Bono on Auto: In the Name of Love?

Bono—yes, he of U2—is a contributing columnist for the New York Times.

Bono—yes, he of U2—is a contributing columnist for the New York Times. No, not in the Arts section, but in the Opinion section. Looks like the Old Grey Lady likes to shake it.

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In the Sunday January 3, 2010, edition, Bono provides a top 10 list, but, as he points out, unlike many lists that are “best of,” “”this list looks forward, not backward,” and consists of “10 ideas that might make the next 10 years more interesting, healthy or civil.” Not surprisingly, he looks at things like cap-and-trade, vaccines that can be particularly effective in the poorest countries, and the importance of things like soccer matches and rock concerts.

One thing that is surprising is the first topic covered, which has the headline: “Return of the Automobile as a Sexual Object.”

And his examination opens, “How is it that the country that made us all fall in love with the automobile has failed, with only a few exceptions, to product a single family sedan with the style and humor and grace of the cars produced in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s”, cars that he maintains “had sex appeal.”

Now? “Today, however, we have the mundanity of our marriage to the minivan and the S.U.V. and long-term relationships with midsize cars that are, forgive me, a little heavy in the rear cargo hold.”

Bono goes on to argue that this may be the result of “design by committee,” and that “the Obama administration—while it still holds the keys to the big automakers—“ought to put some style fascists into the mix.” He cites the likes of Marc Newson, Steve Jobs, Jonathan Ives, Frank Gehry, and Jeff Koons.” F T

He concludes by giving shout outs to both the Tesla Roadster and the Fisker Karma for being stylish (and green).

Is he right about the boring designs of many vehicles on U.S. roads, or is he, well, just being a rock star about it?

I think he may be on to something. And I also think that he’s thrown the gauntlet down to U.S. based designers.