Auto Manifesto

July 17, 2009

Kitchen Sink Syndrome

One way to lighten vehicles would be to reduce the extreme conditions they are designed for. Essentially every light vehicle sold in America:

Is capable of a coast-to-coast drive any time.
Can climb any paved hill or grade.
Has a lot of extra engine size and power for peak acceleration
Has power-everything (think of all the extra motors, wires, controls, switches, and potential headaches)

The more variables involved the greater the challenge. Yet, quite a bit of it is not necessary.

For example, cars these days are designed to carry a lot, for those occasional trips to home improvement or appliance stores, though they're usually driven with little or no cargo. One example I can recall are the ads for the GMC Envoy XUV a few years back which showed it could carry a refrigerator upright in its cargo area. How many owners actually did that? It's an irrelevant design compromise.

The same could be said of all these large pick up trucks. They're often marketed as being able to haul 4' x 8' sheets of lumber or wall board. That's great if they're used as work vehicles, but how many are actually used that way?

If people were more diligent, and recognized (and acted on the fact) different tools were better for different tasks, cars would be very different.

It's like pushing a full tool set around everywhere you go when you only use 3 screwdrivers 90% of the time. This results in a false sense of security and self-sufficiency, and it's quite evident in the number of SUVs driving around with only one person inside. It's all rather foolish.

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