Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation

NYC's 19th-Century Horse Carriages Spawn Weird, Truck-Size Electric Car 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the origin-story dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Led by Tesla, electric cars are all the rage now. And the idea of a nine-passenger all-electric vehicle sounds good--until you learn that it maxes out at 30 mph, weighs almost four tons, and costs in the six figures. What is this monstrosity? It's the Frankenstein creation of a group of animal-rights advocates, who are proposing it as the replacement for New York City's fabled horse carriages--and who paid $450,000 to have a prototype built. Who's against it? Would you believe Liam Neeson and one of NYC's daily papers? The huge electric car--modeled after an early 1900s open touring car, complete with brass lanterns--is on display this week at the New York Auto Show, and it's certainly attracting its share of attention."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NYC's 19th-Century Horse Carriages Spawn Weird, Truck-Size Electric Car

Comments Filter:
  • Animal rights? (Score:4, Informative)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:34PM (#46808487)

    Its either pull a carriage or off to the dog food factory. Ask the horse for its preference.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      They just want less animals to be born.

    • Wrong.

      End the industry, and it reduces demand for horses. It's not like if there's no demand for horses, they're going to keep breeding them just to send to dog food factories. (And there are a lot being eaten by humans actually. Not sure a lot are being fed to dogs in the US.)

      As it stands, they're used to pull carriages, THEN they're sent to slaughter. They don't get sent somewhere magical once they're no longer useful pulling carriages.
      • Wrong.

        End the industry, and it reduces demand for horses. It's not like if there's no demand for horses, they're going to keep breeding them just to send to dog food factories. (And there are a lot being eaten by humans actually. Not sure a lot are being fed to dogs in the US.)

        As it stands, they're used to pull carriages, THEN they're sent to slaughter. They don't get sent somewhere magical once they're no longer useful pulling carriages.

        Depends on the company. I know of a few companies that take horses whose owners can no longer afford to own them, and train those to pull carriages (so they already have a second lease on life). At the end of their service, they're put out to pasture at a petting/riding farm.

        This definitely isn't how all carriage businesses work, but a growing number do. Sure, the animals don't get to choose their vocation, and they don't get to magically revert thousands of years of domestication to roam free in the eur

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Depends on the company. I know of a few companies that take horses whose owners can no longer afford to own them, and train those to pull carriages (so they already have a second lease on life). At the end of their service, they're put out to pasture at a petting/riding farm.

          This definitely isn't how all carriage businesses work, but a growing number do.

          That's only because economic recovery is a dirty lie, and there's simply free horses available. There was a veritable torrent of free horses a couple years back. I live in the country, so I see these things... And there's still no shortage of free horses.

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        And there are a lot being eaten by humans actually

        Not in the US, where they abuse procedural rules to make horse meat effectively illegal.

    • by MildlyTangy (3408549) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:45PM (#46809279)

      Its either pull a carriage or off to the dog food factory. Ask the horse for its preference.

      The horse was consulted and has been asked which option it would prefer.

      The horse did not respond.

      The general conclusion was that it seemed likely that the horse did not understand English.

      • by reboot246 (623534)
        Ah, but you've never watched Ren and Stimpy. The horse's answer was, "No, sir . . . . . I didn't like it."
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        The general conclusion was that it seemed likely that the horse did not understand English.

        Two horses are standing around in the stables, minding their own business when some random guy shows up and starts making noises at them.

        The horses look at each other and continue chewing.
        After the random guy leave, the first horse looks at the other and says "I didn't understand a damn word of that. Did you?"
        The second horse's jaw drops a little... "Holy shit," he says. "A talking horse!"

      • by PPH (736903)

        the horse did not understand English.

        A dog was brought in to translate.

  • That Reminds Me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sycodon (149926) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:37PM (#46808511)

    Pick up some Veal, lamb and Ribeyes on the way home tonight.

    • oooo good idea! I think I'll be picking up an 11oz Sirloin since I have to go to the store and fill my 5gal water jug anyway.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      PETA: Pork, Eggs, Tenderloin, Alligator.
      I can't believe there isn't a beef cut that doesn't start with an A.

      • There's always "Au jus"

      • by ArhcAngel (247594)
        But there are whole animals referred to as Aberdeen Angus [wikipedia.org]
      • by Wycliffe (116160)

        PETA: Pork, Eggs, Tenderloin, Alligator.
        I can't believe there isn't a beef cut that doesn't start with an A.

        Angus Beef is a very popular premium beef or at least sold at a premium.
        Whether it actually tastes better is probably a matter of opinion.

