I recently wrote about the Fading Away of the manual transmission (see here). As it turns out, I was wrong.
Manuals will not fade away.
They will be regulated out of existence.
Here’s how – and why.
Federal bureaucrats intend to mandate automated braking in all new cars – if the car companies don’t install these systems in every car they sell on their own initiative.
These systems – which use radar proximity sensors to detect the presence of an object in the car’s path and apply the brakes automatically if the driver doesn’t – are already in about a third of 2016 model year cars, but not yet force-fed to the public by government edict.
Obama’s transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx says “We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focusing on preventing crashes from ever occurring rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen.”
GM, Ford, Toyota, VW, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo have already committed – on their own – to making automated braking standard equipment in all their models within the next few years. They have learned to love Big Brother. That it can be profitable to love Big Brother. “Safety” sells. Especially when you can’t say no to it.
The insurance mafia is also pushing this.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety consiglierie Adrian Lund says , “This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes because the systems are always on alert.”
Because, of course, computers never make mistakes.
Ever hear of the Hegelian dialectic? Create a problem… then offer a solution. The problem created in this case is a nation of dumbed-down drivers made so by diminished expectations and compounded by endless browbeating that anything but the most passive behavior behind the wheel is akin to driving 120 MPH blind drunk with your pants down and a Vegas whore administering oral love.
Solution? Presume all drivers are addled imbeciles – and treat everyone (including non-imbeciles) accordingly.
It is the automotive analog of what writer William Burroughs said 40-something years ago about what they (the government) does after every mass shooting. That is, they go after the people who didn’t do it.
But how does this amount to the death knell of the manual transmission?
Simply put, it’s technically much more complicated to install automated braking in a car equipped with a manual transmission. It would be necessary to figure out some way to automatically disengage the clutch without the driver depressing the third pedal. If not and the brakes are applied by the computer, the car would shudder and buck; potentially, stall out. The drive wheels could lock up and (ABS or not) the car would then skid and possibly slide out of control.
That constitutes a problem.
The solution is simple.
Stop making cars with manual transmissions.
Add the pressure to meet federal fuel economy fatwas – which is easier with automatics because the cars can be “built to the test” – programmed in such a way as to maximize their score on the government’s fuel economy test-drive loop – and you have what the French call a fait accompli. A done deal.
NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge – whose name sounds a lot like Elsworth Tooey – crows that “some of these companies (the car companies) are further along in this technology and we hope they will respond quickly.”
What Trowbridge-Tooey means is, better go ahead and make the automated braking de facto standard in all your cars, pronto. Or we will make it a legal requirement. “The agency is hoping this will be implemented (lip lick) as soon as possible,” he says.
The tragic thing is not that creatures such as Trowbridge-Tooey are pushing for this; it’s what he and his kind do. Ever hear the story about the frog and the scorpion? Expecting a Trowbridge-Tooey to not regulate (and threaten like a cheap gangster) is as ridiculous as expecting a scorpion not to sting… no matter what favors you do for him.
No, the tragedy is the loving of Big Brother that now characterizes the major car companies. They gabble about “safety” publicly but – be assured – in the boardroom they know this is all about profit. They can make more money by charging you for equipment you may not want but which government says you must have. Why fight when you can make a buck?
The only way to deal with this is for us to fight. To stop buying in.
Don’t buy new cars with this overkill idiot-proofing. Tell the salesman why. Tell the dealership’s owner why. Explain that you are not an imbecile and are tired of being treated as though you are. And resent being treated that way because others may be. Write a letter to you favorite car company.
They (unlike your “representative”) might actually listen.
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