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road sage

Dear Sir or Madam:

Please find attached a copy of my résumé and references. I submit them to your headhunting agency in the hope of finding employment designing concept vehicles for a major automobile manufacturer.

I am inspired to forward my credentials by the recent unveiling of Toyota's concept vehicle the "e-Palette" at the CES global technology conference in Las Vegas. Toyota envisions e-Palettes being used as a ride-hailing system, to deliver food and medical aid and also as mobile shops. According to Reuters, "it will come in three sizes: a bus-sized vehicle, a shuttle and a small delivery vehicle sized to run on sidewalks."

All Toyota's dreams may one day come to fruition, but to me the e-Palette just looks like a giant electric toaster with wheels.

And that's why I think I can be of use helping design the cars of the future. While I am skilled at neither engineering nor design, I have a great deal of experience creating things no one can imagine either wanting or needing. Surely Ford, BMW, Porsche or Volkswagen could use my services?

Off the top of my head, here are two car concepts that could be unveiled at future CES global technology conferences:

  • A vehicle shaped like a pizza that delivers Chinese food.
  • Fully-autocratic self-driving vehicles that ignore the driver’s wishes and take him or her where the vehicle thinks it would be best to go.

I've carefully observed many concept vehicle roll-outs and identified some of the cornerstones of a successful launch. For instance, it is vital to declare that your vehicle will "increase efficiency and productivity," just as Toyota did with the e-Palette.

The key is not to get too specific, since a lot of new technology ends up putting people out of work. It can also have the exact opposite effect to what was anticipated (think: "paperless office"). So, efficiency? Productivity? For whom? As Lloyd the bartender says in The Shining when Jack wants to know who's paying for his drinks, "It's not a matter that concerns you, Mr. Torrance. At least not at this point."

When crafting your launch, it's also important to imply that existing pleasant and highly ergonomic activities – such as walking or going out into public – are flawed. At the e-Palette launch, Toyota took aim at handicraft markets. It's fair to say that 99.9 per cent of people on Earth are content making a trip to a handicraft market when they are in need of handicrafts. Quick, easy, home handicraft delivery is not a high priority.

Toyota, however, implied that this age-old system was somehow tarnished and showed the e-Palette functioning as a mobile "Handicraft Market" that would bring handicrafts directly to your door. In what hellish Hieronymus Bosch nightmare would a mobile handicraft market ever be: a) Of use? b) Desired? Children get excited when the ice cream truck rolls down the block; they would flee in abject terror at the first sign of a "mobile Handicraft Market."

Toyota says another possible function would be a mobile shoe store. I believe this is flawed thinking, since, if the mobile future Toyota envisions comes to pass, then no one will have any need for shoes. They will travel exclusively by e-Palette.

Another aspect of concept vehicle design and marketing for which I am ideally suited is the writing of sentences with no discernible meaning. For example, at the unveiling in Las Vegas, Toyota said e-Palettes will be "fully automated, next generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses." I have been writing professionally for decades and can supply a lengthy list of past and present editors with whom I have worked who will gladly testify to my ability to write sentences even more confusing than the one above.

In short, I am the perfect candidate for a position creating the next generation of concept vehicles. True, I am lacking in even the most basic understanding of civil and environmental engineering, economics, policy, planning design, mechanical, electronic, electrical, safety and software engineering, brake systems, engines, safety mechanisms, fuel technologies and transmissions, but these do not seem to be prerequisites for the job. Also, while I do not currently have a drug problem, I am willing to get one if it helps my chances of landing a position.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, Andrew Clark

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Reuters