  • Animal cruelty? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:39PM (#46808529)

    OK, the car actually seems like a decent idea, and might work well. But their motivation seems a bit ridiculous.

    I've ridden horses. Anyone claiming that riding horses is automatically animal cruelty is quite simply a moron. Fortunately, these people do not seem to be pushing that particular agenda - their claim is that NYC is inhospitable to horses.

    I haven't been to NYC, other than driving through, so I can't personally claim either way. However, if NYC is inhospitable enough to qualify as cruelty to horses, then NYC ought to be abandoned as unsafe for human habitation as well. After all, homo sapiens is a species of animal, so shouldn't animal cruelty apply to us as well?

    • The difference is we have a choice when the weather gets too hot and humid or too cold as to whether we want to be out or not. The horses don't. They are at the whim of their owners.

      While there is a group of NYC officers whose job it is to check on the horses when the weather gets hot, and have the power to order the owners to take the horses to the stables, that is still different than humans being able to walk into an air conditioned building whenever they fell like it.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You vastly overestimate the amount of real choice most humans have.

      • It actually ever gets warm enough in NYC to be bothersome to a horse? I'd have thought the pollution issue would be much more salient.
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        And those owners a) are out there suffering as well, and b) are taking proper care of their horses, if they have even an iota of intelligence.

        Horses are *expensive*. Even if you're a heartless bastard, you take care of them because they're expensive to replace. Most of the horse owners I've met take better care of their horses than they do themselves.

        If it's cold, you put blankets on them or take them inside. If it's too hot, you give them more water and don't ride them as hard (and I really doubt it will g

      • Who is this we you speak of? I guess it doesn't include people who work outdoors, like the folks who drive the carriages, for example. Big animals don't tend to mind cold weather much, it's just physics. Or math. Take your pick. Keeping cool is usually a much bigger deal. It's routine to go out in the winter and see wild horses with frost on their backs, grazing.
    • by rlp (11898)

      Also the NYPD still has a mounted horse patrol unit.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O... [wikipedia.org]

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        ...and nearly every other big city.

        Horses make sense in a number of crowd management situations.

    • electric golf carts (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:04PM (#46808755) Homepage

      OK, the car actually seems like a decent idea, and might work well.

      A decent idea? They just spent half a million dollars to re-invent the electric golf cart!

      There are a dozen of of these things driving around every airport in America.

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        They gave the electric golf cart an old-fashioned, high-class feel, which is honestly the only reason people still use horses in NYC. Which means it's a viable replacement for it.

        And that's $500k in R&D, not in per-unit cost, which doesn't seem too bad.

        • by Firethorn (177587)

          I also like how they make out '4 tons' like it's a big deal - that's 9k pounds, yes, but a plain old passenger van starts out at 7k pounds, for one that only seats 8. 8.6k for one that seats 15.

          After that, well, realize that batteries and bling add weight, and this has a lot of both.

        • by suutar (1860506)
          I dunno. I don't see the golf cart giving the "Cinderella in a horse-drawn carriage" feel so popular in romantic movies.
        • I see a parallel between the carriage situation and emulating game systems. You get the same practical value (playing the game/scenic carriage ride through Central Park), but you lose the little inconveniences that make the experience special. Oddly enough, the "clip-clop" and stepping over horse manure to get into the carriage are part of what I wanted to pay for, just like I want to swab out old game cartridges and cross the room to hit the reset button when I get frustrated with a tough level.
          • Oops, forgot to mention: The article lists the estimated production price on the new buggy to be $150k-$175k apiece. It'd be interesting to see a cost analysis of the price to buy, feed, stable, and replace a horse compared to the price to buy, maintain, park, and replace one of the new carriages.
        • by Nikker (749551)
          $500K for R&D? To integrate an electric motor into a design that was already established many years ago?

          WOW

          So how much R&D would it cost to put an electric motor into a Model T? It must be in the millions!
      • by geekoid (135745)

        You go to some fancy airports.

        FYI: Electric vehicle doe snot equal golf cart. No more then Porsche = go cart.

        • You go to some fancy airports. FYI: Electric vehicle doe snot equal golf cart. No more then Porsche = go cart.

          This thing is no Porsche. Did you read the article? "a so-called 'geo-fence' would restrict it to 5 mph inside Central Park-- 'thus continuing the tradition of horse-drawn carriages causing traffic congestion in and around midtown,' as New York Intelligencer noted acerbically."

          5 MPH? Calling it a golf cart is rather slandering golf carts. Of course, it can sprint at up to 30 MPH (outside Central Park, only)-- but so can golf carts [eastcoastcarts.com]. They're just not allowed to, because they don't have the safety feature

  • by Andrio (2580551) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:40PM (#46808531)

    Someone's walking around with an extra $400,000 in their pocket.

