The Artificial Apotheosis

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Have you ever wondered why new cars don’t seem very new anymore? Each new model year brings a new gadget – an app, a larger touchscreen, more colors for the LED mood lighting, another “advanced driver assistance” system – but nothing much about the car, itself (which is probably a crossover) seems to change much.

There’s a why for that.

It’s because there’s not much left to do. Or rather, there’s very little left that they – the engineers and designers – can do. Legally. The “car” – its basic layout, including its mechanicals and shape – is largely foreordained by regulatory fiat, which must be complied with. The need to comply is why – to cite one specific – there is very little variety in engine type regardless of make or model, where once-upon-a-time there was great variety.

GM’s Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac and Saturn divisions used to have their own engines, all different – which made the cars they were installed in different and thus desirable, for different reasons. The regulatory regime made it progressively more difficult – more expensive – to refine and redesign all those engines, separately, to achieve compliance with the regulations. Eventually, it got too expensive and GM stopped making all those engines – and not long after, many of those brands, which became the same – and so why continue to make them?

Almost all of the engines used in new cars irrespective of make or model are inline fours and probably two thirds of these are 2.0 liter fours. This is not coincidental. It is because that layout – and that size – is optimal for achieving compliance with regulatory fiat pertaining to gas mileage and the “emission” of gasses that aren’t pollutants.

It is also why there aren’t any air-cooled engines on the market (except in power equipment and that probably not for much longer, either). Porsche was the last to offer an air-cooled engine, which was formerly a defining uniqueness of its sports cars. But even Porsche – with all the engineering resources at its disposal – was unable to achieve compliance and so went over to water-cooling, just like everyone else.

It was not because Porsche wanted to be like everyone else.

Engines are just one example. Transmissions are another. Almost all of them are automatics. Why? It is not because people don’t want manuals. It is because it is harder to comply with the regulatory requirements with them, as they cannot be programmed to function just so, so as to pass the various government-required tests that determine regulatory compliance.

Automatics can be.

There is very little real variety anymore in terms of shape, too. And the why for that is because every shape must also comply with the regs in order to be legal for sale. Car styling is practically defined before the fact by a kind of template, similar to the ones stock car race cars must fit within – which is why all stock cars look almost identical, irrespective of one being a “Chevy” and another a “Ford.”

And so it is with the Chevys and Fords in the showroom. Toyotas and Hondas and all the rest, too.

There’s only so much they – the designers and engineers – can do, within the constraints established by the regulatory template. And so, they focus on designing and engineering bigger touchscreens and new “driver assistance” technologies, ever-more-“advanced.”

But what might they be able to design and engineer, if they were allowed to?

How about – as a for-instance – a diesel-electric hybrid that could travel 80 miles or more on a single gallon of fuel? Diesel engines are already more fuel-efficient than gas-burning engines because they make greater use of the energy in the fuel. They are typically 20-30 percent more fuel-efficient than an otherwise similar gas-burning engine. Use one of these engines as a generator, to maintain the charge of an electric battery that – in turn – powers an electric motor and you’d have a hybrid that would make a 50 MPG gas-electric hybrid seem like a gas pig in comparison.

VW was on the verge of offering exactly such a car. But that was before it fell afoul of the regulatory regime. It is also why you cannot find diesel engines anymore, either – except as options in a handful of trucks (and that probably not for long).

The fact is, you wouldn’t need a diesel – or a hybrid – to be able to travel 50 miles (or more) on a gallon of gas. If it were possible to build a new car that didn’t weigh very much. If people were free to choose to buy a car that might not protect them as well in the event of a crash – if they ever crashed – that was extremely fuel efficient every time they drove it.

But the regulatory regime has taken that choice away from them. Everyone must “choose” a car that is massively overweight by historic (pre-regulatory) standards and so not fuel-efficient for that reason. This includes even “economy” cars, which use more gas than the economy cars of the pre-regulatory regime for exactly that reason – notwithstanding the new “economy” cars have the compensatory advantage of numerous “fuel-saving” technologies, such as direct-injection of fuel, cylinder deactivation and transmissions with more overdrive gears than transmissions used to have gears, in pr-regime days.

