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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Message from MotorTips

Dear readers,

This is the first Christmas MotorTips spends with you. Unfortunately, it is in the middle of a serious moment for automobiles. Not only because of the financial crisis that has affected the whole world, but also because vehicles are in a turning point. As I have already said on the post "Why I am against World Car Free Day", cars are being threatened even in what comes to be its most elementary function: being a means of transportation.

Some say cars are pollutant, car use too much space, cars are harmful to peoples' health and so on. It has suddenly become the vilain of all modern day problems. These people have only forgotten to say horse powered vehicles were much more pollutant (and pollution was solid, a big pile of it once in a while, not to forget horses also produce gas), coachs were as big or bigger than modern vehicles (and carried a lot less weight and people) and, most of all, were too expensive for everyone to have one.

When some criticise automobiles, what you can see is generally a critic to what it best about cars: being accessible. Most people in developed countries can buy a car at very low prices (not very good ones, but still cars). Criticism is therefore social, against the right of poor people to have their own personal transportation. And transportation is always personal, even if you are on a train with a lot of people that goes to the same place. More than traffic or pollution, what really seems to bother it the crowd, as if streets had become a big popular market.

I don't deny it is ridiculous to see a 5-m long vehicle powered by a V12 engine with only one person inside it in a traffic jam. What a waste of space it is. Anyone who likes cars also hates traffic jams. Even so, the solution for this problem is not to end cars up and turn streets into gardens and parks, nor to see carmakers proposing hitchhiking programs just to pretend they are concerned, something that is unbelievably happening in some countries of the world.

If a carmaker really wants to solve traffic problems, it should build smaller and more efficient vehicles, such as Mercedes-Benz, which has created smart fortwo. Or like Gordon Murray, the father of the best car ever, McLaren F1, which is now on the edge of presenting its T.25. Vehicles for one person or two may be the future for cars in big cities. Or we may start thinking about having smaller cities, and holding down the ones that want to get too big when they still can be held down.

There is a worse and more immediate threat to cars: the financial crisis. Not only because it is really massive, but also because the press insists so much in highlighting the problem it seems to get bigger every time. Things were fine for automakers apart from North American companies, which seem to be controlled by people that aim to make money more than to make cars, but this was not the cause of the problem (it only made it worse). The real problem is the lack of money to fund new car sales, something that has affected even very solid companies, such as Toyota and BMW.

Michael Moore has once spoken about this fear that the press seems to be eagering to feed. It is time all means of communication start to pay attention to the role they have on showing the bright side of things as well. When you only see the bad aspects of something, hope becomes a rare good in the store.

If Santa Claus could grant MotorTips three wishes, they would be: 1 - discussion on cars to be made only by people who really understand the problems and that can offer real solutions instead of searching for a scape goat; 2 - press to realise the important role it has on turning things up, on improving situations, instead of worsening them by giving them an importance they do not have (nor should have); 3 - men of good faith and that really love cars to help explain and clarify things in order for the ones that do not know so much about it to help changes happen in a smoother way.

Since Santa does not have so much time for us, I assure to all readers of MotorTips it will do exactly what it asks. Not only due to coherence matters, but also because I believe 2009 can be a better year than 2008 ever was. If nobody gets on the way and mess things up again.

For all our readers, please take with you our best wishes for a fantastic Christmas. For those that do not celebrate it, please seize the good energy that arises with it to recharge your batteries, no matter what you believe. After all, the Guy whose birthday we celebrate today wished the best to everyone. No exceptions.

All the best, and Merry, Merry Christmas,


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