    • Well duh. The time of the people who had the skills to build this is worth something. In other news every programmer or network admin is walking around with an extra $theentirecostofthejobminusoverhead in their pocket.
  • So what happens to the decommissioned horses, should this beast be put into production?

  • by swb (14022) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:41PM (#46808539)

    Wouldn't it be vastly cheaper just to modify a Tesla? While probably not as simple as stretching a car, would it be $300,000+ more expensive to just put the old-tymey touring car body on a stretched Tesla frame?

    • by Teancum (67324)

      You are thinking too intelligently here and are used to the idea of using competent and proven technology to accomplish your solutions.

      Looking at the specs on this beast, it is lousy even for a custom electric automobile retooling job. There are plenty of custom automobile builders around the country, so I would have to presume that the real deal here is that somebody's nephew or niece was out of work and needed a job, thinking they could also reinvent the wheel at the same time.

    • would it be $300,000+ more expensive to just put the old-tymey touring car body on a stretched Tesla frame?

      Looking at all the custom design work and fitting for a one-off vehicle I'd say yes. Starting with an $80k donor tesla, figure out how to safely disassemble the unibody, do that, add all the old-timey stuff to it with a rated load over a ton (we're talking americans here...), and then get it to work could easily be in the 1000's of man hours. When they are not your own, hours cost money too.

  • I like it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:43PM (#46808567) Homepage
    I'm not against the horse-drawn carriages, but I kind of like this car. It's charming. Can we have both?
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      Agreed, the car looks pretty cool, and I can see a market for something like that... ALONG SIDE of the horse carriages. There is no legit reason to get rid of them, If we thought bloomberg was bad with his soda ban, what did we expect electing someone like deblasio?? but then again, the people of NYC get what they deserve by the people they vote for
  • Stupid? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chispito (1870390) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:48PM (#46808607)
    Disclosure: I've never been to NYC, and I don't know how these horses are treated. If they're generally treated poorly, then disregard my comments.

    That said, it makes me wonder if the animal rights activists have ever met working horses. Working animals are bred for their jobs and they tend to enjoy them. My brother owned a draft horse and there was nothing he liked better than pulling. If pulling teams are animal cruelty, then so is playing fetch with your retriever.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      PETA thinks that vanity pets are cruel slavery. PETA hates animals, but hates humans more.
    • If pulling teams are animal cruelty, then so is playing fetch with your retriever.

      This particular group of animal-rights types is not PETA (though they may be affiliated with, or have membership overlap with, PETA).

      That said, PETA does, in fact, believe that you should not be allowed to have a retriever (or any other pet). Much less make the poor dog "play fetch".

      For the record, I have a lab. Nothing he likes better than run and fetch the stick (except run and fetch the steak).

    • I would like to see some data comparing the number of hours worked weekly by these NYC carriage horses and your brother's horse. When it was particularly hot or cold one day, I would bet that your brother gave the horse the day off.

    • Re:Stupid? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:21PM (#46808993) Homepage Journal

      My brother owned a draft horse and there was nothing he liked better than pulling. If pulling teams are animal cruelty, then so is playing fetch with your retriever.

      Just another anecdote, a friend of mine has sled dogs (~30 dogs, two sleds; he's fairly serious about it) and those dogs clearly love to pull. All you have to do is jingle a harness, or start loading equipment into the trailer used to haul dogs + gear and they go nuts with excitement, crowding over and trying to be first into the traces/trailer. You lay the traces out on the ground and they immediately run to their positions, with some squabbling over who gets to be where, and wait anxiously to be hooked up. The toughest part of getting going in the morning is making them wait until you're ready to go, and then they'll happily run all day long (as long as they get suitable breaks, with food and water). Those who are hurt or otherwise getting a day off are clearly dejected by not getting a chance to get into the traces.

      I've known many horses who were almost as excited about their jobs... though I've also known a few who were quite lazy and didn't like to work.

    • I live in NYC, and I'm a bit indifferent. I don't know about the horses in depth, but I'd tend to say that if the horses are treated badly, then make laws/regulations on how the horses should be treated. If it's a problem to have them on the street, then don't allow them on the street. I don't see think that having horses pull carriages is cruel in itself, but I also don't see the need to jump through hoops to keep the carriages around if they're presenting real problems. They're slightly charming, but

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Animal rights activists release 000's of animals into the wild, regardless that none are actually adapted or can cope, quickly being killed by traffic or predators.

