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Software is eating the car (ieee.org)
281 points by avonmach 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 535 comments





Short answer to the lede: no, the industry cannot cope. Or rather, it will limp along with bloatware, bugs, and malware exactly the same way we see desktop OSes bloat, or the way we see routers and set-top boxes hacked to become botnets.

In my 40+ years in the industry I've yet to see code get SMALLER. With the exception of Linux kernel 1.0 in the 90's which was a step backwards into smaller, more compact code, code has always bloated.

Damn. I just want a car with as FEW knobs/buttons/levers as necessary. Literally: make it as simple as possible. Like an golf cart! Is anyone else out there with me? I feel like Walter from The Big Lebowski regarding this: has everyone just gone crazy?


Glad to hear I'm not the only one who wants a dumb car. Unfortunately, the idea of electric cars has become bound up with the notion of software-driven cars. I want an electric car with analog controls, no touch screens or over-the-air updates, and minimal software. A car that I feel like I own, rather than one I'm getting a click-through license to use.

You know the dark pattern of presenting a license agreement over and over until it's accepted? I predict one day someone will make the argument in court that they always declined the EULA (perhaps the one in their car) hundreds of times, but one day accidentally brushed "accept" with their finger, and that doesn't constitute legal acceptance, especially since they've demonstrated an effort to decline the EULA, but because of dark patterns, they never can permanently reject the license.

Fun fact - if you buy the car new, you may have the "option" of being presented with these choices before purchase. And you can actually refuse! The dealer will be confused as hell, but they are hell-bent on selling a new car, and will actually void it if possible. I know because I've done it. You don't want the weird spyware (OnStar, Carnet, etcetera)? After agreeing to buy the car, refuse to accept the terms (they legally require your signature for this), and they'll find a way to get around it. If they refuse then go buy a different car, because fuck those guys.

Obviously this will vary by manufacturer and feature, and it's getting harder as time goes on to remove this shit from your vehicle.


I thought I remember seeing some article on dashboard design and how distracting everything is now to driver. I thought I saw a quip in the article about how Honda was going to put out several 2021-2022 models that went back to some kind of really stripped down dashboard?

I thought (IANAL) that EULA with screeds of text and a "Accept" button have been ruled invalid (as in not enforceable in a court) many ties in most jurisdictions.

Am I wrong?


This is certainly true in some jurisdictions (including Canada where my home country bias lies), but I don't think it's generally true everywhere in the US.

If I'm the dark pattern developer I'm not logging when the EULA is accepted or how many times they declined it.

>If I'm the dark pattern developer I'm not logging when the EULA is accepted or how many times they declined it

This cuts both ways. If the user can show one case of their rejecting the EULA without it being logged, they can then make the claim--correctly or not--that they repeatedly rejected it. If the car refuses to work without the EULA being accepted or rejected, proof of its movement would be sufficient to show repeated rejection.

More pointedly, willfully hiding information like this could backfire massively with the courts or law enforcement.


There is hiding information and not collecting it to begin with.

    void handleEula()
    {
      auto eulaAccepted = readEulaAcceptedFile();
      if (!eulaAccepted)
        eulaAccepted = promptForEulaAcceptance();
      writeEulaFile(eulaAccepted);
    }
This function reads a file from disk and writes back to it every time. If filesystem write audits aren't enabled there is no way to determine if the most recent write of "true" was the only write.

> If the car refuses to work without the EULA being accepted or rejected, proof of its movement would be sufficient to show repeated rejection.

If the car refuses to work without the EULA being accepted then it wouldn't move. If some functionality was enabled or disabled by accepting the EULA then you would have to show that the functionality was never enabled based on secondhand sources... which would be difficult. Proving something didn't happen is infinitely more difficult than proving something did. Many systems are not designed to handle that level of introspection.

All I'm saying is that the cute legal theory of "I rejected this N times therefore that one time I accepted it is invalid" falls apart for me when I consider that the user would have to prove they never did something, except that one time. Good luck.


> This function reads a file from disk and writes back to it every time. If filesystem write audits aren't enabled there is no way to determine if the most recent write of "true" was the only write.

Yet, that doesn't matter - all the user has to demonstrate in court is that rejecting a EULA causes it to come up again in the future, meaning that sooner or later it is going to get accidentally accepted.


Judges are not idiots, and there is an "obligation to observe reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing".

Practices like this increase likelihood that the judge rules the entire agreement null and void for the entire userbase.


> ... falls apart for me when I consider that the user would have to prove they never did something, except that one time.

It falls apart for you, since you are the person trying to trick every single driver. It won't necessarily fall apart for a judge.


Lawyers tend to love it when their opponents think they've found a cute legal hack.

Most people don't seem to understand that the laws are interpreted by human beings that have spent their entire lives studying and applying the law.

Particularly us geeky folk often seem to think that you can find a buffer overflow exploit in the literal wording of the law and the judge will have to let you go. That usually isn't how it works (although the odd case where someone successfully exploits the actual verbiage in the law tends to make headlines and make it seem like that is how it works).


So much this. Judges tend to respond very poorly to "but you didn't say Simon Says" style arguments.

How can we transform the society to fix that then? /s

Simple, replace judges with AIs. Possibly on the blockchain. Code is law.

I really hope this is just sarcasm :)

That's not a cute legal hack. Not retaining any information that is not useful and has the potential to be incriminating, unless legally required to, is what every smart company or government agency does. You find the relevant laws, then you write a retention policy.

It's not about information, it's about the user being harassed untill someone clicks "accept" button, which is not compatible with "dealing in good faith"

Do you have proof they clicked it, and not their kid? Did they intend to consent, or click the button by accident/ spilled coffee on the touchscreen?

How can we trust your code at all, if all users say the rejected the contract multiple times, and you claim they accepted it and you are the one that stands to benefit from their acceptance, maybe you are lying? Maybe your system is unreliable?

Is it even legal to use the user's property - i.e. their car - to disturb their peace? If you were to post them a letter, you do it at your expense, but now you are doing it at their expense, they are paying to electricity and data to display those pixels for your benefit.


Sorry, on who's side are you really on?

IANAL, but I'm curious if you are. In my experience, lawyers tend to get a lot done by intimidation. Remember all those ridiculous lawsuits from the RIAA over downloading illegal music? Well, it turns out when people actually took them to court they won every time. But people settled out of fear.

Sure, if the lawyers are actually trying to do things legally first and adhering to the letter of the law, I'm sure they're happy to have their efforts challenged. But I have never, ever, in my life encountered a lawyer who worked this way (and I have lawyers in my family, I've been to court, I've personally hired several, blah blah blah). I am not saying they don't know the law, but they use their greater knowledge of the law to their advantage. Their goal isn't transparency, it's submission.


> Remember all those ridiculous lawsuits from the RIAA over downloading illegal music? Well, it turns out when people actually took them to court they won every time. But people settled out of fear.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_Records,_Inc._v._Thoma...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_v._Tenenbaum

These were widely covered because most people just settled, and there were high hopes for something putting a damper on the lawsuits... from the page about the second case " It was only the second file-sharing case (after Capitol v. Thomas) to go to verdict in the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) anti-downloading litigation campaign"

So 2 for 2 there were found in favor of the RIAA, for huge damages even after appeal.

More recently, even ISPs are getting hit hard: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/06/1-billion-piracy...


As I remember those times, they didn't go after people for simply downloading music, they were going after the people who were actively distributing music on file sharing services.

There's a much harder burden of proof for the RIAA when they sue people over simply downloading songs or albums when the user can easily make the case for fair use. I mean, how many albums, 8-tracks, cassettes and CD's did you buy of the same artist and album? I know I did it thousands of times.

The burden gets a lot easier when you can show the person was actively distributing essentially pirated music to other users - propagating what is by legal definition, illegal activity.


> As I remember those times, they didn't go after people for simply downloading music, they were going after the people who were actively distributing music on file sharing services.

As I remember, at least some cases were complete BS. Some people hardly knew what file sharing was.


Actually people lost. But it doesn't matter anyway because the RIAA can't collect it, and the debt was basically the lowest priority.

Do you have a link? I'm trying to dig up stories on it, but it's so stale. As far as I can tell almost everybody settled, and the few that fought in court eventually won.

https://www.wired.com/2010/05/riaa-bump/



I am not. I work with lots of them.

I think we're talking about two different things. Yes, the RIAA was running an intimidation campaign. By and large they didn't care about any particular case.

That's quite different than a plaintiff coming at a car manufacturer over sketchy click-wrap agreements.


Your comment was about lawyers. I gave a random anecdote. We're not talking about different things at all, unless your comment was only about specific lawyers which you failed to mention.

Anyway, I don't care enough to comment anymore.


I'll remember not to care to reply in the first place.

You mean you'll only log that it has been accepted and nothing more?

I guess it becomes their word against... well, nothing, you don't know what they did or didn't do.

For those who care enough to reject EULAs, they should take a few videos of rejecting the license and hopefully that would be enough to shift the onus to the manufacturer, who, as you said, has next to nothing.


I should think that owning a car for more than a few weeks without accepting the EULA could serve as reasonable "proof" that you had no intention of accepting it regardless of what is logged. Especially if the EULA is presented at every startup.

> It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc -- should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done ... chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever.

I think consent dialogs are one of the closest things to Newspeak that exist. In any spoken language, new words can be coined to express a desired meaning. In consent dialogs, there is no longer "Accept" and "Decline", instead there is "Accept" and "Ask me later". When presented with an upsell, the choices are not "Yes" and "No", but "Yes, sign me up!" and "No, I don't want to save money."


"No thanks" is bad enough when I mean "fuck off".

Prove that you didn't accept the EULA when you drove it off the lot, if the system was never designed to log when the acceptance was made.

You probably wouldn't need a log of declines if you had the car for a year and the acceptance was recorded only on day 300. Especially since there will be miles on the car showing that it was driven before day 300...

Uhhh, you don't click through a EULA in the car. You do it when you sign the purchase agreement. Do you not read those things?

Activating certain features in Tesla does in fact prompt a EULA (enabling autopilot, full self driving, and ludicrous mode all involve disclaimers which are legally EULA agreements. These pop up after you already bought the car, when you activate them under the settings menu for the first time)

Those are liability releases, not agreements over software licensing. In fact those features actually are sold legally as "parts" on the car you bought, there's no licensing scheme from Tesla yet. Though there is noise being made about offering a monthly license for FSD given that it's at $10k now and lots of people who would want to try it are priced out.

The definition of a EULA agreement is a legal contract that is executed by clicking a button. They often contain liability releases. What software license doesn’t?

> A EULA specifies in detail the rights and restrictions which apply to the use of the software.

> Many EULAs assert extensive liability limitations. Most commonly, an EULA will attempt to hold harmless the software licensor in the event that the software causes damage to the user's computer or data, but some software also proposes limitations on whether the licensor can be held liable for damage that arises through improper use of the software (for example, incorrectly using tax preparation software and incurring penalties as a result).

Quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-user_license_agreement


Pedantry about definitions aside, the Tesla agreement you are clicking is not a software license. Go read it.

Mazda has been actively removing touch screens in new models. The screens are still there, but the touch part is replaced with physical controls for cabin features/radio and a puck controller for other stuff.

I know HN loves to hate on touchscreens in cars but I don't really get it. Both cars I own and almost every car I've rented in the last few years (that's quite a few) has had a touchscreen. This is pretty much always how it works: 1) The most used functions have physical buttons and knobs, often on both the steering wheel and the center console 2) Touchscreen is used for uncommonly done things, like adding new Bluetooth connections and adjusting radio settings 3) If the vehicle is moving there are limits on touchscreen use (like the touchscreen will refuse to work after X clicks, or disallow some functions, or both.)

This seems ... fine.


>uncommonly done things, like adding new Bluetooth connections and adjusting radio settings

Adding new Bluetooth connections is something I do more than one would think, because my car doesn't seem to allow Android Auto via a USB cable alone, and periodically it gets into a bad state somehow. The only solution I've found is to forget the pairing and start over. This has happened to me on multiple cars, two Hondas and a BMW, so I'm not sure whether it's universal or not. If for instance, GM cars didn't have this issue, I'd seriously consider one.

Obviously this is a software problem and not a touchscreen issue per se, but I associate it with the touchscreen and the generally poor standards of car tech these days.

Adjusting radio settings is something that I do quite a bit if I am going on a trip, because any given FM station fades out in a fairly short time. I could stream music from my phone, but I have a limited plan due to spending most of my time using wifi these days.

