Husband's come back from America a bit shocked. I'm a bit shocked too listening to his observations. He was shocked about the size of cars compared to Europe. He was shocked that an average MPG was below 30. He was shocked that so many people say they won't have a car smaller than a V8. Granted this was Oregon where it's mountainous and snowy. Hearing the panic some people have about the prices of gas (Double that for the UK, folks. Double. Over $8 a US gallon), people filling their tanks and running from the stations.
What struck me was the size of vehicles in the USA today. I can't help it, but I was thinking back to when I was a kid and your average family car was a boat. Land barges we called them. Mobile homes for some if yours had bench seats. My best friend's first car was an 83' Ford Bronco, another had a 78' Malibu, another a 74' Cadillac. My first car was Ford shitbox that died not too long after I got it, but my heart was with the 84' Skylark I got as my second car. I loved that car. I understand how people can love their cars. You form a relationship with it. You know it's noises, tweaks, perks, feel. It becomes an extension of yourself. I was all right with my four cylindars. Sure it shook like mad at 80mph, but then the speed limit was 55 so I shouldn't have been driving at 80. So I'm wondering why so many people need an extension of themselves that, let's be honest - a behemoth! Why must the extension be a tank? Is it to show ostentation? Is it for protection? Has 9/11 sent folks into the tanks and land barges? Is it machismo, and if it is why are so many women driving the behemoths?
I've talked about this briefly with a few American friends and they tell me what the European presses aren't; auto companies can't shift the behemoths anymore even with cash incentives or free gas for a year. People are choosing bikes and using public transport. So how long before the car companies - who've been through an oil crisis before and should've predicted this seven years ago - start to make affordable cars with smaller engines? Will the speed limits drop again, because it's kinder to a four cylindar engine? Using history as a guide, it may be so.
In case you're wondering, we have a 2005 Alfa Romeo 156 with a 1.9 liter diesel engine and gets 42mpg on average. It costs £75 to fill the tank and it'll last nearly two weeks. This is a very perky car with a turbo and it loves to be driven.
So where is the future of automotive going? Well, you choose.