All the torque

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note: this is a machine generated transcript and may not be completely accurate. This is provided for convience and should not be used for attribution.

Anthony: Fred, you missed it. I was just testing out audio that I can just insert in so recall Roundup Intro, tau intro and the show intro. You guys ready for it? Cause I got a new show intro. Here we go. Ooh, you are listening

to There Auto Be A Law. The Center for Auto Safety podcast with executive director Michael Brooks, chief engineer Fred Perkins, and hosted by me Anthony Seminar.

For over 50 years, the Center for Auto Safety has worked to make cars safer.

Fred: Oh, that’s beautiful.

That’s beautiful.

Michael: I like it.

Anthony: Gets a little loud there at the end but

hey listeners,

welcome to season two. We’ll call it season two because you know this is episode 53, you don’t have to catch up on all 52 episodes. It’s not lost. It is lost in that we’re making it up as we go along.

That’s an old reference, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s,

Michael: It’s like one of those sitcoms where you can just catch any episode and you’re caught up to speed. You don’t have to follow the plot from day one,

Anthony: but the plot is pretty much the same here. Each, let’s start off with a, our continuing long story about driverless cars, Waymo Cruz, and San Francisco.

As we’ve mentioned in the past voters, residents of places like San Francisco and Seattle, Washington want. Control over how cars are running their city. I know it’s naive, this idea of democracy, but it’s adorable. But states like California are like, Nope, we’re gonna override what you wanna do in your municipalities.

Washington, same thing, good luck. But now there was a vote scheduled by the California Public Utilities Commission that would allow unlimited expansion of GM cruise and Waymo robot taxis on public streets. But this has been postponed to further review. And historically, this is just something that just happens, and it goes through, no one notices it, but Waymo has been causing issues with the police.

GM Cruz has been blocking firetruck, and now people are getting a little annoyed with it, including the the fire chief of San Francisco who says she, that they’ve lo the fire department of San Francisco since January 1st has logged at least 39 robo taxi incident reports. Ugh.

Fred: Anthony, I, can you explain to me why it’s a bad idea for unscrewed vehicles to be blocking fire trucks?

Because it doesn’t seem to be obvious to everybody.

Anthony: Oh, let’s see. Got a fire going along. This robo taxi rolls over my fire hose, blocks the flow of water there, and now we can’t move it outta the way. There’s no one to talk to. There’s no one to signal, there’s no international sign language for get your vehicle off my fire hose.

That’s one reason.

Fred: So that’s generally bad performance on the part of the cruise vehicle? Is that I

Anthony: think it’s poor. I think it’s poor design on the building codes in San Francisco. Why haven’t they made all the buildings out of asbestos? It won’t burn.

Fred: That’s true. That would save a lot, wouldn’t it?

If they just made all the buildings fireproof. Yeah.

Made earthquake

Anthony: proof. Yeah. It’s their fault for design. They designed a system that requires a fire department. You’re just planning for failure right there.

Fred: That’s planned obsolescence, isn’t it? They’re gonna burn


Anthony: Absolutely, Michael.

Michael: So they’ve they’ve delayed a vote on this. It appears because there’s been some significant public opposition to the expansion of the services that Cruz and Waymo are attempting to offer there. This is about two weeks, I believe, after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority.

Am I getting that right? S F M T A pushed back on and put out a document, based on their data saying that Cruz is about 6.3 times more dangerous than a human driver. And that basically, they. They may have met their requirements in California to get a learner’s permit, but they haven’t gotten to where they could get an actual driver’s license, which as we all know, even bad drivers get often.

So it’s certainly not a glowing review and it’s. The Public Utilities Commission in California is in charge of this process. And San Francisco has to go to them and to the state to get things done on its streets, which is problematic. And I think we referred to it last week and speaking about how, the AV industry and their lobby are trying to basically make states, cities, and the federal government powerless all at the same time.

Through all types of preemption and other legal maneuvers while continuing to tout these benefits of these vehicles that we don’t see for the disabled and for other communities yet for the firefighter community, they’re causing a lot of problems. I think Waymo even ran over a dog a couple of weeks ago.

So it’s. It’s just continuing to be rolled out without really any public data being provided to show that these vehicles are safe. Now, we’ve talked about how Waymo is putting out data on crashes and incidents, and is doing a really good job of that. What it appears they’re missing is how their vehicles are affecting traffic when they go into, what we’ve called a a state of confusion or an existential crisis where they just can’t figure out what to do and they stop in the middle of the road and how that affects everyone around them.

While they might not be, running over and killing humans or causing massive injuries, yet they’re not really focused on the other impacts that they’re having on the streets of San Francisco, which we’ve talked about ad nauseum, and the and the. Chief among those appear to be some of the firefighters complaints because they’re the ones responding to accident scenes.

Plus they’re the ones who, when they respond to house fires or having their hoses and their operations threatened by vehicles without a driver in them. So we are firmly on the side, local authorities being able to determine what types of vehicles are able to operate on their streets, particularly in situations like this where there are traffic and safety consequences.

Fred: Michael, has anybody ever let, lemme just ask this, has anybody ever shown that any individual human being anywhere has ever saved time, money, or hazard by using an self-driving vehicle?

Michael: I can’t imagine that data is even available if it exists, and I don’t think it does.

Anthony: And he really preferred his brow when answering that.

So he gave it some thought.

Michael: I telegraph when I’m actually using my brain. That’s good.

Fred: We used to, in the old days you used to call that vaporware Anthony. Is vaporware still something that’s a current term or is that moved on?

Anthony: Vaporware is definitely still a thing, but Michael Waymo says that it was disappointed by the commission’s delay and that it’s data to date has shown no collisions involving pedestrians or cyclists.

We’re gonna ignore city buses, other vehicles. Yeah.

Michael: I think that’s the tunnel vision that they’re referring to. The S F M T A is, or S M F t S F M T A, I’ll get it right one day. That’s what they’re referring to. They’re saying yeah, you’re focused on, you’re doing a, you’re doing good on the safety side of the actual vehicle.

