E-Bugster at 2020 NAIAS

Halo cars and politics still holding back real change in auto industry

Everyone loves the show cars of the major automakers. Some, however, are merely halo vehicles that display what can be done with technology, not what will be done at a price all can afford.

I liked that VW E-Bugster at 2012 NAIAS. So I'm not picking on VW at all. Like other entries, it was a show car with true capability, but with limited production intent and a high cost whenever it becomes available. And that is the point. To say there is no change in the auto industry would be unfair. Nonetheless, most of the changes in the auto industry which attain the headlines favors the few who might purchase, not the many who need the efficiencies for pure economic reasons; and certainly not in the immediate.

After 39-plus years in the auto industry, I can say without reservation, and with all respect to all show cars, that many halo cars that do make production are a ruse of the auto industry, and always supported by politics both in and outside of the industry. In my view, halo cars are used merely to show capability, not real intention to mass produce in the near future. And those few that made it into production came about due to some outside pressure, mostly of the political variety.

If you put an automotive bean-counter hat on, then maybe you would get the full drift: Show and tell but do not build; and if you build at all due to political pressure, then put an extreme price tag on it so as to drive customers to the other less-green or less efficient products on the floor. Why? So the industry does not have to expend any more money for development and changes in manufacturing processes. Hence, change comes slowly; and those on the lower economic rungs of the society ladder pay higher costs in products and fuel.

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