Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Sad Looking Ant Eater, the Perodua Kelisa, Engineering feats that never will be performed due to monetary concerns and the new Impreza

The Bugatti Veyron is a 250mph monster that has an engine that sounds like Victorian plumbing and biblical tire roar. You’d think that Clakrson had rubbished the said car, if you ignore the very next line that he wrote on it, in which he said that the car is a magnificent piece of engineering. Now taking mis-quotes into context, we see our Members of Parliaments doing the same thing by looking at part of a Clarkson special on the Perodua Kelisa and noting that the Kelisa was the worst car in the world.

It isn’t the worst car in the world but to actually put what Clarkson said into perspective, is that Perodua and on a similar extent Proton do make soulless cars devoid of any sort of character. Numbers and volume are more important than soul is what makes Clarkson a little bit pissed off when it comes to cars made in Malaysia and Korea. Most Malaysians would actually relate to this as most have at any one time owned a Proton or a Perodua.

Back to the car that has a soundtrack from the 1900s. It is a monumental piece of engineering work that supersedes all known automotive engineering feats including the funny seating position but supremely engineered McLaren F1. It is the fastest and most expensive production car in the world. But I am betting that VW won’t make money out of it but still lose from each unit built. It is amazing that in this day and age of cost cutting, realistically budgeted and environmental friendly companies a monster like this is built. Ugly, like a sad looking doe eyed anteater with a 2 tone coat of paint but as politically correct as daily open air burning staring in the face of global warming. I think this is actually the only engineering feat worth mentioning in the last decade or so. And I estimate that after the Veyron, nothing fantastic will be built by any car manufacturer in the next 10 years including Ferrari, who is actually building race cars that resemble roadcars. These don’t move the goalposts, these cars are still within the usual tolerances of car manufacturing as if you read the specifications of a Veyron you’d notice that everything has to be over engineered to a grand scale to handle 1000 horses.

Mankind has gone backward. In the 1970s to the 90s we had supersonic airliners ferrying people across the Atlantic and we went to the moon in the 1960s. Now, the furthest we’ve gone is up to the International Space Station and the fastest we can fly across the Atlantic is by a Jumbo jet at mach 0.78. Even fighter aircraft development has slowed down. In the 1960s and 1970s America had its F15 and F14 followed by the F18s and F16s. But now, it only has the money to built one Joint Strike Fighter or whatever it’s called. Money and inflation to be blamed for this lack of development.

In those days, governments weren’t so obsessed in counting every single penny. If an inventor came up with a hair brained scheme, most probably some Government in the world will cough up with a hundred million dollars or so. But now, after listening to all those people who wants to save the whales, trees, homeless people, ozone layers, water, bees, locusts and what not, the Governments of the world has no choice but to limit spending on mind blowing projects. I suppose mind blowing projects must now be funded by groups like Volkswagen Audi Group or crazy Russian billionaires. If it were a Government from a developed nation like Germany or even France, a project will be shot before anything can even happen.

“ve haf come up with a solution build an elevator to a stationary point 200km from earth.”

“vat vould be de use?”

“So that it vould be easier and cheaper to dock de ISS instead of vesting precious fuel sending space shuttles to it. Plus its something never been done before. We would be in the annals of history!”

“Vat vould be de cost?”

“Ve estimate it to cost 4 Trillion Euros”

“Mein Gott! Ve can feed a billion African people with that money. Ve can plant trees. Ve can build portable airconditioning units for Antartica so dat de icebergs von’t be affected by global warming. I am afraid ve cannot approve your budget. Let’s go for lunch, I heard dat der hotel across de street has an all de wiener schnitzel you can eat for 5 euros.”

There, and nothing momentous or magnificent gets built anymore. I blame inflation, Governments too concerned with spending money on statues and planting trees and Non Governmental Organisations for pressing for aid and curbing everything in sight. The question of “because we can” will be limited to small measly projects instead of wonders of the world due to this.

Heck, look at the latest version of the Impreza (see the pic to the left). It’s conservative. It’s dull as all character has been squeezed out of it. Look at the bonnet scoop. It’s been severely blunted by rising awareness for car manufacturers to provide for pedestrian crash safety. Pedestrians should look left, right and then try not to get hit. But now they're suggesting that pedestrians will be smiling with comfort when they fly over the bonnet of your car. Look at its boot, specs for the sedan say that it can carry 3 golf bags in it. Do I want to know information like that if I bought an Impreza? I suppose Subaru has to sell more cars and golfers are a demographic that they would like to cover. It is no longer a monumental piece of affordable fast machinery, but it is a compromise to cater for all markets. I suppose it’ll handle well as it has a better rear suspension and lower center of gravity, but sometimes, that’s not what matters to most (maybe having space to put 3 golf bags is what matters). Sometimes, making a profit or trying to make a profit kills a car. Making money isn’t everything.