Two weeks later I am finally getting around to writing part two of this series, from high above the US somewhere above “flyover country”. Last time I addressed the issues with CAFE standards as they pertain to their involvement in the rise in popularity of the SUV. This time I’m going to cover what happens bow that SUVs have been added to the vehicles under restriction.
In order for companies to offset the low fuel economy vehicles in their fleets, like SUVs, they must build high fuel effeciency vehicles. What that often means is smaller vehicles with smaller engines, or hybrids. The biggest problem with these vehicles is that, in general, the American public is wholly uninterested in driving these vehicles. How many of your friends drive Honda Fits? The automakers are required to build cars they can’t sell, and this lose money. They then have to offset those costs with higher prices on the vehicles people actually want to buy, such as SUVs and trucks. In the end the people that lose out are the consumers, you and I.
Besides the problems the automakers face from having to produce unpopular cars, and the added cost to consumers that results, there is a further issue with these econoboxes. Most of them just aren’t that safe. Firstly with their size they are pretty much guaranteed to be on the losing end of a crash with an SUV. Secondly, in order I make up for their lack on size, many of these cars are built with more rigid frames. These more rigid frames counteract the “jaws of life” and greatly increase extraction time in the event of a crash. So, not only do the passengers come out worse as far as injuries it takes longer for econobox passengers to receive he medical attention they need. Finally, with less powerful engines, these vehicles re more likely to impede traffic entering a freeway, or in other traffic situations. This impediment causes other drivers to have to alter their course of travel and therefore can led other drivers to be involves in crashes, which may not involve the econobox drivers.