Operating and not hitting things. But what you’re not really getting right is when the vehicle can’t operate and is blocking traffic, blocking emergency vehicles, things like where the vehicle is dropping off passengers and a number of other issues that show that there, there’s, there’s still a long way to go.

While these vehicles might be op able to operate safely under, under limited circumstances on city streets, they’re not quite doing it in a way that’s helping the city. They’re creating more congestion and more problems. And so inevitably I think we all need to ask what’s the point? And we’ve asked this before, what’s the point of having these things on the roads in your city if they’re only causing problems?

And you’re basically becoming a test ground and you’re absorbing some of the Negatives of and of the rollout of these vehicles and you’re not getting anything in return. So it’s, I think it’s gonna, it’s gonna end up costing San Francisco more money to have these vehicles in its city.

So they need to see some corresponding benefits. I don’t think they’re getting that yet.

Anthony: It’s interesting cause GM Cruise, they mentioned how a bunch of disability rights groups have sent letters and support. And so I asked a friend of mine who’s blind about this, I said, wouldn’t it make more sense that you’d actually have a driver there to help you if you need in and out?

You make sure you’re getting to the door and whatnot. And when he said to me was interesting, he said, it’s about having not having to rely on other people. He said, so the dream is that I could own a vehicle like this not as a taxi service, but that one day I could own a vehicle like this and I can have independence and get around without having to rely on others.

But he freely admits that this future probably will never occur. So it’s, they’re playing this fictitious strawman that maybe, hey, in the future in 20 where everything will be better in 20, 30 years when we have all this figured out and that it’s cheap enough for you to actually own these vehicles, that it’s a good thing.

Whereas ignoring the reality of today, whereas, the cars will threaten the police.

Michael: It’s tough. And that is the number one thing I hear from when we read the comments from the groups representing Blind. The blind, they say that their independence is really the number one thing for ’em.

They don’t wanna have to rely on another driver or, if you’re like me and you’re you have a streak of your little misanthrope. You won’t your time to yourself. And I could see where that’s super important to people and so I get it.

But yes, like you, I, I just can’t, I, first of all, from the ownership perspective, I don’t know that ownership of these things is ever truly gonna be possible. We’ll see the Robax idea maybe that’s certainly what, everyone’s pushing from Tesla on up, but I. It’s gonna be a long time. Particularly if they can’t resolve some of these human vehicle problem interactions with firefighters and that type of thing. Because putting this system into play on the streets where we’re already having problems, we already have a pedestrian crisis. We already having so many different transportation issues, avs are not solving them right now.

There’s very little benefit and a lot of drawbacks to having them on the road at this moment. And I think as they roll out into more cities, you’re going to see more locals come out like this. And hopefully we listen to the people and not to the billions of dollars in corporate money that’s funding these experiments.

Anthony: Yeah it’s absolutely amazing to me. I just think of the example, I think it was Waymo a couple weeks ago. We talked about where the reporter tried to use it and it wouldn’t drop him off at his location. It slowed down, pulled over, and then sped off to some other location. How frightening would that be?

Especially, you have any sort of disability like you’re trying to get out, nah, you’re moving, hey, everything will be better. And these cars make the world safer. Can you smell that sarcasm listener? Because if you can, you should go to auto and donate and we’ll send you whole packets of sarcasm.

Actually, we’re not gonna send you anything. It’s, it’s a charity. It’s a nonprofit charity. Okay. You’re making it, you get some sort of tax benefit. I’m not a tax lawyer or an accountant. I don’t know how it works. But you should donate and then we’ll continue with the conversation about how the roads are becoming very dangerous for pedestrians.

America was a dangerous place to be a pedestrian In 2022, preliminary data analyzed by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, everyone’s got their own safety association, found that 7,508 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes last year. The highest numbers of deaths since 1981. Amazing. And the thing is, it points out that most of these deaths where the massive increase has been in states, Arizona, Virginia, Oregon, Tennessee, Wisconsin, but streets that surprisingly have gotten safer are DC Montana, which Montana, I don’t even think has a speed limit.

New York New Jersey of all places. It’s amazing. And we’ve talked about this, about how pedestrians are people too.

Michael: Yeah there’s just so many. Issues involved here. We’ve talked about the threat to pedestrians from the heavier vehicles, from the larger in stature vehicles.

There are just dozens of issues behind this. We started, we’ve started to see. A lot of distraction causing these in incidents. Both, both by drivers and by pedestrians. Just like we see in, in pedestrian incidents, we see a lot of inebriated or drunk drivers and there are also inebriated pedestrians.

I’ve seen, blame a lot of blame cast towards infrastructure as part of the problem. Road designs streets, lacking sidewalks, proper places to cross. And there are a lot of technological solutions there that state highway departments and cities can put in place to solve some of these issues.

And there are either funding issues or, frankly, motivational or just a desire to get these type of things done is a problem in some states. So there are many problems here that are causing this issue with pedestrians and, we have to attack every one of ’em. One of those issues is.

Making sure that vehicles don’t continue to grow in stature so much that, what is a 30 mile per hour collision now killing a pedestrian doesn’t become 20 because the weight of the vehicles have increased so much. So it’s, it’s a disaster. It’s a crisis and it’s ongoing and the numbers are going up every year, and they’re going up in relation to the overall total of fatalities on our roads.

We have had increase in the last few years in fatalities on our roads, but the increase there hasn’t been nearly as significant as what we’ve seen in the area of pedestrians being killed. I believe there’s been a, like a 75% rise in the last decade or so in the number of pedestrians killed, which is enormous.

And, it. It strikes me that we should be able to find some solutions to this by, just seeing what’s happened since in the last 10 years. And obviously, distracted driving heavy vehicles have become a bigger problem. We’ve also seen there, there’s certain places where this tends to happen too, like you mentioned Oregon.