My car does have a reasonably clever and low mental bandwidth way of using the radio, though. There is a "scan" (touchscreen) button and then it changes through the stations reasonably slowly with a "stop" button in the lower left.

I don't understand your third point - it's supposed to be a mitigating factor? It seems like a good reason to "hate on touchscreens" to me, though.

Touchscreens and software bloat are not really central to what I dislike about modern car tech. It's the fact that the user experience has converged on personal computers, where things tend to stop working without any meaningful diagnostic or error and I end up spending 15 minutes resetting and disconnecting/reconnecting things to make it work when I really just want to get home before my food gets cold, etc.

As long as any given computer system is simple enough that the engineers understood it, it seems fine to me in theory.


Some vendors and models went a bit beyond that (hell, Tesla is even the poster kid for this - coupled with arrogant use of non-automotive screen in early cars that broke from heat).

What GP is talking is return to the design you described, possibly with more focus on car-equivalent of HOTAS and tactile controls.


A few manufacturers, expensive ones included, are reverting to screens and physical controls.

I think there is proof your eyes spend more time off the road when using a touch screen compared to physical controls


This seems obvious, really. When you're using a touchscreen you cannot "see" with your hand the same way you can with physical analog controls.

Touchscreens force us to look at them with our eyes to use them.


Note that backup cameras are now a mandate for US cars: https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/new-backup-camera-rule-c...

My 2019 pickup has a backup camera and it's dumb as a post, even though the rest of the truck fairly bristles with sensors. The camera's view appears when I shift into reverse and goes away when I exit reverse.

I think nobody who prefers simplicity objects to that kind of tech. It's overcomplicated interfaces to basic services that we despise, like a volume slider that requires you to look away from the road and that's too easy to mishandle.


So you want a mechanical door lock, manual windows, no car stereo, no power steering, no thermostat, no cruise control, etc...

The problem with that dumb car is that it is missing that very convenient feature. So you want a dumb car but with feature X, because feature X is really great. But the other guy will not care about X and will think it is bloat, but Y is really important, while for someone else, it will be all about Z.

In the end, to satisfy everyone, you will need X+Y+Z, everyone will think it is bloated but you can't remove a single feature without someone complaining... As in, I want things light but don't remove my feature.

Unless it is custom made bloat is almost inevitable.


> mechanical door lock

Power central locking doesn't need a microcontroller, code, or a touch screen, or updates.

> manual windows

Electric windows doesn't need a microcontroller, code, or a touch screen, or updates.

> no car stereo

Car stereos do not need a microcontroller, code, or a touch screen, or updates.

> no power steering

Power steering doesn't need a microcontroller, code, or a touch screen, or updates. Hell it doesn't even require electronics.

> no thermostat

Thermostats are mechanical...

> no cruise control

Cruise control doesn't need a microcontroller, code, or a touch screen, or updates.


I do not mind having computer controlled running gear. But I want to own it. No live updates. No wireless network interface to the system software of any sort. GPL software only.

I do not expect to get that soon.


> * doesn't need a microcontroller,

Really?


Yes.. I had a 1986 BMW that had central locking, electric windows, radio, power steering, cruise control and a thermostat (which, as OP said, mechanical anyway).

No microcontroller on that car[1]; it was a very reliable car too (bought it with 50000km, sold it with 270000km and only ever did services. Nothing broke in that time).

Bosch k-jetronic fuel injection, no microcontroller needed.


> mechanical door lock

Push button, engage solenoid, who needs a microcontroller?

> manual windows

Push button, turn on motor, limit switch to turn off the motor when you get to the end. Microcontrollers make pinch detection and calibration nicer though.

> no car stereo

Tons of examples here, a stereo built today would most likely have electronics and/or a microcontroller because it's cheaper than an analog FM radio, but an old one will still work fine.

> no power steering

On my 1978 vehicle. I believe this is hydraulic with a belt powered pump to reduce the user torque on the steering wheel. No electronics, certainly not a microcontroller.

> no cruise control

On my 1978 vehicle. No microcontroller there, just some vacuum linkages. Maybe a bit of electronics to turn things on and off, the switch certainly felt like an electric switch.

None of these things require a microcontroller. Because it's cheaper, almost all of them use a microcontroller on modern cars; thermostats on lower models would probably be the most likely to be a simple system without a microcontroller.


You can save a lot of cabling when you have central message bus shared by different components where a microcontroller decides whether a particular message is meant for this solenoid or that motor.

you also have a single point of failure, which is a double-edged sword.

Since when is power steering a "smart" feature? Power locks and windows are mechanical devices, solenoids powered by the car battery. The only computerized feature you listed is cruise control and we've had that for years and years. I don't think that this is an "either / or" proposition where we have either a car running off bloated software or a car limited to 1950's features. As far as I'm concerned, cars from the mid 1990's to mid 2000's are peak.

This is missing the point - Person A wants their next car to have certain features, but person B also wants their next car to have certain features which person A doesn't want. Car companies aren't going to make 200 car variants with different features combinations, they're just going to group all the features people want into new cars and ship it to everyone. To stay competitive they just put out whatever it going to sell and 90%+ of people are fine with the increasing level of touchscreen controls, so they'll keep moving towards that since it also ends up reducing COGS and simplifies assembly of the dashboard, increasing margin. Person A can not buy the car if it doesn’t suit them.

I was going to say something like this, that products (like a lot of things) are a combination of multiple users' wants, but I'd say that the main problem here is that the implementations themselves are becoming more monolithic.

The extreme case (as you mention) is the moment you stick in a touch screen and a fair amount of intelligence. You might as well put a jillion features in there plus you save money on physical controls.

They used to be capable of building cars with numerous option packages in the 1960's and 1970's, it's pretty remarkable. The 1969 Camaro alone had probably a dozen different engines available from 3 families.


Automation drives down costs for standardized, mass produced items, but it may also remove the economies of scale that made it possible for more variety to exist due to decreased demand for those varieties.

> The only computerized feature you listed is cruise control

Cruise control doesn't have to have any electronics at all either, earlier cars had vacuum actuated cruise control.


Exactly. I remember when the cruise control vacuum actuated cable snapped on my Honda Civic. No more cruise control for me and I could hear the reason why!

But it’s really bad cruise control that ends up costing MPG, s as well.

> So you want a mechanical door lock, manual windows, no car stereo, no power steering, no thermostat, no cruise control, etc...

I think an extremely small minority of people who want a "dumb" car don't want those features. I feel like you're just making up a strawman here. It's pretty clear (at least to me), that the people who want a dumb car are talking about things integrating with your phone or being displayed on a touch screen. I think anything that existed 20 years ago is not regarded as dumb by basically anybody.


It has been a long time since you could get a truly bespoke car from a major manufacturer in a reasonable price segment.

But, you used to be able to order all sorts of stuff - or not order it. For example, you could save a few hundred bucks by not having a rear bumper, not having a radio, opting for manual windows and transmission, opting for no cruise control, etc...

There were a multitude of options and you could add/delete most anything you wanted.

These days, it's down to packages and colors. Often, you can't even mix packages and trying to get manually controlled windows will usually get you laughed at.


Fun fact. On export first gen Camaro you could save a few bucks by ordering them with seat belt delete (A48 option).

Indeed. Before safety belts were mandatory, they were optional on many models.

I think you are missing the point. The problem is what do those features mean?

Is the stereo just an AM/FM radio? Does it have a CD player? A CD changer (how many people even buy CDs anymore)? Does it get satellite radio? Does it have AUX input? Does it have Bluetooth? Is there an interface to communicate to the the Bluetooth device (people driving around controlling their stereo from their phone is more dangerous than people doing the same on their car's touchscreen)? Can it stream music without a Bluetooth connection? Does it have Spotify? What about Apple Music? Does it offer handsfree control? And so on.

There simply isn't a universal definition of what a "dumb car" would be and not everyone is going to desire the same set of features.


No I think you're missing the point. I never said there was universal definition. I just said that very few people complaining about smart cars are against features like "mechanical door lock, manual windows, no car stereo, no power steering, no thermostat, no cruise control"...

I can't speak directly for OP, but I think the specific part you are quoting was being facetious. No one would consider power windows as a "smart" feature. But where is the line between a smart power window and a dumb power window? For example, are they just simple windows with an up and down button? Are there options for disabling the window buttons in the back seat for child safety? Are there options for the back seat windows to only go down halfway? Will the windows go down completely with one touch or do you have to hold the button? Can you set the windows to close when you turn off the ignition or lock the car? You might not care about any of those features, but some people will. That is what leads to bloat.

I feel like you're just making up a strawman here. It's pretty clear (at least to me), that the people who want a dumb car are talking about things integrating with your phone or being displayed on a touch screen.

Personally, I really enjoy that with our new van I can listen to a podcast/music through Bluetooth and pause/resume playback through a simple touchscreen without having to fiddle with my phone directly.


> Personally, I really enjoy that with our new van I can listen to a podcast/music through Bluetooth and pause/resume playback through a simple touchscreen without having to fiddle with my phone directly.

I'm not sure what your point is. I never said that no one wants these features. Obviously there are many that do.


Attach your phone to a holder. Buy a Bluetooth adapter from AliExpress and your good to go with any car

Exactly. I don't see why a screen attached to the car is somehow superior to the native screen I've been using for years; just put it somewhere accessible. I've found that the CD player mounted phone holders are insanely convenient in almost every car.

I'd actually like manual windows and no cruise control, I've had both fail on me many times.

The features you mention aren't any more "smart" than an intermittent wiper is, which was invented long before electronics appeared in cars, much less digital logic.

US luxury cars in 1965 had all the features you mention. They were delightfully dumb and simple to operate. That's what I want now: knobs, sliders, and buttons that move and click when my finger pushes them.


Do you want to pay more for them?

The market does. Porsche will sell you a stripped out version of the car for thousands more. Webbing pull tab instead of a door handle.

Adding labor saving devices always increases the price you pay for a product. I LIKE labor saving features, just so long as they don't get in my way or tell me what to do.

I just want a car to ENABLE me in intuitive ways and that don't go obsolete before the tires need replacing.


Knobs and sliders and buttons all cost money to create, wire in, fix. 1 touchscreen is cheaper.

I'll happily take slightly more expensive knobs, sliders and buttons over a touchscreen.

I know exactly where, e.g. my fan speed knob is and I can reach for it confidently. Or I can take my eyes of the road so I'm not blindly groping around the touchscreen to find the increase/decrease button, assuming its even on the right screen and I don't need to go through several menus to find it. Cost doesn't enter my mind in this scenario.


Electric windows and power steering are unlikely to be tracking your location.

It's not inevitable. At one point we made a 6th gen Honda Civic.

This was literally the pinnacle of dumb cars. Everything could be manual or automatic, but you still got OBDII, warning lights, and of course ABS and air bags. Adding a new DIN head unit, you could have HD radio and Bluetooth completely disconnected from the ECU. I think the automotive industry forgot how to engineer. All the features, all we ever needed in a car, was right there in the late 90s.

Not sure how it is today (haven't bought a new car in many years) but all of these things used to be selectable options a la carte.

It's not particularly difficult for the manufacturer. All the cars had the wiring for all the features since that's the hardest part to do after the factory, but doesn't cost much. Control modules and actuators can be added very late in the assembly line (sometimes even at the dealer prep) so you only get the ones you want to pay for.


Post 2000 and pre 2010 cars are essentially Just like modern cars except without the bloated infotainment crap.

>So you want a mechanical door lock, manual windows, no car stereo, no power steering, no thermostat, no cruise control, etc...

I actually just bought a 2010 which has mechanical door locks, manual windows, and no cruise control. It's great. What's the problem?


> So you want a mechanical door lock, manual windows, no car stereo, no power steering, no thermostat, no cruise control, etc...

I used to own a Datsun 720 pickup (built 1982) that matched this specification. It even had a manual choke; starting the truck without flooding the engine required a bit of skill.

It was the best vehicle I've ever owned. On the rare occasion it needed maintenance, I could do everything myself. I didn't even need a workshop manual, because it was all intuitive.


You might like the VW e-up!/Skoda Citigo-e. Bare bones electric cars -- even the battery meter is an analog needle! Just has a plastic mount for your smartphone above the center console and a USB port. No giant touchscreens! Real knobs!

Sounds like something that will never come to the USA unfortunately. All new cars are required to have backup cameras as a standard safety feature, so at that point, the car company will ship the whole CarOS anyway.

