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Are Cars Too Complicated Today? History Says No!

Here’s an argument made by an automotive engineer on why history says cars today are not too complicated and why it is not the automakers, but the public that is driving our vehicles toward a future of planned obsolescence.


A Feature-Rich Car Future

There’s no denying that cars today have made some significant leaps into possessing features that are making cars more complicated while making our lives easier…and safer. I’m not talking just about forward collision warning (FCW), blind spot warning (BSW), and automatic emergency braking (AEB). I’m also talking about the added driver monitoring systems to help us ensure that we keep our eyes on the road and remain within our lane; and, the move toward enhanced connectivity so that cars are “at one” with the driving environment that will fulfill our eventual full self-driving (FSD) destiny.

As pointed out by one think tank recently, we can expect new car reliability to drop as increasingly complicated features are built into our cars. But does this then mean that cars are too complicated today?

On the surface it may seem so, but in a recent Engineering Explained YouTube video, its host makes the point that history shows anytime there is change in automotive tech that there is always initial resistance by (at least some) car owners, hinting that how we define “too complicated” has other implications.

Furthermore, he points out that with some vehicle models today, the inflation-adjusted cost to the car buyer has dropped in comparison to what that same model with much less features came out of the buyer’s pocket decades ago. The exception to this are today’s luxury models with the latest features that he claims is what the majority of car owners want---not the simpler, more basic model cars of yesteryear that many DIY shade tree mechanics enjoy working on today.

So as not to give too much away about the arguments the engineer makes for why cars are really not as complicated as we’ve seen argued lately, here is the video below that makes the case for some reasoned points that our perception of what is going on may not be so true about the automotive industry and why we really have only ourselves to blame if we are unhappy with how cars are morphing into something new.

Are Modern Cars Too Complicated? What The Future Entails

And finally…

One point I would like to make is that there are some parallels to what we are seeing with cars. One example is that of amateur Ham radio communication. Not only do I like to work on older cars, but I also enjoy rebuilding antique transmitters and receivers---I’m talking vacuum tube technology here.

Cars and radio started about the same time and the historical advancements in radio are not so much different from that of cars today. It is true that many of those old transmitters cost comparatively more yesteryear than the same basic product with many more features does today. Furthermore, modern radio has turned into a plug-and-play avocation as opposed to the once-common, but now defunct Heathkit radio-building kits we enjoyed up until the early 1980s. And tuning an old-style transmitter is no different than tuning a carburetor.

And why is this? It’s not just because the tech changed and improved radio communications, but it was also because it was what the consumer wanted. Today, just like classic car enthusiasts who scrounge for no-longer-manufactured parts to keep their cars running, there is a population of radio enthusiasts who do radio old-school and must salvage electronic components from junk. But compared to the majority of car owners and radio operators…both enthusiasts are in the minority. And there’s no going back.

Just something to think about.

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Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

Image source: Pixabay