Well they say the US is about ten years behind the rest of the World, so take a look at whats for sale here, and maybe when fuel does reach $10 a gallon, more Geo like cars will be in high demmand. This is the Suzuki Alto, built in India with a 1.0L 3 cylinder engine, its one of the UK's cheapest cars at £5999 on the road, that coverts to just under $10,000
They sell like Hot cakes! Another new brand to the UK is Dacia, from Romania but based on old Renaults. Again, the entry level Sandero costs £5995 on the road. Unfortunately, as the Sandero is based on an old Renault, the engine also has emissions and fuel consumption of a car from the past, getting an average of only 48 MPG. Luckily though, you can pay extra for the diesel that gets around 78 MPG.
I think if GM had continued the model, they could easily have improved the auto tranny to come close to matching the manual in fuel economy. In fact, if they had continued to improve the car (rather than discontinue it) I am sure they could have tweaked even more mileage and/or power out of that L3 engine.
GM never made the GEO Metro. It was merely a rebadged Suzuki Swift. Any GM car labeled as a "GEO" was never manufactured by GM. It was either a Toyota, Isuzu or Suzuki.
I have been half-heartedly trying to learn just how the horsepower is measured. Is it instantaneous, as on a Dynojet dynamometer? Or is it sustained, as in driving a generator or pump? We have a lot of irrigation pumps around here, some powered by diesel, some by propane, some by natural gas. Few of them make more than about 30 horsepower per liter; most less; but all of them are expected to run for a week or so at a time essentially untended.
I'm pretty sure it's instantaneous peak horsepower. The duty cycle in a car is very, very different from that of an irrigation pump. An irrigation pump, per your description, would need to be rated based on the idea of running at maximum output for a week straight. A car engine would fail if you did that. Also, car engines have the benefit of huge amounts of investment, R&D, and some of the best engineers in the world. If you're only going to sell a few thousand of an engine to people who are so worried about purchase cost then it's going to get a tiny fraction of the effort of one that will sell a few million and be a smaller part of the cost that people are buying -- and so many of them are interested in paying for unnecessary power, unlike the irrigation buyers.
Originally Posted by Mikesan
When I lived in San Francisco, the heavy stop/go traffic and steep hills were tiring with all the constant shifting and clutching. I think if GM had continued the model, they could easily have improved the auto tranny to come close to matching the manual in fuel economy.
For you it's the transmission. For the next person it's the ride. For the next it's safety ratings. For another person it's luxuries and gizmos. The there's tons and tons of regulations and taxes and all manner of other things...
They valiantly held on to it as long as they could, but eventually they had to drop it.
Even if they didn't make much money on the car, a company the size of GM could certainly afford to keep making it.
Are we talking about the same GM here? The one that needed a government bailout and is still barely treading water? They just bought the last of the government-owned shares a few months ago. Holding on to the Metro too long, subsidizing it with other cars, may have been part of how they got into that condition in the first place.
Gas prices will just keep going up. Seems that eventually a car like the Metro would become more desirable.
Cars like the Metro, modernized, have indeed become more desirable, and a few people are even buying them.
But then I am also amazed by how much pain at the pump the typical american driver can put up with. When I fill up my Metro now for about $25, and I see the guy next to me with his big truck and the pump is "ching chingin" rolling past $100 I can't help but just shake my head.
I think most of those are people who don't put on many miles and don't have to buy much fuel either way. Folks who drive a significant amount tend to drive more efficient vehicles than those, though certainly not the most efficient vehicles they could. Lately compact and mid-size station wagons are gaining popularity again, just give them a centimeter of lift and a couple moldings and you can sell them as SUVs/crossovers so people will buy them.
Another thing to consider with the Metro, they pretty much disintegrated in a major collision. In my 10 years in a rescue squad, I had seen many severely mangled Metros. Enough that I decided many years ago that I would never own one. My best friend's dad had a Chevy Sprint (Metro). He joined the rescue squad, and decided to get rid of the Sprint not long after that. He went from a Sprint to a Grand Marquis.
For automobiles fuel is usually a pretty small part of the total cost of ownership, despite the complaining. For vehicles such as commercial trucks and aircraft the fuel becomes very significant. I drove a semi for a short time and averaged a little over 10K paid miles per month(actual mileage is higher, because they pay based on shortest distance instead of realistic highway routings). The truck averaged just over 6 mpg, which included time with the engine idling while I slept. Thus, I burned about 1700 gallons of Diesel per month. At today's cost, about $3.85 per gallon, that is about $6500. Compare that to a car, averaging perhaps 1000 miles per month; getting 30 mpg on gasoline at $3.50; and the cost is about $117.