I've driven rentals in Europe with reversing cameras, in fact my current car had it as an option (I didn't bother). They still had physical controls. Sure the screen is a touch screen too (so when the phone rings you can press green or red on the screen), but the button to select radio, or bluetooth, or whatever is physical, the volume (and off key) is physical, the radio selection is physical (both centre console and on the steering wheel). The dashboard is multiple different guages - there's an LED screen with selectable stats like 'time driving, average fuel consumption, current speed', but there's an nice analog speedo, fuel needle and temperature needle, and several warning lights.

I think the only car I've driven without physical volume controls was a Ford, and that was nearly a decade ago, I get the feeling there's been a bit of a push back, at least in the UK.


Physical controls are vastly more useful - when the control you want available can be planned ahead of time. You get touch feedback when you're operating it, of where it is and what state it's in. You don't have to look. Missing it with your finger is obvious.

Glass controls are optimal for precisely only one scenario, and that is when you don't know ahead of time what will need to be on the screen. That's why smartphones use them.


Yes I want one of those.

I did not know till you said how much effort Skoda is putting in.

My next car is in that line up...

(Prefer level II to level III automation tho)


1000% agree. I do not want a car that is a smartphone on wheels and I have no idea why so many people find this attractive.

I own a 2014 Subaru Impreza and my brother in-law a 2017. I've driven both extensively. Sometime during those years, Subaru switched from knobs and levers to a touchscreen and the controls are so much worse!

1. The controls on the 2014 are obvious, easy to find, and my choices are readily apparent. In the 2017 I have to search for them and often guess their meanings. If I'm actively driving, I just give up because it's too distracting.

2. The controls are not as responsive. Sometimes there's a lag. Sometimes they don't respond at all.

3. There are bugs with the digital controls that simply don't exist in the analog versions. As an example in the 2017 the radio turns on every time the car gets started regardless of if it was on when the car was turned off.


Worse, in the 2015 Toyota and 2019 Honda that we now have - if one of us listened to heavy metal on volume 30; and the other one is more of a mellow pop on volume15; they'll have to wait until the car turns on, boots, and timeouts the warning/license messages, before car will accept the volume down / turn radio off input and kill the cacophone.

UNacceptable.

And yet now the norm.

I'll do you one better - I'm hanging on to my 2004 Subaru WRX for these and similar reasons too :). I go through dealerships every year or two looking for replacement... and keep my WRX with happiness in my heart.


I also hang on to an older car for much the same reasons. Every now and then I’ve had a courtesy car from a garage while mine was in for a service, typically something very recent. I almost invariably dislike them.

You could argue that’s because of familiarity. Obviously I like a lot about my car or I wouldn’t have kept it for this long! But truly, it’s not that I don’t think there’s room for improvement on my old car. There have been plenty of advances since its time that I would welcome if I bought a new vehicle: improved efficiency, safety features, practicalities like better external lighting, and so on.¹

For me, those benefits always seem to be outweighed by the horrible state of controls and displays and “infotainment” systems in new cars. They’re cluttered and intrusive and distracting. I’m not sure which is worse, touchscreens that take your eyes off the road, or cluttering the steering wheel with controls for a phone that it is almost never appropriate to be using while driving anyway in my country. Meanwhile, apparently I still have to take a hand off the wheel for a second or two to change gear or switch on various external safety lights. This should have been some sort of meme punchline, not real life.

Between poorly designed controls, the security and privacy problems that seem to be rampant in modern cars, and the sense that EVs might be the future but there are still some big unanswered questions, I expect it will be a few more years before I change to a new vehicle unless some practical consideration forces the issue first.

¹ I’m still waiting for the windscreen that automatically enhances the driver’s full view in low light or poor weather conditions and subtly highlights the required driving line through junctions as directed by the navigation system, but I reckon we’ll have that too before the self-driving flying cars are here.


Familiarity may be a factor, but not a sole one.

The RAV4 we had for 4 years now - I'm thoroughly familiar with the UI, and parts of it are still completely non-sensible.

Like yourself, before COVID I traveled and rented cars frequently; there are some UI choices that are inherently poor or against my priorities/workflows and they'll never be right. I could list them, but now we'd be into rant territory... :-/


I have a similar problem with my 2017 Pacifica that replaced my 2005 Voyager. Using the touch screen to control the heat and air-conditioning is extremely slow in the Pacifica, and you can't do it without looking at the screen which can't be used with gloves.

There are physical buttons and knobs for a few of the controls, but it seems that they're just talking to the same software as the touch-screen, so they're just as slow to respond. Adjusting the heat without looking at the touch-screen is pretty much impossible.

IMO the touch screen should not be used to control any aspect of the car's operation. It should only be for phone, navigation, backup camera, and entertainment.


It might depend on the trim of the Pacifica? But for the hvac controls that have buttons (fan speed, driver/passenger temps, mode) the physical controls seem responsive enough and I don't use the touchscreen ones, except maybe sometimes for defrost if I can't find the button; cycling through the modes can be painful. You can't get the different zones back in sync without the screen though, which is annoying.

And going from lo to hi takes forever, too. At least the fan speed knob seems good enough. The touch screen in general is decidedly not great; it's better than my C-max (sync2) in many ways, but I really like how the sync2 was designed --- they clearly considered how to make it useful, but then implemented it in the slowest environment possible.


I also have a 2017 Pacifica, and for the most part I don't mind the controls (the physical buttons are responsive enough that it doesn't bother me), but there are definitely a few functions (heated/cooled seats, mainly) that I wish I didn't have to dig through menus to find. Such a contrast from my 2009 Civic (albeit no heated/cooled seats on that vehicle).

I have a 2015 Crosstrek. It is a great car.

The console is awful. Truly awful. Push the volume button within a few seconds of turning the car on to turn the radio off? Doesn't even register. Even if you give it a minute to warm up, it is half a second of lag on a physical switch. The touch screen has a half second of lag and requires several presses to do something as simple as switch from the radio to bluetooth.


OT but since there seems to be multiple Subaru owners — if you are experiencing an issue with the clock on MFD(the small display on top of the dashboard) being too fast, probably depends on models but the causes are,

1) that there’s no CAN bus messages in Subaru cars that offer GPS time, and

2) that at least older models of MFD counts time by dividing 125kHz CAN bus crystal, where a sane choice would be to use 32.768kHz one.

It’s not just your car, the issue is in design. To hypothetically fix it a firmware hack would need to be built. I learned this when a friend of mine told his is always way too fast and often makes him upset for a moment that he might be late to work — don’t know he meant it justify flooring it but sounded like he was genuinely annoyed.


I have a 2016 Outback and love nearly everything about the car, except the stupid console. Just horrible in the ways you describe. Laggy, unintuitive, and just irritating to use. I only ever use the actual buttons on the steering wheel. Not only is the console touch screen bad, but the actual buttons for the HVAC system are weird and unintuitive. 4 years of owning it and I still push the wrong buttons.

Re (3):

It's still an issue in the 2018 Impreza. I've gotten used to it now, but it's still frustrating. Especially if I ended the drive with a phone call. On phone calls I have to really crank up the volume (nearly max) whereas for music and other things I have it very low (10-15? The numbers mean nothing to me, not loud). So when I turn it on after a call I get blasted by NPR for about 5-10 seconds before the audio volume dial actually responds (sometimes it takes the early attempted dialing down but delayed, other times I have to try and dial it down again).

Other than audio controls, though, everything else is responsive, I don't notice any lag. It really seems to be an issue with their stereo system. Either it's not fully booted (and can't respond to controls yet) or there's some mediating system that transmits the controls which isn't booted up as quickly.


I have the same problems with my 2019 Impreza. It responds sooner if I'm not in reverse, but I am usually in reverse first because I need to back out of my garage. It usually doesn't respond to the volume knob messages until a second after shifting into forward. I say "messages" because the turns of the knob appear to be queued up somewhere, but it doesn't have as much time to process those while it's displaying the rear-view camera on the screen.

I have a problem like this in my 2018 Dodge! The bluetooth takes a wildly variable amount of time to connect when starting the car, and the bluetooth doesn't have an input gain option, like aux input does.

This means I need to turn the volume up a ways to hear anything over bluetooth. This also means that between starting the car and bluetooth connecting I'm getting blasted by some random radio station at increased volume.


Huh. My 2020 Impreza has lots of knobs and levers.

About the only time I interact with the touch screen is to control the apps I use (mostly maps and podcasts). Even the podcasts app rarely requires me to touch the touch screen; there are volume and back/forward switches right on the steering wheel. (And also on the console below the touch screen.)

Maybe that's switching back after 2017, or perhaps you use more of the controls than I do.


I've got a 2017 impreza and my experience is similar to your's. Everything I'd want to be a nob or switch is and the touch screen is almost entirely controllable quite easily from the steering wheel.

I drive a 2002 Focus MK-I, and I can use all controls rather blindly, just by feeling them.

I hope to buy a similarly ergonomic vehicle when this one becomes unmaintainable.


I still remember how to operate the stock radio of the Volvo 240 by touch and I haven't touched one in ten years.

(You kind of make an Ohm gesture around the volume knob with ring and middle for up down channel)

I am glad to see other's desire for analog cars align with my own views.

I have told everyone who will listen for a long time that I will never buy a new car because of these silly digital features that often include surveillance capability.


Controls you can feel for seems to be a lost art. (Looking at you, Touch Bar.)

Isn't touch bar is at the edge of vision, so theoretically isn't that distracting?

Neither of my Macs have one of these. This is why I'm asking.


It's not that it's visually distracting that's the problem - it's that you can't feel where the buttons are without looking.

And if you aren't looking you'll accidentally do things you didn't mean to, like press escape, or turn your mac off when trying to hit back space.


To be fair, I don't use my function keys on my laptop enough to where it became muscle memory, especially for the alternative functions they provide (screen brightness, media, etc).

Apple had those keys in the same place for ages, and they're all set to the the action rather than function by default. Volume up and down is useful, as is escape and the power button. Key brightness is handy, play/pause I used to use a lot. So looking forward to finally getting a new laptop when the M1 Macbook Pro comes out.

There's already the 13" MBP with M1. You mean 16"?

Kinda not really - yes you can kinda see it - but you need to look at it most of the time to hit a button correctly. Which you didn’t always/usually have to do with physical buttons. It also switches any time there is a context switch, which depending on what is going on can be insanely distracting (especially when it is using it to display autocomplete, autocorrect suggestions as you type fast)

2009-2016 Citroen c3 is a winner. Not sure about newer ones. Only computation it has is Bluetooth.

I understand why buyers like digital novelties in cars: they're flashy and sexy, and they make your 4 year old car look old by comparison.

I also understand why car makers like digital flash: your 4 year old car doesn't support your latest iPhone, network, or peripherals, so you're motivated to buy a new one every few years.

(And of course, old car tech distracts your driving LESS, however that fits into the picture.)

I think we will never see cars with modular digital tech that can be updated. A car with replaceable digital hardware and software won't rapidly go out-of-date the way current cars do. They would cost far less to update than replace. So nobody wants it... except perhaps grownups.


The only smart aspect that I might want in a car is a GPS so I can leave my phone at home. But I'm not sure I would even want that since the car could be tracked at any time.

I recently bought a used 2016 Spark EV (having a baby and needed something other than my motorbike). It does have a touchscreen, but mostly for extraneous information and radio functions. Everything else has dedicated knobs and buttons. (The one dumb thing is that the fan speed updates on the screen, rather than just having ticks above the knob.)

It is a California "compliance car", which means it was just a modified petrol Spark, so it didn't have product managers trying to jam in unnecessary touch-based interfaces.

I just hope that all companies building electric cars don't move in the all-touch direction of Tesla.


This is the exact same stupid thing that happened with DSLR cameras.

Old SLR cameras had a ring around the lens for f-stop and another dial on top for shutter speed.

New DSLR cameras even now hide all that stuff in a menu on the touch screen, as if it isn't something you want to change ALL THE TIME - and develop instant muscle memory for.


never mind that when I'm taking a photo outdoors on a bright sunny day, there's no way in fuck I'm going to be able read your LCD screen.

Never mind us older folks, who often have vision problems with up-close viewing, which is a solved problem when you can spin a shutter or aperture wheel by touch. But not when you need no-glasses to view the objective, but reading glasses to view the fine print on the screen.


I think backlit E-ink screens would be great for cars. I too want something I can see well in the day.

E-ink is slow/inefficient to react, so probably not suitable for speedometer and tachometer type gauges. Apart from that, I agree.

my truck still has a physical dial for the speedo and tach.

(although i've never understood why it has a tach since its a manual anyway... but i guess i can close my eyes and imagine my V6 ranger is a corvette...)


Perhaps they can be fast enough and my assumption was wrong, but I was imagining an e-ink version of a mechanical gauge like that as being sort of blurry and perhaps more delayed than the real thing.

