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MIT City Car conceptual drawing  (Source: SciFi.com)
MIT dreams up a rentable, stackable, all-electric car for cities

America just seems to be obsessed with large vehicles. Maybe it’s our expanding waistlines, image consciousness or our "You can't tell me what to do, so I'm gonna buy whatever I want" mentality that persuades people to transport junior in a Suburban, go grocery shopping with a Tundra CrewMax or take Fido to the get his yearly shot in an Escalade EXT.

With rising gas prices, an increasing attention to our consumption of fossil fuels, an increasing awareness of vehicle emissions and expanding city centers, many are looking for more cost effective and efficient ways of transporting people in metropolitan areas. MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities group is thinking small with a new stackable car to reduce emissions and congestion in and around city centers.

The MIT "City Car" would be an all-electric vehicle capable of carrying two passengers and their cargo. The vehicles would be located near train stations, bus terminals and airports to ferry travelers to their final destination.

"The problem with mass transit is it kind of takes you to where you want to go and at the approximate time you want to get there, but not exactly," said Ph.D. candidate Franco Vairani of MIT's school of architecture. "Sometimes you have to walk up to a mile from the last train or subway stop."

The City Car will be stackable -- the entire back end of the vehicle would rise up allowing as many as eight of the vehicles to fit into a conventional parking space. The vehicle itself would also be mechanically simple with the electric motor, steering system and suspension enclosed within the wheel hubs.

The vehicle is said to weigh between 1,000 to 1,200 pounds and will be powered by lithium-ion batteries. According to Vairani, there could also be multiple versions of the City Car to accommodate a certain city's needs. A City Car destined for use in New York City might have a less powerful battery and a lower top speed due to traffic congestion. In other cities where interstate travel is more frequent, more powerful batteries capable of propelling the City Car faster and farther could be used.

If all goes well, MIT will show a prototype of the City Car sometime next year.



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sounds like
By Moishe on 11/7/2007 12:57:30 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a great idea. Small, cheap rental car that gets the job done without a lot of flair.

Add a DARPA Urban challenge system to this thing so that you can rent for one way trips (and have the car bring itself back home) and you have the perfect setup for city cars.

It might not fit well in rural areas, but if they will sell them to regular folks in non-metro areas, I bet they will sell a few here and there.




RE: sounds like
By cochy on 11/7/2007 1:18:35 PM , Rating: 2
I like the idea too. People have this idea for London where they would only have these kind of cars and they would be remote controlled. Sorta like automatic taxis. I really think cars as we know them today will be extinct by the next century or so.

In any event, these look cool, though I'm not sure how well they'd do up here in Canada during the winter ;)


RE: sounds like
By AmbroseAthan on 11/7/2007 1:29:51 PM , Rating: 2
The idea is interesting, but I am trying to see how useful these would be in NYC.

I currently live in NYC, and I don't see how they could possibly compete with Taxi's unless they are literally flooding the city with them. I can go anywhere in the city for a max of $25 with a tip, have 4 people in the cab, load the back with a ton of luggage/purchases, and not need to drive. The City Car doesn't seem like it would have the cargo space to fit anything too large with you.

It is a great idea, but unless the pricing is very very low, the market won't be large at all, least not in NYC.


RE: sounds like
By Moishe on 11/7/2007 3:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
If you made the entire Manhattan section free from regular cars and then only allowed these (and service vehicles)... now that would be cool.
More room for walking and tiny cars, and all you'd need is a parking lot and tiny car rental station outside of Manhattan. Of course the taxi companies would never go for this (unless they could have tiny taxis)


RE: sounds like
By jskirwin on 11/7/2007 3:39:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you made the entire Manhattan section free from regular cars and then only allowed these (and service vehicles)... now that would be cool.


Why would you need these if you unbanned taxis? What, you've got something against taxi drivers or something?


RE: sounds like
By maverick85wd on 11/7/2007 3:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
perhaps larger versions more the size of say a mini-van will be produced and taxi drivers can transport with those instead... will cost less because gas isn't being used and will be better for the environment. They could just charge them over-night (or during the day for night shifters). I personally think cutting taxis out is a bad idea because then all those jobs are lost... there are a hell of a lot of taxi drivers. And, at least for now, I'd rather have a person driving me around than a computer.

