Before Phil Floraday got married, he thought it was perfectly normal to buy cars that didn’t run. He’d make the purchase, remove the parts that he needed, sell the other parts for pocket change and then scrap any leftover sheet metal. In fact, he shares–on his bio as senior web editor for Automobile magazine–that this is how he used to spend his spring breaks. Then, once he had too many pieces and parts lying around, he did the only reasonable thing. He bought a house so that he would have a garage so that he could conveniently store all of his non-working vehicles. “It was a good way to spend time in my twenties,” Phil says, “because I learned about cars by taking them apart and it seemed cost effective. I eventually learned that I wasn’t taking into account my time, though, which is valuable. And, after I realized that, I’m not fighting rusty bolts so often.” Phil got a photojournalism degree at Ohio University, following that up with an internship with Auto Week. “I started out by working on the back end of the site,” Phil says, “and then a fulltime job opened up there that gave me more experience with editorial.” As time passed, Phil’s sets of wheels improved for two reasons: one, he got to test vehicles as part of his Auto Week job; and, two, he got married, which meant that his garage now needed to contain vehicles–and lawnmowers–that worked. 24 Hours of LeMons Phil has also been a participant in 24 Hours of LeMons races, in which the racing vehicles cannot cost more than $500. “I raced with an 87 Pontiac Fiero,” Phil shares. “I was never able to complete my early races, though, because the car would get hit and something would break, or else it would stall out. My car was always pretty beaten up, too, even by $500-car standards, and I’d need to be wrenching the car while driving it, which is quite the experience.” He also recalls when a gas gauge didn’t work in a LeMons vehicle but, fortunately, his bucket of junk never ran out of gas. Phil and his team work on their LeMons Fiero. Automobile magazine When Phil first got a job at Automobile, his duties were “much more nuts and bolts” as he converted stories that originally appeared in the company’s print publication to be suitable for online use; found extra photos, since the Internet allows for more illustration; reviewed new cars that were launching; and “spent too much time in planes.” After marrying three years ago, he cut back on travel and began taking on a more active role in shaping the look and function of the online publication, and overseeing a “complete overhaul of the car buyer’s guide.” He also monitors the social media channels associated with the magazine, watching for and responding to any signs of discontent by fans and followers. He used to attend more car trade shows than he does now, in part because of his shifting work responsibilities and in part because manufacturers now reveal most of the information about new launches before the show starts. “So, attending shows is not as critical,” Phil explains. “There is no substitute for seeing the cars, but we generally already have the pertinent info and then we simply have a few reps check out the actual show.” Automobile magazine describes itself in this fashion: America’s leading automotive lifestyle publication. Arbiters of the “All-Star” awards. Profiles upcoming car designs from leading manufacturers. Written for the sophisticated enthusiast. Profiles high-end vehicles with compelling editorial & photographic content. When asked how he defines a “sophisticated enthusiast,” Phil said the following: “Well, if you have faith in reader surveys, our readers are better educated and better off financially than the average reader of other major car magazines, especially when you’re talking about print subscribers. We’re also more literary. I like to describe Automobile as a men’s magazine that happens to feature cars, rather than a car magazine that happens to have well written articles. We believe that the road we take is every bit as important as the car.” As two examples of quality literary reads found within the online magazine’s virtual pages:
- Noise, Vibration & Harshness: A Boy's First Sinkhole: a heartwarming story about a dad, his son – and, of course, a car
- Noise, Vibration & Harshness: Going, Going, Gone: touching lament about the disappearing connection between driving and AM radio
- General Motors’ Cadillac division projects:
- partially autonomous cars on a large scale by 2015
- fully autonomous cars by the end of the decade
- Audi and BMW have conceptually created self-driving vehicles
- Google uses a fleet of fully autonomous Toyota Prius hybrids, already having put 300,000 miles on their odometers
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has predicted that, by 2040, 75% of vehicles being used will be autonomous
- Vehicle-to-vehicle communications are being tested, which will allow cars to talk to one another, so to speak, to avoid crashes
- Volvo is testing “road trains” in Europe, which consists of vehicles moving very closely to one another; this would be possible with automation and would allow more cars on the road, with lower fuel consumption
- Level 0: no automation, with the driver needing to be in complete control of steering, braking and the like at all times
- Level 1: function-specific automation, where vehicles have at least one automated feature, such as adaptive cruise control, electronic stability control or pre-charged brakes, which help a driver brake more quickly
- Level 2: the combination of two or more autonomous technologies, such as adaptive cruise control and lane centering; in this level, a driver must be prepared to take manual control of his or her vehicle back at any time. Some of these technologies may only be workable in highway driving, in favorable weather conditions and the like.
- Level 3: in this level, drivers will not need to constantly monitor road conditions; rather, he or she will be given a reasonable amount of time to transition from the autonomous driving experience to the more traditional manual driving; in theory, a driver of a level 3 car would, according to Steve, presumably “be free to talk on the phone, text, read the paper, or do whatever else they want knowing they will have plenty of reaction time before they have to pay attention to the road.” When this type of driving becomes available, a long trip could become a productive time, without the “tension of navigating among the big rigs plying” the highway.
- Level 4: the vehicle can handle all “safety-critical driving functions,” and can simply provide destination/navigation information; this vehicle could be occupied or unoccupied.
- comparably reduces accidents over the coming decades.
- eventually eliminate most traffic congestion
- decrease the need for highway expansion (basically, because the automated vehicles can operate bumper-to-bumper at higher speeds), thereby reducing both fuel consumption and emissions per mile
- Careless drivers would no longer be responsible for controlling the actions of their automated vehicles
- Drivers can be free to simply enjoy the ride, sort of like taking public transportation but in your own private vehicle
Last updated June 6, 2018