Why is designing a 40 MPG car called "Rocket Science"?

I wish there were easily available small econobox diesels on the market in the US. As far as I know the only one widely available are the VWs which I wouldn’t touch w/ a 10ft pole - I’d rather drive a car more often than it is in the shop being fixed.

i know what you mean!vw cars are not as reliable as people think,in england just about every manufacturer offers small diesel engine vehicles which easily get 40 mpg in town,and up to 65mpg on the motorway!no wonder theyre selling so well here in the uk,with our rediculously high petrol prices.i dont know why manufacturers dont import them into the usa,they have to meet strict euro 4 emissions standards over here,so i dont know why ford doesnt sell our european fiesta and focus with their excellent peugeot diesel engines in the usa?theyre smooth,quiet and quite powerful too!long gone are the days of dirty,noisey and slow diesels!

It’s a game of the marketplace and we’re pawns within it. As soon as we get used to smaller 40 mpg diesels and $4.50 a gallon for diesel fuel the price will skyrocket again . . . maybe even to $10 a gallon. Used to be a time when gas prices went up even a few cents that suppliers pointed to a reason . . . a hurricane in the Gulf . . . or Mid-East wars interrupting supply . . . or something. Nowadays, prices change from hour to hour with no rationale or reason. The people who own the oil are simply making the most money that they can . . . look at profits posted by the gas companies. I know that this is a can of worms but we should really look to alternative fuels for our vehicles. Rocketman

I wish more Euroboxes were available in the US. I particularly like Seat and have always regarded it as VW’s nutcase division. Anything dramatic or interesting that VW don’t consider within image keeping is given to Seat and they’ve made it very successful. They make good cars, in fact their build quality seems to be better than VW these days.

I love their hotrods.

Currently, you can, legally, make so many gallons of alcoholic beverage a year without paying the “luxury”, or “sin” tax on it. It might be difficult to remove enough of the water from the alcohol to make it pure enough. There’s enough technical data out there to find out how to do it.
Now, if you had an alcohol burning engine…!

Agreed. I second the notion that had we as a country made an effort to deal with the oil-gasoline issue after the first gasoline crunch of the 1970s we might be driving alcohol fueled vehicles like the folks do in Brazil. We need a real effort to find an alternative fuel. Rocketman

So that you will be willing to pay more for it. A Delta or Atlas rocket launch can cost over $400 million. What a deal that high priced ForTwo is compared to those high priced sleds!

It strikes me as funny that people act as though they have a right to cheap fuel. Cheap fuel has given us freedom that our founding fathers never even pondered, and now that it isn’t so cheap, some of us are acting like spoiled children.

The Plymouth Horizon was a miracle. Darned if you couldn’t run 440 miles on the highway on a single tank with the stripped down ones and get 42 MPG. Fifth gear wouldn’t climb hills but fourth sure would. Mine was cheap to operate from one end of Rt. 40 to the other.

we can ,they just choose NOT to. IT’S that cut and dry.


but it is still cheap in the usa! we pay 3 times as much in the uk!so enjoy your cars while you can,and will somebody send me a tankfull of unleaded please?,because its just cost me over ?50 to fill my car up!thats about $100!! i wish i lived in the usa.

The problem is not directly the cost of actual manufacturing, but as you point out the really expensive part is re-tooling auto industry with Composite manufacturing technology. Also realize that the composite manufacturing is still not really mature when it comes to large scale mass production. The good news is that a lot of companies are inreasingly using composites in their high performance cars and as the technology becomes more fimiliar and the initial R&D costs are recovered, we may see some of it in family vehicles soon. Unfortunatley where a composite vehicle completely looses it is in the mass in a collision mass still wins. We have this tendency to pick the worst case scenario of Tractor Trailer smashing into a car as a goal post of safety, that is not realistic. If any one wants to get really serious about introducing light cars, the first step will be to restrict and / or completely ban the use of lift kits in pick up trucks. It will also be needed to restrict the empty weight of the non commercial vehicles sold. But our policies are largely driven by two extreme forms of ideology and not by science, so I dont have any hopes.

That situation would change in a heartbeat if suddenly, the smallest and most fuel economical cars couldn’t be kept in stock with customers willing to pay thousands over msrp and getting on waiting lists to get their hands on them.
Don’t blame the car makers for making what sells at a profitable price.

Oh good - I feel so much better to know that car makers just give us what we want.

I can’t help but wonder about the multi-million dollar marketing campaigns though. Who leads who around by the nose? Some of both I would have to say. I also have to wonder about the number times US carmakes have been caught with their pants down - overstocks on cars that can no longer be sold so easily - most recently SUVs. So often what is being made isn’t what customers want. (Could that be linked to marketing $$>).

It is also possible to say that the situation described (supplies outstripped on small economical cars - e.g. the Prius) has occurred. But I wouldn’t say that the change is occurring at heartbeat speed.

On the news this morning they said that one in four new cars sold is a compact or a sub-compact and that this is the highest percentage of small cars sold in history. I wonder if three out of four people simply need a larger vehicle or if that number of small car purchases will some day climb to one in three or one in two. Only time will tell.

I’m a treehuggin’ hippy from way back and enjoy my “hippiemobile” a dependable 2000 Saturn wagon that gets 30 + mpg.

Though I disagree with some points of your rant I do agree human overpopulation is a very serious problem and one few want to even think about… I in fact made a conscious decision years ago not to have kids and the way things are going now I’m glad I made that call…

Since its now out there again - it is not entirely on topic, but I just must say something about it (can’t resist). The question of how high the human population of the globe can be does not have an easy answer b/c it is tied directly to how those people live. Globally we are past 6 billion and climbing. The earth will not support 6 billion who live like those in wealthy Industrialized nations - least of all like those in the US. But the earth can support many many more than 6 billion with less resource hungry living arrangements. That doesn’t mean being poor and miserable. It just means less wasteful and more sensible.

Most have now heard of the “carbon footprint” - but check out the “ecological footprint” (I won’t annoy with any links - just Google it if you want to know). Its basically about the amount of resources required per capita. Ours dwarfs everything else.

In light of that calling for population control sort of comes down to saying that we want to continue to hog resources - its our way or the highway. In simple terms its not entirely different from your neighbor claiming that no one else in the neighborhood should be allowed to water their lawn b/c that will mean that he can’t continue to water at will - whether wasteful or not.

Japanese and Korean manufacturers can switch the car mix in a matter of months, since they sell good economy cars all over the world. Toyota makes SUVs because there is a demand, but as soon as this demand drops, they will crank up their econmy car production.

Remember when sports cars were popular? Toyota had the Celica and Supra, Nissan had the 300 series, and Mazda RX was a great car. Even Honda outdid Ferrari with the NSX.

Very high gas prices may well be the deathblow to the big 3, since they can’t make money on small cars because of their cost structure.

Their imports from Europe would be too expensive, and those from other countries, such as Brazil and Argentina would not have the quality US buyers demand. A lot is riding on the Saturn Astra, a Belgium-built, German-designed GM Opel car. If it is successful, there’s hope.

New cars don’t seem less efficient to me. The changed fuel mileage ratings made the ratings actually more accurate and more representative of what the operator would actually achieve in average real world driving conditions.

I really have been puzzled about something since watching the NOVA car of the future program. They said using current battery technology the chevy volt has a range of 40 miles. But when I watched the documentary “Who killed the electric car” they said the GM EV1 had a range of at least twice that over ten years ago. Even given the larger/safe car argument it seems to me the technology is moving backwards!?