Vigilante Real Estate Agent Finds Cache Of Stolen Cars Because You Do Not Mess With Real Estate Agents

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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

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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

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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

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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

VelcoptertopWe’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.

Per a Bloomberg article on the topic:

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!

The Flush

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

 

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53 Responses

  1. Kids usually learn from their parents. I’m wondering if the daughter was just stupid/clueless or just did what Mom always did? Either way, that’s probably the last time she’ll be driving either parent’s car(s) for a while, if ever.

    1. It’s especially incongruous (at least from an etymology standpoint) because “taxicab” is short for “taximeter cabriolet.”

      The taximeter part? Sure, no problem. That’s just how you calculate and charge for the fare.

      The CABRIOLET part, though? Have you seen those blades?!

    2. Technically these things arent even helicopters.They have little or no autorotate ability ,so cant fly when there’s a serious problem. Helicopters can still land with a dead engine (their version of gliding)

      Of course the retarded makers of these gadgets don’t know this.They’re calling them flying taxis because somehow that phrase became cool.

      TLDR They lucked onto being half right about the name.Everything else about it is a shit milkshake

    3. The same way a regular taxi is just a fancy name for a car. It indicates it’s specific purpose.

      They’re also not generally designed as typical helicopters in terms of being designed around being quiet and, once presumes safer.

      They’d have to exist first, of course.

  2. Flying taxi probably beats widespread passenger hydrogen. Partially because I don’t see passenger vehicles going to hydrogen. Freight, maybe, but the continued advances in batteries and the electrical grid already being widespread will likely lead to EVs winning on the passenger vehicle front.

    1. I’m not the first one to make this observation, but I seem to recall some attempts at “passenger hydrogen” circa the interwar period. I forget how they ended, though…

  3. “if you get enough people rowing in the same direction eventually you’ll start going on that direction.”

    It doesn’t matter how many people are rowing if you’re trying to climb a waterfall. Everybody rowing just gets wet.

  4. The hydrogen comment by Hyundai was most certainly not limited to passenger vehicles. However, passenger vehicle R&D can certainly serve as a catalyst for experimentation and efficiency breakthroughs.

  5. With a short — but not wholly satisfying — experience with an early-ish hydrogen car and it’s hydrogen “source” (both courtesy Honda), I don’t see a mass-market result anytime soon. Certainly not a financially viable one for the consumer.

    And I would rather trust making my way through the worst Paris traffic instead of taking an “eTaxi,” which looks like a vastly scaled-up drone. Nope.

    Good for the real-estate agent. Intelligently handled, too. Even a nice E-Class is not worth getting shot at by some desperate clown who was planning to sell the car to a chop shop in exchange for his next fix.

      1. same as a battery I suppose, except if they can figure a more efficient way to transport it, Hydrogen does not necessarily require 2 tons of weight to propel a ground vehicle.

    1. How is hydrogen clean & limitless? As far as I know, the two common ways of producing hydrogen at scale are electrolysis from water and ‘cracking’ natural gas-both energy-intensive. I therefore consider hydrogen to be an energy-storage medium rather than an actual source of energy. I’m happy to be corrected if this is no longer the case.

      1. IMHO with the need for more fresh water desalination will be more necessary. The use of tidal energy will be used to subtract the salt by evaporating the water, leaving the salt behind. Then water will be the primary product but based on meeting the need and limited storage capacity a secondary product will be Hydrogen. Remember unlimited tidal power an low cost. Also after hydrogen is extracted you have oxygen as a byproduct for sale or released into the atmosphere to combat climate change. Or sell the oxygen to be released as credits to offset pollution

      2. Hydrogen is “clean” in the sense that both it’s combustion reaction, and it’s fuel-cell reaction produce no hydrocarbons or CO2, only water vapor. You are correct in stating that hydrogen production involves energy intensive methods, but this isn’t really any different from current fuel sources- the refining chain from crude oil to gasoline is also incredibly energy intensive. Now you can of course just use this electricity to charge a battery, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch there either, the pathway between your wall charger and BEVs spinning tires has a number of efficiency losses in it as well, with the biggest one being that energy density for a battery is currently something like 1/200th that of LH2, and that’s assuming no packaging on the battery at all.

        1. Didnt some real smart guy prove matter can not be created or destroyed just transferred into a different medium? All those mediums are just different types of matter are just different energy storage devices, including the human body? Now of course noone has managed to perpetual motion device but its not a matter of losing energy per se just an efficiency problem where some energy is lost in a different source. For example a fire creates heat but loses energy up the chimney, or into the materials that make up the chimney plus converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. That energy isnt lost as plants also convert the carbon dioxide into oxygen and energy to grow. The energy to grow is translated into energy or calories when we humans or other life forms eat it and then physically perform. We use that energy and also release heat which is not lost just not used.
          Follow me here matter cant be created or desyroyed then energy cannot be created or destroyed. Now we have millions if not billions more people than ever. We are 80% water. That is where alot of the water has gone. Also the heat we generate does warm the enviroment melts the salt free ice in the polar regions. Once it melts it absorbs salt and the oceans rise. If we could take the ice free salt to areas needing fresh water both problems are solved. Or desalinization. Another issue is human interference. With streams and damns created over hundreds of years water does not stay where it falls with only excess flooding off. Most of it is drained so 10 years of low rain creates a drought. California really ascerbated the problem when they illegally purchased water rights to create farms in the desert. Its funny that the supposed enviromentally conscience are the ones most responsible for climate change and their solutions just make them worse.

