Bark's Bites: Virtue Signaling Isn't A Good Look On You, Automakers

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth
bark s bites virtue signaling isn t a good look on you automakers

I remember it as though it were yesterday. Well, actually, my short-term memory isn’t that good anymore, thanks to the little transient ischemic attack I had about two years ago. So, let’s say I remember it like it was the day my son was born: the announcement of the Ford GT at the North American International Auto Show in 2015.

Painted in an unobtainium shade of blue, the GT rolled out onto the stage in Joe Louis Arena to much thunder and applause — and then a similarly painted Shelby GT350R came out and starting doing smoky donuts all around it.

Then, out of nowhere, a bald eagle flew in and landed on the hood of a Raptor F-150, carrying the severed head of Mary Barra in its beak. After that, a reanimated Norman Schwarzkopf rolled an Abrams tank in and blew a hole in the roof on the arena, causing $100 bills to rain down on everybody while girls in stars-and-stripes bikinis lovingly brushed Mark Fields’ mullet.

That second part may not have happened exactly like that. But compared to what Ford and other manufacturers did during their reveals this week, it may as well have. Because this week’s show was a fucking bore, and it was all because of that most millennial of vices — virtue signaling.

No, it’s no longer good enough for an automaker to make a kickass car. They have to talk about what percentage of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, and electric vehicles they’ll be making by 2030. For example, Honda’s John Mendel said that 117 percent of their vehicles will be electric by 2030. I might be misremembering that too, but I’m not far off.

And Ford? Instead of having a smoke-filled arena again, they spent roughly two minutes discussing the new F-150, another two minutes discussing future products like Ranger and Bronco (without actually showing one), followed by 20 fucking minutes talking about mobility. Let’s appreciate that for a moment — less than one-tenth of their allotted time was spent talking about a new version of the most popular vehicle in America, and more than twice that was spent in a scripted conversation with Michael Bloomberg about urban planning. Then, they had Walter Isaacson come out for another pre-scripted conversation on the “basic human right to mobility.”

I broadcasted this “reveal” on Facebook Live, and I’m incredibly sorry that I did. For the three viewers who made it through the whole thing, you have my apologies and my sympathy.

But wait — there’s more! Ford rented out Joe Louis for the rest of the day so they could continue the dialogue on mobility, including an honest-to-God TED talk and a symposium with millennial job seekers about the future of urban gridlock.

I think I speak for everybody over the age of 30 when I say show us the fucking cars, sir! Nobody cares about urban traffic planning. I felt like the buccaneers in the classic Disney ride, “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

We want the Bronco! We want the Bronco!

And then Bill Ford made us shut up by firing a pistol and returned to talking about Ford bicycles.

Listen, I get it. The world can’t exist on fossil fuel forever (even though that’s exactly how electric cars are powered — a fact people conveniently forget). I know that we have to change and evolve and move toward a future where V8s are persona non grata. But not just yet.

In the year 2017, it only seems appropriate to say that it’s time to Make Auto Shows Great Again. Stop telling us how pious you are. Give us the cars.

And thus ends the rant.

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2 of 204 comments
  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jan 16, 2017

    Given that I live in the country and the three nearest towns have a total population under 5000 combined I have no interest in that crap. I still have decent roads to go play on with a real car and there are two very nice road courses nearby to go to and there are a couple OHRA nearby as well so I agree with that whole article. I want to know more about the transportation options with the actual vehicles. What is the suspension setup in the Bronco. Ecoboost available? Length, width?

  • Hgrunt Hgrunt on Jan 19, 2017

    After reading Jack's article about the Mustang's Tuesday reveal, maybe the reason they do it is because it's a better use of stage time at an auto show. Local papers, mommy bloggers, IGer and other non-enthusiast influencers probably pay more attention to this stuff. Enthusiasts and loyal customers probably have their favorite forums, blogs, etc. and automakers would get better engagement from those communities. The tease of a new Ranger or Bronco made some auto blogs talk about nothing but that for 3 days, so why spend time on it when the hype is building itself? > The world can’t exist on fossil fuel forever (even though that’s exactly how electric cars are powered — a fact people conveniently forget) No, but we can for a very long time with the magic of fracking. Regarding EVs ultimately being powered by fossil fuels, I haven't forgotten, but I see it as an easier path to carbon and pollution reduction by managing at the source instead of over a fleet, something I think is ultimately a net positive. Using only fossil fuels as an example, if an EV's power source is a coal fired plant and it switches to natural gas, CO output is reduced by 89 pounds per million BTU, less crap goes into the air, and the distribution infrastructure stays the same.

  • Zerofoo I'm pretty sure driving this thing in any respectable town is considered probable cause.
  • Doc423 Well said, Jeff.
  • Urlik My online research seems to indicate it’s an issue with the retaining clips failing and allowing the valve spring retainers to come out. This results in the valve dropping into the cylinder.
  • EBFlex Typical Ford. For those keeping track, Ford is up to 44 recalls for the year. Number one recalled manufacturer (yet again) by a wide margin.
  • Lorie Did they completely forget the damn 2.0 ecoboosts that have the class action lawsuit? Guess those of us that had to pay out of pocket for an engine replacement for a fail at 76k miles are out of luck? I will never buy a Ford again.