat and in order, the buttons, displays, and icons were neatly laid out. I was not overwhelmed.

I spotted a mounted GoPro on the passenger’s side aimed directly at me. I thought it was cool to have a copy of myself driving on the opposite side of the road for the first time.

I kind of felt like I was in a sci-fi movie.

With everyone inside, I stepped on the brake and pressed the ignition button. The motor of the car whirred with a held-back enthusiasm. “I’m still not used to how quiet it is,” I told my companions, explaining that I was already able to drive the car — only the previous year’s model. The absence of a gas-guzzling engine made the vehicle come to life not with the sound of a heavy breathing dog but more like Wall-E‘s Eva powering up. I kind of felt like I was in a sci-fi movie.

Then we were off to take on the gloomy and chilly weather. The hotel’s lobby is elevated so there was a long spiral-like ramp that led in and out of the driveway. Turning towards the ramp was critical for me as it was my first turn to the opposite lane. “Always enter the left lane. Always enter the left lane.” I kept telling myself this over and over just to rewire my mind and unlearn the driving system that I grew up with and adapt to this new setup.

We drove down the ramp, onto the street, and later on into the highway. “So far so good,” I thought to myself. The idea was to drive through a pre-designated route using Google Maps. But, as with most times, things didn’t go as smoothly as planned. The app didn’t work properly for the first 15 to 20 minutes of our trip. It had problems with GPS so I had to listen to the company’s representative seated at the back as he pointed when and where to turn.

But, as with most times, things didn’t go as smoothly as planned.

For a while there, I was like an Uber driver going through the busy streets of Hong Kong.

The vehicle responded very well every time I stepped on the gas pedal. We were discussing that having an electric motor means power is quickly channeled to the wheels so it responds a lot faster compared to internal combustion engines. I also liked how the car didn’t have problems gaining speed whenever I needed to catch up. Basically, exploring the car’s array of features, while driving, helped me eliminate the few anxieties that I had left. Yes, I enjoyed the drive.

It was about 30 to 40 minutes in that I became more confident driving the right-hand vehicle. Entering the left lane every time I turned became more and more natural. Of course, there were times when I’d still forget I was on the opposite side — like that time I was paying at the toll gate and opened the left window instead of the right. Boy, was the teller confused when I did that.

While probably a really simple and obvious solution, one of the things that helped me with the transition was to think of everything in the opposite way. That way, It was easier for me to grasp the entire idea of right-hand driving. If my natural habit was to keep right, I knew that during that moment, I needed to keep left. When it felt natural to flick the turn signal using the left switch, I’d use the right since the left would be for activating the wipers.

If my natural habit was to keep right, I knew that during that moment, I needed to keep left.

That kind of mindset got me through the entire ride right up to the point where I and the other media I was with had to switch for his turn to drive.

I went down, walked around to the other side, and got in the passenger seat. It was weird because since I was back to sitting on the left side, the initial response of my arms was to grab the steering wheel and start the vehicle, forgetting all of a sudden the “brainwashing lessons” I taught myself just half an hour ago.

Seeing the GoPro that was mounted right above me, I reached for it to check if it was still recording. I then noticed there were no blinking red lights. I leaned closer and to my surprise, it wasn’t even turned on. So much for documenting my first right-hand experience, right?

“It wasn’t recording the entire time!” I exclaimed. It was unfortunate but we had a laugh out of it. I figured I’d just write down the events that happened so that I wouldn’t forget it. I powered up the action camera and started recording for my partner’s sake. With dark clouds and light rain still accompanying us, we started driving back to the hotel.

My key takeaway from the experience was to know what works for yourself.

During our trip back, I reflected on what I just did, from the excitement to the feeling of fulfillment of doing something the first time and succeeding. My key takeaway from the experience was to know what works for yourself. For me, I simply had to do the opposite of what I’m comfortable with to make sure I had clear control of what to do for certain situations.

Of course, it would also help a lot if one would closely study and practice for something like this. I just didn’t have much choice and had limited time to prepare for the drive.

We got back to the hotel, thanked the company’s representative who came with us for being an accommodating guide, and I went straight to my hotel room to freshen up for the night’s welcome dinner.

It was a great experience overall and am still thankful for the brand extending an invite to the event. The fact that I did something for the first time on my birthday only made it more special. To more drives!

Automotive

Tesla plans to make a US$ 25K autonomous electric car soon

Elon Musk is extremely optimistic

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At its Battery Day event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company intends to launch an affordable electric car within three years. The aimed price is around US$ 25,000 — a radically low price for an electric vehicle. The future car hasn’t received a name yet, but rumors suggest it could be Tesla Model C, where C stands for compact.

The announcement was made after Musk reviewed Tesla’s battery development and manufacturing. He is confident that these factors shall help the company offer cut-throat pricing and make the cutting-edge technology available to the masses.

However, the most interesting feature of the car will be its autonomous capability. Sensors and other onboard equipment are expensive and it remains to be seen whether Tesla is able to fulfill its promise.

Musk revealed a new battery design that incorporates a larger and more efficient cell. The new technology is dubbed “tabless” and is said to increase density by five times, offering 16 percent more range. But the technology announced is likely to take years to implement.

The cost of electric cars has consistently dropped in the last few years and Tesla is relying on this trend to hype up its future products. According to The Verge, Prices have already fallen from a lofty US$ 1,100/kWh just ten years ago to about US$ 156/kWh in 2019.

