If you had the power, how would you force/convince people to downsize their cars?

The_Finn

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Ok, let's rephrase the question. A common bitching/complaint point on these forums is how cars have grown heavier over time, so for those who preach 'lightness' how do you want to see this trend reversed. Don't just play devil's advocate, offer real suggestions if you want to see it happen.
Take away the reasons cars are getting larger in the first place see below

I don't think people should have to down size, but I will take this in another direction and say that I would loosen the regulations on manditory safety equiptment and fuel regulations.

That way automakers could go back to making "stripper" cars that the enthusiasts like, but at the same time build safe, fuel effecient, does-everything-for-you cars that the consumer demands.
JipJop pretty much hit the nail right on the head with the safety regs thing.
 

2Billion

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I actually don't think relaxing safety regs would help, because the perception of a lack of safety - perpetuated by marketing - is one of the biggest obstacles for selling small cars. Relaxing regs would allow people to say "see? Small cars are dangerous and kill babies!"
 

argatoga

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Most Americasn do, and always have, loved big cars. Before the SUV craze there were plenty of big land yachts. Even without SUVs and a lot of government regulation there will still be big heavy cars here.
 

prizrak

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weight exceeding 3500 pounds.
That would actually not work too well my car is over 3500lbs.
I actually don't think relaxing safety regs would help, because the perception of a lack of safety - perpetuated by marketing - is one of the biggest obstacles for selling small cars. Relaxing regs would allow people to say "see? Small cars are dangerous and kill babies!"
Small cars don't sell well in the US not because of lack of safety but because of lack of luxury. There was a Top Gear episode where Hammond was reviewing the Escalade and they couldn't understand why it was a luxury car in the states. Remember it's all fine and good to have wood grain, aluminium and CF on the inside of your car but when it comes down to it they are just pretty things to look it mostly useless. Space on the other hand is right there, it is readily available and you "use" it every day.

If the fuel prices were as high as Europe or if the roads/cities were as tight then the small car would make some semblance of sense but since we don't have any of those problems there is no real reason to go small. Also our cars are cheaper in general, you can get a V6 Mustang for like $22K. I suspect something like that would be unheard of in the EU.
 

2Billion

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That would actually not work too well my car is over 3500lbs.

Small cars don't sell well in the US not because of lack of safety but because of lack of luxury. There was a Top Gear episode where Hammond was reviewing the Escalade and they couldn't understand why it was a luxury car in the states. Remember it's all fine and good to have wood grain, aluminium and CF on the inside of your car but when it comes down to it they are just pretty things to look it mostly useless. Space on the other hand is right there, it is readily available and you "use" it every day.

If the fuel prices were as high as Europe or if the roads/cities were as tight then the small car would make some semblance of sense but since we don't have any of those problems there is no real reason to go small. Also our cars are cheaper in general, you can get a V6 Mustang for like $22K. I suspect something like that would be unheard of in the EU.
A perceived lack of safety is an obstacle though, make no mistake. I tend to drive a smaller vehicle, and I have had some in the older generation shocked that I feel safer in it than I do in some larger vehicles.

However, I agree that a lack of luxury is a factor as well, which is naturally influenced by small cars usually being on the bargain end of the price spectrum. Strangely, GM had a solution for this with the first Seville, they made it the most expensive model, piled in equipment and advertised it as internationally sized. It worked until they put the worst engines in the world in it.
 

The_Finn

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I actually don't think relaxing safety regs would help, because the perception of a lack of safety - perpetuated by marketing - is one of the biggest obstacles for selling small cars. Relaxing regs would allow people to say "see? Small cars are dangerous and kill babies!"
No one is suggesting that we start making unsafe cars or stop making safe cars. All i am saying is that a major reason that cars are constatly getting larger and heavier is that they are facing constantly increasing safety regulations (driver passenger and pedestrian). If you were to loosen the regs there would still be millions of Camrys and Maximas and Fusions that will continue to be made just as safely as they are now but it would also be more likely that a car manufacturer would be able to slip through that light as hell rev happy go-kart of an roadster they have always wanted to make. There is a portion of the population that is willing to give up a modicum of safety for more performance I would much rather have the option of less safe but fun cars than no option at all.
 
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Spectre

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No one is suggesting that we start making unsafe cars or stop making safe cars. All i am saying is that a major reason that cars are constatly getting larger and heavier is that they are facing constantly increasing safety regulations (driver passenger and pedestrian). If you were to loosen the regs there would still be millions of Camrys and Maximas and Fusions that will continue to be made just as safely as they are now but it would also be more likely that a car manufacturer would be able to slip through that slight as hell rev happy go-kart of an roadster they have always wanted to make and that there is a portion of the population that is willing to give up a modicum of safety for more performance. As it currently stands such a car cannot exist. I would much rather have the option of less safe but fun cars than no option at all.
This. Safety regs are why you can only import a Caterham or Atom into the US as a never-assembled kit car - because ever increasing Federal regulations require tons of safety BS that they don't or can't mount. I would like to see more fun little cars like these, or things like the Brit Ultima - but because of the ever increasing safety regs, well...

