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Your Future Car's Hood Will Be Welded Shut 1196

An Ominous Cow Erred writes "A common argument used by open source advocates (myself included) in favor of open source is the simple question: 'Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?' According to an article from the BBC, Volvo thinks the way of the future may be exactly that."
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Your Future Car's Hood Will Be Welded Shut

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  • by wayward_son ( 146338 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:49AM (#8462162)
    As if having they care if the hood is welded shut. /go ahead, mod me down, you know it's true.
    • by tiled_rainbows ( 686195 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:54AM (#8462224) Homepage Journal
      Sad but true: this is a Volvo "Concept Car" (ie automotive vaporware) that was designed "for women by women".

      However, the whole article does read like something out of the Onion. Changable multi-coloured seat covers to match your clothes? If it wasn't true it would be a sexist joke.

      I was talking with my wife about this and she said she likes having a bonnet that lifts up, as it acts as a kind of "distress flag" when she's waiting on the hard shoulder with a knackered car, hoping some good samaritan will pull over and help her out. I know that this, too, sounds like a sexist joke, but my wife said it first, and she's a woman, so that's OK, I guess.
      • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:27AM (#8462580) Homepage Journal
        I'd like a car with easily removable/exchangable seat cushions myself. I could have a plush set for regular/city use, and a vinyl set for when we go to the beach, head out to sail, going camping, or anything else that tends to get the interior dirty.

        Except sooner or later I'll probably moot this whole idea and replace my Cherokee with a Wrangler or old CJ with a totally washable "interior" and use it as our beach/tow/camping vehicle, with my wife's Hyundai reserved for "civilized" driving.

        (BTW, my wife checks oil and other necessary fluids often. I don't think she'd want a car where she couldn't do that easily.)

        - Robin
      • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:36AM (#8462686)
        but I'd never ask my wife to stand on the side of a US interstate with the hood up, waiting for who-the-hell-knows to stop... that's a recipe for disaster in some parts of the country. Now, I myself stop for people from time to time (it's my medic's instinct to see if they need help), but I don't expect them to trust me... and if they hint I should drive on, I always do so.

        That's what cell phones are for... I'm not trying to insult you here, so please don't take it that way, but I'd never leave my wife dependent on the kindness of strangers.

        Like I say, maybe it's different in England.
      • by Total_Wimp ( 564548 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:43AM (#8462777)
        "sounds like a sexist joke"

        I was in dismay as I read this. Basically you can change anything cosmetic but you can't change anything substanttive. I wracked my brain to think up any other product that's gone this route and finally found one: Windows.

        You can chage the wallpaper, but you can't change the web browser. You can change the system font, but you can't upgrade the kernel.

        I tried to think of what this all means and then it suddenly struck me. Of course, it's right in the aritcle! Windows was designed by women for women.

        Now that I understand the Windows niche I can take real action in my life. The girlfriend will get my old Windows machine ("honey, what did you do with my Mac?") and I'm getting the real OS designed by men for men. It may look like crap, but I know I can change any file with complete confidence. Thank god for MS-DOS, the real-mans operating system.

    • by blorg ( 726186 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:06AM (#8462370)
      Volvo's new concept car, launched at the Geneva motor show, is a car designed by women for women. [...] [The car] was designed by a team of women keen to change the way most cars are designed with male drivers in mind. [...] And for women with ponytails, there is even a split in the middle of the headrest. "It is very uncomfortable to drive with a ponytail," said Ms Christiansen.
    • by Jane_Dozey ( 759010 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:09AM (#8462407)
      Now how can I get a man to fix my car if the hood is welded shut??
    • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:27AM (#8462573)
      the quote about Volvo's CEO:

      "a mood encouraged by women-friendly Volvo boss Hans-Olov Olsson."

      Hmmmm... that's a curious statement open to misinterpretation. Now what'd they mean by that, eh?... exactly how "women-friendly" is he? wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more... (sorry... BBC article... had to throw that in...)
  • yup (Score:5, Funny)

    by cangeceiro ( 712846 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:50AM (#8462170)
    thats why they make grinders
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:50AM (#8462173)
    Ah. The Apple iCar. Brought to you buy the same guys who designed the "battery dies, throw it away" iPod.

