It’s not about safety anymore

It’s not about safety anymore

For the last few years manufacturers have tried to outdo one another with the number of airbags and electronic nannies they could cram into their new cars. This was great. Now we’re up to ten airbags in some cars – it’s going to feel great to crash. We’re also held on the road by ESP, VDC, ASR, EBD, EBA, ABS and several other acronyms. Even cheap cars come with many of these features.

So, there’s nowhere for the manufacturers to go. Short of fitting an ejector seat (or a guaranteed passage to the afterlife of your choice), how will they differentiate? I’ll tell you: fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Notice how it’s come to the fore in the past year or so. Safety is boring. Fuel economy is the new ‘sensible’ when it comes to motoring because safety is taken for granted, and doesn’t hit you in the pocket like pumping dinosaur juice does. Also, people have a new environmental sensibility – this is fantastic, but it’s still driven by fuel price because when it comes down to it people only care about the environment when it doesn’t cost them.

When this fuel thing has all blown over, though, safety will once again come to fore because ultimately fuel economy is so enormously and hideously dull I will likely fall asleep at the wheel. The next big thing is automatic braking and collision avoidance. Then we’ll be putting panelbeaters out of business.

For the last few years manufacturers have tried to outdo one another with the number of airbags and electronic nannies they could cram into their new cars. This was great. Now we’re up to ten airbags in some cars – it’s going to feel great to crash. We’re also held on the road by ESP, VDC, ASR, EBD, EBA, ABS and several other acronyms. Even cheap cars come with many of these features.

So, there’s nowhere for the manufacturers to go. Short of fitting an ejector seat (or a guaranteed passage to the afterlife of your choice), how will they differentiate? I’ll tell you: fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Notice how it’s come to the fore in the past year or so. Safety is boring. Fuel economy is the new ‘sensible’ when it comes to motoring because safety is taken for granted, and doesn’t hit you in the pocket like pumping dinosaur juice does. Also, people have a new environmental sensibility – this is fantastic, but it’s still driven by fuel price because when it comes down to it people only care about the environment when it doesn’t cost them.

When this fuel thing has all blown over, though, safety will once again come to fore because ultimately fuel economy is so enormously and hideously dull I will likely fall asleep at the wheel. The next big thing is automatic braking and collision avoidance. Then we’ll be putting panelbeaters out of business.

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