Could be they want you to buy their Pro item where the actually offer reasonable affordances?

Most "pro-sumers" wouldn't bother to adjust what the auto-focus calculates anyway.


I'm not convinced about that.

I was using those dials all the time as a 16 year old learning to use a camera. It's really easy - especially when you can set one of them to auto and just control the one you care about - plus so quick when they're on a dial.

But I can believe no one wants to do it now, it's amazing how much a bit of tactile feedback can make a task 100X easier, and something you can do instinctively.


Tactile feedback and consistent UIs are great and a common feature (if not a defining one). I've got a Pentax dSLR -- it's got an excellent UI (better than canon's, imo) and their manual tweak focus adjustment & focus hold system does just work very well. It also has an excellent set of manual controls. A pity that nobody else has heard of them...

> Most "pro-sumers" wouldn't bother to adjust what the auto-focus calculates anyway.

I think that is the 'sumers. The prosumer gear is for people who actually want to play with all that stuff, but don't want to pay $10k for a pro body and lenses.


Which DSLR no longer has an aperture and shutter speed knob? I know the MFT mirrorless lost most of the controls, but did the latest Canon/Nikon really do this? My DSLR is eons old, so this is just baffling to me.

I haven't used one for a while so this may have been fixed. But I've never seen a DSLR with the same type of touch manual controls as an old SLR.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong and tell me where to buy one!


My Nikon D850 (DSLR) and Z6 (mirrorless) both have separate physical dials for shutter speed and aperture. The D850 has buttons that allow the physical command dials to be used to control ISO, white balance, bracketing intervals and load of other things. Important settings are shown in the viewfinder and top panel and I only really use the rear monitor to check the histogram for over exposure. I almost never need to use the menu system / touchscreen to alter a shooting setting.

I have an older Canon 5Dmkii, and it has a dial for shutter speed near the shutter release and also has a dial ring for aperture control on the back. I'm pretty sure the mkiii and mkiv do as well. I know the 1D I used in the past also had the same configuration of dials.

As with anything camera related, where to buy could be B&H, Adorama, Sammy's, or your local camera shop (if they still exist in your area).


I believe you want a Nikon DF or (and yeah, I know they're not DSLRs) any Fujifilm X series.

https://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/dslr-came...


$2,749.95

Who knew a few physical dials would be so expensive...


Some MFT's have plenty of physical controls (buttons/knobs). See Olympus OM-D line of cameras.

> New DSLR cameras even now hide all that stuff in a menu on the touch screen

Don't approximately all DSLR have separate physical knobs for aperture and shutter speed?

Agreed that a DSLR without these would be nearly useless.


I think I should correct to "dSLRs that I can afford"

I'm guessing that all-touch is just cheaper these days, no QA testing for all the little mechanical bits

I actually used to work as a test driver for FCA, and we were specifically told to report on knobs/dials not working or wiggling too much. Our training had us touch literally everything in the car that moved. Albeit, I'm not sure how much of that feedback was actually acted upon, based on the quality of some of those cars.

It annoys me about capitalism. There's a massive incentive for manufacturers to cut corners to save $100 on a $30k car, as they sell 10,000 cars and use the $1m to pay themselves a bonus about how great they are.

Almost everyone will want to pay $30,100 for the better product though, but the market can't differentiate on that.


Less design and engineering, sourcing and manufacturing of all that hardware too.

Check out Bollinger motors [1]. Electric chassis, all analog, no screens. Here is a shot of the interior: https://bollingermotors.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/CLOSE...

[1] https://bollingermotors.com/


On the other hand, a row of 15 or so identical toggle switches isn't the right answer either.

I drove an Electra Meccanica Solo in Victoria BC a few years ago, and it was exactly this. The founder of the company wanted to design the air cooled Porsche of EVs. All analog, minimal electronics, incredibly nimble. One of my favourite aspects of it was the sound it made under acceleration, think: Star Wars Landspeeder.

(You can faintly hear it over annoying background music in this video [1].)

It felt better to drive than a Tesla, even though it was orders of magnitude slower. Unfortunately, last I heard they were trying to tone down the Landspeeder-esque “cabin noise”. I’m not sure if the current executive team at Electra Meccanica even realizes what they have.

[1]: https://youtu.be/0eUlPeXL8wc?t=40


One way to get that is to do an EV conversion. Unfortunately, it tends to be expensive and time consuming, but in the end you get something that's just a car and not somebody's notion of an ideal consumer electronics experience.

That's not to say there'll be no software, or even that it won't be proprietary. But at least it's a lot nicer to buy a motor controller, a charger, a battery management system and whatever else you need from companies that know the parts have to be easy to configure and interoperate with other components from other companies, because if they aren't people won't buy them. Modularity is a wonderful thing.

(I just ordered the charger and BMS for a project I'm working on yesterday. I ended up opting for more expensive components because they're configurable by the end user, whereas the popular cheap option you have to send it to someone to reprogram if you change your battery pack configuration.)


I think this way of thinking should lead people to take another look at bikes, perhaps power-assisted electric bikes. Cheap, simple and efficient in comparison to cars. Not to mention all the benefits of cities made for bikes vs cities made for cars.

Audi's 2022 e-tron GT moved back to more physical buttons, and only has one infotainment touch-screen, unlike a bunch of their 2021 models where there's at least two different infotainment screens.

I really miss "real buttons", meaning not just something tactile. Things like a power button that actually opens a circuit. Or a volume dial that doesn't lag because it's actually a potentiometer and not a rotary encoder. Too late for all that, I suppose.

Though there's nothing preventing electronically controlled buttons working with imperceptible delay except crap software.

Well, and sometimes "deliberately crap". Like power buttons. I don't want to have to count to 10 while holding a button to "really turn it off".

Ha, as much as I want simplicity, I don't miss switches and potentiometers with burned contacts that cause intermittent failure. I'd be happy with reliable optical encoders and properly embedded digital systems. The kind that can hum along for decades without maintenance...

The 'commercial-oriented' F150 Electric is slated to have a smaller 8 inch touch screen on the base model with dials underneath it, probably similar to the current gen models: https://www.wheelsjoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2021-...

I want a smart car. I just don't want the smarts determined by the manufacturer. I really want a car that can more or less run arbitrary software/features I want. I understand why companies do not want to provide that, because people can go the very wrong direction with it. But I'd like both my house and my car to be smart, and neither beholden to Apple or Google to do it.

Same here. The automakers are trying to pull a fast one by conflating battery power with tons of licensed software with an attack on independent mechanics and serviceability. But I suspect that there is a huge market for low end EVs that can be easily serviced and don't have a lot of software.

There are compliance cars that are just electric versions of the normal ICE cars that preceded them. That's probably as close as you can get. I currently dive a Bolt and it's a bog standard car, just electric. Yes, it has a touchscreen, but that's for infotainment.

Especially when the most famous electric car maker is marketing so heavily on self-driving, it's just going to get more and more software.

This feels like a pretty large business opportunity. Completely agree.

I have a more optimist view about the industry being able to cope just because we have two more industries that have gone the same transitions, aeronautical and aerospace.

Back in the day airplanes where just knobs and levers, and we didn't have the reliability that safety that we have today.

With aerospace, I mean, software engineering as a discipline started with aerospace!

If we write "starup code" (i.e. CRUD web app) for cars we'd still be in huge trouble, but if the automotive industry can adopt the redundant systems, enforce VERY high levels of software testing, and other practices for those other industries I think we could see some interesting things coming from the industry


I'm sure you didn't mean it quite so bluntly, but characterizing the history of aviation safety as a triumph of computer control systems over analog ones misses the mark by a pretty wide margin--even if we're just talking about the advances that only computers have provided. Probably the only way a modern car is technologically less sophisticated than a passenger aircraft is its inability to substantially steer itself (and this problem is orders of magnitude more difficult for cars than planes).

A lot of the systems we take for granted in our cars (ECU, ABS/stability control, adaptive cruise control, steer-by-wire, OBD) were pioneered in the aviation industry, and both industries' safety records have been massively improved by the ability to do digital design/analysis (CAD, FEA, CFD, etc). Then once you start talking about advances in computer-aided manufacturing and QC/QA processes, training, failure analysis, human-machine interaction...

One of my perennial frustrations with current tech is the idea that putting a computer in the control loop necessarily makes things safer.


> One of my perennial frustrations with current tech is the idea that putting a computer in the control loop necessarily makes things safer.

I completely agree with you! A simple electronic component is a lot more fragile that a mechanical counterpart that is unfazed by ESD, vibrations or whatever other things that can kill a electronic component, or a circuit board for that matter.

My point is more along the lines that a computer in a control loop makes things different, not necessarily safer. But with the flexibility that a computer brings to the mix, if used properly a computer can add some safety features that would be hard to implement with only analog/mechanical parts.

It seems to me that we have reaching a ceiling with what we can do with mechanical systems, although I do believe that we often get lazy and opt for software convenience instead of using mechanical reliability where it would be beneficial.

So all in all, computer control systems are not safer just in themselves, but they can be, if not in reliability, at least in monitoring health and providing warnings before things are critical (i.e. a temperature reading instead of waiting to see smoke coming of the hood of a car)


> A simple electronic component is a lot more fragile that a mechanical counterpart that is unfazed by ESD, vibrations or whatever other things that can kill a electronic component, or a circuit board for that matter.

No, not really.


I don’t want to imagine how Program Alarm 1202 looks like on a SpaceX Starship running Chromium instances on Intel Atom, the latter half of which is how they’re planning to do it.

The stuff running inside Chromium on Intel Atom processors is not mission critical.

> I have a more optimist view about the industry being able to cope

TBH, I have similarly optimistic views, but for completely different reasons. The truth is, the worldview has changed completely in the past 100 years.

In the old days, if you failed at operating a saw, you hurt yourself badly. Now we slowly are starting to expect sawstop and other solutions to reduce injury.

The same thing is happening in cars. We no longer expect perfection of the human as we augment them in various ways to both reduce the frequency and severity of collision. Its the early days yet, and its very much the "startup code" mindset with cars having way more bugs than its ever but also producing safer outcomes.

Car software is getting worse, but we're better off for it.


Car guy here. Yeah, I’m with you. My favorite car was a ‘96 Tercel with mechanical steering and a 4-speed manual. It even had manual roll-up windows. It had less than 100 HP, but it was simple as hell to operate, very fun to drive, cheap to maintain, and extremely reliable up until I sold it with nearly 400k miles on the odo. I put an aftermarket stereo and speakers in it and I was set. Only reason I sold it was because my wife hated it and a friend needed a cheap reliable car for his idiot son who proceeded to neglect and destroy it quickly after taking possession.

Modern cars are absolutely terrible in the UX department, but they are a hell of a lot safer, so there’s that.


Those mid 90s Japanese sedans were awesome. Relatively compact overall, zippy little 4 cylinders engines and manual transmissions. I had an Accord from that era, and loved driving my dads nerdy-as-hell Nissan Sentra. That car was shockingly fun to drive.

1990 mx5 still going! It's a good car though a little rust. The only thing I miss from more modern cars is the engines are a bit more efficient in modern ones - more power less fuel.

Re electronics the sound system and sat nav (iphone) are boxes you tack on and don't have to be part of the car.


Just sold my 1990 Bluebird. Didn't pass warrant of fitness, but otherwise drove amazingly well.

92 Civic owner here. Love my car.

I still drive my '94 Lexus. California is kind in that way.

Mid 90s Accords were incredibly long lasting.

> "Modern cars are absolutely terrible in the UX department, but they are a hell of a lot safer, so there’s that."

tangentially, "safety" is highly cargo-culted. things that seem so obviously safer are taken without question as better, but in many cases, such features really only provide a false sense of security along with substantive unintended consequences.

most safety features in cars (e.g., lane-keeping) allow people to be less skilled and less attentive at driving, rather than lowering crash/injury/death rates. the better solution is to make people better and more attentive at driving through more rigorous training/testing, more thoughtful design, and importantly, culture, rather than just technology for its own sake.


Modern cars have more design features that improve crash survivability (better airbags, better crumple zones, tested with more realistic crash tests, etc). Those seem like a pretty unalloyed improvement to me.

I'm not saying you're wrong about the things you mentioned, but cars really have got safer, in important ways.


yes, airbags and crumple zones do improve safety, but even those are not without negative consequences, like bigger, heavier vehicles (which is more dangerous to others) and higher sense of psychological safety leading to being less considerate, less attentive, and more reckless.

that's not to argue that those tradeoffs aren't net positive, but that they're still tradeoffs to be considered, rather than short-circuiting to "of course it's better!".


