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Old 01-28-2011, 01:44 PM   #1
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Can America successfully build a small car?

"But if they build them, will Americans buy them?
The idea of making a small, fuel efficient vehicle here is politically appealing, but it might not square with the fickle tastes of consumers."
"Consumer tastes for small or large cars fluctuate with oil prices."
Washington Post, Sunday Jan 23, 2011
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...012200257.html
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:13 PM   #2
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

The author needs to check his facts. Both the Civic and the Corolla have been manufactured in the US for years. The 2011 Elantra is also made in the US.
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:49 PM   #3
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

The author is correct. He's clearly talking about subcompact B segment cars - the Sonic, Yaris, Fit, Fiesta, and Fiat 500. The US-built Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Elantra, and Saturns are/were much larger compact C segment cars.
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:29 AM   #4
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

In addition to being in a different size class the cars in question are American cars. That is not only made in North America but also by the "Big Three", in factories operating under the collective bargaining agreement with the UAW.

"General Motors... will begin cranking out some very small cars."

"...an invasion decades ago of small, cheap cars from overseas set in motion the near-death spiral of the Detroit Three."

"...interest in pushing the nation's automakers to build more fuel-efficient cars was clear as far back as May 2007, when he chastised a group of auto executives in a Detroit speech, describing fuel-efficient vehicles as the long-neglected solution to their troubles."

"For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars," ...

"In its rescue of Chrysler and GM,..."

"...both the union leaders and the company are taking risks. The United Auto Workers, meanwhile, agreed to much lower base wages."
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Old 01-29-2011, 09:22 AM   #5
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SentraSE-R View Post
The author is correct. He's clearly talking about subcompact B segment cars - the Sonic, Yaris, Fit, Fiesta, and Fiat 500. The US-built Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Elantra, and Saturns are/were much larger compact C segment cars.
A Saturn is much larger than a Fiesta sedan? You need to check your facts.
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:23 PM   #6
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

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Originally Posted by tjts1 View Post
A Saturn is much larger than a Fiesta sedan? You need to check your facts.
indeed.

what is a mystery to me is that sub-compacts are not(as of yet) significantly more efficient than a reg compact. furthermore, if cheaper(less expensive) is the goal...someone that cannot afford a new compact, has no business taking on the payment of a sub-compact either!
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:43 PM   #7
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

Yes, I find it increasingly frustrating to watch fuel efficiency grow rather steadily in even large cars while that of compacts and subcompacts has been stagnant if not declining.
37mpg Chevy Cobalt v. 35mpg Chevy Aveo
34mpg VW Jetta v. 28mpg VW Beetle
30mpg Honda Fit v. 34mpg Honda Civic v. 34mpg Honda Accord
35mpg Toyota Corolla v. 36mpg Toyota Yaris
40mpg Hyundai Elantra v. 34mpg Hyundai Accent

(All hwy. mpg figures. Source: http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com...le-Small-Cars/)
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Old 01-29-2011, 03:12 PM   #8
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

How does city MPG compare?

For highway ratings size, weight, and sometimes even displacement don't really matter and in fact a longer car can have less aerodynamic resistance, especially if we're talking about the smaller car being a hatchback shaped car that drags a big vortex wake behind. All of the larger cars you listed are sedans/coupes. The larger cars can easily even the score with better torque, taller gears, and lower drag. Making it worse, smaller cars tend to come without a highway gear at all, it seems.

For city ratings, smaller and lighter make much more of a difference.

Also, I don't think the Beetle belongs in that comparison. AFAIK it's no smaller than a Jetta but it is definitely much more about looking gimmicky.

One more comment on that list: The Accord is the only car in that list that is not a compact or subcompact.
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Old 01-29-2011, 03:47 PM   #9
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

Yes, there exists a greater (positive) disparity favoring the lightweight when considering city MPG. You make several good points regarding factors affecting efficiency. My choice of vehicles was not intended to represent a scientific analysis. As I was reviewing an article bowtieguy had referenced in another thread "Toyota Left Out Of Top 10 Affordable Small Cars" the numbers were at hand.
I suppose my frustration is born out of an uncompensated self-denial. I fondly recall the days when driving a less-than-plush Honda Civic rewarded one with a distinct fuel efficiency advantage not to mention bragging rights.
Certainly there was ample "low hanging fruit" in some size classes whereas the subcompacts had addressed efficiency in their creation... sigh... the good ole' days.
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Old 01-29-2011, 05:03 PM   #10
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Re: Can America successfully build a small car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjts1 View Post
A Saturn is much larger than a Fiesta sedan? You need to check your facts.
The Fiesta hatch is 18-20" shorter than the 2001-2002 Saturn S series, and the Fiesta sedan is 5-7" shorter. The Saturn Ion grew another 5", and the Saturn Aura bloated into a mid-size car a full 30" longer than the Fiesta Hatch. You and Bowtieguy are the ones who need to check your facts.
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