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What is "wrong" with these new subcompacts?

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Comments

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    You know, I made very similar comments on another forum (GM product) not long ago. The absolute arrogance that the domestic auto makers exhibited also caused their downfall. Remember Henry Ford II's famous comments..."Small cars mean small profits"?

    I guess the Japanese weren't listening that day.

    However, if you look at the changes Toyota has gone through in its attempt to overtake GM and become #1, you can see a little of that same thinking beginning to surface.

    Toyota may yet find out that what it takes to get to the top spot may be much different than what it takes to stay there...
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    If the report on mileage was an isolated example you might have a point. But it seems to be closer to what several different reports are saying. This is as least the second or third report of that kind of mileage for the Smart. remember this little car has been selling in the red even in Europe where fuel mileage is close to the most consideration.

    Nippon
    I did drive the insight up our mountain at the time. A missionary friend of mine was living here and commuting to Palmdale from Arrowhead. Yes he got the 70 MPG going to Palmdale. He got a bit less coming home. But one night he allowed me to drive it from San Bernardino to Crestline. With the two of us and the climb we got passed by a Sammy. Having been the owner of several Sammies I was pretty surprised. But then it was only 1000 CCs and it had been on the freeway for several miles running at freeway speeds before he picked me up in Berdoo. You may be right and I should have bit the bullet and I now wish I had but then fuel wasn't more than 2 bucks a gallon and the Focus seemed so much more practical and it still got better than 30 MPG. Still I might keep my eye out for a used Insight. Living in the flatlands it makes a big difference as a in town car. I just don't think I will ever accept a sub compact as a road car or a highway cruiser. Only time will tell.

    My wife and I have talked it over and we will not be buying anything until we see if they deliver on the promised plug in hybrids or EVs by 2010. But I have been riding a bicycle a lot more now that we moved. ;) You wouldn't like it however, 21 speeds but no clutch. :P
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    "You wouldn't like it however, 21 speeds but no clutch."

    Well, now that's just a design flaw, plain and simple! ;-)

    One of the great things about the Insight: you could get one with a clutch. :-)

    I still have high hopes for the 2010 CRZ hybrid: 50 mpg combined and a clutch to go with it.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andeetandeet Posts: 142
    I still rather spend the extra $4.00s to the tank knowing my car can out run a semi-truck that can't move to the middle lane when I'm getting onto a interstate. To me, safety is very important. I know leadfooting is dangerous but least I have a chance of getting by.

    Trust me; that's why I got rid of the xA. Cause I almost got ran off the road twice. Even slamming on brakes would still side stripe the trailer. Leadfooting barely got me by.

    I've been in one accident; airbags went off and windshield got smashed. I still have the burning smell memory in my head and everytime I drive by accident. That smell triggers my brain and brings chills to my spinal cord.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,805
    I still rather spend the extra $4.00s to the tank knowing my car can out run a semi-truck that can't move to the middle lane when I'm getting onto a interstate.

    I have driven the Smart and I will say that it does have the ability to do that. Heck in my little 140 HP Elantra wagon I rarely floor it, I even rarely get it higher than 35oo RPM 's.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I still rather spend the extra $4.00s to the tank knowing my car can out run a semi-truck that can't move to the middle lane when I'm getting onto a interstate.

    Others will let the truck go by and slide in behind the semi, if their car can't accelerate that quick, or if they simply don't want to wind-out the engine and use their gas.

    I've done both (although I tend to drive conservatively 90% of the time), so I'm not harping on ya. ;)
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Others will let the truck go by and slide in behind the semi, if their car can't accelerate that quick, or if they simply don't want to wind-out the engine and use their gas.

    This strategy has the additional benefit of allowing one to draft the truck, significantly increasing their MPGs. :shades:
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Well, mainly my goal is not to cut off any vehicle that weighs exponentially more than mine! And, if you're having to really race to get in front of the truck before your lane runs out, chances are it's going to be a close in front.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,150
    Plus, I think ANY car, no matter how fast it is, can brake faster than it can accelerate, so if you're alongside a semi and your lane is running out, or if it changes lanes unexpectedly, chances are you're going to be more likely to not get snubbed by nailing the brakes, rather than trying to speed ahead of it.

    Of course, there is a point of no return, which is going to vary depending on just how fast the car is, where you're better off gunning it to get ahead of it, rather than braking.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    All excellent points, 'dre.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    Of course, if you're that bad at gauging the traffic flow and planning ahead, there's always something called the emergency lane too! ;-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,713
    class was taught, that you need to look out and see "the big picture" is actually pretty sound advice. Looking back, I am pretty impressed by the Edmonds School District No.15(north of Seattle about 15 miles)driver's education program. So many dumb things I see done that we were taught not to do cause both accidents and stress on the road.

