Archive for Driver’s Seat

The mostly-impossible dream

You have to have something to motivate you, I suppose:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Are used Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Mclarens, etc. just as reliable as a new one?

He goes on:

I am only a teenager with a big dream for super cars. I obsess over them. I recently looked on used car sites and found super cars under $150k that are $200k+ new (These might be older models though). Will these be as reliable as new ones?

Admittedly, he is not alone in his obsession.

They certainly won’t be any less expensive to operate. Ask the Ferrari owner who spends $5 a mile maintaining his prancing pony. (Which doesn’t, by the way, include gas at maybe 10 mpg and insurance at God knows what.)

I firmly believe that any money an adolescent accumulates for Big Speed should be spent on a proper racing school; even the meanest commuter vehicle can, and occasionally should, be driven with verve.

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Shell and Jaguar, sitting in a tree

For now, with exclusivity:

The two companies partnered together to develop the system, which is part of 2018 model year updates to Jaguar XE, XF, F-Pace, and Land Rover models (when equipped with the InControl app system). It would seem F-Type and XJ owners do not need the benefit of in-car fuel purchases at this time.

Designed to simplify the life of the customer, the Shell payment system can also log trips and save receipts for those who use their Jaguar as a company vehicle.

It works by allowing the driver to drive up to the pump at a Shell station and use the vehicle’s touchscreen to select how much fuel they’d like to purchase. The transaction is conducted using PayPal or Apple Pay for the time being. Android Pay will be added as an option later in the year. Upon payment, the touchscreen will display the fuel receipt, and further send a copy to a driver’s email address.

A nice way to bypass sub rosa card scanners, anyway.

Still, given the price of a Jag these days, the system ought to actually pump the damn gas for you. Maybe next update.

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Let there be torque

Erin Palette, celebrating her tenth anniversary here in blogdom, is still plenty fast with a quip:

On a related note, I’d like be the first to announce that the transgender version of Uncle Tom is an Aunt Dorothy, and the transgender version of “House Negro” is “Performance Tranny.” I figure that if I’m going to be called names for going off-narrative, I might as well pick those names myself.

Oh, and before you ask, I’m a 4:11 final drive, with a 6-speed double-overdrive and a competition clutch.

May her throwout bearing never need to be thrown out.

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Captain Obvious has a sister

And she’s evidently not too handy around the house:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My temporary tag for my new car is hard to unscrew. It requires a flathead screwdriver. How can I get it off?

To give her credit, she wasn’t at all rude about it; she apparently really wasn’t sure what she was doing. Still, how do you get to the age of eight, let alone eighteen, without a working knowledge of screwdrivers?

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Lada these were made

This unassuming five-door hatchback is the Lada VAZ-2109 by AutoVaz:

VAZ-2109 hatchback

The Russians managed to sell a bunch of these in Europe under the name “Lada Samara” between 1987 and 1997; production continued until 2011 for the home market and for Third World nations that couldn’t afford to be awfully picky.

The 2109 was sold only with front-wheel drive; a choice of three inline four-cylinder engines, none over a liter and a half; and a four-speed manual. If any of these found their way into the States, it was probably over the Canadian border.

(Via Vintage Everyday.)

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Nor will you be able to carpool

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been promising that the upcoming new Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, the Hellcat of Hellcats as it were, would be at least 200 lb lighter than the original 707-hp Hellcat. How did they do this? In the most direct way possible:

[T]o shed as much weight as possible from the Challenger Hellcat’s considerable mass, the mysterious Demon [will] make do without many of the things we’ve come to associate with modern automobiles.

Including seats.

No, the driver won’t be required to bring his or her own milk crate, but they sure won’t find themselves engaged in stimulating discussion. That’s because they’ll be alone.

When Dodge finally brings its devilish creation to consumers, the model will boast a single seat. Gone are the front passenger seat and rear bench. This, along with other notable deletions (described in detail by Motor Authority), is FCA’s easy and fast route to shedding 215 pounds from the vehicle’s weight. The missing seats alone account for 113 pounds of weight loss.

When we say this vehicle is a stripper, we mean it in the real, junkyard sense of the word. The automaker plans to ditch all but two stereo speakers, leaving one in each door, while scrapping 18 pounds of sound insulation. Those speakers had better be loud. Also on the list of missing components are the spare tire and trunk liner.