There’s, a staggeringly, large number of the pedestrians that are struck in Oregon are homeless or unhoused people who, are living on the streets and, it makes sense that they might be exposed to more risk, but that’s a huge problem as well, addressing things. You wouldn’t think of it this way, but addressing, a crisis like homelessness can impact the number of pedestrians that are killed each year.

So there really are a lot of issues here that can and should be resolved. If only we have the political will to do it.

Fred: The fundamentally, most of the people are being killed at night, and my cars are going too fast and and or drunk drivers. So those are the major factors that I saw in there.

Michael, short term, what needs to happen is the speeding cars need to be kept separate from the pedestrians, and that’s the fundamental perspective behind the zero fatality initiatives that are going on around the world. That requires investment in structures and investment by the public, and separating the speeding vehicles from the pedestrians.

One solu, one part of that is to make sure the cars go slower with various kinds of construction, speed bumps, speed, humps, what have you. But longer term, you’re exactly right. The long-term solution is for. People’s behavior to change, particularly people who have no choice but to be on the streets and getting them away from the vehicles and getting the vehicles to slow down so that they’re not an inherent hazard to the people on the street.

That’s, it may be a big ask, but I think this is coupled with the whole idea of energy efficiency, reducing carbon footprints, basically redesigning transportation systems in some respects so that people use their cars less, use them more efficiently and don’t use them in areas that threaten human beings.

Anthony: So where does that limit car use To where, I’m sorry, what where does that limit car use to? So if it’s not gonna threaten humans anywhere. So

Fred: Limited access highways are relatively safe. There’s very few pedestrian accidents and collisions on limited access highways. There are. Very few pedestrian accidents on streets where vehicles are prohibited.

A lot of cities now are moving towards areas where pedestrians are the focus and the vehicles are the exception. You can do that with appropriate means for having people park their cars, used various other kinds of public ways to get into the city walking bicycles, moving sidewalks.

Who knows? There’s a lot of ways of doing that. It’s happening in Europe. Copenhagen’s a good example. Amsterdam barter Dam. I understand all the cities have got very low pedestrian deaths and yet life continues for the people who own cars. So I think there are ways to do it, Anthony, it needs the will and it needs the public commitment.

Anthony: I’m seeing it in my own neighborhood where they’ve closed off entire streets and it’s just, this is all pedestrian thoroughfare. Now I’ve actually contacted the New York City Department of Transportation and asked for a speed hump right outside my window because there’s a traffic light there and they it’s not a traffic light, it’s the starting line of a drag race every five minutes.

It is literally a drag race and it’s not a far race. They’ve raced to, basically to the, where the street goes from two lanes to one lanes to get onto a highway. Oh, that’s one of those, yeah. Yeah. And the city is written back and they’re like, no we’ve done a study. It’s not needed. And I’m like, what?

I’ve done a study too. I hear people crash their cars constantly here.

Michael: I think you just want to pick up on the extra catalytic converters that fall on the ground when they hit ’em too fast, right?

Anthony: Hey, look, platinum, it’s the future. So in this article that we’re linking to this is this is I think what we’ve been talking about, but quoting from it even before electrification, the weight of passenger vehicles has been rising.

In 1980, the average weight of a car was about 3,200 pounds. Now it is 4,200 pounds, just like the average weight of an American an increase of 31%. And over the past two decades, the average weight of a picke pickup truck rose by 24%. Studies show that for every 1000 pound increase in vehicle weight, there is a 46% increase in mo motorist fatalities.

Oh my God. So you gotta add in the car gained a thousand pounds. The driver. Yeah.

Michael: And gained a hundred. That was, those are ice vehicles. That’s pre electrification. So right now we’re dropping another 1500 or 2000 pounds in the heavier vehicles and, a few hundred, if not a thousand, and in a lot of other vehicles.

So those rates went up slowly over time. There. Now they’re going to go up even quicker.

Anthony: But physics, is it a real thing or is it just a myth?

Fred: Physics is a real thing. Yeah. And the fundamental physics are that the lighter object in a collision is going to suffer a disproportionate amount.

And getting hit by a train at 60 miles an hour is probably worse than getting hit by a car at 60 miles an hour. Neither one’s good, but I think the key is that, Some of this analysis done so far in the research is that fatalities occur most often when a vehicle speed exceeds 25 miles per hour.

Isn’t that right? Yes.

Michael: You’ve done that. You’ve done that work. That’s one of the reasons why you see so many more crashes pedestrian fatalities on arterial roads where you have a, stoplights and crossings, but you also have speed limits of 40 plus miles per hour.

Fred: The question is, would somebody be more injured by a heavier vehicle at 25 miles per hour than they are by a lighter vehicle at 25 miles per hour?

I’m not sure that study’s been done. I think that the statistics you were talking about are correlation rather than causality,

Michael: and it’s hard to do that because vehicles have different shapes that impact pedestrians in different ways.

Fred: And happily NHTSA is starting to consider including pedestrian protection in the endcap ratings.

So that’s good. That’s happening in parallel, but really there, there’s no substitute from keeping vulnerable road users away from speeding cars. That’s, that’s the fundamental change that’s gotta take place.

Anthony: So let’s tie these two subjects together. We did self-driving cars, we did road safety, and let’s pull ’em all together with this opinion piece from the Washington Post, talking about how Elon Musk likes to claim that his cars running autopilot are unequivocally safer.

Yet I’m not gonna show you the data quoting from this article. Post in investigation reveals the number of deaths and serious injuries associated with Tesla’s driver. Assistant technology is greater than previously ported. The most recent accounting by NHTSA includes 7 36 crashes since 2019, at least 17 of them fatal.

Oh my God.

Michael: That, speaking of a correlation and that cause Ally those numbers are from the standing general order, which is not a direct connection from the driver assistance. Tesla’s reporting crashes. There’s not an a, a causative Relationship between the crash and the level two plus system, whatever they’re calling it there, autopilot, full self-driving.

