back to article Ford to sell unfinished Explorers as chip shortage bites

Good news for those kept out of the seat of a new Ford Explorer by the chip shortage: you can get one now, with a slight catch.  Speaking at a meeting of the National Automotive Dealers Association, Ford VP of sales Andrew Frick said his automaker was planning to ship Ford Explorers without rear seat HVAC controls. Luckily for …

  1. redpawn

    $50 Credit

    Wow! Almost 10 gallons of gas. That will help so much you won't notice the extra fuel used or you could spend toward getting the A/C filter changed.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: $50 Credit

      Looks like about 7 gallons here in Northern California.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $50 Credit

        .. and just about enough to leave the petrol station in Europe. Full tank or full wallet have become mutually exclusive.

        That said, if it helps end that war I won't complain. Some choices are easy.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: $50 Credit

          if oil companies in the USA were able to pump oil from Alaska without gummint restrictions and red tape, this would NOT be a problem. And, it would hurt Putin WORSE than any sanctions, by the way, by keeping the prices low as he tries to sell to China, instead.

          1. badflorist Bronze badge

            Re: $50 Credit

            Well, we're turning a Ford Explorer's rear HVAC panel into a war piece.

            I'm not saying you can't make correlations, but I'm not sure people driving around without a rear HVAC control are making anti-war statements. Also, I don't believe the people living in Alaska who are not wanting the filth of oil tapping are pro-war (at least I have no proof they are). It's a rear HVAC control panel... from a company that doesn't give a shit about you.

            $50 bucks, never minding gas prices to go get the control installed, is this all that option is worth? Exposing such low prices of features that supposedly raise the cost of a vehicle by thousands might lead to questions (although what can you do about it).

          2. CountCadaver

            Re: $50 Credit

            Yeah lets exploit one of the last few unspoiled areas of wilderness in the USA.....ANWR was set up for a reason....

  2. jvf

    liking the new normal

    Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone started driving around and realized they could do without all that extra crap? Less s**t to breakdown, less distractions while driving. Nah, they're all too spoiled. Autonomous driving anyone?

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: liking the new normal

      Its so true. I would pay *more* for them to put less digital crap in the car.

      Some of it is outright sleazy too, verging on DRM. Isn't it Toyota that is artificially crippling the heated seats unless the user pays a subscription? That would be hard to do if the heating coil was directly connected to the battery (with some other bits) ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: liking the new normal

        It was BMW, in a 2020 proposal to make heated seats a subscription rather than produce separate with and without models. I don't know what happened to the proposal.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: liking the new normal

          Toyota started selling the software that will allow the removal of the already paid for remote start option with the 2020 Camery. It will go subscription only in 2023 after a three year "trial". This is to be the new normal across Toyota's linup per the Toyota dealership in Napa, California. To which I replied "Fuck that, Toyota is permanently off my purchase list.". The dealer said he wasn't surprised, he's heard a lot of that.

          1. hoola Silver badge

            Re: liking the new normal

            The problem is that with so many things subscription based today most people will not give it a second thought.

            New (and almost new) cars are mostly "purchased" on subscription with PCP, adding extras to that:

            Oh, and you can have heated seats in winter that are charged at £1 per minute's use

            Those heated mirrors, yup, that will be 50p per minute.

            And so on. Every major company is looking to the subscription revenue model as it makes there income predictable. It is also more profitable and when you look at what has happened over the last 18 months with supply chain, guarantees income as you can continue to fleece existing customers.

            It will continue and will be marketed as an improvement and more economical way to add extras. The general public is now completely conditioned to everything being a subscription or monthly credit payment of some sort. It is why we are in the mess we other trillions of pounds of personal debt.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: liking the new normal

              Hear! Hear!

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: liking the new normal

              "The general public is now completely conditioned to everything being a subscription or monthly credit payment of some sort."

              With rising inflation the public might start looking at expenditure a little more carefully and unnecessary subscriptions are the easiest things to cut out. The subscription model could soon be one whose time has gone.

            3. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Big Brother

              Re: liking the new normal

              Oh, and you can have heated seats in winter that are charged at £1 per minute's use

              plus tax

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: liking the new normal

        I don't know about Toyota, but I drove a European VW Passat a few weeks ago which had many features disabled and only availalable if you paid extra for them via the car's infotainment system

        1. Ahab Returns

          Re: liking the new normal

          I thought people were joking about that. I need to go and lie down - the stupidity of Humanity has caused a short circuit and my brain is overheating.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: liking the new normal

      and realized they could do without all that extra crap?

      yeah my old car does not have those things. Seems fine to me.

      (car designers - just because you CAN does not mean you SHOULD, and if you price every vehicle higher because you have too many 'extras' we do not need, you might end up making new cars UNAFFORDABLE along the way)

      1. badflorist Bronze badge

        Re: liking the new normal

        "just because you CAN"

        Do you think they could simply install a vesa mount for a monitor of my choice? I'm not a fan of all the electronics, but if the electronics were swapable with something of my choosing... O.K.

        I can't tell you how many times I wish that my car simply had a monitor mount for a tablet, a tablet running my own OS, my own software. I'm all for putting a fancy and modern audio entertainment center in my car, just not their entertainment center which is always crap and lockdown and well... crap.

    3. Colabroad

      Re: liking the new normal

      The crazy thing is a lot of manufacturers still make vehicles without all the fancy bits, they just don't sell them in the US/Europe.

