#TechThursday – Made For Who?

  Lindsey Schutters


 20 Feb, 2020

e-Golf Diselgate

Car manufacturers aren’t making cars for people and that’s very worrying for Lindsey Schutters.

After years of teasing us, Volkswagen South Africa has finally started rolling out its electric vehicle strategy in South Africa. It starts with the e-Golf – which is ironically what many locals refer to it as – in limited quantities for the media to become acquainted with and to act as a shuttle to and from your car service at select dealers.

In 2021 we should see the ID.3 put through the same schedule, with EV sales only kicking off in 2022.

It’s great that we finally have a roadmap from the world’s biggest carmaker, but remember that the e-Golf was merely a compliance car to meet the strict European regulations and was made in the wake of Dieselgate where VW were caught cheating emissions tests on diesel engines.

These cars aren’t actually made with any sincerity towards the customer, but rather to avoid taxes and penalties from governments that are trying to halt climate change. And this compliance culture extends into even more worrying facets of car manufacturing.

Take Nissan for example who was left blushing when the crash testing charity organisation Global NCAP gave their NP300 Hardbody a zero rating in 2018. Then, to really drive the message home, Global NCAP lifted the manufacturer’s skirt by staging a head-on collision between a second-hand Navara and brand new Hardbody. The results are, well… You can watch it below for yourself.

The woeful results highlight that airbags, for instance, are not that important a feature to look out for when shopping for a safe family bakkie, especially when the steering column doesn’t collapse and sends the wheel (airbag and all) straight into your chest.

But airbags look amazing on a specification sheet and some entry-level cars have been shunned in the past for not including them. Bottom line is that the manufacturer bottom line remains the motivation.

That’s why I always find it interesting to see which models the industry disruptors benchmark their new model against. Tesla, for instance, always tries to beat Volvo. The XC90 was the first SUV to be able to hold twice its own weight on its roof to mitigate damage from roll-over incidents. Elon Musk made sure the Model X could hold 10x its own weight.

Now if only other bakkie makers would ape the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and its adaptive cruise control/forward collision avoidance tech. It’s good to be first in segment with safety features.

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