Today’s Headlines

  • While 80 mph sounds like a lot when viewed through the lens of NYC streets that many of us share, you have to look at it from Ford’s perspective. Speed limit on highways in Michigan (and many other states) is 70 mph. If you’re cruising at the speed limit – any speed limit – there are certainly reasons why you might need to briefly exceed the limit. (If there’s a nearby driver who’s weaving, say.)

    What I don’t like isn’t so much the choice of that cap as the use of a one-size-fits-all cap in the first place. Why shouldn’t the MyKey be designed so that a parent on Long Island could set a limit of 65 mph, say? Or 45 mph and give the kid strict instructions not to go on a highway? I guess it’s possible that there’s an engineering reason why that’s not possible, but if so, I don’t see what it is.

  • If you were looking for insights into the minds of the automotively inclined, here’s one: “People readily see faces and traits in cars, and a new study suggests that they prefer cars to appear dominant, masculine and angry.” I am my car! My car is me!

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/27053487/

  • If you were looking for insights into the minds of the automotively inclined, here’s one: They prefer cars with angry faces. I am my car! My car is me!

  • Geck

    Let’s bring the Green Wave to NYC! Lights timed for cyclists instead of cars.

  • J. Mork

    I’d much rather see the green wave timed for pedestrians. To ignore the mode that’s moving the most people is unconscionable.

    (If there’s a way to accomdate peds and bikes with the same timing, then go for it.)

  • Streetsman

    Wait, let me get this straight – Ford has designed a key that will limit vehicle speeds to 80mph, limit stereo volume to a reasonable level, and mandates use of seat belts and traction control… and it’s only for adults to give to their teenage children?!

    WHY ISN’T THIS THE STANDARD PRACTICE ON ALL THEIR CARS???!!!

  • I did some research and I found a Ford technical document that describes a possible alternate method of triggering the speed/volume limiting device. A small sensor is built into the driver’s seat. This sensor measures buttock heat, electro-conductivity and fat percentage. The measurements are fed to advanced analytical software which determines whether or not the buttocks belong to a capable driver. Tests were quickly halted when the software determined that 8 out of 10 drivers were dumbasses.

  • Wouldn’t it be easier for Ford to fit a quieter stereo? If parents are sensible and mature and only listen to The Carpenters at a reasonable volume, then what exactly is the point of a stereo that goes stupid loud?? The parents never blast music, and the kids aren’t allowed to, so you’re paying for amplification that never gets used. Or do they think it’s somehow OK to listen to Sinatra at full volume, but dangerous to blast Fall Out Boy? If that’s how Ford thinks, I’m not surprised 8 out of 10 of ’em failed the dumbass test….

  • You can tow a missile through the Lincoln Tunnel without raising an eyebrow, but assemble more than a few cyclists for a ride and it ends up in a beat-down.

    God Bless America.

  • Mark,
    About cars with angry faces: This is something that automakers have been exploiting for a long time. The brain behind this kind of marketing is a French anthropologist, Rapaille, who studies how the reptilian brain influences purchasing decisions. The upshot of his work is that drivers perceive cars as safe if they look big and menacing outside and are soft and womb-like inside, with plenty of cup holders to dispense warm liquids. (Rapaille himself drives a Porsche, though, if I recall correctly.)

    There are two great references for this, a New Yorker article (http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html) and the book “High and Mighty” (http://www.amazon.com/High-Mighty-Dangerous-Rise-SUV/dp/1586482033/).

  • Streetsman

    I want to know more about where they got this focus group that preferred angry or aggressive-looking cars. Were they Americans or Austrians or what? The best-selling car of all time is the rather friendly-looking Toyota Camry.

    The article’s photo shows a frightened Volkswagen beetle cowering away from an angry-looking SUV, with a caption saying “If that Volkswagen looks too friendly for you, you’re not alone. A new study suggests that people prefer cars to appear dominant, masculine and angry.”

    The #3 and #4 best selling motor vehicles of all-time are both Volkswagens – the Beetle and the Golf. So that study is dead wrong – people worldwide actually prefer the nicer-looking cars.

    BUT… the #2 best selling motor vehicle is a little bigger and angrier-looking: the Ford F-series pick up. But that truck basically only sells in North America. It has become the #2 best-selling motor vehicle of all-time based almost exclusively on North American sales. Could it be that Americans “prefer cars to appear dominant, masculine and angry?” I will be interested to see what the follow-up study in Ethiopia finds.

  • I just had a quick Google for the best selling cars in the US and found that the best selling cars (not pickups or SUVs) were the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima and Chevy Impala. All of these cars have a very similar “smile”. Almost Mona Lisa-ish. Is this because the article is wrong and Americans really like coy-looking cars? Or is it just because all saloon cars look the same these days?

  • Ian Turner

    The majority of new-car sales in the US is SUVs. Andy’s comment is likely more a reflection on the difference between SUV purchasers and car purchasers.

  • Streetsman, Andy,
    The studies I mentioned in my previous post were about American SUV buyers. Here’s the money quote: “[…] internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills.” Those are not the words of some streetsbloggy type; that’s straight from the auto industry.

    I don’t necessarily see a contradiction between the popularity of Toyota Corollas and an instinctive preference for big, mean SUVs. It might just be that a fair number of buyers are sane enough to choose a small, safe, and economical car regardless of how much their inner lizard screams for a bruiser to crush other vehicles with.