Talking Motors: Rolls Royce's vision of the future
Something happened last weekend which made me feel awful.
It’s a feeling a little bit like when you need Saints to win a match or when you eat cold takeaway for breakfast.
It feels inexcusable. The kind of thing you don’t want anyone to know about.
I wished for two-and-a-half hours that we were in a driverless car.
I know - it’s utterly shocking. And I don’t even think my excuse is adequate.
We were doing a regular trip south to see family. They don’t live in ‘The South’ according to my girlfriend but as far as I’m concerned, anything south of Warrington requires me to pack my passport just in case. And on a Friday evening, as you can imagine, it isn’t a pleasant drive.
To be honest, I wasn’t driving. There are a variety of reasons I’m not trusted to do this when we’re in my girlfriend’s car, but the thought still crossed my mind while crawling to a halt as we snaked through Birmingham at a pace which let me play a favourite game of looking at the codes on tyres of other cars to see how old they are.
Driverless technology is coming at some point in the future - and articles on the subject are often accompanied by pictures of people clinking glasses or reading while fields and towns whizz by in the background.
And while, in reality, a fully automated door-to-door journey of two hoursis at least a couple of decades away, I thought the option would be nice on this occasion. But the distance into the future such a journey is hasn’t stopped Rolls Royce unveiling a concept car.
Concept cars are rarely to be taken seriously.
After all, they are called concepts for a reason - they are basically a chance for designers to play around without the restrictions of budgets, practicality and legislation. In reality, they’re rarely more than a photo opp. Only a few (of the more modest) concept cars have seen the light of day as production models - the Kia Soul and Audi TT spring to mind. And for the less realistic ones- such as the Volkswagen Aqua and the 70s Vauxhall SRV, they remain looking like something from the pages of a 50s comic book.
And the Rolls Royce concept is no exception.
You’ll know I fell out with Rolls Royce recently over the garish Dawn - and the PR gumf that comes with the photos of the concept show, as I suspected, their media team doesn’t read this column. It reads: “Each Rolls-Royce will be designed less like a car, and more like an individual sculpture made from one seamless surface. Fluid curves sing with warmth, romance and opulence.”
There appears to be an absence of a driver’s seat and there’s a digital voice named Elanor that learns your favourite destinations, routes and the like.
There is nothing for anyone to do other than sit back.
But in exchange for the odd night stuck in traffic, let me drive myself.
Because from here, the future doesn’t look like much fun.
Thankfully, it would appear all is not lost in the motorist’s pursuit of fun.
It has felt like Paris officials have had classic car enthusiasts by the scruff of the neck over the past year or so as legislation is ushered in the clean the city’s air.
But drivers of Renault 5s and Citoren 2CVs should, hopefully, be able to breathe more easily now.
It looks like the Fédération Francaise des Véhicules d’Epoque have managed to reach an agreement with Paris officials, and hobbyist cars bearing a special sticker will be exempt from the ban.
This will mean any car made in 1986 or before will be able to venture into the French capital without the driver worrying about being ticketed, as long as they display a Carte Grise de Collection registration sticker.
But it will only add fuel to the fire over what constitutes a classic.
Many enthusiasts have classics younger than 30 which will still be affected by the 8am-8pm Monday to Friday ban.
Mx5 drivers spring to mind.
The Fédération Française des Véhicules d’Epoque, or FFVE, are looking into the matter of younger classics, but we could be in for more twists in the road – as usual, what constitutes a classic is not black and white.