If nothing else, it will discourage your friends from asking for a ride — eventually. (Does this mean that there’s no passenger-side airbag? And would the absence thereof save any weight?)

I suppose this regimen is intended to insure that this little darb is used strictly as a track toy. If so, it could have been done even more directly: the 1967-69 Corvette was offered with a 560-hp 427 engine as part of a package called L88, which was delivered with neither radio nor heater.


Destination not permitted

In post-Soviet Russia, GPS stirs you wrong:

Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.

The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government.

Local media had a field day with the news, with The Moscow Times running the headline, “The Kremlin Eats GPS for Breakfast.” Clearly, an unknown force, emitted from somewhere, is interfering with satellite signals and replacing pinpoint coordinates with a default location when people stray too near.

Official explanation? What do you think?

When asked, official channels returned no explanation. The Russian Federal Protection Service, tasked with Kremlin security, apparently has no interest in dashing across Red Square to provide the press with details on the mystery.

To me, this sounds like the old radar jammer, updated. It doesn’t actually jam; what it does is overwhelm the incoming signal with one of its own, thereby creating bogus readings.

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Daydream fail revisited

Remember this douchelet? Last week he was asking about buying a Lamborghini and claiming an absurd salary to justify himself. Well, he’s back, and he’s more specific this time:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Which should i buy a 2009 ferrari 430 or a 2007 lamborghini murcielago?

He goes on (and on):

the ferrari cost 184k it has 2048 miles the murcielago lago cost 189k it has 8452 miles which has less cost of maintenance which is more reliable im gonna keep it forever not selling it again

Well, it’s certainly true that he’s not selling it, inasmuch as he can’t possibly buy it. Someone (not I) gave the little dink a stern lecture and this link:

You can buy two new Corollas for that kind of money.

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Rolled back into the parking lot

Walmart’s long game, so far as I can tell, is to sell everything to someone, and to sell something to everyone. Inevitably, I suppose, they would have had to test the car business:

Launching in April, Walmart’s CarSaver program will make it the perfect middleman for impulse car buyers and local dealerships. CarSaver is designed to allow shoppers to browse, select, finance, and insure a vehicle through its website or at kiosks positioned outside of the nail salons and vision centers of twenty-five Walmart Supercenters.

At launch, 16 AutoNation stores in Phoenix, Houston, and Dallas will be participating, said AutoNation Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon. All of the dealerships are within 15 miles of a Walmart CarSaver kiosk.

Oh, well, we don’t have any AutoNation stores here, so — wait, what?

The kiosks will also be available in Oklahoma City Supercenters, however, those will be unaffiliated with AutoNation.

This might be interesting. Maybe. I’m not in the market for a new car at the moment.

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Daydream fail

I mean, this character is delusional from the word Go:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can i be able to buy and keep a lamborghini huracan?

To justify this delusion:

i earn 140-170k per year
i average 8-11k per month

Um, no you don’t. That alleged maximum of $11k per month comes out to only $132k a year. If you made that kind of money, you’d either be able to figure that yourself, or perhaps hire a fourth-grader to do it for you.

Last I looked, base price was $203,295, though I suspect none are sold at anywhere near base price: most of them have $30,000 or more worth of options.

I suspect this guy won’t be getting out of his ’99 Corolla for a long time.

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Standard cab

I don’t quite believe this just yet, but the idea tickles me something fierce:

Checker pickup truck

If this looks to you like half an old Checker Marathon, the definitive 1960s taxi, with a truck bed attached, well, that’s kind of what it is:

Checker Motor Cars, based in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is the indirect descendant of the Kalamazoo, Michigan company that cranked out odd but iconic Marathons from 1961 until 1982. Those boxy vehicles, which looked old even when the model debuted, populated taxi fleets from coast to coast and earned the Marathon a cult following. The original company officially bit the dust in 2010 after leaving the auto manufacturing business in 1982. Now, a reborn Checker services and restores those earlier vehicles.

Yeah. So?