      I have a 2019 Toyota Rush, no GPS, no heated seats, push button or knob controls for everything but the stereo and bluetooth (which also has push button controls on the steering wheel) no stop/start, no fancy diagnostics. Mine even has the steering wheel on the right side, unlike US imports! The only modern bits are a pushbutton start and bluetooth for my phone.

      They sell boatloads of them in the South East Asia, Caribbean, and Latam regions, and pretty damn cheap. Sure it's a 7 seater with only a 1.5L Yaris engine, but the top speed limit here is 50mph and I can't drive for more than an hour without running out of island!

      But they're considered too third-world for North American or European buyers. They don't have fancy diagnostic stuff because not everywhere has a licensed dealer, and some places that do would pirate all the software in a heartbeat. They're built to be robust because people won't buy a car that only lasts 4-5 years.

      Only thing that puzzles me is why the designer though that every seat needed at least two cupholders.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: liking the new normal

        Toyota are smart. My bet would be the cup holders are for tourists. The markets are ones where tourism is high, and individual car ownership low. So it's an ideal taxi for dropping family + luggage off at hotels, or shopping.

        But I don't drink and drive, so never really understood why some car reviewers fixate on cup holders. A good driver should be able to stand a glass of wine on a car and drive without spilling a drop. Unlike cup holders, which I've found splash at speeds as low as 120mph.

        So I tend to ban food & drink from my cars because I can think of more fun things to do than mucking out motors. Also probably where basic is good, if it means you can just jetwash the interior & exterior and call it good.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Thank god for small favors

    Ford also chose to keep its F-150 pickup trucks available for sale by cutting the chips required for the start/stop feature that turns the engine off when at a standstill and back on when the brake is released.

    This is actually a positive! I'd pay to have that "feature" removed.

    1. simonlb

      Re: Thank god for small favors

      Yeah. Stop-Start, rear seat heating & air-con controls and heated seats are three things I've never once missed in over 30-years of car ownership.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Thank god for small favors

        Heated seats are one thing that would most definitely be missed in -25C or lower temps by me, especially while waiting for the vehicle to start blowing heat*.

        *Unlike the ex Mrs Oncoming-Scorn, who despite the engine being cold would ram the all the heater to controls to full & complaining there wasn't any heat for the time period of up to 15 minutes for a light warm gust to start blowing out in extreme temps.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Thank god for small favors

          *Unlike the ex Mrs Oncoming-Scorn, who despite the engine being cold would ram the all the heater to controls to full & complaining there wasn't any heat for the time period of up to 15 minutes for a light warm gust to start blowing out in extreme temps.

          Either this is a general Wife thing, or I'm married to your ex.

          In vain have I explained to Mrs David132 that if the engine is cold, there is no heat available in the system, and so setting the AC controls to anything above ambient is technically a waste of time for the first few minutes. Regardless, there is no difference between having them set to 72° or 90°, the car won't get warm any quicker.

          Yet still she does it. Then, 15 minutes later, turns the temp back down to the usual setting "because I'm too hot". Grrr.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            You could get a vehicle with a decent heat pump :p

            1. quxinot

              Re: Thank god for small favors

              There are cars that have additional heating (electric) elements in the HVAC controls for precisely this purpose. Can't think of the specific model, some eco-box thing, could do 0-60C quicker than it could do 0-60mph.

              (I want to say mid-90's Ford Tauruses [Taruii? Taurxen?]......er....)

              (The mid-90's Ford Taurus was one such car that I recall having this feature [nailed it!]. Shame about the rest of the car, but the heat worked very quickly.)

          2. hoola Silver badge

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            Nope, general wife thing, ice on the car, turn the fan to max and for some reason that totally defies any logic (I have given up on this one) turn the AC/heater control to max cold.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Thank god for small favors

              The point is to do something, anything, NOW.

              Logic or the laws of physics have nothing to do with it. You realize this instantly if you try pointing out the futility of the action...

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Thank god for small favors

              The max heat + max cold thing is actually logical. It dries the air, dehumidifies the interior and defogs the glass _VERY_ rapidly - but only after the engine warms up a little

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Thank god for small favors

          I have a convertible, and when driving in snow it's the WARMEST car I've ever owned. Something about the nylon (or whatever material it is) weave allows the heat to stay inside the car much better than metal. And of course when weather is nice, top comes down and it's cool as hell.

          You do not need heated seats. You just need more convertibles.

        3. CountCadaver

          Re: Thank god for small favors

          Thats where an electric blockheater is worth its weight in gold...seriously it is fantastic to unplug, get in and have warm air from start up, also keeps the oil warm and thus makes starting easier (Particularly in parts where its -45c or below)

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Thank god for small favors

        rear seat heating ... I've never once missed in over 30-years of car ownership

        Obviously it doesn't get very cold where you live. Not only is that a must for any car I buy, I will make sure I get a heated steering wheel in whatever I buy next.

        1. captain veg Silver badge

          Re: Thank god for small favors

          Perhaps you need a garage.

          -A.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            Or an electric (heats near instantly) car

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Thank god for small favors

              .. which loses a boatload of capacity (read: range) the moment it gets a tad chilly..

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Thank god for small favors

                .. which loses a boatload of capacity (read: range) the moment it gets a tad chilly.. ..”

                Not an EV driver I assume.

                The EV interior can be preheated before you even get in it to switch the car on and while it is still connected to the charge source therefore helping to extend the range on cold days.

