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Old 09-30-2008, 05:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Are Small Cars Too Expensive?

Currently in the US market there are a few types of people looking for small, fuel efficient cars. Traditionally, those people have been the types to wait in long lines for Smart ForTwo tests drives and Prius ownership: the treehuggers (of which I am a part, so I say it with love). With gas prices [...]

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Old 09-30-2008, 07:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Got to take exception to one point: the Prius is not a small car, it's a mid-size sedan.

There are other points that could be discussed. For instance, it could just as well be argued that small and fuel-efficient cars are also too cheap (at least until you get into Porsche territory). For some of us it's not about wanting to spend less money on gas, it's about wanting to burn less gas.
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Old 09-30-2008, 10:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The 1976 Toyota Corolla retailed for $2,789 ($10,054 in 2007 dollars.) It had a 4-speed manual transmission, no passenger mirror and power nothing. For about $1,000 more, the Yaris has a nicer interior, more powerful engine, ABS, front and side airbags, A/C, power tilt steering, tire pressure monitoring, an engine that actually starts on cold mornings and far better gas mileage. (My '77 got about 25 mpg.)

I'd say we're not doing too bad.
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Old 10-01-2008, 10:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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relative!

It depends on how you want to look at it. My 08 Honda Fit cost $16,105 but the last time I checked Kelly Blue Book it was worth about 17.6K with 8K miles on it. I get just under 40 MPG with conservative driving, it handles superbly, power everything and I can put an appliance like a clothes dryer in the back. Yeah 16K is steep for an econobox but people are amazed that it feels like a Mercedes inside. Time has moved on and you get what you pay for. If you're careful and view your car purchase like an investment then your long term costs can be minimized.
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Old 10-01-2008, 03:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feddup View Post
Yeah 16K is steep for an econobox...
And there's the whole problem: the automatic assumption that because a car is small & fuel efficient, it's therefore one of those despised "econoboxes". Wouldn't it be a good idea to follow the example of the computer world? A notebook computer costs more than a desktop, even though it's smaller and uses less power - and a really lightweight & low power notebook costs even more than an average one :-)
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Old 10-01-2008, 03:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
And there's the whole problem: the automatic assumption that because a car is small & fuel efficient, it's therefore one of those despised "econoboxes". Wouldn't it be a good idea to follow the example of the computer world? A notebook computer costs more than a desktop, even though it's smaller and uses less power - and a really lightweight & low power notebook costs even more than an average one :-)
Not quite the same thing. If you were trying to cram 8 seats and the horsepower of a V8 into an econobox, it would be more apt. However, with the exception of hybrid drivetrains, everything else has been scaled down equivalently. The cost of a 2,500 pound car should be about half the cost of a 5,000 pound car, all other things being equal.

The econobox vs. SUV debate would be more like the difference between a Proliant server and a Shuttle. The Proliant is fine for its intended mission, but you wouldn't use it for day-to-day word processing (unless you also need a space heater for your computer room.)
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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misinterpretted

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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
And there's the whole problem: the automatic assumption that because a car is small & fuel efficient, it's therefore one of those despised "econoboxes".
I think I've been misinterpreted. I love little cars. The fit maneuvers like a wicked comfy go kart. I love my econobox. That car is tight and well built. Like any category you can have a fine econobox or a crappy one.

I agree with clev that a 2500 lb car should be LESS than a 5000 lb car but certainly not 50% less. The market doesn't work that way. By the way the fit can hold 90 cu/ft of stuff and can substitute, quite often, for SUVs and minivans. It's rated for 5 people but in my opinion one of them better have an eating disorder. It can hold 4 VERY large people in comfort however.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Clev View Post
NotThe cost of a 2,500 pound car should be about half the cost of a 5,000 pound car, all other things being equal.
This is one giant leap of an assumption you have made there. In reality the cost of materials to manufacture the car should cost about half. The labour to assemble the car will be a lot closer to being exactly the same than it will be proportional to the weight differences of the two. To illustrate, are there any more wheels, hoods, hood latches, dash assemblies, bumpers, driving controls, suspension components, fuel systems, exhaust components.......... to install on a large car then on a small one?

On an aside, IMO this is why the big three have turned away from the small car market. UAW contracts have pushed up thier labor costs to a point where they can not compete with foreign makes on small cars because small cars have a higher ratio of labour in the total cost of the car.
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Old 10-01-2008, 05:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duffman View Post
This is one giant leap of an assumption you have made there. In reality the cost of materials to manufacture the car should cost about half. The labour to assemble the car will be a lot closer to being exactly the same than it will be proportional to the weight differences of the two. To illustrate, are there any more wheels, hoods, hood latches, dash assemblies, bumpers, driving controls, suspension components, fuel systems, exhaust components.......... to install on a large car then on a small one?

On an aside, IMO this is why the big three have turned away from the small car market. UAW contracts have pushed up thier labor costs to a point where they can not compete with foreign makes on small cars because small cars have a higher ratio of labour in the total cost of the car.
It's hard to get around that "pounds of car/$" mentality. I guess a 1978 Eldorado ought to be the finest automobile made. It is if you're selling it for scrap. Americans need to embrace more of a bicycler mindset. Lighter is better. I was a little disillusioned when I found out the fit weighs almost 2500 lb. I owned a rabbit GTI that was under 2000. By the way the fit never squeaks, creaks or rattles and the rabbit did all of the above. Did Honda use those extra 500 lbs to increase structural stability? Hell yes! In laptops, MP3 players and cars you're going to pay more to shrink the same tech into a smaller package.
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Old 10-01-2008, 07:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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ALL new vehicles are too expensive. God bless everyone who works their tails off to get 'em though... ensures a steady supply of cheap/free good used cars for me!

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