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Dpvog
Dpvog New Reader
9/7/10 9:17 a.m.

In reply to zomby woof:

That is an oversimplification, but since you brought it up, actually, I would say it's more the government. There are neat designs out there that people want to drive on the roads in the States. They can't, because the US Government won't allow the cars to be certified for use on US public highways. The following is taken from the Ariel Atom website:

"Q- Can I register an Ariel Atom 3 for road use in my state or province? A - The Ariel Atom 3 is a unique and limited hand-built, high performance motor vehicle. All new Ariel Atom 3s sold within the North American market are partially or fully assembled in the USA by TMI AutoTech, Inc. Ariel Atom 3s are built and sold by TMI AutoTech, Inc. for the purposes of off-road/competition use (i.e., organized or private track day; slalom; Solo 1 events, etc.). Ariel Atom 3s are not considered to be federalized, production vehicles and do not necessarily meet applicable FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) criteria. Therefore, Ariel Atom 3s are not available with 17-digit VIN numbers that would permit them to be registered or used on US roadways. "

Way back in 1973, Lotus killed the Elan, citing an inability to make practical changes to the design that woud allow it meet the United States federally mandated 5 mph impact and bumper height requirements. Meanwhile, BL bravely soldiered on in the US by attaching giant rubber baby buggy bumpers to US offerings. Try to imagine for a moment how an Elan would look with circa 1975 MGB bumpers glued to its nose and tail. So, it is, at least in large part, THE GOVERNMENT!

Dpvog
Dpvog New Reader
9/7/10 9:26 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver:

Not exactly accurate. See my previous post. Also, look at a 71 MGB, then compare it to a 75 MGB. Do you think BL did that to its product because it looks better? That is what they HAD TO DO to sell their product in the US for use on a public roadway. Tell me how an Ariel Atom would look with a 75 MGB bumper on its nose. Then say: "It's the consumer."

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/10 9:32 a.m.

No, it's not.

The govenment is an excuse and easy blame- that's it.

The only area in Europe where the rules are significanly different is England, and they are not part of the EU. But find me a country IN the EU that allows the Atom.

To pretend that it's SO hard to make it safe enough is total BS. Drive me nuts to see that excuse time and time again. It's not that hard at all, but you would get called out had they ever crash tested on by the inurance institute- a zero star rating, probably. But legal.

You bring up the Elan, but somehow GM figured out how to integrate basic bumpers into 'glass. Yea, many of the 70's bumpers were pretty heavy- but also, how many cars have you listed as being good are post '79- oh, ALL of them- so there are solutions out there, one just has to put in the effort.

As for adopting the EU rules- I'm very much against that. Especially having seen the horrible air quality that hovers over every major European city I've visted in the last 10 years. Horrible.

yes, governments want to find ways to keep people alive. But I see that as an easy excuse not to do the hard work.

If you want oversimplification of the "problem"- go ahead an blame the government. It's wrong, but that never seems to stop people from doing it.

Eric

Dpvog
Dpvog New Reader
9/7/10 9:33 a.m.

In reply to wcelliot:

Thank you. Well said. Any idea how can we get the US to sign on to EU specs?

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/10 9:38 a.m.
Dpvog wrote: In reply to alfadriver: Not exactly accurate. See my previous post. Also, look at a 71 MGB, then compare it to a 75 MGB. Do you think BL did that to its product because it looks better? That is what they HAD TO DO to sell their product in the US for use on a public roadway. Tell me how an Ariel Atom would look with a 75 MGB bumper on its nose. Then say: "It's the consumer."

Dude, you quoted late 80's cars that are super light and meet the rules. There are currently light weight solutions to the 5mph bumper that Ariel chooses not to use.

Tell Ariel to actually do some engineering. They can easily come up with a better solution than a '70's era rubber bumper.

The only significant rules since 1988 are side intrusion (stronger door beams) + dual air bags. that's it. As I see it, it would make a 1800lb HF something closer to 1900lb to meet the letter of the law.

BTW, it's not the govenment, it's the citizens who complain to their congress that cars are not safe. And now, we have the insurance institute who love to pile on safety stuff.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy HalfDork
9/7/10 9:38 a.m.
wcelliot wrote: But I certainly would like to know why my current tow vehicle (a 2002 Avalanche with a 5.3) gets 4mpg LESS on the highway than my 1999 Suburban 5.7. Same basic gearing and the weight is almost identical...

Because the 5.3 is a gutless-wonder compared to the amazing powa of the vortec 5.7L

Edit- And a brand new base hyundai accent (110hp?) weighs 2300 pounds curb. Not too shabby.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/10 9:46 a.m.
wcelliot wrote: Don't discount complex Government regs... those are prime motivators in prompting carmakers _how_ to build cars that the public wants. Absent them, the public's tastes could be satisfied with lighter, smaller engined cars.