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: Thank god for small favors

                  Good'ol Volvos and other automakers with experience of non-Californian climates solved this years ago. So early '90s, Swedish ex drove her Volvo into her garage and plugged in a power cord. This puzzled me, until she explained Scandinavian motorists had used heating for years, and other automakers should follow suit.

                  Problem for EVs is they need heat, and mostly get that from resistive heating, which drains the battery. ICEs can use 'waste' heat from combustion, or resistive via alternator. Biggest risk to me is survival time when an EV is stuck in frozen conditions. Not seen anything showing battery (and thus occupant) lifespan at say, -20C. Guessing that's reasonable, so say 3KW heater could give you 10hrs from a 100KWh battery @30% charge. But EVs also use power for battery heating. On the bright side, it means Teslas have underfloor heating, just like the Romans.

                  Plus there are other challenges, like re-opening roads if there's a lot of EVs with flat batteries. Or just congestion at the nearest charge points because after being stuck, drivers don't have the range to get home.

                2. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: Thank god for small favors

                  the problem with cold and batteries is that their capacity drops off rapidly as it gets colder. I think that's what was meant by "loses a boatload of capacity".

                  (that's just basic chemistry and physics)

                  1. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: Thank god for small favors

                    And physics is why decent EVs thermally manage their batteries.

                    I read it as the common accusation that the heater was to blame... If you drive an ICE vehicle that gets 50mpg you lose about 8 miles an hour of range idling the engine.

                    In an EV if you assume that you are going to use a 4kW heater constantly (which strikes me as rather unlikely) then you give up ~16 miles an hour.

                    Yes, in percentage terms it's worse, but I've been very generous to the ICE here. My last ICE vehicle was meant to get 50mpg, I used to get ~35-36 on a good day (worse in the cold) - so that was probably losing 11-12 miles of range an hour.

                    An EV heater should be a heat pump, and shouldn't need a constant 4kW (being in a small box with four single bar electric heaters seems like it would get quite warm quite fast, so even 4kW heat required seems overkill). If you drop to 2kW heating load you're already down to 8 miles an hour range - if you can lower that load using a heat pump then, hang on I was already losing less range than my ICE vehicle.

                    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                      Re: Thank god for small favors

                      But battery thermal management is a function of load and ambient temperature. So needs both heating, and cooling.

                    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                      Re: Thank god for small favors

                      "An EV heater should be a heat pump"

                      Most of them are now. Older models were resistive but the range hit put paid to that very quickly

            2. Danny 14

              Re: Thank god for small favors

              what is the range of an electric car at -25C? 10 miles?

              1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                Re: Thank god for small favors

                What does it matter? We will have to stop burning carbon soon, so you might as well get used to the idea now.

                1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Thumb Down

                  Re: Thank god for small favors

                  We will have to stop burning carbon soon

                  No. JUST NO. infrared absorption spectrum and black body radiation. It's really NOT that hard of a concept. It's also science.

                  (what DO they teach in these schools, anyway???)

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Thank god for small favors

                    Blanket effect - and acid rain effects (carbonic acid) if atmospheric CO2 exceeds 800ppm

                    It was the latter which was the runaway trigger point for the Permian Extinction event ~250 million years ago, resulting in atmospheric oxygen levels dropping to 12% for 10,000 years and the extinction played out in less than a decade, possibly as little as 18 months

                    Most mammals and birds can't survive in an atmospheric oxygen content of less than 17% and drowning in your own lungs (altitude sickjness) is a nasty way to die

              2. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: Thank god for small favors

                Well - since deisel will be significantly gelled at that temoperature... you might find that even ten miles will beat an ICE.

                Or you could look at actual behaviour... Let's pick norway, since they have pretty cold winters. Teslas are well used as well - because they manage their battery temperature.

                So it's not inevitable that an EV range suffers any more than an ICE does.

              3. ragnar

                Re: Thank god for small favors

                Considering 65% of new cars sold in Norway are fully electric, I'm going to take a guess that you're just scaremongering.

                Modern electric cars keep the battery warm in cold weather.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Thank god for small favors

                  Modern electric cars keep the battery warm in cold weather.

                  I think the key question here is how much that costs in terms of energy and range, and there's actually not that much data on that which makes me suspicious there's something we're not being told.

                  Personally I prefer a PHEV - best of both worlds. EV for short rage town trips, reasonable economic ICE + regeneration for long range without long breaks consisting of queueing for charges and then waiting for the charge. The new 800V systems do this quicker, but it's still several times longer than filling up a tank.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Thank god for small favors

                    My batteries get fairly warm in use (20-30C over ambient) and cold climate packs add insulation to minimise heat loss, so as long as they're kept warm whilst plugged in, the hit may not be much

                  2. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: Thank god for small favors

                    "I think the key question here is how much that costs in terms of energy and range"

                    Well, actually it costs some energy, and *improves* range - because the batteries spend very little time at the less efficient lower temperatures. Of course if you are plugged in overnight then the batteries can be prewarmed from the mains, so the range is unaffected (though the electricity cost will still exist).

                    "Personally I prefer a PHEV - best of both worlds."

                    Or the worst of both worlds, carrying around multiple basically independent power trains...

                    A modern 350kW charger (in a car that will take it) will give you enough juice to do your next 2 hours of motorway driving in less time than it takes you to relieve yourself of your previous drink (6 minutes provides 35kWh, which is about 140 miles or two hours on the motorway).

