Why do people appreciate supercars

The car

Ulf Poschardt

To person

is editor-in-chief of the "Welt" group and author of the books "Über Sportwagen" (2002) and "911" (2013).

When things were supposed to happen as quickly as possible, instead of just briskly, the car was still a promise. It sent the idea of ​​individual freedom down a seemingly endless fast lane: full of awakening, adventure, prosperity and beauty. That time seems lost, but the tension remains. Because the car has to reinvent itself. A single sheet metal box has to become part of a new mobility infrastructure. If this succeeds, the car could save its symbolic power as an agent of acceleration into the 21st century. If this does not succeed, it has no future, but could degenerate into a horror of stagnation and dirt.

Germany, Europe, yes, the West are at a crucial point that could also be a turning point. Old ideas of prosperity and happiness are coming to an end, new ones have not yet developed properly. Some cars have never been so good, never so fast, never so economical, never so sustainable, never so exciting. Nevertheless, gloomy clouds are brewing over the cars. Why? Because there are too many, and because the roads of acceleration have turned into storage spaces of frustration. Too many cars have gotten too fat and dysfunctional. At the same time, there is still love for vintage cars, sports cars and the family station wagon, which is paid off with painful leasing installments. It remains difficult, and differentiated considerations are required instead of simple solutions. They should be based on the wishes and concerns of citizens and consumers - without forgetting the people and the environment.

Specifically: When in doubt, it is about less mobility and more environmentally friendly mobility. It's about offering the sports car driver freer roads, and those who would like to live without tin boxes must be offered cycle paths and local public transport that allows everyday life without a car. There can and should also be private sector ideas for this. The cities should become more liveable, the rural areas should not lose touch. All of this is feasible - but not with the naive zeitgeist opportunism that the Greens sometimes deliver, or with that stubborn fixation on the status quo that right-wing populists in particular dream of.

In the debate, neither motorists, nor car enthusiasts, nor the car industry should be left behind. But they are all asked what role they want to play in this process. Notorious brakes are just as helpful as manic full throttle activists or lazy nostalgics. The climate crisis has only exacerbated the debate, not raised it. Even before the threatening backdrop of the children and young people of "Fridays for Future", the traffic jams were too long, the bike paths disastrous, the local public transport too patchy, the infrastructure in rural areas unacceptable. But now these problems are getting caught up in the surf of a sometimes overdramatic climate discussion. Technology fans look forward to the challenges. And if even something as yesterday as the car can be transferred to an ecological modernity, the future is not a futuristic horror concept, but an opportunity to save what is worth preserving into tomorrow.

Everything stays different

"Every epoch," wrote the design theorist Niklas Maak correctly in August 2019 in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", "produces a design that gives shape to your longings and obsessions." In mobility, vehicles equipped with electric drives are currently assuming the lighthouse function that was reserved for super sports cars with twelve cylinders in the 1960s. At the same time, however, there are symbols of freedom and mobility that are creating new competition for the car. The bicycle has long become a status symbol. Liberals love bicycles as a means of transport of radical performance equality. Young people now dream equally of slim, light super sports cars or of Italian racing bikes from the 1970s or the individually designed fixie bike. Cyclists today want to get ahead just as quickly as sports car drivers and are demanding their speedy stretches. Because the bike is only a serious alternative in rush hour traffic if it is allowed its own transport lanes.

Another medium of mobility is the smartphone. By networking potential co-drivers and car pools, the commuter monads can become exciting social lotteries. Who lives on my route? Who wants to ride in an old Mercedes dash eight? Who offers to bring a few croissants for the carpool in the morning? In any case, here too the future has more promises and opportunities than risks. The digital transformation of the economy is a tough and promising process. Traditional companies are challenged because everything will be different, the competition is very young and flexible, but the heavy tankers of the modern industry can hardly compete with the speedboats of the start-ups. Actually.

Because experience and routine, manufacturing knowledge and leadership, networks and innovation experience are also valuable. Which brings us to the German auto industry, which has secured the country 70 years of prosperity and dynamism on the path to democracy and freedom. But Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche have not been really loved for a long time. At least not from all of them. This has not gotten any better through the cascades of cheating and fraud that we have caused ourselves. To be clear: the auto industry's register of sins is embarrassing. The destructive noise of eco-Jacobinism, however, only helps to a limited extent. As in many current fields of politics, the left (sliberal) center has committed itself to a kind of luxury morality that completely ignores the economic foundation of its values ​​and ideals. Almost a million people are employed in the auto industry, many federal states and municipalities can only be social and caring because the auto industry exists.

Car bosses only exaggerate a little when they complain about a "campaign against individual mobility" and point out that this hunt and the disturbed CO2-Fixed with cars Germany could end up losing an innovative core industry. Journalists who ride bicycles in an exemplary manner understandably sympathize with mobility concepts that tend to work in their urban bubbles. The auto industry, on the other hand, has slept through the cultural change of the bourgeois elite. Germans do not have a second key industry in their trunk and should be more careful about the consequences of the car industry being shattered. Foreign competition cannot believe how widespread PS antipatriotism has become. There has to be a mobility turnaround, cities with more bike paths and underground trains - but that can best be shaped if Germans can offer every form of mobility at an innovative level. This also includes good, durable cars.