Monday, January 30, 2006


American Fear of Small Cars

I was listening to the podcast today from The Car Buyer's Notebook and I came away disturbed. Frank Giovinazzi, host of the aforementioned podcast and owner of the related site claimed more or less that unless the price of petrol go so exorbitantly high, there's no way he ("any many other Americans") would ever be in a small car again.

First, I find this somewhat amusing because quite frankly, in America, there is no such thing as a small car (by world standards) barring say the Mini, the Scion xA and the Chevrolet Kalos/Aveo. I wouldn't call the Toyota Yaris a small car (given that they made it larger to come here and even then, it wasn't Aygo sized) yet I gather he might. This comes back to the American mentality of bigger is better, which by the way is a very flawed mindset.

Secondly, are all of the individuals which Frank mentions and includes himself amongst claustrophobic?

Thirdly, what do people need (in terms of consumer non-work vehicles) such a vast of expanse of space for, their obese frames (wait, this is America we're speaking of). No, you don't need to carry cases of paperwork, luggage and enough cans of food and drink around in your boot. Look at the joke which is the Ford Expedition. Do you really think it is necessary that ever occupant has that much space between them, enough that one would have to lean (to the point of laying down) on their side to reach the door handle on the opposing side of the vehicle? This is a joke, no wonder SUV's are laughed at round the world. Lets not even get into 4x4's as that's another issue in and of itself.

Wait, I just had a realisation.. it's more room for cup holders and folding trays so that people can hold their 2 litre sized fountain drinks from the local mini-mart/petrol station in any one of 12 locations in these behemoths. This applies to more than just SUV's. And before anyone says that other manufacturers (specifically European or Japanese) also make cars that are massive, realise that they are primarily made for the US Market, or conversely for heads of state and ambassadors globally (not to mention the local Prince and/or ruler of (name you Middle Eastern sovereign country here). Even companies like Volvo made larger versions of their cars, but they had a use. Limousines and Hearses. There's just no non-selfish/arrogant reason for consumers to have vehicles of this magnitude.

I think the real reason that Frank and others hold such a hatred of so called "Small Cars" is the fear in their own minds that they'll be somewhat less important if people cannot immediately see that they spent such-and-such amount of currency or are trying to allude to a parallel with their penis.

So sad, so American a mindset (though not exclusively lest I be chided for this posting). Maybe people like that will grow a set and allow themselves to experience non-yacht sized vehicles for once, there is something out there in terms of reasonably sized vehicles for everyone. But please, whatever you do, don't think that America has small cars available, because its just not the truth of the matter.


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