Self-Isolation in a Covid-19 World

Op-Ed by Bunch & Wimsett

The idea of self-isolation, of not having contact with society may show how we’ve been spoilt by having a car to drive, to get us to a certain location by a certain time. We’re accustomed to being certain, more or less, we can go anyplace anytime. The car owner without the car feels a little bit, well, like a prisoner. (We know it’s not the same thing, but it feels like it.)

When your car goes in the shop for an extended repair and your insurance company won’t pay for a rental, you’re left bumming a ride from friends or public transport. If you have to rely on public transport, you are at the mercy of other travellers, which can be sketchy, especially during the darkest of nights. We also need to wait around for public transport to appear and have to deal with the cold. But these days, it’s the peril of crowds, and their germs.

Although a car seems safer than a bus it is still a harboring area for bacteria, so it is important to wash your hands after returning from car journeys. This is just the way we live now.

Self-isolation is more than just being unable to travel; it’s also about not being able to set forth outside your home, to use your car. It’s hard to see how a travel ban for a wide group of people can be implemented. (It’s easier in some ways with planes and trains.)

Where you travel to:

However, you travel it is important to realize that it is not a good idea to move into an area which has a higher risk of exposure than the one where you live. You are also more at risk in crowded settings, especially places with limited air circulation. Also, it’s not a good idea to visit older adults.

It is likely the concert, parade, festival or sporting fixture you are visiting is cancelled, check to find out before you start your journey.

The Las Vegas strip, Broadway theaters and Disney theme parks have also closed. It is likely that similar venues will do likewise. Even the beaches, state parks, and tourist attractions are closed. Even though we need the fresh air, the risk of the crowd is too great.

The Auto Industry:

Car factories may also close, though in Detroit a Covid-19 Task Force has been set up in attempt to keep workers as safe as possible. No one is that sure whether the virus lives on cardboard, plastic and stainless steel and anyone touches any of substances risks exposure to the virus. A number of the office staff will be working from home, but it goes without saying that those who are building or repairing items on the factory floor haven’t got that luxury. Somehow the business needs to stay afloat.

A number of CEOs from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will lead the task force.

With all the school closers you won’t need to use the car to take the children to school. It is affecting all areas of life.

There is a lockdown in states such as Washington, California and New Jersey. In the latter a curfew exists between 8pm and 5am.

As for the rest of us you may need to ask yourself, “Is my journey that necessary?”

In most quarantine states, restaurants are allowed to serve takeout or delivery—so far. As things stand now, Mike Pence said that restaurants have the potential to close. This is an ongoing situation, but things will snap back. We can only wait.

So, travel seems not that important right now. Might we suggest the solution to your need to get around is an ancient technology known as walking.

Stay safe,

Team Kicker Blog

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The Problem with Flying Cars

It is 2020 right? So we should have flying cars? But it’s not as simple as that. As said before in these posts not all novelty works and a flying car would surely be one hell of a novelty.

It would cost $50 million to buy a flying car, though it is possible to get one from private hands at about $279,000. This sounds ruthlessly expensive, so let’s break it down.

Because a car is not built for flight it is better to start with a plane and work backwards, so getting a plane to drive on the road. Then you have the problem of where on the road you can land the plane, you can’t just land it in the middle of freeway. So really you’re talking about a plane you can fly one day and drive the next day.

There’s also the difficulty with fuel. Can’t you fill up a flying car at a gas pump? Don’t flying objects need something stronger, like kerosene?

As well as the flying car itself you’re going to run into a big insurance bill. As soon as you have a car which might plummet into the ground from a great height (not that I’m being pessimistic at all here…) the costs are going to skyrocket (especially as a crash could come from simply running out of fuel).

Manoeuvrability is also a stumbling block. Something which flies handles differently from an object on the ground (this is pretty self-explanatory stuff but when you’re exploring possibilities you do have to state the obvious). A car might be tested by a strong gust of wind, but unless its very strong the car will be able to continue on its journey. However a flying car is reliant on the air around it, so in a windy day it will be harder to handle and may just crash.

