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So, Mercedes-Benz has come out with a car that does most of the driving for you. It stops driving if you get distracted, if warns you if you start falling alseep, it warns you if you drift out of your lane, and automatically dims the headlights if another car approaches, among other things.

I saw an ad for it on TV last night (which, coincidentally, is as close as I'm ever going to get to owning one of the things).  The base price has not yet been released, as far as I could tell with half-hearted googling, but I know it's more than I can pay.  The first thing that went through my head was "cool!  A car for crappy drivers!".  The next thought was "I don't want people that stupid driving next to me", and the last thought was "this car is not sufficiently outrageous - rich people need even more stuff to emphasize the great divide between them and everyone else". 

Y'know - just to rub it in our faces that the super-rich didn't lose a damn thing in the recession.  I really can't think of another good reason for Mercedes to come out with a luxury car at this time.

And if, as I suspect, their reasoning is that rich people enjoy pointing out how much better they have it than everyone else, then I don't think they went far enough.

I mean, sure, heated seats that massage you as you drive, then wake you up when you fall asleep from being too relaxed, and an automatic braking system that stops the car if you reach for a soda out of the cooler in the back while talking on your bluetooth, changing your iPod playlist and folding your laundry seems cool (except for the resultant traffic jam if you're doing the aforementioned activities in the middle of the highway), but is it really luxurious enough for today's rich?  After all, anyone can get a car that parallel-parks itself, but the truly elite need things that set them apart from the hoi-polloi by their sheer waste of valuable resources.  Elephant-hide seats, for instance.  Or an entire elephant in the back, for the kids.

No, if I was rich, and therefore precious and special, I'd want a car that will automatically fold my laundry[1] so I don't have to wait for the maid to do it.  It should also be able to pick up my dry-cleaning and stop by the liquor store to pick up a fifth of really expensive Scotch when I've had a hard day leveraging diamond-studded chiuhuahua options, or whatever it is rich people do[2].

How will it know when I've had a hard day?  It should be able to read my mind, of course.  Therefore, I introduce to you the Mercedes 2015 ESP Class!

Think about it - psychic cars are really the only kind of car suitable for the cream of society, the people that spend their summers at a privately owned island off the Hamptons (the Hamptons are not exclusive enough, for God's sake[3]), Christmas skiing in Gstaad, and the rest of the year in Paris and Manhattan[4].  The new Mercedes ESP Class is going to be the future of transportation, mark my words.

Some of the highlights of the new Mercedes ESP will include:

*Remembers all your appointments, and makes sure that your spouse doesn't see the ones that involve your lover!

*Puts you "on the list" of all the most exclusive clubs - VIP section, of course.

*Automatically packs all the things you need for whatever you're doing that day - including the activities you haven't thought of yet!

*New patented Wall of Silence[TM] technology lets you take the kids to school without having to listen to them - look like you're a caring parent without all the hassle of actually interacting with your offspring![5]

Runs all the errands your pain-in-the-ass spouse makes you do while you're playing tennis or golf - remember, if you finish the game early because of rain, the ESP will know, and be waiting for you with a towel and a hair stylist![6]

Keeps a running database of all the coolest and most expensive shops so that you're never seen shopping somewhere ordinary people might go. [7]

Rich people have a burden the rest of the world will never know - the agony of nothing left for them to buy[8] .  Until the Mercedes ESP is available, I guess a car that does all their driving for them will have to alleviate their pain.
For a little while. 

I guess

[1] I saw a person in rush hour (but moving) traffic on the Beltway carefully folding their laundry as they drove.  This was only slightly less terrifying than the person driving at full speed reading the newspaper.

[2] Pffft.  Like I'd know.

[3] Barbara Walters has a house there.  How exclusive can it be?

[4] Beverly Hills is so last century.

[5] Inflatable Parent[TM] available in upgrade - will also attend PTA meetings for you.

[6] The ESP 2020 will have optional rain-averting technology - send that rain somewhere else, like the Mississipi flood plains, where no-one will care, since they're all poor people, anyway.

[7] Thereby avoiding the near occasion of poor people cooties.

[8] Spending money on worthy causes is for nerds.



( 35 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Jul. 16th, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
Mercedes is going to market all that stuff as "safety features". And my parents bought a Mercedes when I was a kid because it was the safest car on the market at the time. And we were upper middle class, not rich. Dad is an engineer, and always bought stuff that was well made. We bought the demonstrator model off the showroom floor for a huge discount because it had something like 23,000 miles on it already from test drives. And then we drove that sucker into the ground. I think it had well over 200,000 miles on it before we finally gave it up for a Honda Accord.

