Parked at the Grove's Farmers Market is a Volkswagen Jetta that costs more than a Lamborghini -- $250,000, to be exact. The Volkswagen is one of only two such cars in Los Angeles at the moment, and one of only 50 in the world. It looks fairly normal except for the pile of high-tech equipment mounted on its roof like a futuristic Eiffel Tower.
Illustration by Noah Patrick Pfarr
Owned by the mapping company Navteq, which is owned by Nokia, the car is called a True Car. Navteq is a pioneer in digital mapping, and its True Car represents the next generation of map building. It drives around the city collecting a terabyte of information every day.
Its driver is Ron Jimenez, Navteq team lead, whose business card describes his work address in latitude and longitude -- 34 degrees 11'9" N, 118 degrees 30'4" W, aka Encino.
On a drizzly weekday, Jimenez and the company's polished director of product development, Sara Rossio, stand in the parking lot with the car, which is on a brief break from cruising every street in town.More »