Norm Solves the Electric Car and Commuter Car Riddle

The EPA recently announced the 10 Most Fuel Efficient Cars since Norm Was Born. Well - since 1984. Which is when I was born. Which is probably why they picked it.

The thing is - you may notice a large number of old crappy cars on there - more on that in a min:

EPA Ten Most Efficient Vehicles Since 1984 (City/Hwy/Cmb)

  • 2000 Honda Insight 5MT CVT (49/61/53)
  • 2010 Toyota Prius (51/48/50)
  • 1986 Chevrolet Sprint ER 5MT (44/53/48)
  • 1990-1994 Geo Metro XFI 5MT (43/52/47)
  • 1986-87 Honda Civic Coupe HF 5MT (42/51/46)
  • 1994-95 Honda Civic Hatchback VX 5MT (39/50/43)
  • 2006-2010 Honda Civic Hybrid CVT (40/45/42)
  • 2010 Honda Insight CVT (40/43/41)
  • 2001-2003 Toyota Prius CVT (42/41/40)
  • 1989 Chevrolet Sprint/Suzuki Swift 5MT (38/45/41)
Yes - the 2004-2009 Prius does not make the list! I hate that car.

Anyway - the point here is really that the main thing killing fuel economy? Not dying. And the fact that we love creature comforts and big cars. It is not hard to build a four passenger car that gets 50mpg. Its just hard to do so without everyone inside living in mortal danger lest the car run into a SUV, or a squirrel in the case of the Geo Metro.

Which brings me to my second point. We need a new class of cars. We have our regular big cars. We have motorcycles. We slam anything that is not "safe enough" to be a real car - yet we let people ride around at insane speeds on contraptions which are only slightly safer than they were 103 years ago, when Mr. Harley and Mr. Davidson built this:
http://www.daytonamotorcycletraining.com/gallery/hd/p7hg_img_1/fullsize/firstHarley-Davidson_fs.jpg

What we need is a class of "light urban and commuter car" - limit the engine size like Japanese Kei cars, offer much lower insurance, use plastic replaceable body panels, and make the whole damn thing a lot simpler. Today - there is no way that buying, owning, and insuring a second vehicle which gets great fuel economy is economical - we need to change that.

This especially applies to electric cars. Does it make sense to have one as a primary vehicle? No way. Does it make sense to have one as a second vehicle if the costs are the same as your first vehicle - completely blowing out of the water any savings on gasoline? Obviously not (unless you are "that guy" and feel a need to be "green"). We need a different system - one that allows 2nd commuter cars to be added to the same insurance policy. The issue here is not the ability of car companies to make these cars - it is the fact that the current regulations only cover two kinds of personal vehicles - cars and motorcycles. Regulation needs to lead the way on this one.

Let me explain further - one of the main costs of your insurance is third party insurance. This is the fact that you can hit other cars, and people, property and deities in human form. When you do so, you need to pay for what you did. Except for the last category, this payment comes from you insurance company in the form of money.

Right now, if you own two cars (which I do) you pay twice as much for third party insurance as if you owned one car. Which does not make a damn bit of sense. It implies that by owning a second car (in my case a truck and a convertible) you drive twice as much. Which is utter nonsense. I am still just one person (not counting being Norm and my sometimes mild-mannered alternate persona) - and so there is no reason that I should pay twice for third party insurance. Most of the time, I am the only person who drives my two cars.

While I do it for fun and practicality, what we need is system which encourages the use of a second car when the primary car is not needed. If you have to go 250 miles to see Grandma for Thanksgiving - use the ICE nice big car with 87 airbags, ABS, traction control, floor-mat-sticking-prevention, lane departure warnings, I am a dipshit driver warnings, get out of the goddamn left lane warnings (I wish those existed), and about to rear-end the guy in front because you are not paying attention radar. But if you have to drive to get groceries 15 mins away in urban stop-and-go traffic, take your all-electric Ape/golf cart/Nissan.

This would drastically improve america's fleet fuel economy, preserve the ability to own and drive big SUV's and sports cars, reduce traffic congestion in the cities, improve urban air quality, help the ozone layer, reduce global warming, promote world peace, reduce funding to terrorists, improve America's green economy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, save the penguins, increase economic growth through lower oil prices, create new jobs, and most importantly of all - double or triple the number of parking places available when you drive into the city. I freaking hate driving around looking for a parking place.


On a related note - Ape's are the shit, and I really want one:

http://www.velos-motos-keller.ch/bilder/vespa%20car/Piaggio_APE_TM_Pickup_gruen.jpg

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