But props to MIT for working towards a solution to one of problems of living in a large city... and energy.


RE: sounds like
By marvdmartian on 11/7/2007 3:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that, but if the taxi drivers are anything in NYC like they are in any other urban area where I've been, it's highly likely that this itty-bitty little electric car is going to be playing bumper tag with 5000+ pound taxis...... and losing!

Yellow cab, FTW!!


RE: sounds like
By MADAOO7 on 11/7/2007 7:08:53 PM , Rating: 2
How is $25 a good deal? You can easily spend $50 going back and forth from your apartment in a given workday. That's $250 a week. Obviously, people usually use the metro, which is affordable, so total dependence on taxis is not realistic. The point is, Taxi's are a terrible deal vs. a rent by hour car program as proposed by MIT. I use Flexcar for $5.50 an hour here in Gainesville. It's cheap, has great availability, and gas and insurance is included. I know in most metropolitan cities Flexcar is around $10 an hour. Also, there are about 8 vehicles around campus to choose from. Trucks for when I haul things, SUV's for day trips, and Hybrids for groceries.


RE: sounds like
By AmbroseAthan on 11/8/2007 9:46:51 AM , Rating: 2
Well no one in NYC is going to commute at $25 each way, roundtrip, I just proposed every day by taxi (That would be from E96 St. down to Battery Park City (bottom of the island on the west side), one of the longer drives; and people who can afford that fare for commuting are doing it by black car, or just taking the Subway for like $3/day.

I tried to look up Flexcar for NYC, but didn't find anything, so went with ZipCar pricing. Cars in my area are $10-14/hr; so you are looking at $20-28 round trip if you can somehow just go one way each trip and not get charged for anything else. Your average taxi cab is likely $12-15 a trip (like 50-60 blocks), so $24-30 round trip.

So for a few extra dollars, you do not have to drive, park, etc. Do ZipCar / FlexCar allow you to drop the car in a different place? Otherwise, you are then paying Parking (the first hour in NYC will be $20+, a couple hours tends to be $30+) unless you happen to have the luck of God and find street parking.


Wonder how it would...
By chsh1ca on 11/7/2007 1:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how it would handle in colder climates and deal with snow, slush, rain, wind, etc... At 1200 lbs it might blow over pretty easily in decent wind.




RE: Wonder how it would...
By darkpaw on 11/7/2007 3:05:04 PM , Rating: 2
They also fail to consider more modern metro areas like Phoenix. Most traditional urban areas have well developed mass transit system, but larger metro areas have little to none.

That thing would be nothing more then a pancake on an Interstate.


RE: Wonder how it would...
By MADAOO7 on 11/7/2007 8:32:59 PM , Rating: 2
It's not intended for the interstate, hence the name, "CITY CAR"


RE: Wonder how it would...
By darkpaw on 11/8/2007 9:00:47 AM , Rating: 3
Cities like Phoenix make large use of Interstates, which is what I was referring to as modern cities.

I wish other cities weren't so opposed to building more highways. It seems in the DC area freeway is a scary word, but when I lived in Phoenix I could go 4 times the distance in the same amount of time and that was all due to a robust freeway and Interstate system.


How...
By Xavian on 11/7/2007 12:54:28 PM , Rating: 2
How do you get your car out if its in the middle of the stack i wonder?




RE: How...
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/7/2007 1:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's a rental. Take the one at the front of the line.


RE: How...
By masher2 (blog) on 11/8/2007 11:11:42 AM , Rating: 2
And what about all your shopping purchases you left in the trunk?

Oh wait...another thing you can't do with these more "practical" cars...


RE: How...
By clovell on 11/8/2007 2:35:38 PM , Rating: 1
True, but you'd have just as much trouble on a bus or train if you bought a lot of stuff at the store. These cars aren't being pitched as a replacement to personal vehicles, but more as a decentralization of mass transit that will allow passengers more freedom than what is currently available in many urban areas.


