-They're readily available for use by pretty much anyone.
-You can (fairly) easily get them without paying the sticker price in some areas of the game.
-Their use DOESN'T require any kind of GM moderation. You can just hop in, do your business, drive all over, and be good.
-It DOES require GM moderation to meaningfully interact with them. Yes, yes, there's that one niche/rare item that can mess with cars, but let's just assume for the sake of argument that the driver is alert at the wheel and in control of the vehicle. That effectively negates the -one- item that exists to mess with cars. And if you -do- use that item, you again, still need a GM to meaningfully interact with a car in any way besides emoting smacking it with a baseball bat.
This is a problem. It's becoming an increasingly large problem as there seems to be more people driving around in cars for the express purposes of using them as invulnerability bubbles. This isn't simply a topside or mix problem, it's a game-wide problem.
Introducing corporate pilot jobs to ferry around corpies not only put SkyFox in this strange grey area of existence, it also effectively made it so a whole bunch of corporate citizens who previously were much more targetable for attack are now sitting in immunity bubbles as well, as they go from pad to work to pad and back. You don't need to grind away to buy an overpriced car topside, you have now have an additional job perk.
There's also an increasing usage of cars in the mix as getaway cars, spy devices, being used as mobile kill squad vehicles, etc. While these things are SUPER THEMELY! They also present problems because again, there's zero counterplay. If team A has a car and team B doesn't have a car, then team B is at a serious disadvantage. Insert gang/syndicate/clique/whatever in place of team A/B and you'll get my point.
The problem is exasperated when GM's enforce theme by cracking down on players who attack the people using vehicles to avoid RP and consequences. If the vehicle is owned by a corporation or business, then not only are you dealing with the players -inside- the vehicle, which are often problems in their own right, then trying to pierce the immunity bubble winds up getting you into the hot water with extremely powerful NPCs on top of what ever other consequences you're drawing on yourself messing with the driver/passenger.
Here's my suggestions as to how to remedy the situation both short-term and long-term, as it stands now.
-'Executive' vehicles should be for management-level employee use, and not ferrying around rank and file employees. This still gives an avenue for SkyFox to operate (low/middling corporate citizens.) This also further provides further incentive for internal promotion strife.
-PC employees of NPC's/NPC corporations should be held responsible for the state of being of their 'company car.' If they're joyriding with it and it gets smashed up, it shouldn't be the problem of the people smashing it- it would instead make more sense if the pilot/driver was responsible for not taking their ride to bad areas of the city. This would also mean parking the car in the company garage or outside the HQ if they have a bunch of heat on themselves as to avoid getting their ride blown up due to their personal drama. (Think about it- how many players are going "FUCK CHEX!" instead of saying "FUCK THAT CHEXIE!")
-The total number of vehicles in the game should probably be a function of some % of the overall population of the game if it isn't already.
-AV's are really, really disgustingly powerful on so many different levels that I sometimes wonder if player ownership of them is even a good idea in the first place. The restrictions of perma-pads being placed on them (reserved for only certain job slots in the game, and that's it.) might not be a bad idea- but I can see arguments for and against this. There's already kind of a problem in game with owning and maintaining them due to how rare they are and also how skill-intensive they are to use and work on, and I don't want to further exasperate that problem with this situation.
-We really, really need coded means of dealing with vehicles. Even if the coded solution is that there's a line of rocket launchers that can be obtained through rare/exclusive means and therefore staff can manage this in a way that not everyone's car is a burning wreck always.
---We still need to XHELP for messing with vehicles topside, just like we would for any other type of crime.
---We would not need to XHELP to trash vehicles in the mix, even if it's wayward corpies doing safaris.
-There also needs to be a way of handling vehicles in motion. Rocket launchers are cool to blow up a parked car, but a car screeching around the crowded streets of the mix? Not so much. This could be spike traps, land mines, magnetic car-disabling devices, something, anything. There's currently coded problems with attacking/targeting vehicles with a driver active and present in them- so I'd think that something static to deal with passing vehicles might do the trick here. You could even make them time-limited booby traps, as there's certainly a lot of ambpop that they'd go off on. Make people do their homework on when and where their enemies are traveling. And, to be clear, I have -zero- idea how you'd balance any kind of anti-AV item. Especially since they can transverse the entire dome from anywhere, to anywhere with a macro in seconds.
-There's been talk of vehicle-based combat to smash rival cars with your cars for years now, but with how cars work in the game, and the relatively low skill requirements to drive them very, very fast, I don't know how this would be implemented in a way that wasn't just something people had to use the @macros command to do basically all the heavy lifting on. Because the time a car is in a room can be so low that you're within the ping error of margin here. Talking fractions of a second.
- There's no real meaningful way of interacting with vehicles that are in motion, have people in them, etc. We're currently only able to interact with vehicles behind GM approval which can sometimes take enough time that the window of opportunity for often-used vehicles passes, and the car/bike/AV is no longer there. This promotes messing with people's rides during off hours or when they're asleep (not really ideal from a RP perspective.)
- There's increasingly more vehicle bloat (seemingly) over the years as the game grows and shrinks organically. Sometimes vehicles are gone for good, but there still seems to be many, many more active vehicles now than in years past.
- Cars make you damn-near immune to consequences when doing -all- kinds of stuff. Spying, stalking people, kidnapping people, smuggling, moving kill-squads around, & etc. In this way, vehicles are an investment that allow you to -evade- consequences of your RP, and make it, at times, extremely difficult to play around given the limited options for messing with them.