We might also have electric cars that cost less than engined-cars. There is no technical reason why not. Electric cars are fundamentally simpler cars. The fundamentals being a battery that powers a motor. Big (and so, heavy) ones wouldn’t be needed to propel a very small, very light electric car. It might not go very fast – or very far – but it would go far enough and fast enough to be serviceable as a car, for people who don’t need to go very far and don’t care about going very fast – but do care about not spending very much.

They have such cars in places like China.

Ask your representative why we don’t get to have such cars here.

. . .

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37 COMMENTS

  1. I graduated hs in ’07, wasted a few years in college, and I remember reading articles like this:

    https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/comparison-test/a15146639/cobalt-ss-v-wrx-and-5-more-sport-compacts-comparison-tests/

    I remember Road and Track having actual comparisons instead of fluff pieces where everyone gets a participation trophy, and played NFS and other racing games on various consoles.
    Car scene was alive and vivid, and even though I never really owned the cars I wanted, still would look fondly upon them.

    …What the hell happened? Mazda doesn’t make MazdaSpeed’s anymore, Mitsu doesn’t even offer one halo model, you got the Toyobaru twins and the Supra, Z is out, and there’s still the Mustang, but the cheap speed options dwindled if you want something new (Barring markups), and even the GTI lost it’s charm and appeal “Growing up”

    Will we ever get to a point where trends reverse, and the Globohomo/GAE (Globalist American Empire) loses control and we get fun cheap cars instead of these soulless, screen filled cars with smaller engines and eventual toxic batteries that fry use slowly from the inside (radiation prevents use of AM Radio) or quickly if they get damaged, pierced or ruptured?

  2. If you have an electric car powered by a big Lithium battery, better not get into even just a moderate accident, because you’ll fry like a thanksgiving Turkey after it catches fire.

    • Hi Funk,

      Isn’t that special? Imagine if any other car had a similar issue. Oh, don’t worry that the gas tank has a bad seam and 1/4 of the fuel leaks out over an hour. Just top it off more often!

  3. Speaking of lacking visual appeal, today, day before Thanksgiving, I stopped for lunch. Usually when I stop at this location, I do not usually see any more than one Tesla on the bank of chargers (near the Interstate). Today there were more than 3 (but no more than 3 at a time). I sat and observed as I ate my meal.

    Observed out of a total of 5 EVs:

    1. All were Teslas. I suspect those who want to virtue signal this week have a particular brand name they all like to use. All of the vehicles appeared to be virtually new.

    2. Only one EV driver departed the car. I don’t know if they went to the restroom or got something to eat, nor how long they were there charging as this vehicle left fairly quickly. Everyone else sat and waited in their vehicles.

    3. Every EV backed into the charging station. I could not see tags and see how far these folks were traveling from. However; I hoped to myself that these folks were traveling from a good distance away and have already added up how much time they will spend stopped at a charging station and not at their destination with loved ones this holiday.

    4. Of all the different Teslas, they were all ugly. I’m sorry, I know some people think Teslas are cool, but I think they are all U-G-L-Y! When Dee Snider had Counts Customs paint up his Tesla, it didn’t make a squat bit of difference. It was still ugly.

    On my way out, I doubt anyone with their windows up heard me shouting “coal, coal” as I drive by on my way out. Because yes, they were getting their power from a coal power plant about 45 minutes away.

    • Hi J,

      On Tesla looks: To me, they aren’t ugly so much as nondescript. Anodyne. Plastic jelly shapes that appear to have been extruded rather than assembled. Boringly modern. And – on the inside – shockingly cheap-looking.

    • Ugly, plain and sterile looking, both inside and out.

      Soulless and devoid of passion, the way they want us. Acceleration gets old, and in 10 years, it’ll be an expensive paperweight.