                    It takes easily that long to pump liquid fuel (and pay for it), although you probably need to do it less often, but comfort breaks are a safety thing as well as a comfort thing - and you can't take a break whilst you fill up, because you have to supervise the pump.

                    Long journey in Australia as an example.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Thank god for small favors

                      you can't take a break whilst you fill up, because you have to supervise the pump.

                      Ah yes, but given the lack of chargers it is highly likely that you may spend as much time queueing as you will charging if you managed to arrive just when all chargers filled up. In other words, you then spend time watching for people trying to jump the queue.

                      There's a chap on YouTube who lives in the North who has fairly well documented what a pain it is. This is also why I will never buy a Tesla if I go EV: if you dare doing some repairs outside their very much not available network they are apparently happy to throw you off the suprcharger network. Any non-Tesla doesn't have that problem, and especially with the new 800V systems you can at least have more acceptable recharging times.

                      But for long journeys you still cannot beat a 10l jerrycan in the back as a reserve. When your juice runs out, you're literally stuck because towing is apparently also not allowed, which inevitably led to the joke of calling towing trucks "range extenders" :)

                      1. John Robson Silver badge

                        Re: Thank god for small favors

                        "Ah yes, but given the lack of chargers it is highly likely that you may spend as much time queueing as you will charging if you managed to arrive just when all chargers filled up. In other words, you then spend time watching for people trying to jump the queue."

                        Ah - someone who doesn't have an EV making up situations again. If I arrive somewhere and the chargers are all in use I'll probably carry on to the next charger, at the second one I'll check how long the vehicle in front is likely to be and make a judgement call (based on the state of the bladders in the car), only at the third will I usually wait.

                        Of course this hasn't happened in a very long while, because it's already pretty rare, and getting consistently rarer with public chargers becoming both more numerous and faster.

                        And it's only ever something you ever need to think about on relatively rare long journeys - because 98% of the mileage is done without ever touching the public charging network. Whereas an ICE vehicle is always looking at the next fuel station, even when you are only doing typical (and inherently inefficient) short journeys.

                        Not everyone can charge off road, but the vast majority can (24% of households don't have off street parking, but 23% of households don't have a car - those groups won't perfectly overlap, but I suspect there will be a correlation that is substantially better than random).

                        I often see queues at dino juice stations, and remember them being common as well. The queues might only take 5-10 minutes but this affects ICE owners for every mile they do, not so for EV owners.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Thank god for small favors

                          Ah - someone who doesn't have an EV making up situations again. If I arrive somewhere and the chargers are all in use I'll probably carry on to the next charger, at the second one I'll check how long the vehicle in front is likely to be and make a judgement call (based on the state of the bladders in the car), only at the third will I usually wait.

                          I am happy to agree with you that you will never experience this problem in your little bubble - clearly you have already been restricted in your worldview by the limited range you inflicted upon yourself - but it may be worth watching even just some YouTube.

                          I experience this because I drive long distances, internationally, so naturally I have been researching the topic. However, it appears you never cross a border or read anything outside your own wheelhouse.

                          And it's only ever something you ever need to think about on relatively rare long journeys - because 98% of the mileage is done without ever touching the public charging network. Whereas an ICE vehicle is always looking at the next fuel station, even when you are only doing typical (and inherently inefficient) short journeys.

                          Well, there is your underlying assumption laid bare: people only do short journeys. Which means they'll never get outside their own little sphere and thus never see the problems elsewhere. QED. But if you've ever been a proper high density city you would have already seen the problems so maybe you live more rural?

                          Not everyone can charge off road, but the vast majority can (24% of households don't have off street parking, but 23% of households don't have a car - those groups won't perfectly overlap, but I suspect there will be a correlation that is substantially better than random).

                          Best leave the manipulation of statistics to the likes of Microsoft and government officials. The 23% of households that do not have a car simply cannot overlap the 24% that do not have off street parking because they would not need it. Ergo, the 24% is not offset at all as those "23% without a car" are not even part of the same statistics.

                          From an international perspective, charger coverage is uneven and spotty at best. We're not there yet, not by a long shot - and we haven't even addressed how all that power will be generated because solar and wind are not going to cut it everywhere.

                          So please, continue in your little bubble. Just be aware that leaving it may end up wih you having to either waste a lot of time - or walking..

                          1. John Robson Silver badge
                            WTF?

                            Re: Thank god for small favors

                            Do try reading properly....

                            So you drive long distances internationally - and you do this without ever stopping for fuel, or comfort breaks, or safety breaks. To be honest it really makes no difference - if you are regularly spending all day behind the wheel as you claim then you really should be moving to an EV. It'll save you a fortune.

                            Suggesting that I have "inflicted" "limited range" on myself is rather rich. I even linked to a relatively recent YouTube video - in which a dino juice vehicle raced an EV over a 10 hour highway journey (about the worst possible case for the EV). I haven't changed any of the journeys I regularly make - there is no more limit to the range of an EV than an ICE - both need a top up every so often.

                            My underlying assumption, which is borne out by the statistics on road travel, is that long journeys are rare. There are vanishingly few days when the vast majority of motorists drive more than 200 miles.

                            Not quite sure why you think a high density city would make that number higher, when I lived in a high density city I didn't need a car at all, that's kind of the point of high density.

                            I said that I expected there to be a stronger than random correlation between the two groups of ~1/4 of the population. I explicitly said they wouldn't overlap perfectly.

