April 27, 2004 at 11:28 am #41967
A few days back, myself, RevMen, Hali, MrGraff and, I think, Bluntman were discussing the Smart Car and how it would go down in the USA. Apologies if anyone else was involved or if I listed you and you weren’t.
Anyway, we were discussing the safety of Smart cars and the American predilection for SUVs. The article below provides an excellent commentary on this subject and I thought you might find it interesting.
Personally, I drive a Renault Laguna Sport Tourer, which is an estate car (station wagon) and is just big enough for me and the wife, Robert, Ben and the dog plus our stuff. It is the only car we run and is quite frugal, being a 1.9litre turbo-diesel. I get 39 miles per gallon when cruising at 85 miles per hour.
In the past, I have had modest SUVs (Honda CR-V and Land Rover Freelander) but I am much happier back in a regular car. On our little roads in this part of Pennine Yorkshire though, a Smart Car would make a lot of sense if we could all fit in. The new Smart SUV may be just what I need, if it can handle the snow we get around here.April 27, 2004 at 12:27 pm #41970
I did drive a Smart some years ago (I know these cars have evolved) but I found it very painful for the back and not very sure.
I was driving fast on a windy highway and the wind was dangerously shaking the car. I don’t have a good feeling about this car, and they were extremely expensive in France.
I know the new versions are much better – there is even a Sports model and a Cabriolet model – but I didn’t drive any since my first experience. The prices have lowered too.
You can see many of these cars in Paris, where we don’t have much space for parking the cars. Its small size is a crucial advantage for city driving.
Other than this, I can’t stand SUVs : they’re gas hungry, they’re blocking the view, and – in France – they’re bought by a$$h$les who want to appear richer than they really are.
This article is funny because in Paris, some Green (i.e. ecological) politics suggested to overtax SUVs in order to 1. reduce the number of cars 2. reduce the traffic 3. encourage to buy little cars in order to reduce the carbon and ozon emissions and reduce the endless traffic jams.April 27, 2004 at 2:45 pm #41976
I’d drive a SmartCar to work, I only live 2 miles from work and in winter my internal combustion engine is barely warmed up when I get there!
I have the same reservation as Lowweek – it gets VERY windy here on the prairie and 8 inches (20 cm) of snow isn’t very unusual.
I drive a mini-van which seems to be dwarfed by these monstrosities! I also live a mile from the local HUMMER (Bummer) dealership – these things are awful!. (Talk about ugly – and putting a crome grille on it is like putting lipstick on a pig)
Perhaps America should institute an annual tax on vehicles based on weight – 10 cents per pound. (With a 50% discount if you drive a hybrid) That would encourage smaller cars and lessen pollution and damage to the roads. Then again the super-rich would just have MORE reason to show off!
I expect this will all happen organically, without taxation. As the world economies even out, Americans will have to pay more for oil. These things are already self-taxing, but the effect will be magnified.
On a related note.. I’ve googled for a survey a dozen times, but come up dry. I remember it well because I heard about it on the radio and I remember throwing my pen at the radio when I heard it! Some research group asked Americans how much they were willing to pay for a gallon of gas before they’d buy an economy car. The answer was $2.50 a gallon. Basically the oil companies asked for and got, permission to start slowly jacking up prices! I heard that radio piece 10 years ago…. but I never forgot it.
DDApril 27, 2004 at 2:58 pm #41980
I never really considered gas consumption when looking for a vehicle. I’ve owned a variety of vehicles from a Camero, Mustang, Grand Am, a couple pickup trucks to my Wrangler now. I’ll probably be buying a new vehicle within the next two years and I would be safe in saying gas comsumption is at the top of my list.
I too only drive 2 miles to work, but I live in the middle of Houston, and all my friends live in BFE, I use 10x the gas on the weekend than I do during the whole week.April 27, 2004 at 4:46 pm #41991
Perhaps America should institute an annual tax on vehicles based on weight
The Netherlands already have that. My 750 kg Corsa costs 11 euro a month (1 euro is around 1 dollar usually).
Gas… I pay 1.17 euro for one litre. In a US gallon there are about 3.8 litres, so I pay over 4 dollars for a gallon! So please stop complaining, Dave!
Stefan (who does realise that in the Netherlands, 10 gallons suffice to bring you from any given spot in the country to any other spot).April 27, 2004 at 9:00 pm #42017
Yeah… I’m not complaining as much as worrying about the ripple effect higher gas prices will have on the rest of the economy. When you have to harvest and transport food, more expensive gas equals more expensive food. For poor people who DONT drive, this becomes a problem.
I hope eventually we’ll cover Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas with solar panels and electrolyze sea water into hydrogen. Ummm has anyone simulated a crash between 2 cars carrying fuel cells yet? (Oh the humanity!)
DDApril 27, 2004 at 11:21 pm #42039
Americans don’t care about that stuff.. if they did, all houses in the south would come with solar panels on them. Or at least the option for one. Last I heard the energy companies have made it virtually impossible to make your own electricity for your house…seems to me they ought to be making it easier, instead of offering me discounts on $5000 freezers.
My cynical (and probably correct) viewpoint is that the car makers find it easier and cheaper to pay off the government (oops, I mean to lobby our representatives) than to do something about it. If the gov mandated that solar/alternative be phased in, it would happen. Look what happened when the gov started requiring a certain percent of things to be made of recycled materials, recycling didn’t really get off the ground in a large scale until then…if the gov required all car makers to sell 5% non-gasoline powered vehicles in 2 years and 10% two years later than that you would see some actual innovation and changes. But look at how much the gov has knuckled under, Bush changed the EPA rules so the auto makers only have to increase the CAFE MPG (average miles per gallon) by 0.3 in 2005 (http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/12/13/fuel.e … index.html)
My solution is obvious.. I’ve just (last week) passed my safety course and will soon be getting my motorcycle license.. now I can ride a bike!
Hmm… Harley or BMW???April 27, 2004 at 11:38 pm #42049
I’ve often considered getting a bike, it seems like a fun and economical solution. Plus chicks dig a guy on a motorcycle, right…
My new house is ~0.8 miles from my new job, which in the summer time is walking distance and all other times is easy bicycling distance. I shall be very environmentally friendly.
A Hummer H2 weighs over 8500 pounds. I just can’t, in my mind, find anyway to rationalize that as an appropriate vehicle for anyone to have. While the true mileage figures are withheld (it’s in a special class because of its weight), owners report about 10 mpg. It’s so incredibly wasteful and selfish. It’s an excellent symbol of things that are wrong with American culture.April 28, 2004 at 12:58 am #42061
Drunken Farmer BenParticipant
“MarkB” wrote: Hmm… Harley or BMW???
Ducati 🙂April 28, 2004 at 2:38 am #42077
Americans don’t care about that stuff
I think quite a lot do, it’s just that we don’t really have access to a more efficient source of power yet. There are other sources worth pursuing, but unfortunately some people don’t want gas to be replaced. For some, money>environment.
I think that, within 10 years time, we should be able to find a better source of energy, at least for automobiles. I just hope we actually do it.
Cometgreen, who now has the Canyonero song stuck in his head
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