Category Transportation

Tesla Model S is Motor Trend’s Car of the Year 2013

Tesla Model S is Motor Trend's Car of the Year 2013

Roughly a month ago I wrote a piece about the Tesla Model S and how amazing it was. Turns out I wasn’t alone in thinking that way as Motor Trend has named the Tesla Model S their car of the year for 2013.

Wait. No mention of the astonishing inflection point the Model S represents — that this is the first COTY winner in the 64-year history of the award not powered by an internal combustion engine? Sure, the Tesla’s electric powertrain delivers the driving characteristics and packaging solutions that make the Model S stand out against many of its internal combustion engine peers. But it’s only a part of the story. At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel.

What makes me happy is that clearly progress is winning. We’re talking about a $50k electric vehicle made by a company which is essentially a start-up in the auto industry outdoing all of the old dinosaurs. It’s exactly what the aut industry needs, a swift kick in the nuts. How the old dinosaurs deal with this sort of information is what will decide if they sink or swim. Hopefully the auto industry isn’t so archaic that it can’t learn to make some smart choices. Here’s to cars that make sense in our modern world!

Tesla on the forefront of electric vehicle design

Tesla Sedan

The other night I was complaining about the price of gas (it’s gone up nearly 80 cents in a matter of days here in Los Angeles) but also about the lack of vehicles that run on alternative vehicles. The automobile hasn’t evolved as nearly as much as it should have. Could you imagine waiting 100+ years for the iPhone to improve? The only real jump forward in the last 20 years was in 1997 when Toyota released the Prius, the first hybrid electric vehicle.

In 2003 though there was the emergence of Tesla Motors, a car company designing high-end vehicles that run on a lithium ion battery. Bradley Berman recently did a story for New York Times profiling the new Model S, a Sedan that adds to their line-up. The story confirms that Tesla is making the cars of the future now, we can only hope other manufacturers can catch up quickly.

The Bauhaus-stark interior is dominated by a 17-inch touch screen — imagine a jumbo iPad embedded in the dashboard — giving digital control of nearly every automotive function. The interface is brilliant, but potentially spellbinding. Lighting, climate and music selection are intuitive. It let me do things as diverse as raising the chassis when pulling into my uneven driveway to switching the steering feel from comfortable to sporty.

There’s a high-definition backup camera, and full Web browsing is available — even when the car is in motion, a capability that safety regulators may one day frown upon. A Google-style search on the navigation screen, for addresses or a keyword, pulls up results that can be directly converted into turn-by-turn guidance. It is an ingenious improvement in automotive navigation.

Another innovation is Tesla’s ability to wirelessly push new features or software updates to cars already on the road. For instance, Tesla said it would soon be downloading a change on how much or how little the car creeps forward from a standstill.

Of course a vehicle like this comes at a price. The base model starts at $49,900 and can get to over $100k. The technology and features that the Model S have go above and beyond what most cars do, and the limited run (only 3,000 will be made) don’t help either. I hope that one day we’ll see more indie car companies pop up and start filling in the gaps in the market. The automotive industry needs some innovation desperately, and Tesla is only the first step.

To get more information on Tesla click here.

Christopher Jenner reimagines the Eurostar interior

Christopher Jenner reimagines the Eurostar interior

Christopher Jenner reimagines the Eurostar interior

Christopher Jenner reimagines the Eurostar interior

Being an American I’m not intimately familiar with the Eurostar, the high-speed train that connects London to Paris, but when I look at this rethink by Christopher Jenner I can tell he did something fantastic. As you can see in these photos the seats don’t appear to be bad, but they’re certainly not luxurious. That’s where Jenner’s idea comes in, elevating the ordinary to fantastic and creating a first class experience unlike any out there.

The carriage finished in hardwood, brushed Brass and Carbon fibre illustrates a hybrid of the golden age and the new. Individual accommodation in single seats provides essential armrest services ( air, power, connection ) and retractable privacy, while large screen windows open a view to the World flying by.

I think what Jenner has achieved is an openness and a lightness that the current version is lacking. Fluorescent lights, generally, are never a great idea, though Jenner doesn’t offer up what his alternative might be. While this might be an unrealistic vision, imagine if Eurostar incorporated even 20% of this design? Even that could be a startling change.

Fiji Airways brings personality back to air travel

Fiji Airways brings personality back to air travel

A couple of days ago Brand New posted this rebrand of Air Pacific back to Fiji Airways, the name it was originally founded with back in 1947. Gone is the cliché, late 80’s “airline” branding, replaced with an extremely human mark that was created be Fijian artist Makereta Matemosi.

