He left her for a newer model
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
If we are going to move on, we're going to have to get the lead out
BURNING RUBBER: Volkswagen have manufactured millions of cars and left us fuming
When I was a late teenager or young university student and much more of an environmentalist than I am today, I wondered about the future of car production and I think I might have been inspired by the fact that my older sister was buying a 2002 Volkswagen Polo after owning the previous 2000 model.
She had both models from new and told me that the 2000 Polo was an environmentalist’s dream from an efficiency point of view yet she found herself upgrading to the newer model two years later. The new car had increased a lot in size from the 2000 and similar models were introduced back in 1994.
I was an environmentalist but also a car enthusiast and read the latest figures in Irish Car magazine and other publications and wondered when we would get to the stage when a car would have a set lifetime. My picture above shows a VW parked on a pedestrian crossing with an older Golf behind it.
New cars get bigger and bigger but space is at a premium and older models remain on the road. The photo above with my mountain bike in the foreground clearly shows that the cars leave no room for pedestrians.
Imagine for example in the case of a VW and Volkwagen is very relevant as Adolf Hitler’s design for the Beetle sold more than 20 million units and is one of the top selling cars despite Hitler's history. The people’s car, volks wagon is still continually mass produced and VW accounts for about a quarter of all car sales.
The first mass produced car was the Ford Model T and sold almost 17 million cars before production ended almost a century ago. Henry Ford was inspired to mass produce cars and claimed at the time,
"You can have any colour you want, as long as it's black."
Production stopped in 1927 but nine decades later when will we focus on offering green only cars?
Imagine if these mass produced units as opposed to the likes of a Ferrari for example had a limited life of 5 years and my sister's 2000 VW Polo would have made its way back to the factory in 2005 to be unbuilt. Completely dismantled in a similar process to the way it was manufactured. A complete recycled production. Plastics in the plastic bin, metal melted down and a stockpile of parts extending the life of those cars not yet recalled to the factory floor for dismantling.
Okay I am in a dreamer as we only ever fuel our hunger for expansion and consumption but imagine if we took a car’s design further than a few months and looked to the future. Would millions of Golfs and Polos be scraped in scrapyards? Surprisingly these cars are still in demand and most teenagers would be happy with a Mk1 Golf GTI or MkII even if these are very dated cars with no airbags and built in GPS units for example.
People love these cars but apart from their desirability, what if we took the next generation of cars as having a limited usefulness? What if we envisioned these cars evolving into more environmental machines.
Hitler’s car was surprisingly popular with hippies in America as was the VW Camper van. These machines fuelled surfer’s dreams and carried a generation to Woodstock with a flower in their hair and surprisingly a flower in the Beetle’s dashboard vase.
What if car consumers demanded more from the people’s car than just getting from A to B? Imagine if Volkswagen was wiped out after Diesel-gate's unethical behaviour?
An environmental holocaust where German scientists gas people to death with their diesel engines. The Ford on the left was being promoted in Madrid and a salesman approached me to see if I wanted a test drive. They promoted Conducir el Futuro on the side of the car which means drive the future but when I enquired enthusiastically if it was a hybrid or electric car, the man told me that it was a diesel.
Thanks to Elon Musk people have moved on from mass produced Model Ts and start to look at Tesla Model S and Model Xs as Musk himself looks at the need for a planet B with his company SpaceX.
Elon Musk is also behind another company called Solar City, if we are to invest in electric cars one of the issues we have to address is, where do these cars get their juice? Plugged into diesel generators won't help the planet unless we start to take cars off the road to reduce the volume of cars being sold.
TOP TEN CARS IN HISTORY
10 VW Passat 16 million
#9 Ford Model T 16.5 million
#8 Honda Accord 18 million
#7 Ford Escort 18 million
#6 Honda Civic 18 million
#5 Lada Riva
#4 VW Beetle Almost 24million
#3 VW Golf 30 million
#2 F Series Ford 40 million
#1 Toyota Corolla 43 million
One in a million I've driven an Accord and my mother's Civic. Friends have had Golfs, Passats, Civics, Accords and Corollas. My aunt had the Russian Riva and my girlfriend's parents had a Beetle.
I photographed this Mini parked in the smallest of spaces but you can see the length of the car is huge
Wall to wall cars: Mitsubishi promoting one of their cars in a wealthy neighbourhood.
We will have to question how we build and dispose of cars but that is an unpopular question to ask.
Who knows what the future will bring.