    When my iCar is low on oil, I park it in a city lot, scratch off the VIN, remove the license plate, and walk away. Then it is off to Apple to buy another one.
  • Argh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:50AM (#8462175)
    One thing to note for people who don't actually read the article, this is a car that is not only just a concept, but is a concept aimed at the type of women who would never open the hood anyway.

    The headline should have been much, much clearer.
    • Re:Argh. (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lxy ( 80823 )
      Agreed. /me removes tin foil hat. Nothing to see here.
    • Audi A2 (Score:5, Informative)

      by dontod ( 571749 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:58AM (#8462279) Homepage
      The Audi A2 is halfway towards this concept. It doesn't have a bonnet (hood) as such, just a small flap to check oil and water levels.

      • Re:Audi A2 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Mr. Piddle ( 567882 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:55AM (#8462968)

        You know, there is a real advantage to a sealed hood/bonnet: stiffness. I would bet that the modern hood is a real PITA to car structural designers who look at that big unstressed hood and weep.
    • Re:Argh. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:08AM (#8462397) Journal
      My thoughts exactly. In fact, it's completely misleading.

      The "Hood" is one peice, so there is no "hatch" like a traditional car. But it's still removable for access. The headline suggests the engine is completely sealed off to prevent anyone but the manufacturer from touching the insides.

      Also, you make an interesting point about the type of people that would buy this car for the same rasons it was designed this way ("wold never oen the hood anyway"). From the article:

      "So we shifted the filling station for washer fluid to the side of the car, next to where you fill up fuel, and we closed the bonnet for good."

      Now taking bets on how often gasoline ends up in the washer fuild or vice versa!

      The car should be programmed to discover any problems under the bonnet, then send a message to the garage to let them know.

      Well that's something I don't particularly care for...

      The mechanics would then contact the women directly to invite them over. ...too easy... :)

      "If the car says nothing, then everything is fine," said Ms Temm optimistically. ...said Ms Temm optimistically, while sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck...

      So they have implemented a body scanning system...

      The results of which are also sent to the mechanics so they can decide if they need to contact the driver directly and invite them to their shop!
      • Re:Argh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION ( 553878 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @11:00AM (#8463033)
        The headline suggests the engine is completely sealed off to prevent anyone but the manufacturer from touching the insides.

        So does the BBC article:

        The whole front of the car is moulded in one piece which can be removed only by a Volvo mechanic.

        The headline was only misleading to the extent that it didn't mention the "designed for women by women" angle--that it's not Volvo wanting to seal everyone's hood, just those of women. So they aren't attacking open source, they're attacking respect for women. Which is kind of worse if you stop and think about it.

  • Mechanics? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kravlor ( 597242 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#8462176) Homepage
    There's something about trusting the mechanics to tell me when my car's broken that I don't really like...

    Besides, what happens when the radio transmitter breaks?

    • by no longer myself ( 741142 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:01AM (#8462315)
      My mechanic would never lie to me! He always charges me a fair price for my weekly fill-up of "blinker fluid".
    • Re:Mechanics? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nizo ( 81281 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:36AM (#8462684) Homepage Journal
      There's something about trusting the mechanics to tell me when my car's broken that I don't really like...

      But how else would we know what our boss feels like when we say the harddrive just died on the RAID attached to the mailserver, and even though the machine is chugging along just fine, we really do need a new disk?

  • by intertwingled ( 574374 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#8462182) Homepage
    Personally, I think that the union of computers and internal combustion engines is just plain stupid. One EMP burst and every automobile that has an Engine Control Computer within range of the EMP is dead. =/ Plus, I am mechanically inclined and often it is cheaper and easier for me to do my own maintenance and minor repairs. Welding the engine hood shut is doubly stupid. What if there is an engine fire?
    • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:56AM (#8462250) Journal
      What if there is an engine fire?

