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Why Are So Many New Cars' Gear Selectors So Stupid?

We hear this exact question all the time and to be honest, we ask it as well.  We all know that we are creatures of habit!  How many times have to reached for keys in that new car that has the push button start?  So now to change up the gear selector?!  We say "Too Much, Sir!!".  And it's not just us anymore!  In this article from that we found and just had to share with you!

Here's an idea: "Shifting is entirely crowdsourced and updated via the cloud."

It’s been a while since I’ve heard of any car company paying big money to someone with a vague New Agey job description, which means the time is ripe for me to cash in on that lucrative sector. I figure that my angle is to tell them things that ought to be obvious but somehow aren’t, so I’m going to call myself the Innovation Dictator. (I was gonna go with Innovation Consultant, but autocracy is so hot right now.) I hereby invite product planners and design directors to consult me whenever they’ve got an idea that just might be cockamamie. What kind of ideas? Glad you asked.

Let’s say a designer comes to me and says, “We’re thinking about this new idea for a shifter.” I’ll say: “Stop right there. It’s stupid.” The shifter is a solved problem. Enough with the novel shifters. But this designer just has to explain how the dowdy shifter is about to become sexy, modern, and so very it. TMZ will hound this shifter. This shifter will have 2.7 million followers on social media. If this shifter were a hotel, it would have no front desk and you’d check in through Snap, and maybe the elevator would be, like, hidden in a tree that you climb inside like an elf.

“Here’s the problem,” the designer would say, cueing up PowerPoint to explain something that is not actually a problem. “A boring old shifter, you pull back once for reverse. Drive is all the way down, park at the top. You don’t even have to look at it, let alone think about it. It’s safe, easy to use, and—record scratch!—just like your father’s shifter. And your grandfather’s. Although maybe not your great-grand-­father’s, because back then you’d have the riding mechanic climb out on the hood and close the fargle valve so you could put the clutch petcock at 2 o’clock and then gently unwind the torsion retainer to engage the dogleg and take just enough pressure off the main bearings that you could slide the primary actuator up and to the left, then down, then back up, then diagonal, and that’s how you shifted to second while pursuing the Hun.


“So anyway, our new shifter is entirely gesture-­based, which frees up valuable console space for those wireless phone chargers that are probably rewriting your DNA and don’t work with iPhones. Shifting is entirely crowdsourced and updated via the cloud, so if you don’t like the reverse gesture, not to worry—tomorrow it might be different! And yes, we did learn the hard way not to let the internet choose the gestures. Rest assured, you won’t actually need to pantomime autoerotic asphyxiation to put your car in park. We also extend our apologies to James Corden and Lady Gaga, who backed through a storefront while voguing during Carpool Karaoke. But now it’s all sorted out, and our trademarked Dab to Drive is just hitting dealers. For reverse, you pull your ear like you’re giving the signal to bunt. For neutral, you just make a face like ‘Hmm, I wonder what Dan Quayle is up to right now?’ It’s totally intuitive!”


Well, I’m sorry we all had to sit through that imaginary presentation, but just know that real ones like that happen every day around the world. Nobody wants to be seen as stodgy and everyone wants to sell new capabilities, so we end up driving around with a bushel of half-baked ideas.

As Innovation Dictator, I’m forced to decree that the crazy shifter is not alone in its pointlessness, and there are a few other features we’ll have to abandon until they actually work, a point which may or may not coincide with the heat death of the universe. These features include, but are not limited to: Voice recognition. Any form of in-car joystick, mouse, or doodle pad. Hill-descent control. Fake wood trim. In-dash apps. Capacitive-touch anything. Rear-seat entertainment systems that require an advanced degree from MIT to operate. Any digital representation of trees that grow leaves if you drive like a dweeb. And rear liftgates that are supposed to power open when you swing your leg under the rear bumper, but don’t, so you’re standing there with your groceries, sweeping the leg like the Karate Kid while your car laughs at you. Get a load of this jamoke doing Dance Dance Revolution instead of pushing a button on the key fob!

Lest you think the Innovation Dictator is a troglodyte, allow me to remind you that the Innovation Dictator will not be questioned! But I can commend some worthy additions to our lives. Such as: Head-up ­displays. Electrification. Rev matching on manual transmissions. Line lock. Lane keeping that intervenes only if you’re actually going out of your lane. Remote start. Power doors. Adaptive cruise control. Easily removable truck tailgates. Performance data recorders. Quality cloth seats. Capless fuel fillers. And, as you can learn from my bio, I enjoy eight-speed transmissions and 10-speed transmissions but not, for some reason, nine-speeds.

Well, as they say in the biz, they can’t all be intermittent wipers. Now let’s get back to work on puddle lights that project indecipherable logos on the ground. We’re almost there on that one.