With fingers crossed, Checker plans to take advantage of the recent Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act and build two models — a two-door pickup version of its classic sedan (called the Sport Pickup Cross-over), and a six-door, 12-passenger version, similar to the old Aerobus airport hauler. The company says it’s making headway, with a host of suppliers lined up.

“Low volume” is defined in the law as 325 per year, and Checker doesn’t expect to bump up against that ceiling. The pick-em-up will be powered by a GM crate engine, which makes sense, inasmuch as the original Checker cars, after a few years with the same Continental inline-six that powered Kaiser/Frazer cars, were equipped with Chevrolet mills.

Production target date: sometime in late 2018.

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Bolts for dolts

The Bolt is Chevrolet’s Pure Electric Car: no gas engine and an estimated range of 238 miles on a full charge. When can you get one? Where do you live?

The first deliveries of the Bolt began right before 2016 came to a close, with 579 vehicles delivered — primarily in California. Oregon dealerships should receive their remaining cars later this month and a quick inventory search shows that some dealerships have Bolts already.

Following the model’s western launch, the next states to see the rollout are Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. Those states should have the EV by the end February. By March and April we should see the Bolt cropping up in New York, New Jersey, and Washington.

Don’t expect to see one in sunny Soonerland until September; for the moment, Chevy is happily sending us Silverados, which do more for their bottom line but don’t attract the attention of the Media Machine.

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Two wheels good, four wheels better?

A member of TTAC’s Best and Brightest comments on the all-wheel drive craze:

In my experience, some (not all) people — the ones who generally don’t try to understand technology/machinery, but just listen to the buzz — treat AWD like “Monster cables”. It’s magically better, and I don’t have to know anything about it. Like my acquaintance who I was told drove like a maniac in his ’92 Jetta because “it has ABS — we can’t crash”. Most of those AWD people in the ditch, I’m guessing, fall into these groups:

1) inexperienced drivers, especially in snow

2) thought that they didn’t need snow tires, because AWD, or rented an AWD car that came with all-seasons (I’ve been there!)

3) don’t know anything about how their AWD works, and expected it to save them from their own insanity

4) thought that AWD magically improved braking capability in the snow compared to regular cars

My own take on this: AWD may indeed get you going. It isn’t worth much of a damn at bringing you to a stop, though.

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That whatever-it-is over there

Contemporary automobiles are largely indistinguishable, to the annoyance of the Z Man:

The root of this, I suspect, is the dominance of the Left in American culture. The neo-Puritan hags have been screeching at us about how form must always follow function for so long we have lost our sense of style. You see that in cars where the goal of designers is to make them more aerodynamic and pack them with useful functions. The result is a fleet of well-built cars that look like they came from East German film noir during the Cold War. Our cars are ugly because inside, we have become an ugly people.

If you doubt this, look at pics of parking lots from 40-50 years ago. They were a carnival of colors, shapes and sizes. A person’s taste in cars said something about him, a form of advertisement. A people embracing life and its potential were out buying all sorts of cars in all sorts of colors. We are now a people marching to the inevitable end of our miserable existences so we buy cars that are suited for the task. The top three car colors in America are black, grey and white, with dark gray the top interior choice.

Disclosure: My car is white, with a dark-grey interior.

And actually, I’m kind of used to this particular shade of cheese-mold grey, which I’ve had for two of my last three cars. (In between was a Mazda 626 in Mojave Beige Mica, a name I never quite understood; I’ve driven through the Mojave, and it ain’t beige. Its interior, rather than cheese-mold grey, was more of a butterscotch-pudding shade.) At least it’s relatively free of brightwork: there’s a chrome bezel on the clock at the top of the center stack, which occasionally passes on some glare, but that’s about it. The logo on the steering wheel is sort of intaglio; I suspect that in later models they cut out a chrome-y looking brand emblem and pressed it into the embossed shape.

Still, next time around, if there is a next time around, I’d like something a bit less funereal.

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I can’t see over this damn truck

In Ukraine, they’ve solved this problem:

Traffic lights from Ukraine

(From the Pics subreddit via TYWKIWDBI.)

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Assaulted with battery details

Question of the day:

Why anyone would want to put a charging station for electric vehicles in Beatty, Nevada, is beyond me. You are on the road from Las Vegas to Reno. Your only other choice is Death Valley. Some kind of bullshit, this is.