It’s actually all crashes involving Teslas where that tech was turned on. It’s, I think the harder numbers are going to be determined by some of the NHTSA special investigation teams that have gone to all these Tesla crashes and have now been holding onto their reports for six years or so.

Instead of releasing them publicly, that’s where the real the real data will come from. Where you’ll actually be able to see, what this crash, the autopilot did not recognize X, Y, and Z and ran into a highway barrier, that type of thing. Here, the standing general order just reports crashes that occur while I autopilot was on and in fact the reporting is bad from Tesla because they’re withholding.

Information like whether autopilot and full self-driving were, which one was being used. They’re withholding the crash narrative, which is critical to understanding what happened. If autopilot is on and a car flies off of a overpass above it and lands on the Tesla, it’s obviously not the Tesla’s fault yet that crash would still be reported in this data.

So I just want to, put that out as a word of caution when you’re reading some of these statistics that there’s not a direct correlation there, but there’s, a lot of smoke and where there’s smoke, we know what’s going on. Canada’s

Anthony: on fire, that’s what’s going on. So we talk a lot about recalls in the show, and we have a good article from the.

I’m not even gonna try and pronounce the name of this newspaper, but the links in the description and it basically talks about how regulations are better than recalls for vehicles. cause we always talk about, oh, they, nhtsa, they rere recalled a million vehicles, but only six, six people were injured.

That’s a ridiculous thing where people don’t realize that, it’s to prevent future things, but hey, if there were actual regulations in place, auto manufacturers would design to that. So this article talks about the tragic death of the Star Trek actor who died in 2015 when his Jeep grand Cherokee rolled backwards on his driveway and pinned him against a brick fence.

But Michael,

Michael: what so this, this it’s an editorial. It’s Norma Hubel, who is actually also known as the auto professor. I believe she works at I think it’s Arizona State. And she also, importantly, and this is something I think all of our listeners should check out if they go to the auto, she goes back and her team go back and they look at NHTSA crash data and.

You can go to her site and pick out your make Mullin year or a car you might be shopping for and look up, some of the actual, some of the actual things that happen or you get actual ratings because they’re based on crash data. And the cool thing about it is you can also select your age and gender to see how the vehicle that you’re looking at performed based on your own age or gender.

So that’s a really cool feature. And I would, I would tell consumers that’s someplace else they should go when they’re going to, NHTSA or Insurance Institute or Consumer reports for ratings. It might it might be a good thing also to check out Norma’s site and see how that matches up.

But she’s absolutely correct about the problem with recalls and we talk about recalls all the time. We love recalls because they get dangerous cars off the road. But what we don’t love about recalls is that they’re a retrospective action. They occur after. These things have started to happen after people have been killed or injured.

And we think there should be standards put in place before those things happen. And a recent example would be something like Teslas are having phantom breaking problems and they’re stopping. And we saw a crash in the Bay Area recently that involved this Tesla thinking it sees something stopping in the middle of the road and then causing a crash.

That is, something that we think could be ameliorated or fixed or corrected or made better by regulations from NHTSA before. Tesla puts this vehicle out on the road. Software standards and automatic emergency braking standards and sensor standards. All of those things could combine to make sure that phantom braking incidents happen, a lot less than they appear to be happening in the vehicle population right now.

We’ve been seeing them for years in Nissans and Toyotas and now in a lot of other vehicles, so we’ll probably see more of that over the years as automatic emergency braking develops as pedestrian automatic emergency braking develops. But, In a nutshell, if you can get those standards in place and manufacturers have to follow them at the time of manufacturer and eliminate issues like that, then you don’t have to come back and do recalls after people have been injured or killed.

Which is in a very important point, particularly when we’re looking at autonomous vehicles and it’s in the d o t have continued to maintain for about seven years now, that they’re going to be conducting a lot of their safety efforts in this area through recalls, which, seeing how slowly they’ve responded to Tesla and seeing how slowly they’ve responded to a number of other complex issues and technical issues doesn’t give me a lot of hope that the recall the recall and investigative process is going to be able to address, rapidly developing issues in autonomous vehicles that involve highly complex software and things that you can’t just see.

That, that’s basically in a nutshell, I think what Norma’s article speaks to, and it’s essentially a call to, for more action by the D O T and by NHTSA to prevent this, the recall system from being the only protector of the American public.

Fred: What lies behind this is and essentially underwrites the current process, is that all of these are engineered products and engineered products need to be developed, right?

They don’t just grow on trees. The system engineering is a part of any engineering development process and in system engineering, the fundamental thing that you do when you develop an engineered product is to come up with a set of requirements if you do not have a set of requirements that specify a certain behavior.

That behavior is only gonna end up accidentally in the product. So it, what that means is unless you’ve got specific requirements that say certain things have to happen, the fainting braking cannot occur, that the car cannot turn into a vulnerable road user, any number of other things, anything that is not required can only happen by accident.

Now the other side of this is that if you find after the engineering development is complete, that you need a certain behavior or a certain aspect of the design that’s not included, it is very expensive to go back and do that. So that’s the downside for the manufacturers of relying upon the recalls at NHTSA to determine what their design requirements should be.

Very expensive to implement at that time. And in fact, what we’ve seen is that the companies come back and say hell, I can’t do that. It’s too expensive. I can’t change all these airbag inflators. It’s too expensive. I can’t change all of these brittle bolts that are holding my rear rational in place.

It’s just too expensive to do that. If they had instead put in those requirements at the beginning of their development, it wouldn’t be an issue. It would never have to be corrected. It would never have to be corrected as part of a recall, because that recall would not happen. So I’m with Michael on this and I wanna point out to our listeners that any such problems are generally a defect in the system engineering process by the company that’s building the product.