Another tricky day to fly in would be a foggy day; you might just collide with a building or hill. So this would be a good day not to take your googles out of the glove compartment? 

With the information stated above, it may shock you that people are creating drastic in-roads in coming up with a flying car. The Transition by Terrafugia’s selling point is that it is a plane that is stored in the garage. It can transform; James Bond-style from a car into a plane but again you have the difficulty of where it can take off and where it can land.

This vehicle require two types of engine- a hybrid motor for driving on the ground and a 4 cylinder engine for its plane mode. As well as a driver’s license you need a sports pilot certificate. It has an airframe parachute and airbags. How good are airbags in a plane crash? Maybe this should be looked into. They also need their own registration plate.

Uber meanwhile are looking into the concept of flying taxis, which may be available over the skies of Dubai, LA and Dallas as early as 2023.

Can all these promises be delivered on? It does seem a big ask, but if there is a market for it, there will be an answer…eventually.

Car thoughts from those with something to say.

“I replaced the headlamps in my car with strobe lights so it looks like I’m the only one moving” – Steven Wright.

A car is inspirational, but to continue to sell a car driving on the open road can be quite dull. So you need to look into how people treat their car and maybe see how they treat other people as a result, as everything relates to everything else.

It can be seen that the car is the source of a great deal of humor. This is understandable; it is something that most people can relate to. You have that quote from Steven Wright above and also here’s another one from Mitch Hedberg.

“I can look at any car’s headlights and tell you which way it’s going.”

Sometimes people are confused about our attachment with cars and how far it goes.

“I’ve always been into cars. Cars are part of our genetic makeup. It’s unavoidable.” – Matthew Fox.

The love of cars might be thought of some meme that once we get into our head is hard to get back out again. To say that we have something in our chromosomes that links us to cars might be going too far?

How does men’s obsession with cars effect how women see them? Here’s a quote from Rita Rudner.

“To attract men, I wear this cologne called ‘New Car Interior.’”

How exactly you maintain your cars might tell you what kind of person you are, according to those in the know.

“If you own a home with wheels on it and several cars without, it’s just possible you might be a redneck.” – Jeff Foxworthy.

Some people have thoughts that the car has become our personal shell protecting us from the bad stuff in the world:

“The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell of both urban and suburban man.” – Marshall McLuhan.

It can be scary the stuff people let slip about how they drive their cars.

“I would never kill a living thing, although I probably have inadvertently while driving automobiles.” – Captain Beefheart.

Please note the quotes above have been changed slightly so that they have their own originality. A note to who the people are.

Steven Wright (b 1955) is an American comic, actor and producer known for his one-liners.

Mitch Hedberg  (1968-2005) is also an American comic famed for his surreal humor.

Matthew Fox (b 1966) is an American actor most well-known for his part in Lost (2004-2010)

Rita Rudner (b  1953) is an American comedienne who started her career in New York.

Jeff Foxworthy (b 1958) is American comedian, radio personality and author.

Marshall McLuhan, born Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian philosopher and author with an interest in mass media.

Captain Beefheart was the stage name of Don Glen Vliet (1941-2010) a singer, instrumentalist and painter, who collaborated with Frank Zappa, amongst others.

To finish, here is another quote from Steven Wright.

“I have a quantum car. Every time I look at its speedometer I get lost.”

Hybrid Cars – Out of Favor?

Op-Ed by Wimsett and Bunch

Hybrid cars were advertised as the future and many car companies including Toyota, Lexus and Kia seem to be targeting the potential Hybrid buyers. But how green are Hybrids?

The problem seems to come to down CO2. Because of the extra battery weight they actually produce more CO2 than a gas or diesel car of the same engine size. The solution to this must surely be further research; after all, you can’t have a hybrid car or an electric car without some kind of battery. But some countries think otherwise.

