America lacks in automotive excellence
Posted on Aug 17, 2012 in Opinion
European countries’ automotive excellence thrives because its people have a voracious appetite for brawny, yet nimble cars. Furthermore, legendary competitions like the Formula One Grand Prix provide compelling reasons for manufacturers to produce their tarmac-tearing beasts.
Where is this fierce spirit in the United States? Where are the raceways and the F1 champs?
Where are the slick-shod, high-revving beasts? For all its patriotism, the global racing community likens America’s dreadful automotive track record to that of a third-world country.
A mindless driving record fuels America’s abysmal racing pedigree. After having a learner’s permit for only a year, most states allow 16-year-olds to get a driver’s license if they pass a single driving exam.
European countries award licenses much more selectively. They require people to attend driving academies for a few years before licensing. These academies produce drivers who can not only drive on a variety of surfaces but also react to hazards like dodging animals and debris on the road. When drivers graduate, they can execute perfect donuts; Americans still struggle with the basics. Not surprising, countries like France and Finland crank out Formula One and rally champions, while American drivers lag behind like a sloppy opposite lock drift.
America not only lacks skilled drivers, but it also produces inferior vehicles. American cars handle like an M1A1 Abrams battle tank because of willowy suspension, loose steering and automatic transmission. Conversely, European manufacturers tune their mostly manual cars for a tight, sporty experience.
All of these variables demand mindful driving that requires more precision. For example, American muscle cars thrill drivers with stomach churning speed, provided they stay in a straight line. European sport coupes, on the other hand, dazzle onlookers with impressive speed and cornering ability.
America’s racing reputation may not seem momentous, but the factors that contribute to it have impact. Automotive accidents place sixth in preventable causes of death. However, decrepit unbanked roads used by inexperienced drivers aren’t cause for alarm.
America’s disregard for motorsports also stems from its indifference to production quality. Shining plastic trim on a roofline or an abundance of knobs on the center console satisfies customers more than the car’s ability to function. Fortunately, manufacturers’ accountability and road safety can easily be addressed. Yet, America’s laughable racing pedigree has no hope for a podium finish.