We’re kicking this week off with a vigilante real estate agent in Florida, flying taxis in Paris, Hydrogen in Korea, and VWs going everywhere that isn’t Europe.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Florida Real Estate Agents Don’t Play
I’ve moved about a dozen times since college and, therefore, have interacted with a lot of real estate agents. They’ve all had their different quirks and personalities, but the one consistent feature is drive. You’ve gotta hustle if you’re in real estate.
It’s therefore no surprise that if anyone was going to find a bunch of stolen cars after getting their own car stolen, it would be a person in the biz. This story comes courtesy of the Bradenton Herald, a local newspaper serving Florida’s Gulf Coast, whose headline sums it up nicely: “A Florida real estate agent found a stolen car ring in search of her missing Mercedes.”
The car in question appears to be a white W212 Mercedes E-Class sedan, the official car of “I want something nice but I still work for a living.” The agent in question is Rachel Speight, of Sarasota, who bought the car more than a decade ago.
Unfortunately, per the story, Ms. Speight lent her car to her daughter and the daughter left the keys in the car overnight only to discover the car gone.
“I went … huffing and puffing because that was my baby when I started my real estate career. That was the car I purchased, so I’m panicking,” Speight told the Herald.
From there Speight did what all good real estate agents do: Advertise and increase word-of-mouth. She started handing out flyers to anyone and everyone within a few miles of the theft. Lo and behold tips started coming in and she found it! From the Herald:
She was relieved but still afraid and quickly called the police. She also called her husband and daughter to help stake out the place until the police arrived. She said she didn’t know if the person who stole her car was inside one of the houses or if they’d come out with guns flaring, “I just saw my baby sitting back there, and said I’m about to come get you.”
I love this woman. In the end, she found four stolen cars, all of which were likely being cooled until they could be transported discreetly. I’m sharing this story both because it’s awesome and because I filmed with the NYPD Auto Crime Division and what happened here is what they say is happening more often: Thieves are just looking for cars with the keys in them.
For some reason, when it’s a key that looks like a key no one will leave it in their car. When it’s a key that’s a cool little fob thing people have no trouble shoving it in the center console. Don’t do it!
VW South Africa Needs New Markets For Gas-Powered Cars
With the quick pace of electrification in Europe, Volkswagen of South Africa is having to look for a new place to send its gas-powered cars. While there’s certainly a domestic market in the country, about 75% of the country’s cars are sent abroad and most of those end up in Europe.
Where are those cars going to go now? According to this Reuters article, VW is looking to Asia and Latin America.
Martina Biene, Volkswagen South Africa’s new managing director, told Reuters the company’s manufacturing facilities in the country do not plan an immediate pivot to producing electric vehicles.
Instead, it would partner with the company’s Indian and Brazilian manufacturing hubs to produce petrol and diesel vehicles for countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa that will likely lag behind advanced economies in the shift to EVs.
Not all countries are capable of supporting an EV infrastructure (we don’t even have a fully developed one in the United States yet) so it makes sense that someone has to keep making these cars.
Hyundai Is Still Into Hydrogen
With the exception of the Hyundai N Vision 74 I’m still not super hot on hydrogen for regular passenger vehicles, but that isn’t stopping automakers for doubling down on the future of the technology.
Hyundai Motor Group Exec Chairman Euisun Chung gave a big speech yesterday in Bali, Indonesia for a G20 Summit on the topic of “Energy Poverty and Accelerating a Just and Orderly Sustainable Energy Use.”
There were the usual platitudes in the Chairman’s speech about “leadership” and “bold decisions” and an acknowledgment that climate change is real.
But then there was this, in the press release from Hyundai:
“We are pursuing a net-zero strategy across all our value chains, including the purchase of auto parts, vehicle manufacturing, logistics, customer use of our products and vehicle recycling. We need the strong support of global leaders who create policies that encourage investment in these new resources and technologies.”
Regarding hydrogen as a future clean energy solution, he explained: “With renewables come different challenges—including limits on supply and storage. Hydrogen can solve many of these issues. And now, there is a global consensus on the importance of hydrogen as a future, limitless, energy solution.”
The emphasis is mine. This still feels to me like the industry is trying to make fetch happen, but if you get enough people rowing in the same direction eventually you’ll start going on that direction.
Paris Is Serious About Flying Taxis For The 2024 Olympics
We’re less than two years away from the Paris Summer Olympics and Aeroports de Paris, the people whose name you curse when you’re stuck trying to figure out how to return your car at CDG amidst a random strike, are building a “vertiport” at Pontoise Cormeilles to help ferry passengers around the city.
Valérie Pécresse, president of the Paris Region, said in a statement she wants the city to be known as the site of the first passenger eVTOL flight, adding that the Olympics provide “an incredible opportunity to showcase and launch this project.”
Flying taxis are emerging as a new transport market, with developers raising hundreds of millions of US dollars.
Maybe this will be a thing! Again, enough people seem to want it. We’ve had civil aviation for like 100 years and the French still haven’t figured out how to run an airport so we’ll see!
Would you take a flying taxi? What comes first: mass-produced hydrogen cars or regular flying taxi use?
Photos: Rachel Speight-Hudson, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Volocopter