The UK plans to stop the production of not only gas and diesel cars but also hybrids by 2035. They also seem to want to get rid of vans, which might be a bit tricky if you are running a delivery business for instance. You can’t just deliver in a normal car. And caravans are important to the tourism industry; it would be damaging to do without them, especially in North America where you need to do a great amount of traveling to get anywhere.

This coming ban is only be a UK thing as, so far, there is no update on what the USA or the EU plans on doing. As for Asia, Africa and South Africa it will be unlikely that these countries will ban any kind of vehicle for the foreseeable future, as they are routinely excluded from strict environmental regulations.

The problem with coming up with a date such as 2035 is that ultimately it is what it is, a date. There is no real incentive to stop car companies creating hybrids or indeed any car that pollutes. In order to make all cars electric at this point there must be a huge amount of investment and education of the public.

Even if you want to have the (current) inconvenience of owning an electric car you are still facing a waiting list to receive one. No car holds its value and because an electric version of a specific brand is more expensive than the gas/diesel alternative a number of families will not be able to afford it. Because electric cars are relatively new to the market it is difficult to get one second hand. EBay comes up with a mere seven results for an electric car, but 2,060 results for a gas car. So it’s no wonder those looking for a used car tend not to be buying electric.

It is not just the car industry, the fashion industry and the plane industry create great pressures on the environment and one may not move without the other. The ultimate tool in the government toolbox is taxing behaviour they believe harmful—which it is very unpopular right now.

The date of 2035 is ambitious, but it is doable? We can only wait and see. Will capitalism bend a knee to environmentalism? Perhaps, yes, but it’ll probably be after the people creating environmental solutions stop creating expensive solutions that are as bad as not taking any action at all.

Cities Built For Cars?

We take it for granted that cities are built for cars, especially in the US and the reasoning behind this originated not long after the automobile. It seems strange that an old English law held sway right up to 1924 that a person on foot or driving was equal in the eyes of the law. However, when you think about it most US laws were patterned after the old world until there was a reason to change them. The goal behind the English law had to do with policeman on a horse trying to own the road.

The entire topic is made up of the stuff that creates arguments. On the one side, you have to obey traffic laws if you’re going to use roads made for cars or you lose your licence to drive on them. It’s common sense that cars need a way to navigate around each other. However, pedestrians have been avoiding each other for centuries without incident or formal laws governing who can walk where. Who is it that thinks its okay to tell an American where they can put there feet?

Well, if you’re feet are in the road meant for vehicles then you’d best abide by the laws of the road. For that matter, it’s a new era with new ways of getting around so it’s common sense that the laws be upgraded to a keep everyone safe.

The History of the New Laws:

It seems that the LA traffic commission were one of the first authorities to question this ruling – after all in a busy city why should everyone slow down to accommodate the slowest moving individuals? It’s one thing to stop at a red light, another not to be able to move at all wile someone toddles across a thoroughfare.

But why did the car become the preferred mode of transport? It would seem strange to us if we still had horse and carriages but why did it become so preferred so quickly? There are two schools of thought, one that those in cities just preferred using cars than travelling on foot or using other vehicles; the other that it was all down to marketing and advertising (ultimately the car industry itself) which made the car such a popular form of travel.

Whether we are free to continue in our own fashion or whether we have to surrender to the mores of technology is not something we have to think about generally. But with possible changes in climate we might just be heading that way.

The idea of an automotive city had its origins in the 1920s but didn’t really take over until about the 1950s, many no doubt felt cars were just a fad that wouldn’t last. But since new cities such as Melbourne, Detroit and LA were built on a grid system which made them easier to travel through in a car it did seem that there was a bundle of money around ensuring that the car would be the ideal way to travel.

It may come down to logistics really, getting things to a certain point before you realised you needed them. In that, the car was supreme – at least at the beginning. Horse drawn vehicles never stood a chance in that basis. The use of trains might be better logistically but even then you don’t have that much choice as a tourist or businessman where you have to go and what time you get there. The car is so much better.

