• Aug 7, 2006

Just as Americans continue to get fatter, so do our cars. According to the EPA, the average weight of a new vehicle in 2006 is a whopping 4,142 lbs - that's up a quarter-ton from ten years ago, and is the heaviest yet since the EPA began tracking the statistic in 1975. Not only does weight hurt fuel economy, but it also drags down performance. Adding additional horsepower is easy nowadays, but that of course hits economy a second time. The end result is that fuel economy improvements have stalled in the last decade, despite vastly improved engine technology.

This has prompted automakers to consider a variety of diet plans. The supplier of trim moldings for Buick's Lucerne managed to cut a whopping five pounds out of that vehicle's plastic and rubber trim, while the aluminum hood and deck of Chrysler's LX vehicles are said to shave 15-20 lbs. Such improvements seem minor, but when repeated several times throughout the vehicle, substantial gains can be had.

Of course, like any weight-loss program, it's much easier to put the weight on than it is to take it off, so the situation is unlikely to improve substantially until buyers accept a compromise in power, features, safety, size, or price. The likelihood of that, even at over $3/gallon, seems quite low at this time.

[Source: Autoweek/Automotive News]



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  • 17 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      from the edmunds write up on the new yaris S sedan:
      "21st-century Corolla
      Despite its subcompact label, the Yaris is longer, wider and heavier than the Echo it replaces and about the same size as that best-selling Corolla from a decade ago."
      • 8 Years Ago
      "OT, my ideal lightweight car:

      - 2.0 liter Inline-4 (~250HP) with:
      - LPT (1)
      - GDI (2)
      - High compression ratio
      - 8,000+ RPM redline
      - gobs of torque from 2,000 RPM till redline
      - 195/50-15 wheels/tires
      - RWD (AWD too heavy)
      - *MANUAL* six-speed
      - *NO MORE THAN* 2,000 pounds (~ 900 KG)
      - *NO MORE THAN* USD$20,000"

      its not possible to sell this car in the us, its just too small. at this point i will settle for a 2700 lb car with RWD. maybe a kappa car could loose a couple hundred pounds if they added a roof? such a car might never be made again.
      gbh
      • 8 Years Ago
      Between safety and customer-driven NVH and power demands, it is kinda nuts, isn't it?

      Remember when it was pretty simple?

      small: 2000#
      midsize: 3000#
      big/luxury: 3800-4500#

      The bright part of the future comes from composites - as they become more mainstream, there will be a huge loss in weight, with no compromise of safety or NVH.
      • 8 Years Ago
      FWIW, my non-feather duster (cast iron 4 speed, all steel, 6 cyl, 3.23 gears) clocks in at ~3200 lbs, is 197" long, 75" wide and I average 24-27mpg combined city/highway. this car is about 200-400 lbs heavier than a comparable 1970 model, mainly due to much heavier bumpers for front & rear crash protection (behind the chrome is a 1/4" wall C channel that's ~4"x6"x60", that's mounted to 2 3" diameter hydraulic shock absorbers, vs. the older ones which had no inner bumper, and simple, light steel mounts), and side door beams for side impact that the 70-72's didn't have.

      why are new cars heavier than older cars? crash protection is part of it, but a larger part of it is luxury features demanded. 1) power windows, the electric motors add 5-10 lbs over a hand crank per door. 2) A/C- the condensor, evaporator, compressor and lines add a good 50-75lbs over a non-A/C car. power door locks- the solenoids and wiring add probably a good 5-10lbs. power seats- again, the electric motors probably add 5lbs per motor (8 way seat probably has 4 motors), and NVH. all the other ancillary electronics (from engine controlls to heated cup holders, etc) requires a significant amount of wiring. copper isn't light. last time I was at the walter P chrysler museum, they had on display a complete vehicle wire harness from a late 50's imperial. IIRC, it had about 500 feet of wire. next to it, they had a complete vehicle intrepid/LHS harness, and there was over 1 mile of wire in it. for the cobalt owner-- your battery is in the trunk. that means there has to be a 00 gage wire going from the battery to the starter. that wire on my car with an engine compartment mounted battery is 2-3 feet. I'd imagine the cobalt's has got to be closer to 10'. little things like that add up. Another reason is NVH. noise damping is most effective by adding mass to a part to change it's natural frequency. most sound deadeners are a combination of fiberglass matt, rubber, or asphalt based. all that adds significant weight
      • 8 Years Ago
      I do wish more companies would put some effort into weight reduction. I think a lot of companies look at it as a last-step trimming-down to improve economy/performance(and maybe even cost, since hollow/lighter plastic parts might be cheaper since they use less raw materials?).

