posted on May, 7 2005 @ 10:57 PM
this is one topic that has a habbit of comeing up within any discussion about oil and consevation as well as enviroment discussions. i feel that it is
deserving of it's own discussion. that is suv's, trucks, and vans vs more efficiant, smaller vehicles. the idea is to take a look at the
differances, uses and efficiancy between them.
the main point of contention about these bigger vehicles is both their lack of fuel efficiancy as well as their equil extent of createing more
polutants. i will say that both are perfactly valid points. next we have a concrn about the safety of smaller vehicle when they collide with these
more massive vehicles. also a somewhat valid point. then there is also the contention that many drive these bigger vehicles where a smaller vehicle
would be fine. especialy when these bigger vehicles tend to contain only a driver, and are only seen to be used as "from point a to point b"
driveing. well lets talk about some of the reasoning. i apologize ahead of time as this will be a rather long post to start.
first off lets talk a bit about how vehicles are designed and why. first off lets go back to the beginnings of the mainstay gas powered autos. well to
begine with at one time autos were sold being just a frame and moter. the "coachwork" (body) was custum built for the requirements of the owner, to
meet their spacific needs. then henry ford came along with the assembly line production. at this time and into the future cars and trucks were not
much differant. both started with a basic frame to which everything was attached. the moter, drivetrain, body and cargo areas were all bolted onto
these "full" frames. in this regaurd they were very simmiler to each other. this being true from a point safety and efficiancy/pollution they were
all prety much the same. of note at this time the only real safety devices were breaking systoms. no lights except for oil lamps, no seatbelts or
airbags. nothing. at one point runners were even required in many places to warn of the aproching vehicals. this was to be the same for many years
with safety and emmisions equipment brought in along the way.
things devoloped over the years untill there was a growing differance between vehicle designs. trucks were built for hauling and general use, cars
were made more comfortable and safe for the ocupants. the realy big differances started to come about around the early 70's. there was a fuel
"shortage" (we all know now that this was a big pile of BS). suddenly fuel efficancy became something that was strived for. the japanese cars became
sought ofter in north america as they tended to be more efficant that north american cars, not to mention cheeper. how was this achived? the cars were
smaller and lighter therefore they used less fuel. as the weight that they needed to move was cut down. this started the way cars are designed today.
how other than size does one reduce weight? well as we are seeing today more and more you use lighter materials. even in cars that are built with
metal the same sized car of today is continuasly getting lighter. one of the first things that was done was to get rid of that heavy full frame. this
is the uni-body frame of today. before where the supporting structure was a frame underneith the car, today the stucture is provided by the body. this
is why cars have becoime more suceptable to collisins "writeing off" the car. as well as car not "feeling"the same after an accident and going
down the road at a bit of an angle. at one time if a car was put enough off true you could just install a new frame onto it. not so any more. now you
straighten it as best you can or just "total" it. this has actualy made cars far more disposable then they were before. body panels and parts are
easy to replace but the frame is the sticking point. also if you look under a convertable car you will see that they have had to add extra
reinforcement as there is no body to take the stress, yes the roof of a modern car is very important to the structure of it.
now that the frame is gone what else lightens the car? well you just use thinner metals for body pannels or use things such as fiberglass or plastics
to replace it. the thinness of the metals is evident just by pressing on it. to dent a 1970's car for example it takes quite a lot of force. like a
kick for example. to dent a car made of metal today you just have to press on it with a finger. this in itself again makes a car more suceptable to
damage. enough so that we now have "safety cages" needed to try to protect ocupants. a safety cage is basicaly reinforcement of the passenger
compartment. this is now needed when it was not before. of course there was always some reinforcement but not to the same degree. reinforcement is
also more needed with non-metal body parts.
ok we have now lightened the body what else can be done to lighten a car? well you can get rid of all that heavy steel and iron still in a car. this
is done by useing inferior "white metals" such as aluminum. the engine had many iron and steel componants that have been replaced by aluminum.and
even now some ceramics. this is why such care must now be taken doing engine work. aluminum is extreemly soft compared to iron and steel. it is realy
easy to destroy an aluminum engine block just by crossthreading spark plugs. or over tightening things.
we have begun to see steel rims replaced by aluminum rims. i have worked with tire for well over ten years and would not by choice have aluminum rims
for many reasons. to start with tires have a habit of "slipping off the bead" that is looseing the airtight seal that is what keeps the air in
tires. ever notice that aluminum rimmed tires leak more than a steel rim? when one does a lot of tire work it becomes evident that this is true. rims
made of both steel and aluminum both corrode. rust takes years to form a leak but aluminum corrosion is a white powder and if used especialy in
winter needs to be cleaned every year or two if not more often. aluminum rim corrosion is very comman for causeing tire leaks. and low tires can cause
both bad controll as well as fuel innoficancy. not to menton of couse that they can and do break when hitting cubs instad of just warping. btw a steel
rim may only cost 40-100 bucks to replace where aluminum rims cost between 100-500 bucks each (dealer rims are typicaly about $300 up for
so now that cars are lightened and weaker what about trucks and suv's? well just as cars have had body pannels lightened and thus weakened so have
trucks, but not quite as much. a truck is made to be used a little more roughly so tends to be built a little bit stronger. also trucks typicaly still
have full frames, again they have been made lighter by useing thinner metals but it is still there. this is one reason that a suv or truck ends up in
better shape than a car involved in the same collision, simply put a truck has better framework to support it. also do to a trucks possible useage
they tend to be heavyer so in a collision they have more mass to add to the situation causeing even more damage. also blaimed for problems in a
collision between a truck and a car is the fact that since trucks are built higher so that they don't need roads it means that you have a truck
missing a car's bumper instead hitting a weak structure such as the trunk or in the case of a new "smart car" type vehicle the back of the front
seats. this is not a fault in the design of the truck but a faulty design of the car in question. after all manufacturers KNOW about this crittical
problem so it should be designed for it.
