PDA

View Full Version : What should a Commuter Car look like?


whittlebeast
1st April 2011, 02:08
Just thinking out loud here.

I am thinking what the USA needs to go to is allowing super compact cars that have safety standards close to what motorcycles have. Picture 2 seat enclosed versions of a Spyder. The Smart car is close. A Hybrid with a 250 or 300 cc motor spinning a generator. Battery for extra torque and stop and go.

Now get the large trucks off the road around major towns during rush hour. Picture a 50 MPH speed limit only during rush hour. This way these ultra efficiency vehicles would not be mixing it up with the traffic we have now. I bet you could get 60 MPG easy at far less cost than a Toyota Prius. Just keep the back pointy for good areo.

After I wrote this, I found this on youtube.

YouTube - 3-Wheeled Oddball: 2008 Aptera Electric Car

Andy

Bone
1st April 2011, 03:05
I am thinking what the USA needs to go to is allowing super compact cars that have safety standards close to what motorcycles have. Picture 2 seat enclosed versions of a Spyder. The Smart car is close.

Have you ever looked at some crash test data on a Smart car.

To compare it to the dangers of a motorcycle is friggin RIDICULOUS!

The IIHS gave it something like at least 4 out of 5 stars - on both front crash AND their t-boned by a pickup truck test.... In goverment testing it received 5 stars.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24599768/ns/business-autos/

whittlebeast
1st April 2011, 03:29
My point is backing off on things like side impact or front impact would allow getting the weight down to get the mileage and two passenger capability.

Smart cars are somewhat thirsty at 33/41 mpg.

The Fortwo Pure Coupe is the base model Smart Car with a base price of around $12,000. The weight, without a driver, is 1,808 pounds. It features a 1-liter, three-cylinder engine that generates 70 horsepower. The car has a maximum speed of 90 miles per hour and will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a little less than 13 seconds. About 2100 with two people.

For the Aptera
Engine Diesel: 9 kW (12 hp)
Electric: 19 kW (25 hp)
Transmission CVT
Wheelbase 1,625 mm (64 in)
Length 4,394 mm (173 in)
Curb weight 386 kg (851 lb)

About the weight of a loaded BT

AW

LifesHarlequin
1st April 2011, 03:33
Smart cars are pointless because there are plenty of cars out there, used yes, for the same price, but with the same gas mileage and better utility, comfort, features, etc. I understand your MPG point though, but even a smart car only makes 30-40mpg, which is the same that is coming from the new Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic, and soon to be here, Fiat 500. There are plenty of subcompacts already available, but because of our usually large dependence on freeways, the small cc engines don't cut it here and sell in very small numbers because they are only really fast enough to be city cars. They sell like mad in Europe, but even there they can be a nuisance to other motorists. As for lowering the speed limit to 50mph, SCREW THAT! Its already bad enough here where its 55 because the roads are crap... how desperate I want to go back to TN where 90% of the interstates are 70mph, which consequently, is where the larger engines make their best gas mileage. I know my z28 did its best mpg (27) at around 78mph. And the same goes for a friend of mine in his C5 z06 (32mpg for him).

Point is, with TDI technology making $20-25k cars that make 50+mpg, and the new Chevy Volt doing an avg 127mpg with Motortrend, and the subcompact market coming out with even better 1.4-6L engines that still make 0-60 in 8s, but also manage 40mpg, getting something like a G-Whiz, which is a quadracycle rated electric city car in europe, just to appease the the want to save fuel is a waste of money and dangerous, especially with all the new diesel, hybrid, extended range electric, and pure electric options now available.

whittlebeast
1st April 2011, 03:47
I think the Smartcar is brilliant from a packaging standpoint. Not worth it from a MPG standpoint. I do think the new Honda CR-Z is cute.

Bone
1st April 2011, 03:50
Andy - I get your point regarding weight and complexity, but it's just NOT gonna happen on so many different levels from the nanny state on one side to the Expedition and Suburban driving mentality (a large portion of which do it for the same reason people buy BTs).

Lifes - it's silly to compare a new car to a used car and claim the new one is pointless - they are not equivalents. They used car may make MORE SENSE to some people, but it doesn't mean the new one doesn't make more sense to plenty too.

It's funny the merrits of the Smart Car became a point of debate on the Guzzi board just recently - here's a post of mine comparing the Smart to the BEST available today and the relative price differences and related factors.