Do you have any evidence for these claims? This just feels like luddism to me.

The "bigger, heavier" part does indeed seem to be a tradeoff. It's been blamed for a significanted rise in pedestrian fatalities, even as vehicles get safer for the people inside.

One source, just after a quick search: https://www.ghsa.org/resources/Pedestrians20


I'd argue feeling safe when I drive is net positive for actual safety. Stressed drivers going to make way more errors.

if you’re prone to being overwhelmed by stress while driving a machine that can potentially kill you, that’s a sign to get more training, not to mollify oneself with an illusion of safety. ignorance is not bliss in this case.

if you’re prone to stress while driving a machine that can potentially kill you, that’s a sign you are aware of your predicament

Have you ever seen how stressed out drivers behave?

We've all seen that person in a Honda fit who's so terrified of being on the freeway during rush hour they're driving like an overloaded scrap hauler and generally causing a problem in whatever lane they're in.

That doesn't make the roads safer.


Exactly this. I cannot sum this up better. In NZ the police fine such people occasionally, I think there was a case when one such driver caused massive traffic jam during national holiday.

Unless you crash into something going highway speed a car from 1990 or 1980 is fine as long as you're wearing a seatbelt.

The states look good because safety tech that only matters at the extreme end has improved so the drunks and distracted teenager who would have dies had they gone off a cliff in a 20-30yo car are now surviving.

Basically the medium to low speed impacts that people not behaving particularly poorly get into have always been highly survivable.


This is too dismissive of the many ways people get into accidents. I got t-boned by someone who blew past a stop sign on a residential road. Side curtain airbags prevented me from hitting my head on my side window.

> rather than lowering crash/injury/death rates.

Motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 have been on a consistent downward trend since the 70s (1.53 per 100,000 in 2000, 1.11 per 100,000 in 2019), so, no, death rates have in fact been lowered.


Those are two different stats - parent was referring to if those features lower death rates. You are looking at total death rates regardless of features.

It’s also possible better road maintenance, or airbags, or better crumple zones (but not lane help) are driving it down. It’s possible for lane help to be driving it up, just not as much as say better crumple zones, and it will still be trending down.


How much of that is due to faster ambulance/helicopter service, improved emergency room practices?

Probably a lot less than the generations who grew up when it was acceptable to drive drunk and/or not wear your seatbelt aging out.

> things that seem so obviously safer are taken without question as better, but in many cases, such features really only provide a false sense of security along with substantive unintended consequences

This is not true at all. There is definitely testing of cars by groups like the NHTSA and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For example, they've found crash rates were 14% lower on cars with blind-spot monitoring. Modern cars are far safer than older cars.


For anyone wondering what progress in terms of safety looks like, give this 77 second video a view: https://youtu.be/xtxd27jlZ_g

This is a great video that everyone should watch.

But part of the problem with the 50 y/o car may be that the steel has rusted (based on the rust-colored cloud of particles). That may be why the older car just disintegrates.

OTOH the weakening of the steel because of rust creates a de-facto "crumple zone"? A minor improvement? :)

Older cars were much too rigid and the body didn't absorb much energy. It was all transmitted to the occupants.

Also, forgetting about design improvements in safety, I'm not sure I want to "bet my life" on 50 year old brake lines, etc. That sort of stuff just wears out.


The nice thing about those cars is that you can actually replace things like suspension and brake systems with modern equivalents relatively easily. It’s not like swapping in an F-150 brake system into a Corolla.

As far as rust, I’m sure you can find some rust free cars in AZ or CA.


God I hate that video so much. It is right up there with the Top Gear Hilux episode when it comes to entertainment being peddled as scientific experiment by people who find it convenient to the point they are trying to make to do so (not saying you did that, just that tons of people do). It was a promotional video designed to highlight progress. It does that just fine. But every two bit tom dick and harry seems to think it's representative of a crash between any old car and any new car when the vehicle in the video doesn't even have seat-belts (!!!!) which are the single biggest improvement to crash safety/survivability ever.

There's a reason nobody is going to do a crash test of a 1980s Ford cop car into a 2010s Ford cop car. It would be a massive nothingburger.

Frontal airbags do little for seatbelted passengers at crash test speeds (texting into the back of a semi at 70mph is a different story). In fact in many cases they are worse than no airbag at low/medium speeds because you injure your face hitting airbag or are injured in its deployment in situations where you would have otherwise hit nothing. They are intended as damage control for unbelted passengers (which is where do you think the first S in SRS comes from).

Crumple zones are highly overrated. Imagine an old cartoon where someone gets thrown off a building and happens to land on a guy carrying mattresses. That's basically how crumple zones work. Too high of a jump or too soft of a mattress and you blow right through with negligible deceleration. Too hard of a mattress and the mattress decelerates you basically as hard a the sidewalk. Crumple zones provide time for the airbag to deploy, yes but they only really mitigate the forces on the passenger cabin (and its occupants) at a narrow speed range (they shoot for the speed of the relevant crash tests).

For people who were doing things right and wearing their seatbelt the safety of crashing a car changed negligibly from the advent of the 3pt belt to the time of the side curtain airbag. (I'm ignoring rollover safety here, that's been a basically linear improvement since the 1960s but it's not technically interesting because it's a simple case of throwing more and more steel at the problem)

Side curtain airbags have been a major improvement because there's not much restraint nor space for deceleration in that direction. They do a great job keeping people's heads from hitting stuff.

AEB is another good modern one. Knocking 5-20mph off the speed of a collision helps a lot no matter how you cut it.

All that said, everyone who worships safety tech uncritically as though they're all big improvements you can stack on top of each other and get the sum of them all needs to take a long walk off a short pier. Professing your love for airbags and crumple zones might get you fake internet points on Reddit or HN but that's just not how it works and those people pollute and/or prevent legitimate discussion.


I get what you are saying but look at what happened to the 60s car here. Seatbelts don’t do anything for you if the other car is suddenly parked in your pelvis. None of the hard parts seem to reach at least the torso of the dummy in the modern car while in the 60s car the dummy ends up being pushed virtually into the back seat. Sure the seatbelt would have held it in the seat but it that does nothing as the bent door and the grill of the modern car crushed it’s lungs and liver areas. The airbag here wouldn’t have saved the dummy either of course. The thing that would have is a better crumple zone.

Most safety features are nothing like lane assist. Lane assist is not a representative example of what most safety features in a care look like. Most safety features are crumple hoods and pillars, safety glass, airbags and seatbelts.

Additionally, you think it is a more feasible solution to change culture than to make the safe operation of a car less reliable on the human element? How exactly do you "make people better and more attentive?" Training? Please elaborate on what that would look like.

Cars are designed a lot more thoughtfully than they used to be. An example not related to safety is cupholders. Remember when two flat rings on the dash were considered acceptable for holding a cup? Safety wise I'd say designing contingencies against inattentive drivers is thoughtful design.


The "spewing BS is order to show the world how much you care about safety" part of the safety cargo cult bothers me a hell of a lot more than safety features enabling less attentive behavior.

If I had a nickle for every social media user who's screeching about how airbags are all that's good in the world but who doesn't understand the inherent tradeoffs to a bag of dense air occupying the space in front of the driver or how a crumple zone is basically a single use spring I would use the money to hire people to beat the first group of people over the head with highshcool physics textbooks.

I wish we'd regress to '50s attitudes about safety simply so that the people who care about safety no longer have to be held back by the people who crap all over everything by wanting to be seen caring about safety.


yes, it's frenzy, a typically pro-social behavior (agreeableness) that's misapplied due to fear and uncertainty, so that we get counterintuitive consequences from overly correlated belief/behavior.

it's the same impulse that got us mis-masking and lockdowns, when the real danger was inter-/intra-familial contact (because that contact is prolonged and our guards are down, unlike with "stranger danger").

happens all too often, and it's frustrating to watch otherwise perceptive and reasonable people forsake those facilities for primal herd behavior.


I have a 97 Miata and a 95 4Runner. Both high mileage, both amazing cars mechanically. They both have power steering and power windows but everything works on both cars: every knob, button, window, still works. I've had several newer cars that have degraded much more quickly than these two. Both cars are much better to drive IMO than newer cars, with some caveats. You can't drive like a dummy and expect these older cars to kick in computerized traction control systems to save you from yourself. I personally like a car that lets me be the driver.

>My favorite car was a ‘96 Tercel with mechanical steering and a 4-speed manual. It even had manual roll-up windows.

I had a 1993 Tercel, same gearbox, manual windows, vinyl interior. It had a leaking head gasket when I bought it, and I drove it for 150,000 km without putting a dime into it outside of oil changes and tires, filling the coolant as needed. Simple cars are basically indestructible.


Counterpoint, I'm not a car guy and I think too many people own them. But when I'm in a car my priorities are safety, mileage, seat comfort, climate control, sound quality, and smartphone support. I don't really care how much it costs to maintain, and I haven't changed my own oil in over a decade.

Modern cars are fine in the UX for what I do. I'd rather not own a car than drive manual, and even vehicles from 10 years ago aren't competitive in creature comforts or gasoline consumption.


I find it more stressful to drive automatic. You need to be more careful with the gas pedal to get just the right amount of acceleration, since too much will make the car shift down and rev up. Also there is the risk of uncontrolled acceleration by mixing up the gas and brake pedal and not having the clutch as a double safe.

>gasoline consumption.

That's only true if we talk about hybrids.

>even vehicles from 10 years ago aren't competitive in creature comforts

That depends a lot on your priorities, I drive a nearly 20 year old premium car that holds up very well against many new cars


The mid-90's Toyotas were wonderfully reliable vehicles but the plastic parts are failing.

Maybe I'll give up and dive into retro cars fully with a post-war Citroen 2CV? Naah!


If you want the simplest car possible, you can look at models designed to sell in volume worldwide. I'm talking the Hyundai Venue crossover, Hyundai Accent subcompact sedan, Honda Fit/Jazz hatchback (recently discontinued for the US), Ford EcoSport crossover, etc. They are designed to be serviced in poor conditions. They will tolerate removal of electronics like the infotainment because some countries' base models have simpler configurations. In the case of the Honda Fit, the climate control dials physically move the ducts! And repair documentation and parts will be plentiful because there's a large market for parts suppliers to compete. Also look at body-on-frame fleet vehicles like a base Ford Ranger or F-150, but be ready to forgo stuff like cruise control.

There are EV equivalents too, like the Chevy Bolt and Hyundai Kona EV that offer range in the 200s of miles with make driver assists as an optional upgrade. Even with complicated powertrain electronics, EVs are still more reliable than ICE cars because any iffy software is made up for by lack of mechanical parts. The repair procedure is the same as mechnical parts - just swap the faulty part out for a working one, and the "upstream" supplier will probably take the broken module to reflash software or frankenstein together half-working PCBs to make another refurbished module to sell.

If you're worried about remote compromise, it's pretty easy to avoid IMO. Open the dashboard and yank the cellular antenna, and never pair the infotainment to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (or just yank the 2.4 GHz antenna). Those are basically the only avenues for wireless attacks into a vehicle unless you count the TPMS and key fob radios, which seem too simple and low-bandwidth to offer an attack surface. And if an attacker can access your car's physical ports, they could already attack you in other ways like by weakening the brake lines. Other new electronics, like MOSFETS instead of relays in the BCM, have actually made the car more reliable so they should be fine. Other newly standard features like blind spot monitoring are (1) solid state, so they won't fail often and (2) tolerate failure or complete removal.


It’s so wrong that tech inclined wants cheapest models for the reason that those are objectively better. The entire car industry is going to go iPhone all over again.

They're not objectively better. They're more suited to what they want: a device with fewer features but more direct control.

Lots of people want a car with more features, and don't wish to control it directly. They would rather have a solid-state device that can't be repaired, but doesn't need to be. They don't want to upgrade it themselves; ideally, they don't want it to need upgrades until they buy another one.

But you've got it exactly right: many consumers want the car industry to go iPhone, for the same reason they want iPhones. That's neither objectively worse nor objectively better. The only objective thing is that a ton of consumers want it, because it suits their needs. And part of that is achieved by avoiding development by the kinds of techies who think that their preferences are objectively better.


Some people want their cars to be like iPhones, but is that really what's behind this?

I mean, take TVs. Pretty much every TV has "smart TV" features embedded, to the point where it's hard to find one that doesn't. I suspect this is because the manufacturer gets some kind of kickback from streaming services to include their app and to show ads and to gather data about what people are watching and in the end it's actually cheaper to include an embedded processor than it is to leave it out and lose their kickbacks.