Everyone says that, including congress. Yes, NEEDs can be met by small simple cars. Wants, on the other hand, are not.

Small cars have been available for every single model year since I can't remember, but never has a small car ever been the #1 seller. Ever.

And the small cars are the cheapest, too. So that should also tell you something about the buying public- they will PAY to have more than they need.

if it's about need- how many times have we heard that 90% of the driving public could use an electric car with an 80 mile radius???

So carmakers selling in the US know that adding mass makes meeting the safety regs easier. Look at the Smart... the US version weighs considerably more than the Euro version... but really isn't any safer.

Got any data to back that up? Or is it that the US customer demands a more up scale model? EU crash standards are very close to the US, except that they have specific pedestrian rules that the US does not.

Want to immediately change the mix of cars we have out there? Simply sign onto the EU agreement where all EU countires acknowledge a single set of safety and emission specs... absolutely free for the US to implement. Then overnight the US car market would be flooded with small, lightweight, inexpensive cars...

why would you want to step back 15 years of emission standards for gas cars, 20 for diesel cars? We have made great strides in air quality that the EU still lags behind

Which is really why the DOT regs exist as they do... it's more market protection than anything else... (by comparison, EPA regs are easy to meet)

Oldest excuse in the world.

Tired of hearing it.

If we can do it, anyone can.

Dpvog
Dpvog New Reader
9/7/10 9:51 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver:

Oh, for crying out loud, Eric. Lotus did not kill the Elan because no one in Hethel wanted to do the "hard work," and BL did not hang goofy rubber bumpers on its classic designs to satisfy the US public demand. Last but not least, go back and read my first post. No one is talking about emissions. My very first post says that I'm not objecting to US emissions requirements. We are talking about safety standards, bumper height, and impact standards.

Raze
Raze Dork
9/7/10 9:59 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: The only significant rules since 1988 are side intrusion (stronger door beams) + dual air bags. that's it. As I see it, it would make a 1800lb HF something closer to 1900lb to meet the letter of the law. BTW, it's not the govenment, it's the citizens who complain to their congress that cars are not safe. And now, we have the insurance institute who love to pile on safety stuff.

http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/fmvss/index.html Read all the regulations, read the dates, there are alot of major changes post 1988, many of them dealing with meeting requirements for impacts, but the specifications of the impacts change, it's the old trying to hit a moving target while designing a product, that is the most costly part of a product cycle. It may not be so hard to meet, it may just be too costly when it comes to a cost/benefit analysis. I mean I wouldn't spend $5million to make back $2million to make 2,000 customers happy as clams...though with gov't bailouts I don't see that as a major stumbling block

You're right the government does unfairly get all the blame, since they are the regulating body, the blame is shared amongst those whose governement is a reflection of themselves, in this case us, all of us. The issue is individual bias toward the spirit and application of these 'safety' measures and trying to determine root cause. That's why my early post blamed gov't, insurance, oil, environmentalists, etc. The wheel o'blame game is fun to play, but it all comes down to everyone is responsible, period, that means each and every one of us. That's why I buy used cars and simpler new cars, the only thing that's 'automatic' on my 2007 Ranger are the gauges. I voted with my $, albeit in the minority but that's ok by me.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/10 10:04 a.m.
Dpvog wrote: In reply to alfadriver: Oh, for crying out loud, Eric. Lotus did not kill the Elan because no one in Hethel wanted to do the "hard work," and BL did not hang goofy rubber bumpers on its classic designs to satisfy the US public demand. Last but not least, go back and read my first post. No one is talking about emissions. My very first post says that I'm not objecting to US emissions requirements. We are talking about safety standards, bumper height, and impact standards.

LOL, yes they did. Goofy rubber bumpers were the easy solution that eveyrone came up with. I thought Lotus was some kind of creative company. A 5mph bumper on a 1500lb car is pretty darned easy. They chose NOT to do it, since not enough people were buying Elans. Again, it was market driven in the end. Alfa did it- kept the Spider going until '83 when they found a better solution. MG did it, with the high bumper car. They could have done it, just like Ariel can- they are choosing not to, and then blaming the regulations.

Again, you are using the 70's as an excuse, when earlier stating that late 80's cars that were light weight were examples of good fuel economy.

The REAL reason is that there is not enough market to fully engineer cars like that. And that I mean FULLY, not just crash, but driveability, NVH, cold performance, hot performance, etc. It takes a long time and a lot of money to make the consumer happy. It's a lot easier to make the government happy. That I know for sure.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/10 10:07 a.m.

