Fast Car Futility

  • October 31, 2023

Fast cars are fun – because it’s fun to feel the power of a car that can go fast. It is essentially the same reason why people like roller coaster rides. Not many people would pay to ride one that was slow.

It’s the same with cars – especially electric cars. Their ability to go fast being the attribute that lets people who buy them overlook how slowly they recharge. Yet it is different in that – unlike roller coasters – fast cars are not allowed to do what the people who bought them paid to be able to do with them.

You buy a new Corvette – or Tesla – both of them very fast. But legally speaking, they are no faster than the slowest cars available. No car may legally be driven faster than about 80 MPH in this country – and even that is a legal rarity. In most parts of the country, the fastest a car may legally be driven is about 70-75 MPH.

A Chevy Chevette from the ’70s can go that fast – at least, eventually.

It is true (per the above) that a new Corvette or Tesla can get to 70 more quickly – but even that is legally dicey. If you accelerate away from a red light as fast as a Corvette or Tesla is capable of accelerating – and there is a cop behind you – he will stop you, even if you slow down just shy of how fast you’re allowed to go. He will hand you what is styled a “ticket”- which is to say, a piece of paper that says you owe the government a large sum of money – because you accelerated at a rate considered (by the cop) to be “unsafe” or even “reckless.”

Commercial drivers know all about this. Anything faster than tepid is considered aggressive and duly noted whenever the driver does it. So as to punish him for doing it. It isn’t even necessary to get a cop to stop him to do that, either.

The long and the short being: What’s the point of owning fast cars you’re legally prohibited from using and will be punished for if caught using?

Well, the point is that we all know it is still possible (if you’re not a commercial driver) to “get away”with using them. Or at least, enough of the time to make it worth paying to own a fast car. We know that cops can’t be everywhere and that a good radar detector – and situational awareness – can greatly reduce the chances of being punished for using the fast car’s capabilities.

In other words, we can still use a fast car’s capabilities, irrespective of the illegality of doing so.

But what will happen when cops are everywhere – and it becomes impossible to “get away”with driving a fast car as it is capable of being driven?

It won’t be cops, of course.

It will be technology.

It will be styled “assistance” – and it will be very “advanced.”

It’s already here, too.

Most 2023 model year vehicles have what is styled “speed limit assistance technology,” ostensibly to ever-so-helpfully let the driver know when he is “speeding.” As if he didn’t know it. As if he weren’t “speeding” deliberately. In Europe, this technology is even more helpful in that it prevents the driver from “speeding.” He pushes down on the accelerator and the car pushes back, thwarting acceleration. New vehicles sold in this country have that same technology; it merely hasn’t yet been enabled. Because it is necessary to acclimate the frog to the warming water – such that the frog never realizes it’s getting uncomfortably hot until he’s already cooked.

Teslas have telematics and real-time recording of how fast you’re going, duly noted (that’s all, for now) by Tesla’s in-house insurance mafia. It would be a matter of flipping a switch – almost literally – to automatically prevent a Tesla from being driven any faster than a ’70s Chevette.

This raises some very interesting questions about electric vehicles especially. If their ability to go very fast very quickly is throttled automatically to no more than the capabilities of a ’70s Chevette then why would anyone want to spend five times as much than it cost to buy a Chevette to buy what amounts to a very expensive Chevette?

An absurd Chevette.

After all, Chevy’s most infamous economy car was exactly that. An economy car. It did not tout how fast it was – because it was very slow. But the upside was it was very cheap. It thus provided exactly what it advertised, that being an inexpensive way to get from A to B. If you wanted to get from A to B faster (and more quickly) you could buy a Corvette.

What happens when everything is a Chevette – and not merely in terms of what they say you’re allowed to do with it but in terms of their being able to make sure you can’t do it?

Will people willingly pay Corvette money to drive what amounts to a Chevette? It may look like more than a Chevette. It may be theoretically capable of doing more than a Chevette. But – thanks to the “advancement” of “technology,” it will be kind of like an aging glam rock start who can’t do it anymore strutting around vaingloriously with a sock stuffed into his spandex pants.

As in for show only.

. . .

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