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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #132: A gym that collapsed on 9/12, and how to get decent people interested in electric cars

Strictly speaking, my dreams of designing and building the world's greatest computers for retail sale were crushed, not on September 11th of 2001, but on the day afterwards. And they were crushed not by a terror attack but rather by a dozen exercise bicycles falling from a great height.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-132-a-gym-that-collapsed-o...
65 REPLIES 65
CJinSD
Instructor

Is the windshield washer fluid reservoir only accessible by professionals on this bloated 2006 Honda Civic clone?
ATLpaul
Detailer

I think the difference between Apple making widgets that we can't tinker with and Mercedes vehicles that we can't tinker with, Apple products just work. Mercedes, Ha Ha Ha. (feel free to substitute any German make here). I have two ipads no problem. I have had multiple versions of iphones, no problems. When they age the battery may not keep charge, but they never have problems or virus. Easy interface. Compare that to my windows laptops and version after new version they push on me and change user interface just because someone at Microsoft thinks I need it. Apple is easy to use. Why iphones work and windows phones don't. At least Android just copies Apple. I wish they were made in America, however they are headquartered with big building and engineers and designers in America. The damn things just work and are simple.

I hate that Mercedes EQS. But the new Silverado with semi mix of buttons and screens and the new F150 have me hopeful about electric future. As long as they can keep prices competitive with current ICE offerings.

OldCarMan
Instructor

Let's Go Apple anything!!! 🙂
-Nate
Detailer

Cautiously agreed with .

-Nate
petersalt
Detailer

As in: "**bleep**" .. ??
TG
Instructor

the difference between someone who thinks apples are easy to use and someone who thinks windows devices are easy to use is the amount of time you spend using them. Apples frustrate me to no end. I want buttons for everything instead of one cute, fancy little button to do everything
JEL395
Intermediate Driver

TG could not agree more. New GF passed along her " prior " model year Ipad. What a cluster to set up, then to remember 4 different ways to function progress. Hold this, push that, hold this longer, no slide this. I haven't given up as learning will hopefully keep me young, albeit I must admit a challenge in patience. Never stop driving ( ICE of course ).
MoparMarq
Detailer

Ditto. They're so busy making the product elegant that it's darn near unusable. The iPad issued at work is tolerated, but only because I have to use the 5 required apps. And the battery doesn't last all day, so I had to buy an external battery to get to the end of the day.
AdrianClarke
Detailer

I switched to Apple laptops over twenty years ago, and have never looked back, until recently when I needed to upgrade my 2015 MacBook Pro. I simply couldn't justify their asking prices for a laptop with a dedicated graphics card now, so reluctantly bought a Dell G7. Although it's well specced and appears decently put together, the whole user experience is still light years behind, and Windows 10 is a UI/UX nightmare, appearing to be three operating systems bodged together. Why on earth does it take 5 clicks to connect a paired Bluetooth speaker as opposed to 1 in OSX? Why am I getting adverts on my lockscreen?
My 2015 still works fine, just a little lacking in horsepower now as I can't upgrade the RAM or SSD......
hyperv6
Engineer

The problem is much like many other things. People tend to monkey with this till they break it and then don't take responsibility for messing up something they have no training in.

In the past if someone took something off their engine and they could not get it back on they would tow it to the dealer and they just fixed it. Today if they mess with some things it is not a case of easy fix anymore. Also in some cases the results could be shocking.

It used to be that anyone could be a mechanic just as a writer. Today we are to a level anymore where we just don't have the tech training or the tools to deal with this stuff anymore. I see it daily with customers messing up things they should not be touching. The worst part is most never take responsibility for it.
The deal is if you are going under the hood anymore you had better get the training from more than your neighbor who saw this video on Youtube.

Also the tuning and tech in these cars are done for a reason anymore. You start changing things and then things fail well take responsibility. This is for ICE and BEV.
58_Plastic_Tub
Pit Crew

I can't disagree with this enough.