People know how to do this, people know how to do system engineering. The marketing and the financial people get involved in this and. You’ve gotta give Elon a musk credit for knowing how to finance things that are going to be engineering developments. He does that probably better than anybody else, but it’s not the job of people who are in finance to determine what the requirements for the engineering development have to be based upon the safety of the result in product.

There’s gotta be a different process, and this is the only group, the only organization that’s in a position to put those requirements in place for safety that may not be in the best financial interest of a company, but that are in the best interest of public safety. N is the one, and they’ve gotta step up to it, and right now their position is that they’re just gonna wait for something to happen and then try to put a fix in after the fact.

It’s not good for people. It’s not good for the companies.

Anthony: Listen, Fred, as somebody who works in the finance department, okay? This $1 piece that you’re telling me that is required for engineering will save lives. But if you’re buying a Ford Pinto, you can’t really afford to spend that extra dollar. Sure.

Not everybody’s gonna make it, but hey, I, you’ll have that extra dollar in your pocket.

Fred: I had a Pinto.

I lived to tell the tale..

Anthony: Did you?

Fred: I did so far.


Anthony: Speaking of proposed rules, and this is a good thing NHTSA and some other alphabet soup of an acronym of a federal group, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced oh man, announced the notice of proposed rulemaking, and then that also has an acronym N p rm.

So let’s do this. N H T S a F m c s a n p r M. Like I feel like I’m doing a routine from like Robin Williams in good Morning, Vietnam.

Fred: So use your words, Anthony, use your words. There’s

Anthony: not, they’re not using words. They’re just like, Hey let’s take a bunch of complex words jammed together and then throw out the words.

So anyway, long story short, there’s a proposed rule to that. Heavy trucks have to have automatic emergency braking. This is a good thing. Yes,

Michael: it’s. It’s definitely a good thing. We actually petitioned for this action in 2015, so eight years ago. And that, that was, we were petitioning, at a time when the technology wasn’t advanced as it is now.

And this is obviously take, they take a long time on Rulemakings, particularly ones at this magnitude, and particularly when they’ve got the trucking industry barking down their neck all the time, telling them that this stuff is too expensive and it’s gonna destroy their industry, which is, rarely true.

The rule is good. It, it. It protects up to about 50 miles per hour, which is I think one of our, or my personal big problems with it because a, a lot of the catastrophic crashes that we hear about occur at speeds above that. For instance, the one that injured Tracy Morgan killed his friend and fellow comedian and severely injured a couple other people when a Walmart truck hit them in their sprinter van, I believe sprinter limo at about 65 miles per hour.

Nothing would change in that crash under this rule. So given the number of vehicles that are traveling, our interstates at speeds at high speeds, the number of heavy trucks, it’s, it’s great that they’re protecting at 50 miles per hour. They’ve had a long time to get to this point, and this isn’t even going to be in effect until 2029, probably at the earliest.

Why so long? And then we wait another two decades to get it to actual highway speeds. The process is just far too slow, and it’s because, the industry doesn’t place any value on it because, it costs them a little money and they’re unable to see the great benefit in protecting the public.

Anthony: Look, again, as a representative of the finance department, you’re asking us to spend a dollar 15 that the marketing campaign department can’t figure out how to sell to make us a dollar 16 on it. So look, not everyone’s gonna survive. Speaking of not no.

I’ve stump

Fred: Michael. I know I’m speechless for a moment. That’s not, that’s unusual for me,

Michael: but that doesn’t, yeah, that’s an essentially, I don’t like this new finance guy, Fred. I think we need to can him.

Anthony: You can’t afford to, can me? Hey Fred. How are you doing?

Fred: No, I’m not bad for an older person.

Anthony: Okay, that’s good.

So let’s go into the the Tao of Fred.

VO: You’ve now entered the Tao of Fred.

Fred: All right. So we got a few spot quizzes for you today. Why do you typically rev up your engine before you start from a stop?

Michael: I don’t. You don’t. I have, I just have bad pedal skills.

Anthony: Bad pedal skills. Why would I hear the jack asses outside my window starting at the racing point?

Do that. But I can

Michael: do know the answer to this. I just realized Torque. Torque.

Fred: There’s a couple answers actually. Now fundamentally, how much torque does your. Internal combustion engine generate at zero rpm.

Michael: Zero,

Anthony: zero.

Fred: Torque, zero torque, zero rpm. That’s right. Good. You win a point, Michael.

Now how much? I said zero

Anthony: torque too. Come on.

Fred: Yeah, but you were slow. You didn’t hit the buzzer in

Anthony: time. Goddammit.

Fred: But okay, so there’s a difference with an electric motor. How much torque does an electric motor produce at zero rp? Zero torque.

Anthony: Zero Torque.

Fred: And Michael at

Michael: zero rpm, it’s not moving.

So no. Zero. I would’ve to say zero there too. And,

Anthony: okay. All the torque. All the torque. All of it, yeah.

Fred: Motor toque. Unless your motor produces maximum torque at zero rpm. So that’s a, that’s an interesting difference between the two, and that leads to a lot of a lot of other considerations. So your internal combustion engine produces no torque at zero rpm, so it has to be running in order for it to produce any torque.

And it goes from zero efficiency at idle because it’s just idling right up to some other number where it gets maximum efficiency. That is associated with what’s called the torque peak. So the peak torque of an internal combustion engine typically occurs as something like 2,500 to 3000 rpm.

If you have a, if you have an engine that doesn’t have any modifications for flattening the torque peak, it has a very narrow speed at which it can operate efficiently. So when you have a typical car, They wanna have a flat torque peak because they want to be able to maneuver and increase the speed and do all the things they do over Philly wide range of speeds.

But you still need a transmission because that range is like a factor of three. And if you compare that to the speed of the car over its entire operating range, it’s a much wider operating range going from zero to x, we’ll say 70 miles an hour. Okay. So you, in order to have reasonable performance, you’ve gotta be able to keep the car operating and an efficient speed range.

So you’ve gotta match the speed of the car to the speed of the wheels.