No present-day electric vehicle can make it from Las Vegas to Reno, about 450 miles, on a single charge; Tesla, whose chargers these are, claims a mere 265. (Beatty is closer to Las Vegas than to Reno.)


I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t like electric cars. Right now they have some shortcomings, but they are getting better every day and so it probably won’t be too long before they perform as well and are as cheap as, or cheaper, than a gasoline powered car. So why don’t I like them? There are a number of issues you could quibble over, but the gasoline empire has corresponding problems of its own, it’s just been around longer so we have learned how to cope.

Except for that business about charging, performance is pretty much on par. I put ten gallons of Shell V-Power in my car yesterday, which took me about four and a half minutes and cost me $27. I can drive a couple hundred miles on that, easy, and then, four and a half minutes later, I’m on the road again. No existing electric can do that. Then again, 200 miles in a Tesla, at Oklahoma electric rates, would cost between $5 and $10. If you don’t ever have to go 200 miles, electric makes a pretty good case for itself.

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Looking for a mailing list you can trust

Unlike, for example, the one that somehow found Joe Sherlock’s name (12/20):

Inexplicably, I received a direct mail piece over the weekend, suggesting that I buy a new Chrysler Pacifica Minivan. The nicely-done four-color glossy piece offered me a “$1,000 bonus cash allowance.” I’m scratching my head because:

  • I’ve never owned a minivan.
  • I’ve never owned a Chrysler product of any kind. (My Chevy-engined 1939 Plymouth doesn’t count.)
  • I’m old and have no kids to haul around. I don’t see many septuagenarians driving minivans.
  • My income level is probably far above that of the typical minivan owner.
  • There are few minivans in our neighborhood.

What sort of creature is this “Pacifica,” anyway?

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is the Canadian-built successor to the Town & Country. It has more of a nose/hood than its predecessor and is not as tall. While you can get a stripper for under $30K, a loaded-up 2017 Chrysler Pacifica stickers at a whopping $52,270.

Fiat Chrysler does a lot of dumb things. Purchasing whatever mailing list they used for this direct-mail campaign is just another one.

At least they didn’t try to sell him a Chrysler 200.

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Truly, timing is everything

The only thing surprising about this, if you ask me, is that it showed up on Facebook rather than on Yahoo! Answers.

Photo of a timing belt installed incorrectly

(Via Country & Ford.)

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The bigot underneath

On the face of it, this would seem to be a perfectly reasonable question:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Do people buy Chevrolets, Fords, and Chrysler vehicles because they are so reliable, long lasting, and well engineered?

But he let it slip in his “update”:

whenever i see someone driving a new chevrolet, i think…someone that ‘loves America” and probably hates immigrants and muslims, apple pie, country music and most likely a church going christian?

Well, whenever I see someone writing this, I think I’m dealing with a thickheaded Pajama Boy, or worse, who has never seen anything of the real world and wouldn’t learn anything from it if he did. He probably cried his little heart out when the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua failed to steal the White House.

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Barely better than clubs

The diamond industry (think De Beers) would have you believe that synthetic, laboratory-created diamonds are somehow inferior to those dug out of a mine. Actually, there’s not very much special about any diamonds regardless of provenance:

Don’t believe a word of the hype from the diamond industry about how “natural” gems are somehow “better” than synthetic gems. They’re lying — and, what’s more, they’ve been living a lie for generations. You see, there are parts of the world where diamonds are common or garden items. If it were allowed (it’s not), I could take you for a walk in the so-called Sperrgebiet — “Forbidden Area” — in Namibia, and literally pick up diamonds off the sand as we walk. I know. I’ve done it on an escorted tour, near Oranjemund. (Of course, the area has long been stripped of most of its best diamonds, at enormous profit to the local diamond industry but giving virtually nothing back to the local population or the country.)

But there is a difference, right?

Put two identical gems next to one another, one natural and the other synthetic, and you probably won’t be able to tell them apart unless you examine them microscopically. (Indeed, the synthetic gem may well be “superior” to the natural one, in that it’ll probably contain fewer impurities.)

What price mystique? Ask the poor shlub who spent student-loan-level fundage on a solitaire for his ladylove.


