Thursday, September 22, 2005


American Car Market : Much like Americans... Getting larger around the waist as years go on...

Observation #1: Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past 25 years, you have to be aware that vehicles in the American Market are swelling annually as if connected to a giant pneumatic pump.

Part of this issues relates to all the whiz-bang features that the average American thinks they want in their car(s) and/or truck(s).

What? 3 cupholders not enough? well, gotta make the cabin a little larger to accomodate the other 7 we're going to add.

What's that now? Your fat ass doesn't fit on the seat of the average car now so rather than eating healthily and responsibly and putting the doughnut down, you want the automakers (foreign and domestic) to widen the seat to fit your oversized posterior? And we have to lengthen the car too because you're to oversized to fit in the backseat? Rather than just better ergonomics inside the cabin and the removal of a stupid set of cupholders in the backseat, lets just add a few hundred pounds to the car to compensate for the extra metal it is going to take for stiffening the chassis and body thanks to the lengthening and widening of what was a perfectly fine vehicle its first few model years, just so you can have your food while you drive.

Wait? You're complaining about the gas economy of the new version of the car now all because they had to add a bigger engine, because the older engine (which worked fine before they added the cupholders, wider body/longer chassis) doesn't cut it anymore with those extra hundreds of pounds of weight (of the car, not to mention the occupants) are causing a strain on the driveline?

The above may seem silly, but this is exactly what has been happening on all levels of the American car market. It is a cyclical problem. Cars started getting bigger and heavier, all of a sudden requiring more safety equipment to protect against next years even bigger and heavier model vechiles. This madness needs to stop. It has become so infectious that even the Japanese and Europeans (those which still sell in the US Market) have caught this disease (at least in their US bound products).


Mk I VW Golf (Rabbit to you 'Mericans) vs. Mk : We're talking about 1000lbs difference in weight.

Ford Contour (Actually it is a European Ford called the Mondeo) vs. any Contour from the 3rd model year (in the US) onward. : In great in length and weight significantly enough to take away the wonderful feel of the original with no gain other than fat-ass accomidations.

The Mini-Van. There is no such thing anymore. Have you SEEN the size of a modern "Mini" Van. They're massive. The only thing they're not in terms of size of "Full Size" vans in the same height. YOU DON'T NEED an 8 Passenger vehicle. If you think you're going to then get a Diesel Bus or use a condom.

The fact that a country could find itself coming out with a vehicle like the Ford Excrement (correction: Excursion) which boasted being the biggest SUV on the planet is just shameful. We should be proud of making a fuel efficient vehicle, or a greener vehicle, or a fun to drive, flashy yet still economical and environmentally friendly sports car, but NEVER should be be proud (or even worse, consumers of) wasteful, polluting, oversized bovine waste which screams to the world, "We're a bunch of overweight, careless gluttons and we don't give a F*ck about anything but ourselves". Great image there to pass on to the next generation. I think I'm going to be sick.


Now Eric, on this one I know you're right. But you know what? You come off as a real prick.
What were you teased as a child?

Who's your audience? Oh, that's right, you write to have your opinion out there in the ether, right?

There's a way to say what you need to or want to without coming across as some stuck up asshole.

Some other reasons, that you don't mention, for vehicles getting heavier are safety related.

But for the record you are right. When a new Ford Focus weighs more than my 1991 Ford Mustang LX 5.0, that's no longer a "Compact" car.

The New Dodge Magnum is technically a truck, because it weighs so much.

But being right isn't enough. You have to be more diplomatic, if you want to get your message out. Unless you just want to alienate yourself from Americans and chime in with our European detractors.

I feel it's a shame, you have some valid points, but won't win any converts with your tone.

All cars have indeed gotten heaver (hey, even Lotus) as time has progressed. Quite frankly, even supercars are getting heavier.

I'm moreso concerned about the disproportionate rate at which cars are getting heavier. They're getting bloated at a rate (specifically in truck heavy markets obviously) that one would gather they ought to (given increased amenities and safety regulations).. Side impact bars in the doors (as per 1997 US Regulations) weight a bit. I did race, I know how much just one section of roll cage added to a vehicle, and how much the asphalt based sound deadening material weighs as well.