It's a solution looking for a problem...
By jskirwin on 11/7/2007 3:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
As AmbroseAthan notes, Taxis have the "big city" market covered, along with public transit.

The problem in the US is not people living in New York City or San Francisco driving from one point in their city to the other, it's the people who live outside of the city who need to get in and can't/won't use public transit. This solution won't help them.

It also won't help the people who live in smaller cities and towns where mass transit doesn't make sense. In these markets you are literally stuck without a car - and one that you can drive alot farther than a li-ion battery will take you.

It's cute - but it's just like the Segueway: Techno-cool but real-world useless.

America is a country that presents a unique set of challenges to anyone interested in improving our transportation system. Carpool? People in my neighborhood work all over a 100 mile radius. Mass transit? The density of my small town doesn't support it. Move closer to where you work? My wife commutes 50 miles north - while I travel 5 miles south. If we move to the geographic middle, we would still spend the same on gas.

There are a number of constraints to any solution. Few businesses give preference to candidates who live close by. Most households have two wage earners, so moving doesn't help much. The big cities work for some people - but not all.

Plus America is huge. You can fit the entire country of Japan into California. The only place that we have the pop density of Western Europe is in the Northeast - an array filled with mass transit systems and the only place where Amtrak is profitable.

But people are already responding to $3/gallon gas. Hybrids are popular whereas the Hummer and heavy SUVs are not. People will follow their pocketbook and buy more efficient cars.

But cutesy solutions like this? Nope.




RE: It's a solution looking for a problem...
By clovell on 11/8/2007 2:59:03 PM , Rating: 1
These cars are small, relatively cheap to produce, require little maintenance, and passengers are their own drivers - they make sense, financially.

So why not put them in a suburban area? Unlike a train, this requires no new infrastructure besides some electrical outlets here and there. Unlike a bus, you don't have to have 20 people on each ride to break even. Deploying such a system involves less revolving sunk costs - and less financial risk than current mass-transit systems. It also involves more manageable logistics.

Lithium-ion batteries can take you pretty far, particularly in a car this small / light - and considering that you'd only be worried about one-way range (if your rental only has 20 miles of juice and you need to take a trip 14 miles away, just pickup a new one for the trip home).

Sure, this technology is not a fix all - but nothing really is. It does, however, have its place in a broad number of applications and dismissing it with little real argument is premature.


By jskirwin on 11/8/2007 4:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So why not put them in a suburban area?


Because the number of possible destinations is greater than the city, but there will be fewer people in a given area using it. So in short, it's a density issue. It's the same reason why taxis don't operate in the suburbs the same way they do in a big city: you have to call one to pick you up - and the rates are higher - as opposed to hailing a passing one on the street.

I'm all for innovation, but I'm also a bit jaded when it comes to "breakthroughs" that never pan out.

But I could be wrong...


Looking at the picture...
By iFX on 11/7/2007 3:29:14 PM , Rating: 2
... I got an even better idea... shopping carts... rocket powered shopping carts. Think of the possibilities!




RE: Looking at the picture...
By geddarkstorm on 11/7/2007 3:40:30 PM , Rating: 2
Do your shopping and drop off the kids at school all at the same time!


Solar Charger?
By pauldovi on 11/7/2007 4:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
When you fold it up it should deploy a solar panel which charges your car while you are doing whatever.




RE: Solar Charger?
By HaZaRd2K6 on 11/7/2007 9:38:26 PM , Rating: 2
I just hope it's not using Sony Li-Ions :P

Then there will just be a bunch of city cars in stacks waiting to burst into flame.

// Waits for inevitable down-voting.


Why people buy SUV's
By A5un on 11/7/2007 9:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
They're big lexury cars for a lot cheaper than what a S-class would cost. They can carry lots of people, lots of cargo (with all seats folded down), and when they crash into a sedan head on the SUV passengers' knees are at where the sedan passengers' faces are.

