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ReverendDexter
ReverendDexter Dork
9/7/10 12:22 p.m.
fast_eddie_72 wrote: but by and large, people don't buy the small, light cars that are available now.

Why would they? The small light cars available now are all crapbox FWD appliances (Accent, Yaris), or horribly expensive (Elise).

Jay
Jay Dork
9/7/10 12:50 p.m.
alfadriver wrote: 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.

?? Britain is part of the E.U. and new cars in Britain conform to E.U. regs, and can be freely exported around the continent. I believe the Atom is generally accepted all over the E.U. but it is allowed to be sold as a road car under some exemptions for low-production vehicles... I know they're legal in Germany, I've seen them. You can road-register ATVs and shifter karts in Germany with the addition of some lights and signals.

I can't comment on the air quality in say, Paris or Rome, but Berlin (pop. 3 million) is pretty clean. You may as well go compare L.A. to Milwaukee before you write off all of Europe.

Knurled
Knurled GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/7/10 12:59 p.m.
gamby wrote: There's a radio commercial for the Chevy Equinox that does that. It panders to the moms out there with this "mom" carrying on about how she's done with compact cars because her Hyundai was "all over the road" in a snowstorm. Now she feels relief because her kids are safe in the Equinox.

I can't understand how people will buy something that handles WORSE in snow (all that mass doesn't turn or slow down by itself) and has other major deficiencies year-round, so they can avoid spending $400 per year on snow tires. And I'm of the camp that snow tires should be used one season, at most two, and then thrown away, because the rubber degrades over time.

But still, even crappy 4 year old snows on an econobox will lay waste to an SUV of any style on all-seasons. And you just know that if she's too dumb to buy snow tires for the car, she definitely won't do it for the truck.

I can respect that some people want an SUV because they want an SUV. My problem comes when they try to justify it like that. (Same for guns. I have much more respect for "I want something that goes pop and puts holes in things" than dreams of home defense)

Dpvog
Dpvog New Reader
9/7/10 1:21 p.m.

So, back to my original point.

How about starting a movement similar to the LSA standard in aviation, where cars below a certain weight and horsepower and above a certain mpg would be exempt from all federal regulations, except emissions? I know Alfa Driver is on board.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 Reader
9/7/10 1:24 p.m.
Knurled wrote: I can't understand how people will buy something that handles WORSE in snow (all that mass doesn't turn or slow down by itself) and has other major deficiencies year-round, so they can avoid spending $400 per year on snow tires.

Sorry for dragging O/T. Our 4Runner was scarry in snow until I got winter tires, soooo, no real saving.

ReverendDexter
ReverendDexter Dork
9/7/10 1:44 p.m.
Dpvog wrote: So, back to my original point. How about starting a movement similar to the LSA standard in aviation, where cars below a certain weight and horsepower and above a certain mpg would be exempt from all federal regulations, except emissions? I know Alfa Driver is on board.

I'm all for some sort of US version of the Kei car.

speedblind
speedblind Reader
9/7/10 1:52 p.m.

This is a great thread and deserves a more thorough reply, but here goes:

  1. Check out the IIHS video of a current generation Malibu vs. the 70s version. Those old boats had the structural strength of wet cardboard. They were great at taking up lots of space, but little else.

  2. Re: gov't regulations - yes, cars are going to be a lot heavier due to all the crap that a. safety regulations demand and b. modern consumers demand. Hint: option b adds more weight than option a. By a mile.

  3. For every person ready to plunk down a deposit on a stripped-out 2,700 lb. car without amenities, there are 1,000 that demand all the crap that goes into the same car and makes it 3,200 lbs.

  4. For the sheer amount of features, the improvements in stability, structure and safety, it's an engineering marvel that modern cars are as efficient and light as they are - look how common aluminum suspension components have become on mass-market cars. Same with plastic/composite panels, etc. A lot of engineering goes into getting 200 usable hp from a 1.8-2.0 liter NA engine that's still efficient enough to get 30 mpg on a 3,000+ lb. car. Cars of yesteryear could not pull that off. No way.

