Thursday, November 29, 2007

Something else I would buy (or at least think about buying) if I could find one

This entry could be considered the 2nd in a series of posts, but given that the first entry was nearly two years ago, the link is perhaps tenuous.

Anyway, I've thought several times lately that I have a car that would comfortably seat four people, and yet usually its just me in there. Like easily 90% of the time. And most of the other people on the road are in the same situation. Shouldn't there be some motor company addressing this issue? What I'm talking about is a one-seater car. Not a motorcycle, because honestly, I don't want to die if I get hit by someone else, and this one-seater car shouldn't have any kind of balance requirements. And because we're still talking about a car here, not a bicycle with an engine.

I mean, honestly, I don't normally need all the space in my car, and it seems like there should be a smaller car that is still roomy for the driver, goes at normal speed, and isn't like a $40,000 sports car. Couldn't somebody come out with something like a "Camry-for-one"? You'd assume that by making the car a little smaller, the gas mileage would be better, and there'd be more space on the road if everyone was commuting in them. Maybe there'd be some kind of Voltron-esque way to have a driver's seat that joins up with the rest of the car when you need to have some passengers, but could separate out into its own vehicle when its just you.

Maybe I'm just being naive and assuming that other people would want something like this. Or maybe the space that my car has right now is no extra cost for the auto makers, so they're just throwing it in for free. I don't know. But if someone was making these, I'd think about getting one.


CJ said...

Yeah, the end of your post tracks my line of thinking. I can't imagine the marginal cost of adding in at least one extra seat is very high at all for automakers. Once they've put money into a car design, the marginal cost of expanding it out just a bit width-wise to allow a passenger is small. Plus, if it's going to be on four wheels (by convention), then it'd need to be that wide anyway. And, we prize safety on the road, and a car with at least two seats is probably clearly much safer than a one-seater.

You'd have lane issues if you had cars of different widths on the road, so you'd have to go with the lowest common denominator, the current-sized lanes. A special lane just for small cars would seem a bad call from a cost and efficiency perspective.

All that said, I guess it could work in an area where you have a very high number of one-person commuters on the road. The fuel savings from putting people in an individual car are probably smaller on a per-person basis than they are of cramming multiple people into one current car, although if you had a higher participation rate in the former, you might get some net fuel economy savings.

So, to sum up, I'm not sure. :)

j said...

Yeah, I wouldn't expect the lanes to shrink or anything drastic like that. It just seems like there out to be a compact car thats compact and economical, but designed for one person, rather than compact and designed to cram 4 people in, especially since the vast majority of driving is done by people driving alone, at least thats what it would seem given the low utilization of HOV lanes.

Tripper25 said...
This car gets 60 miles to the gallon and it only allows room for one person.

j said...

Yeah, I know those smart cars are starting to pop up in the US. My only concerns with those would be 1) Can they get up to 70 or so on the freeway, and 2) if someone ever hit me in that would I survive?

But I guess those are the kinds of trade-offs I'd have to be willing to make.