I have no interest in licensing a product for use on a subscription basis. The genius of our economic system is the ownership of capital and the ability to do pretty much anything I want with the things I own.

The coastal ideal seems to be for nobody to really own anything. Or if we do, it will be in the same manner as "owning" a home within a restrictive HOA. If I can't use, repair, or modify something I "own" as I wish, who really owns whom?

The entire proposition seems pretty antithetical to the idea of a free society.
hyperv6
Engineer

Never said you had to like it, this is just what is happening. 

 

Many things in society that used to be free or owned is now going to subscription like process. 

 

Radio was free now they have Satellite Radio. TV was free then we had cable and Dish. 

 

Auto companies have been doing On Star and other things now Toyota wants to charge for remote start on a monthly basis. 

 

The future is really going to go to pay by the month for many things. I fear that there is not going to be much resale  value in used EV cars to the point we may all end up with some kind of deal like the Apple plan where you pay a yea a year on a phone and upgrade the next year. Or you can pay for two and keep it but use the Apple care to repair it. 

 

These are the areas of change and things till to be dealt with. 

 

I do not like the fact it will get to where I can't repair my own car but this is bigger than me and I am not going to be able to stop this. 

 

Sadly most people today don't even check their own oil. They will be pleased if they have nothing to check or do. 

 

As for homes I expect changes there too as prices in some areas are so high people native to the area can not afford to live where they grew up. Where my family is in San Diego the home they purchased in 1970 For $79K is now $750K. In the area two families are living in one house to share cost. 

 

It is a ugly deal but subscriptions with the younger buyers are just another app in life and they will pay it. 

 

I am not a promoter of this I am merely an observer of a future to come.  

brians356
Detailer

Huh? FYI radio is still free, with dozens of AM and FM stations to be had even on my 1970s Realistic pocket "transistor radio". And TV is still free. I have a friend, in his '70s but still working for $100 a day as a substitute teacher, who can only afford what he catches on his inexpensive "rabbit ears" antenna, and that's a dozen or more channels or so in this mid-size city.
-Nate
Detailer

Yabbutt ; the free radio is mostly trash as is broadcast TV apart from the news .

I've been a radio lover since I was in short pants and that was a _long_ time ago ~ the 'fairness doctrine' meant one corporation couldn't buy up most radio / TV stations and so control the programming .

It really was very different back when every town had a small "peanut Whistle" radio station or TV channel .
Again these are facts not opinions .

-Nate
Spuds
Advanced Driver

The trick on homes is dump the stick frame we have now and move on to 3D printing them.Tech will be the home answer if we dont get pushed into YOU WILL OWN NOTHING AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.
plamry
Intermediate Driver

Good article, as always! My thoughts are if the market will support it, it will come. If a start up wants to take the diy approach to building electric, why don't they do it and sell their electric kit car? If people buy these electrics the market will speak. The government has always picked winners and losers and right now it seems to be tipping the scales in the electric car's favor, so I can see that as a barrier but I guess time will tell.
JohnGalt
Pit Crew

Were any EVs stuck on I-95 this past week? How well did that work out?
spark123
Detailer

You know the answer to that!

The only reason EV's are being pushed is that they are cheaper to manufacturer then sold at a higher markup because of being so called "green". Then they get scrapped when something goes wrong.

Win Win for the manufacturers green all the way to the bank!
Gman1954
Pit Crew

JohnGalt: Eps only make up 4% of the US market, most of that in CA! How many were in VA that day, Long Range Commuting on I-95?? = ZERO = They DON'T COMMUTE! They're Urban Vehicles.. for Metrosexuals... Hybrids do, I'm sure a bunch of Prius' were stuck in that Snow bank!
Jack Baruth: Good Article, by the Way. Good Ideas there.
p.s. I'll send it to my son who loves Apple & see what Fireworks display! I have a bunch of Apple products cuz I couldn't keep my MS crap VIRUS-AD-BUG-free without spending hours cleaning them out every week, & RE-Booting every 20 mins.
Maestro1
Technician