Anthony: I just wanna point out for listeners that we didn’t mention the subject of this week’s Tao of Fred, is why internal combustion engines need a transmission and electric vehicles don’t. Nothing to do with Peter Torque or the monkeys.

Fred: Yeah. Oh. Yeah. Many of you have been in a diesel truck and if you’ve ever seen even a movie, diesel truck, you know that they’re shifting all the time. The reason they’re shifting all the time is because these trucks are built to have a very narrow torque peak because they run at basically most efficient speed for very long periods of time.

Cause of the way the engines are designed, there’s a very narrow range of engine speeds that gives ’em the torque they need to actually go ahead and accelerate the engine. That’s why you have a lot of different speeds. You don’t need that in the electric vehicle so much because it starts with maximum torque.

And then what happens, it’s interesting, it cannot speed up to an infinite speed as the electric motor builds up speed. You get something called a reverse emf Now, An electric motor is basically a coil of wire that is allowed to spin in the magnetic field. An electric generator is the same thing, just it’s a question of are you putting electricity in or are you taking electricity out?

So you can see that there’s a close relationship between a motor and the generator. What happens with the motor is that as it speeds, it actually becomes a generator and generates reverse voltage or reverse E M F it’s called. So that at maximum torque at zero speed starts to peter out as you get up the higher and higher speeds.

So this is just completely different than an internal combustion engine, which has a fairly flat torque peak or maybe not a flat torque peak. But I’m gonna ask you spot quiz here too. What’s the relationship between torque and power?

Anthony: Oh, wait, you gotta do that again. You froze for a second. You said.

What’s the difference between torque and. Frozen.

Fred: What is the relationship between torque and horsepower? All the

Anthony: Torque and horsepower. What’s your relationship between them? If you’re, you got a riding crop and you got those boots and those, what’s called the

Fred: Michael over to you.

Anthony: Yeah.

Michael: I have no idea on this one, Fred. I would say the higher, I don’t know, the higher the torque. The greater the horsepower.

Fred: Yeah. That’s true. There’s a linear relationship there. The basic relationship between torque and horsepower is that torque times the rpm gives you the horsepower.

So if you have a, let’s say that you have an engine that has a very flat torque. Range, right goes. It has the same torque from zero to X RRP M then the horsepower increases linearly as you go to a higher engine speed, right? Because the horsepower is the function of torque and the engine speed. So in a typical car though, your torque peak occurs at a much lower number than the maximum horsepower.

So that’s the reason why at cruise, in a car, at a fishing cruise, you’re down at 2,500 rpm, something like that. So you never cruise a maximum horsepower as maximum horsepower occurs at some much higher number. And I looked at that one in particular. A V8 produced by Ford in their Mustang Mustang something, what is it?

Ford 2023 Mustang GT Fastback. It produces torque Peak at 4,250 rpm, but the horsepower peak is 6,500 rpm. Now, it’s interesting because the horsepower to weight ratio of that vehicle is 241 horsepower to ton of vehicle, and I looks at a container ship. And a container ship has a ratio of about 0.5 to one of horsepower per ton.

So there’s a difference of what 500 between those numbers. It’s interesting. So the reason for that is the third parameter that makes you makes you into a, an engine engineer, which is called the duty cycle. Now the ship engine is heavier. By far than the engine in your vehicle because it has to run at its maximum or its, cruise speed for years, 20 years, something like that.

And that tends to be close to the maximum horsepower range too, because it’s got a very narrow torque peak designed to run very efficiently at a certain speed and not too efficiently at other speeds. Your car has is designed to run at very high horsepower for maybe a couple of minutes during its entire lifetime.

So the duties cycle is very different.

Anthony: Okay. I gotta interrupt. What what’s torque?

Fred: Torque is the amount of impact that is delivered to the drive system to turn the wheels. Got it. So torque and horsepower is the rate at which that impact is delivered to the wheels. So horsepower goes up, the wheels will turn faster, but the amount of stress that’s in the system actually goes down because the torque is going down.

So this is why. So it’s kinda of complex,

Anthony: but this is why an electric vehicle, as soon as you press the accelerator, it’s off like a rocket ship, right? Can do. That’s correct. Start to 60 times. Okay? Whereas in ice vehicle, you press down the accelerator and it’s gotta go through things. It’s gotta, Hey, let’s start moving pistons.

Let’s burn off some fuel. Let’s cause little explosions,

Fred: right. Speed up the flywheels, store some energy in the flywheel, deliver that to the driver system. All those things. All those things have to happen.

Anthony: Okay? Now I understand why they need a transmission, because you wanna shift through and find the right point.

That’s it operates efficiently

Fred: at. That’s right. Do you wanna, you wanna balance that or if you want to go like hell, then you know, you shift so that you can always operate in a very high RPM range. Of course, if you’re always operating a maximum horsepower, you’re not gonna do that for very long because the engine isn’t built to sustain that.

So that’s the the real marketing bullshit that’s involved in a lot of these. A lot of these ICU’s, they say we produce 600 horsepower, 700, 500, whatever. But they never tell you how long you can sustain that horsepower. And it’s typically only a matter of seconds before you’re gonna burn up the engine.

Anthony: So that’s 600 horsepower is like 600 horse shit. cause you gotta clean that all up, right? It is.

Fred: We did talk about bull shift bullshit in the last episode. I think it’s yeah. So anyway, for the people listening, if you are buying a car based upon the horsepower, You might want to consider what is the horsepower that’s really needed and how long can this horsepower be delivered?

If you’ve got a 500 horsepower car and you’re driving that around, you’ll probably never, ever in your entire life operate that at 500 horsepower because if you do, you’re gonna go like a rocket and you’re gonna be scared to death. So you are probably gonna operate at a much lower rpm, much lower horsepower, and you will do that for a much longer period of time.

Let’s see. So if you go to a couple other things. If you go to a electric drive rather than an i c e, what are the parts that you no longer need in your vehicle? See, this is another side of the ev is there They can be much less expensive to build.

