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

General Motors unveils a flying Cadillac taxi concept

Personal taxis of the future may look like this

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CES 2021 continues to wow everyone with the launching of new products and the unveiling of concept products that could become a reality one day. One such concept product showed at CES is the flying Cadillac taxi concept by General Motors (GM).

The flying taxi concept is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle, eliminating the need for any runway. Based on the exhibit by GM, it is a single-seater with eight coaxial rotors on the side. The vehicle will also operate autonomously with an electric motor and a 90-kWh battery powering it. The motor also enables the flying taxi to speed up to 56 mph.

Further details about the Cadillac flying taxi are scarce beyond these basic specifications. GM says that this concept is part of its “multi-modal future”: the taxi will act as a personal ferry between two points. Upon arriving at these points, a person can take another electric vehicle to carry them to their destination.

The flying taxi is also a part of GM’s new Ultium platform, which is its in-house solution for EV fleets. As for real-world availability, GM hasn’t disclosed anything so the final product may look drastically different than this one. However, it still is a cool concept that could bode well in the future.

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Automotive

Apple and Hyundai are partnering for an electric car in 2024

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For years, the enigmatic Apple Car has popped in and out of the limelight. Merely because of the volume of reports, the company is certainly working on a vehicle for the future. Finally, the rumored vehicle gets some much-needed confirmation. After several reports, Apple and Hyundai are partnering for an electric car in 2024.

Late last week, an ambiguous rumor reported as much. According to a South Korean outlet, both companies were reportedly in early talks for such a partnership. At the time, the electric car was supposedly entering production in 2027. However, both Apple and Hyundai denied the rumors, casting the report in doubt.

Today, however, a new report has updated last week’s seemingly debunked rumor, as reported by Reuters. This time, Korea IT News, a South Korean newspaper, confirmed the upcoming partnership of the two companies. Apple and Hyundai will reportedly ink the deal by March this year. And, instead of a 2027 deadline, the Apple Car will enter production by 2024.

Again, both companies have refused to comment on the potential partnership. Soon after, the newspaper removed the 2024 anticipated date. According to the same report, Apple and Hyundai will create and release a beta version of the vehicle next year.

Besides their iconic iPhones, Apple has dabbled in other industries over the past few years. For example, the company successfully released an Apple Card, its entry in the fintech industry.

SEE ALSO: Apple is developing its own search engine

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Automotive

Nissan offers exclusive discounts, low downpayment on select models

Save up to PhP 430,000 on your next Nissan purchase!

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Getting your first car is tempting this holiday season. Nissan has just extended its Safer Drives and Deals promo until December 31, offering exclusive discounts and savings on select models.

You can avail of up to PhP 430,000 discount when you buy a brand-new Nissan Patrol, Nissan X-Trail, Nissan Terra, Nissan Sylphy, Nissan Urvan, and Nissan Almera. Through Nissan’s financing program, you can also benefit from monthly offers such as PhP 5,769 downpayment with 0% interest for up to 24 months, or free amortization for up to 6 months on select vehicles.

Select variants of Nissan Navara also come with cash savings of up to PhP 185,000. Also bundled on this exclusive offer is a free bedliner accessory. However, this exclusive offer is only available through Nissan’s financing program.

If you are paying through cash though, you can still take advantage of cash discounts for other Nissan models. You can save up to PhP 330,000 on select variants of Nissan Patrol, Terra, X-Trail, Sylphy, Navara, Urvan, and Almera.

Meanwhile, an all-in low downpayment option for as low as PhP 28,000 is available for Nissan Almera, Sylphy, X-Trail, Terra, Navara, and Urvan. Downpayment options are available through select partner banks of authorized Nissan dealers.

Tempted to get a Nissan car already? Visit Nissan Philippines’ website for more information on their latest promo.

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