Look- here's the deal- small light cars are and have been available for ever, and they are cheap.

Consumers are choosing to pay more for heavier and more complex cars. Nobody is making anyone buy a 4700lb Taurus when when a 2800lb Fiesta is half the price. But they do.

If you want to keep blaming the government, go for it. You'll be wrong, but it's still your opinion.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 Reader
9/7/10 10:21 a.m.

I have ranted about this forever. Crazy. I want a modern version of the '88 CRX HF - with all the technology available to make it get, what, 75 MPG?

And yes, I am fine with it being "unsafe". I drive 3 miles to work each way and almost never get over 35 MPH. I don't need air bags. Air bags are just fine and people who want them should be able to get them. But I should be able to buy a car without them if that is my choice.

zomby woof
zomby woof Dork
9/7/10 10:21 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: Look- here's the deal- small light cars are and have been available for ever, and they are cheap. Consumers are *choosing* to pay more for heavier and more complex cars. Nobody is making anyone buy a 4700lb Taurus when when a 2800lb Fiesta is half the price. But they do. If you want to keep blaming the government, go for it. You'll be wrong, but it's still your opinion.

You're still right

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 Reader
9/7/10 10:23 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: Look- here's the deal- small light cars are and have been available for ever, and they are cheap. Consumers are *choosing* to pay more for heavier and more complex cars. Nobody is making anyone buy a 4700lb Taurus when when a 2800lb Fiesta is half the price. But they do. If you want to keep blaming the government, go for it. You'll be wrong, but it's still your opinion.

This is undoubtedly true. The governmet regulation points are true as well. They are both contributors, but by and large, people don't buy the small, light cars that are available now. What makes anyone think they would buy more of them if they came without safety devices?

96DXCivic
96DXCivic SuperDork
9/7/10 10:28 a.m.

I am just saying that a large amount of the weight comes from power everything. I mean look at small cars even they come with power windows, things like the sync system, power steering, etc. I am sure that adds a ton to the weight of the vehicles. I really think composites are a great way companies could lose weight but it doesn't seem they are really trying. Raw carbon fiber really isn't that horribly expensive.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 Reader
9/7/10 10:28 a.m.

Here's a question- how come a 1600 lb. Smart For 2 only gets 40 MPG? I'm seriously asking, I just don't get that.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/10 10:36 a.m.
96DXCivic wrote: Raw carbon fiber really isn't that horribly expensive.

And if you can find a way to make it like steel is stamped, you'd be a millionaire.

edit- no make that billionaire.

96DXCivic
96DXCivic SuperDork
9/7/10 10:40 a.m.

I feel like if companies spent the time and money on researching it they might be able to get the price down.

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 10:45 a.m.

alfadude... do you understand the difference in DOT and EPA specs? The US could easily adopt EU DOT specs and not EPA (which actually now are similar to the US).

Then the US Market wouldn't be swamped overnight with EU cars... it would take about a model year for manufacturers to adapt OBD-II specs or buy and engine meeting the specs... that's relatively easy.

I agree with you that consimer choice plays a huge role, but you're letting an overactive uber-regulatory Government bureacracy off the hook as if it doesn't even exist... and that's BS.

Despite consumer choice our cars would be extremely different without the extreme Government interference.... so you can't claim it's all consumer... that's an old excuse and one we're tired of hearing. ;-)

Have you priced a Fiesta versus a Taurus? Were I not an enthusiast, for the price difference I'd likely choose the Taurus as well.

If the Fiesta were half the weight of a Taurus, half the power, and half the price then it would make for a better market performer... it's not just "consumer choice" that makes the cheaper vehicle heavy and expensive and forces the two vehicles so close together in the market...

Fast Eddie... a US spec Smart doesn't weight 1600lbs... it's over 1800... about what the CRX HF weighed. The HF also had only 62hp. Light weight, low power = high mpg. The Smart has neither.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
9/7/10 11:16 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: The only significant rules since 1988 are side intrusion (stronger door beams) + dual air bags. that's it. As I see it, it would make a 1800lb HF something closer to 1900lb to meet the letter of the law.