The first thing that went through my head was "cool! A car for crappy drivers!". The next thought was "I don't want people that stupid driving next to me",

Agreed. Every time I see a new "feature" like more cup holders or a DVD player in the back I wonder about how that's going to affect the idjits driving next to me. And usually the answer is "It's going to be a distraction and make their driving worse." *sigh*

I saw a person in rush hour (but moving) traffic on the Beltway carefully folding their laundry as they drove.

One of my friends spotted a woman knitting in her car. Driving the speed limit! =0

I really need to make that "I love my Honda" icon I've been thinking about....
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 16th, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC)
One day, on the way home from work, I saw a woman barreling down I-5 balancing her checkbook. Pen, Statement, Checkbook, and Calculator in hand. Not sure how she was steering . . .
(no subject) - pirategirleee - Jul. 17th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
Why anyone would fold laundry while driving is beyond me. Why would you combine one boring activity with another boring activity? Do they want to pass out? I can only conclude.

As for wealth, I have a rich FB friend from way back who is perpetually writing conservative comments as status updates, despite the fact that she doesn't work for a living and as far as I can tell, doesn't read newspapers or form her opinion on any other basis than whatever pap other conservatives like her are spewing. This morning, it included "healthcare" "rammed through Congress," and "bad for doctors." In what way, she doesn't specify. Perhaps it's a conspiracy to give them all swine flu. The current system of producing primary care doctors isn't broken or anything. Medical school should cost $200,000. Keeps out the hoi polloi. Like politics. And internships with Vogue. You know.
Jul. 16th, 2009 12:41 pm (UTC)
Oy. I saw this car reviewed. And I'm completely with you, we don't need cars that help the stupid. There are too many of them already loose on the road.
What we need is a car that penalized the stupid. Oh, yeah it already exists, the Pinto.
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Perhaps a car that senses your intelligence and refuses to start if you're too stupid. =)
(no subject) - mstewart - Jul. 16th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
The worst possible thing is to make driving even more of a passive activity! It should require skill, effort and attention. That way people won't eat cereal, read the newspaper, knit[1], fold laundry, send texts, or work on their laptop while driving.

I'd get rid of a lot of the enhancements -- right back to automatic transmission. Antilock brakes, power-assisted steering, and electric windows can stay, but anything that comes between the driver and actually actively driving the vehicle needs to go.

If you need to have most of the driving done for you, there's a perfectly good option available for almost every[2] car already: a chauffeur.

[1] Guilty as charged, but only on Rte. 128 during the rush hour when the traffic wasn't moving. Technically I was driving, but in reality it was a rolling parking lot. Maybe 5mph tops.

[2] Not available for Smart Cars or shitboxes. A hazardous condition fee may be levied if your offspring are particularly noisy or obnoxious.
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
Until the requirements to get a license to drive a car include actual competency to drive, we need psychic cars. Some of these features you mention, like power steering and AT reduce distractions for gonna-be-driving-anyways crappy drivers.

Until we do have fully-automatic drive-you-to-your-destination cars We (the US) ought to stop treating driving as a right and make it a privelege, requiring training and demonstrated competency.

(Glad there's no tax on hyphens!)
(no subject) - mstewart - Jul. 16th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - swwoodsy - Jul. 16th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - brickhousewench - Jul. 16th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
Ultra Luxury
Yes. The ultra luxury car is in constant development and refinement.

It won't go away.

Until we stop driving cars altogether.

Now for the options, that will of course be standard, that you speak of in the ESP are of course already being handled by your personal household staff. And if you don't have a staff, then you're really just pretending to be rich...
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Ultra Luxury
Now for the options, that will of course be standard, that you speak of in the ESP are of course already being handled by your personal household staff. And if you don't have a staff, then you're really just pretending to be rich...

Ah, but this way you don't have to talk to them. They can stay safely out of sight. I believe the 2018 upgrade has an inflatable valet so that you can look like you have a personal servant without the hassle of making sure they're paid, fed, or taxable. The taxable part being the most important, of course.
Re: Ultra Luxury - drscam - Jul. 16th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
On the other hand...
Look at all the the standard features now in cars that we thought were so gee-wiz 15 years ago. Auto-lights on, turn-signal cancelation, electric mirrors, rear-window defrost...

Some of these "luxury" features will make it into the mass market and become standard features in a few years. And some of them make good sense and seem to be safety enhancements. Crappy, overtired, lane drifting non-headlight dimming a$$holes drivers are going to drive regardless of whether some of these features are on the car or not. In the interim, at least some rich drivers are going to be warned that they are drifting into my lane, In 5 years - the not-so rich, and in 10, the hoi polloi.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - herveus - Jul. 16th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - deboraaurifex - Jul. 16th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
About the only one of these enhancements that I REALLY think is worthwhile is the alarm if you start to fall asleep. It's far to easy to do especially coming back from a busy weekend away (or say Pennsic). Granted I tend to pull over and take a nap if I catch myself having issues but still it would be nice.
Jul. 16th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
I have to agree on that one- I've caught myself zoning out without realizing it a few times over the years after a long event (SCA and mundane).

