Blog Archive

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Europe is killing its own automotive industry, How I am starting to use AI, Gone are our White Male Middle Class Political Leaders

How Europe is killing its own automotive industry

The UK and the EU announced last year that the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid car sales would be banned from 2035. Any new car that produces CO2 is to be banned.

So that means most people buying a new car will be forced to buy an electric vehicle (EV). 

Just one problem there: the West makes good premium priced EVs. China is in the process of flooding the market with cheap EVs.

The Financial Times 10/04/2024

Many early adopters have bought Teslas and other expensive EVs including VWs, Porsches, BMWs etc. These cars typically cost over £50,000 which is substantially more than the majority of people pay for a new car. There are some lower priced small EVs from European manufacturers such as the Renault Zoe (which gets good reviews) and the Peugeot e208 (£30,000+). But the Chinese ones are better value, in part thanks to Chinese subsidies.

Recently I hired an EV in France. I booked an e208 or 'similar category' car - it was the cheapest rental vehicle available. I could have had a much smaller petrol powered car for slightly more money. Unfortunately when I went to inspect the Renault Zoe I had been allocated (12km on the clock) there was no domestic charging cable available. So Europcar 'upgraded me' to a MG4 EV Made in China. It had 400km on the clock and the two charging cables in the boot were both new and unwrapped.

My MG4 EV rental car

The list price of this car starts at £27,000 which is actually about the same as the Zoe but it's a larger car and probably has a better range. There are very attractive leasing deals available on these cars starting at £99 per month plus no doubt some stupidly high deposit. But given that demand is so much lower than forecasts, I am sure there are some very good deals out there.

So what did I think of the car? Well if you are looking for a solid feeling machine to get you from A to B in relative comfort, rarely need to go more than 200 miles and are happy to plug it in to your domestic electricity socket overnight, it will probably meet your requirements. To me the car felt structurally sound and operationally effective. The interior trim and finishes seemed a bit boring, certainly not premium, and the central console is very basic and buggy. So if you get excited by cars, this one probably won't excite you. It will most likely bore the pants off you.

Of course, until people feel confident that they can charge their car with a minimum of fuss (not like my stay in Majorca last year) few will want to buy an EV. This is what I said about our EV in Majorca:

A Fiat 500e was our rental car. It proved very stressful finding an available charger that worked. And considerably more expensive than petrol. Won't do that again! Instead of driving peacefully to the places we had highlighted to visit, we ended up planning our day trips around public chargers, many of which didn't work, were being used or were too slow to serve any real purpose. I have learned my lesson! Now I know why it was the cheapest car available at Avis.

The Fiat 500 EV would have been a great little car if there had been somewhere to charge it

How I am starting to use AI

Like many of us, I have had a play with Chat GPT, Gemini, Perplexity and others with mixed results. When I asked to calculate the cost of driving to France, it forgot that there was a stretch of water en route. When I asked where the HQ of Chanel is, it got it wrong (it's in London not Paris if you are interested).

To be fair, when I pointed out their mistakes, the AI was very gracious in admitting them and thanking me for pointing it out, explaining that it is learning. But it has been helpful for some things - although still not hugely better than a good search engine. I expect it will improve rapidly.

However, I have used AI built into a couple of applications with great success. I wanted to build a website and asked Hostinger's AI to do that for me. It asked me few questions and built me a very good site that I could go on to edit to my satisfaction. That saved me a few hours.

Use Food Mood to create your perfect recipe!!

I also used Google's Food Mood to create a great recipe! Instead of browsing cook books to find something that looks attractive, you choose two countries (I chose Greece and Italy), specify how many people, meal type (dinner) and any dietary preferences (gluten free, veggie) and it created a great recipe for me. It was a pasta feta based dish even better that TikTok pasta! I will be using it more!

What next I wonder?

Gone are our White Male Middle Class Political Leaders

Rishi Sunak is the UK's first British Asian Prime Minister. His parents are both of Indian descent and immigrated to the UK in the 1960s from East Africa.

Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething was born in Zambia in 1974.

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf who has just announced his resignation, was born in Glasgow to Pakistani immigrant parents. According to The Economist, the length of his tenure was 8.1 Liz Trusses.

Michelle O'Neill - the First Minister of Northern Ireland

Sadiq Kahn - Mayor of London was born in Tooting, London, to Pakistani immigrant parents.

Quote for the Month

Scoop on Netflix relives the infamous Prince Andrew/ Emily Maitlis interview and how it came to be. My favourite moment was when Maitlis was trying to establish why Andrew had invited a convicted sex offender, Epstein, to stay at Sandringham:

EM: Am I right in thinking you threw a birthday party for Epstein's girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell at Sandringham?

PA: No, it was a shooting weekend.

EM: A shooting weekend?

PA: Just a straightforward, a straightforward shooting weekend.

Prince Andrew is so privileged and out of touch with ordinary people, that it doesn't even occur to him that most people don't do 'shooting weekends' and have little idea how they work. For me, this brief extract from his notorious interview with Maitlis sums up the huge gulf between Andrew and the real world and this is what led to his downfall - a complete inability to comprehend how real people think and feel.

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