As people want less noise, vibration and harshness in their vehicles (here and abroad), it only stands that there will be increases. I assure you I'm not blind, though I can get hot headed at times because it is something I hold as very important to me.

Yeah, a new Focus is quite heavy in comparison. I also realise that part of this has to do with the differences from country to country for safety. Here we use 5mph bumpers, whereas 2.5 mph bumpers are more common elsewhere. That's just the nature of our roadways, though interesting enough, Germany has been big on the 2.5mph bumpers. As a side note, I need to laugh when you brought up the Mustang, I passed my driver's exam in a late 80's Mustang, then weighed less than my current Chevrolet Lacetti.

I will take what you've said in stride and see if I can find a better means of getting my thoughts out there without outright alienation. I believe my initial thoughts were to make outright assault with harsh reality so that many would open their eyes, because quite frankly, I just don't see people getting involved or paying attention (to many things, not just this) unless you stir their emotions in one way or another, and sadly, vehement anger is an emotion that grabs their attention, hopefully enough to get into a discussion.

I also realise that this is a hard route to take, but it's what I've been able to do thus far. If you have suggestions, I'm all ears (in addition to what you've stated already in your numerous (and appreciated) replies.
Eric, again I'll say, we're not so far apart in our opinions. I think that you have a lot of great information to share, and a real insight into what the future of the US auto industry needs to be. But I've said many of the same things on my blog, just in a way that the average "Joe" won't be offended. I've written about the Ford Transit family of commercial vehicles and how with their Diesel powerplants and lighter construction, they would be a more competative unit for the US. I've called for more Diesels and some of our Euro Ford models to come to the US.

I don't mean to offend in my comments, hope you understand that. But I just think that hitting people over the head is not an effective way of gettig the message across.

I look forward to reading your blog, and am glad that you enjoy my humble little page. I've been at this a few months now and have encountered many bloggers and auto fanatics from around the world. I consider myself open minded especially where automobiles are concerned. But being a Ford fanatic, there will always be a bias in my writing.

Now a Chevy Laceti, that's the Suzuki Forenza right? I had seen photos and postings on the Euro version, especially a WRC inspired package. Now why won't GM sell that here? It's much better than the Aveo.

I'm glad you enjoy reading what I've put out there, and appreciate both the praise and criticism. I hold nothing ill against you and look forward to your insightful responses (and blog). I have a fondness for European Fords without a doubt, but I think my real weak spot will always be Peugeot and Renault, with an Alfa 164 Quattroporte thrown in for good measure. Though I do enjoy a plethora of vehicles. My preferences changed over the years from competing in Hillclimbs and Rally, experiencing some truly incredible cars (Aston Martin DB2s, European Formula Fords, Escort Cosworth RSII's, 2002tii's, AC Cobras, Beck Spyders, 323GTXs, Group B Quattro Sport Evo II's, and Datsun B510 Turbo Rally Cars). I used to think one manufacturer was better than others, but found that in racing, it just doesn't work that way. But again, I digress, for the road, I have preferences for Hatchbacks, specfically from Ford of Europe, Renault, Peugeot and Opel.. Though I have to say I'd really *REALLY* like a Nissan Sunny GTi-R.

The Chevy Lacetti is ultimately a GM Daewoo Lacetti (it was the project that put Daewoo under/drove the last nail in the coffin), and GM took over and did some refining (at best). It is as such:

Daewoo Lacetti, Chevy Lacetti, Buick Excelle (China), Holden Viva (Australia), Chevy Optra/Optra5, Suzuki Forenza/Reno.

It isn't a WRC inspired package, it is the WTCC version you're referencing (World Touring Car Championship). They offer a supercharged version of the Lacetti saloon. Also interesting of note (after a ridiculous amount of digging around for information): The engine in the North American Lacetti's is a Family II Eco-Tec motor (European spec, not the same as the one found in the Cobalt, etc). It is an Ultra Low Emissions engine, another plus when I purchased it.

Yes, Holden builds boat loads of Family I & Family II Opel motors for various cars worldwide, in their Melbourne facility. The engine is a previous generatino design, not quite the current motor design you'd find in something like an Astra VXR or Opel Speedster, but more of a early nineties Astra or Vauxhall Cavalier.

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