I also kind of like the idea of headlight dimming- I get blinded a lot by idiots who don't know/care to dim their lights at night (I see halos around lights at night, and with a low car versus a truck/SUV, high beams shine right at my eyes), but that only works if one doesn't have a car with those vertigo-inducing LED headlights that blind people even when they are dimmed.
(no subject) - amycat1959 - Jul. 17th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
My parents bought a Mercedes (second hand, and not only are they expensive, they are expensive to maintain as well; I don't think they are nice enough to be worth the cost). It has ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), not that'd you'd notice to drive it.

Luxury cars are rather daft, but as long as there are people with more money than they need for sensible things then there will be daft luxury goods for them to buy.
Jul. 16th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
Let's be honest, no car this smart would let these people drive it. Unless that same car was already planning to drive off a cliff...
Jul. 17th, 2009 09:46 am (UTC)
Jul. 16th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
Just for the record...
The Mercedes my mom inherited cost less than our old Bravada brand new. It is 15 years old and has needed nothing but oil changes.

The Bravada got donated to a camp for troubled teens to learn a trade/play with cars and cool stuff after 4 transmissions, 3 total replacements of the breaks, all the locks malfunctioning, two windows no longer working, the radio dying, heating issues that meant you couldn't drive it with open toed shoes without getting blisters, a completely new engine, and many other issues.

Same age. Same price. Except the Mercedes is still running beautifully. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Mercedes extensively researched the two strap safety belt, which eventually got incorporated into "lower end" cars. What they do may seem ridiculous now, but offering innovation is a good thing, IMHO.

On the other hand I don't get cut off, double parked, flicked off, cursed at, or otherwise abused in a falling apart Bravada. I am not wealthy, my dead aunt was fairly well off, but even then it wasn't that expensive of a car compared to SUVs.

Poor people can be asshats too. In fact at the cheap seamstress shops I've worked in the patrons were by a vast majority rude, vindictive, and often had to get bounced for sexual harassment. Comparing that to the high price range seamstress shops I've worked in where there is maybe one rude customer in a blue moon and they get kicked out.

Socio-economic status does not a good character make.
Jul. 17th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
Re: Just for the record...
Uh, it was just a joke - a riff on the seeming absurdity of a car that will stop if you stop paying attention to it. :)
Re: Just a joke - murasakinoyoroi - Jul. 17th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Just a joke - attack_laurel - Jul. 20th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Just a joke - murasakinoyoroi - Jul. 20th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
I miss my Benz. (Edited to note: it was a falling apart seventies model, but I miss it anyway, that car handled like a dream.)

Edited at 2009-07-16 08:05 pm (UTC)
Jul. 17th, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
I am deeply dedicated to both my Miatas (we still have the first one, which is now 12 years old). A car that runs well is a beautiful thing.

But they'll take my manual transmission when they pry it from my cold, dead hands - I *like* the control. :)
(no subject) - popelizbet - Jul. 17th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)

Actually, there's one "luxury car" feature I'd like to have (whenever I can afford to replace the Big Bright Green Book-Moving Machine*) is a "back-up Camera". When I've got a Full Convention Load of books, folding bookcases, etc., I have very limited rear-view capability. (I get horribly nervous backing out of parking at a friend's home, where the neighbors have small, Big-wheel-riding children playing in the condo complex parking area, for instance...)

I'd also be interested in a hard-wired iPod dock as part of the car's sound system. OTOH, there are things like power windows and door-locks which I don't like 'cause they're prone to break down and expensive to fix...

*my nearly-decade-old Chevy Astro van, which managed to haul my butt and the books, &tc. to Tempe, AZ and back for WesterCon; only problem was having to replace a punctured & slow-leaking tire in SoCal on the way home.
Jul. 17th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
This was only slightly less terrifying than the person driving at full speed reading the newspaper.

I lived in a dorm for most of a year with this driver. When I knew her in college, she had already been in seven accidents (not including the mailbox and light post), because she would read and drive at the same time. I understand that she also liked to get frisky with her boyfriend while driving. I can't say that anyone was sad to see her go when she was suspended from the university.
Jul. 17th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
we traded in the needing-about-2k-worth-of-work mercedes for a dodge caliber POS. it doesnt need work, though. we both dislike it, and since we only have the one car...

i told him "what sucks is if we ever get another car, you'll drive it and leave me this. i want a neon pink minicooper." he said "can i even get IN that?" my response was "exactly." ;)

i miss stick shifts. but the knee wont do the clutch any longer (two separate instinces of breaking the same kneecap with a side order of severe arthritis in it now. left knee of course.)
( 35 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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