Today’s Headlines

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • reasonableexplanation

    How is this different from a smart car/fiat/micra?

  • Vooch

    12 HP they even have a cargo truck version

  • reasonableexplanation

    You’ll enjoy this article then:

    At that power level what you’re advocating is golf carts basically. It’s a funny idea, to literally turn NYC into a country club. We’re getting there anyway, heh.

    But I’m actually fine with these cars. These sorts of cars can/should be road legal. I wouldn’t own one, since I like going outside the city, but it may be a good fit for people that don’t like the idea of motorbikes/scooters.

    However, it will probably increase car ownership, since the demographic this is targeting probably don’t have cars to begin with.

    At the end of the day though, I don’t think you will be satisfied with these cars. They’re a nice margin biting tool, but that’s about it. I remember you being unhappy with car2go, which isn’t that far off from these things, (except they can also go on the highway).

  • Vooch

    Appealing is the idea of many different niche vehicles that support different mobility options.

    It might be the engineer in me that wants to use the smallest most efficient machine for a task. Why use a 7,000lbs machine to go 1:3 mile to get some ice cream ?

    in Manhattan, I am increasingly seeing more and more SmartCars fitted out for workmen, complete with eye catching graphics “Vinney’s Caroentry” or “Suzies House Cleaning”.

    I saw a microcar going from big box shopping (CostCo in East Harlem) with about 15 grocery bags carefully packaged on a roof rack, Mom & Dad in the front seat. Plate ‘ITALLFITS”

    This is a good thing.

    I also think plenty of car owners in the Suburban areas of the Boros would be better off with owning a Small Car and renting the big machine for the 4 big road trips they do every year.

    We are in a transition phase of some sort for urban transportation.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Appealing is the idea of many different niche vehicles that support different mobility options.


    Why use a 7,000lbs machine to go 1:3 mile to get some ice cream ?

    Probably because you feel like you have a need for that car outside of getting ice cream, and you’re too poor to own a second small car.

    in Manhattan, I am increasingly seeing more and more SmartCars…

    That’s a great example of confirmation bias! Back in the day everyone had a sedan or a wagon. That’s been changing, and sure, some of those people are buying smaller cars, but most are buying SUVs and crossovers. I’m willing to bet you see a lot more new SUVs than you see microcars.

    Look, everyone makes a decision on the type of car they want or need. I drive a coupe personally, since I like the large doors and sportyness of it, and I rarely have more than one passenger. Sure I CAN fit 4 people in my car, but unless 2 of them are small, not comfortably, but that’s okay for me. If I had a family that I drove around even from time to time I’d get a larger sedan or minivan so they can be comfortable.

    I also think plenty of car owners in the Suburban areas of the Boros would be better off with owning a Small Car

    Why? The small cars aren’t cheaper than a comparable compact. (a smart car costs as much as the much larger versa). They’re slow, and not well insulated, so you have a lot of road noise. They’re not significantly more fuel efficient either (36mpg smartcar, 35mpg nissan versa). Their only advantage is that they’re easier to park, but in those areas that’s not a problem anyway.

    We are in a transition phase of some sort for urban transportation.

    Sure, but not the way you’d think. Midsize cars are atrophying, now that big cars don’t really have the fuel efficiency penalty they once did. I mean, even a Rav4 gets 26mpg now.

  • Vooch

    perhaps the root cause of being too poor to own a second Car Is squandering so much on a 7,000lbs Car 🙂

  • reasonableexplanation

    So, are you being facetious or just thick?

    A rav4 and a camry cost just about the same amount new. Same story for the used market. It’s pretty easy to understand being able to afford one of a thing, but not two. Especially when the recurring costs (such as insurance) are about the same, regardless of size of car.

    Didn’t you say you own and drive a ridiculous truck at some point, by the way?

  • Joe R.

    I think the larger point here is to own a vehicle more tailored towards what you do on a regular basis, not what you might do a few times a year. People get SUVs because they tow boats a few times a year but then end up mostly commuting to work in them (and wasting a ton of money of fuel). Better to just rent a vehicle with towing capability when you need it. If someone mostly uses their vehicle for local errands, a small electric microcar is just fine. They can rent something else for the occasional out-of-city trips.

    A better way to put this is you don’t own a moving truck for the times you move, so why own something with capabilities you rarely use?

    Totally subjective but SUVs and the like have buried us in a world of automotive mediocrity and ugliness. They remind me of roller skates. What ever happened to elegant aerodynamic designs?

    As I mentioned elsewhere, aerodynamics essentially gives you “free” fuel economy. No reason even big vehicles like SUVs can’t have sloped front ends and rounded, tapered rear ends.

    You can do even better on the aerodynamic front with EVs since you don’t need a grille. It seems Tesla is one of the few automakers focusing on this, although mostly out of necessity since it’s the best way to get more range out of EVs:

    Meanwhile the EVs coming from the major automakers are mostly boxes:

    The Hyundai isn’t too bad on the aerodynamic front but it could probably be better. And why the f did Chevy put a faux grille on the Bolt? That has to kill the aerodynamics of the thing, besides that it’s way too tall.

