To Save the US Car Industry: 60mpg Car & 50mpg Minivan
Here's my obligatory annual plea for the cars that will save the US auto industry.
If the US made a car that got 60mpg and a minivan that got 50mpg, we'd be all set.
To do this, we need to make a vehicle totally aerodynamic.
It also has to be lightweight and low-power.
It also has to be safe. Airbags don't weigh much. Add a minimal sacrificial protection-cage and yer done.
Use harder, narrower tires with low rolling resistance. Get rid of the all-weather idea, unless they can still offer low resistance. (More people might have to adapt to the idea of using a different wheelset in winter if they want good mileage in summer.)
A 6-speed car with 100 hp should be able to be peppy up to 90 mph, right? No one needs more.
We don't only, or even mostly, need tiny cars with high mileage. We need a 6 passenger minivan that sips in addition to a modest sedan. Thankfully, a longer vehicle makes streamlining easier.
I'd buy vehicles with such specs. I think most Americans would as well. I mean, they already are---to an extent. They buy Japanese cars that get 35mpg. I think we can do better. Because the current crop of sippy cars and vans still seem overpowered and not all that aero. So would it be THAT hard to make the vehicle I envision?
I mean, does a company out there already do it? I'd think that at least ONE builder is making a 100hp car with a 6-speed and low-roll wheels.
The common 250-hp cars of today could easily go 200mph, couldn't they? Isn't all that power totally useless and stupid? OK, it can be handy for the exit ramp take-off, but a little caution works wonders there, too. And cars in the right-lane CAN use their brakes just fine. All that power isn't needed even for the low-flying airplane freeway speeds of today. It's not even needed for zippiness. It's overkill.
Well, I'm not optimistic. For some reason it doesn't seem likely that the leadership of the USA will be able to save this industry. Most Americans will get by with Japanese cars that come somewhat close to the mark I mention.
American car-makers seem to be locking themselves into the muscle/macho niche frequented by only a few customers, statistically. Oh well, suit yourself.
But I'd love to see the US makers fight their way out of this corner. All the odds are against them. So what. It only makes for a more interesting challenge.
In a related issue, when I see the aerodynamics of motorcycles mentioned it's only in the context of getting a higher top speed---like 230mph or something like that for the newest most-aero motorcycle. Yeah right. What silliness. Mileage wasn't mentioned at all in the "most aero" review I read. Only a handful of nuts ride even touch the truly crazy speeds on the road---and that's still far less than 200mph. So these aero aspects are wasted on fools who discuss ever-higher top speeds.
No, aerodynamics matters 99% of the time for speeds of 30-90mph in any kind of vehicle, even sporty ones. It does help all vehicles become zippier---it's easier to accelerate an aero vehicle. But mostly it helps them be economical.
Let's go for it.
Let's get more aero bicycles, more aero motocycles...cars and vans, too. Let's clean up the air and help stabilize world politics. It's not too much to ask.