The Need for Speed
Like many of you, I'm watching developments in the car market--and the automotive space in general--with a mixture of anxiety for its deficiencies and excitement about its promise. There are so many things that make me shake my head, grind my teeth, shrug my shoulders, or fist pump like it's 2009. Here are some of the main things that need to hurry up and happen.
Jeep Gladiator 392
I would buy this over a TRX, hands down. Especially in a Mojave trim with added Jump Detection!
Subaru WRX Wilderness
It's supposed to be a rally car! They already added the cladding! C'mon, Subaru, give us the lift and AT tires! (The honorable mention is a Crosstrek Baja. All you need is a saws-all!)
Toyota GR86 Turbo
There, I said it.
Supply Chain Reform
The automotive industry is not the only post-COVID culprit, but it's downright embarrassing to see manufacturers stockpiling cars they can't sell because of the chip shortage. There are benefits to globalization, but offshoring production of essential items is just so shortsighted. Sure, every company wants to save a few pennies per part, as that saves millions of dollars when done at scale. But at what cost? Consider how bad Ford looks, for example, when they have to send loyal customers hammocks instead of Broncos.
Solid State Batteries
EVs are awesome. They also suck. Getting pushed back in the seat, saving money on gas, helping the environment--great things. Dealing with spotty infrastructure, enduring shoddy manufacturing, suffering from range anxiety--not-so-great things.
While not able to solve all the problems, solid state batteries can--and someday will--propel EVs into true mainstream adoption. New batteries are projected to be smaller, lighter, charge faster, and get over 1,000 miles of range. Even better, they will not incur the same environmental and human rights costs of lithium ion batteries.
Where do I sign up?
A Viable Online Retail Model
Consider how someone might buy a new pair of shoes:
"Hmmm... I want new shoes. I don't need to go to the store because I already know what fits me. I don't want to buy from the company site--too expensive. I don't want to buy from Etsy--too long of a wait. Oh, look, Amazon has them with free shipping—and it’s Prime Day!”
Now consider how someone might but a car:
"Hmmm... I want a car. I don't want to go to the dealership because I already know what fits me. I don't want to buy from the manufacturer--too expensive. I don't want to buy from Carvana--too long of a wait (for the title). Oh look, Amazon has the new GR Corolla with free shipping--and it's Prime Day!" (We wish!)
Until we reform franchise laws in the US, dealerships will continue to do what dealerships do. Until we revise how cars are bought online, retailers and auction sites are going to keep trying their best. But what we really need is convenience. And no one sells convenience better than Amazon. If they can somehow untangle the sales regulations that vary from state to state, and make the registration process seamless, then they could undercut and undermine nearly every other retailer. And, after everything that's happened in the market over the past few years, I don't think many consumers would mind. They’re already partnering with Hyundai, so we’ll have to wait and see what’s coming down the road.
A certain someone in my small family recently received her first speeding ticket while returning us from a weekend away. She was driving downhill on the highway, with the flow of traffic, approximately fifteen miles per hour over the limit. Her husband was amused (Hi, Honey!); her ten-year-old was devastated. In his eyes, she broke the law. In his mind, the next step in her evolution as a ne'er-do-well was to tie a hapless victim onto train tracks while twisting her mustache and cackling. Is she now a criminal deserving of losing her son’s esteem?
On the contrary, I think it's time to update our traffic laws. Enthusiasts often consider Germany the Mecca of fast driving. But that's not exactly the case. Yes, there are deregulated zones on the Autobahn, but speeds are heavily regulated in urban and residential areas. Additionally, the requirements to earn a license are rigorous, while taking classes and paying for written and practical exams are expensive. Cars are also safer, as strict inspection standards require them to be well maintained.
Therefore, we will need to update driver's education in the US as well. Doing so would enable safe drivers to move with purpose and not punishment. There would be far more of those safe drivers thanks to our improved licensing system. Municipalities could free up law enforcement to focus on more important things while making up for reduced fines by increasing driver's education and licensing fees. They could even issue RF readers requiring you to pay a toll to exercise your well earned right to drive fast, giving Speed Pass a whole new meaning. Unlike many places in the world, we have so much open road. Why not make travel safer and more efficient by finally updating our traffic laws and license standards?
Pedal to the Metal
I could—and still might—write an entire post about any one of these topics. But what are some mile markers you can’t wait to reach? Let us know in the comments, as I’d love to look into more of what excites you, too.
Bill hosts a blog and YouTube channel that lead him to think more deeply about what it means to drive. The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.