Jack, thank you.
I think technology is crap, I detest it, I use it because I have no choice, I think it's destroying
us, and although I certainly can afford it I will not buy any of these nonsensical BS vehicles
and give my life to a chip.
In the beginning of the story you make some very astute comments regarding control. You
are quite right, and I will fight it to the death.
Many Blessings to you and Sajeev in the New Year, and you two get a book project going.
If any of your previous writings are an indication, an anthology perhaps, or some collective
of yours and Sajeev's efforts.
JoeSixPack
Intermediate Driver

Jesus Christ Jack, what an essay!!!

Now, a nitpick: do you honestly think that any government in the world will let us assemble our own cars? I know it is possible now, but it is too much of a hassle for 99.99% of population. Although, since new EU "enforced speed limit" regulation is looming on me, I'm starting to look at "Arduino ECU projects"...

And, with sincere apologies, I have to call bull**bleep** on "Apple is the middleman between (Taiwanese, btw) Foxconn and Apple Store". You know as well as I do that software costs money, that they have designed their own CPU, and that they employ tens of thousands of very smart people and very expensive people in California. These people are not payed for shuttling iPhones between India and Apple Stores.

I will not buy an iPhone for the reasons you describe, and I will not buy a Tesla for those same reasons, but credit where credit is due.
win59
Detailer

our gov't bans "ghost guns" now.......
Gary_Bechtold
Gearhead

The right to repair by independent shops is definitely being threatened here.

 

Electric cars will definitely become disposable like cell phones and other consumer electronics.  $20k for a battery?  Toss it!

CitationMan
Technician

All the green garbage ends up in landfills:
EV batteries
Solar panels
Windmill fan blades
I’m guessing the green zealots will not volunteer to work in a landfill dismantling this junk. Maybe a landfill with a Starbucks would entice them.
Tsaxman
Detailer

Jack, you must know by now how much we enjoy your writing, but for goodness sake (as Mae West said, "Goodness had nothin' to do with it!"), even by our jaded and tainted sensibilities, your phrase, "like Ving Rhames stuck in the Pulp Fiction basement" was a bit too, um, vivid of a visual image of sexual violence for this reader to endure.

That said, it does seem as though many current business models for customer treatment were formulated by none other than that well-known CEO, Ben Dover.
Gary_Bechtold
Gearhead

Ben Dover, that guy is always causing trouble.

-Nate
Detailer

The Ving Rhames situation looks absurd and humorous until it comes to _your_ home....

-Nate
Swamibob
Instructor

I believe Ben Dover is the lead attornew for the Dewey, Prokem and How legal group. 🙂 Couldn't resist.
Smasher
Intermediate Driver

I too have issues with access to my own property. I continually purchase low mile older vehicles trying to avoid limited access to my own repairs. BMW charges $280/hr in Canada, and they don't charge 15 mins worth of repairs for 15 mins work.
I had a C230K that once I unhooked the battery it disables the airbag safety system and only a dealer could clear the safety warning alarm. Pissed me off dearly.
I will continue to support the low mile older vehicle market as long as possible. Unfortunately, the government will tax fuel to make it unsound financially to operate an ICE.
I also am also wondering why the manufacturers are protecting the control of repairs so dearly, it only benefits the dealership. Does Mercedes make money when a tech charges to clear a code?
It seems like dealers are closing more and more and we are heading to an internet purchasing system soon.
I see adds for a local Honda dealer begging for repair work, pleading that they don't cost more in the long run. Things don't make sense to me. Hopefully we will have laws enacted to access home repairs.
ELDee
Pit Crew

As to the Heathkit approach to mfg (look it up non-boomers), it’s all well & good for personal electronics. The world of US cars with the need for epa rules (climate) and nhtsa regulations (safety) and local laws will be the domain of large enterprise.
miata93
Detailer

