The Modern Motor
My friend, Richard,
was impressed with his new car. Its
got loads of electronic features, he
enthused as he pressed the key fob. He prodded
the button again and then for a third time.
Is there a
problem? I enquired.
doesnt unlock, Richard explained.
Would you mind hitting the door as I turn
proved successful, and we were soon driving away.
I inspected the
digital dashboard display. It reported the time
to be midnight and the outside temperature as
forty degrees centigrade. I mentioned this to
Richard, noting that it was actually 4.30 pm on a
particularly cold winter afternoon.
automatic, he responded. They need to
be adjusted by the dealer.
We continued to
accelerate. I became increasingly alarmed as the
speedometer approached sixty. This is a
thirty limit, Richard, I anxiously reminded
he replied. The speed limiters
playing-up again. Its supposed to prevent
the car going faster than the speed limit.
He swerved to avoid pedestrians on a zebra
crossing. Sometimes it jams and stops the
car travelling slower than the limit.
I looked up,
gasped and shut my eyes. At this speed we could
not negotiate the roundabout, ahead. We mounted
the island, skidded through flowers and shrubs
and splintered to matchwood a sign proclaiming
this road feature to be winner of the
roundabouts in bloom competition. The
car then took to the air and landed with a bone-jarring
crunch on the road beyond. Richard continued to
wrestle with the controls as I glanced back to
witness the collision of three cars that had
swerved to avoid us.
With relief I
sensed the vehicle slowing. Has the jolting
turned off the speed limiter? I asked.
not, he replied. Its caused the
automatic handbrake to engage. At least
thats slowing us down, though.
Now Richard had
mentioned it, I could detect the unmistakeable
smell of overheated brake pads. I also noticed
the sweltering heat. Whys it so hot?
the automatic environment control, Richard
explained. It should maintain a constant
twenty-one degrees, but it seems to oscillate
from forty degrees to near freezing.
This was confirmed
by a refreshing blast of icy air from the
My house is
there on the left, I reminded Richard.
He turned off the
engine and coasted to a halt at my gate.
As if to offer
reassurance, the airbags deployed. Bugger,
said Richard, deflating his bag with a penknife
so as to restore his view. I wont
stop, he continued. I must get home
before nightfall. Theres something wrong
with the solar panels that recharge the battery.
They cause the car electrics to shut down after
the lift, I said, unsuccessfully attempting
to open the door.
said Richard. The cars locked itself.
You cant unlock the passenger doors from
inside, and the windows wont work, so
youll need to climb out through the
I alighted via his
suggested route and waved farewell as Richard
restarted the engine. Hazard and fog lights
flashed in unison with the horn as the drive
wheels spun and burned rubber.
I was left
standing in a cloud of smoke and dust, reflecting
on the computerised technological marvel that is
the modern motor car.