yep,I have long been wondering about what it would take to stuff a 4banger and a 5 speed, FR/RR drivetrain into a simplified tubeframe and fiberglass body and get it to meet regs. You can advertise it as exactly what it is - its federally tested and approved for highway use, and thats about it. No hard-drive for navigation and MP3 playback, no glovebox mounted wine refrigerator, no heated calve warmers or robotic ninja massage chairs - just 2 crank windows, some windshield wipers, 3 pedals and a dashboard...and GASP you have to adjust your mirrors by hand!!! the horror...the humanity

now I know this car has been built in several iterations - factory 5 has a couple if Im not mistaken - that Maxton Rollerskate thing, MIATA, multiple others that came with a VIN and you could put plates on it - but most were pretty expensive if I remember correctly (older Miatae excluded, newer offerings...not so much). What would it take for something like that to be somewhat mass produced to keep costs down? How come we cant have a <$10k price tag on a car thats <2k lbs, 150 hp, 3 pedals, a rear differential, manual everything and simplified mechanics? Should I look right next to the Unicorn and the tooth fairy? Am I asking for the moon? I know its not gonna be the next top selling US car, but if theres enough of us boy racers out there screaming for one, why hasnt that niche market been exploited already?

itsatrap
itsatrap New Reader
9/7/10 11:40 a.m.
fast_eddie_72 wrote: I have ranted about this forever. Crazy. I want a modern version of the '88 CRX HF - with all the technology available to make it get, what, 75 MPG? And yes, I am fine with it being "unsafe". I drive 3 miles to work each way and almost never get over 35 MPH. I don't need air bags. Air bags are just fine and people who want them should be able to get them. But I should be able to buy a car without them if that is my choice.

3 miles... why are you even driving to work? Moped, Scooter, bicycle, those are what you need sir. No airbags, no seatbelts, just cheap transportation.

The Atom could adopt some little bumperlets like Plymouth used on the Prowler, to meet U.S. requirements. They just don't want to spend the money on crashing 5 or 6 of them for the government. If they are making good money off of them, I can't really blame them.

Like a wise Joker once said.. "this town needs an enema!" we as Americans need to get over gluttony, be it in the how much food we eat, the size of the cars we drive, the amount of square footage in our house. More is not always the answer.

Dpvog
Dpvog New Reader
9/7/10 11:46 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: Look- here's the deal- small light cars are and have been available for ever, and they are cheap. Consumers are *choosing* to pay more for heavier and more complex cars. Nobody is making anyone buy a 4700lb Taurus when when a 2800lb Fiesta is half the price. But they do. If you want to keep blaming the government, go for it. You'll be wrong, but it's still your opinion.

Please reread the first post in this string. I believe that as material sciences and lightweight construction techniques advance, the natural tendancy should cause cars of equal size to become lighter and more efficient. The current Smart car weighs almost exactly what the 1974 VW Rabbit weighed. You say that government regulation is not the primary cause of this. You seem to suggest that manufacturers have decided to build a two seat, 1800 lb, Smart car instead of some modern interpretation of the original Rabbit because that's what US consumers demand. I don't think anyone would choose a 2 seat, 2010 Smart car design over a four seat 1974 VW Rabbit if they were asked which 1800 lb car they preferred. But lets assume for a moment that you're right, and that manufacturers always deliver the products that consumers are willing to buy, and that government regulation is simply a convienient scapegoat. If that is the case, why, after 30 years of technological development, is an 1800 lb car smaller and less capable, and less efficient than many 1800 lb cars from thirty years ago? Are you saying that consumers want smaller, less capable, and less efficient cars? I don't think so.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 Reader
9/7/10 11:49 a.m.
wcelliot wrote: Fast Eddie... a US spec Smart doesn't weight 1600lbs... it's over 1800... about what the CRX HF weighed. The HF also had only 62hp. Light weight, low power = high mpg. The Smart has neither.

Ah. Thanks. It's a shame. Put a 50 HP engine in one (maybe a BEC?) and it would be perfect for me... except I never spend more than $3,000 on a car.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 Reader
9/7/10 11:51 a.m.
itsatrap wrote: 3 miles... why are you even driving to work? Moped, Scooter, bicycle, those are what you need sir. No airbags, no seatbelts, just cheap transportation.

I do all summer. But the bike gets chilly in Denver once fall rolls around. Plus I do have crap to get from here to there. I was going to build a short range EV, but I realized I had way too many projects and sold the motor and cotroler.

Osterkraut
Osterkraut Dork
9/7/10 12:02 p.m.
96DXCivic wrote: I am just saying that a large amount of the weight comes from power everything. I mean look at small cars even they come with power windows, things like the sync system, power steering, etc. I am sure that adds a ton to the weight of the vehicles. I really think composites are a great way companies could lose weight but it doesn't seem they are really trying. Raw carbon fiber really isn't that horribly expensive.

RX-7 (FC) doors with electric windows apparently weigh less than the manual doors. I'd be interested to weigh modern nav/ sync units with the 80's tape decks, too.

Now, power seats and the like...

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