For those interested in comparing some facts and not just hyperbole

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/pdfs/guides/FEG2011.pdf

Couple of facts to help paint the broader picture:

2011 Smart - EPA mileage 33/41 - msrp starts at $11k

2011 Honda CR-Z (2 seater) EPA mileage 31/37 (m/t) or 35/39 (a/t) - msrp starts at $19k (m/t) or $21k (a/t) - or 90-100% more than the Smart

2011 Mazda MX-5 best EPA mileage 22/28 (M-5) - msrp $23k - more than double the Smart

4-seaters

2011 Honda Civic - best EPA mileage 26/34 (M-5 1.8) - msrp $15.6k or 50% more than a Smart

2011 Mini Cooper - best EPA mileage 29/37 (M-6) - msrp $20k - almost double the Smart

2011 Toyota Yaris - best EPA mileage 29/36 (M-5) - msrp $13k - one of the closest to the Smart, but still almost 20% more.

2011 Ford Fiesta - best EPA mileage 29/40 (A/T) - msrp $14k (A/T) - or approaching 30% more than the Smart

2011 Honda Fit - best EPA mileage 28/35 (A/T) - msrp $16k (A/T) - or 45% more than the Smart


Alternative to Gasoline (hybrid, diesel etc)

2011 Toyota Prius - best EPA mileage 51/48 - msrp $23k - more than double the Smart

2011 VW Golf Turbo Diesel - best EPA mileage 30/42 (M6) - msrp $23k - more than double the Smart

2011 VW Jetta Turbo Diesel - best EPA mileage 30/42 (M6) - msrp $25k - or nearly 2.5X the Smart

Now all that said, I'm NOT saying a Smart is all that and a bag of chips. Obviously there are some real plusses and minuses to a Smart or any other vehicle on this list. I'm just putting the facts out there.

When you look at the cars that are availble in the US new TODAY and compare apples-to-apples the Smart offers some things as well or better than the competition. It's an uber budget car, and if that's your thing then it might be worthy of your consideration without needless derision from smug bastards who are so sure THEIR choices are the ONLY "Smart" ones out there.

LifesHarlequin
1st April 2011, 03:52
Oh yeah, the CRZ is a great looking car. Bit on the pricey side because Hybrid means an instant $30k after options. I"m personally a fan of the 5door Golf TDI. Comes with the GTI suspension, loses 2s on 0-60, but looks great and does everything you need day to day perfectly. However, the new Chevy Sonic, if it drives as well as they say the Opel Corsa, the car its based on, then it should be a hoot. I do hope the small hatchback gets popular in the states. There are so many good choices over seas that we simply don't get. I'm actually trying to trade my Jeep Wrangler X in for a 5door Focus here soon.

LifesHarlequin
1st April 2011, 03:54
Here's what you get with a general economy car though:

8lAbzCUjxbg

Bone
1st April 2011, 04:02
The problem with diesels in the US is the EPA and their new clean diesel regulations.

I don't have the details on how VW/Audi is making the standards, I'm thinking it's an expensive electronic compoent in the exhaust.

What worries me is that companies like Benz and BMW, along with most of the heavy trucking industry has instead opted for Urea injection - meaning there's got to be some question about the durability of the VW/Audi method.

And with BMW (and possibly Benz) it means giving up normal tires and using runflats instead because the 7 or so gallon tank takes up all the room they would have used to mount a spare.

All this said, I'm a fan of diesels, and was seriously considering some options prior to the new clean diesel regulations, but suddenly I'm less enthusiastic.

Oh PS - Jenn and I were out casually car shopping a couple of weeks ago and I got up close and personally with a new Fiat Cinquesetta (500) - very cool, fun looking little car, I need to drive one. It would look great parked next to the Italian scoots.

whittlebeast
1st April 2011, 04:23
The Top Gear video was funny.

That Fiat 500 is ugly.

The Aptera is cool to the bone. Not good with a crash with anything else but neither is a motorcycle. Airplanes are not real good in crashes either but they are also sold in the US.

AW

Bone
1st April 2011, 04:28
One thing to consider is that a car and motorcycle crash VERY differently.

The thought/hope is that a rider (who is protected by his/her own crash gear) will NOT remain with the mass of the crashing vehicle and will disappate the force of the crash by actually flying over the vehicle and/or sliding down the road while the occupant of a car must be protected soley by the vehicle into which they are strapped/contained. So a car must be built to absorb/redirect the forces of a crash.

That said, don't get me wrong, we had a Mini Cooper S for 105k awesome miles, I'm a fan of smaller/lighter/more efficient vehicles.