      Then you need a fire engine.
    • One EMP burst and every automobile that has an Engine Control Computer within range of the EMP is dead. =/

      I know! These things are WAY too susceptible to the side effects of a nuclear blast! That's why I drive 100% mechanical vehicles from the mid seventies or earlier. The rest of you ninnies are going to look really dumb when the next EMP comes around! HA! HA HA HA!

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:06AM (#8462371) Homepage
      if you really desire the days of mechanical points for the ignition system then you can have them buddy.

      90% of all horsepower increase achievements have came from electronic and computerized engine management. There are things you CANNOT do with mechanical ignition timing and engine management.
    • According to this article, the metal frame of an automobile acts as a faraday cage and is therefore immune to EMP blasts. n.htm []

      Of course this wouldn't be the case with cars built with plastic frames.
    • by jridley ( 9305 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:26AM (#8462568)
      I have to disagree. The advantages of modern engine control are huge. Computer control has given us tons in terms of increased efficiency and horsepower, decreased emissions, and increased integration between components; IE when you stomp on the gas, the computer turns off the A/C for a few seconds to divert power to the drivetrain.

      Computer engine control was kind of rough when it first started being used; the computers died a lot, they were susceptible to sensor failure, etc. Now they're way better, and engines are FAR more reliable than they were before computers.

      I for one don't want to go back to the days of carburetors and distributors. Fuel injection and coil packs or coil-on-plug, along with the computer(s) to control them, have made cars LOADS more reliable. Sure, it may be harder to work on them, but you don't NEED to work on them nearly as much.

      Try taking a 1969 car and driving it 120,000 miles without doing anything more than changing the oil.

      Also, I find that in most cases it's EASIER to work on my car with a computer. Without a computer you only know if there's something wrong if it's bad enough to cause serious performance degradation. With a computer, you can catch problems way before they become serious. I had a light a few months ago, went to the auto parts store, borrowed their scanner, saw that I had a stuck EGR valve, wrenched it off, cleaned it, and replaced it. Without the computer I'd never have had a clue, just kept polluting more than necessary, and possibly fouling my catalytic converter as well.

      I do have to agree about the shut hood though. I'd never even consider buying a car like this, or letting anyone in my family buy one.

      I think they're missing a bit by saying this is "for women" - most men never do anything under the hood, either; I know men that are more hopeless mechanically than many women I know. One of the best mechanics I've ever had was female. I think the whole thing is kind of insulting.
  • Nice Quote! (Score:5, Funny)

    by T-Kir ( 597145 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#8462184) Homepage

    The car should be programmed to discover any problems under the bonnet, then send a message to the garage to let them know.

    The mechanics would then contact the women directly to invite them over.

    Is it me, or do I have a dirty mind this afternoon? ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ha ha.

      Dear Mrs Svensson,

      Please come over to the Orebro garage - I need to tweak your flange.

  • by dark404 ( 714846 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#8462185)
    What happens when the engine overheats or you get in an accident and the engine is on fire?

    "I'm sorry mr. firefighter, only a certified volvo firefighter is allowed to put out this fire"

  • just my opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greechneb ( 574646 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#8462187) Journal
    the article says only a volvo mechanic would be able to remove the bonnet... basically the whole front end. You think your mechanic will want to remove the whole front end just to replace a $5 part that would take 30 minutes, that will now take 2 hours? Of course they do get paid by the hour, so maybe it is a way of getting more shop time....
  • Screw That! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xianzombie ( 123633 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#8462188)
    >The whole front of the car is moulded in one >piece which can be removed only by a Volvo >mechanic.

    Great, so you can pay $40+ (USD) for an oilchange, along with god knows what a dealer charges for the rest of the routine maintence.

    I mean, ok, so the cars geared for women, and we know they can't do their own maintence, but what if they have an ounce of common sense and realize theres no reason to pay dealer prices?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#8462189)
    Actually, the article just seems to be about the reinforcement of stereotypes that women don't want to get their hands dirty fixing the car. The concept car is supposed to be "feminine", and quotes some woman about how she never wants to go under the hood. Stereotypes flourish in Scandinavia!

