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Why no inexpencive fuel efficient cars. (Metro, Sprint....)

Like it’s been said before, people THINK they want a small car like the Metro, until they get one. Some families have only 1 car, and trying to cram mom, dad and 2 kids into a tiny city car isn’t going to work out well, especially on long freeway trips.
If I can get a Corolla that has more features than a fully loaded Yaris, with as good, or better MPG, at about the same price as the Yaris, I’d take the Corolla everytime.

200 pound dad
140 pound mom
90 pound son
75 pound daughter

Ain’t gonna happen

no . . . . ing way

I wonder if this will get edited . . . I didn’t actually say anything bad

Next time you are in your car look at how many people are in other cars. The large family argument doesn’t stand up.

@db4960, I live in Maryland. I was on a business trip to Japan. My usual ride was a Toyota Vitz (Yaris here). On a 2-day monkey business trip to a neighboring island, I rented the Move with a friend. It did the job, but I would never own one. And the Vitz is executive transportation there. Almost everyone where I stayed drove a tiny car or truck with a sub-1000cc engine.

I rented a Toyota Echo a few years ago. All I could think while driving it was, “Is there a car so cheap feeling that I could never own it? YES THERE IS!”

@Joes Garage:

You came to this website and posted a question, assumed to be in good faith, about why no teeny-tiny, underpowered cars are offered for sale in the US. Numerous other forum members and I did our level best to give an accurate accounting of why that is the case. In every single instance of that good-faith effort, YOU have responded with some version of “of course that’s not it!”

It can be very infuriating attempting to have an intelligent debate with a person who is only interested in having his own opinion parroted back to him.

FWIW, I happen to want many of the same things you want in a new car. Not so much the extreme small dimensions and tiny engine, but a compact car, 4-cyl, no electronic “convenience items” like power windows and climate control that tend to add complexity and repair costs as they age…basically, the “brand new 1993 Sentra” that they still sell in Mexico as a Tsuru.

However, I do not buy new cars. If they DID ever make a sub $10k car that I would buy new, I’d buy exactly one of them, and hold it for 20 years–or try to, anyways. A company that catered to MY needs and desires would find itself broke in short order!

In closing, having our best efforts dismissively shot down is becoming tiresome. Why don’t YOU tell US whatever you wanted us to say, so that we can parrot it back to you…and we’ll all feel better??

"look at how many people are in other cars"
You are exactly right. Seldom are cars driven at full capacity. But, you see a lot of PUs too running around unloaded and with just the driver. The manufacturer in this day and age is smart to make cars that perform up to it’s expectations. If you put seating for four in there, you should make it a capable performer for four even if only occasionally. To build a car with seating for four that cannot perform adaquatly with four would be a death wish for most car makers. The Metro isn’t sold today or any cars like it with 42 hp motors for that reason. You would be better off putting just 2 seats in it then what, have it be compete against cars with four seats…again, no market vs cars like a Fit, even for more money. Besides, the buying public has spoken and they didn’t sell well enough to be continued that way. Heck, a Yaris with 103 hp is a dog too when loaded. Imagine the expectation of a Metro with 42hp. It’s a frightening thought to me.

@Joes Garage: Put in your order:

I must admit I didn’t expect so much push back from the forum. Tom and Ray say they like the Metro.

I do believe my arguments against some common beliefs are cogent. I think there is some industry pressure that markets what we want rather than what we need. Many people outright turn up their nose at a Metro without ever driving in one, and once they do, they find that their beliefs change.

Joes Garage, the horsepower (smaller engine) issue is driven by fuel efficiency mandates (CAFE) not safety concerns.

Re: the 125 lb gain, I would suggest that figure is for SYSTEMS only. Air bags, ABS systems, etc. In addition there are substantial structural changes to automobiles such as the use of high strength steels, reinforced A-pillars, additional subframes to absorb inertia, and other such changes that definitely add more than 125 lbs. I should add that according to your post the study was for changes between 1968 and 2001. Do you think it’s realistic to use a 13 year old study to judge the additional weight in today’s cars?
I’d love it, by the way, if you could link me to the study. I’d like to read it. I’d like to see exactly what the conclusions were based upon.