Similarly, those "smart car" features can be monetized by collecting valuable data and introducing subtle suggestions on where to go. It's hard to imagine a car company seeing the kind of revenue that Facebook and Google pull in and not wanting to get in on that. And they can even justify it as good for their customers by saying "we need these computers to collect training data so the self-driving features we deploy in the future will be better and safer."

I can imagine a future where "dumb car" features are actually luxury features. Only high-end cars lack the smart car features because it's cheaper to include them than leave them out. Maybe that already describes the present.


Nailed it.

It's true, there are no tech people driving Teslas or late model luxury cars. As you say, there is universal agreement with you, because your opinion is the objective truth.

> Hyundai Kona EV that offer range in the 200s of miles with make driver assists as an optional upgrade

I have a base model Kona EV and it has a ton of driver assists. And they're pretty great frankly.


Yeah, I like the tech behind Tesla but am turned off by. 1) The large, distracting screen in the front of the car. 2) The subscription model of the car's firmware.

If electric cars ever become widespread I hope I can find a used one engineered without that stuff. Otherwise I may have to stop buying cars.


I recently purchased a Kia Telluride. Perhaps I'm now biased because I love the car, but I think it has an excellent combination of tech and usability.

1. It still has buttons and knobs for the things that should be buttons and knobs (e.g. climate control, volume, etc).

2. The heads up display is the killer feature that should be standard on all cars (as is only available on the top speced Telluride). It displays speed, speed limit, blind spot monitoring, lane departure, automated steering, navigation, etc. Unfortunately I don't think Android Auto or Apple Carplay's navigation can be displayed on the HUD - only the OEM Kia nav.

3. The "Smart Cruise" aka Highway Drive Assist aka Adaptive Cruise Control is essentially self-driving minus lane changes. It's engaged with a single button on the wheel and presented in the HUD. It takes corners smoother than I'm able to. I often feel it's turning too early and fight the auto driving but in almost all cases it's correct and my inputs are delayed.

Kia's mobile app for remote start, climate control, valet mode, etc. is pretty terrible though.


2021 Sonata (Limited) here and I echo your sentiment. I spent a lot of time and realized that only Hyundai and Kia provided a good mix of the things I wanted in a smart way.

Mazda's anti-touch stance makes it a non-starter for Android Auto/CarPlay

Toyota, Subaru and Honda have abysmal infotainment interfaces and didn't seem to invest in me enjoying the interior of a car.

Nissan CVTs have questionable reliability . Etc.

The lane keep assist on other average vehicles is so laughably had compared to what Hyundai and Kia have pulled off. These systems actually keep you centered instead of bouncing between lanes (hello Mazda). Blind spot cameras, birdseye cameras, HUD, little touches like the car slowing down automatically for you on some mapped curves when using cruise control etc. (Also I've used that stupid smart park thing waayy more than expected. I love it)

I'm still disappointed that car reviewers don't focus on such usability issues and instead rag on about performance of the engines or "its a toyonda so it is reliable" and ignore such small but practical tweaks.


Mazda's anti-touch stance makes it a non-starter for Android Auto/CarPlay

FWIW my daughter has absolutely no problem using CarPlay on her CX-30. She quickly breezes thru the menus like it's a twitch shooter game. She can probably navigate faster than if it were a touchscreen, because the control pad is low. Her hand isn't extended way out on the dash.


> Unfortunately I don't think Android Auto or Apple Carplay's navigation can be displayed on the HUD - only the OEM Kia nav.

From what I understand Android/Apple have software capability for second screens/HUDs now, but it's on the car manufacturer to support that. There are some BMWs that have it.


Regarding HUDs... it's the one feature I desperately want for my next car. I've been looking into aftermarket options, but all of them are ridiculously cheap and bad or vaporware.

GM had HUDs in many vehicles 20 years ago. It's a shame they aren't more widely available.

I purchased a new C8 to add to the collection until my granddaughter is old enough to drive. The HUD is very, very good. I'm not sure how they managed on such a sharp windshield, but it's crisp and clear even in the brightest of conditions.

With them making so many things mandatory these days, I'd not be surprised to see them making HUD mandatory. It absolutely is easier and faster to read then just looking down. It may only be measured in milliseconds, but it's definitely faster.


Lot's of Mazda's have HUD. And generally good usability.

> If electric cars ever become widespread

Exclude Tesla and most all EVs on the road today are just normal cars that happen to be electric.


Why is special about Tesla that makes them not a “normal” car that happens to be electric?

Specifically, the post I was replying to was lamenting a future where EVs all try to be like Tesla, putting nearly 100% of the instrumentation and controls into a single large touchscreen.

This is unique to Tesla, AFAIK. It worked out very well, it is a brilliant cost-saving measure that can also be marketed as 'elegant'. Have to hand it to Musk on that one. The R&D required to build a normal car interior is expensive, so skipping most of it was a phenomenal move.

So anyway, my point is that there are lots of non-Tesla EV choices, and by-and-large almost all of them are just normal cars with normal dashboards and normal controls, just with electric power instead of gasoline. A few manufacturers seem to be trying to ape Tesla's design on their EVs, but personally I expect a reversion to the mean. Too many people could care less about driving a touchscreen.


This is unique to Tesla, AFAIK.

Sadly, Ford decided to copy Tesla. This picture is from a first look but I think the production version isn't much different.

https://www.slashgear.com/ford-sync-4-first-look-mustang-mac...

Once Ford realized how stupid this was, they glued that knob onto the screen. It literally is glued on. There is a "finger" controlled by the knob that interfaces with the capacitive touchscreen.

I also want a "normal" EV, not a clown car.


Musk coming from software they seem to actually adopted modern software engineering practices that other manufacturers going to struggle with for some time. Being vertically integrated helps heaps too.

Tesla cars have a distinct look and a "prestige" whereas something like Ford's new F-150 will look nearly identical to its gas guzzling brother. There's an ego carried behind Telsa's branding and marketing that other car manufacturers don't feed into even in their own EV offerings.

Many car manufacturers advertise the prestige of their brands. One of the reasons the Porsche 911 has the highest profit margin of any car is the prestige of the Porsche brand.

Here are some examples of how Porsche advertises its electric cars:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92sXWVxRr0g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m31EgQkswg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gozMJnzZhU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abq-ZjJZ4oo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvGr0uDKthI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0793euQNL8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBRwF0LU3Ys


Teslas look like Kias.

this was a big thing in the early 10s when electric cars looked like i3s and twizys. everyone wanted a normal looking car and tesla was the first one to make a normal looking car.

now priuses and leafs look normal and tesla is making cybertrucks.


Toyota dominated the small, cheap eco car segment and started building SUVs and Trucks.

Big US auto moves so slowly, they’re always playing catch-up. Time for them to die and be reorganized.


I think what they were getting at is: there's a minimal difference in terms of "look and feel" between non-tesla EVs and the gas counterparts designed by the same manufacturer.

Tesla very much intends to redefine the driver experience as we know it. In the model 3, the entire control system in the center of the dashboard has been replaced by a giant singular 15" carputer touch screen.

If you don't believe me, you can make the comparison for yourself. Just do an image search for the interior on the Model 3 and compare it to that of a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt.


Impossibly high collision repair costs?

> If electric cars ever become widespread

I have a strong suspicion that soon enough after that we will be able to build electric cars from kits, cheap and with no frills. We are on a cusp of a new technological revolution.


>soon enough after that we will be able to build electric cars from kits

I'm skeptical.

An internal combustion engine is a complicated, engineering marvel. But a complete engine, as a unit, isn't difficult to remove/insert. It's big, heavy and awkward, sure (so are electric motors and batteries), but an experienced person can do an engine swap in a couple of hours. And yet there aren't many people building ICE cars from kits. Why not?

Because the drivetrain is only one part of what makes a good car good.


And yet there aren't many people building ICE cars from kits. Why not?

Quite frankly, speaking as someone who is a bit of an automotive enthusiast, you'll probably find even less EVs, because EVs are sterile and boring. They can definitely be fast, but I suspect the average auto enthusiast is not only interested in speed. The sounds and smells of an ICE are far more appealing to the type of people who tend to build custom cars.


>And yet there aren't many people building ICE cars from kits. Why not?

There is basically no market for kit cars because if people want a particular kind of vehicle it probably already exists. If they want a particular kind of powertrain it probably already exists. So it's just a case of getting them and combining them. And there are kits that make the most popular combinations a bolt in deal.


I think it would be a cool idea on a vintage car, but is still too expensive.

A few years ago I found a source selling EV conversion kits for vintage vehicles. It’s definitely a possibility to DIY an electric car.

I could imagine it being like DIY synthesizer kits. Do it yourself if you have the skills and time to put it all together, or spend a bit more for it to come pre assembled, or “some assembly required”.

I would be curious about the safety regulations behind this.


You can sort of do that now by buying a gas-powered car and a conversion kit. It just tends to be expensive, and the kits don't always include batteries and battery boxes.

Example: https://www.evwest.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=40&pro...

I wish EV tax credits applied to conversions and not just new vehicles. It would make conversions a lot more economical, and maybe we'd start seeing low-cost mass-produced conversion kits designed for popular vehicle models.


May I ask why you think that? (Sincere question, not meant to be snarky). Even assuming electric car assembly is simpler than an ICE powered car, there are still a lot of large, heavy, and expensive components. And that's setting aside all the regulations around it being a "street legal" vehicle, which can place odd constraints and vary from location to location.

I could see there being ways to build your own, just as you could build your own house or laptop if you acquire the right parts. What makes you think that people will broadly want and use kits? (or am I misinterpreting what you're saying?)


The overall mechanics of an electric car is (or can be made, if it's not a conversion) so much simpler; the battery is, in fact, modular, each piece weighing about the same as or less than a regular car battery. I can easily imagine a market for consumer EVs assembled not by huge plants but rather by small local shops as well as enthusiasts. The age of the large brands dominating is coming to an end...

I am confused, why would someone want a car from a kit?

It's made of hundreds of parts, some weight more than a grown man and you could seriously injure yourself or assemble it incorrectly. It's not gonna be an ikea kit.

We've created assembly lines for this exact reason and they are really good at their job, why would you go backwards unless you are seriously into DIY or an arctic explorer flatpacking them?


There are relatively simple conversion kits that have good motors and controllers and allow for regenerative braking. I don't see building an EV getting much simpler than that.

The first collisions of speeding custom modified cars will put an end to any individual innovation there.

There have been collisions of speeding custom modified cars since there have been cars. Why would electric ones be any different?

And we all need to pray for HP not to get into the automotive industry,or we are all screwed.

We'd probably get notices that our fuel has expired and must be replaced with new genuine HP fuel.

While being in the middle of a highway with a 5 second notice before the engine switches off.

What do you mean by subscription model of the firmware? There's no payment or anything you have to do to keep getting upgrades of the is.

Subscription model?

Some of the extra infotainment stuff (read: media content) is subscription only. Some functional extras like full self-driving or faster acceleration are one-off purchases. The rest of the software -- all the things you'd expect the car to do -- comes with the vehicle and gets regular OTA updates.

I think with Tesla the only subscription is "premium connectivity", which is basically a cell data plan. The car works fine without it. Even the nav will still use traffic data for routing, it just won't visualize it for you.

In addition to the comments about premium connectivity, I don't see how the acceleration unlock is anything but a positive. Car companies have been charging for options for forever, except before you had to make the choice at purchase time. Now the upgrade can happen whenever.

If it's really just contained to media content, that's like saying Sirus XM means your car operates on a subscription model.

As a Tesla owner, I’ve slowly come to realize that most complaints about Teslas online don’t reflect the reality of driving one. I was skeptical of all the things people are complaining about here, but I decided to take advantage of the seven day return policy and drive a Mode 3 for a week: I discovered that nearly every control I care about is controlled by one of two sticks or two little thumb wheels and I almost never have to interact with the screen while driving. Similarly, as others note here, the subscription is for the cell connectivity and media packages, not for the “car’s firmware”. Finally, as a software developer, I really appreciate that Tesla has made updating my car’s firmware trivial and they actually ship firmware updates to older cars: there’s much less difference between a 2018 Tesla and a 2021 Tesla than between similarly spaced cars from other manufacturers.

Two months ago I sold a dead-simple Toyota truck I'd driven for 14 years and bought a new, loaded Honda. The difference in the complexity is of course astonishing. The yota didn't even have usb. You could climb into the engine compartment and sit there. The Honda has pretty much everything a modern car can have, and you can't even see empty space in the engine compartment.