      I’d take a Nissan Shitbox for $300 before I ever touched one of those. It’ll make better sounds than the farting Douchella’s are known for

  4. I’ve never desired to have a brand-new vee-hickle, -primarily because they’re lousy investments, and even more so for people like myself who do not devote much time to earning money; but NOW (And for quite some time) I desire them even less for reasons expressed in this article, and more.

    They are all THE SAME!
    They DON’T make the size and style of vehicle I want to drive (Large, but utilatiarian- not luxury. Now luxury vehicles are not even large!)
    They have bells and buzzers and blinking lights and a whole host of CRAP that I don’t want and refuse to pay for.
    They are delicate! Delicate paint! Delicate plastic parts everytwhere, from the interior to the body, to even the engine!
    They are overly complex, meaning they are less durable and much more expensive to repair and maintain, especially as they age- and you pay more for this (In initial price as well as ongoing costs) without getting any benefit.
    The car manufacturers are “woke” and not friends of liberty, and I do not care to support such companies. (If they want to show nothing but mulattoes and multi-racial couples and queers i9n their advertising, then let then buy those cars….)

    • Hi Nunz,

      100 percent on board with you. There are increasingly few new vehicles I would want to own – even if given to me, free, by the car companies. They include the Miata, the Tacoma and the Challenger. These have the fewest nannies – and the most soul. But even so, I still would prefer not to have an LCD touchscreen and zero “driver assistance” aids, for I am able to drive without “assistance.” I intend to keep my ’02 Nissan Frontier as long as feasible and that ought to be a long time, so long as the frame doesn’t disintegrate!

      • Amen,. Eric!

        People speak of buying their “dream car” if they ever come into a lot of money…. Well, I’d still be driving my 20 year-old trucks. -they do everything I need ’em to do; are fun to drive; and don’t have a bunch of crap that I DON’T want! (Well…one has an after-market touchscreen stereo that the previous owner had installed…and that has got to go- I’ve had enough of it!).

        O-K, O-K…if I happen to stumble over a treasure chest one day, maybe I would get ONE classic car- a ’64-67 LeMans or Tempest (GTO has become to common!)…or just some run-of-the-mill 60’s beater…. and not done-up to the hilt…just in decent original condition.

        I’m a simple man! No Jay Leno here. (Jay Leno’s cool…but that kind of excess is psychotic).

  5. Vehicular Sanctuary States!.. Speaking of contacting your “representative”…

    Also, I’m here on vacation in Colorado, and it seems to be the first I came across 85 octane gasoline. Yes, the bottom-shelf gas appears cheaper, until you realize that it isn’t equivalent to bottom-shelf in Arizona. There, it is 87 octane, which is mid-grade in Colorado.

    I’m supposing that 85 octane isn’t so great in older engines, and I’m not putting it in my truck.

  6. Like its been said before here (often). We went from driving pieces of rolling works of art to driving blobs of plastic.

    And it’s far more than just cars too. It’s everything from houses to electronics, to everyday items. Government ruins (and makes them far more expensive too) everything it touches. We used to have light bulbs, gas cans, toilets and major appliances that were affordable (sometimes cheap even) and worked well to ones that aren’t.

    Incandescent light bulb were so cheap that electric utilities would give them away FREE to their customers. When I was a kid my mom would take the electric bill stub to the local hardware store and would get most of the light bulbs we used without having to pay any cash out of pocket. I think she could get about a dozen at a time. I remember my dad being pissed when that came to an end, that they would have to start buying them.

  7. This got me thinking: Even the 350 engines of Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, and Buick, not to mention the BOP 455s, had unique characteristics back in the day. For instance, Chevys were great for high RPMs, while the BOP trio was more about low end torque: particularly the Olds and Buick. A Rocket 350 could deliver out-of-this-world low end torque even in stock, for solid launches. And a well-tuned Mouse motor could hang out at redline all day long.