Anthony: So yeah, back seats. You don’t need back seats anymore.

Don’t need

Fred: back seats. Maybe that, but I was thinking more along the drive train. So if you have an, if you have an electric motor, You don’t need. What’s the first part you don’t need?

Anthony: Oil

starts with c coolish.

Michael: Combustion.

Fred: Nah. Combustion’s a good one. Second letter is l

Anthony: Clothes line.

Fred: Sounds like the sound of a hen would make..

Anthony: Aer. Oh, a clutch. A

Fred: Hey Anthony, you win. Good for you.

Anthony: You were robbed Michael.


Fred: you were great. You were great. Okay. So you can get rid of the clutch if you have a two-wheel drive two-wheel drive luxury vehicle. What’s another part that you can get rid of?

Michael: The mud tires,

Anthony: the truck nuts.


Fred: guess this is true for all electric vehicles. You no longer need a transmission because Yeah. Unless you’ve got a. Electric motor that’s designed for only a very narrow operating speed, which you can do, but they don’t ordinarily really do that anyway, we talked about the reverse E m F, so you can you can in fact go ahead and ruin your car, your electric motor by putting too much current in too quickly.

So you need to balance that out. But another part that you can get, if you get four wheel drive on your vehicle with four independent electric motors, one on each tire is get rid of, you can get rid of the differential.

Anthony: Yeah, I was gonna say, you can get rid of traction control, right? You

Fred: what are the

Anthony: software?

Fred: Why do you need a differential in a car, Michael?

Michael: Oh, what? I can transmit energy from the front to the back.

Fred: That’s close. Anthony,

what’s your guess?

Anthony: Because some people they drive differently. Like in England, they drive on the right side of the road, so it’s, there’s a differential and when they, that’s a good answer.

When they bring the cars over on a cargo ship, they gotta differentiate them.

Fred: That reminds me of a guy who answered a question in comparative vertebrate anatomy. And when I was in college, the question was, who is Andrea FIUs? And the answer the guy gave is, it’s a geometric or geological feature halfway between Mount FIUs and San Francisco.

Which was pretty good. I like he got full of credit for the answer even though it was wrong. No, differential is something you need in the car because when you go around a corner, the wheels turn at different speeds. Because the inside radius is different than the outside radius.

Anthony: Blame with physics again, aren’t you?

Fred: I’m sorry. I’m inclined to do that. This is actually geometry. When did you depart from the technical world, Anthony? Nevermind.

Anthony: I was thinking, come on, what’s

The cent triple of force. There we go.

Fred: That’s I’m only trying to point out that as you get deeper and deeper into the electric conversion of vehicles, there are many parts that are quite expensive and hard to build that you can leave out of the vehicle.

So this is another reason why people want to go to electric vehicles. They can reduce the manufacturing cost and increase their profit margins associated with these once they get past the hurdle of these damn batteries that are so expensive. So that’s that’s another initiative for them. So I think maybe I’ve belabored this issue enough.

Anything that we’ve left, unclear here, why can’t they, oh, one more thing. Why can’t they use a boat motor in the Ford Mustang GT? Because if you have a 500 horsepower, you can get a 500 horsepower boat engine that you can generate the same amount of power as the Ford Mustang engine. So the difference is that the 500 horsepower boat engine weighs as much as the whole Mustang, right?

So this would make the Mustang a lot heavier. And so the question is, and you should know the answer to this now, based upon the clues I’ve given you, why is the engine built for nautical duty in a ship so much heavier than the engine in a Mustang that produces the same amount of horsepower?

Anthony: It’s gotta operate for a longer period of time at a consistent rate.

And also boat engines are diesel because they don’t use combustion because it’s less of a fire hazard.

Fred: Anthony, you get bonus points. You get a gold star, Anthony. Yeah, you get a gold star.

Anthony: I knew it. Alright. Alright. I think that wraps up our understanding of why an ice vehicle needs a transmission and EVs don’t.

It’ll all be better in the future when batteries are lighter, cheaper, and we all smell better. I think it’s time for a little recall. Roundup

VO: strapped in time through Roundup.

Anthony: Ah listeners, this is the first week we’re inserting these little sound effects directly into the show and it’s making me giggle.

All right. Let’s go into the first recall. We have another rear view camera problem. This is for Honda. It affects potentially 1.198 million vehicles. Honda is recalling certain 2018 to 2023 Odyssey, 2019 to 2022 pilots, 2019 to 23 passport vehicles due to a faulty media oriented systems transport, which of course, they give an acronym for most.

Basically the coaxial cable to the rear view camera will disconnect it looks like, or ba, basically the, they can’t get rearview cameras to work. I don’t know why. Michael, you’re muted.

I told him he’s muted. He’s still

Michael: muted. There you go. He, yeah. This was basically, there was a cable that connects the. It’s a media oriented cable is what it’s called. The most cable. It’s just a collective cable, which makes me wonder if it’s also combining si non-safety features in there that, that ha.

But we don’t know enough about it to determine that one way or the other. But this is a lot of I think the larger Honda vehicles, I think it’s the minivan, the passport, and the pilot. So SUVs and minivans and basically your rear view camera image isn’t appearing on your display when you’re backing up.

And it looks like it’s caused by a har, a cable that got kinked. So what they’re gonna do is, Put in a new cable and install a straightening cover to keep it from kinking apparently. But this follows just dozens of rear view camera recalls that we’ve seen the last couple of years, which appears to be a, it appears to be a problem in the industry.

They’re having trouble getting these things up to code for FM d ss one 11.

NHTSA is, there was another recall I think, that I didn’t put in there, Anthony. The Ford came out this morning with a do not charge warning. Oh. And it’s for, let’s see, 2019 to 20 fusion hybrid. I think they’re plug-in hybrids, so obviously they’re plug-in hybrids if you’re not supposed to charge it.

