Ferrari/Volkswagen/Merc or Tata/ Maruti/ Mahindra & MacBook?

One day when Mudit was still a child, he felt very magnanimous and promised to buy me a Ferrari one day. I was delighted with the visions of me driving the dream car. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Masters in Petroleum and another one in Sustainable Technology, the idiot has got on a track to develop technology that supports development of environment friendly cars. His promise of buying me a Ferrari stands.

But now I have a change of mind.

If I were to believe this morning’s BBC World News, the EU Commission is likely to open an investigation into the allegation of collusion between the Circle of Five (BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and its subsidiaries (Porsche and Audi) not to compete in the area of emission control technology––to develop such technologies slowly. If the allegations were to be proved it would mean deliberate denial of cleaner cars to the customers. It would also amount to breach of competition law, which can attract heavy penalties, and the side effect of reducing access to cleaner technologies.

In another case, three years ago––the notorious Volkswagen diesel scandal––Volkswagen was found guilty of developing software that could enable the company to get past the stringent emission control norms while still polluting the air. The company suffered nearly 2 billion dollars in penalty and had to buy back its cars. Did it lose face and a share of the market? Maybe. Or, who cares!

The investigation is yet to take place; the allegations against the Circle of Five may or may not be proved. I also don’t know whether this smoke is with or without fire.

But I have made up my mind.

“Bro, are you listening (reading this post)? I no longer want a top-of-the-rung foreign car. Firstly, because those reports have cast a doubt in my mind. Will I get what these companies say they sell? Secondly, I cannot possibly enjoy those cars on congested Delhi roads. Some of those companies boast of a good performance like good acceleration and high speeds in excess of 150 kmph or so. Why would I pay for a performance, which I would not get to experience while driving in Delhi? In fact, driving woes had needled me to resign from the Centre for Air Power Studies where I was so happy working.”

What about the status those cars accord to the owners. Well, my Mamaji has a fleet of Mercs, BMWs and the like and I go for a drive with him for the thrill of it. That’s enough for this sapien.

“Bro, are you still listening (reading). I want you to tweak your promise. I’ll be delighted now to have a Tata, Maruti or a Mahindra vehicle rather than one of those cars. With the money you thus save, buy me another Mac (the present one seems to have outlived its utility for me). I will derive greater pleasure tapping the keys of my Mac and publishing my next book rather than getting stuck in a Ferrari or a VW or a Porsche or a… and pitying my state of being.”

A parting thought: A few years after the purchase has been made, what is left of a car (any car)? Are the grapes sour? Whatever may be the case, I am decided.

Why would I pay for a performance that I would seldom get to experience?

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