    But the 2.0 four bangers of today are, well, utterly unexceptional. I wouldn’t be surprised if they all come from the same Chinese factory.

  8. “Ask your representative why we don’t get to have such cars here.”
    My representative… my guess is now… Keven McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, neither whom I have any relationship to me whatsoever. Neither who is interested in keeping this country free. Only themselves in power and leadership roles on the Titanic. Were these two on the FTX payroll?

    If FTX was a corrupt playground for the Democrat-Marxist party, read this as then next shoe to drop just like AIG did during the contrived panic of 2008.

    https://www.revolver.news/2022/11/sam-bankman-fried-ftx-on-steroids-is-cryptocurrency-tether-joe-biden-crypto-bcci/

    • We need a government that doesn’t just sign into law any legislation the WEF sends them and has no other purpose….

      In modern politics not a single member of parliament writes a law or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct.

      Corporations (special interest group) write the legislation. Lobbyists take the law and go find politician(s) to support it.

      Legislation is presented/sold/marketed by lobbyists, from leftist/communist/nazi think tanks/special interest groups/leftist NGO’s/or related ESG corporations……then politicians approve it for cash…..

      looks like the big special interest group where all legislation is created coming from is the WEF, WHO, UN, it is all designed to enable their agenda 2030

      We don’t have politicians anymore. We have WEF middle management!

      conservatives need to create more special interest groups to create legislation/laws to support conservative values…that they can get politicians to sign into law ….

    • The Washington DC UniParty Surfaces in FTX Crypto Exchange Political Contributions

      The Senate Leadership Fund is the Political Action Committee (PAC) controlled by Mitch McConnell. Within the quarterly FEC filings of the Senate Leadership Fund, we discover that in addition to funding Joe Biden and Democrats, the ponzi scheme known as the FTX cryptocurrency exchange was also funding Mitch McConnell with $2.5 million.

      https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2022/11/14/the-washington-dc-uniparty-surfaces-in-ftx-crypto-exchange-political-contributions/

  9. It’s all just forced on purpose to limit competition. To keep our limited manufacturing base propped up a little longer. Same with the EV push. They have to keep changing the rules.

  10. Most people don’t care, unfortunately. They see vehicles as tools. How much variation is there in a hammer? Oh sure, there’s claw, ball peen and a few exotic designs like mallets used to play chimes, but most people can correctly identify a hammer 90% of the time, and rarely know who made it. A few years ago I saw a video explaining how Estwing hammers were tuned to minimize vibration to the hand, and I suppose someone might choose it over another (not counting professional wood butchers), but they’re the exception. Most would rather spend their money on something else.

    As vehicle ownership becomes more of a partnership between you the owner, the financier, and the insurer, the priorities change. An interesting car will likely have a higher theft rate than a boring one, for example. Non standard parts take up more inventory and become more expensive. And finding the right mix of risk and payback will always be a balancing act. A generation of salespeople have been trained on features and benefits, not paint and emotion. The manufacturers are making what the dealers can move off the lot, not what people actually want.

    • >How much variation is there in a hammer?
      Plenty. 🙂
      The current Vaughan catalog:
      https://www.vaughanmfg.com/images/2020VaughanCatalog.pdf
      has 42 (of 69) pages listing different types of hammers.
      Horses for courses, to borrow a phrase.
      Auto enthusiasts who own a car with knockoff wheels might want a copper mallet, for example.

      Most serious tool users will own several different hammers, each for a specific purpose.
      As with hammers, so with autos.

      EGBNAPU*, for starters.
      Then there is the classic “family sedan,” but not everyone needs one of those.
      These days, so-called SUVs are popular (successors to the station wagons of old, IMO).
      But if you are a “rake, and a ramblin’ boy,” you might want a two seat
      “sports” car, which could be anything from a Miata to a McLaren, depending on your budget.
      And if you have a well-defined commute, you could opt for a “commuter” or “city” car, which could be anything from a SmartFortwo to …?

