You’ve probably heard about (if not ridden in one of) those vans equipped with Wi-Fi and other amenities that cart the average tech worker at Facebook and other companies to their respective jobs in Silicon Valley. But what about the big swinging managers at the top of those firms? What do they take to get to their corner offices in traffic-congested places like the Bay Area?
As it turns out, more and more of them are getting in tricked-out Cadillacs created by L.A.-based automobile designer Howard Becker. The reason is this: due to longer commuting times, no longer does it pay to drive yourself to work; if you’re a C-Suiter, you can’t afford to lose precious work time while gridlocked on the 405.
“Even in the first world, the major metropolitan areas are all behind in infrastructure,” Becker says. “What drives our business is the ability for our customers to get things done, even when they’re driving, as opposed to sacrificing that time. The candy red Ferrari is still in the garage for fun at weekends, but they’re thinking, at least on weekdays: ‘I can’t afford to drive myself anymore.’”
Silicon Valley has addressed this quandary, in part, by providing school bus-style transport for middle managers. But chief executive officers and celebrities require the limo world’s answer to a private jet, so Becker offers two core mobile offices, one of them based on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter. Clients such as Mark Wahlberg, Dr. Dre, Johnny Depp, and Ben Affleck have opted for this version, which Becker has dubbed the "Jet Van." It can accommodate up to seven people, like a truly luxurious mobile conference room. Becker's cosier alternative is hewn from a Cadillac Escalade ESV, although this, too, can be discreetly stretched to squeeze in four conference seats.
Amenities inside the Caddys and Benzos include “plush leather seats, fine wood inlays, blazing fast Wi-Fi, Crestron media systems with touchscreen menus offering live TV, video-on-demand, and local programming from any major city. You can even get a printer, if you want one.” And some have bathrooms as well.
As for the cost, a Becker-made mobile office on four wheels will set you back between $250K and $400K. Which isn’t all that much considering the amount time saved (work you can do) while you’re stuck in traffic. Which, despite all our so-called advances in technology, is getting worse and worse.
According to the most recent figures from traffic-tracking firm Inrix … congestion is worsening in urban centers where the tech sector is strong, such as Austin, Tex., Seattle, and San Jose, adding them to the list of already-gridlocked cities like New York (53 hours wasted in traffic per year) and Washington (40 hours lost). Nowhere is it worse to drive than in Becker’s local market: Los Angeles, whose residents waste, on average, 60 hours (that’s 2 ½ days) every year in their cars.
All the more reason for big hitters in LaLa Land to let Becker Auto Design pimp out their rides.
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