So the car got the privilege of being the master of the road. And pedestrians and to some extent, trains had to follow the path they took (not literally, but trains took on “transport corridors” which travel in the same direction of the road, almost as if the train is a substitute car). It’s one of the little ways that cars rule that we don’t even notice.

In Europe and places that didn’t grow up with the age of cars many roads exist that are too small for cars. These generally become pedestrian walkways or alleyways. Cities have to be retrofitted to accommodate cars, so pedestrians and mass transit hold more sway. But in America were the city grew alongside the auto industry the city accommodated the car.

Nowadays it is harder to design a city for cars, there are just too many of them. And why not look at other transport systems, just to make other ways to travel around?

The pedestrian controversy has reignited, in LA of all places, where octogenarian received a gash to his noggin battling police who were trying to site him for “jay-walking.” The very term Jaywalking has come under fire as it’s become more well known that the term used to be an insult to country bumpkins. The auto industry felt the best way to curb this random walk where you want tradition was to associate it with people who weren’t urban and sophisticated. It seems to have worked. But lets take a step back and ask ourselves how offensive it is these days to call someone a “Jay?” To shun the term is pretty ridiculous.

The auto industry employed boy scouts to hand out pamphlets to people caught Jaywalking, which is probably where we got the imagery of boy scouts helping old ladies across the street.

At the end of the day there is one factor that should weigh heavy in the argument over who gets the right of way—the laws not of man, but of physics. In Portland, OR. Citizens are given right of way over cars, as are bicycles. As a result, a pedestrian could stumble out from behind a random white panel van, mere feet in front of a car that’s traveling 20 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. The results are that the pedestrian who believes him/herself to be anointed by God and the City of Portland as impervious to several tons of steel learns too late that being “right” doesn’t replace common sense, and the driver of the vehicle get arrested for manslaughter. Is this good governance? You decide.

The Dreaded Female Driver?

Yep, we’re going there. The Kicker neither courts nor turns aside from controversy. So it’s time to look into lady drivers from an honest standpoint and let the chips fall where they may. The first question isn’t, “do women drivers have a reputation,” it’s do they deserve it.

The History of It:

Clearly there is no biological reason for there to be a difference in driving ability between male and female. It takes two legs at least one arm and basic hand eye coordination. Yet we heard such comments in the past as…

  • They can’t park.
  • They don’t look where they’re going.
  • They don’t use their turn signal.

All very constructive and not at all chauvinistic…right? This may not even be a problem in the future. But then again, we’re not living in the future.

Look in the distant past and they added comments like “where are they going to change?” “What happens if they fancy one of the mechanics?” Now days these are as likely said about a male driver.

But who really is the Better Driver?

The people most likely to know the answer to this question is insurance companies—they’re constantly running studies on this sort of thing. However, most states seem to have laws forbidding a different insurance rate for men then women.

Okay the truth is it depends on how you figure it. A male student might be just as dangerous behind the wheel as a female student. But men are more likely to pass their test on the first try. In fact, overall when it comes to driving tests, women have been known to fail more often. Sadly for men, this is the only category they dominate.

But men are more likely to be charged with motor offences, if you look at such things as speeding, drunk driving and avoiding proper taxes. And men are more likely to make an insurance claim and more likely to be at fault.

So, legally forcing an end this inequality and prejudice, what happens is that females pay more; such is the price of equality. (This is according to Confused.com’s research.)

Professional Women Drivers:

As noted above, there isn’t a big biological reason why women would need a different league then men in motor sports—and we do find women driving alongside men in professional racing. However, there are not very many of them, in fact Danica Patrick is the only woman with an IndyCar series win (2008 Indy Japan 300).

It begs the question, is the physical demand of professional racing too much for most women. For that answer to that question we go to one of the most physically demanding form of auto racing, Rally Car. What is it like to be a female rally driver? Kathy Legge gets is part of four girl racing team, and this is the question she gets asked the most. She says that she has no idea what it’s like to be a guy driver so it’s hard to compare. Her mantra is “we’re no different, we can do the job.”

