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Ten things we learned this week: October 6, 2017 edition

The most-justified vehicle theft ever, a new use for your car keys and Toyota goes under, down under

  1. Toyota no longer calls Australia home

    That’s right – Toyota no longer builds cars in the land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder. 

    It’s been a five-decade ride for Toyota Motor Australia, cranking out a series of reliable (and reliably dull) cars and 4x4s that have been overwhelming sales successes in the land of sunburn and snakes. 

    So, you might be wondering, why shut a plant that builds cars popular enough to make Toyota an Australian best-seller for the past decade? 

    Well, many reasons that require a more in-depth narrative than Ten Things is in the habit of covering (we’ll have a proper story in the coming weeks), but the gist is as follows: too pricey to build means not profitable enough to sell. So, Toyota’s metamorphosing into an importer-distributor in the land of Oz, rather than a manufacturer. 

    So, er, strewth, or bugger, or stone the flamin’ crows, or whatever it is that people think Australians actually say.

  2. Tesla literally can’t build Model 3s quickly enough

    It’s the kind of problem that sounds like a manufacturer’s dream – your product is so popular that you can’t keep up with demand. 

    Well, tell that to Tesla, which is now behind schedule for its Model 3 production targets, “due to production bottlenecks”.

    But then Elon’s already said that going from producing 80,000 cars a year to building 500,000 – by 2018 – will be “production hell”.

    If you believe the hype, the Model 3 has it all to do – it has to take Tesla into full mass-production and profitability, as well as paving the way for the Model Y. In Ten Things’ opinion, speculation is, and always has been, a mug’s game. 

    Oh, and Elon, if you’re getting this read to you by your personal assistant, please do put us down for a long-termer at your earliest convenience. 

  3. An ex-marine stole a truck to take Las Vegas shooting victims to hospital

    From the chaos of horrible mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, we have at least one amazing story. 

    Ex-Sergeant Taylor Winston – a man so manly that even his beard has a beard – acted with incredible bravery and presence of mind. He first helped concert-goers escape the barrage of bullets and vault a fence to safer ground, then nicked a big ’Murican Chevy pick-up truck and loaded the most gravely injured into the cabin and tray, before ferrying them to the nearest hospital – long before paramedics had even arrived on the scene.

    And, just in case you weren’t already impressed, after escaping, purloining a truck, performing triage and becoming a makeshift paramedic, he turned the truck around and went back to the concert to do it all again.

    Oh, and he returned the truck when he was done. The first drink tonight will be raised in your honour, sir. 

  4. You can now pay for things with your car keys

    See? Now this, this, is progress. No longer will we be shackled and bound, forced to pay for lattes and Uniqlo t-shirts using only a choice of credit and debit cards, cash or tapping with our phones. And it comes in the nick of time, too – our efforts to pay with impromptu interpretive dance have been fruitless so far. 

    Yes! Praise be. Thanks to DS, we can now use the first thing we retrieve from our pockets to pay, overcoming the frankly herculean burden of locating, opening and retrieving something from our wallet. It’s as simple as laying down between £15,000 and £45,000 on a new DS and visiting an east-London cafe. Then you can amaze and astound the barista by attempting to pay with your keys, in a way that absolutely won’t force you to explain what you’re up to and that no, you don’t think that it’s 2028 and you’re voting for four more years of Imperial Overlord Dwayne Johnson. 

  5. Jamie Oliver’s bespoke LR Discovery is a go-anywhere mobile kitchen

    Keen to show off the prowess of its Special Vehicle Operations division, Land Rover’s enlisted the help of that rather nice English chef. Y’know, the one who doesn’t swear or call people idiot sandwiches. 

    So, armed with some TV-ready japery, JO’s enlisted SVO to make his ideal Disco. Neat-o.

  6. Electric cars will be kinder to the environment soon

    So, let’s get a few things out of the way first. Mining, of some description, will still need to happen to build a new car, regardless of its method of propulsion. And that uses energy and minerals.

