Fat Cars: It’s our fault

You’re fat. I mean seriously, you’ve really let yourself go over the years. Bigger in every measureable dimension and growing year after year. Your Mama says you’re big boned…I call bull shit. Oh excuse me, I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to your car.

And guess whose fault it is? YOURS! (Now I’m talking to you)

No honey....it's not the dress

I own a big, heavy, truck. It’s a second generation Toyota Tacoma. It’s bigger and heavier than the Tacoma’s that came before it. In fact, the second generation Tacoma is every bit as big as the first generation Tundra. My truck tips the scales at just over 4,200lbs dry (that’s like two MR2 Spyders). But that’s the truck segment; what about things like normal cars? Let’s look at a nice, sporty, performance oriented coupe like the Infiniti G37S. I got bad news for you Sparky, that hippo weighs in over 4,000lbs too and it’s not even meant for towing or hauling anything. Did you know the current Land Rover LR3 weighs nearly 1,500lbs more than my truck? Think about this. If I stole a Lotus Elise and put it in the bed of my truck, the blind man at the weigh station would think I was driving a Land Rover with a full tank of gas….true story

 

Just a Land Rover coming through....nothing to see here....carry on

It’s time to face the facts. Over the years cars have gotten morbidly obese and the problem is getting worse. Even sports cars (vehicles that are supposed to be light and nimble) are carrying around WAY more weight than is necessary. When did this start and why has it been allowed to continue?

As drivers, we tend to use manufacturers as a scapegoat and place the burden of the blame on them when truthfully, we’re the ones that deserve it. The fact of the matter is manufacturers want to make money. They believe the best way to make money is to build a car that appeals to the greatest number of people with money to spend. They spend MILLIONS of dollars on marketing research trying to figure out exactly what we want. So using our logic (if you don’t have any you can borrow mine) that means a production vehicle is each manufacturers’ perception of what its market wants.

So why do manufacturers continue to make overly heavy vehicles? Why don’t they stop?

It’s because we’re all stupid. I’m including myself in this group and I’m throwing you under the bus too. At some point we decided that heavier = better quality. Ever test drive a vehicle and go home thinking it sounded tinny and cheaper than another car? Chances are it was lighter than the other car. We like barreling down the road in a heavy tank because we enjoy not being affected by outside stimulus. When we step into our car, most of us want to feel like it’s another dimension; cut off from the noise of the road…a bubble if you will. This creates an interesting quandary for the auto companies. Sure, they’d like to make vehicles lighter but they can’t change having customers perceive their cars as cheaper than previous generations.

My, how you've grown.

Regulations have also played a big part in this as well. Oh, all cars must now have seatbelts? Crash bars? Airbags? ABS? Yikes! Don’t get me wrong, I think all of those things are absolutely needed. When I get hit by a Ford Earth-Destroyer 9000 I don’t want to be driving a SMART car without any of the above safety equipment. In a crash, I think we’d all rather be driving the Ford Earth Destroyer for two reasons. First, we’d have the opportunity to kill a SMART car driver and make it look like an “accident” and second, because we’d prefer to live. And that’s the quandary. As consumers, we’ve demanded (with our purchase habits) larger, heavier vehicles. As a result, the government is forced to step up safety requirements to protect us from ourselves. That might come as a shock but come on, we’re humans…we INVENTED self destruction. That’s OUR jam.

I’m about to say something that most of you will likely disagree with. However, I view the majority of humanity to be just shy of mentally handicapped so this ends in me not caring. The government recently passed laws for car companies mandate they increase the fuel efficiency of their entire fleet. The time they have to meet these standards is short and the standards are unrealistic to the point that I’m not sure many will be able to achieve them. But I think this will eventually fix the problem that we’ve created for ourselves. From a design perspective, you can yield better fuel efficiency in a vehicle by lightening the vehicle or building a more efficient drivetrain. Guess which one is cheaper and takes less work/time?

Time to go on a diet.

 

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