A box on top of four wheels! Do we need more?
Honestly, do we need even a box? Why not just a flat platform. Bring our own stool or seat. Bundle up warm because there is no heater or windshield. And away we go!
It’s an electric vehicle. And it drives itself. Tucked away underneath that platform is a set of big batteries connected to the wheels. Wonderful!
In the thinking of so many city folks who think we don’t need farms because milk and eggs comes from stores, or those who get cheques in the mail from government, it’s all free! Just plug in! No more standing in the cold, filling the gasoline tank.
Apparently, this is the future world Mary Barra, the boss of General Motors, would have us believe is just around the corner. Electric vehicles. Mostly made in China, because that’s where all the real electric car building activity is. Maybe North American companies will get to make a windshield. Or a stool. Or some other parts that somebody in a Third World can’t or won’t make cheap enough.
Country folk wanting a daily driver that suits life in northern Alberta? Maybe we will have to learn to pay much, much more for our wheels.
Some oldtimers will remember the days when they wanted a little tin car that would get them to work and back on a teaspoon of fuel. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap they wanted. Car companies were willing to meet that demand.
But oh, you would pay dearly for it. You want fuel economy? Pay extra for it. You want a cheap little car? “Hey, buddy,” they would say. “It costs just as much to put a door or a seat in that little Crapmobile as it does in that real nice luxoboat.”
Sure, you will save a bit on gas. But what will the neighbours think, or the relatives, when they see you driving around in that teensy bean can?
“No, you deserve real class. Take that barge over here. Just a few dollars more. You will never, ever regret it.”
Carpet in a pickup truck? Are you nuts? Four wheel drive? That’s for working guys. A pickup truck? Same thing. And on, and on, and on. Until two things happened. Foreign car companies decided they would do what the North American companies would not do. They would build cheaper. They would build better. It took almost 40 years and two major bailouts of domestic companies but the message finally sank in. Today, Barra is one company leader trying to get ahead of the curve. This must be admired.
All this will leave Canada, and the northern States, wondering what the heck. Frozen batteries. Hybrid diesel electrics stopping and starting automatically all winter. Tiny drive-to-work plastic cans built for city commutes, not the day-to-day needs of average rural folks. Maybe those pickups will cost $125,000. It might all come to pass.
History tells us most people are poor at predicting the future. Among the worst, no matter how much studying and focus groups and crystal ball gazing they do, are car companies and their executives. Ask Lee Iaccoca. Edsel Ford. Elon Musk and so many others for their opinions on that.
Back to you Ms. Barra.