With that said, I'll never own a SUV. Why? An SUV is a compromise in all aspects of its design. It's not as roomy as a minivan. It's not as luxurious as an S-class. It's not as tall as a bus. When a bus crashes head-on, my feet will be where the other guy's face is. It doesn't do all the offroad stuff that salesmen talks about as well as a jeep. It doesn't accelerate as fast as a Vett (both straight line and on a skidpad). It isn't that cheap. It cost a lot to fill up. It looks ugly. Can't carry as much cargo as a truck. I don't know a single thing that a SUV does better than any other type of car.

People buy SUV's because they fulfill our average needs on a car. People buy SUV's because we're all average people.




RE: Why people buy SUV's
By TomZ on 11/8/2007 5:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
Any automotive engineer will tell you, any car design contains a long series of compromises. That's not unique to SUVs.


Go 2 Wheels
By Machinegear on 11/9/2007 12:43:04 PM , Rating: 4
Americans are still very image conscious. The people who like these ultra-small smart cars are the same heldover hippies who bought the Mini Cooper and VW Beetle. On paper, and in commercials, most folks might find these very small eco-cars slightly appealing, but once they see a hippy driving one of these cars down the road with a flower on the dash and the bumper plastered with looney left bumperstickers the broad appeal disappears really quick.

My solution is motorcycles. Americans love'em. They get great milage and are sexy. Compared to four wheeled vehicles, they are cheap to obtain as well. Most folks drive solo and use their vehicles just to commute. For these folks, a motorcycle with a tail bag is all they -need-. Of course, a spare old car/suv sitting in the garage can be pulled out for those random heavy duties.

All of this development and effort to produce a small (expensive) car that gets great milage seems like reinventing the wheel. Get a motorcycle and a good coat and go.




Walking?
By xNIBx on 11/13/2007 12:12:39 AM , Rating: 2
"Sometimes you have to walk up to a mile from the last train or subway stop."

Wow, you have to walk almost 1 mile? That is insane!!!!! God forbid you actually do any physical exercise. Seriously, this is retarded. Inside cities, public transportations is the fastest, cheapest and more comfortable way to get around. Ok, motorcycles are faster but not as comfortable, cheap and safe.

Not to mention that you can sleep, read, whatever while inside a public transportation. On most cases, the use of personal vehicles has more to do with psychological reasons than with practical ones.




RE: Walking?
By DeepBlue1975 on 11/13/2007 3:46:59 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on where you live.

I've heard that in the USA, public transports have very little presence unless you're talking about taxis. Is that true?


Going the right direction
By cleco on 11/13/2007 12:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
I would love to see better transportation options in smaller metro areas like New Orleans.

I seriously ... seriously can not stand traffic... I don't understand it. Not once, did I every experience traffic on the autobahn unless someone got in an accident or there was heavy construction going on.
From my 4 years in germany I firmly believe americans can't drive.
Everyone is an a55hole when they drive.
Most don't know what a blinker is.
No one understands the concept of passing lane.
No one understands when you go up a incline you increase throttle postion so that you can maintain speed.
No one understands that if you are scared to drive on a narrow road/bridge ,while going speed limit, then get the hell off the road and get someone drive for you.
I'm tired of seeing old people who drive 10mph under the limit.
I'm tired of young douches who zig zag out of traffic causing everyone to swurve or dramatically slow down to avoid possible collision.

well enough of my rant. If people would understand better driving techniques traffic would be less, imo. Also if the goverment made better roads and intersections and got rid of dumb speed limits.

/rant off :D




RE: Going the right direction
By Grast on 11/13/2007 3:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
cleco,

I have visited Germany and I am an American driver. I can say that your rant is rather accurate. I find it a cultural issue. In my summation, Germans view driving as a privledge and treat it as such. In America, American treat it as a right and trest it as such.

I will not digress into the contruction comparisons of autobahn. Additionally, I will not digress in the use of heavy trucks for transportation in America.

Suffice to say, the autobahn way of operation does not work in America due to spreadout population and 75% of all shipping ocuring by heavy trucks. We have to remember that our highways and freeways were originally designed to transfer nuclear missles during the 50's and 60's. It was this infrustructur which allowed urban sprall. We look 40 year in the future now and our expectations of the highway system is more than its original purpose.

