What often happens when there’s no need for something? They create a “need” for it, of course!
“Smart” tires being the latest such thing. Driven – as it were – by another thing there’s no need for. Electric vehicles. For which a “need” was created – that of keeping the “climate” from “changing.” The assumption you’re required to accept being that such “change” is unnatural, menacing – and must be prevented. The solution is to drive energy (and raw materials) hogs rather than gas hogs.
Well, the “need” for EVs has created a “need” for tires to be “smart,” apparently.
That is to say, tires that don’t just roll but also report – on such things as road friction and its real-time effect on the tires. But why is there a “need” for this? Because EVs are very heavy and because their electric motors apply massive (and instantaneous) torque to the drive wheels and so, to the tires – which as a result are subject to much greater loads and stresses than tires have heretofore (pre-EV) been obliged to endure.
These loads and stresses increase the chances of a tire failing and assure the tire will wear faster, too. Voila! You have created a “need” for tires that are smart – to let you (or the vehicle) know how they are doing.
But why not just check the tires every so often? Well, there’s no longer any need to do that – or at least, people gave been so conditioned to believe – because all cars made since about 25 years ago have come standard with tire pressure monitoring systems, so as to eliminate the need to do that. People used to be taught to check their tires – for indications of damage, excess wear and pressure – themselves, as by having a look at them.
It came in the form of the Ford Explorer – ’90s version – which was (when it was new) one of the first-generation SUVs. Previously, there had been 4x4s and off-roaders. These were niche vehicles bought by people who needed a vehicle that could go where the roads didn’t. Such people understood that vehicles designed to be able to do that were also not designed to be driven like cars, on road – and at high speeds.
The SUV filled a “need” created by the government’s outregulating (as opposed to outlawing) the large cars Americans used to like to drive that were largely taken out of circulation in favor of much smaller, much less roomy vehicles that were more “efficient,” per the government’s ever-upticking fuel efficiency regulations.
The SUV was created to meet the “need” for what average Americans still wanted but which was increasingly hard to find – in a car. The SUV was – technically, insofar as the fuel efficiency regs were concerned – a “light truck” and as such did not have to comply with the same fuel efficiency standard as cars did. Thus, a way around them was found – and used.
Voila! The SUV.
The problem was that it was a mass-marketed vehicle bought chiefly by people who did not need nor understand the capabilities – and limitations of – 4x4s and off-roaders. Many of whom drove their SUVs as if they were cars, without any respect for their lesser capabilities (and lower limits) on-road, especially at high speeds.
Which they were unaware of, not having taken the time to look – and check – them. When the tire failed, it was worse – because SUVs have a higher center of gravity. Weight shifts more abruptly – often suddenly – when a tire fails at high speed. Several spectacular rollover wrecks later, a “need” was found for tire pressure monitoring systems – and not just for SUVs. All new vehicles have come standard with them – per federal regulations – for the past 25-plus years now.
And so people no longer feel the need to keep track of their tires anymore.
Now another “need” has been created, to address the “need” created by EVs for a more sophisticated way to keep track of tires without the person who owns the vehicle needing to bother about keeping track of them.
But some of us might be bothered about being kept track of. One more mechanism for mining our “data,” as details about our private affairs is blandly styled. Will this “data” be “shared” – another anodyne term to make it sound as if we were all sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and singing songs – with parties we’d rather not “share” it with?
What do you suppose?
Better read your EULA.
And even if not, there will of course be the cost. “Smart” tires will not be less expensive than plain old tires. Hopefully, we’ll have the option to say no, thanks. Of course, that rarely happens when a “need” is created – and it’s necessary to make sure we agree with it.
. . .
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