                            My "little bubble" is one in which I use an EV, and don't have issues getting from A-B. Your "little bubble" is one in which there are imaginary problems stopping you doing anything that might be of benefit to you or others, because you haven't already done it.

          2. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            Garages are great until you go somewhere where you have to park outside, or go to a friend's house.

        2. jvf

          Re: Thank god for small favors

          Heated car seats are creepy. Every time my wife surreptitiously turns mine on, it feels like I just peed my pants. However, sitting down on a freezing crapper seat in the middle of the night is another thing entirely.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            You know you've been able to buy heated toilet seats since the 1980s don't you?

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Thank god for small favors

              Or better yet, and simpler - knitted/crochéted toilet seat covers.

              Just the thing for every aspirational '70s homeowner. Goes beautifully with the avocado or pink bathroom suite and crinoline-lady loo roll cover.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Thank god for small favors

                .. just wash frequently ..

        3. thames

          Re: Thank god for small favors

          I live in Canada. I've never had heated seats or steering wheels and I don't seen any need for them. They're gimmicks with no real practical value in a modern car.

          I remember long ago when vinyl seats were common and they were rock hard and cold when you first sat on them in the morning in the winter. However, it's been decades since I've seen a vinyl seat, and cloth just doesn't have the same problems and modern foams don't get as hard in the cold. Heated seats solve a problem that ceased to exist long ago.

          As for heated steering wheels, if it's actually cold then you will be wearing gloves anyway. Just leave them on until the interior warms up enough at which point you don't need a heated steering wheel to take your gloves off. Again it's a solution looking for a problem.

          I have a car for the purposes of transportation, not as an expensive toy with pointless widgets to fiddle with.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            Agree, but then they wouldn't be able to sell you touchscreens instead of more expensive mechanical switches..

            Wasn't it Landrover who stipulated that all controls shall be operable while gloved? Sensible idea IMHO.

          2. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            Twelve trillion billion zillion upvotes.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thank god for small favors

            Obviously too poor to have leather seats in car, otherwise this kind of rant wouldn't exist.

            Heated steering wheel is a nice thing as the air will be nice and warm while the wheel is still really cold. Which means gloves are too warm, but wheel is too cold.

            Obviously writer hasn't ever had heated steering wheel either. Or lives in warm climate where it doesn't matter.

            Compared to most other crap they install into cars, these are actually useful.

        4. Danny 14

          Re: Thank god for small favors

          Up here in Norway we tend to have preheat as an option. It is a far better solution to get into a fully heated car.

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Thank god for small favors

      The start-stop in my Twingo works very well, but would be much improved by a manual override that doesn't rely on me keeping the clutch depressed.

      Heated seats are a weird fetish. Wear thermal underpants. If it's really that cold then they might save your life.

      -A.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thank god for small favors

        Or don't drive in a bikini

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thank god for small favors

        "Wear thermal underpants"

        ... and get a heat stroke when the car eventually heats up. no way.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thank god for small favors

      Sadly for you (and the rest of us who care about such things), cars without stop-start "tech" will become more and more rare, as manufacturers struggle to meet emissions regulations that are essentially designed to regulate ICE cars out of existence.

      Obviously this also depends if you think that is a good idea or not.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Quite frankly ...

    ... If Ford (or any other manufacturer) were to start selling a stripped-down line of vehicles with absolutely no computers whatsoever, I'd be first in line to purchase one.

    Yes, that includes engine and transmission electronics ... give me mechanical fuel injection or a carb, points, and a manual transmission every time. Far, far less to go wrong, a lighter overall vehicle, easier to work on, and cheaper when things do go wrong. What's not to like?

    Bonus points for a hose-out interior and mechanical windows and door locks.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Quite frankly ...

      Actually an electric motor would make a much simpler, lighter and easier to work on vehicle. No fuel injection or carb, no points (thank Bob), no transmission at all.

      -A.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quite frankly ...

        .. but a big monster of a battery which needs a metric f*ckton of management electronics not to go up in flames which kinda defeats the original point. I was astonished at just how much work it is to keep these things stable and balanced.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Quite frankly ...

          You don't NEED a battery, you can just put a small reliable Honda generator in the back to power the motors

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Quite frankly ...

          A massive petrol engine doesn't need management then? Most of what you see in the engine bay would be various hoses and wiring to manage the engine. Not to mention the exhaust system with sensors and catalyser and mufflers, and the petrol tank and its' filters and pumps.

          I'd say the ICE car wins hands down in complexity.

          1. hoola Silver badge

            Re: Quite frankly ...

            Mechanical complexity yes, electrical and electronic complexity is more difficult. I suspect that the EV possible is more complex in that area. The battery management is a massive overhead and is not as simple as just monitoring what goes in. Lithium battery charging is really complex with multiple cells then add into that all the monitoring and cooling so that you don't fry the thing when fast-charging.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Quite frankly ...

            "A massive petrol engine doesn't need management then? 2

            it doesn't *need* much. Fuel and spark. Everything you see is because of someone invented restrictions to kill petrol engines out of existence by claimng "emissions".

            First CO, then NOx and now CO2. Which is totally irrelevant when electricity is mostly generated by burning coal.

            But the idea is to sell an EV to everyone by force. Best profit in there.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Quite frankly ...

