Of course, in market-totalitarian America, “America” means corporate capitalists. Hence, we find the U.S. Energy Secretary out pimping for extension of the reign of human history’s most wasteful lifeblood-to-a–ruling-system product. As reported by Automotive News:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy wants auto suppliers to know that it still has $16 billion in low-interest financing available to support efficient-vehicle programs, and it wants them to step forward for a share of those funds. The department’s lending authority comes under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which Congress created in 2007. Early in the Obama administration, the Department of Energy used the program to lend about $8.4 billion to Ford, Nissan, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive. Suppliers were always eligible, but none secured funding. Now, under Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the program is being overhauled to make it easier to fund production of technologies such as lightweight materials, efficient engines and low-friction tires.
The changes that Moniz announced today include legal clarifications to show that suppliers are eligible for the program, a promise to respond more quickly to applicants and the creation of a new online application portal.
Moniz announced the program changes on Wednesday during a speech to the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, or MEMA, a trade group representing auto suppliers.
“Today we are presented with an opportunity to hit the accelerator on U.S. auto manufacturing growth,” Moniz said.
To restate: In the year 2014, the person in charge of solving the nation’s energy challenges is bragging about “hitting the accelerator” on making automobiles.
Orwell was an amateur.
Cars are marketing platforms, ever-expanding rolling heaps of profit-yielding geegaws. Hence, they are mandatory in market-totalitarian America.
The latest “innovation”? Devices that actually increase the noise inside a car:
Sound Symposer: Amplifies engine sounds to provide enhanced soundtrack for drivers tackling the open road. Unique for Fiesta ST in that it is the first time the sound is directly fed into the passenger cabin.
The target audience of this engineering marvel? “Performance enthusiasts.”
Yet again, Orwell could not make up this stuff.
DbC hereby proposes a new National Museum of Late-Capitalist Insanities. The NMLCI will be dedicated to the collection, preservation, and display of items and ideas characteristic of our epoch, with an eye to allowing a) the presently sane, b) future generations, and/or c) future extraterrestrial archaeologists to contemplate just how far out of touch our overclass and our culture have become.
Given the massive irrationality yet absolute political-economic centrality of the effort to perpetuate cars-first transportation in the face of obvious, directly associated impending disasters, there could be no better first NMLCI exhibit than the object at right, the 1,200-pound, “safe as possible,” 3-d “printed” Urbee car.
The rank pipedreams preserved in this pet project of Canadian engineer-capitalist Jim Kor are truly NMCLI-worthy:
For starters, the sales slogan is “Urbee: The Natural Way to Drive.” What could possibly be more un-natural than using immensely intricate and wasteful, 95% idle machines to accomplish mundane intra-village locomotion?
The rest of the proposal is about ecological conservation. Once again, what could possibly be more ecologically idiotic than using immensely intricate and wasteful, 95% idle machines to accomplish mundane intra-village locomotion? Without even mentioning fuel and manufacturing issues, you can get 40 bicycles for 1,200 pounds of final mass, and bicycles are orders of magnitude simpler and easier to repair and preserve.
As for “safe as possible,” who wants to ride in this glorified golf cart with moped wheels on American roads, around all these SUVs and delivery trucks? Hands?
The fact that such elementary realities are missed by an engineer speaks tomes about the prevalence of magical thinking in our doddering profit-driven social order.
From the department of “Yep, they said it” comes this item in today’s edition of Automotive News:
Mike Accavitti, the former head of Dodge who became American Honda’s vice president of marketing in August, describes the current luxury market as “too much machine and not enough humanity.”
Replace the phrase “the current luxury market” with “the automobile.” Does anything change?
So, you’d think, if capitalists really did take their customers’ interests at least partly seriously, that the first generation of “alt fuel” cars would be the least efficient ones.
Ah, but as Henry Ford II once infamously quipped, mini cars mean mini profits.
Hence, Chevrolet is preparing a Volt mini-van.
The next Prius, meanwhile? A station wagon:
According to Automotive News, the Prius wagon uses the standard Prius hybrid engine but “weighs about 220 pounds more” than the sedan, and “increases the [vehicle’s] drag coefficient” by 16 percent.