T Nation

U.S. Decent Cars, Why Not?


#1

Even with raising oil prices you still see car manufacturers coming out with more SUVs.... vans that LOOK like SUVs and huge trucks. What's up with that??

There are other alternatives like hybrid. It has WAY less consumption of precious, precious oil. The gas engine has significantly lower output due to this, but overall its the same HP as a regular car since the electrical engine makes up for it.

Why isn't this being implemented faster?

I realize that the oil companies have alot of influence but how much can they really do to stop this?


#2

Hybrids save less than $500/year on gas, but cost thousands more. What's the point in that?


#3

And consume more energy and resources to produce.

They will sell a lot of them this year due to the tax incentive.

There are better ways to do it with gas and diesel engines that have similar mileage but are easier to produce and operate.

Someday America will wake up and realize commuting in a Hummer is fucking stupid. Unfortunately that day is not today.

American car companies don't look like they are ready for the change.

The European and Japanese car companies already serve market where mileage is very important so they the product.


#4

Hmmm.. good point on that diesel thing. These kids built in shop class a soybean powered car that runs at 50MPG!!!

Fially, the true use of soy has been revealed.


#5

theres plenty of ways of reducing fuel used while maintaining power:

such as 25% of the fuel injected into the chamber is a water / methonol mix.

Or use biodeisel

or use the waste heat from the exhaust system to run a steam turbine....

http://www.full-throttle.com.au/Engine/Boost%20Cooler.htm

http://www.popsci.com/popsci/automotivetech/163cf51b6fd89010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html


#6

Are people willing to pay for the new technologies? Is the offer structured in a way as to advantage the average car buyer? Until then, I think the status quo, short-term profits view will keep on. It`s all in the incentives. Sad but true, IMO.


#7

And in a couple dozen years, I'm sure we'll be looking pretty hard at the CO2 situation when the new cost/byproducts of transportation are NiMH and KOH, lead acid, or Lithium. I here the nickel and lithium industries are real eco-friendly.

It'd be nice for every urban and suburban American to take a trip to a crowded European city (I'm thinking Paris and London) and see why it's stupid to haul around 'cabin space'.

I also get the impression that American car companies are of the mindset that they can't really compete in foreign markets and 'have a tradition' of building cars for Americans. So they look to produce cars that are 'American'. Opposite side of the same coin I guess.


#8

Clean burn diesels will do 70 mpg these days, and there are plenty of European manufacturers and japanese car makers that have these. These are emergng technologies that are changing at a very fast rate. we will soon have some low temp petrol burning cars, that produce way less emisions.

Bottom line is in the US you love your big trucks, and unless you get stomped in the pocket heavily, there is no chance of change. Smaller cars will also mean less congestion, and less polution.

And, this may be a cause for controversy, but American car engineers seem to make poor quality cars. Europen and japanese car companies just seem to engineer there cars better.


#9

It seems American cars are getting better but not up to the level of the Japanese.

I think American cars are as good or better than the European and Koreans in terms of build quality.

VW seems to be building the most unreliable cars lately.

Good designs etc but there seem to be lots of problems.

We were considering a diesel Jetta but the more VW owners I talked to and the more searches I did on line indicated the quality is not what we would normally expect from a German car.


#10

Why dillute the fuel with water? Just make a smaller engine.


#11

I think the solution to get around this is to build you own car. You have the best quality you can make.

Get a kit car.


#12

Dont get a jetta (if it is the same as the jetta here, then it will have poor residuals).

A good friend of mine wrks for VW as a technician (read mechanic) and he says that they have gone down hill compared to what they were.

Good alternatives, if you get them woud be audi (cost more), or Seats. They are owned by VW, but have better design, more unique and the quality is OK.


#13

Getting away from the efficiency issues, what happens when an american car firm gets hold of a 8 litre v10...450 sluggush horsepower and poor refinement.

German engineers get 5 litres and a V10, and they get 500 HP and it screams up to 8000.

