Wednesday, June 13, 2012


When I saw the image my first reaction was to smirk. But then I frowned... and worried.

The allusion is, of course, to the decision by nine manufacturers of automobiles to integrate Apple device compatibility into future car models. The major brand left out is Ford, committed to collaboration with Microsoft.

Given that my 'day job' is the translation from German to English of automotive-themed articles I am very well aware of the increasing recourse to digital technology in the car industry. We are asked to anticipate, for example, a future in which autos will communicate autonomously with each other, to imagine cars which will almost drive themselves with little input from the passenger who may no longer be termed the driver.

I am by no means a tech Luddite, just perhaps a little nostalgic. Holding back the march of the electronic is certainly a bit like Canute seeking to defy the waves. And yet there were virtues embodied by cars which were almost wholly mechanical devices.

Sitting in a mid-seventies Lada Niva somewhere in the Massif Central... chilly autumnal nightfall approaching... the fan-belt rent asunder. The driver sacrificed her tights to jury-rig a repair. It was good enough to reach the next place where there was a garage. And a wonderful little bistro where long, bare legs were much admired.

Beat that, iPhone.

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