I couldn't wait. For me, that meant cars that came with six wheels. Or at least let the wheels rotate a full 180 degrees so you could parallel park more easily. Or a door design that really stood out. Or a fundamentally different shape. Three rows of seating, but only one seat per row, like a hot dog.
What we got (this is hearsay. I've not owned a Saturn personally, though I have ridden in a few, and know some Saturn owners) was a slightly different customer experience and a bunch of average looking cars that I couldn't get into without banging my head on the door frame (long torso exceeded tolerance).
I've longed for a solution to the whole car thing. This idea that people would get into a long term loan to pay half to a year's salary for a motor, four wheels, a couple seats, and a steering column (ok, sure, you want A/C too) always seemed ludicrous. It also seemed ludicrous that the price of a car never seemed to drop either, the way they seemed to drop for TVs and other consumer items. Yes, I know that there are a lot of things that make these types of purchases different, but as an average consumer, I never felt that the features of new cars adequately made up for the fact that price of new cars didn't seem to be coming down.
On top of that, as I've aged, I feel a larger push to use only what I need to use when it comes to resources. I'm not the kind of fellow who feels comfortable in a vehicle where gallons-per-mile is as reasonable a unit of measure as miles-per-gallon. I never understood why, despite all the concern about fossil fuels, cars never seemed to get much better. They got better, sure. I'm talking doubling or tripling, though. That's what I wanted. Orders of magnitude better. That's what science is supposed to do for us.
The battery technology is great, but even batteries themselves haven't gotten much better in about 100 years. Someone even pointed out the other day that electric cars have been around since before 1900. That shouldn't have blown my mind, but did.
Auto makers keep trying to push more electronics inside the car. USB? Bluetooth? Wow. Little tablet mounted in the dashboard? Big whoop. Car talks to you? Old news. This is not the kind of advancement I want. I want advancement in the core capabilities of what a car really is: a transportation device. I don't want to hang out in my car. I don't want it to be a little bachelor pad with disco lights and a flat screen (obviously, my idea of a bachelor pad is a little off). I want a better car.
While auto innovation isn't exactly gangbusters , there is some hope on the horizon. There's progress on the self-driving car: GM and Nissan both say they'll bring a lot of this tech to bear by 2020, but those won't go mainstream for another decade, and ubiquity is a ways off. The real game-changing impacts of that technology (Automobile-as-a-Service or AaaS) are so far off that I'll need another car by then.
And I'm actually thinking about this one. I'll say this. I'm in no way related to this company, other than I am a super-fan of what they're trying to do. I don't get any commissions, nor have I been able to go to one of the events to drive one.
The high points for me
- 84 mpg highway - this is one heck of a leap forward.
- Perfect commuter car - it's for when you're just driving yourself and don't want to drive around a heavy box full of air.
- $6800 - I liked the Smart car and could have handled the fact that it drove poorly if it wasn't priced the same as cars twice its size that handled better. At this price point, you could get a lot of people into these commuter cars.
- Groovy colors - Yeah, it matters to me. I like groovy colors.
I appreciate what they're doing. They're innovating. They said, "How can we make a car that's less expensive and can still get better mileage than most cars get today?" And then they got to the drawing board and did it. Now even if they miss their mark and are off by a grand and 10 mpg in the wrong direction, that's still an $8,000 car that gets 75 mpg. That's still remarkable.
They're not on the market yet, but they are taking pre-orders. I've not put mine in, but I'm sorely tempted to do so. I really want to wait to see how they handle before taking the plunge, and if they got to my area for a test drive, I'd be much more willing to plunk down the down payment.
What are your thoughts? Would you drive this car? Would you buy one without a test drive, just to support innovation?