And this is a battery engine control module that’s damaged due to excessive voltage and current flow. We were just talking about that. That’s we’ll be NHTSA should be highlighting that on their website later today. And the owners are gonna be getting their letters probably in the next three weeks it looks like.

So they’re coming out pretty quick with a remedy on this one.

Anthony: But Ford NHTSA is investigating whether Ford botched their runaway explorer recall. So we got a lot of Ford issues happening here. And it looks like, so the automaker announced a recall of almost 253,000 explorers in April last April because of a rear axle mounting bolt could fracture.

And so the recall involved a software update which, Hey, a bolt’s broken, let’s apply some software to fix it. And yeah, it’s weird.

Michael: Not only that, it’s the they actually did a fix on police vehicles, but consumers were given the software update. Similar to what happened, many probably.

10 years ago when the Crown Victoria’s were being hit in the rear and exploding, the police vehicles received an upgrade and the consumer vehicles did not. Which is great. I, the police vehicles, may they do have more heavy duty parts and they do way more. So there, there may be something to that, but in this case, I don’t know, it looks like Forge trying to get away with a free call.

And if you’ve been following us, that’s when there is a physical problem with the vehicle that they’re trying to put a bandaid on with a software update. That’s looks like what they did here, and now owners are coming back and complaining that it’s not working or that it’s causing other problems. And so NHTSA is going to go back and take a look at Ford’s actions here and at the defect and see what’s going on.

Anthony: Ford teams have a lot of bolt issues. So you mentioned the one about the police as well, but they also have another parking one. And it looks like it’s related to the primary control module software, but it’s also that the rear axle bolt will break and the drive shaft can become disconnected, resulting in loss of transmission, torques, the real rails, which is necessary to hold the vehicle and park.

Look at this. It’s 674 vehicles. They are the 2020 Ford Explorers backed vehicles, a whole bunch of blah, blah, blah. On there. I’m not gonna read through all of that but hey, look, we’re learning the word torque today. We’re learning about bolts. Apparently software can fix bolts. So it, am I reading all this stuff wrong, Michael?

It seems like it’s all these rear axle bolts. Do they just get a bad batch of these things?

Michael: I, I don’t know. I, it looks like they’re recalling more vehicles than that, at least. In, in the major recall, there’s 700,000. So that’s a really large, bad batch. If

Anthony: so, I imagine they buy these in bulk, but so that’s what we have for recalls this week and before we end this is, I think this is, touches on something that we’ve discussed before.

How about touchscreens are awful. We’ve got a couple of good articles about how people are really disappointed with their new cars. And it’s not because of performance or anything like that, it’s because cup holders suck and it’s because no one can navigate their cars cause everything’s got touchscreen buttons, including We’ll link to this article in the where even the c e O of VW admits that their ID four vehicles are annoying.

Not because the interior designs, but the physical design is bad. It’s because the ergonomics of where everything’s located and how do you turn this on and that on. And it’s it’s like the Tesla problem when you scroll through eight screens to find how to turn the car, put the car in park. So hopefully they start working on better ergonomics and actually get a physical button.

Michael: Yeah it’s, it looks like people are really not ha people have been complaining about touchscreens for the last few years at pretty high rates. They’re burdensome. You can’t get to things that you once got to pretty easily when buttons were popular. And VW basically said, we screwed up.

We’re going back to buttons from screens because. Our customers hate it. And I think we all pretty clearly see that it’s a cost cutting measure to, get everything centralized and not have multiple buttons running across the dashboard. But, consumers like that. I like buttons that do what they say when I touch ’em, and I do not want to scroll through any screens while I’m driving or when I’m not driving.

I just want a button.

Anthony: Yeah. I like the nice lag I get with the touchscreen where I press something and I’m like, did it register? You wave a little spinning

Michael: bar with me. So

Anthony: you press it? Yeah. I don’t even get a spinning bar. It just doesn’t respond. So I press it again and then again, and then I realize, oh, I didn’t even turn the car on

Michael: initiating, braking sequence.

Fred: Hey, do we have time for an engineering nerd aside,

Anthony: For you all the time in the world. All right, listeners, goodbye. Oh, sorry.

Fred: No, we were talking about bad bolts before in the Ford and There was an article I read once by a, an engineer who had analyzed the Titanic sinking. And what she came up with was that there was a manufacturing defect in the Titanic because at the time it was built, there was a shortage of steel rivets.

And so the company used cast iron rivets instead of steel rivets in the Titanic. Now, the difference between those basically is that engineering term we talked about a couple weeks ago called ductility, right? And ductility means basically that if it’s ductile, it’s not brittle, so it can stretch, it can move and it won’t break.

Cast iron is very brittle, right? Has very little ductility. So this this engineer posited that because of the shortage of steel rivets, at that time they used cast iron rivets in the Titanic. And so when it hit the iceberg, Because the rivets were inherently brittle made of cash iron, and because it was cold, which made them even more brittle the whole seam popped open rather than just the impact point which caused the excessive water intake that couldn’t be pumped out, which led to the Titanic sinking.

Anyway, it just popped into my head. I thought I’d throw that in there. It’s not relevant, but I do think it’s interesting.

Anthony: As a representative of the finance department, I’d like to point out we did the math on this. We did the math on this, and we didn’t think there was any chance of somebody driving into an iceberg.

But that’s it for now. Thank you so much, listeners.

Fred: That hardly ever happens. You’re right. You’re right.

VO: Thanks, Amy.

Anthony: All right. Next week we have off, but there’ll be a compilation episode of all of our consumer AV Bill of Rights downloaded. Share with your friends over the holiday break.

VO: Bye-bye.

Fred: Cave Bore.

I think we need more acronyms. For more information, visit

VO: \

Anthony: You can talk now.

Fred: Oh fine. Now that we’re not recording, you’re gonna, lemme talk. This is a heresy

Anthony: No, we’re still recording. This is how the show ends. Oh.

Fred: I’m in trouble.


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