Decaf for CAFE

Everybody except your friendly neighborhood treehugger — the ones who live near me are downright jovial, but your mileage may vary — can find something wrong with the government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy scheme. So far, though, only Jack Baruth has figured out a simple solution:

Two weeks ago, the EPA announced that it would “finalize” its 2025 regulations earlier than expected. This action has no force of law; it’s merely meant to enshrine President Obama’s desires in writing before President Trump takes over. There is no reason that Mr. Trump could not change these regulations as he desires. Early indications are that he’s not terribly impressed by the EPA in general. He might choose to lower CAFE targets a bit. He might choose to abolish them altogether.

I have a different suggestion, one that will probably manage to enrage both the tree-huggers AND the red-state conservatives. I think he should set ambitious CAFE goals that apply to both cars and trucks equally. Instead of 60mpg for cars and 30mpg for trucks, how about 45mpg for everybody? Let’s stop playing favorites and picking winners. There should be one CAFE for everybody.

Cars are becoming increasingly trucklike, just to meet that lower standard: the late, unlamented Chrysler PT Cruiser had just enough truckitude in its design to allow the Pentastar to include it in the truck average, and newer vehicles from FCA and others don’t even pretend to be cars anymore. I don’t know about you, but I am weary of these so-called “crossovers” with jacked-up height and visual bulk.


Four or more on the floor

The Truth About Cars put up this Question of the Day yesterday: “What keeps you in a stick shift?”

Of the first hundred or so answers, this one struck me as particularly on point, despite its politically-incorrect undertones:

I live in Detroit. A manual is a darn near mandatory anti-theft system, what with staggeringly few people able to drive it.

Of course, this viewpoint is just as valid outside the Motor City.

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And Manhattan yields

Three in the morning on the 6th of December in the City of New York, and here’s a guy who makes 240 green lights in a row:

Noah hits 240 green lights. from Shawn Swetsky – Post Producer on Vimeo.

Which says something about NYC, too:

The fact that this feat is possible at all say a lot about the New York City system’s efficiency. Fewer stops means quicker travel times and better fuel mileage. Yes, [Noah] Forman’s drive happened during off hours in order to avoid traffic, but sometimes those are the best times to get out and drive.

I don’t think I’ve ever made ten in a row here in the Okay City.

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Troll level: hitchhiker

This is just colossally dumb:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I have a honda crx dohc zc1 engine is it okay to put half a quart less engine oil to save engine drag and get more horse power

This is not quite as intelligent, as, say, substituting Clorox for Metamucil. Still, I sort of want to encourage the guy so he’ll ruin his car faster.


We are not amoosed

Something like this would definitely leave a mark on one’s psyche:

The Alberta government has issued a warning to drivers to be on alert for tongues eagerly lapping at the sides of their vehicles. The muscular appendages, in this case, belong to moose, especially those found in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, southwest of Calgary.

Mountainous splendor and pristine wilderness is nice, but these moose want your car. Or more specifically, what’s coating it. Liberal use of road salt means a rolling buffet for local moose, who turn up in parking lots like it’s an after-work function at Ponderosa.

Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti…


Is this a feature?

It sounds like a bug to me:

On Wednesday, Uber rolled out a handful of its self-driving cars in San Francisco to be used by the public. Also on Wednesday, one of those cars ran a red light.

It’s not totally clear how that happened or who is at fault, since the cars have a safety driver ready to take over as well as an additional engineer. But it is very clear that the robot car — a Volvo XC90 the company developed in collaboration with the automaker — ran a red light.

The view from the dashcam in a cab:

Interestingly, Uber doesn’t have a California permit for self-driving cars; they claim that there is a human operator always at least somewhat in control. California is not impressed with this argument.

Update, 7 pm: The DMV has now shut down the Uber program.


Shaving Megan’s privates

And you thought texting was distracting:

As authorities nationwide warn motorists of the dangers of driving while texting, Florida Keys law enforcement officers add a new caution: Don’t try to shave your privates, either.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers say a two-vehicle crash Tuesday at Mile Marker 21 on Cudjoe Key was caused by a 37-year-old woman driver who was shaving her bikini area while her ex-husband took the wheel from the passenger seat.