Jack, I think that you hit the nail on the head. It was the proprietary nature of Apple products that spurred the development of open source and open architecture PC products that competed with Apple. An entire industry of modular and less expensive computer components and software was developed because of Apple's insular "plug and play" approach. Now that CAFE standards and manufacturer ambivalence have weakened brand recognition and loyalty there is a strong case for a modular and interoperable approach to auto making. The key to it will be standardized and interchangeable components such as motors, transmissions, battery packs, inverters etc. Each component should have standards that ensure interoperability with each other much like the Dell and HP computer components have. Costs will be contained by the competition among the various component manufacturers. It is conceivable that even smaller manufacturers of cars and trucks could still jump through the bureaucratic regulatory hoops and still be profitable. With modular construction and standardization cars could again be less expensive, repairable at home and more sustainable. The next generation of hot rodders could probably be coders.
TG
Instructor

I consider myself a decent person
if you want me to become interested in EVs:
-) range comparable to ICE
-) 'fill-up' time comparable to ICE
-) battery service life and replacement costs that are comparable with ICE
-) the ability to tinker, modify and customize
-) body styles that don't look like bloated SUVs
-) all of the above for under 50K

These things are never going to happen, and unless your prognostification that Big Brother is going to use them to evict us all from cars and into public transportation comes true, people are going to realize this and we'll be headed back to the drawing board for a more realistic carbon solution
OldCarMan
Instructor

Even the utilities and car companies are encouraging "green" alternatives to their business. All in the name of global weather warming. The chutzpah that cars and man can really effect that much change, is the religion of the control freaks. Maybe 5 billion more souls than in 1900, can generate more CO2 and methane, but short of a WWIII, there is nothing we can really do about it. The arrogance that we an fix it on our end of the Titanic, is the ultimate big lie.
Oldroad1
Technician

Arrogance is thinking you can change the weather.
Zoomer
Pit Crew

Check out AEM for EV controls and hot rodding products. "AEM Performance Electronics is launching AEM EV, its new Performance EV Controls brand, and initial suite of performance electric vehicle control solutions. The AEM EV mission is to deliver products that simplify the EV conversion process and provide powerful control for EV motorsports applications that are intuitive and simple to use."
Lex
Pit Crew

Oh, I do like how it was put. 'How dare they make it obvious to everyone that “ownership” of an EQS really just amounts to paying a tremendous amount of money so you can borrow it from a dealer in-between obscure and highly secretive servicing episodes?' Makes it stark.
fueledbymetal
Intermediate Driver

“should an EV co-op or Spindletop-style firm appear at some point in the future, I’ll do my best to support it, even though I’d rather chew glass than drive an EV on a consistent basis.”

Likewise.
TheModelCitizen
Intermediate Driver

If you (Mr. Baruth) keep this criticism of sacred cows up, you will surely be banned from facebook, twitter, youtube and maybe even linkedin.

I do hope you will keep it up.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

It's not even terribly popular within my own company... but someone has to tell the emperor what's going on, right?
CitationMan
Technician

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane”

Marcus Aurelius

JMandhisFOX
Pit Crew

Thank you! This could be the most important article ever published on this website.
The heart of the matter, do you want live in an America where public/private collaborations control everything, or where you have the (metaphoric) freedom to enjoy the open road. If freedom is still important to you, every single thing we do should be intentionally building that, because without the focused intent we are inadvertently building the Pubic/Private partnerships, and we’ll lose freedom….forever.
-Nate
Detailer

Excellent writing as always .

I don't fear electric cars as much as I fear the lack or spare parts or fuels to keep running my ICE's .