    I tend to draw back on the freeway when there's a crowd...that avoids a lot of stress and "bunched-up" conflicts on the road. And if there's a pileup you can just stay out of it.

    I'm still mystified by the laziness of Americans and their staunch refusal to show common courtesy and signal their intentions to change lanes. If that's being stubborn or showing a no-fear attitude, my question is, what are they afraid of? Helping traffic to flow more confortably on the freeway? :confuse:

    What d'y'all attribute this lack of signaling to? A sign of the last days, if nothing else.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    What d'y'all attribute this lack of signaling to?
    If anything, I attribute it to other people's lack of courtesy.

    Wednesday, I was rolling through traffic, in the rain, at about 15 mph on I-65 (like I said, traffic!). I needed over, as I was about a mile from my exit, and I was in the middle of the 3 lanes. I spotted a hole in front of a late-model Galant, about 2 cars back in the adjacent lane. As that lane was moving faster, I put on my blinker, and as I prepared to fill the vacant spot, the nose of the Galant pitches upward as it gunned the throttle to fill the spot where I was signaling my intent to fill. I turned my blinker back off, as I still had time to get over, and there was no real room behind him. The Galant driver was on the phone I could see. Sure enough, he stopped paying attention again, a hole opened up, and I filled it; this time, sans-blinker.

    Honestly, I am an AVID signal-user. Every lane change, every turn, even pulling into parking spots at the grocery store, I use a blinker. In cases like this though, other people's lack of courtesy means using one is lane-change suicide, because heaven-forbid, the car leaving the space will be 2 seconds later to their destination.

    On the interstate, if you give me a blinker, and are enough distance ahead of me, I'll always flash my lights to "wave you in," because you've used common courtesty as if to say "may I?" I wish more people used this logic.
  • andeetandeet Posts: 142
    There's so much construction done around here both in Chicago and Milwaukee. Some areas it's terrible to get onto the interstates. In fact, there was construction being done near O'Hare airport. The on-ramps there are so terrible. You're like half foot away from the lanes AND there are not Yield signs. Since it's Chicago, you think anyone is doing the required speed of 45? Heck no! I was coming back from Indiana and passed by this area. A car actually stopped on the on-ramp cause there was so much cars coming back. Car panic and stopped right on the ramp. While everyone is doing 60-65 this car's front end was about half foot away from traffic.

    Oh do I just LOVE Illinois :mad:

    Comment about semis being kind...not around here. Most are selfish because people around here are selfish. Since I'm aware of those trailers could easily hold 35,000+ loads and it's hard to brake on a dime. Kind of like freight trains stopping in emergencies; not going to happened. Jack-knifing is VERY hard to impossible for semi-drivers to save. I was told that by semi-driver from one of our trucking companies at work.

    I try to be kind as much as I can but kind of hard to do when you have 7-Series BMW on your butt while in the middle lane. He's too much of an a$$ to lane change to passing lane.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    as quoted here:

    http://www.autoobserver.com/2008/05/ford_cagey_about_whether_buyers_will_pay_big- _to_go_small.html#more

    the market for subs and smaller has doubled in a few short years to 400K or so in 2007, and they expect it to be 700K annually and growing by 2012.

    They do ask a very pertinent question: will people pay premiums for small cars that are superlative in some way, be it features, handling, whatever? They cite the example of VW failing to succeed in offering "premium" small cars, which I think is partly misleading because one of the main reasons people are downsizing is certainly the fuel economy of the smaller cars, and VW has no small cars with even close to class-leading fuel economy.

    I would assert it is the firm conviction of some posters here that America will never shake loose of its attitiude that cars should be charged by the pound, so smaller should cost less, period. Obviously, the Mini Cooper is the prime example of the exception to this rule, and the new Fit Sport is perhaps another, as it crosses over in price with many of the cheaper compact cars and sells mostly at or near sticker.

    Does anyone besides me think that people will gradually let go of this "charge me by the pound" philosophy of car pricing, particularly if carmakers manage to offer some subcompacts with truly excellent fuel economy (as opposed to many of the current offerings, which are nothing more than fairly decent to good) or lots of content more typical of more expensive, larger cars?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • texasestexases Posts: 5,695
    I thought the Mazda 3 (which Ford would know well) was living proof of people's willingness to pay more for a quality small car. VWs, besides poor mpgs, have also had their quality issues, so a poor example, for sure.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I hope so, but....

    Few have succeeded at that, Mini is a good example.