  • Awful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThePretender ( 180143 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:52AM (#8462197) Homepage
    Now I can't be the only one who finds the generalizations made in the article offensive! And I'm not a woman and by no means some earthy-crunchy sensitive 90's-type guy.

    On top of that, the concept is stupid. There are things that people (yes, even women) can do themselves under the hood of their own car. What's next? Welding our computer cases shut? (or at least making better "void your warranty" stickers)
  • missing a step (Score:4, Insightful)

    by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:52AM (#8462198) Homepage Journal
    so, did the women who designed it think that something under the hood would never break or that the car is disposable? Were the women who designed this some high maintaince women whos daddys/husbands buy them everything?

    If it breaks under the hood how do you fix it????????????
  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aliens ( 90441 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:52AM (#8462201) Homepage Journal
    Don't buy the car, it doesn't sell you won't see others like it.
  • Not a new idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stackster ( 454159 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:53AM (#8462208) Journal
    The Audi A2, which actually is _in production_ (and has been for a couple of years) has a "locked" hood/bonnet too. There's just a small hatch where you can fill up washer fluid and cooling water .
    • Re:Not a new idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by DocSnyder ( 10755 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:08AM (#8462390)
      The Audi A2, which actually is _in production_ (and has been for a couple of years) has a "locked" hood/bonnet too.

      The A2's hood is not really locked shut, it's only held differently compared to other cars. After unlocking two quick-out knobs, you can lift the hood (about 9 kg) off and access everything without the hood being in the way.

  • That's just silly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lovelee ( 133742 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:53AM (#8462212)
    Just because some woman's organization thinks the only reason some women want to look under the bonnet is to add washer fluid doesn't mean females want to trek their car into a mechanic to check their oil or change a fuse (my fuse box is under the bonnet!).

    Women gripe about how mechanics always treat them badly and try to take advantage of them anyway - why enable that by making a car that you can't check out, even if you wanted to?
  • by ravind ( 701403 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:54AM (#8462228)
    So the question to ask, when queried about the benefits of open source is: "Are you a man?" :D

    In fact you could also put that on a t-shirt - "Real Men Use Linux"
  • by ponxx ( 193567 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:56AM (#8462242)
    I'm not particularly convinced by this car... what happens if it breaks down on the motorway? Do you have to call the Volvo break down service? How about a dead battery? Or just flat one when you need a jump-start? What if you want to get an oil-change at a garage round the corner? It strikes me as the kind of thing a car maker would do to increase their slice of the servicing market, much like some up-market cars that have rare or very odd parts so that only "authorised garages" are likely to be able to do anything beyond chancingin the oil...

    Most of the other design features also sound more like bunch of men were having a laugh as to what a woman wants in a car... like being able to colour-coordinate with your clothes... Please!!!

    I guess doing this kind of design study is a good way of getting publicity though, even made it onto slashdot...

  • by The Wing Lover ( 106357 ) <> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:56AM (#8462245) Homepage
    "Women are soooo bad with cars that they can't even be trusted with a hood that can open!"

    Come on! Just because a lot of women don't do their own maintenance, does that mean that the hood should be locked shut? I mean, women who *don't* know how to do their own spark plug changes or oil changes would still be smart enough to just not open the hood, wouldn't they?

    'Sides, the car-repair show on the local radio program is hosted by a woman who is a genius when it comes to mechanics -- I wonder what she'd have to say about it.
  • by beware1000 ( 678753 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:56AM (#8462246)
    anyone wanna join in on a business that produces 'warranty void if seal broken' stickers? There seems to be a rapidly growing market for it...
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:57AM (#8462259) Journal
    Only this time, it is common sense spelt with an F for Feminine rather than Farmer.

    Geez, I was looking for Kent Brockman's byline at the top of that.

  • IBM lost several anti-trust cases based on exclusive service agreements with customers, and invalidating warrenties for user-installed parts. (The big three also tried these shenanigans back in the day, AND LOST.)

    I don't know what the legal precidents are in Europe, but in the US Volvo would be laughed out of court if someone sued.

