Museum of Impending Carmageddon: Piece #2

Automobiles are inherently childish objects. If our descendants luck out and somehow retain civilization, they will understand that these wildly wasteful and unsustainable machines were the apotheosis of our species’ prolonged adolescence.

In hopes of preserving the evidence of how our overclass pushing these objects on us, DbC hereby presents, as part of its new series, this typical example of toddler-level flattery, which was used to sell pickup trucks in the year 2020:

You give us your time. You give us your courage. You soldier through and make us proud.

Despite its ecocidal nature and its howling crudity, this type of indoctrination worked on enough people to justify itself, and, as it did so, also went entirely uncriticized by the wider society.

Not-So-Robo Cars

Self-driving cars…where are they?

Here is how Consumer Reports — a publication that accepts the hypothesis that the automobile is somehow a decent product and, accordingly, hands out sweetheart numbers — rates existing robotic driving systems in this, the year of our lord 2021:

rankings chart
Consumer Reports, February 2021 edition

The top overall score is 68/100. That’s a D+. 16 of the 17 overall scores are Fs.

The other noteworthy (and rather comical) point here is the “Keeping the Driver Engaged” scores, all but one of which are atrocious.

A wag might point out that staying engaged is precisely what robotic driving is supposed to eliminate the need for.

On the deathly serious side, meanwhile, the existence of some force that is task-engaged is also the entire difference between a car and a 2-ton anti-personnel drone.

Of course, other than padding price-tags, robo-driving’s real purpose is to burnish the erroneous notion that automobiles are somehow cutting-edge, rather than outdated and inherently defective, technology.

Museum of Impending Carmageddon: Piece #1

Here at DbC, it strikes us that one of things we ought to be doing is recording the basic facts of our careening epoch’s continuing promotion of the product that is speeding the nation* and the species toward Carmageddon. It is a remarkable record of overclass heedlessness and institutional inertia. The thesis behind all posts in this series is that our grandchildren, should we somehow manage to leave them the ability to learn history and sociology, will be be appalled that we sat by and took this.

Without further ado:

The first item in the DbC M.I.C. is this utterly shameful** and 100 percent diversionary advertisement from the (very recently bailed-out) Ford Motor Company, whose founder, prior to incorporating his enterprise, gushed to his brother-in-law that “there is a barrel of money in this business.” A transcript follows the video.

“You don’t become a hundred-and-seventeen-year-old auto maker in this country by refusing to change. The Ford Motor Company does not resist, deny, or ignore change. We pledge to make our most iconic vehicles electric, to use 100 percent renewable energy across all global manufacturing plants by 2035, to stand for lower greenhouse gas emissions, to stand with Americans and for the planet.” [emphasis original]

DbC transcription of Ford “Built for America: Change” television ad, aired fall 2020 in USA

Every claim in this stunningly petulant, meticulously planned assault on the public mind begs for its own corrective seminar.

For now, suffice it to note that this is an advertisement for automobiles in the year 2020. These people know what they’re doing, even if they won’t allow anybody but themselves to discuss the topic.

*To be clear, “nation” is a very dangerous idea.

**Special shame on actor Bryan Cranston, who, despite his fame and wealth, chooses to do the voiceover work on these sociopathic propaganda pieces. Mr. Cranston is certainly now a major candidate for the much-uncoveted Golden Hickie Award.

Still At It

royalty graphic

In 1953, at a closed-door Congressional confirmation hearing, GM President Charles Wilson acknowledged his habitual equation of his employer’s profit-making endeavors with the overall welfare of the society in which it was based. Asked if he could even imagine a conflict between these two phenomena, Wilson, via a leaked transcript, infamously admitted he did not and could not:

I cannot conceive of one because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country. Our contribution to the Nation is quite considerable.

Wilson’s shift of tenses reveals that, even among cronies, he knew there was something troubling in the equation. Yet he did shift squarely back to the present tense in his final sentence: We are big, so you will take what you get.

Despite the smoldering times, this elite equation of car corporations with the national interest has not altered one iota since 1953.

Here, indeed, is what new Ford CEO Jim Farley unashamedly told Automotive News today:

We have an important job to do not only for Ford but for our country and for the Ford family.

You see? Ford = Ford family (major stockholders) = United States.

So, as always, run that up your flagpole, folks.

Hydrogen Cars

Ever wonder why automobiles aren’t running on hydrogen fuel cells?

The answer is complex and also part of the long skein of sponsored fantasies about flying cars and, now, tunneling cars.

But the most important reason was explained recently by Richard Truett in Automotive News:

There is one part of the fuel cell that no automaker company ever talks about: high-volume production. That’s because most of the fuel cells built for automobiles today are hand-made by technicians.

photo of fuel cell technician

As of 2018, Toyota was building about seven Mirai fuel cell vehicles per day, all by hand.

The news Tuesday of General Motors’ deal with startup truckmaker Nikola provided no details about the technology GM plans to embrace to crank out fuel cell stacks quickly and with zero defects. The stack, you will recall, contains membranes and thin metal plates, and much like the cells in a battery pack, the more the cells are stacked in a fuel cell, the more electricity it will produce.

In manufacturing terms, this is as close to brain surgery as we’ve ever seen in a powertrain component. Not only is there no room for manufacturing tolerances — every internal component must fit and align perfectly for the cell to produce the correct amount of electricity safely — but the production site has to be free of dust, dirt and anything else that could contaminate a fuel cell membrane.

It is going to take a huge and economically viable fuel cell to produce enough electricity to move a fully loaded Nikola semitruck down the road at highway speeds. It won’t be economically efficient to assemble the stacks in these trucks by hand.

Automotive News, September 08, 2020

This, of course, also raises the question of what happens to fuel cell arrays in automotive collisions. The elementary facts there can’t be good, either.

You aren’t going to be seeing these things any time soon.