If you’ve been wondering what’s behind the electric car/automated car push, Ford’s John Rich just let the cat out of the sack:
“We will exhaust and crush a car every four years in this business.”
That business being the automated/electric car business.
Rich should know, since he’s the head of Ford’s Autonomous Vehicles Operations. He really means automated, of course – since the very last thing the cars he’s talking about are is autonomous.
Look it up for yourself.
Nothing could be less autonomous than a car entirely under the control of the governmental-industrial combine which lays downs the operating parameters (via the programming) of the car, over which you have no control whatsoever. How do you control a car without a steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedal?
A car you don’t even own?
Instead, a ride you share.
And it isn’t even that – because sharing implies freely letting someone else borrow or use whatever it is, whereas what Rich and the rest of the car industry have in mind is perpetual renting. Serial payments, deducted automatically on an a la carte basis or via a “subscription.”
The only thing under your control about an automated/ride-shared electric car is whether to get in the thing – and when to get out – and even that can be suborned externally if they decide you don’t deserve a ride (extrapolate from OnStar’s well-known ability to unlock a car remotely, via over-the-airwaves signaling).
Forget about spur-of-the-moment drives to wherever you like, whenever you like, as long as you like and how you like . . . and without anyone else even knowing about it.
People are babes in the woods about what’s coming. Some of it is already here. Has been here, for years. And they haven’t even noticed.
It takes time to build a hog pen.
ABS; traction/stability control – which you don’t control. In many cars, you can’t turn it off, either. The question isn’t why you might want to but why aren’t you allowed to. It’s still technically your car. And yet, it’s increasingly not under your control. The car industry has been clawing back control, piece-by-piece, in order to get people used to a new kind of car.
And to get them used to no longer driving it – which they barely do anymore.
The sun is setting, fast…
Things like ABS and traction/stability control – which became common back in the ’90s – weren’t too intrusive. At least not to the sensibilities of the average A to B driver. But people who drove noticed – and despised – the intrusion. The pre-emption. They loathed the principle these intrusions established.
The can’t-say-no-to-it taking away of control over their car.
There are perfectly sound reasons for wanting to be able to lock up the tires and put the car into a controlled skid. A skilled driver will know all about this. Contrariwise, there was skill in knowing how to avoid locking up the tires and how to steer out of a skid. It used to be taught. It was once expected as a minimal competence.
All snatched away – supposedly for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety but actually for control.
Cars used to be 100 percent under our control.
No interference with brake/throttle/steering. The radio didn’t peremptorily mute when you put the shifter into reverse. The computer didn’t put the transmission into neutral if you tried to back the car up with the door open. All part of the package now.
Soon, they’ll be under their control entirely – the principle having been established decades ago via the acceptance of can’t-say-no-to-them ABS, traction/stability control and all the rest of the creeping electronic kudzu.
Note how pushy it’s gotten over just the past three or four years. Driver “assists” – Lane Keep, Brake and Speed Limit – increasingly unavoidable in new cars and soon impossible to avoid. Speed Limit “Assist” having been mandated already. It all congeals. In order to “assist” you from “speeding,” control over throttle will be wrested.
It already has been wrested, in case you didn’t know.
A computer (and the coder who wrote the software) controls the throttle in pretty much every car made since circa 2005 or so. You are allowed the fiction of control, for now – so you won’t get restive while the pen is built around you.
Brakes are under the car’s control, too – which means under the control of those who programmed it. Not you. If the car decides it’s time to brake, it will. It can just as easily be programmed to stop – or to not move in the first place.
Once the “assists” are ubiquitous and can’t be turned off and every car is wired in to the “Internet of Things” via the 5G network they’re building around us at this very moment, it’ll be time for us to hand over the keys but keep on paying.
The era of the automated electric car will have arrived.
Ride-shared/automated electric cars will be in service almost continuously, wearing out much sooner – but collecting far more in ride-shared debits/subscriptions than single monthly car payments.
That is where the money is, you see – which is the happy flip side of control.
The car industry is tired of the petty 3-5 percent margins on the sale of individual cars to individual people. And of cars that last much too long.
A paid-off car is a bad car.
By renting a single car to many people, you make a lot more money. And not just by selling transportation but by crushing it. Instead of once every 15-plus years – which is usually how long an individually sold/individually driven car lasts – every four years, as Rich says.
Of course, someone’s going to have to pay for all that newness.
The price of crushing automated electric cars every four years will be folded into the cost of your ride-share. Which will also cost you control over your mobility – that term having passed into the Lexicon of doublespeak along with “autonomous” and “assist.” All of their former happy meanings palimpsested into uglified new ones, while retaining the superficial emotional appeal of their original meanings.
. . .
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