I digress.

later..


Not original
By DeepBlue1975 on 11/7/2007 1:49:16 PM , Rating: 2
Nice, but not original at all.
It's too similar to the one the Japanese came up with a couple of years ago as a concept car.
I don't remember its name right now, it's as small as those one, also with a single seat and even if it's not stackable, you can fold it and make it more "horizontal" or more "vertical".

I wish those concepts came to reality, when I go driving alone, I'd rather be in a car where all that fits is myself and not in some care where I have something like 3 extra seats "just in case".
In dense traffic, those vehicles can be as easy to manoeuvre as a motorbike (though not that fast I guess), but are safer for the driver.




Excellent idea.
By jadeskye on 11/10/2007 10:52:46 AM , Rating: 2
Here in london accross the pond we already have something very similar to this (although not stackable). Public transport you can rent out. not available in the quantities i'd like myself but it's a start. It's good to see more companies jumping on the bandwagon. This is the next step i think in both public transport and encouraging people to buy more efficient vehicles.

And as a sidenote it really reminds me of the mercedes smart car.




so much for unbiased opinions
By Screwballl on 11/7/07, Rating: -1
RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By noirsoft on 11/7/2007 3:31:03 PM , Rating: 1
I think that many people forget that the appeal of an SUV is not the size in and of itself, but its versatility.

Some days, I'm taking myself and several friends out to a concert. Some other days, I'm helping a friend move in a new bookcase. Several years ago, I used to haul some big music gear 50 miles each way to band practice twice a week. There is simply no way that a small car can fulfill all those tasks, so I own a 4Runner.

If someone wants to buy me a tiny car for use when I'm only driving myself, I'd be happy to use it. But, is it really more economical for me to own two cars? I certainly don't think so.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/7/2007 4:04:53 PM , Rating: 5
Meh, my car seats five and has pretty decent cargo hold (Mazda 3s Hatch).

If I fold down the rear seats, I can transport just about anything that I could possibly need. I've transported a queen-sized bed frame/rails/headboard/footboard, 42" Plasma TVs, huge HP LaserJet printers still in the box, book cases, TV stands, desks and once a recliner.

That being said, small hatchbacks are very versatile and wagons can be equally as versatile as SUVs and far more economical -- it's just that Americans won't shake the stigma of owning a wagon (or a hatchback for that matter).

Same goes for minivans. Minivans are way more efficient at carrying people and cargo than SUVs, but we silly Americans can't be bothered with such practicality at the sake of losing our manhood or dignity ;)


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By TomZ on 11/7/07, Rating: -1
RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/7/2007 4:55:39 PM , Rating: 4
I said that everyone is entitled to their own choices. That doesn't mean that I can't add my two cents ;)

As for minivans vs SUVs, minivans have always had more maximum cargo room and versatility. Especially as a people mover. Sliding doors > swing out doors when trying to get as many people in/out at once and ease entry/exit.

Maximum cargo capacity
GMC Acadia (largest crossover available): 117 cu ft
Honda Odyssey: 147 cu ft.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By TomZ on 11/7/07, Rating: -1
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/7/2007 5:14:03 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't say it was more ethical, just easier for ferrying people and getting babies in and out ;)

Comparing the Odyssey to an Acadia is a somewhat fair fight due to pricing and fuel economy. Throw in the Escalade ESV (your 137 cu ft figure), and it's at a huge disadvantage as far as pricing and fuel economy goes.

The Suburban and Yukon XL aren't cheap either.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Screwballl on 11/12/2007 3:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
try a 04 or newer Durango... the rear doors swing out to 90º rather than 60-70º like most vehicles. This makes it much easier getting kids out of the back.
The reason we did not go for the minivan was the same as my original post, my height and long legs. Even with the seat all the way back I still felt cramped in the minivans.
In my case the SUV works out better.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By pauldovi on 11/7/2007 8:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
You don't live in the south!

