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

VanMoof X3 Review: The Tesla of E-Bikes?

Time to ride the future

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In a bustling city full of cars, bikes not only offer an easy passage from several location points, they also reduce your overall carbon footprint.

But what if someone makes bikes even smarter? Dutch-based VanMoof makes the perfect city bike that sports the right balance of high tech and coolness factor. And comes as part of a complete ecosystem that’s sure to make any city biker happy.

This is our review of the VanMoof X3 — which also applies to the VanMoof S3 if you’re planning on buying one.

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Automotive

Ford Territory: Feel at ease while traveling in style

A feature-packed SUV with driver-assist technologies

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Ford Territory

When you see a Ford badge slapped onto a car, it is safe to assume it inherently will deliver in terms of quality and capabilities. The all-new Ford Territory is the carmaker’s take on a reasonably priced compact SUV. Ford presumably partnered up with JMC (Chinese automobile manufacturer) to trim down the costs in production while still ensuring quality by staying true to Ford’s expertise in design, engineering, and manufacturing.

This five-seater SUV comes equipped with safety features and the latest driver-assist technologies that meet global standards to give you a safe, convenient and comfortable driving experience. Does it stay true to Ford’s SUV heritage? Well, let’s find out!

Ford Territory

A real eye candy

Sophistication and toughness — it’s the best of both worlds.

Ford Territory

Up front, it features Ford’s signature trapezoidal grille, put together with sleek LED headlamps. It also has a pair of fog lamps and daytime running LED lights for more on-road visibility. A silver skid plate protects the underside of the front bumper in a fashionable manner.

Ford Territory

On the side panels are evident character lines with a floating roofline design that gives the car that striking appeal. Nice chrome accents on door handles, waistline and side claddings.


Armed with power folding side mirrors with turn signal repeaters.

Not only that, the mirrors also have underside puddle lights to illuminate the ground when you’re getting in and out of the car at night. Because who wants to step on something gross and then step on their car’s matting? No one!

Ford Territory
The Ford Territory comes with two-tone 18” multi-spoke alloy wheels. With a ground clearance of 180mm, you will have no problem traversing bumpy roads.

Looking at the back from afar, it’s as striking as the front and sides. Those curves!

Ford Territory

The trendy LED taillights are complimented by a chrome bar. A high-mount brake light comes pre-installed so you don’t have to.

Two not-so-fake-looking exhaust tips attached to the rear bumper skid plate add a sporty look. The real exhaust can be seen if you look down a little further.

The presence of the bold ‘Territory’ badge is somehow stating that this is a true SUV.

Ford Territory
Lift up the trunk and you’ll get plenty of cargo space for your usual grocery trips and travel necessities. It also has functional roof rails where you can attach a roof rack if you need to haul more items.

Ford Territory

The spare tire is located underneath the cargo floor along with a jack kit. You can store more essential tools in there if you need to.

Premium touch

Entering the Territory is easy, thanks to its keyless entry feature. By a push of a button, doors get unlocked as long as the key is within proximity range.

Interior

Ford Territory

Ford Territory

I liked how refreshing the interior looks. The combination of premium materials and incorporation of modern technology blend perfectly. The wooden trims that go around the door panels and dashboard give it an earthy feel.

Blending nature to indoor spaces is quite common in contemporary homes. That’s what came to my mind upon opening the panoramic moonroof. Letting more natural light get in the cabin makes you feel more connected to your surroundings.

Digital dashboard and more tech

With its 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system, you can control the audio, air conditioning, ambient lighting color and more. Connecting your smartphone is made easy through Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Some functions won’t work while the car is moving so that the driver won’t be tempted to navigate the screen while driving.

The crisp 10-inch digital instrument cluster displays your driving information as well as the tire pressure monitoring system. The display theme is also customizable to suit your mood.

Having a wireless charging port comes in handy especially for long drives. Just make sure your phone is compatible and you’re good to go.


Ambient lighting enhances the mood of travel. It’s not distracting so you can enjoy it as much as you want. The only downside is that it is only visible at night.


These perforated leather seats are very comfortable. And the front two seats are heated/cooled for added comfort.

Legroom is not a problem in this car. Five passengers can travel with comfort. There is no large hump on the middle portion of the floor at the backseat. So, those who will sit in the middle won’t have a hard time finding a comfortable spot for their feet.

For the back passengers, the two air condition vents strive to do its cooling task. On a very hot day though, its coldness is insufficient.

The steering wheel is easy on the grip, thanks to its stylish perforated leather wrap. Controls for the instrument cluster and hands-free phone calls are on the steering wheel.

