Self driving cars? Forgeddaboudit. What America doesn’t need is a car that drives itself. It needs a self cleaning car.
Oh, we’re almost there. You drive to the car wash. You run through the little tunnel and the car comes out more or less clean. Like everything else these days, you have a choice. You can have a plain ole soap and water wash. Or you can add waxes and protectors and anti-bug-on-the-windshield spray.
But that does nothing about the interior. That time you sneezed on the inside of the windshield 1200 miles ago? It’s still there. So are the little snowflakes of what you’d think were dandruff but are really stuff that caught in the air filter and now cover the top of the dashboard where no head dares go these days even in a crash.
And let’s not forget about the floor mats. Even if you have those high tech mystery plastic, custom fit (and not cheap) floor mats, they’ve collected a winter full of gunk. So the first step toward a self cleaning car is the installation of an undercarriage retractable door mat.
Click “open” on the key remote and the door mat lowers and extends. You wipe your feet just as you would entering the house or apartment.
Then that windshield problem. You have a washer for the outside, why not a washer for the inside. And let’s talk about a teeny tiny windshield wiper for the lens of the backup camera, you know the thing that shows you pictures of what you’re about to back into and gives you a funny looking grid where none of the lines tells you anything. The car makers strategically locate those camera lenses in the trunk lid where they’re sure to be covered in mud every time you drive through a puddle.
A hat tip to Honda which once offered a built in vacuum cleaner for one of its minivan models and may still, though you don’t hear about that much anymore. But think about this: A minivan is really a little truck whose cargo is generally mid-sized groups of squirmy little kids with open bags of chips or Doritos or one of the eight trillion variations. Kids spill stuff. Usually that stuff is (1) solid (2) small (3) impossible to pick up by hand. So the built in vacuum cleaner was pretty clever.
But stuff those chips and Doritos are coated with comes off on little fingers and then little fingers find their way to seats and windows and door handles. So the vac was only a first step.
Rolls Royce had a similar idea. One of the optional accessory packs included a live in elderly English couple who would emerge from the trunk and wash, vacuum and dry the car immediately upon its arrival at your destination. There were some issues. The couples would sometimes complain about having to live in close quarters in the trunk. The wages were low. And sometimes their visas expired and they’d crab about that, too. What ever happened to the British stiff upper lip?
Plus Rolls Royces are kind of expensive and most of us don’t own one.
So Dear GM, Ford, Fiat, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Jaguar, Audi, Benz, Porsche, Google, Uber, Kaiser, Fraser, VW, Volvo, Mitsubishi, and Mazda, you can keep your self driving cars, but the first one of you that launches a self-cleaner will clean up in the marketplace.
Now. Anyone got some Cheetos?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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© WJR 2018