Storytelling challenge Responses

Tell us: does this story resonate with your experience?

You can be paid up to 100 euro

All you need to do is:

  • Read the film script and share your own experiences around the topics raised in it.
  • Read and reply to one or more of the comments posted by others.

What is this about?

Edgeryders is preparing a series of short films about the automotive industry as part of our academic research project on the car industry. Before we start shooting and editing, we would like to collect your feedback on whether the scenes depicted reflect your experience. This will help us to make sure our project is grounded in reality.

We are looking for experiences and thoughts around the topics raised in the films which bring a meaningful contribution to the debate.

  • Storytellers: You read the film script and share your own experiences around the topics raised in it. You also reply to comments from others on your entry.
  • Commenters: You read and reply to one or more of the comments posted by others.

How much do we pay?

Our pay is based on current blogging rates. (Up to 100 € per selected story or comment).

How will we select entries?

The best entries will be remunerated following this standard:

  • Stories not opinions: Thoughtful responses grounded in lived experiences or evidence in the form of e.g data from a credible source.
  • Depth: Entries that add value in the form of new perspectives or information that help to deepen the conversation.
  • Thoughtful exchange: We want to see people exchanging experiences and discussing them - so only people who actively engage in asking answering questions in the comments will be considered.

Who can participate?

We are looking for contributions from automobile users. To be eligible you should:

  • have a drivers’ license
  • drive a car on a regular basis
  • have either purchased a car in the past, or are planning to in the (near) future.

Where is this money coming from?

This activity is part of a European research project on circular economy in the automotive industry. It is financed by a research grant from the European Commission. Your answers will go towards informing the research results which will be published online and made freely available to the general public.

I was an auto mechanic in the 70s and 80s. I am old enough to remember, and to have repaired, parts of autos that are no longer repairable. Now the norm is “remove and replace” which causes every repair shop to have large amounts of metal and plastic trash that may or may not get recycled.

I remember when front end parts always had places to accept grease. No longer, except on bigger trucks. When they go bad they get removed and replaced. What happens to the old parts? It varies a lot, depending on laws and rules in a given area.

I remember when you could easily repair an alternator by changing the brushes that transfer the power from the alternator to the battery system. Can’t do that anymore.

I remember when you could open up regulators and switches and fix them, often by simply cleaning the electrical contacts. Can’t do that anymore.

Now of course cars and trucks have sophisticated electronics that require advanced training to even understand. Much of this is for driver/passenger convenience and a lot of it is to reduce pollution. And, to be fair, many of these components, when they break, get exchanged for rebuilt units, with a credit for the “core” which is the broken part. It’s a money saver compared to just tossing the broken thing and then putting in a new part.
And it reduces the amount of trash in landfill. Alternators and starter motors have been like this for decades.

But many parts are tossed into the trash and the new part gets installed. I personally have taken apart a number of items that are not considered repairable and got them to last longer. I did that recently on some bad power window switches. But at some point, you have to toss them out. Then what?

Every wire in a vehicle is covered in vinyl PVC sheathing. Indeed, there is vinyl all over a modern vehicle. This is nasty stuff that is very hard to deal with. If you want to recycle the copper in the wires, what about all that vinyl? If you burn it off you will pollute the air with poisonous gas. If you take it to a metal recycler, it will almost certainly get rejected unless the copper wire is bare. Do you have time to strip the wires? Pretty much nobody does except in poor rural places I have seen like China and Bangladesh, and even there I am not sure they still toss piles of copper-laden plastic onto a bonfire.

Same with all those little electronic parts that are in today’s vehicles. Repair shops recycle some of the stuff, but large amounts of toxic material is simply thrown away because it can’t be repaired, can’t be exchanged, and the shop is in the business of repairing, not recycling.

I do admire Toyota and Honda for making vehicles that last far longer than almost every other brand.

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You may or may not know that Japanese cars were made far more reliable because in the 70s huge number of women entered the workplace and they needed their own cars. In the all-men world, it was somewhat attractive to men to take their car to the shop and hang around and talk with the guys there. The Japanese determined that most women don’t like doing that. They want to get in their car, have it start right away, have the heat come on fairly quickly, and not break.

It took a long time for the European and American car makers to figure that out, and generally they still haven’t achieved it compared to the Japanese. But they all are more reliable than they used to be.

We can all thank women for this.

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