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MetroMPG 12-24-2007 03:54 PM

Article: Want cars to eat less? Put 'em on a diet
"American cars have gained weight every year. A study released by Mega Associates, reported in October in Ward's AutoWorld magazine, said the average weight of vehicles produced in the United States in 2005 was 1,823 kg, up 39 per cent from the 1990 average of 1,314 kg. "


This article's writer moved to Rome (from Canada), and found that even though fuel there is $2 per litre (about $7.50 / US gallon), his fuel costs haven't risen, because his new, European family car is now much more efficient.


ROME — I am a big guy. My car, a Fiat Grande Punto, is smaller than a Volkswagen Golf. But it has a clever design. It has more than adequate interior space for the family, sporty performance thanks to a turbo engine and a sleek, undorky shape.
(^ I have to wonder if that's a Prius jab...)

Here's the Fiat Grande Punto:


Technologically speaking, the Fiat's admirable fuel economy (by North American standards) has almost nothing to do with technology and almost everything to do with weight. It is light. At 1,170 kilograms, it is about 20 per cent lighter than a Golf and 50 per cent lighter than a Chrysler 300C, to name two popular cars sold on both sides of the Atlantic. Less weight, smaller engine; smaller engine, less fuel consumption. It doesn't get any simpler.

Car designers everywhere risk brain aneurysms trying to figure out how to meet tighter fuel economy and carbon dioxide emission standards. They're fussing and fiddling with new types of batteries, hybrid gas-electric technology, fancy fuel injection systems, fuel cells and the like. They needn't. All they have to do is put cars on a swift, brutal diet. Fiat and a couple of other European auto companies have proved that small cars can be profitable, too.

The Americans are in a panic because they don't know how to make small, light cars profitable. Since the 1980s, the bulk of their profits have come from SUVs, those technological dinosaurs that could be laden with high-profit-margin frills such as leather seats, entertainment systems and air conditioning powerful enough to cool an industrial meat locker.

The Europeans are proving that small cars don't have to be econo-boxes with the design features of a loaf of bread. They are on the verge of turning small cars into status symbols.

The bigger-is-better philosophy is dying in Europe and it has to die in North America. Small cars are better for the planet and easier on the wallet.
Read it all: Want cars to eat less?

SVOboy 12-24-2007 03:56 PM

That is indeed a sharp looking car, :thumbup:

I guess what we need is higher fuel prices, then, eh?

Silveredwings 12-24-2007 06:32 PM


Originally Posted by SVOboy (Post 3017)
That is indeed a sharp looking car, :thumbup:

I guess what we need is higher fuel prices, then, eh?

As always (assuming they're higher at the pump).

trebuchet03 12-24-2007 11:31 PM

My father (and mother too :D) recently had a job in France -- their rental car was some form of Fiat... The people he was working with/for made fun of him for driving a "Fix it again Tony" car.... I don't know, but does Fiat have the same stigma as Ford cars + reliability?

MetroMPG 12-25-2007 09:35 PM

It definitely used to. Don't know if they've had a Hyundai-like transformation or not.

When I was really little, my family owned a Fiat for a few years, back when they used to sell them in North America. My dad ran it out of oil and seized the motor on the highway. Not sure how reliable it was before or after though (sold it to my uncle, who rebuilt it).

mohr84 06-05-2008 11:51 AM

That is a great article you have linked. The article points out that the Honda Accord has gained 590Kg over the past 28 years. That is 1300 lbs!!!! an old VW bug only weighs about 1700lbs. No wonder why fuel economy fuel economy has never improved. You are almost driving two cars! To move the massive hunk of metal down the road, Honda has increased HP from 68hp in the original Accord to a whopping 268hp in the 2008 edition.

johnpr 06-05-2008 01:30 PM

i think part of the hp increase is because that is what americans want, i would rather have a 90 hp (or 68 hp for that matter) motor in my civic than the 120 hp brute i have now

NeilBlanchard 06-05-2008 01:38 PM


1170kg = ~2580lbs That's hardly what I would call a "lightweight" car! That's about 70kg/200lbs more than the Scion xA...

ebacherville 06-05-2008 02:04 PM

as for small cars being status symbols.. yeah look at the new MINIs .. gret mpg and small.. being eco freindly is cool now with the prius etc.. hopefully we start to see this and little cars become the norm again..

ttoyoda 06-05-2008 02:46 PM

Crash tests on it look good too..

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