buy smart cars if they were allowed to?
mean the Smart car which is actually pretty short
bus ($13k for a two-seater with no trunk thats literally dangerous
to use on the highway because its so underpowered and top
heavy and which doesnt get standout gas mileage either is
but high IQ it aint).
No, I mean
smart cars, or said another way cars that make sense.
There are very
few such available and even those are heavily compromised by the
rules and rigmarole that politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers (the
true Axis of Evil) have imposed on their manufacture.
dissect one, the 2011 Ford Fiesta.
I have selected
this car because its among the highest mileage (41 MPG highway)
non-hybrid, almost -affordable new cars on the road. But its mileage
could be so much higher and its price tag so much lower
if Ford could build it the way I suspect many customers would very
much like to buy it.
The base price
of the 11 Fiesta is $13,320. That includes dual front air
bags, front seat side-impact air bags, head curtain air bags
even a knee air bag. Anti-lock brakes and traction/stability control
are also standard features.
Now, all these
air bags certainly make the Fiesta more crashworthy than it would
be without them . But they also add probably $2,000 to the cars
sticker price. Figure another few hundred for the electronic traction
control and ABS systems.
If these things
were optional and you had the freedom to decide for yourself
whether to buy them, it would be likely be possible to buy the new
Fiesta for closer to $10,000. The money you saved up front could
be used to ease the pain of ever-rising gas prices as well as those
monthly car payments. As the cost of ordinary daily living
everything from food to fuel to utilities rises seemingly
with the sun, spending less where possible would seem to make a
lot of sense.
But of course
we dont get to choose. Uncle politicians, bureaucrats
and lawyers choose for us. In loco parentis. We are
not smart enough to make the right decision (safety, always safety
whether we can afford it or not) so they will make
the right decision for us just like Mon n Dad! Even
if it ultimately means that new cars eventually become so expensive
that fewer and fewer people can afford to buy them.
The axis of
evil is also partly to blame for the bloat the ever-rising
curb weight of new cars relative to the cars of the past. Each decade
that has gone under the bridge has seen a ratcheting up of bumper-impact
requirements, which in turn have required more metal, more bracing
11 Fiesta weighs about 2,600 lbs. fairly light compared
to the typical 3,800 pounder. But consider this: The 1984
Fiesta weighed almost 900 pounds less! If the new Fiesta could be
lightened up by that amount, its fuel economy would likely be well
into the 50s, without touching any of the mechanicals. And if the
mechanicals were adjusted to reflect the lower curb weight
which would let the car deliver the same performance/accleration
as current but with fewer CCs and thus burn less fuel my
bet is the car could be pushing 60 MPG.
True, a lightened-up
and airbag-free Fiesta would not be as crash survivable as the current
car. But it would make more economic (and thus, common) sense
given the times we live in. Taxes at all levels are rising
to pay for politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers. Our money is worth
less that is, it has less purchasing power from one
month to the next thanks to politicians, bureaucrats and
lawyers. These same politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers continue
to demand that new cars be ever safer at our expense
and even if it means they dont get anywhere near the mileage
theyd otherwise be able to deliver.
these politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers can comfortably afford
the Latest and Greatest enjoying the perks of taxpayer-financed
six-figure positions from which it is nigh-impossible to detach
But for the
rest of us, less might be more.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
Best of Eric Peters