            99% of the complexity of an automitive engine is related to the need to produce a near infinite combination of speeds and power outputs whilst also maintaining emissions

            They're very simple to control and emissions-regulate if running at constant load/speed and you can dump almost all of the complexity if you do so, (Congratulations, the series hybrid has been reinvented aka diesel electric locomotive) - this will give a substantial improvement in MPG all by itself

            On the other side of this equation, Automotive engines seldom if ever operate at maximum power. To underscore this point, the motor in my "49kW" EV is actually rated at 23kW continuous but can be tweaked up to 65kW (10 second rating)

            If you size the engine to the average load and fit a battery buffer to your series hybrid then you can not just improve your MPG by "a bit" but more than double it

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Quite frankly ...

          having done electronic design for a SIMPLE battery operated device's circuit board, dealing with the inevitable "how do you handle a dead battery without having it swell up like a balloon" problem [none of which was supported by any of the battery charge I.C.s inherently, it required some clever use of discrete MOSFETs and schottkey diodes to create a special blocking circuit that would reset whenever charge power was applied but stay disconnected from the battery once voltage dropped below a certain point), so yeah.

          Battery management IS pretty difficult, especially with the ones that tend to catch fire when you get it wrong. And I only dealt with a single cell. Dealing with ICVs (Individual Cell Voltage) and what do you do when one of them gets too low [you do NOT want a CELL REVERSAL] more or less requires a bit more than an old style relay-based voltage regulator like you'd find on a car made in the 1950's.

          So yeah. Computer monitoring of the battery is more or less MANDATORY for an electric vehicle. And that is just the battery, not even the digital waveform generators for the motor coils... (unless you want to do regular brush/commutator maintenance or have a short vehicle life, you need brushless motors)

          (Amazingly piston gasoline or diesel engines seem quite simple and reliable by comparison)

          [athough I would not mind seeing a swashplate design become practical, the piston engine has been perfected for over 100 years and is very very good nowadays]

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Quite frankly ...

      Far less to go wrong? Really?

      How often do you see a broken down car these days, despite a far higher number of cars?

      How often do you have to mess around with the carbd, because the engine is running rich?

      Fouled spark plugs?

      Kangarooing down the road because the choke isn't quite right?

      Car not starting? Heck I freaked out the other day, because it took TWO attempts.

      We moan about not being able to "tinker" with the car, but that's because we don't have to.

      Heck, a £20 cable and the bloody thing tells you why it's not running right.

      Rose tinted glasses and all that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a £20 cable? Or £200+ for No Fault Found in the garage?

        That'll be CANbus/OBD will it?

        Right now my own 2012 Skoda Fabia (don't laugh) has a weird fault that looks as though the car might have forgotten some bits of the CANbus config when it had a flat battery late last year. Things mostly work OK but inappropriate warning lights come on. MoT test this week, hope nothing misbehaves.

        And another one I've seen, a DS3, has another apparently CANbus-config-related set of faults following an extended period with flat battery.

        Traditional mechanics and garages I've tried seem clueless with these new fangled software-driven cars.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: a £20 cable? Or £200+ for No Fault Found in the garage?

          > Traditional mechanics and garages I've tried seem clueless

          They (mostly) have been already clueless long before the electronics took over. As far as I can remember SOP has always been to replace random stuff till the problem doesn't show anymore. I had for instance speakers replaced 3 times in my car, until during an unrelated visit the idiots at the dealership noticed the speaker cable had been crushed (by them I guess), leading to intermittent short-circuits...

          A good mechanic, one who really knows what he's talking about, has always been very rare, despite everybody knowing somebody who pretends having seen one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quite frankly ...

        I'm using an old clunky petrol Nissan that has clocked 165.000km now. It's a swine to get parts for now, but the engine still starts after a single turn, even when it's -10ºC despite not living in a garage.

    3. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Quite frankly ...

      "Bonus points for a hose-out interior and mechanical windows and door locks."

      You have just described a tractor from the 1970s :-)

      1. cookieMonster
        Joke

        Re: Quite frankly ...

        Or the next Lada

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Quite frankly ...

      Carb points and stuff compared to EFI?

      Umm no thanks.

      I remember the pain of swapping and adjusting points for a friend (my similar aged car had a magnetic sensor instead).

      Then the pain of carbs compared to EFI.

      Not so keen on coil packs though, I think the most reliable era was Motronic.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Quite frankly ...

        People forget how fragile points were in old mechanical distributors. I always used to carry around a spare set, some feeler guages and a screwdriver after getting stuck in the outside lane of a busy roundabout in Basingstoke with the kids in the car at shop-closing time on a Saturday because the little plastic nub that rode the shaft broke, and prevented the points from opening.

        I'll take solid state ignition, because IMHO that made more difference to the reliability of cars than anything else, but I'll have most of the rest of it mechanical.

        In my first car (a Vauxhall Chevette - related to an Opel or Chevrolet Kadet), the most complex thing in it was the stereo I fitted because it did not even have a radio when it was made (it was luxury model though - it had a clock and part-fabric seats!) The 1256cc engine was almost totally mechanical save for the (mechanically triggered) ignition.

        But then again, I only got 32 MPG (UK measures) at the best of times, and it would barely get above 80 MPH downhill with a following wind, and by today's standards was very dirty emissions wise. There are trade-offs.

        1. BenDwire Silver badge
          Go

          Re: Quite frankly ...

          Ah, the old Vauxhaul Shove-It ! I remember them well as my mate had one at uni which required the rest of us to push start it, although on one occasion we had to push it back home as he'd wrapped it around a lamp post. Good days.