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 2:32 p.m.
speedblind wrote: 2. Re: gov't regulations - yes, cars are going to be a lot heavier due to all the crap that a. safety regulations demand and b. modern consumers demand. Hint: option b adds more weight than option a. By a mile.

Actually, I think you'll find that the other way around.

All those power options do add weight, but not nearly as much as the structural and safety additions required by regulation. Again, look at the Smart car as an example... over 15% heavier with the same basic options both here and there... or the new Fiesta (~19% heavier here... at least compared to the previous generation... the current Euro generation got a lot of the US DOT structural and safety "adds")

I don't think you're going to see convenience additions approaching 15% of a car's weight... even if you're adding in items like AC (which is common enough in Europe now that you can't fairly count it) much less adding more weight "by a mile"

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:00 p.m.

For every one who's bashing the government and blaming them despite ignoring Eric's explanation as to why it's not their fault, you can actually turn around and thank the government for effectively mandating lighter cars in the future. As fuel economy standards tighten you can guarantee that every car maker out there is looking at everything to improve economy, and that will include making cars lighter, and introducing new smaller models. So, please all write to you representative thanking them for promoting GRM style cars in the future.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/10 3:05 p.m.
wcelliot wrote:
speedblind wrote: 2. Re: gov't regulations - yes, cars are going to be a lot heavier due to all the crap that a. safety regulations demand and b. modern consumers demand. Hint: option b adds more weight than option a. By a mile.
Actually, I think you'll find that the other way around. All those power options _do_ add weight, but not nearly as much as the structural and safety additions required by regulation. Again, look at the Smart car as an example... over 15% heavier with the same basic options both here and there... or the new Fiesta (~19% heavier here... at least compared to the previous generation... the current Euro generation got a lot of the US DOT structural and safety "adds") I don't think you're going to see convenience additions approaching 15% of a car's weight... even if you're adding in items like AC (which is common enough in Europe now that you can't fairly count it) much less adding more weight "by a mile"

Again, where the data at? I'd love to see what they are reporting. Depending on where you are getting your numbers, they may be the same car, but different types of weight.

Even the magazines might be reporting different numbers for the exact same car.

The reason I ask is that the differences between the EU and US crash standards are so close that adding 15% weight is quite unlikely. Unless it's for power seats, nav systems, more sound deadening, aka- more luxury. Which is quite possible.

Eric

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 3:13 p.m.

I don't think anyone is ignoring Eric's explanations... he's basically attributing 100% to consumers and that's as silly as attributing 100% to Government. Most of us are saying it's a mix with the Government coming out as "more guilty" due to the nature of their requirements versus the weight of consumer-added options...

For some items it's a chicken-versus-egg argument... the consumer wants more power but more power is necessary simply for equity given the heavier weight required by the govt regs... so who is primarily responsible for the weight (and economy and emissions) caused by the larger engine? Again, it's a mix, but I'm sure Eric lumps this in with the consumer being "at fault" and the Government pure as snow...

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:14 p.m.

While writing your thank you note to your rep you should also thank them for mandating clean air standards that promoted the rapid advancement in fuel injection that has lead to the wonders of today and 5mph impact bumpers too. Why the bumpers? Well the early methods of meeting the regs were awful ugly rubber appendages like the short hood 911's, rubber bumper B's, multiple fat lipped BMW's etc, but those monstrosities lead the new technologies, new bumper beams and integrated bumper designs that make today's cars cleaner aerodynamically and more integrated in their looks.

As far as complaining about electric windows, heated seats, air bags etc. When I was younger and obviously a driving God that McLaren had somehow missed in their talent search, all I needed was a small light car as I could drive my way out of any potential accident. These days my driving skills must have got worse as I now know I'll never have the skills of an F1 pilot and I can't have been wrong back then! I accept that there's a) the possibility I might one day make a mistake while driving, it's happened before and it'll happen again and b) I could get T boned by a semi in an intersection, I don't want to drive a Lotus 7, or even a 1st Gen Miata on a daily basis. I want something that I feel has a decent chance of protecting me. I also accept that on a 5degree day, it's nice to get in the car, press a button and get a nice toasty ass while the heater is still blowing cold air so I happily add a few lb's on the option list when specing new cars. That doesn’t mean I don't want a 1st gen Mita or a 944 as a toy ASAP, I just know the mileage covered in the toy Vs the daily driver will be 10:1 or even 100:1

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 3:18 p.m.

