There seems to be an unavoidable connection between being a producer of cars and being a producer of atrocities. It's not that suddenly being around cars sends you on a muderous rampage, it just seems that if you your country has gotten to the point in its development where it can produce automobiles, it's also probably dabbled in colonialism, genocide, war, and persecution. So, if your primary goal in buying a car was to only buy from a company/country as free from atrocities against their fellow man as possible, which car should you buy?
Growing up Jewish meant I had, like almost every Jew I know, relatives lost in the Holocaust. Even at my childhood synagogue in North Carolina we had a few older members of the congregation with numbers tattooed on their arms. Being a little car-obsessed kid, I vividly remember that some of these survivors would refuse to ride in a Mercedes, BMW, or any other German car. And who could blame them?
I also remember that a number of other Jews felt the same way. Not everyone by any means, and mostly people didn't make a big deal about it, but once or twice I did hear something about the little red '68 Beetle my dad would pick me up from Hebrew school in.
The people that took issue with my dad's Bug (which I'm pretty sure was built without any Nazis involved in 1968) were from a family that drove a Subaru. Which always made me wonder if they bothered to think about just who that other half of the Axis was back in those dark times. Others who refused to sit in German iron were Ford drivers. And I think we know how Ford's love of Jews was only rivaled by his love of gonorrhea.
So when I saw a '68 semi-auto Bug like my dad had in a supermarket parking lot the other day, all this came back in a flood of memory, and made me ask myself a question: if your primary goal in buying a car was to only buy from a company/country as free from atrocities against their fellow man as possible, which car should you buy?
This is actually a pretty tricky question, and I bet it's one that's been influencing car purchases consciously or unconsciously for years. In order to try and figure this out, we better set up some ground rules:
- The car's nationality will be decided by the nationality of the parent company, not where it was built. So that would mean a VW is German, not Mexican, and a GM is American, not Canadian, and so on. Otherwise, with so many companies building cars in so many countries, this could get out of control way too fast. And besides, the parent company is what defines the character of the car more so than the particular factory it was put together in.
- What counts as an atrocity? Oh boy that's a loaded question. But, since this is a car website and not philosophy class, we'll keep it simple. Anything that causes the death or severe unhappiness of a large group of people will count. That can take the form of outright murder, loss of freedoms, subjugations, slaveries, exploitative economic practices, etc. Soldier-to-soldier deaths in wars don't necessarily count, but the behavior of military to civilian populations will.
- What kind of scale and timeframe are we talking about? Good question, me. There are levels of how awful man can be to man, and if something happened in Neolithic times, should a modern country be punished the same as something that happened in the 1970s? Probably not. So, we'll weight the timeframe so that 20th century and up atrocities will be the main criteria, but earlier misdeeds will be factored in as well, with somewhat lower impact.
As far as scale goes, well, bigger is worse, obviously, though the destruction of an entire given population, even a small one, is plenty horrific. So these will be case-by case.
To summarize all the factors, we can take a page from the EPA with their Green Vehicle Guides and all that. We'll have a single number to give an at-a-glance level of inhumanity of a given car's company or country. We'll call it the Red Car Index, or, more dramatically, the Blood Index. Let's say it's a number from 1-100 to keep it easy. 1 is the guy who takes God to the airport and helps him move without asking for anything at all, and 100 is Hitler's asshole big brother who gave Hitler all his awful ideas in the first place.
Make sense? Let's try this out, and see if we can find what country makes the Most Innocent Car you can buy today. Oh, and we'll just do companies currently in business, and I'll try and stick to the larger-volume car-producing countries unless I get really stuck.
I didn't include some potentially good options because the production volumes were just too small. For example, if you're rich enough, you should be able to buy a new Monte Carlo, made in the principality of Monaco. During WWII, Monaco's police helped fleeing Jews stay out of Nazi hands. But it's just too expensive and obscure to be a factor for most of the car-buying population.
All the major car-producing countries can be checked for Blood Index ranking by clicking on the annotation numbers on the map. Think my estimates are way out of line? Divorced from reality? The rantings of a sick, sick man? Tell us!