Mockup of Google’s prototype low-speed autonomous car
Over the last several years, Google has made a lot of noise about its progress in developing self-driving cars. However, throughout that time one thing has remained absolutely consistent in all of their progress reports – the sun is always shining and the roads are clear and dry. Unlike the automakers based here in Michigan, Google exists in a seemingly magical environment that is rarely subject to the vagaries of weather. As I pumped some gas and cleaned the salt crust off my headlights the other day, I began to think about the autonomous vehicle prototypes I’ve seen recently.
Tech companies like Google are often accused of living in a bubble where they aren’t subject to the issues that we mere humans have to deal with on a daily basis. Rarely has this been more true than with autonomous vehicles, which Google thinks will be on the road in the next few years. I say fat chance.
Given my work in the auto industry over the years, I frequently get asked for car buying advice. If I determine that the person asking the question is need of a new small car, my goto response for the past half dozen years has consistently been to get a Honda Fit. Last year, Honda introduced an all-new third-generation Fit and I just spent a week driving one and unsurprisingly, it will continue to be the small car I’m most likely to recommend.
When my daughter was in the market for her first new car seven years ago, she checked out all of the small cars available and quickly dismissed the Chevy Aveo, Toyota Echo and Scion xA and xB. At the time, the Fit was a revelation in the segment. A few years earlier MINI had demonstrated that Americans would pay a premium price for a well-built, fun-to-drive small car. As fun as the MINI was, it’s back seat was too tight to be useful and it was a bit pricey. The first-gen Fit on the other hand, could be had starting at just over $14,000 and even a loaded Fit Sport was less than $18,000.