The Facebook Wars, Detroit vs Detroit, rich against poor: Should Indians be allowed to drive cars, or told to take a walk?

Jamie in a new life, vs. Rachel in a former life

Jamie in a new life, vs. Rachel in a former life

I have been asked repeatedly why the Daily Kanban doesn’t let readers post comments under our articles. Smooth Ed Niedermeyer already gave the diplomatic answer, namely “that tending to a comment section rapidly becomes as much work as writing and research, and both Bertel and I would rather keep focused on our work.” My curmudgeonly answer is that we have our reasons, namely that, after both editing TTAC full time, we are tired of being subverted by clumsy flacks, we no longer want to tell grown men not to behave like children, and that there are better venues to have a discussion than under an article.  A great place is Facebook. And just now on Facebook, there is a prime example of a spirited, yet civilized and high level discussion.  The topic has all the ingredients for a 5 alarm flame war:  Zillions of cars in India, killer smog, pedestrians run over by speeding cars,  squandering of resources, real drop-outs (from Detroit!) against real PR chiefs (in Paris, but from Detroit!) Have at it!

So Rachel Konrad, formerly of the Detroit News, of AP, of Tesla, now PR Chief of the Nissan Alliance, and (sometimes grudgingly) based in Paris, one of the few Daily Kanban readers in high places, loves this Daily Kanban story about a future Datsun car.  I have never seen the car, it’s a secret, its launch is at least a year away, but I have met the people who make it, and if it will be anything like what I was told, the little car will be a winner. I wrote about the car I had never seen, in SAE Magazine (got to write somewhere,) and here.  So Rachel goes on Facebook, reposts a link to the story, and she writes: “This is significant.” Of course she meant the car, and I agree.

Minutes later, the fur starts to fly.

Renault/Nissan stood accused of supplying cars to Indians, who should walk or take the bus.  Because, “it takes just one mega Asian country to run wild and offset all the work done by other established 1st world countries.” Hey, Rachel, will the car be electric? Will it be priced high, well out of the reach of the unwashed? Usually, PR people avoid these discussions, and rightly so.  Not feisty Rachel. A veteran from the wars against Air Fail,  Rachel stands her firm ground – and releases a few more tidbits about the secret car that officially does not exist:

“I think you can speculate that a car rumored to be in the 5K euro range is not going to be a pure EV. However, you would not be wrong assuming that these new cars in India will be the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the segment in their markets, and a big step up over what’s available currently in terms of efficiency, safety and emissions

This is a company that is doing the right thing by way of the environment, taking much more of a leading role in bringing the industry to a more sustainable place than any other major competitor. Again, I go back to my original point: Lisa and Jamison drive large cars by any global standard, and they are 100% dependent on gasoline. Yet Indians should only be allowed to buy a specific type of car, or none at all? No comment to Jamie Osborne, another native Detroiter, this one who lives carless and walks the walk, quite literally.”

And the beauty is: Despite the flammable topic(s), the discussion remains civilized. Where Ed & I worked before, insults would have been traded, sockpuppets and trolls would have haunted the story, editors would have resigned and rehired under protest, and at least three people would have been banned by now. (No harm, they usually have three alter egos, and they can sign up again … except for one guy in Russia.) Where else do you get real people, with real names, real pictures?

You really don’t want to miss this.

(See those little buttons?  They are here to start a discussion.)