A perceived lack of safety is an obstacle though, make no mistake. I tend to drive a smaller vehicle, and I have had some in the older generation shocked that I feel safer in it than I do in some larger vehicles.
Mmmm, physics!
 
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HatePersonified

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Displacement taxation is bullshit,

An F430's V8 gets shit mileage compared to an LSx DESPITE being much smaller and higher revving.

we should just go back to running massive motors with low compression ratios for Hydrogen.
 
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2Billion

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No one is suggesting that we start making unsafe cars or stop making safe cars. All i am saying is that a major reason that cars are constatly getting larger and heavier is that they are facing constantly increasing safety regulations (driver passenger and pedestrian). If you were to loosen the regs there would still be millions of Camrys and Maximas and Fusions that will continue to be made just as safely as they are now but it would also be more likely that a car manufacturer would be able to slip through that light as hell rev happy go-kart of an roadster they have always wanted to make. There is a portion of the population that is willing to give up a modicum of safety for more performance I would much rather have the option of less safe but fun cars than no option at all.
Sure, but it's a really niche market, and probably served by the kit car end of the spectrum anyway - Caterham has a dealer network in the US, after all. If you want to convince people outside of the hardcore to downsize, it's not going to be an effective way to do so, and would actually be the least effective way of doing it.

Also, Spectre:
Physics is complicated.
 
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Spectre

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Also, Spectre:
Physics is complicated.
Not so much. The heavier car has the advantage - if you didn't get one made out of Swedish, er, swiss cheese. :p In the Brits' compilation of road safety stats over the past few decades, the top two cars for safety have historically been the S-Class and the XJ (tied for first place). Volvos like the 940 are considerably back in the pack. Most of Volvo's post-240 'safety engineering' is just frigging marketing BS anyway, just like Saab's. Per the UK MOT, the XJ is statistically three times safer than the next closest Volvo model.

The point is that not all old cars are unsafe, and that you can't extrapolate from a couple of tests from Final Gear. Plus you shouldn't believe Scandihoovian marketing guys. The point is that if you encounter a properly engineered larger car, the smaller car is screwed.

Edit: Also, if you're going to bring up the Fifth Gear Smart test, don't bother. They glossed over the fact that the occupants' legs were crushed and the fact that the thing fell over and could have rolled means that it's not quite as safe as they claim it was either. "Sure, you survived the initial impact, but you are now paralyzed because your car rolled and you hit the roof and broke your neck when you slipped out of the three point seatbelt."
 
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2Billion

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Not so much. The heavier car has the advantage - if you didn't get one made out of Swedish, er, swiss cheese. :p In the Brits' compilation of road safety stats, the top two cars for safety have historically been the S-Class and the XJ. Volvos like the 940 are considerably back in the pack. Most of Volvo's post-240 'safety engineering' is just frigging marketing BS anyway, just like Saab's.
That's why I say, physics is complicated, and why I say I feel safer in my smaller car than I do in some larger cars. Certainly, with equivalent engineering the larger car is safer. However, in a lot of cases the engineering isn't equivalent, or no effort was made in the crash design due to the bigger vehicle not requiring it - lots of light trucks are covered under that - or even just the difficulty keeping structural integrity in a larger structure. A big car isn't necessarily more safe than a small one, and the safety of it is 90% structural design, with the weight and size only really helping in collisions with certain objects.
 
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Spectre

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But in an (I would guesstimate) almost equal percentage, the makers of small cars didn't always do their homework. Or simply couldn't overcome physics.




Physics dictates that the lighter vehicle will accept/absorb more of the kinetic energy. Statistically, the larger, more massive vehicle will win.

Edit: Now, that said, older people often place a premium on their safety, often more than they should, due to their longer recovery times. So their concerns about smaller cars do have a basis in fact, it's just that they may be caring too much about it.
 
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edkwon

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The general consensus conclusion I seem to be getting from the majority of posts as to why cars are getting heavier include:

1. safety regulations/perception of safety

2. customer demand for large cars in the US for perception of safety and luxury

so...who should the internet car forum population direct their anger/resentment towards? the car manufacturers or the car buying public?
 

2Billion

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True, but keep in mind just how many pure shit large vehicles there are. For instance, I had a real estate agent tell me that this was much safer than what I was driving.


If going by pure size, perhaps, but that's a vehicle so bad at absorbing energy it doesn't matter - it's not safe, and you're losing your legs if you get in an accident. That's an extreme example, but my point is that you can't view these things in simplistic terms. Besides which, I've avoided accidents that a larger vehicle would have been hit in - narrowly missed being hit by a train in a Chevy Sprint, had it been a mid-sized sedan it wouldn't have been a narrow miss - and active safety is just as important as passive.
 