I _could_ get on your "just give me simple" bandwagon. A part of me was proud of the low-tech, rusty durability of the Toyota, I admit it. Still, I'll also admit I like most of what the Honda can do. I like the phone integration and that I can toss it down on a pad and it will charge while I drive. I like that the wipers, headlights and high beams all activate when needed without input from me. I like that it remembers my seat and mirror settings and restores them when I enter the car. I like keyless entry and remote start. I like the backup camera. I like adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, and lane keeping assist. I like torque vectoring all wheel drive. Heated and ventilated seats are awesome.

Of course, if I were to try to keep this car for 14 years I might regret it, I don't know. Honda makes good cars but there's a boatload of stuff to break, lol. I think I might be better advised to trade it in at five years or so, but I do like the tricks it can do.


> high beams all activate when needed without input from me.

Not a hard trick since high beams are almost never needed. Only to tell people it's their turn to go at the 4-way. They're only marginally more useful than fog lights.


Depends where you live. In the city yeah. On country roads with no street lights though they are good.

I'm not sure that the difficulty of performing a trick is related to its utility, and it doesn't really make sense to compare the usefulness of high beams and foglamps since they are indicated in completely different situations. Foglamps are mounted low and are usually yellow and meant to illuminate the road surface in heavy fog. High beams are counterproductive in fog.

I drive an old car partly for this reason. I've never had a car younger than 10 years old. My previous reasoning when I was younger was that I don't want to deal with the inspection requirements that come with OBD2 cars. Now I'm not so much worried about that with all the extra nonsense they're putting into them. My favorite car ever was older than I was, I loved it, an old ramcharger with power windows.

My current one has some "modern" archaic crap in it that was all the rage when it was built, it's GM so it has the OnStar buttons in the rear view mirror that are useless, along with complementary antenna on the roof. It's stock stereo controlled the alarm, it has all sorts of compartments that are nowadays mostly useless and IMO just an excuse to cram something in every spot. A lot of the "features" are just dead fads. The seats have lumbar shit in them and warm up. The warmer is useful in the winter I guess. Still with the bloat it is significantly better than the Frankensteins that commercials have convinced people they need nowadays.

My next car is either going to be a ~1995 4runner or a ~1994 diesel f-350 that I build myself. I do miss the corner windows.


I'm definitely in the same boat wrt complexity. My pickup has just enough extra electronics to be a quality of life improvement over a model that lacked those features. It doesn't try to drive for me and second guess my actions in unexpected ways. It doesn't give me unfathomable warning beeps that only serve as a distraction trying to figure out what's causing the beep.

At the same time it's important to recognize there's a difference between software bloat and growth. Security fixes often cause code to grow (checks, verifications, etc). That growth isn't bloat. The previous version of the software was exploitable because it lacked the checks that were added. Adding drivers or better handling edge cases in drivers grows code but isn't bloat.

Even "bloat" that's only added on-disk size (a secret Tetris game in some code) that doesn't affect normal code flow isn't the same as bloat as adding some advertising telemetry in the middle of a critical code path.

Not all code growth is bloat and not all bloat is equal.


I don't mind complexity but what I can't stand is having to access that complexity through touchscreens. Without the tactile feedback of a knob or button I have to take my attention off the road to see where I need to press on the screen. That's a major step backwards in auto safety, IMO.

And don't get me started on the lazy manufacturer design trend of bolting a tablet to the dashboard and calling it a day.


Mazda doesn't get nearly enough respect for their work identifying and correcting this issue.

https://www.motorauthority.com/news/1121372_why-mazda-is-pur...

Touchscreens/touch panels are shiny, futuristic, dangerous, dumb, and cheap. Manufacturers use them because they lower BOM costs, at the expense of usability and safety. Vote with your wallet folks.


I am old enough to remember "Gorilla arm syndrome" talks.

People just love these big tablets even tough they are an ergonomical non-sense and they have always been for decades. Resistance is futile. Voting with your wallet is useless unless you enjoy the hermit lifestyle.


Mazda would make a great EV, but that is sadly not on their roadmap for the foreseeable future. I have been told this is probably an influence from Toyota's large share ownership, not wanting competition in that space.

That's not smart by Toyota (unless they own a very small stake), is it? Mazda competing with Toyota is indeed bad for Toyota but it's also bad for all the other auto manufacturers too. The benefit of that competition goes exclusively to Toyota (among other shareholders) but the cost is shared among all automakers roughly in proportion to their EV market share.

Mazda has been focused on continuing to improve internal combustion engines over the past couple of decades. Specifically, the "Skyactiv" technology they developed was built to help improve efficiency and emissions of modern ICE engines. It's likely Toyota wanted to have some group/company (like Mazda) continue working on improving ICE engines while also investing in EVs.

I think ICE vehicles will continue to have a market, especially in very remote areas of the world where power grids are non-existent or not very reliable.


The guy who designs Tesla vehicles actually used to work for Mazda as chief of design: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_von_Holzhausen

There is one coming apparently but the range is fairly sad: https://www.mazda.com/en/new-generation/mx-30/ .

MX-30, Mazda's first EV but also ICE model, features touch panel A/C control for unknown reason. I tried it and found that it's difficult to adjust while driving. The decision really weird since Mazda avoid touchscreen for navigation and also avoid for A/C on other cars.

I feel like in the old days, Mazda would have been the one to introduce a Maverick sized truck, and they likely would have been leading the way with electric.

Its too bad that the Ford partnership fell apart.


Ford has chosen to grant your wish: https://www.ford.com/trucks/maverick/2022/ - a real compact pickup with hybrid technology available at the base price of $20k.

That was the vehicle I was referencing. I was saying that this vehicle would have been a joint effort if the partnership were still alive. I could see Mazda owning the small EV segment for Ford too.

Just looked at the mazda website and what are you talking about? They removed almost all the buttons from the interior to some sort of tablet.

The tablet can only be controlled by the knob (which is honestly kind of annoying) and is only used for infotainment purposes. Most things are controlled by a knob, switch, or button.

Exactly, they replaced the separate buttons with a knob. Great that that physical controls might be needed, but this approach isn't better than the touchscreen. In some respects, its actually worse.

Does mazdas use rotary engines for ll their cars?

Mazda hasn't sold a production car with a rotary engine in a while, I believe since the RX-8 went out of production. Due to the nature of rotary engines they inherently have worse emissions (more like a 2-stroke than a 4-stroke) and while people have been hoping for another production rotary from Mazda it's unclear if they will build another one or not.

I'm kind of hoping the LiquidPiston design works out, since in theory it should fix a lot of the fuel economy and emissions issues (combustion chamber is closer to the ideal round shape), and maybe even be lower maintenance (apex seals move to the non-moving part of the engine, where they can be lubricated more easily). It's not owned by Mazda, though, so even if it works it's anyone's guess if Mazda would even be able or want to license it. Or if gas engines in general will be effectively obsolete by the time the technology matures.

I love the idea of rotary engines, but environmentally they're a disaster (at least in their current form), and even if the problems are fixed they'll still not be significantly cleaner than any other gas engine.

(I'm currently working on trying to covert an RX-8 to electric.)


There's a development here in Spain that seems pretty interesting for range-extenders, by InnEngine. They seem to be in the prototype phase, it's also a pretty interesting design.

Not in about a decade, and only one line (RX).

I suspect it's pretty hard to make a rotary meet EU5; that may have been the last of them (the RX-8)


They now developing rotary engine for EV with range extender because of RE is smaller.

I agree with you about wanting a car without pointless stuff bolted on. When it comes to the things required to actually move the car, there's an interesting inverse relationship between visible levers and internal complexity though. Each lever removed is moving complexity from your brain to some physical system. Like an automatic transmission removes the gear shift and adds the more complex automatic transmission. In the limit, one can imagine the "simplest" interface of a virtually empty self-driving pod, which of course is actually an extremely complex system.

Being as good as the desktop experience would be amazing. Realistically it will be much, much worse than the desktop experience because the auto companies are far, far worse at software than even 1990s Microsoft. You are talking about an industry where OTA updates are considered a major and challenging technology and multiple instances of bricking have occurred.

True but no one can secure anything. Therefore, the last thing I want is a network enabled car.

I have my phone for that.


I'm with you. I will not buy a vehicle of any kind that is sending telemetry or tracking without my express written consent. This includes ICE cars made after 2018 that may have ODB3 and send GPS, emission, speed and other data to 3rd parties. I accept that I will be paying a premium to keep older vehicles running. I am about to donate my old truck to a charity and will get a less old truck after I leave California.

> This includes ICE cars made after 2018 that have ODB3 and send GPS, emission, speed and other data to 3rd parties.

I googled for this and could find no info. Please give a reference for this claim.


> > This includes ICE cars made after 2018 that have ODB3 and send GPS, emission, speed and other data to 3rd parties.

> I googled for this and could find no info. Please give a reference for this claim.

I can't even seem to find any reference to odb 3 existing at all in the first place. So yeah any link would be very much appreciated


I'd assume they meant OBD3

http://straighttalkautomotive.com/articles/have-you-heard-of...

It's mostly about surfacing the codes via a screen in the car instead of having a generic check engine light and needing an external scanner.

As far as I can tell, it was never mandated. Most posts about it are from ~2011.


In fact all the links to forums discussing this appear to have been wiped from Google and Bing. Perhaps this topic is off limits for now. I can still find the older articles talking about privacy concerns, but the forums where people were explaining how to disable it have vanished.

I'm reminded of the joke "If Microsoft Made Cars" from the 90s.

http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/pnw/microsoftjoke.htm

And 25 years later here we are...

' For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on. At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue.

For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation" warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off." '


Ha, I remember this! Also, I have a strange feeling that this may end up reality instead of parody.

...and the hood would be welded shut at the factory.

Check out Bollinger electric trucks. No screens at all; even the battery gauge is analogue.

Bollinger is extremely cool and I watched them with great interest for a while, but their initial estimates of ~$60k turned into $125,000 along with the short highway range puts it solidly into the "wealthy person's weekend toy" category.

The range is the death of these vehicles. Otherwise they look great.

I was quite impressed with how bare-bones the B1 looks, and figured it must be priced competitively.

I was less impressed to see it starts at three times the base price of the Cybertruck.


Hear, hear! As a software developer, I'll take a car without a computer, or with as little computing as possible any day! I do understand that fuel injection and abs are great stuff, but those could be ultra low cost asics, and, frankly, computing need not apply anywhere else.

https://www.evwest.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=40 - convert a sturdy long lasting pre connectivity/phone home car as asap while you still can!

In a parking spot, I never turn the steering wheel without the car moving forward or backwards. It's bad for the tires. But what drove the lesson home for me (pardon the pun) is when I drove a rental car with no power steering, sometime in 1990 in Europe.

If the car is not moving, and you try to turn the wheels with no power steering, you feel massive resistance from the road-rubber interface. When you let the car move this way or that, even just a little bit, that resistance dramatically eases.

To hell with power steering; what's it good for?

Power steering and brakes are dangerous because they are powered from the engine. In an emergency situation, exactly when you need the controls to respond in the expected way, your engine may die. Suddenly, you have no braking power, and the steering is all weird.


> Suddenly, you have no braking power, and the steering is all weird.

One day in in the early 1990's sometime, I was driving a car that started to aquaplane on a patch of wet road. Suddenly the car felt like a boat, and shimmied a bit and spun around. It caught some traction coming out of the wet patch, and at that point I could have stopped it faster, had the power brakes not failed respond in the normal way because the engine cut.

So I ended up striking the concrete divider with the rear corner of the car. I was not moving fast at that point; I didn't hit it very hard, but enough to cause damage and that could have been avoided had the brakes worked.

The engine might have cut because of lock up due to braking without traction. This was an automatic transmission, so that's another piece of idiocy to blame. In a manual, you wouldn't brake with the intent to stop without also hitting the clutch to disengage the engine; there is a good chance the engine and power brakes would not have cut out if that had happened in a manual.

(Electric cars should also fix all this.)

It could have been a pile up; this was in fairly busy, fast moving traffic with cars all around. Everyone behind managed to avoid me, luckily, and, equally luckily, the cars in front who were likely oblivious to the situation did not come to an unrelated halt, which would have seen me careen into them.


Well that's two different things. Intrinsic versus extrinsic complexity.

The user experience may get simpler again, but the technology inside is likely to get more complex. Electrification might mean simpler mechanisms and fewer moving parts, but the software will get ever more complicated.

