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View Poll Results: Would you support lower safety standards to have more small cars in North America?
I already own a crash helmet - bring 'em on! 27 72.97%
Bad idea. Hummers don't need imported hood ornaments. 10 27.03%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-06-2007, 08:41 AM   #1
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Poll: should North America exempt Euro small cars from crash standards to sell here?

Tougher North American crash standards are one of the most often quoted reasons why North American's don't have the same range of small cars offered overseas.

Would you accept a reduction/exemption in bumper & crash standards for small vehicles so more of these could be available here?

Note that this isn't a question of "opening the floodgates" for imported brands; both Ford & GM make desirable, efficient B segment vehicles for Europe and elsewhere which they can't legally sell in North America.
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Old 03-06-2007, 08:53 AM   #2
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They're still FAAAR safer than a motorcycle. As long as the future customers know they have not passed crash tests, they should be able to purchase them. I'd be afraid of insurance costs on them though,
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:24 AM   #3
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Are US standards really tougher or (like headlight standards) merely different?
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:34 AM   #4
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Automaker BS

I believe that most of the smaller cars from europe and japan would meet the US standards. In fact, Renault makes a point that their new cars all have a 5 star rating in the european test, even the relatively small sized Clio. The Smart car is the same, it passes the european test well.

I don't think the automakers want to spend the cash to do the testing for sale in the US, on a small car that they will make very little money. Plus there is all the other requirements for sale in the US.

Unless the car was designed from the beginning for sale in the US, the cost of conversion is high. For comparison the current converted to US standard Smart car is selling for 26k in the states, a bit higher than even the Canadian price, the mid teens.
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:36 AM   #5
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I honestly think it's a non-issue.

I can legally drive my 1971 Honda n600 on the road despite the fact that it is no safer than a go-kart.

Likewise I can drive my wife's 1987 CRX on the road.

It is my personal opinion that North American safety standards were encouraged by the oil lobby in order to ensure that smaller cars won't be here in the US, and that people drive SUVs instead of Metros.

I say relax the standards a bit.
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeUU View Post
I don't think the automakers want to spend the cash to do the testing for sale in the US, on a small car that they will make very little money.
You hit the nail on the head here. When I was buying my Honda Fit, the salesperson said that this was a big issue. No one wanted to sell them because they made no money on them. Honda wouldn't even let them raise the price.

On the other hand, sell an SUV for $35k and the dealership makes $10k in profit. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out which vehicle is preferred to sell.
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:54 AM   #7
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Until recently, American cars used to have stricter bumper standards than Euro vehicles. (Just compare a photo of a Euro vs. NA spec car to see this difference). The Canadian standard is tougher than the current US one.

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/proble...per/Index.html
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Timion View Post

It is my personal opinion that North American safety standards were encouraged by the oil lobby in order to ensure that smaller cars won't be here in the US, and that people drive SUVs instead of Metros.
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I agree, I think big oil along with US auto makers are keeping us from getting more small cars. More profit for both with big vehicles.
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:04 PM   #9
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MetroMPG -

Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
Tougher North American crash standards are one of the most often quoted reasons why North American's don't have the same range of small cars offered overseas.

Would you accept a reduction/exemption in bumper & crash standards for small vehicles so more of these could be available here?

Note that this isn't a question of "opening the floodgates" for imported brands; both Ford & GM make desirable, efficient B segment vehicles for Europe and elsewhere which they can't legally sell in North America.
I am going to vote no because I think it is more complicated than the safety standard. I think that part of what is going on is a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the overall "makeup" of the US car market. In an environment like Japan, the odds of a big car hitting a little car are less than here. I would say that the same is true in the "medieval" topology of European cities that have meandering narrow streets. In the USA, I think that the overall makeup of big heavy cars necesitate better crash standards.

However, if we had policies that promoted smaller car ownership, aka tax incentives for gas misers and tax penalties for gas guzzlers, then I could see relaxing the safety standards because I could see our cars getting smaller over time.

I hate the oil lobby, so the increased safety for oil profits is an interesting angle. Hmmmm. The oil lobby wants safety standards that promote larger cars. But the auto lobby always drags its feet on any safety standard upgrade (seat belts, air bags, la la la), because a higher standard means a higher UMC (Unit Manufacturing Cost) for them. But, in the case of crash tests, maybe this is ok because they can play the "fake safety" angle of SUVs?

In terms of profit margins, this is always true of "entry level" products like compact cars. The goal is to "get you hooked" so that you buy the "next level up" of their car. Entry level cars can only be profitable when sold in volume.

Segway : You should see all the letters I get from the Saturn dealership telling me that they want to trade in my "super valuable" small car for resale. What a crock! I love the aesthetic of my little SW2, but I don't for a hot-second think that anyone envies me. I am probably the worst kind of customer for them because I don't want to "move up" to a family sedan or any kind of bread and butter car for them. When I go into "new car mode", I am always looking at cars $20K and below, which is cheap these days.

Nitpick : What about emissions?

I will need to do more homework on this. I just don't know what the auto crash/death rates are in Europe and Japan.

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Old 03-06-2007, 12:17 PM   #10
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This is a gas guzzler tax on the worst of cars/trucks.
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