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Disposable cars

1808 Views 15 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  trdmkii
Found this online at usatoday about the new it my imagination or are cars becoming more disposible?...imagine if our Supras were designed like this

"What do women want? Storage, parking, ergonomics and maintenance. Their design solutions led to some surprising features:

•No hood. The front end is designed as one large section, meant to be lifted only by the mechanic. The reasoning is women don't want to be bothered with maintenance, and the car is designed to be virtually maintenance free (oil change every 50,000 kilometers, or about 31,000 miles). When the car needs servicing, it sends a wireless message to a local service station, which will contact the owner and schedule an appointment.

•Storage space. The car has wide, gull-wing doors that allow easy access to the space behind the driver's seat. The rear seats are fold-up, theater-style, which allows more storage space. The emergency brake is electric, freeing storage space between the front seats.

•No gas cap. The car has a race-car-style fueling system in which the gas nozzle goes in through an opening with a roller-ball valve to prevent gas and fumes from escaping. Window-washer fluid is poured into a reservoir next to the gas tank.

•Easy to clean. The car has dirt-repellant paint and glass, as well as machine-washable seat covers. The seat covers and carpets come in a variety of styles for a customized interior.

•Easy to park. The car has a sensor to tell the driver if the car will fit in a parking space. It also can take over the steering to parallel park."
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I have a cousin who's a mechanic at the local Mercede's dealership and we were discussing the trend toward disposable cars (even by Mercedes) years ago. He pointed out that with the advent of air bag systems, they have specially trained mechanics that do and undo the airbag systems anytime that they have to go through the dash or other airbag equipment to fix something else. Because of that, there are "shortcuts" prescribed in the factory service manuals for many new cars such as to replace the A/C evaporator in some new GM vehicles, you (gasp) cut through the side of the plastic airbox, remove and reinstall the evap, and seal the cut section back in place with duct tape. This is not only to avoid the cost to r&r the dash but more importantly the liability if they goof up the airbag.

My brother is a mechanical engineer and I've had many discussions with him on the subject of planned obsolescence. He learned in school how to calculate or predict to within a few thousand revolutions, when a bearing would fail given a certain set of parameters. So manufacturers can and do design their cars with the intent that they become intolerably unreliable in a five to ten year span. Another mechanical engineering fact is that cars are designed specifically to accomodate a particular manufacturing process. i.e. if they've got a welding robot with only a certain range of movement, they have to design next year's model so that the robot can be reprogrammed to build it. Also, they have to accomodate the most efficient assembly sequence. The final design may not make the most sense from the perspective of the consumer or the mechanic who has to bend his body in the shape of a pretzel to change a fuel filter, but it sure makes the original purchase price a lot lower again making the thought of replacing an aging car more appealing.

I think that one of the things we can count on is that smaller and smaller percentages of new cars will survive 25 years or more to become collectible and the future time-value cost to restore today's cars will be many many times today's cost to restore a 25 year old car. Consider too that there will be fewer people interested in restoring them. Already, look around you how many "men" you know who don't know a damn thing about cars. Carburettors and clutches and such used to be a universal topic of conversation you could strike up with nearly any man you'd meet - a "guy" thing. Once upon a time, nearly every teen-aged boy got some old junker as his first car and had to learn out of sheer necessity how fix things to keep it going. Teens today are discouraged from even trying because of the myth that modern cars are too complicated (I say buy yourself a damn OBD2 scanner and rise your lazy ass to the challenge). Its all the unfortunate result of the sinister plot by corporate profiteers to make and mass-market disposable cars.

Phil D.
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