  • by curtisk ( 191737 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:57AM (#8462272) Homepage Journal
    What are they intending to do, design a custom bolt system and tool that ONLY Volvo can get their hands on? I believe GM has tried that in the past "..only use GM tool #xxxxx to remove"

    Please.....if someone wants that hood(bonnet) off , its coming off.....Volvo certified or not

    It's amazing what improv tools mechanics can come up with

  • .yawn. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aixou ( 756713 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:58AM (#8462281)
    The analogy is flawed. Not having access to the source code of a program does not mean that you can not troubleshoot or perform basic maintenance on it.

    A car with a welded hood would be like having a harddrive that couldn't be defragged, it would be like not being able to use anti-virus software.

    Source code isn't everything. I perform basic maintenance on closed source programs everyday. It could be argued that a closed source easy-troubleshootable program is actually easy to fix than an opensource program whose developers don't give a crap about trying to help people troubleshoot.
    • Re:.yawn. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by microbox ( 704317 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:09AM (#8462408)
      Word just quit on me... some sort of internal error, okay, how to I troubleshoot it =)

      Source code isn't everything

      Why yes... there's configuration files, so if your programme crashes in 640x480 resolution then...

      I perform basic maintenance on closed source programs everyday

      What exactly to you mean my maintenance, and if it's so easy why do you do it every day?

      A car with a welded hood would be like having a harddrive that couldn't be defragged

      Defragging a HD is one operation. Having the hood open lets you change many things. Do you see the distinction?

      The analogy is flawed

      Smiles politely. Oh all right, I fell down laughing =) =) =) =)
  • This bears watching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) * <onyxruby@[ ] ['com' in gap]> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:00AM (#8462298)
    This bears watching, especially since a "special" mechanics tool will be required to remove the one piece front end. Stick a "void if removed" warranty sticker over the "special" tool hole, enlist the DMCA and you've got an engine that can never legally be maintained by the owner. If you really want to go whole hog you call the "special" tool a security device and DMCA the car itself.

    Just think, cars of the future could be the permanent property of the automotive world. You wouldn't but them, you would license them. I understand Idrive from BMW has a license sticker installed on the windshield that you are forced to accept (by removing) in some countries in order to use the car. All of this could be done with the law as it is today. Circumvention could be prosecuted under the DMCA.

    Manufactures would love this because it would force people to get their maintence, even routine maintenence would have to be done at the dealership at their extremely expensive rates. Rates so expensive an entire industry literaly grew up around alternative service options.

    Now for the outlandish. This would be a good thing - because it would show joe sixpack how licensing and the DMCA are uncapitalistic and harmful. Your plumber may not give two hoots about a computer, but you can be sure he'll raise hell if he finds out he can't change his own oil or give the old jalolopee to his kids.
  • by cblguy ( 697834 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:01AM (#8462308)
    Modern auto engineering is about packing as many options in as little space as possible - all while allowing room to cool the engine.

    Many vehicles are designed to have "minor" service with "major" pain. Ever look under the hood of a minivan? Good luck changing the fuel injectors, or a spark plug. Most of these will require removal of at least the intake manifold's upper plenum (along with accessories), if not dropping the engine cradle.

    For many people, a "welded" hood already exists - they don't want to open it anyway. It's not for me (I wrench my own cars - rebuilding my own transmission this weekend). But for others, why not. A welded hood is not much of a difference than the way my father-in-law treats his Cadillac anyway.

  • My problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lexarius ( 560925 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:01AM (#8462309)
    My problem isn't so much the engine being inaccessible. My problem is that someone thought magnetized seat covers were a good idea. When I get in the car, where do I put my laptop?
  • As a woman... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by musingmelpomene ( 703985 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:02AM (#8462320) Homepage
    I think this is a terrible idea.

    Oh yeah, and as a woman who can't afford to go to a mechanic every time my car needs a fluid topoff, I think this would suck a lot.

    I think it would discourage people from doing routine maintenance on their vehicles and from being able to figure out problems before heading to the mechanic.