Eric: where is YOUR data? I'd like to see those 250 lb OEM stereo systems or 400lbs power heated seats. Electric convenience options simply don't weigh that much, but structural changes do.

Mine comes directly from manufacturers... not hard to compare a US spec car to a Euro spec one... and a car like the Smart has the same convenience options both places...

15%... facts. Sorry they don't mesh with your pro-Goverment pro-regulation worldview. Again, while the DOT and EU specs are close in results, they are NOT close in how they have to be met. that's the whole point....

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:23 p.m.

OK, if it's all the government and the safety regs are so different show me the BMW 3 series, 911, or C class Merc that's 15% heavier when sold here than for the same model in Europe. IF there really was 15% to be saved by not meeting US regs I can guarantee auto makers would exploit it for the fuel economy savings in Europe and other parts of the world.

edit for missing '3' in BMW 3 series

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 3:26 p.m.

Adrian: The advances in car design and safety are GREAT by they were done at the expense of outlawing small, lightweight, low slung cars.... and that's a hefty price to pay.

If the Government outlawed sugar or fatty foods, someone some day would make the same case about how wonderful it was now that people were healthier thanks to a dictatorial Government.

Just think how much we could thank our representatives for saving lives if they imposed a 35mph speed limit or outlawed private transportation altogether!

There is are costs (often severe and even more often hidden/unintended) to every Government regulation... it's silly that I can still buy a motorcycle but can't drive an Atom on the road legally... how does that make sense?

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 3:32 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: OK, if it's all the government and the safety regs are so different show me the BMW 3 series, 911, or C class Merc that's 15% heavier when sold here than for the same model in Europe. IF there really was 15% to be saved by not meeting US regs I can guarantee auto makers would exploit it for the fuel economy savings in Europe and other parts of the world. edit for missing '3' in BMW 3 series

In cars that are built for both markets, the savings in design/manufacturing costs are such that it typically is cheaper to build on the same chassis rather than have one chassis for the EU and another for the US... so you have to look at cars never designed to be sold to the US market and how they change weight-wise when a US-legal version comes out.

Lotus Elise, Smart, Fiesta, and FIAT 500 all come to mind (though admittedly with the Fiesta there is likely some weight from options here that aren't standard in Europe).

I have't looked up the weight differences on the Elise (though I know it was substantial enough to need a much more powerful engine for the same performance) or the FIAT, but the Smart is a clear example since the cars basically come similarly "loaded" both places.

The BMW, Porsche, and C-class Merc would have been designed from the ground up to be sold both places... some weight differences from details, but not that much.

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 3:40 p.m.

S1 Elise 1600 lbs Federal Elise (based on the S2 which was already structurally modified for eventual US certification) ) 1896 lbs

Main convenience option difference; electric windows.

Difference: 18.5%

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:43 p.m.

Trust me I'm more aware than most of what goes into designing cars. Every pay check I've had since leaving collage has come from the auto industry on both sides of the pond. If there's was significant governmental differences between the regions there is still a business case to developing one car, but different models. There are cars available in the EU and US that have different versions with fewer safety features available in other parts of the world (China/India/South America etc) with different specs. With the size of the EU and US markets, if they could build a simpler, cheaper, lighter model for Europe by not meeting US specs they would.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:47 p.m.

A large part of the price of something like the Elise is down to it's volume. If there was a market for 200 - 300 - 400 thousand units annually of the same car world wide It would be selling for less than a Miata, but there isn't so it isn't.