    But look at the volumes - Ford builds more green F-150s in a day than Mini sells all year, probably.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,695
    Ohhh, you mean 'green', as in color...thought you were goin E85 on us, there... :P
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    :D

    I'm sure GM could say that...
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,150
    the market for subs and smaller has doubled in a few short years to 400K or so in 2007, and they expect it to be 700K annually and growing by 2012.

    Wow, that shows just how much the small car market had shrunk up over the years. For example, in 1981, which was probably a high point for small cars at that time. I remember the Chevette, by itself, sold about 458,000 units. It was the most popular subcompact that year, although I think the Escort would oust it for 1982. Anyway though, figure there was the T1000 on top of that, and the Escort/Lynx, and the Omni/Horizon over at Chrysler, plus the Accord and Civic (both were subcompacts back then), the Datsun 210 (was the 310 still around?), Toyota Corolla and Tercel (maybe the Starlet was around at that time too), and probably a few others I'm forgetting, and I'd imagine that the subcompact market as a whole was good for a good 1.5 million or more.

    I think people were a lot more scared back then, though. The jobless market was pretty bad as I recall. Interest rates were through the roof. And the fuel was not only expensive, but not exactly free-flowing. And we were all afraid that $3.00/gal gas was looming just around the corner, and would be here to stay.

    Oddly, 1982 was actually a worse year for the auto industry as a whole, but big cars started to sell again. Chevy was actually selling V-8 Caprices at MSRP, while they had to practically beg people to buy the more efficient Celebrity and Cavalier.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    Well, just look at how few models we have had to consider in our musings in this thread, up to this point. What, 7? Yaris, Fit, Versa (questionable, it's biggish), Mini Cooper, Aveo, Accent, Rio. 8 if you include (as many seem to want to) the Smart car.

    In 2002, the baseline year for Ford's remarks, there were even less (no Fit yet, no subcompact Nissan, no Aveo? I forget, on the Aveo. When did they stop selling Geos and their Chevy successors?)

    There are more than 160 models of passenger car or light truck for sale in the market today, per the last numbers I saw quoted. Of those, subcompacts make up 7 (or 8). No wonder sales had dropped so low.

    The nice thing is that just based on what automakers have planned right now, we will have double that many 3 years from now. Maybe more, if some other automakers reconsider their current strategy and bring in more of their global offerings. :-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    Does anyone besides me think that people will gradually let go of this "charge me by the pound" philosophy of car pricing, particularly if car makers manage to offer some subcompacts with truly excellent fuel economy (as opposed to many of the current offerings, which are nothing more than fairly decent to good) or lots of content more typical of more expensive, larger cars?

    I believe people will buy small cars if forced to. Not as a first line preference but because of fuel prices or some other economic reason. But whe you look at American culture nothing else seems to go as smaller is worth more. Even in cars when all things are considered bigger is viewed as worth more. Even with the mini it has to be remembered it is a BMW and the bigger BMWs cost more.

    All things being equal think about it. We will pay more for a 2000 square foot house in the same area than we will for a 1000 square foot house. People expect to pay less for a 20 inch Sony TV than the do for a 32 inch Sony. When I bought my boat I can promise you a 25 foot Catalina was thousands less than a 30 foot Catalina. Now that I have a RV I can also assure you that a very well equipped 20 foot RV will cost you about half of what the same kind of RV in 32 feet will.

    I got a automotive GPS the other day and the bigger screen ones cost more than the smaller screen ones and no one expects any different. At least not in the same brand.

    Your question represents the only get what you need group. A different mind set.
  • thegreatozthegreatoz Posts: 39
    The only product category I can think of where "smaller is more expensive" is in computer electronics, such as small laptop computers which are almost always more expensive than big desktop models.

    Normally, a five-pound box of candy is more expensive than a one-pound box. A 32-ounce Pepsi costs more than a 16-ounce bottle. Always will be. ;)
  • nortsr1nortsr1 Posts: 1,060
    Good post boaz...I agree with you. Most of the new "small car buyers" really are only making the purchase because of the higher gas prices. They really "don't want" a "small vehicle"...They just don't want or "cannot afford" these higher gas prices.
    I know someone will probably post that these same purchasers didn't need an SUV or "bigger type vehicle"...but... that's what they wanted and enjoyed for many years. The commute to work is now getting too expensive for a lot of the working class and even for retired people such as myself.
    I have always enjoyed the ease of entrance and comfort of my SUV (as I am handicapped) and if I purchase a "small" vehicle" I damn near need a crane to get in and out of same. (for "us" old people" it's hard enough trying to get off the damn toilet. (yes, I know) they even have higher toilets now.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,805
    Does anyone besides me think that people will gradually let go of this "charge me by the pound" philosophy of car pricing,

    Consider this, all things being equal shouldn't a bigger car be more expensive (ignoring market conditions of supply and demand)? A bigger car needs more raw material which means the cost of raw material is going to be more hence the price needs to be more in order to make a profit.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,150
    The only product category I can think of where "smaller is more expensive" is in computer electronics, such as small laptop computers which are almost always more expensive than big desktop models.