    Incidentally, used Leafs are going dirt cheap now. That might be the perfect vehicle for someone who rarely drives outside its range.

  • Vooch

    Camry is a big car

  • Vooch
  • reasonableexplanation

    You can just as easily take any compact sedan as an example. Anyway, why did you choose to drive a gigantic truck?

  • reasonableexplanation

    “I think the larger point here is to own a vehicle more tailored towards what you do on a regular basis”

    2 points here; 1; if I have more than one passenger even once a week, I’m springing for a sedan or larger. I’m sure many would do the same.
    2. These days, the #1 reason given for choosing an suv over a sedan is the ride height. People like sitting high (I don’t personally, but thats how it is).

    I’d give the same advice vis a vis renting if you need to do a thing once a year, but, if you have to do a thing more than maybe 3 times a year renting becomes just a huge hassle, so I don’t blame folks for choosing a larger vehicle, especially since there’s no huge mpg penalty anymore.

    You don’t see that many super sleek aerodynamic design like this due to safety regulations; both for occupants and especially for pedestrians. Having said that, current designs are really aerodynamic; Many modern cars have a drag coef. of under 0.3. The ‘boxy’ leaf you linked to has a drag coef. of 0.28.

    Used leafs are a great deal; they have terrible resale value at the moment. A friend of mine finished a 2 year leaf lease, and they offered it to him for 10k. Mostly since nobody knows what the batteries will do once the years wear on.

  • Joe R.

    It’s the combination of frontal area times drag coefficient which ultimately determines how efficient a vehicle is. That Volkswagen gets 261 mpg and it’s not some silly prototype. It’s a perfectly driveable street legal vehicle. Now visualize larger versions for those who might need the space. They won’t get 261 mpg, but they’ll probably still get over 100 mpg. These are the numbers we should be seeing. I don’t know where on Earth Americans got the notion that 25 or 28 mpg is “good”. Maybe compared to a 1960s gas guzzler it is but it sucks relative to what technology can accomplish now. For similar reasons a Cd of 0.28 is hardly good. It’s passable. 0.15 is good. Some velomobiles are under 0.1.

    Putting aside aerodynamics, we could get huge efficiency improvements just sizing engines closer to the continuous demands of typical driving (about 20 to 50 HP) rather than the peaks, along with replacing a mechanical transmission with a generator/electric motor system. Have some energy storage system, like a small battery, which can hit the electric motors for a few hundred HP for those times you need emergency acceleration. I’ve read if you do these things you could get 50% or better highway improvements, better than 100% improvements in city driving. They also would make the vehicle more reliable.

    People like sitting high (I don’t personally, but thats how it is).

    The problem here is these tall vehicles block the view of everyone driving something sensible. They also block the views of pedestrians when parked. From a psychological perspective you feel like you’re going slower in a taller vehicle, which is actually bad if we want to slow cars down. People have all sorts of wants or likes. Some of them shouldn’t be catered to if it affects the safety of others, as is the case here. I’d personally like to see SUVs banned from places like NYC. More often than not people buy larger, heavier, taller vehicles to compensate for their driving deficiencies. If you’ve ever bothered to notice, people in black SUVs are among the worst drivers going.

    As an EE I can tell you unless the batteries have been subject to an unusual event, like make a physical shock from a collision, the Leaf batteries will mostly be serviceable past 200K miles. A replacement costs about $6K which isn’t horrible. If someone recharges using home solar, they essentially got their fuel for free. $6K to go another 200K miles is less than gasoline would cost for the same vehicle. That price will certainly drop as aftermarket batteries come on the market. I also personally think EV conversion kits for ICE vehicles might be a big thing, particularly if we start taxing carbon. Someone might like their existing vehicle but can no longer afford to drive it much. An EV conversion fixes that.

  • Vooch


    it gets Used for real work stuff

    however, in last couple of years, not Using as much

    average real MPG >25

  • Vooch

    any Car with a wheelbase >103″ is a Big vehicle

  • reasonableexplanation

    Don’t you commute to work by bike?

  • Vooch


  • reasonableexplanation

    So you…cycle back home during the workday to pick up your work truck? I’m confused.

  • Vooch

    You are confused because you can’t fathom someone Owning a work vehicle and not driving it to & from work.

    Think creatively – I cycle 3 miles to work, I often use a pick up truck for work.

    where does pick up truck sleep at night ?

  • reasonableexplanation

    You gave the impression that that was your truck, that you also used for work. If it’s just a work truck that sleeps in the yard, well, that’s not your personal vehicle then is it?

  • Vooch

    it’s my property

  • reasonableexplanation

    strange setup, but I hope they’re reimbursing you for mileage.

  • Vooch

    ‘They’ don’t

  • ahwr

    On diesel alone the XL1 gets ~120mpg.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Why the quotes? Who does?