        2. Once you produce hydrogen, you have to compress it into liquid form. Compressors use a LOT of energy (I work in industrial HVAC). Then you have to transport it to where the user fills up via pipeline or tanker(more energy). Once at the station, you have to pump it into the customer’s car(yet more energy-especially at these pressures!) Then we have to worry about how well that customer maintains their car-and I’d be giving the side-eye at every hydrogen car even when new given automaker’s love for shaving pennys. No one likes having their car inspected, but can you imagine a 10yo hydrogen car in the salt belt? I can-vividly.

          Maybe the people working with algae to produce hydrogen will come through, but, until then, I don’t see it as a realistic cost-beneficial solution. Honestly, even then I’ll be wary ‘cause the good ol’ boys ‘round these parts will try to find a way to roll coal with hydrogen trucks. *shudders*

    2. Hydrogen will still win in the long run. The only hurdles to widespread adoption are engineering problems (ie tankage and on-site production) rather than problems of fundamental physics (what is the limit of available energy density storable in an anode-cathode combination), and the energy density (roughly 4x that of gasoline in terms of J/kg) is simply too high to not utilize. Plus it has the advantage of being literally the most abundant element in the universe, and readily obtainable from plain water. The only question is does the adoption take 10 years, 100 years, or 1000 years?

      My prediction is it will start with aerospace (which already uses LH2 as a fuel in rockets), then it will spread to marine uses, and finally ground transportation. So not really near-term, but not waaayyyy out there either.

      1. Agreed once enough EVs are on the road electricity costs will be even worse than now. Therefore a different energy source will be needed for cars. Never underestimate the forward thinking people. Toyota has been succesful time and again on predicting the future of cars. Im guessing Hyundai is just following their lead. With the US being the largest open consumer market, yes China is bigger but you cant win on that market, we have slow acceptance, poor charging network, an ancient electrical grid, and an impatient customer base. EVs are like tech they will be obsolete before they meet general acceptance. Tesla is starting to show those growing pains, the competition? Who knows if ICE is propping EV up still?

      2. “Hydrogen will still win in the long run”

        No it won’t.

        “The only hurdles to widespread adoption are engineering problems (ie tankage and on-site production) ”

        And the general lack of infrastructure that costs 10X more to build out than BEV infrastructure

        ” rather than problems of fundamental physics ”

        That’s false. There is a fundamental problem of it being far less efficient than BEVs on an end to end basis.

        The lack of efficiency and high infrastructure cost means hydrogen will never have the future you think it might have.

  6. I’m quite confident stating that neither hydrogen powered cars nor flying taxis will be a viable commercial product in my lifetime.

    Hydrogen powered heavy equipment or trucks, possibly, but even there carbon-neutral synthetic fuels seem like a better idea. Much denser, much easier to use existing infrastructure, and much easier to retrofit to older vehicles.

    As for flying taxis, it’s hard to picture a worse cost/benefit tradeoff than a bunch of poorly trained pilots littering the skies in exchange for saving a few minutes in traffic.

    1. You might not even save a few minutes in traffic, because there isn’t a chance in hell that the FAA will approve operating these things amongst tall buildings or anywhere near an airport. We’ll have to see how much pent up demand there is for air taxis in the suburbs and farm country.

    2. Agreed on the flying taxis. Why not make gondolas like at Disney or various ski resorts? I’ve used them both places, very efficient people movers, more comfortable than buses, less chance of rookie pilots crashing.

      1. Yes if everybody is in 1 spot and wanting to go to the same spot year after year it is a good idea. But building them for a once in a lifetime 2 week event is MONORAIL.
        I WOULD PUT A MEME HERE BUT…

        1. I always have been, and always will be, a proponent of commuter roller coasters.

          Powered by electricity. Buildings and other obstacles simply make for a more enjoyable ride. Are safely(ish) operated by untrained teens earning minimum wage. The perfect mass-transit solution. Prove me wrong!!!

      2. No one’s going to crash because of automation! /s

        Being serious, drone stabilization systems are incredible, even on cheap hobby quadcopters. But the best stabilization can’t compensate for a mechanical failure, AFAIK. On a quadcopter motor failure means instant crash. I’m not hopping into one of these gizmos unless it has an emergency chute and some crazy effective airbags to slow down the sudden stop when it meets the ground after a malfunction.

        1. IIRC, some company claims to have this sorted by having something like 8 props and the ability to shut off the opposite prop if one dies. It needs 6 to fly, so it can only do this for one failure. I wonder how the difference in load changes the life expectancy of the remaining props.

          But, yeah, the threat of mechanical failure is very real. A plane can glide, a helicopter can perform an autorotation landing, but what do these do? And are they going to find a safe zone for an emergency landing? Too many questions that aren’t really being thoroughly addressed.

    3. Re: Hydrogen fuel
      I agree with you completely, except the heavy commercial angle.

      All the costs and expenses that make personally owned passenger hydrogen a dumb idea are ten times worse in vehicles whose operating costs are carefully evaluated before purchase and tightly tracked afterwards.

      The only thing that will make commercial vehicles hydrogen powered is a huge thumb on the scale in the form of government subsidies and tax breaks. I think most governments are wising up to the economic unfeasibility of hydrogen as a motor vehicle fuel.

      Re: Flying taxis
      We’ll have a few flying taxis in all of the wealthiest major cities before long. Those who are merely rich already want the benefits of the ultra-rich, who currently own private helicopters. I know I won’t live long enough for that to become available to ordinary people.

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