“She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit,” Trooper Gary Dunick said. “If I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have believed it. About 10 years ago I stopped a guy in the exact same spot … who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, ‘Nothing will ever beat this.’ Well, this takes it.”

Could this possibly be worse? Yes, it can:

The day before the wreck, [Megan Mariah] Barnes was convicted in an Upper Keys court of DUI with a prior and driving with a suspended license, said Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne. Barnes was ordered to impound her car, and her driver’s license was revoked for five years, after which time she must have a Breathalyzer ignition interlock device on any vehicle she drives, Dunne said. Barnes also was sentenced to nine months’ probation.

She faces a year in jail for probation violations, presumably without access to razor blades.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Alabama wants asphalt

At least, the County Commissioners want it:

The Association of County Commissions of Alabama voted today to seek legislative approval of a $1.2 billion bond issue for road construction during next year’s legislative session.

The plan calls for a 3-cent tax on gasoline and diesel fuel to pay off the bonds. The tax would expire when the bonds are paid off.

ACCA Executive Director Sonny Brasfield said no counties voted against the plan at today’s meeting in Montgomery. He said about 53 counties were represented at the meeting.

This isn’t the first time this was thought of, either:

A bill to raise the gasoline tax by 6 cents a gallon failed in the Legislature this year, and similar proposals died last year.

It’s been about a decade since I drove on any Alabama roads, but I wasn’t impressed at the time:

One thing I won’t miss is I-65 through Montgomery. There would be suicide on a Guyanese scale in ODOT had Oklahoma City’s soon-they-say-to-be-supplanted Crosstown Expressway deteriorated to this point: the speed limit is down to 45, and even that’s a pain in the ball joints.

Maybe that project is finished — or maybe they need to restart it.


A Normal development

The recently shuttered Diamond-Star Motors plant in Normal, Illinois, built as a joint venture of Chrysler and Mitsubishi in 1988, may be seeing future duty as, yes, an automobile plant:

According to Reuters, Detroit-based Rivian Automotive has agreed to purchase the plant and reopen it within five years. Going by Rivian’s website, the only thing we know for sure about the automotive venture is that it’s “coming soon.”

The company, which hasn’t confirmed the purchase, bills itself as an automotive technology venture interested in sustainable mobility. At the helm is CEO RJ Scaringe, who formed the company in 2009.

Still, Normal mayor Chris Koos says it’s a done deal. He told Reuters that Rivian plans to employ a workforce of 500 when the plant reopens in 2021, with that number eventually growing to 1,000 employees. State and local economic development agencies claim Rivian will invest $175 million into the operation by 2024.

A lot of vaporware has wafted past our sensors in recent years, and we don’t even know what Rivian plans to do, let alone how they plan to do it. TTAC’s Steph Willams takes a guess:

Though it sounds like a garden-variety mobility technology startup, Rivian seems to want to produce actual vehicles, though it hasn’t mentioned any potential partners or suppliers. What those (clearly electric) vehicles might look like is anyone’s guess. Assuming this gets off the ground, the rolling stock would likely form part of a ride-sharing service.

Uber, but without Uberness.

Mr Scaringe brings some serious educational heft with him: graduate of Rensselaer, PhD from MIT. And the auto industry is always in need of Smart Guys, especially Smart Guys who go their own way. (See Musk, Elon.)

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Baby remains on board

If you’re clueless enough to forget that you’re hauling a kid in the back seat, General Motors has a vehicle for you.

GM Rear Seat Reminder

Or will have soon, anyway:

Having made its debut in the 2017 GMC Acadia earlier this year, the technology aims to prevent heatstroke-related deaths and reduce the number of children left unattended in parking lots.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists heatstroke as one of the leading causes of non-traffic vehicle-related fatalities for children under fourteen. According to, that works out to an average of 37 fatalities per year. The majority of the time, those children were simply forgotten in the back.

GM’s Rear Seat Reminder works by monitoring the vehicle’s rear doors. The feature activates whenever a rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is already running. When the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the system sounds five audible chimes and a display message reminder drivers to “Look in Rear Seat.”

This system makes certain assumptions: that the kid hasn’t been in there for more than ten minutes, and that the alleged adult at the wheel isn’t whacked out on meth.

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