There seems to be a discrepancy with not only the amount of hoarses/litre, but the way in which it delivers those horses, and thats noy going over to ride refimnet and handling.

I know the needs of road users (different roads etc) in the US are different, but is that an excuse? Could an american car firm ever produce an M3 or M5 type car?


#14

American drivers have traditionally had a fascination with high displacement, low revving engines with a lot of torque so they don't have to change gears.

I enjoy shifting gears so I like the higher revving engine. I enjoy my fathers Boxter far more than any V-8 muscle car I have ever driven even if the V-8 is faster stoplight to stoplight.

I think American car companies are fully capable of building a high revving engine but there is relatively little demand in the states for the high revving small diplacement engines.

That is changing with the newer generation of kids brought up on The Fast and The Furious and riding inline 4 sportbikes instead of V Twins. I don't know if the car executives in Detroit are smart enough to figure this out.


#15

It could have to do with Americans being bigger (fatter) than other countries. We watched a movie in bio class the other day about fat people, and one guy said he's gotten gastric bypass, but before that (when he weighed about 325) he had to buy the biggest pickup truck he could find to fit. I'm sure there are a whole lot of Americans would would buy a sedan instead of a huge-ass SUV.


#16

Yes, a big lazy V8 does have its owns satisfactions, but obviously couldnt stick it on the twisteys, and i am not sure if the US engneers have the engineering knowledge there. Ford could rope someone in from this side of the pond, as could all of the large firms.

I guess it comes down to demand, and market, but the companies are complicit in this. Deisels used to be of a very poor standing here, but now are at least as common, especially for company cars (tax benefits), and i enjoy the torque and new 3/3.5 litre engines, whilst not as revvy, have twin turbos to solve lag, and accelerate as fast as their petrol counterparts.

You now get Hot Hatch diesels. The production of good and desirable, as well as sensible cars, with better refinement, has meant that the market has swollen considerably over the last 5 years.


#17

With a 5 liter engine you need 8000 rpm to produce that horsepower. Torque is a more important factor in driveability. Horsepower is what gives you top end but torque gives you acceleration.

The American manufacturers make these big gas guzzling cars because they are the most profitable. Detroit has a terrible track record producing small cars at a profit. The Neon might have been a break even but that is it.

Detroit also has a long way to go in producing small engines with a high output. The Honda Civic Si's K20 produces 99 hp per liter with out a turbo or super charger. The Honda S2000 was getting 240 hp out of 2 liters.

Drop a K20 into a Lotus Elise and you'll eat a viper for lunch for less money. Put a supercharged ecotec4 in the same car and it's not as fast.


#18

I think the roads DO make a difference in what kind of engine is in a car, and how it handles, etc. If your only concern is drag racing, you need torque! Drag racing is about being the quickest, not the fastest. In Europe, there's probably more popularity with road racing/circuits, which is totally different from drag racing.

BTW, were you referring to the Viper's 8.0 liter V10 (510 horsepower for the most recent vipers I think, not 450) and the BMW's 5.0 liter V10? I think the Bimmer's V10 gets 18MPG on highway...which isn't exactly "fuel efficient". The viper is probably worse, but not by a whole lot when you consider 510 horsepower.

Lastly, as a "rebuttal" about technology in each respective engine; the BMW engine probably costs much more than the Viper engine, and the Viper engine most likely has PLENTY of room left for development (more potential for refinement). The BMW engine probably doesn't have as much room left for improvement. Eventually, they'll have to up the displacement, or pour more technology into the engine, which means MORE money.

Just my two cents though.


#19

Ford owns Aston Martin and Jaguar, which is a British car company, or is now, or was... You get my point... lol!

Also, ever heard of a "Blue Devil"? C6 Corvette putting out 600+hp and weighing 2900 lbs. It can hang with the best of them on a road track (they even tested it on a German road course, I can dig it up if you would like:)), and is no slouch at all.


#20

I'm pretty sure road and track or car and driver or autoweek or one of those magazines and they said it was the fastest street car they've ever driven.