David Morley


LOOK, IíVE GOT nothing against new technology. Well, not if it means a better overall experience for you and me anyway. As in, as long as whatever new tech makes stuff better to use, cheaper to buy or in any other way a superior product, then Iím all over it.

Trouble with a lot of new tech Iím seeing lately, however, is that the only beneficiaries are the shareholders of the companies making the gear. Not that I donít think a profitable company is a happy one, but if something new that doesnít offer me, the mug putting up the cash at retail level, a novel, cheaper or better experience, then I start flipping the switches to Ďoffí.

And all this is before we even get to new tech that represents an actual backward step. You know, run-flat tyres and double-clutch gearboxes, mainly.

Anyway, so Iím driving a new, high-end Euro sedan and I notice that the dashboard is completely computer-generated. But the layout is still wedged firmly in the conventional, so the computer-generated images still conform to the familiar round dials and red needles. The reality is that this thing was just a conventional dashboard in ones and zeroes rather than plastic. Which, just for starters, meant it still had fiddly little increments on the speedo. Suddenly, I canít see the point. Or where 100km/h becomes 105.

Which made me think: If this is all down to the magic of electrons, surely that must allow for greater flexibility in terms of how the info is displayed. Surely. Think racecars and aeroplanes with their on-demand info systems and their ability to convey much more than speed, revs and fuel-level in real time. But no...

So whatís the point of this new dash-tech? Probably a weight saving and a lower per-unit cost from the supplier. Again, the shareholders are drunk and masturbating in the boardroom while Iím squinting at a display that could run to colour-coded readouts and Family Guy re-runs. But doesnít.

CVT trannies are possibly even worse. I mean, hereís this great new tech that allows for an infinite number of actual gear ratios. So what do some carmakers do? Put in artificial steps to ensure that not only does the car feel like one with a conventional auto, it has now also forfeited the one advantage that a CVT held over the rest Ė the fuel economy bonus of running the engine in its efficiency zone for more of the time.

Itís all in the name of making the car feel less, ahem, new. But if I wanted a familiar experience, Iíd go and buy a car with a familiar transmission. Or keep the one I already have. And if Iím going to own a CVT, you better believe I want all the benefits it can provide.


Seriously, kids, this is what happens when conservative marketing trumps cutting-edge engineering. Disregarding or disguising the benefits of new tech makes no sense at all. If youíre going to make the investment in a novel way of doing something, then you might as well milk it for all itís worth.

íCos from where I sit, having an animated dashboard that offers nothing more than a conventional dashboard is like developing a 3D printer that can make things from ballistics-grade plastic. And then printing yourself a muzzle-loader.