Oh, and when it comes to getting the government involved in cars, trust me on this you want the US government not any European government doing it. I'm one of many many ex-Pats for a reason.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:51 p.m.
wcelliot wrote: S1 Elise 1600 lbs Federal Elise (based on the S2 which was already structurally modified for eventual US certification) ) 1896 lbs Main convenience option difference; electric windows. Difference: 18.5%

That's S1 to S2, that's not pure EU to US. How much of that weight was for other feature changes and adds? How much for engines? The original Rover engine couldn't meet EPA regs so they used the Toyota engine and box. I'm pretty sure in Europe you could get a Rover engined S2, what did they weigh? They also dropped the aluminium metal matrix rotors from the S1 etc etc. That's not a fair comparison.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:53 p.m.

Also how did EU safety regs change between 96 and 02??

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 3:56 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: Trust me I'm more aware than most of what goes into designing cars. Every pay check I've had since leaving collage has come from the auto industry on both sides of the pond. If there's was significant governmental differences between the regions there is still a business case to developing one car, but different models. There are cars available in the EU and US that have different versions with fewer safety features available in other parts of the world (China/India/South America etc) with different specs. With the size of the EU and US markets, if they could build a simpler, cheaper, lighter model for Europe by not meeting US specs they would.

And they typically do... but they call it a different model.

Until they started sharing platforms, this was true of the BMW 1 series, the Audi A3 series and is still true of the Mercedes A-class. And that's just in Western Europe. In China/India/SA, etc I'm sure the companies sell even more different models...

But for something like a 3 series or C-class, I think the basic structure is going to be very similar... it just doesn't make sense to make a completely different chassis when they can build a 1 Series, A-class, etc.... though Honda's Accord is on different platforms depending on the area of the world you're in.... but that's more marketing than engineering.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
9/7/10 3:56 p.m.

I'll conceed that if you want to make the point the Smart would be a better choice. A quick check shows the US version of the 1.0L gas TwoFour is 150lb's or 9% heavier than the UK version. What I haven't checked is what, if any the spec difference is and how that might affect a 'normal' vehicle

wcelliot
wcelliot Reader
9/7/10 4:09 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote:
wcelliot wrote: S1 Elise 1600 lbs Federal Elise (based on the S2 which was already structurally modified for eventual US certification) ) 1896 lbs Main convenience option difference; electric windows. Difference: 18.5%
That's S1 to S2, that's not pure EU to US. How much of that weight was for other feature changes and adds? How much for engines? The original Rover engine couldn't meet EPA regs so they used the Toyota engine and box. I'm pretty sure in Europe you could get a Rover engined S2, what did they weigh? They also dropped the aluminium metal matrix rotors from the S1 etc etc. That's not a fair comparison.

No argument that you're not going to ever get a pure comparison... again, since the S2 was already somewhat modified structurally to Federalize (and, as you point out, to meet newer EU standards), some of the weight was already built in. But even then there was nearly a 200lb difference between the S2 and Federal Elise. (a little over 10%).

But since the S1 was a great seller "as is" and changes were due primarily to Government regulations (US and EU) and not consumer options, it would appear to me that just about the ENTIRE 18.5% weight increase (on a car already meeting strict late 1990's safety standards) was due strictly to govt regs? What would be the "Government percentage" had no Govt safety regs already weighted down the S1?

How heavy are those heated power seats and stereo systems again? ;-)

On the FIAT, I just checked... weight specs not yet released on the US FIAT 500...

Keith
Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/7/10 4:46 p.m.
Dpvog wrote: 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.

I think most people would take the 2010 Smart car. Honestly. And that's before they tried to start the Rabbit in the cold

Manufacturers make cars in response to market demands. Heck, let's look at our favorite sports car - the Miata. Given the choice between a stripped-out version and an optioned-up one, the market went optioned-up every time. The 50 "if only they would build it, we'd buy it!" 2003 Club Sport stripped out model languished on dealer lots for a year. Thus the annual feature creep.

But Mazda is making a concerted effort to drop the weight again. If various publications are to be believed, the weight target for the next generation Miata is 2200 lbs. I'll believe it when I see it (I'm still waiting for the 2006 turbocharged Mazdaspeed MX-5) but based on what I've heard from sources inside Mazda, light weight and small size is going to be a priority again.

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