But is women racers just a gimmick? Well it’s a new thing, so from that viewpoint, yes it is a gimmick. But there is no reason to expect it won’t become the norm.

Other Female Driving Professionals:

A business that needs female drivers in order to survive is a female only cab service, such as Sakha Cabs.

Many women feel more comfortable in cars driven by women, especially when traveling, and Sakha Cabs is catering to this niche. The firm runs from the Indira Gandhi airport in New Delhi to and from local hotels and tourist destinations. The goal is to market it exclusively to women passengers which not only makes them feel more comfortable, it helps them recruit women cab drivers, who will end up working late nights in a dangerous industry. The would-be drivers are trained in self-defense and speaking English, and of course, driving a cab. There is also a panic button in the cab.

The cars are popular and can average 40 rides in a day.

Drunk Driving Solution

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Op-Ed by A.R. Bunch

It’s holiday season 2019 and it’s time to talk about the number one driving mistake people make.

Some topics in our society don’t get the real attention they deserve because of the negative emotions surrounding them. To a degree this makes sense. Back in the day no one really thought twice about driving when they were tipsy. Alcohol related incidents were hardly tracked as a separate thing, and the thinking was simply, “vehicles are dangerous.” MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) waged a campaign to change that.

By singling out alcohol related accidents and constantly bringing attention to it as a source of danger, and the high price paid by innocent victims, MADD paved the way to lower legal limits, harsher penalties and expanded responsible parties. For example, most states hold bartenders liable for over serving clients turning them from enablers to the first line of defense advocating for their customers whose judgement may be impaired to seek a better way home.

This is all great, but in order to truly combat the issue, it’s always more impactful to stay grounded. The reality is that a legal limit that’s functionally zero, BUT not really zero, begs the question, “are we inviting people to think they might be okay,” when the reality is they’re gambling with fines and jail time.

If government really intended to end drunk driving wouldn’t they drop the limit to zero and require bar tenders to insist that a ride is arranged before selling a patron one drink. The Kicker Blog is not advocating for these laws, merely pointing out that 0.08 blood alcohol level is a cloudy thing to communicate to people going out for a fun evening.

drunk-driving-40574_1280Government makes a bit of coin doing a catch and release with people who make a mistake. By setting the limit at a point when the average person could probably still operate a vehicle safer than they can when driving tire or emotional, the government is almost tempting people to chance it.

To their credit MADD has shifted there marketing away from condemnation to target people who don’t see themselves as career alcoholics. The idea is to get otherwise responsible people to think responsibly and have a plan before they cut loose.

Bottom line: the goal is to raise awareness, have stiff penalties to act as a deterrent but not destroy the life of an otherwise productive member of society. That’s probable the goal of the current system, but it’s created an unofficial catch and release program. How do we as a society build in clemency without created an official free pass for the first offense?

Currently, one DUI and you’ll never obtain a CDL, NEVER. It will also deter your ability to obtain work in other fields with high standards, like law enforcement, insurance agents, financial advisers.

You slam one beer at a football game when you’re 21 and drive your inebriated friend home and you could lose access to roughly one in three fields of employment. That’s a high and lasting price to pay for a mistake that only mildly endangered people. The goal again, is to get people to make better choices. In the case above, the 21-year-old was attempting to make a good choice. Misguided though that decision was, he/she may have prevented an accident.car-accident-1538175_1920.jpg

The Kicker Blog would like to advocate for a path to glory. The price for driving above the legal limit needs to be set apart from driving while intoxicated. The penalties for both need to be clear and applied consistently. The penalty for driving above the limit should be geared toward deterring and redemption. It could include a mandatory night in jail, fines, a vehicle breathalyzer installation, mandatory AA meetings, and a multiyear probation. However, after successful completion and a few years, the DUI should leave a person’s record.

The penalty for drunken endangerment should be punishment. It should reflect the severity of someone’s lack of judgement. After all, driving intoxicated is reckless endangerment, and one step of away from attempted manslaughter. Obviously your second offense at driving above the legal limit should be treated as a compound offense and raises to the level of driving while intoxicated.

