Department of Not Good Ideas

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I guess once you start hitting the pipe, you end up going for broke.

Literally.

At the Geneva Auto Show, Infiniti – in between puffs – revealed two new ideas that make the Aztek seem inspired.

First, yet another over-priced, too-heavy, makes-no-sense hybrid.

Second, drive-by-wire steering.

As in, no mechanical link between the wheel in your hands and the wheels on the ground.

The “sporty hybrid” (what the hell? a “sporty” hybrid makes sense like a speedo for the Pope) is dubbed Project Black S. It will be based on the Q60 coupe.

The Q60 isn’t cheap. Nor is it economical. Which is by no means bad. It’s a gorgeous, luxurious, high-performance car – which means economic considerations are (or ought to be, in a non-on-the-pipe world) irrelevant.

Oh, gee. It will get maybe 5 MPG better gas mileage! Give it ten.

And?

What the hell does it matter?

The car will cost more than the non-hybrid version, erasing any “savings” at the pump. It will be heavier and so not handle as well and it will have a smaller trunk and so be even less practical.

Again, am I the only one in the room who isn’t high?

Next up will be a steer-by-wire system for the Q50 and likely other Infiniti vehicles. It will be packaged with all of the company’s self-driving features under a new ProPilot Assist package.

Why is this demented?

Two reasons come to mind.

One, it is gratuitous technology. Like a button you push that pushes a button to turn the radio on. It adds expense and complexity and cost for dubious, if any, benefit.

For two, this is not an airplane subject to rigorous regular tech inspection and scheduled – mandatory – maintenance. Drive-by-wire steering requires sensitive electronics and software, in addition to complex mechanicals. How will these hold up after 80,000 miles of stop-and-go driving, heat-and-cold cycles and – critically- neglectful maintenance.

What happens when the system fails – and the car can no longer be steered? Or steers in the wrong direction?

That can happen with mechanical steering, too. But it is far less likely because you are dealing with physical components that have to physically break. Software, on the other hand…

ProPilot system will bundle the car’s existing autonomous functions, including active lane keeping, backup collision prevention, intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking, lane departure prevention and blind spot intervention.

ProPilot made its global debut last year in the Japan-market Nissan Serena family van and is part of a ramp up to fully autonomous driving by 2020.

The Serena ProPilot system differs by enabling automatic stop-and-go driving in heavy traffic and automated steering in low-speed driving.

Infiniti’s ProPilot system will adopt those more advanced functions in 2018, in a nameplate other than the Q50.. Infiniti’s vision for self-driving cars is improved safety with still-engaged drivers.

Uh huh.

And they ask me why I drink.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. It would be nice to have so much money you could do really crazy stuff to your hearts desire. Do car companies really have that much money? I bet they’ll all soon be asking themselves that question and the answer will be hands out to every govt. who’ll pay them the tax money of hard working people who haven’t fallen to the crack pipe…..yet. Every days some crazier shit in the political arena or stupid govt. policy regarding anything and everything pops up and I feel my wallet shrinking before the digital ink is dry.

    I’m thinking looking up John McCain and Lindsey Graham and seeing if I can get them to let me have whatever cool-aid they drink when they meet with terrorists and no doubt, try to get them more funds and weapons. I feel left out.

    So, ya frickin idiots, steer by wire on the same reliability level as Chrysler’s throttle by wire should kill the goose that lays the golden egg toot sweet. What do you say when one of these beasts doesn’t respond as steered? Nothing. You won’t have time even if you’re just one of the plethora of unlucky people it kills on it’s death trip. Ahhhh, whammy!!

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