As regards the cost, do you really think it’s realistic to use a car from 1999 that won’t comply with current safety and emissions standards as an example of how much the price of cars has risen today?

@db4690, no editing. I think of the implied curses as pre-edited.

@meanjoe75fan, is it possible there is a touch of trolling going on?

The large family argument does hold up. We have five in the family and drive my wife’s parents when we go to her brother’s home, for a total of 7. W need, and have, a 7 passenger van. When I bought my commuter car, it had to seat at least five and have four doors in case the van was out of commission. Just because a car carries only one person most of the time does not mean a large family doesn’t use it. Should I get a third small car that gets much better mileage just for commuting? I think not.

I don’t think it’s trolling. I do think meanjoe is a pot calling the kettle black. Having a discussion doesn’t mean smiling and nodding and going away. Hearing out and/or not accepting someone else’s arguments is a two way street. Meanjoe apparently wants it to go one way - his way. Joes Garage, frankly, hasn’t even been all that ornery about it.

I don’t have much to add to the discussion though. What comes out of car companies is pretty complicated. They can’t do highly targeted niche markets very well, and the small, simple little car with few bells and whistles is a pretty small niche. What car companies have to do is develop the “one-size-fits-few” models that cover as many market segments as possible. So the littler cars are out there, but designed to try to appeal to as large a segment as possible, rather than to any of the more specific niches within it. They manage niches with options, but that doesn’t touch the underlying platforms to any great extent.


I believe the Japanese are considerably less than we do . . . because they’re not as fat

Therefore, those cars you mentioned might be acceptable for the typical Japanese family, but NOT for the typical American family

No offense intended to anybody

I certainly need to lose weight


Joes Garage

I was born and raised in Europe, and drove some of those tiny cars you mentioned

I, for one, have no desire to drive that kind of car again

Not acceptable for today’s US market

" I’d love to buy a Tsuru"

The Tsuru, which is known as the Sentra in the US, apparently has a different name in almost every market in which it is sold.

One thing for sure is that Nissan could never market that car in Israel with the name Tsuru.
Because in Yiddish, the word for “a serious problem” is tsurus. (also sometimes spelled in English as tsuris or tsores)

Trying to sell a car with that name in Israel would be even more wacky than when AMC sold their little Gremlin in The US.


I suppose the auto companies have a big, well-paid marketing department and they know what they are doing to meet the shareholder’s objective of maximizing profit.

Me, as a lowly consumer, I’d be willing forgo some of the modern conveniences and extra safety functions in newer cars if I could purchase reliable transportation in a light weight car with very high fuel economy for $10 - 12 K new. If the auto companies thought there were a lot of folks like me, they’d produce such a car. The only conclusion is that there simply are not a lot of consumers in the USA who’d buy that product.

“Me, as a lowly consumer, I’d be willing forgo some of the modern conveniences and extra safety functions in newer cars if I could purchase reliable transportation in a light weight car with very high fuel economy for $10 - 12 K new”.

Many consumers did just that in their automotive purchases from the late 1950s through the 1960s. The cars cost about $1500 new–about half the price of other cars. This car was called the Volkswagen. Consumers back then were willing to forego frills for reliable, economical transportation.

More recent examples were the Yugo, 1986 Hyundai Excel, Le Car, et.

We already talked about this a few months ago . . .

“More recent examples were the Yugo, 1986 Hyundai Excel, Le Car, et.”

Those were the really cheap cars of a few decades ago, but…they were definitely not reliable, nor did they perform decently at even the most basic level. I eagerly awaited Consumer Reports’ tests of the Yugo and the Excel, and they summarized their detailed report by saying, Car buyers would be far better-served by buying a well-maintained 3 year old used Japanese or American car, rather than these new cars from Yugoslavia and South Korea.

Those cars essentially defined the term “disposable car”!