Until these changes are made you need to know this:

You can get a DUI for as little as one drink, the penalty is far worse than you imagine, and special patrols are actively hunting for it.

If you get a DUI this holiday season, you are entitled to an attorney and you are a complete idiot if you don’t get one.

The answer, far simpler than changing that laws, is to make plans to drink OR drive. Simply don’t mix them at all. There are so many options from taxi to ride-share, carpooling, call a friend, even tow trucks that are sponsored by MADD to get your car home from the bar.

Quick TIP #1:

Don’t take a ride from a “sober stranger!” Take a friend out with you, and if for any reason you are alone at a bar, ask the bar tender to arrange a ride for you. Most bars are happy to avoid the fine they’ll pay if you leave them and get in an accident.

 

Can the Solar Car Take Off?

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Credit Lightyear

Op-Ed by P. Wimsett

In a recent Wired article, the point was made that solar powered cars are a bit of a romantic fantasy. You can’t be rid of trips to the charger (or petrol pumps). There is just a limit to amount of energy you can get from the Sun.

The use of solar power roofs (such as those introduced by Hyandai, for instance) seem like an obvious idea, but for now it’s just this season’s fad? They can help the battery, but you don’t as yet get enough juice from the sun to power an electric car for as much use as an average driver needs.

Toyota is claiming 1.15 horsepower from their car-mounted panels, which is all very well and good, but when the amount needed is 122 horsepower…1.15 (less than 1%) feels like a drop in the ocean. The only alternative is to park your car in the son for a week or two between uses.

Sex Appeal

Another problem is that you need to streamline the car to put solar panels on it. There is how a car should look, and there is what the car buyer expects an electric vehicle to look like—and then there’s having to radically modify the design to accommodate solar panels. Some of these designs achieve an eccentric look and despite a certain novelty the design doesn’t improve the car in any other way, like safety, comfort, durability and so on.

Looking at the sales copy for the solar car, “Lightyear One,” what comes through is their mission to create clean mobility. The allude to the idea that they believe a solar car really work as efficiently as a normal car, while also reducing emissions, but it’s not long on any other the other benefits a normal car add includes.

According to the same add copy it doesn’t follow convention, but “only the Laws of Physics.” Except:

  1. The law of physics aren’t a convention or cultural construct
  2. A car that succeeds at physics but fails at transportation isn’t a car.

The brochure sounds good but just won’t sell. Thus, solar cars are marketed to the militant environmentalist and virtually no one else.

We can give them the benefit of the doubt and choose to believe the advertisement is meant to indicate that they started from scratch?

The heart of the Lightyear “solution” can be summed up in two words–bigger battery packs. Unfortunately, it’s still hard to get a good result. Lightyear One boasts a range between 500 and 800 kilometres, which isn’t that far at all. Consumers are right to be skeptical.Lightyear_One-01@2x

As well as solar power the Lightyear One has been designed to operate aerodynamically, which makes it use less energy. Perhaps that helps to compensate for all the weight of those extra batteries.

There must be a great deal of common sense applied when you create a new car and the designers should remember this. To be successful the car must be eco-friendly AND user friendly.

The argument is this, consumer tastes must change (read lower your expectations). At least for the short run, consumers want green products, but we don’t want them changed in any major way.

You can applause-worthy their ideals Lightyear has fallen a bit short of the dream product—an “off-grid” vehicle—and for the time being consumer sentiment is clear; novelty is great but takes a back seat to utility. When a solar generator makes a more sizable contribution to how the car runs it will be an adequate selling point.

The Secret Parts of Cars (part 2)

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From the UK desk…Paul Wimsett

In part 1 we discussed some of the neat secret parts designers work into a car to help it appeal to a consumer, but Mercedes-Benz has included a secret part strictly for its own good. Location circuitry which can be used to invade privacy and spy on you.

