The case for an Australian-made small second car
Eighty percent of homes in our street have two cars.
Eighty percent of cars that drive along our street have lone drivers.
Eighty percent of drivers would not or could not ride bikes.
If all the two-car homes had one of the cars as a small car for single-driver trips, many problems would be solved – such as use of petrol, carbon emissions, traffic congestion and parking. Australia could well make such cars. The one question to solve is feelings of safety – Sixty percent have big cars thinking they are safer in our traffic, and so make the problem worse.
The single-occupant car
The single occupant car is a symbol of death
It knows not where it goes
It tramples live animals and birds beneath it
It is out of all human contact that is not artificial
It spends the resources of the earth in its making and in its driving
It emits pollution to all around and to the air above
Mad Car Disease
If we were not all mad,, we would drive around, when we had to, mostly in very small cars for 1-3 people, using family size cars only when needed. The main reason we do not is speed. If city traffic was slower, very small cars would be safer. People would not buy 4WD tanks to feel safe in the suburbs. A household would have a cheap very small car as an accessory along with bicycles.
But because we are mad, the next generations will have no more fossil-fuels millions of years old, and more of our pollution and consequences of pollution than we have any right to bequeath.
Rolls-Royces are two tonnes. To transport one person, wastes fuels millions of years old.
Small auxiliary cars can help to slash the environmental hazard of the motor-car
Very small cars for two-car households, to be used as the second car would makes environmental good sense. Their main problem is safety in traffic. This can be solved and benefit everyone except the speed hoons.
More than half of Australian households are likely to have more than one car. Up to 80 per cent of cars on the road carry just one person. Australian-made small “second-cars” for city travel could help solve 3 problems.
For our security and future economy, Australia must maintain a sustainable heavy industry, basic manufactures,, and skilled tradesmen. Innovation is needed to reduce the present reliance of the automotive industry on producing uneconomic and environmentally unsustainable large cars, without scrapping all the factories, equipment and workers that make them.
Single-occupant private cars contribute significantly to carbon emissions and other pollution, resource depletion and other global problems related to climate change and future shortages. And their usual size increases traffic congestion.
A visitor from Mars would be astonished that to go anywhere one person takes around with him a tonne of metal. Buck Rogers future-comics never imagined this form of transport. There is a story of aliens who assume that cars are the main players on earth; humans are merely objects needed to steer them.
Large second cars have been the automatic choice when petrol costs, carbon emissions, climate change, traffic congestion and pollution were not anything to worry about. But no more.
Australians could produce light, cheap two-seater citicars as second cars for households. There are also large potential markets for small cars for older drivers and for young adults on tight budgets, who can borrow or rent a larger car when needed.
Smaller cars reduce parking problems, including at public-transport connections.
Problems and possible solutions
The major problem for small cars is the real and perceived dangers in traffic.
City roads would need to have speed limits under 50kph, and “safe lanes” on urban freeways where heavy trucks and 4WDs had to take special care about visibility of small cars.
It may be time to tax urban-based 4WDs to extinction so that small cars were less at risk. 4WDs have poor visibility when it comes to spotting small vehicles, and typically drivers are less skilled than truck-drivers. The main reason cited for the urban use of 4WDs is that it provides a feeling that it is safer driving a two-tonne monster. “Personal tanks” do seem to increase personal safety but they reduce the safety of others: they cause more third-party accidents through obscuring other drivers’ views, both when they are parked as well as when they are being driven on the roads.
Drivers of small cars have their vision impeded by large 4WDs in car parks and at crossroads; 4WDs cause more congestion, waste more fuel, and as recreational vehicles, are spoilers of bushland, creeks and other on-road and off-road rural environments.
To make small vehicles more visible some aerial might be needed such as carried by some scooters.
It is also time for cultural change to courtesy on the roads from in driver attitudes of insolence and aggression and to appreciate the value and rights of all other vehicles that do a public service by reducing congestion. This is feasible, believe it or not, and relates to a general cultural change that is needed in definitions of what is a “mature adult”.
The business of so much heavy freight on suburban roads has yet to be tackled. Freeways and interstate highways, which must be shared with speeding interstate freight, are inevitably more dangerous for small vehicles. Indeed, to substantially replace long solo car trips, it is time that rail transport was extended, that tickets for groups were cheaper than group travel by cars, bus links at stations were improved, and car-rent facilities were on-call and bookable at major stations.
As the law stands, two-seater cars would not be suitable for carrying children under eight, and hence would be of no use to ferry them to school. But it is high time for many reasons, including children’s health and education, that education facilities for young children were always available in their locality, and could be reached safely by foot, bicycle and public transport, or car-pooling.
What sort of Australian-made small citicar?
Small cars are ideal for modern energy-saving forms of power There are now many types, models and dreams of small-cars world-wide, including the predecessors such as the old baby Austins, bullnose Morrises with dickey seats, Minis and Beatles, and futuristic bubble-cars in comics. They can be cheap, durable, reliable, easily maintained and repaired, run on little petrol or a range of more environmentally-friendly power sources such as solar, electric and hydrogen-fueled. They are more weather-comfortable than motor-scooters especially for the older driver. They take up less space in traffic (but are not suitable for fast traffic), and take up smaller parking bays.
One example could be the lightweight four-seater Indian Tato Nano which could possibly sell for as little as A$2,850 plus charges and taxes. It has a rear-mounted 623cc two-cylinder 25kW engine, an overall length of 3.1m, a four-speed gearbox and manual steering, claimed fuel consumption of 5 litres per 100km, and top speed of 105km/h. The body is sheet metal and air conditioning and an airbag will be optional in the luxury version. It is regarded as sparking a rethink in manufacturing strategies and costs among rival manufacturers in first-world markets.
Two-seater hatchback cars need not have Tata’s primitive features, and could be smaller still.
Much single driving is short trips which do not require high speeds. Safe fuel-saving top speed can be set to under 120kph, or for cheap little non-freeway cars under 100kph. This is also an advantage for the elderly, who may find fast driving stressful because we tend to have slower reaction times, Traffic conditions that allow us to drive safely and to be tolerated on roads enable us to continue to be independent – reducing the great public expense when the elderly can no longer care for themselves. Speed limitation is also a safety advantage for P-plate drivers. Production lines for small cars can be more easily and cheaply modified for innovation. Innovative small cars are also more easily exported than large cars.
This direction in Australian manufacture needs urgent exploration, setting the possibilities for drivers’ information, arousing awareness, and gauging and increasing potential markets.