Along with other features are:

Scattered USB charging ports

Elevated center armrest with cup holders (backseat)

12V socket at the trunk

And an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Behind it is a high-mount USB port intended for dashcams or GoPro (dangling cables no more).

Minimalist cockpit controls

The layout of the center console is intuitive and easy to grasp.

Placement of buttons and toggle switches are easily accessible. It’s also equipped with an electronic parking brake that replaces the traditional hand-operated parking brake.

A wheel knob controls the volume of radio/music player. It also has a cup holder, perfect for coffee lovers out there.

Beside it is a very usable, spacious gate-fold-open storage space.

Inserting keys are slowly becoming a thing of the past with these modern cars. Just push a button and it’ll bring its engine to life. We usually see this feature exclusively on higher tier cars so it is great to have this in the Territory.

What is it like behind the wheel?

Driving the Ford Territory is piece of cake. I felt confident and safe while taking it on the road.

This proves that this car was designed with convenience and safety as the top priority in mind. Steering is very light, like butter. The car is very sturdy on bumps and stable even on sharp turns.

What gives it power is a 1.5L Ecoboost engine paired with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). It delivers sufficient power at 143ps and 225Nm of torque.

In normal “Drive” mode, there’s a noticeable slight delayed response on the accelerator. However, if you put it in ‘Sport’ mode, you’ll be satisfied with the performance. It manages to reach 0-60km/hr in around 4.5-5 seconds. That’s nowhere near a Mustang. But for a 1.5L engine in a big bodied car, that’s impressive.

Having a CVT made it easy on fuel consumption, supposedly. Granted that it is an SUV, it’ll consume more fuel compared to smaller MPVs and compact sedans. It squeezes around 8-10km/liter for city driving and 15km/liter on a highway.

Engine noise and unnecessary background noise is down to a minimum while you are inside the car, offering you a relaxed ride.

Safety is always a priority

Cameras installed at the front, rear and under side mirrors add an all-around vision.

The Ford Territory has advanced driver-assist safety technologies — the Ford Co-Pilot360.


HD 360-Degree camera lets you monitor the surroundings closely when backing up. At night, the cameras capture the areas well. Which is a really big help. The 360-view displays simulated aerial view of the car that helps the driver in avoiding obstacles on-the-fly.

The Territory can also parallel park by itself, upon driver’s command, with its Enhanced Active Park Assist. It also helps in reverse perpendicular parking.


Autonomous Emergency Braking, aided by a radar on the front chin, alerts you to a potential collision.


Proximity sensors help the driver in getting in and out tight spaces.

The Territory is equipped with six all-round airbags (front, side pillars and curtains) protecting passengers from every side. It also has adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, auto brake hold function and blind spot information system.

These safety features are all convenient and helpful, but it is safer to always check your surroundings when driving.

Verdict

The Ford Territory is all-in-all, ideal for daily use. Whether going on a ride alone or with friends and family, it’ll give you superb comfort and convenience so you can own every moment. All the functional features and aesthetically pleasing ornamentation show the extensive thought process that this car went through. A good car is a good car, regardless where it was made. It is undoubtedly a true Ford SUV.

Pricing and availability

The Ford Territory Trend is available at a starting price of PhP 1,277,000. If you want to get all the safety features, the Ford Territory Titanium+ is priced at PhP 1,310,000. It comes in six different colors: Ruby Red, Diffused Silver, Panther Black, Crystal Pearl White, Moonstone Blue and Star White.

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Automotive

Sharp installs air purifying tech in Singapore cabs

The Plasmacluster Car Air Purifier will be in 240 local cabs

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Sharp Air

Singapore is back to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases. In response to the situation, Sharp is rolling out a nationwide installation of its Plasmacluster Car Air Purifier in 240 local cabs by June 2021.

The move was done to help protect cab drivers who are the first to interact with international tourists as they enter Singapore. They are responsible for bringing travelers across the island and thus must be protected.

Clean air inside the enclosed space of the car is of utmost importance and that’s why Sharp stepped in. A study from Japan showed that Sharp’s Plasmacluster Technology is capable of reducing over 90 percent of SARS-CoV-2 virus within 30 seconds.

Sharp Air

Sharp has had the technology and has been improving upon it since 2004. It’s present in all of their products that have anything to do with air treatment.

This move is part of Sharp’s “Travel Safe in Comfort” campaign. It’s the company’s way of giving back so both the taxi drivers and passengers feel at ease knowing they’re safe, comfortable, and hygienic, as they travel within island.

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