I tried to walk away from this but you continue with incorrect claims or just your opinion. Check it out. The Smart car shell is made of metal, and body panels are made of plastic. Not carbon fiber. I had a 1973 beetle and there wasn't much in the way of front protection. The noses deformed whenever another car struck it in a minor impact. As far as safety, they didn't have CAD/CAM Design when the air cooled beetle was around so everything was designed without being able to see the results of a collision, then designing a safer structure. There weren't crash tests and results then like NHTSA has now, so saying the beetle was safe in a collision is basically moot. New cars are designed to avoid the engine moving into the passenger compartment, and that the energy is deflected. Manufacturers are aware of insurers' and consumers' demands for safe cars. If there is supporting data, prove your stement that smaller cars (and what do you consider small, as large cars are now the same size or smaller than the 70's midsize cars) are in less accidents. Where do you get your information? Austin Healy and Cobra (4 cylinder cars brought from the U.K. as the AC) were made of aluminum primarily because they weren't built in large quantities and the thin metal was easy to hand form. Try finding any examples of those cars where all the measurements are identical. Considering what Land Rovers, etc. cost, I find it fascinating that you say the costs are worth it. Maybe if you keep the vehicle for 30 years, but rarely does anyone do this. I don't know anyone that could afford to purchase a new Land Rover, so most must be leased, which is not "owning" the car. Maybe in the future through economies of scale will you see these materials being used, so steel is the metal of choice that most people can afford. It hasn't happened yet, and aluminum has been around a very long time. "Empty" trunks mean nothing but air. Air can't stop anything. Let's drop this.
While the proposed milage figures may be easy to meet in particular vehicles, to meet them as a fleet average, which is the requirement, will be very expensive. This will lower the demand for new cars and the economies of manufacturing scale on which the cost estimates have been based will no longer apply, especially since the high demand, high profit, low-mileage vehicles which have been subsidizing the small, high-mileage vehicles will have to be largely eliminated. The reduction in sales volume will increase the cost per vehicle far beyond the current estimates. I think Cubanization is an apt term. The focus of the automotive industry will move from manufacturing to preservation, and the change will be profound.
You are correct that the Polo add was also probably imperial gallons.
However, both Focus and Polo are better than the 54 mpg still.
Carbon fiber or aluminum may be expensive compared to steel, but has longer life and the savings are worth it. The Smart car is all carbon fiber. LandRover, Austin Healey, Cobra, etc., have had aluminum bodies for half a century.
All front engine vehicles are deadly because of the passengers being crushed against the engine. That is why the rear engine VW bug has such a good safey record. Empty trunks provide more crash energy absorption. Even better is a front engine that swings down in an accident, like Mercedes.
No, Nano is not the only answer, but since the real answer is mass transit and we are not going to do that, we need to try smaller solutions like the Nano. Most people communte and don't need such big cars. Smaller cars have fewer accidents in general, so are automatically going to save lives.
Sorry to burst your bubble about the Polo but we don't get the Polo, that's a UK model, therefore, Imperial gallons. Check Google. Speed limits are close to U.S. Max speed in England is 70 mph and they use photo cameras to enforce, max speed in Switzerland is 75mph and more generally 62mph with strict enforcement. 75mph is used in Western U.S. Germany has even reduced speeds in parts of the Autobahn due to congestion. Carbon fiber is expensive compared to steel and although lightweight, is now only used in race cars and limited street car usages like hoods. Usually aftermarket, exotics, or bling. You state about the Nano but only mention rear crashes, probably at low speeds, where you're crushed onto the engine. Doesn't seem much real world except maybe in India. Crushed doesn't sound good either. The trunk is in the front. Not much to protect you. Most crashes are frontal or offset, and the front structure is desgned to deform before it intrudes into the passenger compartment. Aluminum is not only expensive to build with (Audi's, some Jaguars, Rolls Royce) but not all body shops are specialized enough in equipment or talent to do the repairs. Hence more expensive repairs. The NANO isn't the answer, not even in India where it hasn't sold like they thought it would. Given the right circumstances people can get killed in any car, regardless of weight. Try not wearing your seatbelt or texting. And I bet you think people survive accidents better without seatbelts because they're thrown from the car. I'm through. Beam me up Scotty, this isn't fun anymore.
Good points, Chuck. I think another aspect of this will be lightweight -- though strong -- steel. Also, composits are competing in this area. So we'll probably see lighter cars that are still able to hold up in crashes.
The rest of the world is already using the 4cyl version of the Cummins 6cyl. If American automakers actually did this they would just be catching up to the rest of the world. Adding hybrid technology to this 4cyl diesel would put us ahead slightly in this area.
Maybe US automakers could even EXPORT something for a change rather than importing all the time!!!
If you could have a 4cyl diesel hybrid that has the same torque as a 6 cylinder diesel but got better fuel mileage than a regular 4cyl diesel you wouldn't buy it? Even better, a 6cyl diesel like the 6.7L cummins with a large hybrid electric bewteen the engine and tranny to bump torque by another 50 to 100 ft-lbs??
Seriously, I would buy into your perspective if most of the pickups on the road were diesels. Most diehard pickup owners drive a gasoline engine. Most people buying a diesel for performance reasons has issues. Most people buy diesels for one thing and that is pulling heavy loads. Torque is torque. If you made up the torque deficit of the 4 cylinder diesel with an electric motor, most "truck guys" wouldn't care.
Electric motors provide instant torque which is perfect for truck applications. Once the load is moving down the road at cruising speed a 4 cylinder is all that is needed to maintain speed. When you need the extra torque the electric motor would assist in the duties. The electric motor would also help the diesel keep up with gasoline engines that can rev quicker.
The only thing I see being a problem is the engine shutting off at stops. In city driving it may become an issue on any diesel other than Cummins.
And you are wrong about speed limits in Europe. They are much faster, not more restricted.
Small cars like the Nano are much safer in single car accidents, because it is the energy of the back of the car that crushes you onto the engine. The lighter the car, the better you survive. It is only 2 car accidents where you try to kill the people in the ohter car, with a heavier car.
It is not hard to get 80 mpg and still be practical and safe. We just need to use more carbon fiber and aluminum instead of steel.
So in 30 years we have not been abve to double the MPG. The computer industry doubles the performance every few months. I think the leason here is that the objective is NOT consolidated: some consumers target performance, some economy, some luxury. The automakers strive to market a blend to try and satisfy everyone: not wanting to miss any sales. A radical new design that fully met any one target might not provide the average retun on investmet that they are accustomed to. This would be a huge business risk.
Forward thinking tells us the trends of price and availability of petroleum - so the future is obvious. We just need to enbrace the facts. IF any car manufacturer were to be so brave as to introduce a design that was fully internded to be the best/lowest 'cost of ownership' it would be any interesting thing to watch unfold.
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