Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Talk about a letdown:

After surviving several storms during its 10-month voyage, the junk broke in two and sank after it was rammed by a freighter just off Taiwan’s coast.

I disagree, though, with the captain’s proclamation of failure. I consider Taiwan easily close enough to maintain the plausibility of the historical claim, and it’s not as if the ship sank because of its design. I doubt many contemporary vessels would survive that kind of collision.

You can find more information about the ship’s construction and history on the project’s website. The English is a little spotty but clear enough, and the details are fascinating.

On a Routan Expedition

volkswagen routan minivan

In what sounds like the most ill-conceived automotive idea in a long time, Volkswagen is planning to sell a mini-van in the United States called the Routan. I used to think VW should sell a mini-van here, because a) mini-vans have done well in the US, and b) VW has a lot of pull with my generation, who I thought would go for a VW over a Dodge Caravan.

Except this van actually IS a Dodge Caravan. Well, at least it’s built by Chrysler on the same platform as the caravan, according to Autoblog. And these days it seems like people are choosing “crossover” vehicles instead of minivans, so why add another model to a suffering market segment?

Maybe VW should focus on improving the reliability of its vehicles before adding what appears to be a doomed experiment to their lineup.