But I digress. Every time I rent an American car, I hope that it will be the one that convinces me to make the change. Unfortunately, every time I rent one, it reinforces my opinion that they are second rate. Take the compact I've been driving for the past two weeks. It's reasonably peppy and handles fairly well. It's even comfortable enough, as far compacts go. But it's poorly designed to an extent that one wouldn't think possible in these days of sophisticated Computer Aided Design and simulations.
For starters, blind spots lurk everywhere. I have to contort my neck in all kinds of positions to check them all. In heavy traffic, this is not only a pain, it's dangerous. There are so many that by the time I'm done checking, a car could have entered the initial one. Then there's the trunk, which I can't see even when I turn my head. On the surface, that doesn't sound like much of a design flaw. But try to parallel park a sedan without a visible trunk to serve as a gauge, especially while checking myriad blind spots.
Then there are the relatively minor inconveniences, like being unable to tune the radio to an open frequency. As the car is not MP3 device compatible, I wanted to use my iTrip to listen to my iPod. When synched to a open FM frequency, iTrip allows one to listen to an iPod through a car's FM radio. iPods having been a part of international popular culture for over five years now, it's inconceivable to me that a car sound system would be unable to accommodate one.
While returning from Galway late this afternoon, I found myself in need of a sugar bump and stopped by a convenience store for a soft drink. I put it into the drink holder and quickly discovered that I could shift the stick without my knuckles hitting the drink bottle. As I say, a minor inconvenience. But...
...these are known design requirements. iPods have been around for five years, drink holders longer than that, and parallel parking even longer. A first week Driver's Ed student knows about the problems posed by blind spots. Why aggravate these problems by designing more than a car would have normally?
I appreciate that design involves tradeoffs. But Japanese designers never seem to have to make these tradeoffs. Why is it that American designers do?...
While in Galway, I bought what looks to be an indispensable title to lovers of Hibernian literature: Kenny's Choice: 101 Irish books you MUST read, by Des Kenny. Des is the proprietor of Kenny's Books, the grand dame of western Ireland book stores now an on-line operation. I'll be listing the titles along with links to more information about them as I progress through the book.