ZOOM! Who Just Got a New Car? (TQP0073)

Posted: August 13, 2008 in Braak
Tags: ,

I did. I just got a new car, over the weekend.

When I buy a car…okay, this is already a lie. I’ve only ever bought one car, and it’s the one that I just got over the weekend. Every other car I’ve ever had has been an heirloom vehicle, passed to me by relatives who’ve already traded up.

But I like to think that when I buy cars, in general, I’m looking at three issues, in the following order: what does it cost? What is the gas mileage? Will I still be able to drive it ten years from now?

That is all I care about literally. So, I bought a Toyota Yaris, which is the cheapest, most reliable, gas-mileagey car that a person can get. Also, it looks like a little space pod!

Apparently, there are reasons to buy a car other than those three. Apparently, people actually pay extra money for all kinds of things, like automatic transmission, power door locks, and that sensor on your windshield that tells your windshield wipers to start wiping, because it’s raining.

Now, I’m not the kind of guy that insists that everything only ever be practical. I do own a Kindle, after all. The guys at the car place kept trying to sell me on the automatic transmission, and I can understand why a person would want that. It’s easier, for one thing.

For really the only thing, actually. Because it’s more expensive, gets worse gas mileage, and represents another complex system introduced into the car that is only going to go horribly wrong as soon as my warranty runs out.

Power door locks are stretching it, but I can think of at least one scenario in which they might come in handy–like, if your arms were full of groceries, and you happened to have your keys in your hand, and you were standing on a narrow bridge over a river of lava so that it was impossible to put your groceries down in order to get to the lock…okay. There is a circumstance where power door locks might be able to make your life perceptibly easier.

But this windshield sensor thing? Really? There’s a car whose selling point is that if it starts to rain, you don’t have to remember to turn on the windshield wipers? Honestly, I can’t even think of a circumstance in which I have consciously used my windshield wipers–the controls are right by my hand, you kind of just have to bump it a tiny little bit to turn it on, and tadaa! It is literally the EASIEST POSSIBLE ACTIVITY that there is to do in your car.

What’s amazing to me is that this isn’t just some hack that an automotive engineer at my local Pep Boys came up with, and is offering to put on the car. I can understand that; that’s like getting a spoiler, or airbrushing a demon skull flying out of a flaming vagina onto the hood. It’s frippery.

But this windshield sensor is a feature for cars. So, someone at the head of the R&D department said, “Jose, no one is buying our cars! We need to make them more appealing! What should we do?”

“Well, Jorge, you know what I’ve never found inconvenient at all in any way, shape, or form? Turning on the windshield wipers when it’s raining. Maybe we should build a device that does that automatically?”


THEN they had to pitch it to the CEO, or their boss or whatever. And because this is the modern era, the idea had to be sent out and vetted by a half a dozen different guys with suits. They had to do a feasibility study, they had to build a working prototype. They had to spend a million dollars to DESIGN the thing, and THEN they had to spend ANOTHER MILLION DOLLARS to design the machines that were going to install it in the car factories.

They had to retrofit the factories to add the new machines in, they had to pay the R&D scientists to troubleshoot the whole thing.

And they did this precisely because apparently there is some person, somewhere, who thinks that he’s bought a superior vehicle because he doesn’t have to turn on his windshield wipers.

The Yaris did not come with a windshield sensor.

  1. Meg says:

    I should have read this one first. Congrats! And you are now out of excuses!

  2. ISTV Global Stronghold says:

    Hee hee hee.

    What kind of car does a pirate drive?
    A Yaaaarrrris.

    Pirate jokes: STILL FUNNY!

  3. V.I.P. Referee says:

    (Ha. Pirates.)

    I love these no-fluff breakdowns. Sensors to prompt essential driving duties…it seems like promotion of lazier driving. Wouldn’t it seem important for a driver to be alert enough to determine a change in weather conditions and act upon it?

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