Not disclosing that a car has spyware that pinpoint its location seems controversial. We are talking 170,000 cars in Britain and it could be further afield too. Apparently according to Mercedes-Benz, it is not about permanently tracking customers, though the same equipment could be used that way so it is hard to see how it would not work like that.

secret-2725302_1920It should come as no surprise that this is illegal according to the laws in Britain, should it be used in that manor, which again is not what the car maker claims the circuits are for.

It is not known how long these “sensors” (trackers might be a better word for them) have been in operation. The fact that Mercedes-Benz didn’t tell anyone about their built-in tracker makes it seem more suspect. The fact that no other car dealer factory installs such trackers also makes it seem more suspect. It seems that Mercs are on their own when it comes to this practice, Land Rover, BMW and Volkswagen confirmed that they do not use similar techniques and as far as I know the same is true for other car companies.

Company -owned fleet vehicles often have tracking built in which that company can use to determine the location of property they own, which seems reasonable. Police cars and government owned vehicles also have built in tracking in case someone steels them. Citizens can have “lo-jack” equipment installed into their vehicle to aid in recover for the same reason. And of course, you can often use Sat-Nav to locate a lost vehicle. But all these things are intentionally installed “after-market,” and the people who can access this information are the legal owners of the vehicle.

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So why is Mercedes-Benz doing it? The idea is it should only be used when customer has breached the financial agreement and hasn’t made other arrangements. The ability to repossess a vehicle in America is limited to it being parked on a publicly visible location. Certainly, it would assist agents of the lender to know exactly where a vehicle is, and perhaps even when it will be at a location it might be more easily seized.

This is a big grey area for many of us. It relies on an interpretation of a person’s rites under the law, that is based on the notion a car is stolen when you are far enough behind on your payments.

Presumably other terms of sale could be made, or bailiffs could be brought in? And the fact that the cars are tracked 100% of the time is a reason to worry. We’ve only the company’s word that they only check the location when they need to take the car back.

The customer should know when they are being spied on and not disclosing this feature until it was discovered independently deprives consumers of their rites in my opinion.

The Secret Parts of Cars (part 1)

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From the UK desk…Paul Wimsett

Leaving the controversial secret car parts for later, let’s start with the fun ones. Let’s begin, instead with the “not exactly hidden” feature. For instance, the “Curry hook” in a Nissan. This hook, about the height of your seat, allows you hang a bag containing your curry. This will make more sense when if you know that the British “pop out for a curry” the way Americans order in Chinese when they’re going to binge-watch their favourite show on the telly.

Then there is a gear stalk for the Volkswagen Golf in the shape of a golf ball. Again, these are maybe not exactly secret but just hard to spot.

brake-2026820_1280Now for some that are truly not visible. The Murano has a technique which is ideal for the driver either of less than average height or of greater than average height. It’s the ability to move the pedals both nearer to you and further away than you. It’s certainly a plus if you’ve ever got into a car and thought “These pedals are not designed for me.”

The secret vase in a Volkswagen Beetle is quite an attractive addition. Who doesn’t want flowers in their car? Quite a few people, now I think of it…

You might not expect to find sand in a car door but it can be discovered in early Lexus cars. This is used to deaden the sound of the radio, though it is debatable how much sand in a car door would fix this problem. An innovation which seems more complex than the problem, in my mind.

bmw-m3-e30-2995003_1920.jpgIf your hood gets stuck there’s an addition in the E30 which allows you to enter a screwdriver and make sure that the hood is released. This one seems so simple; you should be able to adjust things easily after all.

Not all secret parts are hidden or practical. The Spatz cars have additions which might cause a bit of confusion. Designers found they had room for a number of clocks on the dashboard. But instead of just having clocks they decided to paint on several analogue faces, just for design’s sake I suppose.

All this goes to show that the secret parts might help to sell a car, or alternately, confuse a potential buyer.

Keep a sharp eye out for the part two in this series, because there is a car out there with a secret feature that’s not strictly legal…