It was a sarcastic question, but it effectively makes a point for Delphi Automotive Systems President J.T. Battenberg III.

He recalls how the George Jetson cartoon inspired thoughts of some ingenious modes of transportation - as well as some ideas that were just too wacky to get off the ground.

Take, for instance, the washtub mounted to a vehicle's running boards. Just add soap and water, and the natural vibrations should remove the toughest stains and make for whiter whites.

Here's another great automotive idea - a revolver latched to the door handle that shoots any unauthorized person trying to get into your car. Wait a second, don't they have those on L.A. freeways?

It's easy for Mr. Battenberg to take good-natured jabs at these "innovations" in a recent Automotive Press Assn. speech because so many other truly revolutionary products have redefined the motoring experience.

As chairman of Convergence 2000, Mr. Battenberg gets to highlight today's automotive electronics and the advances that promise much in the future.

"As an industry, we're continually asking ourselves, `What has technology promised us?' I submit what we should be asking is, `What are we doing to deliver that promise?'" he says. "It's my opinion that automotive electronics are not just the key to delivering the promise. Electronics is the code, the cipher, to unleashing the promise."

He speaks from experience: Delphi is deep into development of these products, and he has driven prototypes equipped with them.

So what was it like driving with this stuff? Was it distracting? "I didn't have any problems myself," Mr. Battenberg says. "It varies from person to person."

Some people may not need to be that connected while on the road, but he says market research has shown that there are many people who crave such a link. Mr. Battenberg has serious doubts that in a decade people will think about "telematics" and driver information systems the way they think about flying cars today.

"I think it's completely different," he tells Ward's. "The technology I described is all very technically feasible, and I think it's short-term.

In his recent APA speech, Mr. Battenberg tips his hat to both competitors and customers that are breaking ground in automotive electronics - General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. for satellite tracking systems, Daimler-Chrysler AG for its hybrid vehicle, Visteon Corp. for voice-activated audio and climate control, Robert Bosch GmbH for advanced braking, Yazaki Corp. for fiber optic data delivery and Motorola Inc. for its Digital DNA for intelligent vehicles.