How Fat is Your Car?

Our two vehicles are hardly obese, though the heavier one runs about 6000 lbs. The smaller one is only 3500, putting it roughly in the middle of the scale when it comes to weight.

Robert Norton takes on the issue of automobile obesity:

Take this simple test. Imagine a head-on collision on a two-lane country road at a speed of 40 mph. One of the cars involved is a Cadillac Escalade and the other a Chevy Volt. Which would you want to be in? Which would you want your child in?

In a Cadillac minute, you would choose the Escalade. Because you don’t need to be an automotive engineer to know the big car will crush the small car. The driver in that little car will in all probability be severely injured, maybe killed. You, the driver in the Escalade, may walk away unharmed, or with only minor injuries.

Why? Once again, it’s physics. The force of something heavy and big crashing into something small and light leaves that something much, much smaller.

Ahh. Math again. The same thing which explains that spending money we don’t have is a bad long-term strategy for “growth.”

My perspective on the smallification of vehicles is this: the smaller the vehicle, the more nimble it must be. Why? Because it is either get out of the way or get crushed. Unfortunately, nimbleness is as much a factor of the driver as the driven.

Bottom line? The federal government has once again invoked the law of unintended consequences by mandating fuel standards which require smaller and lighter vehicles to meet them.