I haven't bothered to calculate the differences in fuel costs long-term, because I live in a place where I am deeply suspicious of the cold-start ability of a diesel. But in general a diesel will have a considerable price premium over a gasoline engine, and at least here diesel fuel is somewhat more expensive than gasoline. I also haven't looked at trade-in, but I doubt a diesel will bring a premium - more probably a loss. Modern diesels are also afflicted with the need for Diesel Engine Fluid (truck stops advertise "DEF available at all pumps") and in many cases more expensive and more frequent maintenance. In short, I think the life-cycle costs of a diesel car may never be less than for a gasoline car.
It's the opposite here, take a peek on the UK Autotrader, and of the 400,000 cars currently for sale, 300,000 are diesel which is 75%
Generaly most cars with a 1.6 litre engine or above are diesel, yes they are a tad more expensive, but diesel fuel is only a bit more expensive here, so for most people it's worth opting for. Not forgetting the carbon based tax "road tax" we pay here, for some of the most economic cars this is free, or £20 a year. A 2.0 litre petrol car would cost around £250 a year so this kind of makes up for the fuel price difference. A large American car here could cost as much as $1600 a year just for the road tax due to the emissions!
Most petrol cars are compact and designed with the city in mind. Having said that, with todays technology, petrols are now catching up in terms of economy and performance with engines becoming smaller (some of the large VW's have a 1.2 litre now) and yet with high power/torque figures.
If three quarters of the cars for sale on UK Autotrader are diesel powered, I would wonder whether three quarters of the cars on the road are also diesel powered. If so, then the cars offered for sale are in the same proportion as the cars out there. On the other hand, if less than three quarters of the cars on the road are diesels, I would wonder whether more of the diesel owners are dissatisfied with their cars.
You also pointed out the carbon-based (really, fuel consumption) tax. This helps reinforce my point that the choice of cars to purchase is at least partly driven by tax structure. Much of the price of fuel is tax, and that too drives choice of cars. We had and may still have a "gas guzzler" tax designed to encourage purchase of less fuel-hungry cars. We are also in the throes of long-term Government policies designed to reduce fuel consumption. Makers have to meet so-called Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, whereby the EPA mileage estimates and the number of vehicles are all combined to produce that average. That's why every maker offers economical cars, even though they don't sell and the profit margins are slim. Manufacturers make lots more money selling SUVs, pickup trucks, and so on that people actually want.
A side effect of the reduction in fuel consumption has been a reduction in tax revenue from fuel sales. That has caused problems in road maintenance, usually paid for from fuel taxes. Governments are still working out how to recoup the revenue, especially when electric cars are thrown into the mix.
I drove a Winnebago LeSharo, a small RV based on a Renault diesel, from perhaps 1988 until 2001. It wasn't a recent one, based as it was on a 1983 chassis with a 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel and four-speed manual transmission. There was another version of that unit with a 2.0 liter gas engine and automatic transmission: both were reported to get just about the same overall fuel mileage, in the 17 - 18 mpg range. The gas engined version was also reputed to catch fire.
Come to think of it, a friend of mine used to have a Mercedes 220D, which was naturally aspirated. I briefly drove that, too.
As far as modern European diesels, the nearest dealership for any such is over a hundred miles away. I do drive a modern (if made in late 2009 is modern) International school bus, which at least is not afflicted with the need for DEF. But it has a Diesel Particulate Filter, which has on occasion decided to regenerate itself and which, when it does so, basically cripples the bus until it is done.
I have no doubt that diesels can be made to perform quite well, and that many do so. I know that substantially all over-the-road trucks and farm tractors, and most school buses, are diesel powered because of the saving in fuel. In applications where fuel savings are more important than weight, diesels reign supreme. But once again, those are applications where fuel cost is a substantial part of ownership costs.
You cant base your theories and opinions about European diesels on one 30 year old RV you drove decades ago. As mentioned, the US is decades behind with it's car industry, mainly because fuel has stayed cheap so there's been no real demmand for change. Sure the CAFE requirements and emission regs have become a bit stricter, but nothing like what European regulations dictate. Lets take one as an examle, bearing in mind there are thousands available, BMW 3.0 litre 6 cylinder. A premium car like this demands a high price anyway, and the diesel will not always be more expensive, but this engine has 300 HP, does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, and does 61 MPG with low emissions too. Sure there's a tiny a premium for extra cost of fuel, but there's no extra maintenece with a diesel, the DPF's are self servicing anyway.Why would anyone chose a petrol version when the diesel offers so much more?