Everyone down here has a minivan.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By emoser96 on 11/8/2007 2:31:22 PM , Rating: 2
You must not live in the "Deep South." Here everyone owns a truck (preferably American made), and, if you want it to be a SUV (or minivan), you just pile in a bunch of people in the bed.


By baseball43v3r on 11/11/2007 3:07:57 PM , Rating: 2
no, everyone in the south has 2 cars that dont work and a ride-on lawn mower sitting in their front yard.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By masher2 (blog) on 11/8/07, Rating: -1
RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By clovell on 11/8/2007 2:28:00 PM , Rating: 1
> "And your mistake lies in thinking what you possibly need is identical to what everyone else may possibly need."

I don't think that's what he was getting at at all.

> "First of all, wagons are not "far more economical". Look at the MPG figures for modern station wagons of the same size and weight as an SUV. They're usually a couple more MPG better-- that's it. In fact, the "crossover" car category is just this. Its a slightly taller station wagon, built on a car chassis, rather than a truck platform."


Looking at the Fuel Efficiency of SUVs vs. that of Wagons and controlling for size and weight doesn't seem very fair as weight and size are highly correlated with fuel efficiency.

> "Second of all, wagons are not "equally as versatile", especially for anyone who occasionally needs to tow something, or travel on rough roads."

Of course. And, for someone who does that - they should buy an SUV or something that handles those cases well. But, I think what Brandon is getting at is that you can do a lot more than you think with a small wagon.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Rovemelt on 11/10/2007 10:22:26 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Second of all, wagons are not "equally as versatile", especially for anyone who occasionally needs to tow something, or travel on rough roads.


I've lived in rural parts of the country where the roads can get real, real bad. Yet I got through them with a simple front wheel drive POS compact car. Driving skill is equally important to passing a road as the vehicle itself. And if the ruts are two foot deep with mud, your run-of-the-mill SUV won't get through it either. Many modern SUV's have rather lousy clearance which makes them perform similarly to 4wd wagons in those situations.

I put a hitch on my compact car and can haul a trailer. Mind you, I'm not hauling a horse trailer or a boat up hills, but I can haul 1000lbs. You just have to go slower (which you should do anyway for safety when hauling something heavy.) I've driven some compact 4 wheel drive cars that handle the snow just as well as an SUV, but with twice the fuel efficiency. Most people I've seen who own SUV's simply don't need them for the type of driving they do. For the bulk of the driving that is done in the US, a good wagon is just as versatile as an SUV.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By mindless1 on 11/11/2007 6:32:19 PM , Rating: 2
Your distinctions seem quite arbitrary, an SUV obviously does better than a car in many scenarios. Given a need you have better tire options on SUV and many do have more ground clearance as well as more suspension travel. You seem to imply it would be only a little bit of snow versus 2 feet of mud. Hardly a reasonable contrast as there are in fact many if not most places where the mud is less than 2 feet deep and the snow is more than 6" from time to time, if there is mud and snow at all.

It's not necessarily the case that 100% of a trip is so bad the SUV is needed, it's that one bend in a snowy road or washout at a creek that you have to cross. That doesn't mean everyone needs an SUV, certainly many people don't, they use it like a van on easily traveled roads.

Sometimes the only reason someone in a FWD or AWD car can drive down a bad road is because those in SUVs already did, their tires plowing out a path.


By hashish2020 on 11/12/2007 5:31:18 PM , Rating: 3
"They're usually a couple more MPG better-- that's it."

Add a couple MPG to 12 MPG and you have a 25% increase---

Oh, just 25% more efficient, THAT'S IT

And that is referring to MINIVANS, which average about 20, as compared to SUV's, which are around 15.

Station wagons raise that up from 20 to up near 25.

"Second of all, wagons are not "equally as versatile", especially for anyone who occasionally needs to tow something, or travel on rough roads."