      Rarely are they sensible about what are rather complicated moral issues. Humans are omnivores, and are natural meat eaters. If eating some 'higher' creature that is the result of "millions of years of evolution" is inherently cruel, isn't eating corn pretty much the same thing? Worse, because with corn not only are you eating the product of mi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:55PM (#46808659)

    Bunch of idiots. If they are going that route, why not use dog robot developed by Boston Dynamic? See www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2rq7rKgjJQ

  • All vying with one another until IC pulled ahead in the 1910s. I've seen the famous "steamer" at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado.
  • I could see this vehicle as being an alternative to the horse drawn carriages, particularly in the winter. This could also be started gradually as the existing stable of horses is retired.

    If these vehicles become more popular than the horses, it's a good thing. Even if it doesn't fully replace the horse drawn carriages, it would be interesting to see which option tourists prefer.

  • Let the "activists" put up the money, buy a fleet of these things and sell rides through the park. We'll see if the tourists pay for the electrics or the real horses.

    I'll take the horses.

  • I never even considered for a moment riding in those horse drawn carts. The idea of sitting close to their behinds was not very appealing and I assumed the animals would smell bad. I have ridden in horse drawn carts in India, but not as fancy tourist thing. They were the taxicabs, (called jatka) of rural India back then. They stank. Many a times I would opt to walk behind, ( a good distance behind), than to ride in those rickety carts, two wheels single axle, never load balanced correctly, with the cabbie c
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      just so you know, NYC is not india, the carriages in NYC are meticulously taken care of as well as the animals.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:10PM (#46808827) Homepage

    Not as bad as the stupid fake cable cars we have in San Francisco.

    The fake ones are more dangerous than the real ones. The real ones are limited to 9.5MPH (the cable speed), but the fake ones, on truck chassis, can go at highway speeds. They have sideways facing seats, standees, and no seat belts, which is OK at 9.5MPH but not at 30.

    • So, in other words, busses?

      Riding the bus has been shown to be much safer than driving a car.

      Here is a discussion about this topic:
      http://ask.metafilter.com/8158... [metafilter.com]
    • by Fwipp (1473271)

      You, uh, don't take the bus very often, do you? I haven't seen any public bus, in any city I've lived, with seatbelts, without sideways seats (at least in the back), without standing room, or that stays at less than 30 MPH.

      • by Cochonou (576531)
        Well, have you seen how a cable car is in San Francisco ? I don't know how these fake cable cars are, but real cable cars are nothing like a city bus... first of all, they're wide open, and secondly, there are actually people hanging outside of the car... To get a better idea, have a look at that picture [womenworld.org].
        So, in the event of a crash, I really wouldn't compare them to city buses.
  • by jayrtfm (148260) <.jslash. .at. .sophont.com.> on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:17PM (#46808927) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see a few animatronic dinosaurs instead of cars. http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Lucky_the_Dinosaur [wikia.com]
  • by hhawk (26580)

    If they want to go all Steam Punk they should recreate the Dobles E20 which has a 4 piston steam engine and is nearly silent..http://www.virtualsteamcarmuseum.org/makers/stewart_h_h_steam_stewart_doble_material.html

  • I think the idea of still having a horses in the midst of a busy city is ridiculous.

    That said, the proposed alternative is cheesy. I really struggle to understand the American fixation antique reproductions. It's ironic that in Europe, where cities are much older than NYC, a similar concept would look sleek and futuristic.

    I'm also struggling to understand why this thing is so big and heavy. It's at a point where you might as well just take a double-decker tour bus. It's likely also the safer alternative.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      It's not 'ironic' at all. In a city that is old, it is novel to have something sleek and futuristic. In a city that is new, it is novel to have something antique. Not really that hard to figure out.

      It's big and heavy because it is a prototype, built out of other existing things. Again, not that hard to figure out.

  • ...The Homer.
  • I have always considered that the substitution of the Internal Combustion Engine for the horse marked a very gloomy passage in the progress of mankind.
    (Winston Churchill)

  • by PapayaSF (721268) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:27PM (#46810257) Journal
    Let's have animal rights activists pull the carriages.
  • This is 'merica! Your not going to 9 of us fat ass's in that thing.
  • From everything I've seen, no one is in actual opposition to the development of said vehicular monstrosity; they are only in opposition to outlawing the horse-drawn carriage. If the liberals were actually "pro-choice" in general, they would simply allow group to run its version to compete with the horses and see which one fairs better.

  • ... the nostalgic "clip-clop" of horses hooves.

    On the other hand, think of the employment opportunities for people operating the coconut shells.

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.

Working...