    When I go to mechanics, they often try to rip me off or tell me I need more parts than I do. One of them tried to get me to buy a new radiator when I already knew I only needed a coolant overflow tank (because the radiator was full and only the overflow tank was consistently empty).

    Sure, if a person's not going to do any maintenance anyway, whatever. But this is basically like saying "rip me off, pretty please, I have no idea what this car does or what's under the hood!"

    Additionally - what happens when you need a jump, or when your battery needs replaced? Even the most technologically inept woman I've ever met can be talked through a battery installation. What happens if your battery dies a hundred miles from the nearest Volvo dealership?
  • by sielwolf ( 246764 ) * on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:03AM (#8462340) Homepage Journal
    that women would never want to open the hood to their car, or that women came up with the concept (that women would never want to open the hood)?

    Of course, from the article: The whole front of the car is moulded in one piece which can be removed only by a Volvo mechanic.

    Bull. This is up there with the three bits (or whatever) of encryption on DVDs as the lamest attempt at obfuscation. The next day, after hitting the showroom, Autozone would have a 3 dollar wrench to open this bastard. And I bet anyone with an IQ over 10 could pop this badboy off with a screwdriver and a little leverage. That's probably all this Volvo mechanic would do after tiring of this Feature.

    A clumsy kludge that has no point other than being a big pain in the ass. Really, does having access to you're car's naughty bits in any way effect driving? This is the New Coke of car innovations.

    Besides, the only Swedish vehicle worth sitting in is a Saab Draken. ;)
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:03AM (#8462346)
    Pretty soon, all the cars will be always on the Internet anyway. Watch for the following in your future:

    The MyDoom worm: immediately crashes car into brick wall once you go over 55 mph.

    Popup ads in the windshield are an ever-growing visibility problem until you download the Google dashboard which includes a windshield wiper that removes them.

    Cops pull you over for overclocking

    The same grease-stained mechanic who works on your Apple car also works on your nice white iPod, leaving permanent smudges on the case.

    Hayes Accura modem sues Honda Acura car

  • by Ride-My-Rocket ( 96935 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:04AM (#8462355) Homepage
    "If the car says nothing, then everything is fine," said Ms Temm optimistically.


    "It is minimal maintenance, really, because the customers have limited time and they don't want a car that gives them a lot of hassle," said Ms Christiansen.

    I realize this is just a concept car, so I'm not going to get too worked up about this. But this attitude does seems to be an analogue to the open-source vs closed-source software situation.

    What this car relies upon is for nothing to go wrong, and for the internal diagnostics to catch any issues or errors that occur. Which is good, because it means most drivers -- who don't know much about how cars work -- will only need to interact with their car in a very cursory way. However, this attitude of welding the hood shut can also work against your average driver. For example, what if you want to add more oil to your car? Even if they redesigned the car so that you could check oil levels or add more oil easily, just as they moved the wiper fluid to more accessible location, what if you wanted to change your own oil, and save $30-$50? You couldn't, and in an emergency, you would need the help of a certified Volve mechanic to remove the hood. To me, this sounds kinda like Windows -- it's really easy to use and designed to take care of most problems, but when things invariably do go wrong, there's not much you can do to investigate (assuming you have the technical expertise, of course).

    Right now, cars are kinda clunky and they might not have as much sophisticated diagnostics in place as this concept car, but you can get at everything when you need to. I can't see consumers giving this now that they have it, just as I can't see the open-source movement doing anything but making progress and gaining mind-/market-share in the coming years.
  • by a-aiyar ( 528921 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:05AM (#8462361) Homepage
    The link to Volvo is wrong. Volvo [] has nothing to do with Volvo cars. Volvo Corporation makes trucks, marine engines, aircraft engines, and used to make cars. The automobile division was sold to Ford [] about 7 years ago. The correct link is VolvoCars []. Long-time Volvo enthusiasts, such as myself (who loved our 140s, 240, and 740s) are somewhat skeptical of the quality of the newer Volvo cars made under Ford management. For instance the latest S40 (due out this spring) shares a common platform with the Ford Focus and the Mazda 3, but costs about twice as much because of the Volvo branding.
  • by REBloomfield ( 550182 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:06AM (#8462373)
    The Audi A2 already does this. There's a flap for the oil, water, etc, but that's it!!
  • by AgTiger ( 458268 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:07AM (#8462382) Homepage
    Other people have mentioned the Roadside Breakdown aspect, but I don't think anyone's touched on this aspect yet:

    Having the hood of a car up is a well recognized sign of vehicle breakdown, and that the driver could probably use assistance.