    And, even if huge swathes of materials are recycled, those bits have already been mined/farmed and processed in some way. And then there’s the recycling process, which can be quite energy-intensive.  

    And then there’s the energy needed to power the factory to actually build the car and keep the lights on. Phew… never before have we had to lead a story with the caveats and addenda. 

    So, with that duly mentioned, let’s move on to the point, which is that moving forwards (we’ve been consulting our English-to-politician dictionary), the energy that goes into every stage of the electric car will come from a much cleaner source: solar, geothermic, hydroelectric, biomass and wind power.  

    In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that the amount of worldwide solar power has increased by 50 per cent over the past year alone, making it the fastest-growing energy supply – faster than coal, for the first time ever. And the outlook for clean energy seems (forgive us) brighter than ever, with forecasts indicating that by 2022, we’ll generate more than 8,000 terawatt hours per year from renewable sources. That’s enough, if our back-of-a-notebook maths is correct, to power more than 13,000 electric ovens at full tilt, for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And that’s a lot of cheese toasties. 

  7. Drain covers don’t belong on racing lines

    Well, to be fair, Haas F1 learned that lesson for us at the Malaysian GP. But, as the late, great Douglas Adams once said, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”

    So, given that Haas F1’s repair bill is quickly approaching $1m, let’s try to buck the trend and come away with a lesson: drain covers BAD. 

  8. Nissan has developed a seat that knows if you're thirsty

    Surprise! Nissan’s marketing team is back in Ten Things with another zany idea. Fresh from driving up Goodwood’s hill climb on two wheels, and creating a pooch-friendly X-Trail, they’re now using the rest of this year’s marketing budget developing a prototype sweat-sensing car seat that saves lives.

    The technology, developed in collaboration with Dutch design company Droog, is called Soak and changes the seat colour (from blue to yellow) if your back sweat is high in salt, suggesting that you’re dehydrated. Or enjoyed a Chinese takeaway the previous evening.

    It’s due to research by the European Hydration Institute and Loughborough University that found dehydrated drivers were as accident prone as those who had drunk alcohol.

    So remember, kids. Keep the fluids up on long drives. 

  9. A mad man has backflipped between two barges

    In this age of social media and amour proper, getting noticed is quite hard. Gone are the days of dropping leaflets through people’s letterbox to get attention. Nowadays you have to do BIG things to get attention. Things like backflipping a motorcycle jump over a 23-metre gap between two barges floating on London’s murky river Thames…11 years after the last rider who had a go broke his back.

    The man behind the handlebars was Nitro Circus ringleader and multiple bone-breaker (90 to be precise) Travis Pastrana. With only 46 metres to accelerate, he flung his bike over the gap before hitting the brakes with only 11 metres to come to a stop. Otherwise, he’d end up in the drink. And no one wants to go for a dip in the Thames.

    Well, it did grab our attention. So we guess that’s job done. 

  10. Ken Block has pulled out of World Rallycross

    We bring bad news, rallycross fans. As this week, Ken Block’s Ford Performance-backed Hoonigan Racing team which he and Andreas Bakkerud drove for will end its FIA World Rallycross Championship campaign at the end of the 2017 season. Boo-hoo.

    Just two years after debuting the mad Focus RS rallycross car, the plug has been pulled due to the uncertainty of the sport’s regulations and the fact they’ll need to develop a new car.  

    “Although we have thoroughly enjoyed competing in the exciting FIA World Rallycross Championship, it’s a natural time for us to take a break as the future of the series takes shape,” said Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance in the statement. “To continue in [the championship] would have required the development of a new race car, and with so much discussion happening around the future of rallycross from a powertrain package standpoint, it made sense for us to pause until it’s better defined,” he added.

    But don’t fear, Ken Block’s future with Ford is still safe and he’ll still be competing in various motorsport events and creating Gymkhana videos.

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