now when it comes to fuel efficancy, due to a car being smaller and lighter they can use much less powerfull and therefore more efficant engins. a
truck being bigger and heavyer needs more power and therefore use more fuel. compareing the efficancy between both is like compareing an apple to an
orange. both vehicles are designed for much diffarant purposes. a car is desined primaraly for moveing people arround. trucks and suv's are designed
for mutiple uses. moveing people arround is the least of these. a truck is desined to move cargo as well as to be able to go where a road may not
exist. they are UTILITY vehicles. they have many possible uses while a car has only one real use.
now why do people insist on driveing a truck or suv? well for one thing many considder a truck safer to a car. they are frankly built tougher. then
you have those that even though a vehicle is mainly used to go to work also have the need of room for a family. most cars do not have room. sure you
can sit two adults in the front seat, but back seats are even crampted for children. so most families if they can afford it go with a roomier mini
van. now a mini van though most are built like cars, they are still bigger, and therefore heavyer. so they require more power than a small car. they
also have the ability to haul some cargo makeing it a good desicion to buy. ever watch people try to load things like simple chairs into a car? it is
good for a laugh. a van makes far more sence for most people than a car. even if not used often when you need it, you need it.
now some people insist on driveing a suv or pick up truck. well you still have the ability to haul things when you need it. some people prefer to
drive a rear wheel drive vehicle and those are only available on pick ups, suv's and sports cars. a rear wheel drive is much more forgiveing in bad
weather especialy snow.it also has a much smoother ride in mud or snow. now dodge has come out with a couple rear wheel drives includeing a station
wagon. why not drive them? well for starters these "cars" have bigger engions then even many trucks.a big powerfull 350. they are realy sports cars
that can actualy be used to haul some stuff. if manufacturers would come out with regular rear wheel drive cars then many who drive trucks might buy
one of these cars. but a car still isn't very practical for a lot of people.
then we have those that choose to drive an suv because of things like all wheel and 4x4. peronaly there is a need for these types of vehicles, if one
goes off road for example. but they by their nature are not very efficiant and only realy usefull at slow speeds and starting off. once you are going
it dosn't do anything for you. but manufacturers are pushing these as very usefull for everyday driveing.something that needs to change. there is a
joke up here."how do the opp (ontario proventual police, in charge of highways amonst others),know there is a winter storm? all the 4x4's are off
road" (in the ditches). this is a humarous way of describeing the phonominum that 4x4 driver's seem to think that 4x4 means that you can go faster
in bad conditions. personaly from what i have seen rear wheel drives followed by 4x4 types are far superior to front wheel drives in snow. many bad
days i have watched pick ups and other rear wheel drive vehicles cruiseing by front wheel drives that are brely able to stay in controll or their
personaly instead of "cheating" and lightening/ makeing vehicles smaller, there needs to be a concerted effort to make bigger vehicles more
efficiant. a small car is fine for some but patheticaly useless for most. don't complain about seeing one person driveing their big vehicle to work.
you do not know what else they do that requires them to own a big vehicle. even that ocasional thing makes a big vehicle worth while. most can not
afford to own and operate both a small car for one person trips and a second for anything else. we have a choice for one vehicle that can do anything
we need. it is time that manufacturers took this into account and designed vehicles that are both fuel efficant and able to be used for families and
hauling stuff. the small car has only one use where as larger vehicles have many worthwhile uses. a small car may be fuel efficiant, but it is the
most inefficant vehicle when it comes to the ability to actualy do anything.
i will even agree that vehicles like the hummers or this new semmi turned into a pick up truck are not needed by most. but hey if they can afford to
run them more power to them. as for hybreds, yup they are a good thing except that we only see tiny hybreads. if they were to make a realisticaly
sized hybread i am sure that many people would get one if for nothing else then to save on fuel. also the price would need to be prety much the same
as a non-hybread. personaly i have high hopes for the use of hydrogen usage for vehicles. electric at this point should not even be considdered we
have more than enough things that need this power as it is we don't need to add even more strain to that power source. unfortunately we must also
keep it in mind that anything that we do to concerve fuel will take over 20 years to reach everyone. this is because many can only afford to buy old
vehicles for their use. unless of course someone comes up with things to replace older engions at a realistic price for those without money, or has a
equil trade in type setup.(trade in your guzzler for an equil efficiant vehicle).