      If they designed for low weight from the beginning, I think they'd have better luck.

      My current car weighs 2750lbs and frankly, it's too heavy for what it is. It's still lighter than a lot of modern cars, and for that I give Nissan props, but they should have given the SE-R version more of a diet compared to the base Sentra.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "My experience is that sometimes small is too small. But combine small with a decently powerful engine, and you have the sweet spot. But modern cars are forgoing the "small". Oftimes, the engines they package in these behemoths aren't powerful enough to move them, so drivers have to push them hard, cutting gas milage. Don't make them so damn heavy!

      Posted at 2:27PM on Aug 7th 2006 by Alvin"

      Bingo!

      OT, my ideal lightweight car:

      - 2.0 liter Inline-4 (~250HP) with:
      - LPT (1)
      - GDI (2)
      - High compression ratio
      - 8,000+ RPM redline
      - gobs of torque from 2,000 RPM till redline
      - 195/50-15 wheels/tires
      - RWD (AWD too heavy)
      - *MANUAL* six-speed
      - *NO MORE THAN* 2,000 pounds (~ 900 KG)
      - *NO MORE THAN* USD$20,000

      A man can dream...

      (1) http://www.autozine.org/technical_school/engine/tech_engine_3.htm#LPT
      (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_Direct_Injection

      • 8 Years Ago
      I still don't understand exactly why the VW Rabbit and Chevy Cobalt weight significantly more than the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Civic. Although my 2006 Cobalt is delivering 33-35 mpg even with its heavier weight and larger engine(with a stick shift and easy freeway commute) quite regularly.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Cars are getting heavier due to increased safety and luxury content and higher safety standards but also because we as drivers and occupants keep getting taller and wider. It's that simple.

      The whole VW/Audi lines seem to be really heavy. Even the compact Jetta can weigh close to 3,300 lbs!
      • 8 Years Ago
      "According to the EPA, the average weight of a new vehicle in 2006 is a whopping 4,142 lbs - that's up a quarter-ton from ten years ago, and is the heaviest yet since the EPA began tracking the statistic in 1975."


      Key word: AVERAGE

      Next key word (not spoken) % of vehicles that are large SUV's and Trucks. Pretty simple, do the math, what's popular? SUV's, what's not, small cars. How much does all that extra room for one weigh in at? A lot.

      How many SUV's were on the road in 1975?

      The AVERAGE just went up.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The other day I drove behind a 1985 Honda Accord. That car is smaller than my 2005 Corolla. It seems that with every redesign cars get a little bigger and heavier.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Toyota Corolla FX-16 was Toyota's answer to the VW GTI. Its wheelbase is 95.7 inches, body is a 3-door hatchback, engine is a 1587 cc four cylinder twin cam 16 valve, HP is 110 at 6600 rpm, WEIGHT is 2365 pounds,EPA rating is 25/29 mpg. Performance is 0 to 60 in 8.3 seconds. My 1987 has over 100,000 miles on it and continues to be a blast. The New VW GTI isn't much faster or more eccomomical and it it has a supercharger. Is that progress?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'd imagine that some of the issue is the higher number of Ute's being bought. But cars have grown as well. As I've said before: Todays Corolla is bigger than 1990's Camry. (Same goes for honda and the old Accord and new Civic). how a compact car (like the corolla or civic) still qualifies as a compact is beyond me... considering that 18 years ago, these would likely qualify as mid o even large cars, especially if based on interior volume.
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