          A few years ago I did a ground-up restoration of a Series 3 Land Rover which never quite ran as well as I wanted, which I put down to the old tired dirtributor. When I finally got rid of it to a mate, he asked me to fit a replacement electronic disty and the difference was astounding. I now wish I hadn't let him have it, although my neighbours remain pleased that it's gone.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Quite frankly ...

            The best thing you can do to an old engine is fit an electronic ignition and throw away the dizzy

            Modern kits with coil-on-plug are a godsend

            It's not just the points. The vacuum advance, centrifugual weights and rotor/cap were always problematic

            Dumping a generator/mechanical regulator in favour of an alternator is a smart move too

          2. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Quite frankly ...

            As an aside, the Chevette was also sold here in the US under the Chevrolet badge. It remains notorious for its unreliability and penny-pinching design. The cheapest variant - the "Scooter" - had no back seat, fibreboard door cards with hanger straps rather than armrests, and no glovebox door.

            Compared to which, the UK-spec Chevettes (a mate of mine had one at Uni in the early 90s) were positively sybaritic.

            Mind you - and I admit I only just learned this after checking the wikipedia page to make sure my memories were correct - there was a coachbuilt, ultra-high-spec, luxury variant of the Chevrolet Chevette. It was called the Leata Cabalero, and I somehow managed to type the previous sentence with a straight face. Read about it and think what an unfair world it is that it didn't succeed.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quite frankly ...

      " mechanical fuel injection "

      No, you don't want that. It isn't hard to make an EFI box which lasts 40 years but mechanical fuel injection won't. And repairing it is a nightmare.

      Anyone who owns early 70s Kugelfischers knows that.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A smarter bit of marketing would be to let the buyers choose which bits they don't want. I'd choose all those that try to double guess what the driver wants to do.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Ja, but didn't the US car makers move away from huge options lists because they ended up costing them too much money?

      Me, I buy poverty spec cars to avoid all the extra crap.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I find that buying second hand tends to neatly walk past all the costs of options, plus it avoids the drop in value the moment you drive it out of the dealer..

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          That too. I've only bought two cars new in my life. And I've never had a car on which I haven't added over a hundred thousand miles.

          Even the three cars I've built from scratch used non-new parts wherever safe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Doctor_Syntax

      Quote: "...let the buyers choose which bits they don't want..."

      I'd choose all the (undisclosed) electronics which are "phoning home".

      Strangly not mentioned by other El Reg commentards!

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        > I'd choose all the (undisclosed) electronics which are "phoning home".

        That would leave you with an empty shell and 4 wheels. You could probably use it to move around (ideally downhill), but it would get old pretty fast (as soon as you would have to push it back uphill).

        Phoning home is so high in the priorities list of manufacturers that it will be the last thing to go, only when everything else is already back to 1970ies mechanics...

        It's a fad, and like the Tamagotchi it will have to live its life, till marketers eventually admit they can't really monetize all this information and actually lose money trying to process it. Given their collective intelligence it will take some time, you don't abandon a harebrained get-rich-quick scheme that easily.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          On "phoning home" as a necessity for a fulfilled life....

          @ThatOne

          .....my Morris 1000 Traveler seems to be working PERFECTLY......up hill and down dale.....

          .....without any modern electronics....without "phoning home"....

          .....and my life does not seem to be impaired in any way at all....

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: On "phoning home" as a necessity for a fulfilled life....

            > Morris 1000 Traveler

            That hardly qualifies as a modern car still on sale, does it. The point was about modern cars renouncing to some of their electronics because of the ever-increasing chip shortages.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The site of unfinished Ford Broncos collecting dust"

    Site?

    A SITE with all those cars parked would be a SIGHT for sore eyes

    1. jake Silver badge

      Well, they are not exactly evenly distributed around the country, so it is, in fact, a site of unfinished Broncos.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The site of a herd of unfinished Broncos, shurely ed.

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Cars?

      -A.

  7. Kev99 Silver badge

    Pretty sad they need special chips to turn the HVAC on and off, to get the engine to hibernate then wake up, or to get heated / cooled seats to work. I wonder what was used in 2008 on my Saturn Astra or Sky to do those things except the engine gag. The engine gag is just that, a gag. It provides little to no improvement in fuel economy and probably lessens the life of the starter, battery, and engine. I found reaching towards the dash and turning the key (yes, key, not some gimmicky button) to kill the engine works just as well. And the computer controlled tranny? When we had manual tranny cars is able to match the speed to the ration quite well, thank you. And most of the "auto-stick" trannys won't let you decide when to up or downshift because some goof programmer who doesn't know how to drive, only operate, a motor vehicle decided that was a good idea. (No, it's not.)

    I agree completely with Jake and Doctor Syntax wrote. And a very simple way to not freeze / burn your arse is to return to cloth seats. My Astra did have heated cloth seats which I turned on when the brass monkeys were clutching theirs, but for the most part they were unnecessary. Leather seats, on the other hand, are a waste and in my opinion dangerous. Ever notice how many F1 and Indy cars have leather seats?

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      "Pretty sad they need special chips to turn the HVAC on and off"

      It's not that special. Just unavailable. It's to do with cutting down on massive amounts of wires going everywhere.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Exactly, chips, software and soft buttons/touch our cheaper than the real thing. It is also fashionable to have everything on a wretched touch screen as it is perceived to be better by the moronic designers.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          I've never understood why mobile phones are so castigated, when to use almost anything other than the basic controls in a modern car uses interfaces so similar to a 'phone that someone from 30 years ago would not really be able to tell the difference.

