Why is it that car companies were able to pump out all sorts of good mpg cars in the early 80s, but don't seem to be doing it now? Surely it was a huge change for people to go from a 7mpg 20-foot Cadillac in the 1970s, to little cars like the Cimarron, Fiero, Lynx, Omni...
I think maybe that this is one of those things where we remember "the good ole days" better than they were.
Festivas, Justys, etc got good mileage, but were rejected even then as being too spartan and unsafe. And if you came up with a marginally acceptable 80's car to compare to a modern car, like comparing an Omni to a Fit, you would find in a true side-by-side that the Fit just KILLS the Omni in terms of comfort, fit, finish, NVH, etc AND in acceleration, handling, driving feel, AND (I suspect) in real life gas mileage.
Or think of something like a Tempo (sorry clencher). I think that the closest comparison would be a Civic, but even if you compared it to an Accord, you'd find the Accord to be better in practically every way, including FE.
When was the last time you could buy something sensible like a small wagon (corolla, camry, accord, etc) with decent FE? There has been nothing for quite a while now. The closest thing to come along is the mazda6 which is not available with a manual trans., gets only 20/27 mpg epa, and has been panned in reviews (seems to have been infected with ford reliability). Even the subaru who is the only japanese maker who never stopped making wagons all suck gas like crazy because they force you to have awd.
The message from the car industry is brutally obvious: "Youre supposed to buy an SUV, idiot."
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein
Why is it that car companies were able to pump out all sorts of good mpg cars in the early 80s, but don't seem to be doing it now? Surely it was a huge change for people to go from a 7mpg 20-foot Cadillac in the 1970s, to little cars like the Cimarron, Fiero, Lynx, Omni... etc. Now, even with current gas prices, people still want their land yachts (ie, the Suburbans, Expeditions, Durangos). Even today's entry-level cars (such as the Aveo, Caliber & Focus) have thirstier engines than entry level cars 25 years ago.
I just don't get it.
I think I ranted on about this on another thread, but I think the biggest difference is the weight difference driven by peoples desire for safety and convenience, plus the latest US regulations requires some of the items that create a lot of the weight gain. American style fuel efficiency had it peak during the late 80's when cars you could build a small, basic and light car, plus electronic fuel injection started replacing carburetors.
Now you cant sell a car without 10 airbags and a structure that will allow you to walk away from a 40mph impact with a brick wall. Not to mention power windows, p.steering, p.locks, audio systems, tire pressure monitoring, stability control, ABS and a butt warmer for your leather seat. I think most people will not consider a car without these items, regardless of price/mileage.
The number of people that would buy a car similar to the late 80's early 90's style car are small potatoes for an auto manufacturer, and thus ignored. That is why gassavers exists, there are a few people that desire a better car and will build it out of those older 80/90's cars!!
I like the older cars (if not obvious by now), I plan on keeping my two cars alive as long as possible because they are good balance of light old and new tech, plus they are becoming a bit of a rarity now.
I appreciate seat belt effectiveness but I don't like their use legislated as mandatory. Same with helmets. It's America dang it. The slippery slope could lead to legislated diet and exercise requirements too, among other Big Brother madness.
Haven't we already banned trans fats from restaurants in New York City? Why wouldn't a little warning label on the menu suffice? What about Pate de Fois Gras in Chicago?
There are a few cities here in Wisconsin which have banned all smoking in "public" places (which more often than not means private property owned by businesses). I thought the point of consumer protection was to alert people to risks which aren't immediately obvious. Last time I walked into a smoke-filled bar/restaurant I found it immediately obvious. There is the whole "unhealthy working conditions for the employees" argument, which I suppose could have some validity.
Exercise requirements -- why not let the free market take care of this by building it into health/life insurance plans? You can reduce your premium by choosing to live a healthy lifestlye. Tobacco use is already a major determinant in life insurance pricing.
You guys realize that those look like the Scion xA new model and the Scion xB now more like the 2008 model and the Honda Element.
Oh yeah, it's soooooo obvious. Why bother to ask the buying public when all they have to do is look at the Scion sales figures? I think of some of the designs as a cross between an xB, a Chevy HHR and an Element.
PS - Can't stand the new xB, by the way. I think the original design has been watered down.