Now in a way it's usually a good thing, if all the complexity of something is hidden and users can treat it as though it's simple. But we'd probably all agree that extra complexity in software that can kill us if it goes wrong is worrying. The only way we know to write safe software is to make it as simple as possible, and write it slowly and expensively. SIL-rated software has already reached the automotive sector. But it seems like the sheer demand to make cars more complex (especially for self-driving) will outrun our ability to make them safe.


Cars like Microsoft Word have a broad feature set because needs are broad. For those of us who want reliable, inexpensive, self service-able transportation there are fewer choices. My guess is because the majority are entranced by sexier things: smart features, driver assist, and safety features of dubious quality.

What safety features are of dubious quality? Do you have some examples?

I was thinking of Tesla's not full "full self driving" and things like auto park.

THREE, Takata airbag recalls on a single vehicle.

For what it’s worth, my base model Honda ticks those boxes.

I used to have a car before moving closer to a metro area and going full Uber.

It was a cheap Renault. Malfunctioned twice in ten years. Repair was trivial both times.

Sometimes I think about having a car again, but the sort of stuff you described makes me super nervous.


I used to live in NYC and bought a disposable car. It was a used rental car that was rear ended, but otherwise brand new with less than 1000 miles on it. I owned it for 5 years with zero issues and I just traded it in for almost the same price I paid for it.

I'm with you on this one. I think perhaps my favorite car interface to date is my '01 Camry. Let's look at the HVAC system:

Three knobs: temperature, speed, vent selection. Three buttons: a/c, recirc, rear defroster.

That's it. The entire system. It's a 20 year old design at this point. I have never once thought that I, a mere mortal, could improve on the design in any meaningful way.

The buttons and knobs are big enough that I can work them w/ my huge gloves on, I do not need special gloves that work w/ a touchscreen, the buttons are not context sensitive, and I can hit all the controls in the dark without even looking. Another point, which I've now learned I had taken for granted, is that no software update will ever mess w/ my muscle memory. Those switches cannot be programmed to do anything else in software, as they're physically wired to the functions they control.

The beauty of the system above is that the physical controls are the state machine. I can literally feel the state the HVAC system is in. Nowadays that state machine is all in software, and I have to hunt through menus, look at a display, sometimes multiple displays, just to figure out what state I left the system in. That's just unacceptable.


I once drove a Volvo from the late 1970s with almost the same interface except one better: the air conditioning was a knob rather than a button, so I could select how "hard" the compressor functioned independently of the thermostat slider for the heater core and the slider for air routing. It meant I could dial in how much dehumidification I wanted while running heat in the winter and using recirculate to keep out some of the nasty truck exhaust and dust from sanded mountain roads.

<has everyone just gone crazy? > Absolutely: Ford logged 100k preorders for the F150 Lightning https://www.businessinsider.com/ford-f150-lightning-electric...

This truck is so software bloated.


I'm pretty sure the TJ-era wranglers (1997-2006), and the Cherokee of the same period hit a sweet spot. Dead simple, no frills, durable as hell, utilitarian but not uncomfortable. Everything after that is continual bloat - bigger overall size, more luxury options, more technology in general. But that's what people want - luxury, comfort, safety... I get it, but I love the experience of my TJ.

I love my '99 Cherokee (XJ) for this reason. Hopefully it never dies.

Doug DeMuro explains why people love the XJ for its simplicity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3STMfI_PS4Q


One of our cars is a 2004 Toyota Tacoma with everything analog except the radio, and I vastly prefer it. If it just had a usb plug so I could play music from my phone, it would be ideal. Oh, and oddly, the radio doesn't have a clock. Bizarre.

It I can 100% everything better than our 2016 Subaru Outback with it's annoying touch screen console.

Plus my nieces and nephews are amused by the actual manual window openers.


Try popping in an aftermarket radio/stereo - you can get a nice Pioneer with a USB fast-charge port and Bluetooth/etc for ~$100-150.

FWIW Subaru kinda just has crappy digital components. Corresponding touch screen console from recent year Toyotas are pretty good, especially with CarPlay / Android Auto.

In my recent Subaru Impreza, CarPlay works just fine, however when I start the engine and put it in reverse, it will mostly ignore the volume control until you finish backing up and then a few second after you shift into drive/forward, it will then process the volume up/down messages it received in the meantime. It's like it dedicates all processing to booting up the screen and then in displaying the rear-view/backup camera. Also, it defaults to playing the radio (even if you had it OFF before, I think), so if you had the volume up for a quiet podcast or something it will blast the radio which is quite annoying, especially if you're in the middle of a phone call or something. I want a physical potentiometer which directly controls the amplifier to the speakers, like in any normal old radio. (This is also one of the exhibits in my mental list of reasons that people should write all the software they run on their devices. Or at least be able to.)

I don't think it's bogged down processing. It is explicitly muting the audio as part of the reversing protocol to avoid distractions, and possibly to let you hear other sounds such as from a parking assistance system.

> It is explicitly muting the audio as part of the reversing protocol to avoid distractions

No. It is NOT letting me turn down (or up) the radio. Meanwhile the radio plays loudly.


Cars are legally required to have infotainment systems (for the backup camera) by NHTSA safety regulations. We’re fucked.

This is GOOD. Drivers run over children so frequently that they need this system. We should not be putting drivers in a machine they can not safely operate.

My '12 Tundra had the backup screen in the rearview mirror. A huge innovation to me at the time. Everything else was knobs and buttons on the dash like yesteryear. That truck was awesome. A shame I had to give it up!

As an embedded software person who is also into cars, I am definitely going to be looking for something older for my next car. I have the luxury of not needing to drive it every day, but I like the idea of something I have at least a hope of repairing myself when it breaks.

Hey I'm with you. Not just in cars but for gadgets around the home. Coffee makers, microwaves, fridges, thermostats. Please give me as few moving parts as possible, the consequences of decisions made outside my control are a huge unknown with potentially large impacts.

My dad bought one new car in the 90's.

It was a Dodge Dakota. He demanded a free Service manual from the salesman.

Conversation with my dad in my car after the sale.

Son---I demanded a Service manual because that truck has a computer, and I don't like computers. Always ask for a Service manual.

(The salesman would probally laugh if you requested a Service manual today.)

Son---I'll put in my own stereo. That overpriced factory cd player is a waste of money.

Son---power windows are just something that will break at the wrong time. If I ever get to the age I can't physically roll down a window; shot me.

Different time?


You should get a Catheram, exactly the kind of car you’re talking about.

No you’re not crazy at all; my preference for a vehicle would be analog everything with as few electronic components as possible. Even if it were an EV.

Digital components may well be more reliable than corresponding analog ones. They can also be purely hw, with no sw or just a simple firmware. There is a middle ground between analog circuits and a general purpose programmable computer with windows 10 on it. :)

I would prefer a car that is almost entirely mechanical because mechanics make way more sense to me than software.

The old crusty mechanic I take my 20+ year old 4Runner to for service complains about this a lot. Cars don’t make nearly as much sense to him as they used to.

Just to be clear, I appreciate improved safety that technology brings to cars, and I know I can’t have it both ways.


The biggest thing for me is user input latency. It doesnt matter if its a computer, a microwave, or a car. I want to feel like the machine is not a lazy piece of shit and actually wants to help me.

I know it sounds like a pedantic annoyance, but that little bit of step-wise discrete behavior I get out of my electronic throttle body right at the threshold of activation is one of the most infuriating things about owning an otherwise "sporty" car. It's not defective either. This is the cost of doing business with a totally-unnecessary software control loop.

I find that mechanical linkages usually have zero fucking latency, infinite resolution, and are much preferable to my monkey brain. Fly-by-wire is a huge mistake.


Are you sure that's not something else like inertia in various mechanical parts or engine tuning? Maybe it sacrifices responsiveness at low RPM for better emissions or better performance at high revs. There's certainly no need for the software side of things to be laggy or discrete.

Also have you tried an electric car? You might be impressed. EVs may have more software, but they don't have nearly as many physical constraints on responsiveness. They don't have to wait for an engine to suck in more air. They don't have to overcome the inertia of pistons and rods and flywheels and clutch discs and long driveshafts. It's just instant torque. Compared to my Model 3, every internal combustion vehicle feels like it has turbo lag.


You can't have high tech safety features without high tech, but you can limit the complexity of electronics, software, and in-car networking to a bare minimum, which is arguably not even being attempted, at least in some markets.

I'd like if the entire car "computer" was socketed and could easily be tinkered with, upgraded, or left empty.

I wouldn't want anything resembling a golf cart, but in principle yes! Tesla has an OK idea of minimal dashboard, but then a less OK idea of tons of features on the screen. I don't know if automaticity or app based control or minimized function is the answer, but less is more to my eyes.

Depends on your definition of a simple car.

Manual transmission is simple and requires little to no software, but it's not simple for the end-user. Automatic transmission is simple for the end-user but involves a lot of software behind to make it work smoothly.


So what are the odds of some car pieces moving towards dark mirror episode where a car had a modular solar panel charger?

I know what the tendency is now ( lock everything up and sell any telemetry ), but could that happen?


It's what every industry does. It thinks it's creating value by having more features, when in reality it's just creating more jobs. More middle people who each want a cut.

>"I just want a car with as FEW knobs/buttons/levers as necessary."

I also want "dumb" car. Not completely dumb but say the equivalent of ones released before 2010.


Buy a 15 year old car. Our family car is a 2003 Infiniti fx35. Got everything we need. Bluetooth aftermarket adapter from AliExpress and i feel modern as any other car.

As someone pointed out the other day on a somewhat unrelated topic, luxury cars don't have touchscreens or Tesla TVs.

They are bad for driving. Dangerous, even.


This is the very reason I drive a 1988 Suburban. The mileage isn't good, but it's not worse than most modern SUV's.

As in one the Top Gear episodes, where the user manual for S class Mercedes is thicker than a book on English History...

regarding simple cars.

I think it's a damn shame that the opportunity for truly simple cars isn't occurring with the advent of mass market EVs. I suppose that ever-increasing safety concerns will push for cars that are more complex.


Having a cheap, dumb car that you can repair yourself would destroy like 100m jobs.

I guess Renault Zoe or Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV mostly ticks your boxes

I’m so glad you posted this. I thought I was the only one

> I just want a car with as FEW knobs/buttons/levers as necessary.

With more software you can have a car with just one button. You press it and say the name of the place you want to go to.


"Has the whole world gone CRAZY?"

There's some amount of entitlement in that exclamation, though. The world, I feel, does not actually owe you to make any sense, or move in any predictable, safe pattern. The world will shift, and leave you behind.

Feeling resentful about that is just unproductive. (To take a slightly trolling tone, can you imagine how a lot of racists (BLM) must feel? Or religious fundamentalists, homophobes feel (gay marriage). The world does not owe them anything.)


> Damn. I just want a car with as FEW knobs/buttons/levers as necessary.

In 2005, there was a huge publicity campaign to make cameras mandatory in cars on the basis motivated by some parents driving over their toddlers playing in the driveway.

Of course, there are many rather more straightforward solutions to that problem. Given the fact that such parents must be in a rather select group, I doubted having cameras would prevent other sources of injury to their children even if they prevented parents from moving them down.

Now, auto manufacturers had to put a camera in every car[1]. Yes, the requirement took effect in 2018, but the manufacturers knew it was coming.

So, you have a screen in the car. In addition, there is the temptation to monitor and collect information. You can sell that to insurers as "anonymized" data. Etc etc. You can enhance the tracking dimensions a lot if you can also get to track all the other stuff people do. Offer them the honey of pairing their phones with the entertainment system, and, boom.

> 221 people were killed by non-traffic (not on public roads) backover crashes in 2007, and 14,000 people were injured.[1]

Given that the value of a statistical life is about $10 million, if the backup camera eliminates all such deaths and injuries, its benefit is about $5 billion. Conveniently, we do not know how many fatalities and injuries have been caused by trying to change stations or select tracks on a touch screen. So, on the cost side, we are stuck with the cost of all the equipment, software development, bug tracking, and, above it all, the annoyance of having to live with all this additional equipment one cannot avoid for the foreseeable future.

Here are sample stories:

* https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/over-in-an-instant/art...

* https://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/12/nyregion/2yearold-run-ove...

* https://www.kidsandcars.org/how-kids-get-hurt/backovers/

* ...

Ah, the Houston Chronicle stories has this nugget:

> A cost-benefit analysis, required as part of the rule-making process, put the cost of each life saved at up to $19.7 million.

It's all for the children. How there you object?

[1]: https://www.thedrive.com/news/20612/rearview-cameras-are-now...


some of us do not trust automatic transmissions.

"Software is a gas; it expands to fill its container." - Nathan Myhrvold

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