To Clutch Or Not To Clutch

FREE KITTENS!!! Glad, I have your attention. Now; lets start with my rant.

I went to visit my extended family in London, Ontario the other weekend. Most of the cousins were all together which is a rare occurrence because we all have families, jobs, wives, “responsibilities”, parole, etc.  Our visits together usually go like this. Everyone goes inside and greets one another and then the guys go outside and drink beer on the driveway and discuss who is driving what. This is a time tested routine as my extended family are all car nuts and very passionate about there car-nut-feelings.

One of my cousins, we will call him “the sensible one” is an accountant.He just bought a brand new Honda Accord sedan with leather, navigation and…. wait for it… a manual transmission. “Only real cars have a clutch, blah, blah, blah. Let’s step aside from the fact that my cousin is effectively driving a unicorn (family sedan, manual transmission, with options). Let’s address the issue at hand. Does driving a paddle shift car make you less of a car nut or immediately reject you as a car enthusiast? Dead stop the answer is NO! Let’s start by examining some basic facts.

You=Human

Paddle shifters=machine

Machine>human

Done.

That was easy… what do I do for the next 300 words… FREE KITTENS!!!…what? You want me to explain further? Fine.

paddle2

This is the deal: when paddle shifters first started making their way onto performance cars back in the early 2000’s (think Porsche’s Tiptronic). In those days they shifted in the amount of time that it took a sloth to do long division and they had the telepathic powers of drywall. My cousin is convinced that all automated manual shifters are like this. This is akin to thinking that all computers come with Windows 95, Toasters are a new technology or that having a colour TV will damage your eyes…

The fact is that today’s automated manuals, can be found in a range of vehicles from economy cars to super cars and from 5,000lb SUV’s to 1,600 pound bantam weight track day racers. These things shift FAST! How fast? Milliseconds. Say the word, go on say milliseconds… in the time it took you to say milliseconds the Nissan GTR, 911, M3, S7, etc… popped of 4 shifts and made you look like a driving legend. Let’s see your flimsy brain and reflexes handle that? Let’s see your brain anticipate your shifting before you even think about it like the new Audi’s and BMW’s. You want to constantly shift for optimal fuel economy? Let’s see you do better than the Ford Focus does with their dual clutch in the Focus.

paddle3

I made those points to my cousin who quipped with “yeah but it takes away from the driver involvement blah, blah, blah”  ahh! The real debate emerges. 3 pedals gives you more driver involvement and a more “pure” driving experience. I get that, I really do. Driving a traditional car with a manual transmission is so much more involving and ultimately makes you feel like you rule the machine and not just a vessel traveling in the machine. 5 years ago I would have agreed but on today’s cars they are almost made to be run by the computers running everything else, one more job (shifting) won’t upset the union rep too much, will it? Numbers are a stubborn thing. Look at 0-60 times of new cars in manual and automated manual, the manual transmission cars are actually slower and get worse fuel economy. Try telling that to my cousin who loves to row his own gears.

Moral of the story: don’t get in an argument with your cousin without bringing a cool car for him to experiment with (his words).

*no kittens were harmed in the making of this blog post.

The Tesla Model 3 Is Shaking Up the Industry

The best thing a hobby can have is growth and a large fan base. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla is providing both. Tesla took the Apple approach to selling there next car with the see-it-now-buy-it approach. You already know this because it has been all over the news for the last month or so. The current Tesla is a great car but too expensive for the majority of us to afford. The Tesla model 3 is the companys’ first flirt with an economy car. Priced at $35k USD it promises to bring 300 plus kilometers per charge on its electric motor.  In a little over 2 weeks this has amounted to over 325,000 orders. This is for a car that is not slated for delivery until late 2017.

 

I knew the car was being unveiled because I saw snippets of it on my news feed (I don’t own a TV so I am somewhat in the dark). What was outright astounding was where else I was seeing people talk about it. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites were abuzz with the new “baby” Tesla. This is something I have never seen with a new model introduction on such a large scale. “Hey Sam, what do you think about the new Tesla Model 3? Should I buy one?” That is the question I was asked by a 32 year old who has never owned a car and I’m not sure even has a license. The hipsters and trend setters who live downtown and eat things called “organic” and don’t eat things called “gluten”. Tesla is doing what Lance Armstrong did for cycling and Wayne Gretzky did for Hockey. Elon Musk, Tesla’s visionary is making hipsters into car lovers and I love it! The more the merrier!

 

Tesla’s ability to sell reservations in such large numbers for a car that will not even see road testing for a year is very impressive. What is more impressive is who is taking notice of this vehicle and buying into the idea of it. Johnny-hotrod and Larry-lead foot are not the typical buyers of these cars. While some of the buyers are no doubt “car guys” there are lots of tech savvy people, who love the technology that is packed into this car. Lots of people coming out of a compact premium/mid-size sedan to try something different and people who love the idea of freeing themselves from the pumps. That’s just it people are not buying into it because it has seven billion horsepower, or that it has wood sourced from a sunken pirate ship (both completely fictional but cool). People are buying into the idea of a car that does not require oil changes, lots of maintenance or fuel.

 

Elon Musk is the same guy who told the public that commercial space exploration is possible, and that taking an air tube called a Hyperloop could conceivably get you from coast to coast in under an hour and you never have to leave the ground. Having driven the pants off my brother-in-laws Tesla I can attest to how fun these cars can be to drive. I think Tesla and Elon Musk are great additions not only to the automotive community but to businesses and industry as a hole. By taking a non-traditional route on all fronts we have learned that the outlier can be comfortable and (hopefully) profitable at center stage.