Right, because those Subaru station wagons are so miserabel getting beaten up on rally races. I've traveled on rough roads with a 93 Maxima...roads that were nothing more than trails

Most of the people who defend SUV's are much like you---pussies who think riding high gives them some sort of defense against small gravel

I mean honestly, the SUV's most people buy now don't even have full time 4WD, and even THEN, the worst roads they go on are gravel.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By FITCamaro on 11/8/2007 9:39:56 AM , Rating: 2
For me it comes down to buy what you need. While yes you might actually use your SUV for things. Many people don't. Me personally, I'm not looking to be the driving bitch for all my friends so we can all go in one car. I buy the car I like and if people can't ride with me, tough.

To me if you often tow or transport a lot of things, a SUV is a justifiable purchase. If you are a single 25 year old guy, who bought it so you can look "gangsta" by putting giant spinner rims and 3000W of sound equipment in it, or to "look like a man", a SUV is not a justifiable purchase. If you have one kid and claim you need it to fit all your stuff in, you're full of it. A Vue or other smaller SUV will work fine.

I work with people who drive big SUVs. While I have no malice toward them, with gas prices where they are, I wonder why the hell they'd want to drive one. Sure many of the guys have boats. But get a truck. It's going to at least get a little better mileage.

And the point of a "luxury SUV" is just retarded. An SUV is supposed to haul crap. Not just look pretty and show off how much money you have. To me an SUV is a Tahoe or an Expedition. Simple, powerful. Almost no one with an Escalade is ever going to get theirs dirty.

As far as the topic at hand, you'd have to put a gun to my head to get me in one of those. Something other than one of those hits you, you're dead.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By masher2 (blog) on 11/8/2007 11:10:49 AM , Rating: 4
> "As far as the topic at hand, you'd have to put a gun to my head to get me in one of those."

I'd be more interested in seeing how you get your car out of its parking slot, when four more are folder in front and in back of it.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Rovemelt on 11/10/2007 10:05:27 AM , Rating: 3
I believe the idea is that the cars are essentially rented per use. So you simply take the empty car nearest to you and rent it per hour and then park it in an approved spot when you're done renting. There are car-share programs in some cities around the country where you use your cell phone to rent one of many rental cars parked around the city. For people living in very densely populated areas where having your own parking space is impossibly expensive, something like this makes real sense. From what I've read, it seems like the car sharing businesses in the US are thriving.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By mindless1 on 11/11/2007 6:44:36 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, it would seem they're thinking everyone is going to swap cars with rental kiosks but the problem with this is there's no mention of a check-in inspection between one person and the next using the car, so there's less accountability for damage or just making a mess with food or whatnot, then leaving that mess behind.

As for parking, getting out of a stack is not a problem as per the linked MIT page,
http://www.news.com/MIT-offers-City-Car-for-the-ma...

quote:
These "electric robot wheels" as they are called, would allow the City Car to be collapsible, stackable, and spin on a dime for sideways movement and easier parking, according to Lark. "So you really treat this like a Lego brick you snap onto a cabin," said Lark.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By jskirwin on 11/7/2007 3:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
America just seems to be obsessed with large vehicles.

No, some people just can't consider Life from someone else's perspective. We all aren't rail-thin, 20 somethings living in apartments in NYC.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/7/2007 3:56:25 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't aware that I couldn't express my OPINION in my own blog ;)

That being said, the SUV boom of the 90's wasn't out of necessity, it was out of being popular and "hip" to everyone else. The Explorer beget a modernized Grand Cherokee. The 4-Runner sprouted an additional pair of doors as did the Pathfinder.

Americans gorged themselves until they realized that "DUH" I don't need a 5000-pound truck-based SUV to go to work or take a trip the mall.

So we've slowly seen the transition from body-on-frame behemoths to slightly smaller (or in some cases just as large -- GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook/Buick Enclave) car-based crossovers. RX350s, Highlander, Edges, RAV4s, CRVs, etc.

But of course, people are free to buy whatever they want, so more power to them.

But as the gas prices keep going up and up, we'll see how long people are willing to hold on to big vehicles.

And I've always been amazed at how Europeans can manage with significantly smaller vehicles while we just don't seem to "get it." Part of it is b/c of high fuel prices, but they are still far ahead of the curve when it comes to downsizing vehicles.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By jskirwin on 11/7/2007 4:38:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the SUV boom of the 90's wasn't out of necessity, it was out of being popular and "hip" to everyone else.


