This is what’s wrong with the German car industry

Veröffentlicht am

Almost 6 months after Tesla received more than 300’000 (refundable) pre-orders for an affordable and exiting all-electric vehicle with a promised range of 350 km, BMW’s senior management decided they had to skip a trade show to finally settle the question on wether or not to continue to invest in electric cars. Why does this question arise? Because apparently, their decisively ugly and technologically mediocre1 i3 didn’t sell very well. Reuters broke the news:

BMW’s management board is skipping the Paris Motor Show to hold talks aimed at breaking a deadlock over whether to produce new electric cars, including a battery-powered Mini, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.


Executives across the industry predict electric cars will increasingly gain mainstream acceptance among customers thanks to advances that make batteries get cheaper and more powerful and the VW emissions scandal, which has sparked a regulatory backlash against diesel-engine vehicles.

But BMW has been torn about whether to accelerate development of new electric cars, given its expensive early investments into the area which resulted in only lackluster sales of its i3, which saw only 25,000 deliveries last year.

While VW is understandably and deservedly suffering a lot for their dieselgate cheating, it seems that they finally understood the problem and will push EVs. Meanwhile, BMW believes that we will continue to use cars running on fossil fuels forever.

What’s your plan BMW? EVs will not take over the world tomorrow, but do you truly think they will still be (close to) irrelevant in 2025? 2050? By the end of the century? German luxury carmakers used to be way of the curve2 – the fact that I cannot name a single German thoroughbred EV that I’d buy right away (if money wasn’t an issue) is chastening.

  1. Original model had a range of 190km on the standardized New European Driving Cycle, now they also have a model that makes it to 300km – although real world performance seems to be worse as per BWM website
  2. and maybe they still are in some increasingly irrelevant fields

Congratulations, SpaceX

Veröffentlicht am

SpaceX just completed their ORBCOMM-2 mission, deploying 11 satellites in low-earth orbit and managing to land the first stage for later reuse. The second part – even though it was just a „secondary test objective“ – is an amazing achievement, because it will greatly reduce the cost of sending things and people into space and will ultimate pave the way for even greater adventures. I wonder how much wear and tear results from such a trip and how often they can send a first stage up.

To see some genuinely excited people, watch the recording of their webcast!

How should VW make up for the environmental damage caused by its cheating?

Veröffentlicht am

Option 1 – Fines: Penalties and sanctions may hurt the company and they have the potential to avoid more cheating in the future, but they won’t be able to compensate for the damage already done. Even their suitability to discourage future misbehavior can be doubted. Not only because they put pressure on the company to somehow still deliver the results its shareholders expect, but also because fining an employer often means relieving employees from individual accountability and liability. 1

Option 2 – Recalling and fixing every affected car: Like penalties, this option inflicts financial damage on VW while doing little to make up for the damage already done. Each recalled car would marginally reduce the total future negative environmental impact but would at the same time externalize the cost of VW’s malpractice to the owners of the troubled cars. That’s also the reason why it’s really unlike to get a significant number of cars outfitted with any fix.

Option 3 – Burden VW with an environmental liability. And offer a way to pay actually pay it off: Weiterlesen »

  1. Whether or not individuals should be liable for actions taken in their roles as employees shall not be discussed in this article. Currently very few employees face criminal or civil charges due to non-compliance in their job, especially in high-profile cases.

How to say goodbye to Google*

Veröffentlicht am

After many years of dependence reliance on Google, I have decided that it’s time to say goodbye – or at least bring some distance between me and the US based company. The reasons behind this change will have to be discussed in a separate post. Today I will just review which parts of the Google universe are easier to escape from and which harder. This post can be considered a follow up to my original move from a personal Gmail account to Google Apps for Business about three years ago. A few things have changed since then, several services are no longer important to me and will not be migrated. At the same time, the scope of work has been expanded due to the fact that I want to leave most of Google behind me instead of just moving from the consumer section to the business department. So let’s have a look at Google’s various offerings and the alternatives I have chosen.

Weiterlesen »


Veröffentlicht am

This number can allegedly solve all of your spam SMS issues in the UAE. You can block any shortcode / sender ID by sending b senderID to 7726. This works on etisalat and du (no, we don’t have any other provider here). Full list of commands supposedly available:

  • b senderID – block senderID
  • u senderID – unblock sender ID
  • ball – block all, although I’m not sure if this includes SMS from regular numbers or just alphanumeric sender IDs (judging from the reports it seems reasonable to assume that nobody else does either)
  • uall – unblock all
  • get – fetch list of blocked shortcodes
  • help – help

I hope this actually works.

Umbauarbeiten abgeschlossen

Veröffentlicht am

Ich habe dem Blog am Wochenende ein neues Kleid angezogen. Es ist jetzt etwas bunter als vorher und mit CSS Media Queries versehen, damit es auch auf kleinen Bildschirmen hübsch aussieht. Falls ihr irgendwo komisches Verhalten seht, würde ich mich über eine entsprechende Rückmeldung freuen. Das gilt besonders für Nutzer von iOS-Geräten mit Retina-Display. Ein bekannter Fehler sind die Scrollbalken um das Latitude-Widget in Firefox unter (mindestens) Ubuntu. Da scheint Firefox kaputt zu sein.

Da diese Äußerlichkeit nun geklärt ist, werde ich mich in Bälde auch wieder um Inhalte kümmern können :)

Google Now

Veröffentlicht am

The Verge paid a visit to the Googleplex to talk about Google Now and the upcoming changes in Android 4.2. There’s one sentence, that will – especially in Germany – make people go mad:

“Of course Google’s going to access more than just the public information on the web,” Scott Huffman, Engineering Director for Search Quality at Google tells us, “Google’s going to know when my flight is, whether my package has gotten here yet and where my wife is and how long it’s going to take her to get home this afternoon. […] Of course, Google knows that stuff.”

The possibilities arising from the fact, that Google knows stuff about me, are exactly why I really like Google and where it’s heading. Just take a look at the screenshots in the article or watch the video. This is exiting, or as The Verge calls it: „it’s more than just a feature, it’s a beta test for the future.“ Indeed.