          Why are touchscreen displays even allowed for driver controls. It makes no sense!

          Old style switches with dedicated function and some feel are essential if you need to keep your eyes on the road.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            > Old style switches with dedicated function and some feel are essential if you need to keep your eyes on the road.

            That's irrelevant. What's important is that the car in the showroom catches the eye of the people who decide (usually your kids): "Whoa, that looks cool!".

            Besides switches, especially reliable robust ones, are expensive, don't know the exact figures but I guess for two of those switches you can get a nice touchscreen which will do everything like navigation, radio, controlling the car and generally looking science-fictiony to the Great Unwashed. "Captain's log: I'm stuck in traffic while trying to get the kids to school."

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              @ThatOne

              That is why it is essential for independent regulation (like not using mobile phones in cars) is essential.

              The problem is that the motor manufacturers have too much sway over the people making the regulations (and this is true for many, many industries nowadays) that allows them to tune the regulations for their commercial benefit.

              See also electrical and gas regulations, and the fact that the trade bodies that offer and benefit from selling training can also significantly influence the pace that the regulations change. And I've not even mentioned ITIL!

              We need sensible, industry independent regulation, not the ability for some government oik to decide that getting the industry players in to 'consult' on the regulations will reduce government involvement and benefit their 'friends' in industry.

        2. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

          Bloody touch screens

          As a pilot, I have grown to loathe touch-screens. You try poking the correct button when you're being thrown around the sky because of turbulence. Real buttons and knob, please.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You don't need anything special to chat with CAN bus to switch a relay on.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would have thought that stop-start was purely software... just a bit of code and mapping in the ECU

      Why would you need extra hardware when it could be done in software... even to the extent that you could tie it to GPS and feel the life force being sucked out of the vehicle as it approaches the California border

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "probably lessens the life of the starter, battery, and engine"

      SWMBO as an Ignis which has this feature. It's allegedly a hybrid in that it has a small second 12V battery charged by a generator/motor coupled to the engine by a toothed belt similar to a cam belt. It's this that provides the start/stop facility so it doesn't affect the ordinary starter or primary battery.

      That ancillary battery doesn't have much capacity. I habitually drive over a hill to get to the next village. If I take the Ignis the battery will be fully discharged by the time I get to the top and fully recharged by the time I get to the bottom.

      The stop/start isn't enabled unless there's enough charge in the battery. I'm not sure how it affects the life of the engine, my concern might be the other way round. A few years ago I looked at, but didn't buy,t a car with stop/start but AFAIK just an ordinary battery/starter arrangement. I wondered how well it would work with 100,000 on the clock.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " Ever notice how many F1 and Indy cars have leather seats?"

      None and none of them are a) used longer than 1 year or b) have kids using them.

      Ever tried to get bubblegum out of a seat? I thought so.

  8. msobkow Silver badge

    So, basically, they're selling vehicles that come with a recall before they even reach the dealer's lot, eh? :(

  9. eldakka Silver badge

    > Ford to sell unfinished Explorers ...

    No change then since the Explorer my father bought about 20 years ago?

  10. mevets

    Chip Shortage?

    I thought the Chip Shortage was caused by the Vaccine chip requirements; and now that its done, there were lots of chips for everyone.

    Please explain.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Chip Shortage?

      I thought about doing a post filled with spinny conspiracy "logic" for laughs, but I'll just settle for the icon.

  11. Mr Dogshit

    No rear seat HVAC controls

    #firstworldproblems

    1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Re: No rear seat HVAC controls

      @Mr Dogshit (is that your real name?)....amen to that. However did we manage in the era of black and white? Someone commented earlier how unreliable points where - obviously all the cars I had with distributors didn't realise this. Open the window? A winder is simpler and quicker, ditto electric seat adjustment. These are just things to sell, not things we need.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: No rear seat HVAC controls

        I beg to differ: I like electric windows, they allow me to prevent kids from playing with the windows. No arguments, no pleading, just a single button press - locked... *evil grin*

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No rear seat HVAC controls

        ... and you didn't even reach the weight -argument.

        Window motors (just the motors) are 5lbs each, so 20lbs total. While winders are less than 10% of that.

        Then seat adjustment motors, even heavier as more power needed, 10lbs each. 2 or 3 per seat, also in back, so total of 100 lbs. Just for adjusting seats ... operation you need to do once.

        No wonder car weights 4000lbs when everything is bloated like that.

  12. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    I'm looking forward to Ford manufacturing Continas from the 80s again with zero horrible little chips, which need to talk to a multitude of other horrible little chips through a proprietary network that some licensed (for the soft/firmware update, initialisation or configuration, that he's paid some [predatory percentage] through the nose to keep current) mechanic can communicate with using even more horrible chips and yet more networking, just because I a new headlight unit (not just a bulb mind, but an entire light unit, sometimes an entire fascia) to function, or to stop some infernal beeping and flashing on the dashboard to cease.

  13. yclinux

    why cant they leave the hvac&infotainment out so people can put there own in. I mean stick in a $5 raspberryPi with androidAuto/openAuto and tack on a display. Even if you arent a nerd you could have someone do it faster&cheaper than Ford.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's the point. Ford pays like $5 for all of it but *claim* it increases 'the value' of the car at least $500.

      See also: $5 "fog lights" sold as $300 accessory.

      All 'marketing' aka legalized stealing.

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