Uhm... No, it was about cheap gasoline that could fuel them. People will waste what's cheap; once gas prices rose as they began to do about 5 years ago, people began to consider MPG when they bought a car.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/7/2007 4:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
What does cheap gasoline have to do with the fact that they were still a poor substitute for the wagons and minivans they replaced?


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 4:51:34 PM , Rating: 1
Also, your theory doesn't explain why SUV and truck sales are still brisk today, even though gasoline is at around $3/gallon, i.e., no longer "cheap."


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Clenathan on 11/8/2007 5:23:18 AM , Rating: 2
Because car retailers realize this change in American thought and have subsequently lowered the price of SUVs and trucks.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By TomZ on 11/11/2007 12:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
American manufacturers have reduced the prices of their entire product lines - cars included - due to decreased demand for their products.

If what you were saying were true, you'd see a lot more Americans buying cars instead of trucks, which you don't see happening. In fact, in the past few years even the transplants Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc. are coming out with more and more trucks (new products) for the North American market.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Rovemelt on 11/12/2007 11:00:39 AM , Rating: 2
Truck sales seem to be declining relative to cars lately, Tommy.

http://money.cnn.com/2007/11/01/news/companies/aut...


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Rovemelt on 11/12/2007 11:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
More info on SUV sales declining with rising gas prices:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic...

That CNN article paints a mixed picture regarding truck and suv sales, though.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 4:57:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And I've always been amazed at how Europeans can manage with significantly smaller vehicles while we just don't seem to "get it." Part of it is b/c of high fuel prices, but they are still far ahead of the curve when it comes to downsizing vehicles.

Europe is not "ahead of the curve" in anything. They have smaller cars out of simple economic necessity. We have on average larger cars because we can afford them, due to lower fuel prices, lower financing interest rates, and higher purchasing power.

In other words, we'll only shink our vehicles here if the same economic forces come to bear on us as well.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By jak3676 on 11/7/2007 7:23:31 PM , Rating: 3
One of the biggest reasons that Europeans get smaller cars is so they can fit them on the roads. Trying to bring full sized American SUV's to Europe just doesn't work. They don't fit on the inner city roads, there is no place to park them, and they won't fit into any garage.

I had my 2005 Honda Pilot (mid-sized SUV) in Germany for about a year. It was a great car, but just too darn big over there. We drove downtown Paris and I swear we were the biggest car on the road.

We've just replaced it with a Honda Odyssey - easier to get babies in/out, more usable space, and a little better MPG.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Aarnando on 11/8/2007 2:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I wasn't aware that I couldn't express my OPINION in my own blog ;)

You are allowed to express your opinion in your own blog. Others are also allowed to express their opinion of your opinion in their own comments about your blog. ;) ;) ;( ;)

quote:
And I've always been amazed at how Europeans can manage with significantly smaller vehicles while we just don't seem to "get it." Part of it is b/c of high fuel prices, but they are still far ahead of the curve when it comes to downsizing vehicles.

Americans seem to be managing pretty well with very large vehicles as well. Amazing. Maybe I should go to Europe and try to make a push towards larger vehicles for Europeans. Why pack into a sardine tin, when you can drive a Canyonero?


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By sliderule on 11/8/2007 6:44:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yeah... I'd like to see me and my 6'5" 215lb body fitting into one of those with my bad back...


Same here, I'm also 6'5''. My brother bought a new Honda s2000(wicked little car), and brought it over to show me.

First I shoe horned myself into the passenger seat and we went for a ride. I just barely fit, then he ask if I want to drive. I literally couldn't get my feet on the pedals because I couldn't get my knees under the dash on the driver side!

If my life depended on it I don't think I could have contorted my body to fit that damn thing. On the bright side, my 41 year old Mustang fits me like a glove, plus it's paid for lol.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Polynikes on 11/16/2007 12:06:31 AM , Rating: 2
I'm 6'2", a mere 3 inches shorter than you, and I can comfortably fit in even the smallest of cars.

God forbid you have to bed your legs a little.


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