"Which is all well and good until the damned thing breaks!"
My Dad once bought a car in which virtually every function was controlled by a touch-sensitive display mounted on the center console. But the entire car turned out to be "an electrical lemon," constantly defying the expertise even of local repair shops which specialized in automotive electronics. One day, the center console display simply went blank. And, my Dad was then informed that there was no available warranty to cover the nearly-$4,000(!!) expense of replacing it.
Quite sensibly, he immediately sold the car. Fully disclosing to CarMax™ that they should not attempt to re-sell the car before it was actually fixed. (To their credt, they bought it anyway.)
And then he then bought a brand-new one, carefully buying the maximum possible extent of manufacturer’s warranty on everything. (They’ll even change the oil for free … they’ll shine your shoes and make you coffee …) He has already told me that he intends to sell this car before that warranty runs out, to avoid any repeats of that previous experience. I fully agree with him.
“But, isn’t that a very poor – planned obsolescence – use of your money?”
The electronics of an electronically-controlled car are far more likely to fail before any of the mechanical parts do. However, once this happens, the entire rest of the car becomes “unsalvageable.” Hundreds of thousands of miles too soon.
Of course, meanwhile I am still driving a thoroughly non-electronic car from 2006 which is now on its second engine and fully paid for. I like it, and continue to regularly pour money into it for various parts as they expire, simply because it is roomy, powerful, comfortable, and non-electronic. It gets me where I need to go, after about 285,000 miles “and counting.” (And it still looks just fine on the road.) I’m certainly no “automotive luddite,” but I know(!) that I have spent far less money keeping this mostly-very-reliable vehicle running than I would spend on a “new car” that I expect that I would like much less … largely because of the electronics. “They no longer make them like they used to.”
Each and every time I drive Dad’s car, I have to turn off various “features” every time I turn it on. Such as one that is apparently looking at my eyes(!) to “monitor me,” and tell me to “keep my eyes on the road.” And another that is watching lane-markers to tell me to turn on my turn-signal before changing lanes. Another which purports to watch for cars beside me in case I don’t look over my shoulder before changing lanes. Yet another which wants to apply the brakes for me before I hit something. They’re already talking about adding “breathalyzer” hardware to future cars, and I fully expect that at this point some computer will literally wrest steering control from me.
Here is the only safe scenario: “I, and I alone, am in full and sovereign control of my car.” And, should I be involved in an accident … (and, by the way, in all these years I never have …) I alone am accountable for it. My vehicle(!) had no part in what just happened other than to get smashed.
Also: “what might happen if a new generation of drivers becomes dependent on the expectation of ‘this new technology?’” What if they don’t “look over their shoulders before changing lanes?”
I really don’t want to wind up at the Pearly Gates, only to inform Saint Peter that I was killed by a computer. (As various people who “believed too much in ‘autopilot’” already have.) I’d much rather have to admit to him that “someone else is right now still holding my beer.”