I think it’s pretty interesting that a company like this had the guts to rebrand itself in such a natural manner, bringing the pride of Fijian culture to the forefront. When was the last time you saw an airline brand themselves with the color brown? I think overall it’s pretty spot-on, though the Airways word mark feels a little disjointed to me. Overall, you don’t often see brands making bold moves like this, so I think Fiji Airways definitely deserves some recognition. As Brand New also states, it’ll be interesting to see how the branding continues to develop, like what the planes end up looking like, or even the smaller details like how the food packaging turns out.

The Bandit9 ‘Nero’ Motorcycle, perfection in simplicity

Bandit9 'Nero' Motorcycle

Bandit9 'Nero' Motorcycle

Bandit9 'Nero' Motorcycle

Bandit9 'Nero' Motorcycle

Bandit9 'Nero' Motorcycle

Do I know anything about motorcycles? No, not really. Do I know when one looks really cool? Yes, yes I do. Above is the Nero from Bandit9, a Beijing-based motorcycle company that specializes in handmade motorcycles. The Nero is a customized Chang Jiang 750 with a matte black paint job that makes it look seriously intimidating. If roves of ninja assassin death squads roamed the Earth, they would most certainly be riding these. There’s something so perfect about this bike, it seems like it’s flawless yet full of personality. The matte black does a great job of making the entire bike feel cohesive. There isn’t one particular part that realyl sticks out, it’s meant to be seen as one, perfect piece of machinery.

Toyota Camette Concept: A new take on the sub-compact car

Toyota Camette Concept: A new take on the sub-compact car

The automobile you see above is a concept vehicle by Toyota called the Camette. From what I’ve read the Camette was created to provide “an excellent opportunity for parents and their children to experience the driving joy, car enthusiasm, customization and a fun family experience.” Ok, that sounds like a really stupid reason to make a car, at least in my opinion.

Toyota Camette Concept: A new take on the sub-compact car

Toyota Camette Concept: A new take on the sub-compact car

The way I see a car like the Camette is a renaissance for small vehicles. Some of you may remember how I would rant against large cars, especially in a any urban environments. To often do I see assholes cruising around in giant SUVs here in Los Angeles, as if these three person families need a vehicle like that. Seeing something like the Camette is such a joy, like seeing what the future of small vehicles could be.

Toyota Camette Concept: A new take on the sub-compact car

Toyota Camette Concept: A new take on the sub-compact car

I think the body details are what really sells me on this car. I love the configuration of the vehicle, that you have a driver in the front and two seats in the back. I can’t help but I think of how perfect a car like this would be for Kyle and I and our two dogs. We could all cruise around the city in this, and I’m sure there’s room in the trunk as well if we need to put a beach bag in the back or run and get groceries. Sure, this wouldn’t work for families of 8, but there still aren’t a lot of good options for sub-compact cars beyond the Yaris, the Fit, the Fiat and the Mini.

Toyota Camette Concept: A new take on the sub-compact car

Each year a lot of the major car companies put out small concept cars, but few actually follow through with them. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, a company like Toyota will actually start to make a car like this one a reality.

Found through Campsite

AURUMANIA’s impressive gold bicycle

Aurumania gold bike crystal edition bar

Aurumania gold bike crystal edition - Front

Considering that we are posting about gold all this week on The Fox Is Black, it seems kind of understandable that we’d come across a couple of bizarre things as we scavenged the web for the precious metal. Yet I’m not sure anything could have quite prepared me for this golden bicycle made by the Scandinavian design company AURUMANIA.

Hand built, plated with 24 carat gold and hand-adorned with more then 600 Swarovski crystals; the ‘AURUMANIA Gold Bike Crystal Edition’ costs €80,000 (roughly US $103,700). Understandably it is said to be the most expensive bike in the world, and with only ten in existence it’s a real collectors items. Originally released in 2008, AURUMANIA are still taking orders from their website, so if you have a few spare grand lying around you know what you can do with it.

The Bark Side, Volkswagen’s new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

Volkswagen has gotten quite chummy with the Star Wars brand in the last year, as you may remember the mini-Darth Vader using the Force in their last commercial. This time around they’ve cast the movie with an adorable assembly of dogs, who together bark and howl the Imperial March. It’s a super clever idea, I’ve already watched this several times in a row and it’s better with each sequential viewing. It’s also fun trying to figure out who all the dogs are supposed to be, can you distinguish who is who?