      My point, if there is one, is that the days of “one size fits all” (Ford Model T, with belt drive PTO) are long gone, at least in so-called “developed,” affluent(?) regions of this world. Many, if not most, people are likely to own multiple “tools,” though the budget, and the mix, may vary.
      JMO.
      —————————–
      *Every Good Boy Needs A PickUp

      • that the days of “one size fits all” (Ford Model T, with belt drive PTO) are long gone

        Not according to Ford Motor company.

        Of course there are hundreds of different hammers avilable. I believe I stated that up front. But how many of those hammers are available now at Lowes or Homeless Despot, in the store, ready for pickup right now? How many office workers, who BTW outnumber tradesmen by a very large percentage, care about the right tool for the job? Outside of hobbyists of course, who are entertained by such things.

        They say the best camera is the one in your hand when you need it. If you need a hammer now, you’ll probably make do with the best choice you got. You could spend hours researching products online, and maybe you can get the cheap Horrible Fright one-time-use version, but most people are going to use screwdrivers as prybars and hammer with a wrench.

        • I agree with your point, but as aside I have at least seven different hammers. Then again I’m a bit of a tool whore. My OCD kicks in when I don’t have the exact correct tool for a job. lol

    • I really like my Estwing. It “sings” (the metal rings out like a bell) when I use it. It’s also very nicely weighted, it’s like an extension of my arm.

      I understand some pros find other types to be easier on their elbows, but I am not a pro.

  11. Perhaps people here already know, but from what I’ve read elsewhere, the ultimate goal from the WEF & unelected bureaucrats in the federal government is elimination of private car ownership among the masses.

  12. I regularly get mid-40s on the highway in my 2018 Camry running right around 70 MPH. Imagine the MPG if Toyota could remove about 500 lbs of structure which is lousy for visibility anyway.

    • Hi Roscoe,
      I get about the same (40+) mpg with my ‘03 Corolla on the highway, even where it’s hilly. Also can go over 300 miles on a tank of gas in any weather, good luck doing that in an EV. It runs like a Swiss watch, just hope I can keep the rust at bay until I’m too decrepit to drive it.

      • I’m about to lose my ’01 Solara which my son currently drives. 205,000 miles, and I was told that the engine will throw a rod any day now when I took the car in to have a water pump replacement. I’m going to get a second opinion this week.

        The Solara had decent gas mileage for 90s Toyota tech. I can only imagine what that car could get today with the same engine and transmission as in the ’18 Camry but keeping the lighter weight body.

  13. Can’t tell them apart without seeing the badge. I started driving a silver 05 Accord about a year ago. The first time I parked it in a lot, I had to ring the panic buzzer to find it when I came back out. Now I find a landmark to park close to, light standard, cart corral, etc. 05 not much different looking than a new one, between the laws of aerodynamics and the “laws” of regulation.

  14. ‘There’s only so much they – the designers and engineers – can do, within the constraints established by the regulatory template.’ — eric

    In Japan’s domestic market, many strange little vehicles are made to fit tiny residential parking spaces. They couldn’t possibly pass the US fedgov’s crash tests and other regulatory requirements. But plenty of innovation in shapes, sixes and engines is on tap.

    On the downside, Japan’s notorious shaken vehicle inspection makes it cost prohibitive to keep a vehicle more than four years. After that, complete, unnecessary replacement of subsystems is mandated. So used Japanese vehicles get exported to Asia and Africa, with plenty of life left in them.

    Probably somewhere in developing Asia will be the last refuge for vehicles as we knew them — places where locals are lucky to own a car or truck rather than a motorcycle, and governments are more concerned with economic advancement than cliiiiiiiiiiimate change.

    Too bad the US fedgov got poisoned with progressive politics. As Greta says, ‘How dare they?

  15. Seems like a great article for ZeroHedge today. I think most people don’t know this. I didn’t really get it until I started reading your site.

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