Tiny (car) Revolution
If pods aren't your thing, tiny commuting is, and you're not living in Europe (oh how we envy your tiny cars) things are looking up in North America. Take a look.
North America has always been about BIG. There were big frontiers to be conquered, larger than life heroes to lead the way, and tall tales to tell about them. We even have prizes for the biggest vegetables and cattle at every county fair across the country (whereas in other places, people care about little things like, oh, you know, quality).
So when it came to cars, you can imagine how we wanted them. Big. Like a boat on the road, and we were the captains. And we happened to have lots of long straight, relatively empty road, which made giant boat cars perfectly practical (though not environmentally responsible, but this was really before the "environment" had been discovered). Oh, sure, there was a little wiggle in car size in the 1970s, when we stopped getting oil for a little bit, but even that hiccup didn't slow us for long, and now we're back to the big guns
Now, at long last, a day when pedestrians may actually stand a chance against cars seems like a possibility. After the success of the Mini re-launch in the US, other car companies are starting to take notice. And they're using the same genius concept that made the mini so successful: Rather than pitching your car as a tiny, fuel efficient machine, show people how your design is a tiny sex machine (cartoon from Playboy which contains crash test dummy sex, maybe NSFW), or a tiny speed demon, or just tiny and cute. In short, they're cashing in on real innovation that people can use, and fuel economy happens to come with it.
Hot on the heals of the Cooper is Toyota's aptly named Scion group. This tiny splinter of the mega company is making waves by producing distinctive, lifestyle centered cars for young buyers, a demographic that got very little love in the past. We didn't love the xB at first, but it's growing on us, and the xA has always gotten us feeling good. Scion's also using some cool tricks to keep costs down at a level that youngsters can get into, which is important.
And finally joining the party on this side of the Atlantic is the long lauded Smart Car. Already a huge hit overseas, it's set to make its Canadian debut next week, and will be launched in the US in 2006. While obviously still going for the cute/lifestyle angle (It's even got removable side panels for customization!!), this car is aimed very solidly at city commuters, with parking costs hitting record highs all over, and gas prices shooting through the roof. Solidly enough, in fact to have General Motors searching for a competitor.
Hopefully, all this small car mania will help set us on the road to recovery from the "BIGs". Maybe by planting the seeds with out children, by the time they grow up, the H2 will be a distant painful memory. We can only hope.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team