Yeah there are a lot of First Gen xB lovers that don't like what they did to the 2nd Gen xB. I don't know for sure yet but it is a different vehicle. They softened the ride, biggened the engine, lowered the gas mileage even more for those lead footed drivers and make it bigger (longer by a foot wider by 3 inches) which there was plenty of room for since it was pretty short before - I just hope they improved the turning radius because it really needed help there. Probably gave it some more low end torque which it needed a bit of to give it some grunt - I think it was fine if only one person was in it but if you ever got 4 adults in it you really had to work the engine to get it moving. I wonder what the CD is for the newer model . . .
It sure can but I suppose they are in a quandry and can't see the way out. The whole voting PR stunt was supposed to be a gauge for U.S. consumer interest in cars they had no intention of developing for the U.S. market originally. Not defending their incredible short-sightedness, but the consumers are fickle and up until very recently have shown great interest in guzzlers and low interest in sippers. Was it only last year when gas first hit $3 in the heartland? And in talking to salesmen, they said people coming in were grumbling a bit about the gas price, and leaving in new Silverados. I know first hand you can't plan your business operations based on what people say; the real deal is what people DO. Ya gots ta follow the money. And as far as GM is concerned, until very recently, people have been gobbling up guzzlers and letting sippers rot on the lot. It takes a long time and a lot of money to turn a big ship like GM around.
Also I think Lutz' $6k premium comment was based on the idea (perhaps, FINALLY, outdated??? BUT I doubt it) that the consumer is not willing to downsize and/or accept any power and speed compromises so it probably costs that much to add exotic junk like 7 speed trannys, piggyback hybrid systems, use expensive light-weight materials, etc. to meet the FE targets with big barges. Of course if they threw the Metro back on the market it wouldn't cost $6k more.
lunar: I too am not thrilled with the designs (by the way I HATE the HHR!). The "Beat" is a repackaged WTCC Ultra concept from last year. They don't appear to be overly sleek, especially the Trax with the stupid roof rack that everything built now has and nobody uses. That said it's possible they aren't too bad if the underbody is clean and the frontal area low.
Bullseye!!! Did you see the article yesterday about the mandated stability systems?!?
Two of them definitely do... looks to me like an attempt to appeal to all the SUV lovers... the current "chic"! Is there something to that? Dodge Nitro sales are reported to be good and I can't stand the look of that thing. Caliber looks to me more like a macho station wagon- less SUV-like proportions. I like wagons.
cfq: I don't see omitting ABS, air bags, electronic stability controls, and other added on stuff as compromises in safety. I think a good responsive vehicle with a sturdy structure gets the job done. Of course that puts the onus of safety back on the driver and we can't have that can we???
You have a clear head on this. Yes, GM (and everyone else) will sell what is bought by the mass market, not fringe groups. And they will naturally push the high profit vehicles. They are in business to make money, not save fuel or conserve resources. Only when high efficiency cars are flying off the lots and trucks and SUVs are sitting will they start building high efficiency cars and go back to making the trucks and SUVs the workhorses they are supposed to be.
After the lawsuits over stupid stuff like the supposed problem of the 73-87 Chevy trucks exploding in a side collusion (yes, it's possible, but 20/20 found it so hard to make happen they had to put ignitors between the fuel tank and body to start a fire), they have to put safety gear on. It doesn't matter what system is best either, as long as federal law mandates it. If they have all the systems mandated by law on, they are covered in a lawsuit. An experimental system or system not covered by a federal law is open to a lawsuit if someone dies or is badly injured with the new system on, regardless of what the driver was doing at the time of the accident Look at the McDonald's coffee suit. Woman put a fresh cup of hot coffee between her legs, squeezed and was badly burned, then sued and won. Only an idiot would do what she did, and she was paid. Now you can't get a hot cup of coffee at McD's now, it's lukewarm. Personal responsibility and taking responsibility for one's own actions died in this nation in the 60s.
The only way to turn the boat is to have people start buying the cheaper, fuel efficient cars, and get people to stop whining to Congress to pass a new law every time their hobby horse gets a scratch. Not to mention people are too conditioned by TV these days to keep up with the Jones', and the Jones' are trying to keep up with the Smith's, who are trying to keep up with the Johnson's, who are trying to keep up with the Jones'. TV has everyone convinced they have to live the champagne lifestyle even if they have a Natural Light budget, and like sheep they baa baa baa down the road to the finance department. This is one place where I am very lucky, my wife feels the same way I do about keeping up with the Jones'; who are the Jones', and why do I care what they have?