Col­umns

“Pretty soon you’re go­ing to see more old-fash­ioned knobs in cars than in the One Na­tion park­ing lot”

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

We take aim at Trump, gad­gets and what next for Su­per­cars?

SO. PRES­I­DENT Trump. Or­ange re­ally is the new black. And item one on the Don­ald agenda… well, item one is putting more faux gold de­tail­ing in the Res­i­dence, but high up on his list is a trade war with China. Be­cause that’ll fix the US econ­omy, and no-one un­der­stands the econ­omy like Trump, be­lieve him. The US econ­omy is the best econ­omy, it’s huge, but it’s in the worst shape in the world, but it’s still the best. Even though it’s the worst. But he’ll fix it. By hav­ing a trade war with China.

And what’s it like try­ing to mus­cle China? Well, Ja­pan de­tained a Chi­nese fish­ing boat that rammed a Ja­panese coast guard ves­sel af­ter be­ing caught fish­ing in Ja­panese wa­ters. So China re­tal­i­ated by block­ing ex­ports of rare earth min­er­als to Ja­pan. Rare earth min­er­als are things like gadolin­ium (named af­ter min­er­al­o­gist Jo­han Gadolin), yt­ter­bium (named af­ter the Swedish town of Yt­terby, where it was dis­cov­ered) and didymium (which was prob­a­bly dis­cov­ered by P Diddy). China mines 93 per cent of all the rare earth min­er­als in the world, up to 99 per cent of some of the re­ally rare ones – the ones that are used in smart­phones and elec­tric mo­tors.

Which would ruin Elon Musk’s day, since Tes­las are ba­si­cally giant smart­phones with elec­tric mo­tors at­tached. Or maybe vice versa. At least he’d still be able to sell the tyres, un­less the Don­ald starts a trade war with France.

Rare earth min­er­als are also used in things like US Army rangefind­ers, US Navy sonar sys­tems and the con­trol sys­tems on US Air Force smart bombs. So Trump couldn’t even threaten to send in the mil­i­tary to “take the rare earth,”the way he promised to send in the mil­i­tary to “take the oil” in the Mid­dle East. Or, at least, he could try, but they wouldn’t be able to hit what they were aim­ing at.

So, ba­si­cally, if my grasp of global geo-po­lit­i­cal Sino-Amer­i­can macro­eco­nomics is cor­rect – and be­lieve me, my grasp is the best, no-one can grasp things like me – once ol’ Trumpy is sworn in in Jan­uary, we’re about to see rare earth ex­ports be­come a whole lot rarer. So it’s not all bad news, be­cause even as the world slides closer to some weird dystopian al­ter­nate uni­verse based around the fever-dreams of white su­prem­a­cists and Twit­ter trolls, we’re also slid­ing closer to the re­turn of some old-school cars. No more elec­tric mo­tors means there’s only one thing left to do the push­ing: sweet, sweet di­nosaur-juice.

And no more touch­screens means old-school knobs to con­trol ev­ery­thing: you’re go­ing to see more old-fash­ioned knobs in cars than the last time you were in a One Na­tion of­fice park­ing lot.

So where are these old-school cars go­ing to come from? Well, thanks to plum­met­ing real es­tate val­ues in Detroit, most of those old fac­to­ries are still in one piece – the roofs might have caved in, and there’s bats and ho­bos liv­ing in the old ex­ec­u­tive of­fices, but no-one both­ered to knock them down to make McMan­sions be­cause ev­ery­one who can af­ford a McMan­sion has moved out of Detroit. If RoboCop were made there now, he’d just be a part­time se­cu­rity guard wrapped in al­foil. But it means that Pres­i­dent Trump could just send in the Na­tional Guard with brooms and giant cans of WD-40 to fire up the fac­to­ries and start mak­ing cars again.

There’s no point hold­ing your breath for Pres­i­dent Trump to make

Amer­ica great again – he’s more likely to make the Great De­pres­sion again – but he might just pos­si­bly, ac­ci­den­tally, make

1970s cars great again.

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