    In my area of the world, if the police see a vehicle with the hood up without their own yellow police tape attached to the vehicle (to indicate they've dealt with this vehicle already), they'll stop and offer assistance.

    How, exactly, is the driver of one of these vehicles supposed to use this very simple and well understood signal? Madly flag down drivers and risk getting run over?

    And this is only ONE example of what a bad idea this vehicle is.

  • silly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:09AM (#8462405) Homepage
    The idea is simply silly. The fact that the hood opens isn't for women to pop open when their cars break down so they can stare at it and wonder why it's not running. (Men either...) It's for the MECHANIC's convenience. Even if it's a Volvo certified shop, to have to pull the vehicle into a bay and hook it up to some gizmo to lift off the front end to replace a plug wire that fell off the distributor is silly. Especially when the vehicle is still under warranty, and the manufacturer is footing the bill. I suspect if Volvo ever implemented this sort of scheme they'd wind up replacing the front ends with ones with standard bonnets just to eliminate the extra load on their dealers' mechanics.
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:11AM (#8462432)
    While I doubt that cars have reached this point, there will come a time when it makes economic sense to "weld the hood shut." Building a nice easy-open car hood does cost money. If a car were as reliable as most consumer electronics, there would be little reasons for most people to get inside the hood on a routine basis. Cars are n't there yet, but as engine reliability increases, there will be less reason to get under the hood and thus less reason to pay for all the parts and mechanisms needed to made a door on the front of the car.

    When was the last time you needed get inside your car's radio? (OK, I know I posting on /. and someone hacker out their will have done something interesting inside their car radio)

    The point is that if the cost of providing access exceeds the benefits of providing access, then you get products with "no user servicable parts inside."
  • YCC Chick: What seems to be wrong with my car?
    Tow Truck Driver: Welp, it seems you've done busted a fan belt.
    YCCC: Golly! Can you fix it? I mean, I'm stuck out here in the rain in the middle of nowhere.
    TTD: No problem, little lady. Fan belts aint't no real trick. Happens all the time.
    YCCC: Will it cost very much? I mean, I just spent all my money on this groovy car built by women, for women.
    TTD: The fan belt will cost you about twelve bucks, but the installtion will be about twelve-hundred.
    YCCC: WTF!?
    TTD: Welp, you see we gotta tow this honey to a Volvo dealer, and they have to take the front end apart to install the fan belt. Shouldn't take more than a couple of days.
    YCCC: (crying) But, its so easy to refill the washer fluid...

    Give me a freakin break...

  • UNIX-ish (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bud ( 1705 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:30AM (#8462608)

    "If the car says nothing, then everything is fine," said Ms Temm optimistically.

    Cool. This is really a good idea from a user interface point of view, and one which makes the UNIX shell so nice to work with. If you get no response from the shell command, it means that things went just fine.

    Speaking of welded-shut motor hoods... you know, I'd hate to cruise down the highway and see the warning message on the panel: "You have shifted into fifth gear. The change will take effect after you have restarted the motor. Restart now? [Yes] [No]"...


  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @11:48AM (#8463649) Homepage
    A lot of people here are saying, "What's the big deal, we never fix our own cars anyway?!" And they are mostly right. Other than changing my battery, I would never repair my own car.

    However, they are missing the larger picture. If the manufacturer is the only entity that can repair the vehicle, the profit will not come from the sale but from the repair.

    And once the repair of the vehicle becomes the means of profit, manufacturers will have NO incentive to make quality automobiles. They will have every incentive to create automobiles that WILL require repairs, because that would fit perfectly with their new business model.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel