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GasSavers_maximilian 06-09-2009 06:43 AM

Reasons efficient cars aren't offered in the US
Not sure this is the right discussion group for this, and I tried to ensure it's not a duplicate, but may have missed it. I was thinking of the reasons why automakers don't offer their existing more fuel efficient vehicles in the US, even on a very limited basis. I'm sure it's not worth it overall given what prevailing American tastes have been, but want to explore the details. Here's what I have:

1) Need to meet federal and state regulations
2) Advertising
3) Distribution & inventory
4) Parts & repair needed to support those cars (maybe different training?)
5) Salesmen need to be familiar with more models

Any others I'm not considering? How important do people think each of those are? Does anybody have thoughts on how to mitigate any of them?

Seems advertising could be minimized if it were an internet only, by request item. If the buyer were willing to wait for delivery, distribution and inventory issues could also be reduced. Creating a separate company to handle them might insulate the main one from some of the annoyance those limitations created.

theholycow 06-09-2009 07:02 AM

My opinion:
1) Need to meet federal and state regulations
2) Lack of demand

It's not that people don't want fuel efficiency; but they don't want it more than they want other qualities, they don't demand it, and they don't vote for it with their dollars. They don't want to drive small, underpowered, or diesel cars...and they don't want to pay for them.

As for internet only, by request items that require waiting for delivery, that sounds like the Smart. While the Smart is supposed to be offered traditionally, the real effect is that many people would have to get one that way.

GasSavers_BEEF 06-09-2009 07:03 AM

some people say safety (I have issues with that)

but another big one is profit margin of said car. the dealerships can make much more money off of the big SUVs than they can off of the small cars. looking at it from a percentage standpoint or an actual dollar amount standpoint. either way, there is more money in SUVs as long as they are selling.

now that they are not selling, the small cars are slowly but surely coming back but at higher prices. mini, yaris, fit, smart, fiat (hopefully soon).

the landscape of the car market is changing and hopefully for the better. the landscape is changing for better or worse, it is changing. I hope that things do get better and the selection of the small car may be better too.

time will tell on that one.

holycow beat me that time,

I agree with you on the internet thing. I was on the list for a smart and decided to get off of the list because of my circumsance. if there had been no list and I could have gone and gotten one, there would be a red/black one in my driveway right now.

I had no issues with safety, performance, price, comfort, features, or other typical reasons not to get a small car. the fact of the matter is that I needed to do what was best for my family at the time. I currently have no carpayments and it is a great feeling. I can do more with and for my daughter right now than I could otherwise if I had bought the car. eventually, I will need another car and may reconsider the smart but for now, I am going with less bills and the old cavalier.

GasSavers_maximilian 06-09-2009 07:19 AM

I hadn't considered the notion that by not offering them in any way that it might drive buyers to higher profit margin vehicles. Good point, as long as it drives them to YOUR higher profit margin vehicles! :)

There's a used Fortwo in town that beckons to me every time I drive past.

dkjones96 06-09-2009 07:29 AM

Have you driven one of those Fortwos? I don't care for them much as is but make it awd with a nice turbo 4 and it'd be a rockin little get around car.

I'm sure the biggest reason is making it fit the safety regulations while still keeping it economical. Most of those vehicles would need the frame totally redone to meet US safety standards.

They used to not be in demand but look at all the commotion around the new Ford Fiesta. It's a sweet car!

GasSavers_maximilian 06-09-2009 07:42 AM

How are US standards different anyway? Are they stricter than European ones or just different?

I took a Fortwo for a brief spin. Didn't want to waste the salesman's time too much since I wasn't really serious. I liked not having to mess with a clutch. That trunk is bigger than I expected. Of course, once you've done your grocery shopping on your moped everything seems roomy. The fact that the U.S. ones get such comparatively low mpg put me off them. Since I don't do much city driving I focus on the highway rating. Not enough to make up for having half a car.

GasSavers_BEEF 06-09-2009 07:43 AM

I've driven one and man are they fun. thight, yes but loads of fun. the turning radius on the thing is nothing.


if you really want to see something fun, search for hayabusa smart (spelling may not be right) there are a ton of vids on youtube about a guy that turned a smart into a rocket. you may also search diablo smart.

power is lacking but that isn't their stance. if it was marketed as a sportscar, I would be upset at the power but it is marketed as a gas-saver.

search youtube, it's 5 minutes of hilarious laughter.

found it


theholycow 06-09-2009 07:57 AM


Originally Posted by maximilian (Post 136344)
Since I don't do much city driving I focus on the highway rating. Not enough to make up for having half a car.

For highway driving, a car doesn't have to be small or light to be efficient.

GasSavers_maximilian 06-09-2009 08:00 AM

That's true. Maybe when I move I'll do more city driving. I really wanted to love the Fortwo. I just like small cars. Well, many other efficient cars should be coming along. Of course, I'm so cheap, I'm sure I'll drive my Accent until it croaks.

dkjones96 06-09-2009 08:04 AM

They handle sweet, I did love driving the convertible smart, I felt it didn't look as dumb. No offense to anyone that likes the regular smart or happens to own one lol.

Then again, the Durango handles amazing compared to the Tracker. It stops faster and corners WAY better. Kinda makes you forget it weighs just shy of 5k pounds.

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