LifesHarlequin
1st April 2011, 04:33
Personally I've crashed my bicycle 2x in traffic... one was quite quick, and entirely my fault as it was raining and I hit a large hole I thought I could jump, so easy get up and walk away.

The other was this:

http://lifesharlequin.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/ouch/

The thought/hope is that a rider (who is protected by his/her own crash gear) will NOT remain with the mass of the crashing vehicle and will disappate the force of the crash by actually flying over the vehicle and/or sliding down the road while the occupant of a car must be protected soley by the vehicle into which they are strapped/contained. So a car must be built to absorb/redirect the forces of a crash.

So personally, I don't want a car, that holds me closer to the impact due it being a car, so that instead of hitting my face to another car at 30mph, I'll hit my dash at a combined 50-60mph. And the best I can deal with is the dealer saying, "Well, we only rated this to be as safe as a motorcycle, so sorry, you knew the risk." At least on the motorcycle I get the benefit of the open air to cure the fact that I'm covered in protective gear.

Btw, I am normally a cyclist, which I've found to be very efficient for saving fuel and money. But I live within 8mi of work. Even still, if I moved to a city, where something like a smart car would make sense, I'd still rather take my time and bike there.

whittlebeast
1st April 2011, 04:37
We still need to get the masses out of their Slug Utility Vehicles and into transportation that gets 3 times the SUV typical numbers. Cages are heavy. People don't like getting cold, wet and they do not like falling over on a bike. Our Sportys do get 50 MPG but are less good with two up on a cold wet morning.

jaybird
1st April 2011, 04:44
(Smart cars are somewhat thirsty at 33/41 mpg.) my wife has a 08 smart car she get close to 50 mpg,,might be all in the way you drive them

Hogwylde
1st April 2011, 04:46
Come on Brad! Come defend yourself!

Bone
1st April 2011, 04:49
Well, FWIW, the truth is that as long as fuel prices remain as low as they are (read that as much lower than say Europe) the masses aren't going to voluntarily migrate out of their SUVs.

That said as much as we tend to piss on our government the upcoming increase in CAFE standards seems to be repaing some rewards. One example would be the BMW X3 which was just redesigned to include an 8-speed auto trans which has helped to increase it's EPA ratings from 16/23 to 19/25 - ok, that's not phenomnal but it's a step in the right direction for a company whose customers traditionally don't give a crap about mileage.

mrkocol
1st April 2011, 08:06
Our Sportys do get 50 MPG

A little off topic, but I really wish my bike got that. No matter when it was stock or with the Samson exhaust I put on (the only "performance" change I did, but I didn't do it for performance), the best I ever get is 40 MPG and that's only on long-distance riding. I'm thin and I don't ever ride it like I stole it. I read reports from people on here all the time that their bikes do 50 MPG or more. Still don't know why mine doesn't.

My '98 Jetta TDI can beat my bike MPG-wise running half biodiesel and half regular diesel. The last long distance trip in it I got very close to 50 MPG, which is higher than that published report. I thought of ditching it for a Smart due to the smaller size and it being newer, but once I realized I couldn't even fit a half stack amplifier in the back I was no longer interested.

Weo
1st April 2011, 09:25
I'm curious about Nissan's Leaf... I still think these cars are ugly though...

It has an option for a solar panel spoiler.. but the panel is awful small IMO. I just don't get why electric cars don't have some solar panels built in. I also wonder how electric cars will work in areas that have cold winters. Sitting in a parking lot with 0 degree windchill for eight hours has to have some effect on the battery usage time for the drive home.

http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/index#/leaf-electric-car/index

YouTube - Car Review of the Nissan Leaf by The Stig (Ben Collins)

whittlebeast
1st April 2011, 11:53
Federal bumper rules is another on of those things that is difficult to include in a 850 lb 2 seat, high efficiency commuter car. I still really like the idea of the car in post one.

I wonder what a car like that would do in snow. That works out to about 400 lbs per tire with two on-board. We got snow three times in the last two weeks in Missouri. It also hit 80 on one day in that period. It is difficult to predict that sort of thing here.

High efficiency literally means no wasted heat. That implies no unused energy to use to heat the cabin in the winter. Adding heat then means adding weight to have a heat source. I wonder how the Nissan Leaf deals with heat?