Altough, this isn’t the first time Musk has announced an affordable EV. The Model 3 was initially touted to cost US$ 35,000 but the base option starts at US$ 37,990 while the Performance variant goes for US$ 54,990.

Ultimately, Tesla hopes to make 20 million vehicles a year, Musk said

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Automotive

4 techie ways the Ford Ranger Raptor conquers the road

Tough but comfortable

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Have you ever wondered what type of technology lies underneath your car’s hood? Cars today are no longer just the mechanical machines of the last decade. Now, every car is packed with as much technology as our smartphones. From a complex infotainment system to an accurate terrain management system, you can look forward to more than horsepower or suspension. In the new Ford Ranger Raptor, you’ll find these tough features and more.

Here are the top technology features you’ll love in Ford Ranger Raptor.

We don’t need roads

As mentioned, the Ford Ranger Raptor sports an incredibly adaptable Terrain Management System. The feature comes with six pre-set driving modes, pushing out performance in any type of driving situation.

First, of course, you have the Normal mode, maximizing output from the 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engine. By itself, the powertrain can deliver up to 213ps of horsepower and 500Nm of torque. Complementing this dynamic duo is a whopping 10-speed automatic transmission system.

Besides the ubiquitous pre-set, the Ranger Raptor also has Sport mode, Rock mode, Mud/Sand mode, Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, and a Baja mode for sand dunes. Regardless of which mode you prefer, the pickup truck’s race-bred suspension can endure anything with 2.5-inch Fox shocks and 33-inch all-terrain tires. It’s a perfect off-road vehicle.

A couch on the road

Technology isn’t just about gizmos and gadgets. Even a car seat’s engineering is a marvel of today’s technology. At the front, drivers and passengers will sit comfortably on body-contoured sport seats. The seats — as well as the steering wheel, the soft top instrument panel, and the shifter — were wrapped snugly with unique Raptor stitching. You’ll feel like you’re sitting on your living room couch.

Speaking of living room, both front and back passengers can keep their road (or off-road) trip entertaining with Sync 3, a capable infotainment system with voice-activated controls.

Safety first, always

This time around, Ford has added much more safety features than ever before. Besides the standard slew of car safety features, the Ranger Raptor also has a new Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection. When you’re on a road, the pickup truck can keep you safe and sound with an automatic Lane Keeping System. It also comes with LED headlamps and a high mount USB port.

What’s more, Ford packed in all of these at no extra cost to the customer, making the pickup truck a perfect bang for your buck.

Premium care for a premium customer

Besides what they packed in their new pickup truck, Ford has built a new Ford Premium Care service for Ford Ranger Raptor customers. The new aftersales service comes with a whole host of convenient perks and necessities.

First of all, Ford upped the vehicle’s warranty by two years. Instead of the standard three-year warranty out of the factory, the Ranger Raptor’s warranty lasts for five years (or 150,000 kilometers, whichever comes first).

For maintenance, Ford will service the new pickup truck for up to five years (or 50,000 kilometers, whichever comes first). The scheduled service plan covers all parts and labor needed for preventive maintenance service.

Finally, the Ranger Raptor expands Ford’s Emergency Roadside Assistance service to five years, a big upgrade from the standard three-year service in the past. With the service, customers can get 24/7 assistance in the event of a vehicle breakdown. The service comes with free towing and minor onsite repairs like battery boosting, refueling, or a change of tires.

All three come at no extra cost to the customer. You’ll be paying the same price for more features.

Without a doubt, the new Ford Ranger Raptor is built Ford tough. Besides the comfortable type of ride that you’ve already come to expect from Ford, the new pickup truck comes packed with new comfort and safety features for a worry-free drive. It’s a tough monster built for anything and anywhere.

For more details visit the Ford Philippines website.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Ford Philippines

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Automotive

A startup develops world’s first flying all-electric speedboat

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Of all the things you’ve read today, this is probably the first time you’re going to hear about the world’s first flying all-electric speedboat. In Sweden, a tech startup has already developed and launched the landmark sea vehicle. Recently, they received significant funding from one of the biggest names in infotainment, to boot.

The Swedish startup Candela Speed Boat AB started planning the product in 2015. Despite the multiyear journey, the startup finished the speedboat and started selling final products last year.

Now, after a year in production, Candela Speed Boat AB announced a monumental financial backing from Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Conferences. Though the company did not announce the exact numbers, the financial support is enough to fund a new round of research and development for the company.

Currently, the Candela Seven boasts up to 50 nautical miles of range at 20 knots. However, the speedboat can punch it even further up to 30 knots. More remarkably, it does the work using an all-electric motor. The battery charges for only 12 hours and comes with a nine-year warranty.

Of course, that’s all under-the-hood talk. You might be asking, what about the flying part?

Well, the Candela Seven has built-in, retractable hydrofoils underneath the main body. Fully unfurled, the speedboat towers above the water, preventing waves from slapping the fore. Besides the smoother tide, the hydrofoils provide a much quieter ride, allowing passengers to enjoy each other’s company in serenity.

The Candela Seven ships in nine different colors (with blue, white, and gray as the default options). Interested customers can inquire about the boat on Candela Speed Boat AB’s website.

SEE ALSO: 24 hours in Caramoan

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