Friday, January 30, 2015

FTT Off-Topic: Inertial Pain

Fake It Till You Make It
(Washing- ton Post) -- Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volks- wagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks. Without them, today’s more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away.

 Four years ago, my family and I bought a Honda hybrid hatchback. It's done well for us, though it's not been an optimal experience. I had a fender bender at about 10  to 15 mph in it once, and that cost an inordinate amount of money to fix. The mileage hasn't been all that could be hoped, but as the car's on-board electronics tell you exactly how much gas you are spending, it's kind of  a two-way street when the costs get higher. The math for it worked really well in the days of $3.50 gas, not so much now that gas is under $2, but all in all, we do better with a smaller car. We're not big people. (I'm the tallest person in my house, and I'm 5'4".)

Anyway, the most striking thing about the car was how quiet it was. When the gas engine kicks in, you hear it, bur there are strong portions of time when you are coasting or using the electric, and the only noise is wind or your music or the outside world. As a parent, I appreciate quiet, and as someone who had never had a new car before, I just reacted well to it.

I totally get why a truck buyer would not. We are in very different places. But the point is this: sticking with what you know to be right and true and correct in your gut could be setting you up for trouble.

Truck drivers who are listening to this fake engine sound are, of course, going to miss those small tell-tale sounds that a vehicle makes when something is not quite right and getting worse. Now, maybe that does not really matter with modern vehicles, since the Internet of Things and diagnostics might be giving you better hints of trouble than any engine noise ever would, but still.

You're paying for an illusion. That rarely works out. In trucks and elsewhere...

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