Here’s how the morning was scheduled: Take Kate to school, then home to repack the mojo bag (mobile journalism), swing by the mammography center for the annual you-know-what, then break free in time to catch the unveiling of the third-generation Prius at Cobo. And it all would have worked if there hadn’t been a fire alarm at the cancer hospital where the mammography center is located, which threw the proverbial monkey wrench into things. But it was probably useful, as there’s nothing like standing out in 20-degree cold with a bunch of cancer patients to make you decide things like Priuses (Prii?) aren’t all that important.
I considered bagging the m’gram entirely; I hadn’t been called yet, and so wasn’t in the position of the woman who’d gone in just ahead of me, left standing in her winter jacket over the gown, her bra and shirt in a plastic bag. But I couldn’t leave the company, and I’m not sure why. There was a woman trying to calm a young girl who obviously had a host of serious disabilities, quietly having a panic attack over the honking of the alarm. There was an old man in a wheelchair, heaped with blankets. And last out of the door serving our stairway was a young woman holding a baby, escorted by two others who were carrying an IV stand. The tube ran into the heaps of blankets and fleece keeping the two of them warm, and I didn’t know who it was attached to, but from the way the little party was acting, I suspect it was the baby. Do babies get chemo? Is it even possible for a kid not even a year old?
It cleared my head, certainly. The alarm was silenced after about 15 minutes, and after about five more, we were able to return to our individual appointments, but by then the schedule was FUBAR. I was freed from the Big Squeeze exactly 15 minutes before the Prius was scheduled for unveiling, and even I can’t drive that fast.
Fortunately, others were there. The new Prius looks a lot like the old Prius, but it’s supposedly bigger, faster, this-er and that-er.
As a consolation prize, how about a Tesla?
This is the Silicon Valley supercar, the all-electric totally hot totally green sports car. You need Steve Jobs’ salary to buy it — it costs well over $100K — and, well, it’s had a few problems. Daniel Lyons wrote about the car in Newsweek a few weeks back:
Tesla Motors didn’t just set out to build an electric car. It set out to teach Detroit a lesson. Back in 2003, when these guys from Silicon Valley were launching their company, they didn’t apologize for knowing next to nothing about the automotive industry. In fact, they took pride in this. They were rebels, disruptors, technogeeks operating at Internet speed—and they were convinced they could do better than the lumbering, clueless Big Three. Tesla’s lead investor, Elon Musk, a charismatic Web entrepreneur who made a fortune as a cofounder of PayPal, last year boasted to BusinessWeek that “Silicon Valley is the best in the world at everything it does.”
They must sell hubris in bulk at Whole Foods. Today, the Tesla, in Lyons’ words, is:
…a classic Silicon Valley product—it’s late and over budget, has gone through loads of redesigns, still has bugs and, at $109,000, costs more than originally planned. Tesla’s first 40 roadsters went out of the factory with a drivetrain that needs to be replaced. (Tesla will do the rip-and-replace for free.) Its second car, a sedan, has been delayed until 2011. Tesla, based in San Carlos, Calif., has raised $150 million and burned through almost all of it, plus millions more put down by customers in the form of deposits (the company won’t give an exact figure). Now, hit by the downturn, Tesla has laid off 20 percent of its staff, closed its Detroit office and borrowed money to stay afloat.
“The best in the world at everything it does.” I love people willing to say things like that on the record. You just know the followup stories will be even better.
Jalopnik really is the go-to source for auto-show blogging, at least for photos. (The Free Press and News provide a more holistic picture for Detroiters.) You can see the foxy model from my picture yesterday on Jalopnik’s, taken at the reveal of the Maserati Quattoporte. (Quattroporte means “four models.” No, wait. Let me check.)
I don’t know if I’ll make it back downtown after all. Things wrap up tomorrow at lunchtime, and then it’s Industry Days, the Charity Preview and finally the hoi polloi gates open Saturday.
A few people have asked about the pictures. Yes, they were taken with my new camera. (If you click the photos, it takes you to the Flickr page, which tells you the exact model, and if you click that, you get taken to another page that gives you everything from the price range to a selection of other Flickr pix taken with the same model.) Yes, most of them were shot on point-and-shoot settings. (I did a few on the Sports setting, to raise the shutter speed for moving rollouts.) Yes, it takes very nice pictures, but — don’t fail to consider the show floor is engineered to produce beautiful pictures, with artful lighting, lovely staging and an army of polishers who stand ready to banish any dust mote that dare show its face. Which is to say the camera is great but it’s not just the camera.
OK. I still have some paid work to do today, so I’d best get to it. A good afternoon to all. Be back whenever.