Vehicles need to go on a Diet

The 1970’s oil embargo and subsequent high prices for fuel plus the increased safety requirements for vehicles has had a bloating effect on American vehicles. Consumers and government regulators have asked automakers to build more fuel efficient cars and trucks for a cost savings on fuel and for pumping less noxious chemicals into the atmosphere. Regulators have also piled more and more safety requirements onto new vehicles while consumers have asked for the special amenities that make their drive experience more comfortable and more special. Of course, everyone wants dessert even though they know they shouldn’t but is this sustainable in the long run?

An average new car is now around the $32,000 mark–out-of-reach for many middle class motorists. With the average fuel economy guidelines increasing to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, American cars and trucks need to go on a diet both physically and cost wise or very few of us will be able to enjoy the new drive any longer. Unfortunately, going on a diet just like going electric may end up becoming even more expensive for the consumer.

A article recently stated that carbon fiber and similar composites would offer the greatest benefit in weight reduction. Carmakers though agree that incorporating these composites into large-scale production would require the abandonment of existing manufacturing methods while increasing the accepted variation in part-to-part fabrication. The material and fabrication costs would be incredibly high as well as the initial capital investment toward changing manufacturing norms. Factories are built on standardization and disrupting that process automakers say will take some time.

Automakers have already lightened the engine through the use of temperature-resistant plastic and have used steel and aluminum in lightening the load. Magnesium could also use the existing steel-based fabrication infrastructure but this metal would carry a higher average cost.

The price of a car does matter. Wages are flat with housing and health care skyrocketing. Owning a car may become a luxury in the future which is something that goes against everything American. This notion will be especially true if automakers cannot figure out a new paradigm of how to design and manufacture vehicles using lighter materials which are then manufactured in a cost effective manner.

We sent astronauts to the moon—the Automakers should be able to figure this one out too!

The Car of the Future Watch Weekly Post is a new feature at the National Motorists Association. The blog post will feature information and commentary about a single aspect concerning the Car of the Future plus the weekly Car of the Future Headline Roundup which appears on Facebook every Thursday. Any ideas for a post or articles about the Car of the Future, please send to me at [email protected]


NMA’s Car of the Future Watch for January 5, 2017
The latest headlines from around the country on the car of the future.  To see these articles and more check out the Flipboard Magazine Car of the Future.

National Issues
Mandatory Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications proclamation announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Already a clash between automakers and telecomm companies over bandwidth and has already announced that the mandatory regulations is DOA.

Auto Industry News
-Ford vowed to keep making driver’s cars into the future and expands driverless car production.
-Tesla could roll out enhanced autopilot soon.

Carsharing/Ridesharing News
-New York City: Uber and Lyft could cut car traffic by 300% (seems a bit optimistic).

Driverless Cars
-Experts believe that children born today will never drive a car.
-Organ donations might go down with less traffic accidents due to driverless cars (speculation) but hopefully 3D printers can take up the slack.

State/City Issues
-California:      Uber pulls out of their driverless car experiment in San Francisco after the state DMV pulled their registration. Rumor has it that Uber is now moving experiment to Arizona. Governor welcomes Uber with open arms.

-Florida:           Lawmaker says that there is no need for a driverless car permit in the state.

-Maryland:       Hoping to make a portion of the I-95 a driverless car corridor testing ground.

-Michigan:       Senator Peters will continue to work to make the state a hub of driverless car activities.

-Pennsylvania: State DOT pushing for state to be a testing ground for driverless cars.

-Atlanta:           Hoping to make North Avenue a driverless car corridor.

-Boston:           Has now started testing driverless cars.

-Pittsburgh:      Pittsburgh has given much for Uber to test driverless cars but Uber has given very little back to Pittsburgh.

-Phoenix:         Police nervous about driverless cars.


Check out the Driving News Feed at the National Motorists Website for all the latest developments.  

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