Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fuel Economy Articles Galore

Post KatRita, with gasoline prices flirting with Three dollars a gallon, there is an increased attention to the fuel consumption of cars and trucks driven around. Even President Bush has urged American citizens to curtail non-essential driving. NYT published a tongue in cheek article just before President's comments. In general, newspapers seem to be abuzz with articles discussing failure of Congress to raise fuel economy standards, even as some more trial balloons got floated. There is ever more attention to the hybrids and the early adoptors of hybrids/EVs.

The article that I was most interested in appeared in the WSJ. (How U.S. Shifted Gears to Find Small Cars Can Be Safe, Too:
Studies Discover Size, Quality Are as Important as Weight; Drafting Rules for SUVs; Honda Sticks Up for Little Guy).
For years, the accepted wisdom in the car industry held that, all things being equal, heavier vehicles are always safer when two vehicles crash. New studies highlight how other factors -- including a car's size, body design and advanced technology -- can do much to counteract the weight issue.

The newer studies also have homed in on the downside of weight: While a heavy vehicle protects its occupants in an accident, it inflicts more damage to those it hits. That means reducing the weight of the biggest vehicles could yield dividends in both fuel consumption and safety.

In spite of the title of the article or new studies, particularly the one commisioned by Honda and carried out by DRI, I do not think that the perception about vehicle weight and safety has changed a lot. Many people that I personally know have been stunned to know the answer to the question: Are SUVs are really safer than cars?

There needs to be a lot more awareness among everybody that reduced vehicles weight does not mean reduced safety.


Anonymous DIYAutoTech said...

That is pretty common sense stuff. More weight = more damage. But it is the American culture to have fast cars and big trucks. Nothing is going to change that soon, unless a car maker can develop something that doesn't cost anymore, is big (but not necessarily heavy) or in terms of a hybrid, has the same performance as its conventional counterparts.

2:39 PM  

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