NEW YORK – Fitbit enthusiasts may know this one: 10,000 steps equals 5 miles. That fact, and other interesting trivia, was divulged by Sree Sreenivasan, the former Chief Digital Officer of New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Columbia University, among his many avatars, at the ongoing New York International Auto Show 2018 (NYIAS), last week.
Sreenivasan was there at NYIAS on March 29, on a media preview day, to do his first ever walking social media workshop; a 2-hour marathon session within the confines of the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, where NYIAS continues to enthrall visitors with its fascinating array of vehicles.
Sreenivasan was invited to give a talk on how to optimize the use of a smartphone through technology and apps, among other topics, by Scotty Reiss, the founder of girlsguide2cars, who is on the board of Women in Automotive, is past president of IMPA.org, and author of ‘Stew Leonard My Story,’ a biography of the legendary store owner, whose flagship store in Norwalk, CT, boasts of being the largest dairy store in the world.
Sreenivasan, who was introduced by Reiss as a ‘rock star of the digital world’ – and promptly borrowed a ukulele from a performer in the crowd who gathered around him, to show he’s actually one – is on a world social media workshop tour as I write this, with stopovers in India and Sri Lanka. Before he gave his engrossing talk, he and I ran into each other at NYIAS, and embarked on an unabashed photo junket and informational tour of the show, with the two of us posing with some dazzling new cars; clicked away merrily.
Sreenivasan lives in Manhattan with his wife Roopa Unnikrishnan – who represented India in shooting, is a recipient of the country’s highest sporting accolade, Arjuna Award, and was a Rhodes Scholar; she at present works as Head of Strategy, for Harman – and their twin 14-years-olds. Sreenivasan confessed with some chagrin – imploring to “pray for me” – that the duo raided the refrigerator in their house, leaving it empty every few hours.
There’s only that much technology can do.
Sreenivasan doesn’t own a car. He uses zipcar, a car sharing company, when he embarks on long drives outside the city. But he looked pretty good posing in a Porsche convertible, and that perhaps, could be his car of choice in the future, as I suggested to him.
Sreenivasan pointed out that an Indian-owned car was there at the show, with Land Rover and Jaguar, owned by the Tatas, since 2008. Land Rover’s SUV ‘Velar’, in fact, won the ‘2018 World Car Design of the Year’ at the World Car Awards. The beautiful-looking Velar R-Dynamic HSE, displayed at the show, has a starting price of $69,100.
The show is a veritable feast for auto buffs. For writers like me, it’s a chance to get behind wheels of luxury cars – with the knowledge that this is as close as I will come to driving one. A favorite of mine this year was a Maserati.
An eye catching luxury electric car at the show was Karma’s new product ‘Revero’. Apart from the name, which would draw any Indian to it as if drawn by a giant magnet, was the fact that the sleek-looking car, priced at $130,000, was colored brown. Now, desis don’t need me to tell what that means and signifies!
Revero, launched last year and designed to be an upscale Tesla, has perhaps the most unique story of all the cars that were on display at NYIAS this year. If Revero succeeds in sales, its story would be like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, given the fact that its parent company, started by Henrik Fisker, devolved into oblivion, after it raised more than a billion dollars from the public.
Fisker Karma was then touted as the car of the future, before it stopped operations. Its battery manufacturer recalled the battery twice and then went into bankruptcy. Only 2,000 cars were launched in the market, in 2012. Initial customers included Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Al Gore.
There were also plenty of eyeballs at the NYIAS for the magnificent looking Indycar that won the 2017 Indianapolis 500. A product of Honda, veteran Japanese racer Takuma Sato took the car to glory beating three-time Indy winner Helio Castreneves in a fierce duel over the final 11 laps.
For sports fans, there was much more to take in: on display also were cars from the Toyota stable decorated with the logo of the best known sporting team from the state – the Yankees; apart from one with Jets emblazoned on it.
Perhaps, the most photo sessions and selfies at NYIAS were devoted to the Yankees car.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)