Does all the electronic crap in an engine REALLY save money in fuel costs and emissions? When it goes bad, how much does it cost to get it fixed? I'd personally rather spend more money on fuel than the bill your mechanic gives you for car repair. The complexity of a car over the years and the emissions it reduced are not proportional. The PCV system incorporated in the early 60's cut emissions by half and cost $20 (which was good). In recent times auto manufacturers were forced to build $700 worth of emission devices to clean the exhaust another 2%. I'd say we're way far to the right of the cost/benefit curve.
Remember when $500 would get you a new carburator, distributor, coil, wires, and plugs? What will $500 get you for your car nowadays?... and finding problems didn't used to take a whole weekend or $300 of a mechanic's time.
How about all the goodies loaded into a car? When I bought my 95 E320 last summer, nearly all the repair issues were related to "convenience" features (seat belt presenter with a mind of its own, inoperable motorized headrests, electrohydraulic top mechanism, funky volume control of the radio, inoperable vacuum seat locks, inoperable fog lights, cabin air filters that don't fit)! (Would it have killed Mercedes to add another inch between the engine and firewall!...Geez!)
Where's the "convenience"?
I read the automotive engineering journals about new technology that's coming out for cars, i.e., interior cabin sensors that'll open windows on a hot day for the idiots that put their kids and pets in danger in the sweltering heat. If you talk to most lay people, they'll say "What a great idea!... All cars should have this!" I try to explain that they'll have to pay for this technology.... not once, but twice!.... first with initial manufacturing cost, than again when it stops working, or when the jumble of wires gets in the way of another problem. I'm met with blank looks on their faces. They can't think that broadly! All I can do is cringe at the thought of how much time I'll be spending in the future keeping my cars in working order.
I can't put all the blame on automotive manufacturers. A lot of the blame must be placed on the public at large who don't realize what this technology creep is doing to the average car owner. What more convenience does a person really need in a car nowadays other than automatic, a/c, radio, ps, and maybe pb and pw? And even those conveniences are debatable!
Ironically, when I saved my money for a high-end car, the choice was either a Mercedes convertible or a hand-built 32 Ford from new parts. One of the factors I heavily weighed was that the 32 Ford would be simple to work on (IMO, a great "convenience"). The only reason I went with a Mercedes was for safety in the crazy freeway traffic in SE Michigan.
I can't wait for the day when a high end car is built without all the technological extravagances. Maybe someday the old Corvette Stingray will be built as a brand new vehicle. (I'm sure there's other choices). I'd be first to buy one.
95 E320 Cabriolet, 131K