I realized that when it comes to cars and what I love In a car, I’m kind of an outsider. I’m happy with machines under 100 horsepower and the kind of comfort most people would associate with being pulled on the back of a tractor on a yoga ball. Maybe “external” isn’t the right word? Maybe “stupid” is better. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what mainstream car buyers want. In fact, I’ve been following automotive norms for some time now, and I think I have some ideas about what they really want and need, even if they don’t say so themselves.
By “norms” I mean people who don’t necessarily give a crap about cars, but still use them every day for all kinds of things. I know many such people. They may have an affinity for their car, but they can tell nothing about bowel movements, which direction its pistons move or displace, or how much joules of energy their electric motor can demand.
They just want their cars to take them where they want to go, when they want to go there, and take whatever they want with them. They don’t want them to look or feel embarrassing, they don’t want to spend a lot of money on them, they just want their transportation equipment to be comfortable, useful, and Work.
So, in an era where we have car makers moving forward wildly quick 0-60 times or advanced, however much Compromise Level 2 Semi-Automatic Systems, Or Remarkable Off-Road Capabilities Or yoke shaped steering wheel Or greater touchscreens or whatever, it’s worth taking some time to consider what normal, car-owning-still-car-give-a-shitting people really want and really need can.
I’ve been watching my car-normie friends, listening to their complaints about the way they use their cars, and I think I’ve come up with five key areas that can make life with a car better and easier. Will make Criteria:
1. Actual Internal Waste / Spill Management
I suspect that most of our regular readers are people who care about keeping their car interiors neat and tidy, even if they have simple cars. i even try to stop getting the interior of my yugo very But this is by no means the case for many car owners, and it is not all their fault.
Even the cleanest people I know have dirt on the interior of the car. Everywhere, and a lot of the reason this happens is because people are distracted and busy, and cars don’t have the easiest interiors to keep clean. Put kids in the mix and it gets worse.
It takes some effort for car designers to acknowledge this problem and actually do something about it. Cars should have usable, integrated trash cans that are easy to empty.
On SUVs and minivans, there should be a way to empty the trash bin from the exterior of the car—I devised an idea for Some time ago:
just need to be some An appropriately sized space to stash trash, and an easy way to empty it. In addition, cupholders must have drains and rinsing systems; Think about tapping the washer fluid reservoir to feed small jets in the cupholder area that can wash out gross old coffee creamer and sticky soda residue down the small drain that empties into the bottom of the car.
It’s not rocket science, it’s just a little bit of clever design and engineering. It’s time to acknowledge that people can be sloganeering, and give them ways to make being non-slogan easier.
2. Level 4 automation, but only for really slow traffic and long straight highway trips
Almost all major automakers are currently developing their own automated driving systems, and all currently have only Level 2 semi-automatic systems, which demand that drivers be ready to take control at a moment’s notice.
i think this Level 2 systems are conceptually flawed And Exploitation will continue. We are also far from full level 5 autonomy, where the car just drives itself, but I think there is a demand for self-driving to some degree.
I think what Criterion wants is full self-driving, not by a long shot; There are really only two situations where almost everyone would prefer not to pay attention to driving: slow, boring, pathetic traffic jams and long, boring, low-congestion, straight-line highway trips.
So, instead of beating our AI-heads against the wall trying to make cars understand complex traffic and predicting what might happen at penny-farthing, let’s limit autonomy to these two specific situations. .
We’ll have level 4 autonomy – that means it’ll only be active in approved locations (as GM does with Supercruise) so it should operate on stretches of highway that are already mapped for high-speed driving and for driving in traffic jams, it will be limited to 30 mph or less.
Both scenarios will not require any driver acquisition and will have failure standards that will get the car out of trouble and out of everyone’s way, with no reliance on the driver to even be there if anything goes wrong. it occurs.
It will still take some development and potentially cross-producer standards, but instead of trying to do everything, just hit the places where people are most likely to sleep or have sex with each other rather than paying attention. Is.
3. Improved occasional oversize cargo capabilities and safety
Most normie drivers I know have at one time or another attempted to move something bigger than their car was designed to handle, and they often made a little work of it. A mattress, some bicycles, a big dresser or sofa, a kayak, whatever. I know I’ve done it.
Mainstream cars—especially SUVs—should be able to handle these occasional situations with greater safety and efficiency.
As a start, I would make roof rails without crossbars illegal; Many people see that their SUV has roof rails and assume that’s what a roof rack is, and then you’re dodging a mattress on the highway.
anything like looks like Just like a roof rack should be a functional rack with lots of tie-downs. And, speaking of tie-downs, there should be a better system for things that stick out of the SUV’s rear hatch: more and better tie-down points, perhaps slide-out flooring in the cargo area to create safer platforms for things. for. exit from behind.
People will always try to carry big, weird things in their cars, and, again, this needs to be accepted and made better and safer, not just the owners manual warns that none of them ever will. Will read
4. Fully standardized EV charging and standardized, swappable EV batteries
With electric vehicles becoming more and more common, it’s time to stop focusing on what carmakers want and think about what car buyers and owners need. And they need to be able to charge with the same gleeful ignorance that people can fill their cars with at any gas station.
This means all kinds of standardized charging connectors, standardized charging power requirements, complete charging agnosticism.
Elon Musk has recently taken a good step when They Announce Tesla’s Excellent Supercharger Network Can be made open to other brands:
Also the batteries need to be standardized. I mean, ideally, there should be connectors and other standards for more and more EV parts, as this will make EV servicing and maintenance much better for the average owner.
I know car makers will balk at claiming this will be too hard to do or that there are engineering concerns, but here’s the only reasonable response to that: Fuck them.
They’re smart people, they’ll figure it out. Changing or repairing the battery for your EV shouldn’t hurt the owner The pity of a supplier who can soak them up for absurd sums. the goal is to make things Better In the EV era, no worse. I’m looking for the little guy, the everyday car owner, and not sticking to one company for unusable parts like integrated battery packs, how we make things better.
5. Forgiving bodywork and bumpers, and even wheels without stopping
You know what else would really help everyday drivers? Forgiveness. In particular, design forgiveness, as in things The kind of bumper that can take minor damage without looking like crap And wheels that can rub against a curb without causing hundreds of dollars in damage.
Like many of these suggestions, it’s an acknowledgment of the real life that leads most cars to get messy in very few ways. Wheels rub against curbs, so why do so many wheels come off the rear of the tire, leaving them vulnerable to ugly scrapes? This is ridiculous.
Mainstream cars need attractive but unpainted bumpers that can take small scrapes and bangs and not look bad. The wheels need to be protected by tire sidewalls. Normy isn’t fussy about short styling fetishes like ultra-low profile tires, but they certainly don’t want their wheels to look like the knees of a kid who used to fuck on his bike on a gravel road.
The dirty reality is that the cars stay outside. They need to be designed to deal with it, and repairs for minor damage need to be much cheaper than the current average.
Bonus: Practical, Inexpensive Amphibians
This is just a small passion of mine. Some car maker needs to build an affordable, practical amphibious vehicle because I think there’s a surprisingly large potential group of buyers who would absolutely love something they could drive to work all week, then Can drive in a lake on weekends.
It doesn’t have to be special good boat; Just have to swim, be mostly controllable, and let people lie on the roof.
It should be easier than tackling a boat, and generally somehow usable, as a mainstream crossover. It’s an achievable engineering challenge, but one worth doing, I say.