Monday, September 8, 2008

From today's NY Times: Why are we building 100mph cars in a 30mph nation?

In some states, alcohol and speeding are nearly equal in their disastrous results on the streets and highways. In other states, speeding is seemingly "not a problem." But as we know, speeding is a problem; not much is done about it.

This piece, No Need for Speed, suggests that building 300hp cars, trucks and SUVs for roads limited to 75mph may be (uh...) counterproductive.


Khal said...

Interesting concept. I've commented often on how we have refined engines so they are extremely fuel efficient compared to the Detroit OHV iron of the sixties and seventies, using technologies such as variable valve timing, variable intake manifold runners, extremely accurate fuel injection profiling, and oxygen sensors.

But instead of capitalizing on this work with better fuel economy, we create SUVs that can outperform a sixties muscle car. And for what? Who needs a Porsche SUV, anyway?

jthurber80 said...

Speed sells. The Corvette, which is capable of easily topping 150 mph, gets a sustained 28 mpg at 80. How? Aerodynamics. How much fuel does your Kawasaki ZX-10R use at 80 mph? Probably the same amount.

Speed sells. How fast is your Trek 5.9 Madone vs a Santana Beach Cruiser? For that matter, how about a Pocket Llama vs a Trek 9.9 Hardtail? Lots of folks in the Bay Area ride and drive phenominally expensive "transportation" machines but still travel at 20 and 70 mph (respectively).

Speed Sells. People purchase 300 hp autos / trucks with 400 ft lbs of torque and use about 5 percent of it most of the time. It's sort of like a fine desert. It's nice to know it's there but if you eat it . . . you gonna pay . . . myocardial infarction anyone?

Khal said...

One can overdo the speed and power argument. I'd prefer the balance and handling of a Cayman or Cayman S to the raw power of the 911 Turbo. Something to be said for being able to thread the needle at speed with elegance rather than brute force. And the Cayman gets 30 mpg. Both cars have astounding brakes. The weak link is the operator.

Now, if we can put a cell phone interlock into the ignition systems....