Spectre

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The general consensus conclusion I seem to be getting from the majority of posts as to why cars are getting heavier include:

1. safety regulations/perception of safety

2. customer demand for large cars in the US for perception of safety and luxury

so...who should the internet car forum population direct their anger/resentment towards? the car manufacturers or the car buying public?
How about the government(s) for making certain equipment mandatory instead of making laws specifying performance standards instead?

For example, I don't see why I need a driver's airbag (and the corresponding sensors, computers, chassis reinforcements to mount same and the airbag) if I can get a car with five point racing harnesses and (maybe) a roll cage. The belts will keep me from moving around enough to need the airbag in the event of a crash (which is why airbags are called *supplementary* restraint systems!) - but noooooo, the law says I have to have the crappy antiquated 3 point garbage, no roll cage, and I'm stuck with an aging explosive charge two feet away from my chest! Brilliant!

True, but keep in mind just how many pure shit large vehicles there are. For instance, I had a real estate agent tell me that this was much safer than what I was driving.


If going by pure size, perhaps, but that's a vehicle so bad at absorbing energy it doesn't matter - it's not safe, and you're losing your legs if you get in an accident. That's an extreme example, but my point is that you can't view these things in simplistic terms. Besides which, I've avoided accidents that a larger vehicle would have been hit in - narrowly missed being hit by a train in a Chevy Sprint, had it been a mid-sized sedan it wouldn't have been a narrow miss - and active safety is just as important as passive.
There are just as many if not possibly more shit small cars out there. Also, you're using a van as an example - vans and cab over trucks are by definition less safe as there's no significant crumple zone in front of the driver. In fact, the driver IS the crumple zone.

Notice what the same company's small car did around the same time:
[video=youtube;AuQta-Ftwy8]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuQta-Ftwy8[/video]

While not automatically amputating the legs, the Cavy was well known for severe leg injury (among other damage), and it's easy to see why.

Active safety is, of course, harder to quantify, but if you go that way, motorcycles are more actively safe than small cars - and you don't have to wait for the firemen to cut you out of the wreckage while you slowly bleed to death if something goes wrong on a motorcycle.

Edit: I will just leave this here...
 
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2Billion

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Oh I'm not claiming that the Cavalier or the Dodge Neon were very safe at all - they were notoriously dangerous - but that's the thing, they were bad not because of their size, but because the safety engineers didn't actually engineer in any safety. Same reason why larger GM and Dodge products were equally dangerous. Which is my point all along, engineering is the main determination of the safety of a model, not size.
 

Spectre

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Oh I'm not claiming that the Cavalier or the Dodge Neon were very safe at all - they were notoriously dangerous - but that's the thing, they were bad not because of their size, but because the safety engineers didn't actually engineer in any safety. Same reason why larger GM and Dodge products were equally dangerous. Which is my point all along, engineering is the main determination of the safety of a model, not size.
Statistically, mass is the primary determination, actually. And unfortunately.

Remember, I'm not promoting larger cars per se, I'm a motorcyclist first and foremost. But objective reality must be recognized - with all else being equal, the bigger object wins.

Move to a freeer country?




Also downsized compared to many cars :nod:
I said car, not French joke that will flip itself over and go on fire for no apparent reason if no 'youths' are around to help it do that.

I would rather buy this, which is better in every possible way:
 
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2Billion

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Statistically, mass is the primary determination, actually. And unfortunately.

Remember, I'm not promoting larger cars per se, I'm a motorcyclist first and foremost. But objective reality must be recognized - with all else being equal, the bigger object wins.
That's the thing, all else is rarely equal. GM products from the 90s, for example, are made of spit and kleenex, so no matter what size you're getting it's not going to be a safe product. The Mercedes S-Class doesn't have statistically tiny fatality numbers solely because it's big - though that doesn't hurt, of course - but because Mercedes also pours billions into safety research on that car. Hell, the XJ is actually a relatively light car, as executive sedans go, and it still does quite well.

Small cars can be, and are, perfectly safe, with the right engineering. Sure, it's not going to be easy, and you're fighting powerful forces, but with proper engineering you'll survive most times. However, if manufacturers are encouraged to cut safety for price reasons or to offer stripped out models, small cars will not be safe. Which is why any attempts to relax safety regs on smaller vehicles are going to chase people away from them, because that's the market segment that needs safety engineering the most - and we can agree on that, I'm sure.
 

prizrak

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This. Safety regs are why you can only import a Caterham or Atom into the US as a never-assembled kit car
Really? So the US Caterham dealers basically get the parts and assemble them for you?
Statistically, mass is the primary determination, actually. And unfortunately.

Remember, I'm not promoting larger cars per se, I'm a motorcyclist first and foremost. But objective reality must be recognized - with all else being equal, the bigger object wins.
In that case all cars should be made to the F1 specs. They can handle crashing pretty damn well :)
 
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