    Believe it or not, one automotive-related category where this holds true, to an extent, is motorhomes. Those really small ones that are essentially heavily reworked conversion vans are usually more expensive than the bigger Class-C mini-motorhomes. I think most of the extra cost comes up because of the special purpose-built, miniaturized appliances and other components they have to design to put in those things. Where a Class-C motorhome is still going to have smaller appliances and such than what is in your house, I think they tend to use more generic, off-the-shelf, mass produced components.

    As for cars, I think we're always going to run into the issue of them being cheaper by the pound, because the bulk of the costs associated with them is developing things like the engines, transmissions, suspensions, electronics, etc. I don't know if this still holds true, but it used to be that the most expensive component to redesign on a car is the firewall/cowl/windshield area.

    But if the manufacturers want to design in a longer rear for a bigger trunk, or punch out the wheelbase for more legroom, or more front overhang to make the car look bigger, none of that really costs very much.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    I think the seating position of the SUV was one of the biggest hits with the consumer. In fact that may be part, not all, of the success of many of the crossovers compared to sedans. The idea of just sliding in and sitting down like a comfortable chair just seems right. That was one of the reasons my mother in law loved my PT. If you think about it that is the seating position every American has preferred in their homes for as long as there have been Americans. But some of the small cars seem to be trying to address this. Like you I don't care to have to grab the top of the door to lift myself up to a standing position.

    But if we think about it even in the suggestion of things like computers if we go from same manufacturer and options a 15 inch lap top will cost less than a 17 inch. In motorcycles a 250 cost less than a 350 and a 350 cost less than a 700. We expect cars to be the same.

    Like many I have been forced to drive a compact for some of my daily tasks around town. If I have my choice of if I were still working I would drive my Tahoe. I am retired now and my job no longer pays for my fuel so I have to save my money from longer trips in the Tahoe when we go on vacation. I like the extra room.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,805
    You also have to remember that the cost of developing and design per car goes down with increased production. The price of the additional material to make the bigger (or even look bigger) stays the same per car no matter how many is produced.

    In other words the cost per car to design the firewall/cowl/windshield area may be much less than the cost of making the rear end longer for a bigger trunk on a per car basis.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    "Consider this, all things being equal shouldn't a bigger car be more expensive (ignoring market conditions of supply and demand)? A bigger car needs more raw material which means the cost of raw material is going to be more hence the price needs to be more in order to make a profit."

    No, this is a false premise if the smaller car has more expensive design elements in it. For instance, an Explorer or Tahoe with a suspension design in use since the 1950s and an old-tech engine, causing crappy handling and a tendency to run out of steam as soon as the tach begins to rise, is using MUCH cheaper parts than a new Fit, Cooper, or Yaris. Heck the Accent SE outhandles and outrevs those vehicles. Ditto the comparison with large cars like Impala, Lucerne, etc.

    OTOH, except for the Cooper, we don't have any of the type of subcompact I was envisioning with that statement available for sale here (dare I say yet?). I would like to see a much wider selection of premium subs available in the U.S. If sky-high gas prices contribute to that happening, then I guess that is the silver lining of the oil crunch.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,150
    No, this is a false premise if the smaller car has more expensive design elements in it.

    I think even if you're talking about a small car with cheap design components in it, it doesn't cost that much more to make a bigger car. Most of the cost goes into the R&D. A few (or few hundred) pounds of extra steel and such isn't going to make a car cost that much more.

    One thing that's kinda funny, is that for all the ragging the domestic industry takes for the crappy small cars it made in the 70's and beyond, many of them were actually much more advanced than the big cars they were putting out. For instance, the Vega had an aluminum OHC engine. The Pinto had OHC and rack and pinion steering. I think the V-6 used in the Pinto wagons was even OHC. It was German, IIRC. And Chrysler had FWD, OHC, and I'm sure rack and pinion steering in the 1978 Horizon. Yet the most expensive New Yorker had an engine that could be traced to 1958, and a transmission and suspension that could be tracked to 1957.

    But, aside from all that, they still ended up being crappy little cars. :sick:
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