-Nate
Adam12
Intermediate Driver

Nate this is my fear as well. With the sustainable aviation fuels coming out I am hoping in the future if gas becomes an issue I plan on borrowing some after a flight. Out of all my cars I think my 73 Saab 96 is becoming my favorite. I have templates for every gasket in the engine and transmission, most parts are pretty pedestrian and it’s pretty bulletproof. Basically a front wheel drive bug.
Flashman
Technician

Another gem. I've been in the Apple ecosystem since the beige toaster. They are foolproof to use, don't crash (as has been mentioned), and were a semi-counter-culture alternative to the Big Blue status quo. However, I can't say I completely disagree with your analysis, even though, also previously mentioned, the high-paying jobs are still in the USA. The whole world is gravitating to a monthly service fee for everything (although Microsoft, to its credit, still allows you to buy Office). We are all becoming sheep to be regularly shorn, so it's imperative to rage against it and deviate for as long as possible. However, never forget that most people genuinely want foolproof transportation appliances on which they never have to open the hood; we are a small minority. Finally, I love the Pulp Fiction reference; it's suitably graphic.
wirekat
Intermediate Driver

I prefer to live by the Makers creed. I void warranties.
brb
Instructor

Spot on regarding Apple. What you missed is that their bespoke O/S is done well. Turns out people willingly pay a premium for something that works well and is chic to boot. And no, I don't own anything Apple.

What boggles my mind is the valuations of companies like Tesla, Lucid, and Rivian. Two of the three don't even really have product on the market yet and the third sells a fraction of the volume of any main stream auto manufacturer. Technological prowess, marketing, and chic is part of it, but a bigger part is herd mentality. Most people want their work done for them and are most comfortable following trends dictated by a few influencers.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I would say their OS gets worse every year; I've been using Apples since 1981 so I was very heartened by the arrival of a Mach kernel/*nix-like OS X when it happened, but they seem intent on taking functionality out lately.
Spuds
Advanced Driver

Nephew uses latest greatest apple and samsung phones.After fiddling around with my Motorola came to an epiphany....I pay waaay too much for phones.
edozeph
Pit Crew

I like old cars. My latest acquisition is 57 years old. Citroen 2cv. Arguably one of the simplest, most fixable cars ever made. I've installed new engine mounts, rebuilt the shifter mechanism, gone through the carburetor, changed out the plugs and wires, replaced the rag top, and I have a new old stock speedo to install next. All fun simple stuff done with a minimum of tools. This car is a real head turner, fun to drive downtown. By mistake I ended up in the local parade last summer down main street. Got lots of cheers and waving. Great car.
My daily driver is a Volt. As a race car mechanic in my younger days, I am amazed to say I never even opened the hood before I bought it, and then not even till the windshield washer fluid ran out a couple months later did I realize I hadn't done so. When I did open it, I didn't recognize much of anything under there anyway. I suppose I do what I need to do, and leave the rest to sort itself out.
There are guys out there who do really cool hotrodding of EV's. Tesla drive units (motor and axles) apparently make great drop ins, if you can figure out the electronics. I think if a guy takes the time to look around and see what's available and what other guys are doing, try to get past the notion that EV's are evil, there's hope out there. My problem is I don't understand electronics, or even advanced electrics. Watts, volts and amps, I just never got it. But plenty of guys do.
So I just drive my EV the 30 miles of range I get before the gas powered generator kicks in, and then plug in at home. Definitely the cheapest car to drive I have ever owned.
Economics and convenience are what's driving the shift to EV's. Indeed, nothing else COULD drive people to do so. My brother, a musician, not a car guy, happily saves a ton of money driving his Tesla around the Bay Area without a thought about range anxiety or the high price of gas. He could care less about opening the hood. There are a lot of people like him out there.
I think when the electric Ford 150 and the Silverado come out, we will see some very interesting personal transitions in the ICE/EV debates. Ford and GM definitely know where the heart of the US market is, and they are plunging the knife deep with these two incredibly capable big trucks. Ford had to quadruple its production target, from 40,000 units annually to 150,000 units with the Lightning already, and it's not even in production yet. So there's that.
We live in interesting times, guys. Whining doesn't change anything, and it's not a good look.