A question for automotive designers

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16 Comments

  1. Anonymous April 20, 2006 at 4:20 pm -  Reply

    Are you intimidated by the “new” Volkswagon Beetle, a car sold mostly on its retro design? That car is neither a gas guzzler, nor mean looking, but no self respecting dude would buy one.

  2. James April 20, 2006 at 4:29 pm -  Reply

    No, the new VW Beetle does not intimidate me. That is why I used it as an example of a friendly looking car in the last paragraph. Maybe you could elaborate on why no self-respecting dude would buy one.

  3. jeanthibca April 21, 2006 at 3:30 am -  Reply

    Good point.
    Also, I think that America will make efficent cars when the gallon will hit the 5$ mark, like it is in Europe. Seeing a SUV there is as rare as seeing a Porshe in the US.

  4. Anonymous April 21, 2006 at 5:41 am -  Reply

    Causally determining selfrespect and model/brand of a car…
    Sorry, I can’t help but wondering with what organ the person above is “thinking”.
    Or maybe I missed the irony and doesn’t count himself as a “dude”.

    A.C.

  5. Brian April 21, 2006 at 5:59 am -  Reply

    I am really upset at American auto makers. I bought a new car in 1992, 1996, and 2000. They were all Saturns. I typically get about 40 mpg +/- 2 mpg freeway/city. There new car only gets 32 mpg on the freeway. I am currently in the market for a new car but will not buy anything that gets less that 40 mpg. I am looking at the smart car http://www.smart.com It gets 60 mpg. Unfortunately, it is not availibe in the us yet.

  6. Fritz April 21, 2006 at 1:03 pm -  Reply

    The Wall Street Journal had an article a couple of months back about this trend of designing “meaner” looking cars.

    Guilty pleasure: I rented a Mustang Convertible this week and drove it with the top down to Santa Cruz just for the heck of it.

  7. lmw April 23, 2006 at 12:23 pm -  Reply

    America dropped the ball on alternative fuel cars. Check out the movie “Who killed the electric car” at divx.com –> movies. My next car will either be a toyota or honda. American car companies seem to be focusing too much on styling (ie camero, mustangs). That’s not wht we need right now. I say let the gas prices keep rising and people will see that it’s better for the earth and their body to ride a bicycle. But, just telling people to ride a bicycle won’t fix the picture, either. Part of the problem is the way cities are designed. Instead of urban sprawl, cities should be designed where people don’t have to commute so far to get to work.

  8. James April 24, 2006 at 11:20 am -  Reply

    Thanks for all of the comments. I am glad that a few people agree with me that automakers are going down the wrong path.

    After seeing many of them in Europe, I am a fan of the smart cars that Brian mentioned. Last year, Mercedes announced that they were going to offer a version of the smart car here in the US. Unfortunately, they felt that the same small, efficient cars that they sell in Europe would not work for the American market. I haven’t heard much about this decision in over a year, but here is an old link to a story about it:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/91/super-size.html

    Does anyone know if this is still happening?

  9. Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 12:24 pm -  Reply

    We own a smart. (We are Canadian.) It’s a fantastic vehicle. Obviously fuel efficient, and believe it or not, does not feel like a golf cart when driving it.

    The reason it isn’t available in the states seems to be that the market won’t bear it. Likely for the same reason as that for your observation on the aggressive look of American cars. Don’t look past the first poster for the reason. The number of Americans without an ego problem is too small.

    Thanks for leaving anonymous commenting open on your blog.

    mtigges – gmail

    NB: Despite having a fuel efficient vehicle, I still ride 1.25 hours everyday for my commute.

  10. rich nelson April 25, 2006 at 6:39 pm -  Reply

    this is a great blog, I will keep reading it ,check out my blog Cool Cars

  11. tom wright May 7, 2006 at 9:09 pm -  Reply

    I have been hit by cars 3 times.

    One volvo, one astro van, and one so long ago I forget what it was.

    This is one case where size really does not matter.

    Something going 20 miles an hour or faster that weighs a ton or three is going to hurt you or kill you. I do not care how ‘friendly’ it looks.

    Drivers misusing cars kill more people every year, in sheer numbers, or on a per captia basis, than shooters misusing guns do.

    And cars are not meant to injure. That should say a lot about how dangerous they are.

  12. James May 8, 2006 at 4:44 pm -  Reply

    Yes, cars are very dangerous. 40,000 traffic fatalities a year in the US alone is absolutely outrageous. Don’t get me wrong; I do not think “friendly” looking cars are safe (though in general they are smaller). Tom, as you point out, cars are not meant to injure people. That is exactly the point I was trying to make, so why design them to look so menacing? Because those designs appeal to drivers who are careless, aggressive, and shouldn’t be driving anyway. Of course, car companies want money from good and bad drivers, so I don’t expect them to take the lead in reducing the number of annual traffic fatalities. The auto industry is just not serious about safety. If they were, they would produce smaller, slower, and dare I say friendlier cars.

  13. Anonymous April 10, 2007 at 11:40 am -  Reply

    I agree with you there is something psychopathic about the design of these bloated agressive vehicles.

    When I see one of these bloated monsters advertise that they have 540 HORSEPOWER! I visualise a 540 lb supersized impotent like Limbaugh inside.

    Requiring a 540 HORSEPOWER! forklift or a crane to be moved from the couch to the liposuction appointment and back.

  14. Anonymous April 25, 2007 at 6:23 pm -  Reply

    Er what about flying to China to have products made there to then be shipped here? Super freighters are some of the worst polluters on Earth.

    I agree with your article though, but we all need to change.

  15. Will July 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm -  Reply

    Nice job predicting the $4 gas. It’s like watching the movie Back to the Future or something.

  16. Odin O. Gray July 13, 2013 at 4:29 am -  Reply

    Old post, but man is it interesting to see talk about the Smart vehicles this far back. I live in Los Angeles (not much longer… going home to Pittsburgh where I enjoy riding my Big Dummy a lot more), and I see the Smart cars everywhere. At least two daily when I ride to and from work. I see on their website that they only have a 38MPG efficiency, though. I wonder where did 60MPG come from? When this was posted, I was sixteen, so I had no concept of what was happening back then.

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