AW

whittlebeast
1st April 2011, 12:08
I am about 6 ft and about 200 lbs. When I travel out of the country, I feel huge. At home, I am on the small side. I work in construction but 6-4 and 270 is very common. There are a lot of large people in this country and that does not even address the huge people that need to get to work. 850 lbs cars attempting to transport 2 - 450 lb people is a problem.

AW

Tin Man 2
1st April 2011, 22:42
You can buy the Cam Am Spyder and enclose it, No need for new Laws, Its perfectly legal right now!! The New little Fords get better fuel economy than the "Smart" car right now. Gasoline vehicles are incredibley fuel effiecent, thats why the incentives are so high on the Electrics, and why the Government pays farmers our Tax dollars to waste Corn on Ethenol while people starve all over the World. Its all politics.

Wreck
2nd April 2011, 00:08
Just thinking out loud here.

I am thinking what the USA needs to go to is allowing super compact cars that have safety standards close to what motorcycles have. Picture 2 seat enclosed versions of a Spyder. The Smart car is close. A Hybrid with a 250 or 300 cc motor spinning a generator. Battery for extra torque and stop and go.

Now get the large trucks off the road around major towns during rush hour. Picture a 50 MPH speed limit only during rush hour. This way these ultra efficiency vehicles would not be mixing it up with the traffic we have now. I bet you could get 60 MPG easy at far less cost than a Toyota Prius. Just keep the back pointy for good areo.


Andy

This whole fuel economy thing isn't rocket science. Companies seem to think we need to re-invent the wheel. Small car + small motor = good mpg & low price. Adding electricity seems to be where they get expensive.

RE:trucks. Is there any product you touch on any given day that hasn't been on a truck at least once? It's just not possible to dictate the hours they can run, Commerce would shutdown.

Here is my daily driver. At last check I used 3.2 gallons per week. It only goes about 60mph but that's fine with me.



http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m139/wreck-sports/IMG00034-20110224-1740.jpg

whittlebeast
2nd April 2011, 00:13
My son is a service writer for a Freightliner dealer. Those things are rather intimidating when your ride weighs less than one of their tires. Out on the open road, all is good or at least workable.

Get the weight out and fix the aero and MPG will fall right in line.

AW

td67mustang
2nd April 2011, 00:19
i have the 4 letter answer.....

y
u
g
o



http://xlforum.net/photopost/data/500/yugo-464x350.jpg

LifesHarlequin
2nd April 2011, 00:46
As far as energy problems, mpg is probably the smallest of all the issues when you take into account that almost everything around you was either made with or made by machines or processes that require oil. Unfortunately, because cars are so prominent in our eyes, they get the brunt of the hatred for the cost of oil. There is a no joke dependence the country has on oil for almost every aspect of our daily lives that simply reducing the consumption of gasoline will only make a very small dent in the demand of, and therefore, the cost of oil.

However, I completely agree that aerodynamics and weight are at the heart of helping to increase fuel economy, and that the increase in safety regulations, and therefore the increase in the need of strengthening components to chassis simply for crash ratings and the like, continually fights the advances in fuel efficiency.

To truly solve the problem of oil, we need a complete revolution in how we function as an industrial world.

Bone
4th April 2011, 16:32
The New little Fords get better fuel economy than the "Smart" car right now.

Not according to EPA testing - See EPA link I posted earlier

Weo
9th April 2011, 03:40
Kev, thought you might find this article interesting... although I've never driven one myself:

http://www.hybridcars.com/vehicle/smart-fortwo.html

For others interested, this article has some interesting comparisons at the end (last page linked here):

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1103_2011_nissan_leaf_vs_2011_chevrolet_volt/energy_use_statistics.html

rottenralph
9th April 2011, 03:53
I drove one of these fine vehicles in Europe for a year back in 1986. I had about 50 miles per gallon. It fit 2 people comfortably and went about 70 on the highway down hill with a tail wind. 0/60 in 54 seconds. 2 cylinder 600 CC engine.

http://www.wheelsofitaly.com/wiki/images/8/81/Polski_Fiat_126p_rocznik_1973.jpg

blkshark
9th April 2011, 04:11
Here's my commuter. :D

http://www.bigcoupe.com/photos/newgreta.jpg

milmat1
9th April 2011, 06:30
Oh PS - Jenn and I were out casually car shopping a couple of weeks ago and I got up close and personally with a new Fiat Cinquesetta (500) - very cool, fun looking little car, I need to drive one. It would look great parked next to the Italian scoots.

I'll Bet he cooks an awesome Lazania !!.......................................:D