AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Ask AutoGuide No. 43
The large, rear-wheel-drive sedan is a uniquely American phenomenon. Like bison, they used to roam free across the continent in an enormous herd that couldn’t be numbered, not even with an industrial-size abacus. But just like their furry, hoofed counterparts these cars have all but disappeared, victims of that relentless and unstoppable force called progress.
According to a recent study conducted by researchers at MIT and Berkeley, roomier interiors lead to drivers to being more unethical… wait, what?
When Size Matters
Large and in charge. Big is beautiful. Size matters. Yes, there are endless clichés to support the notion that the bigger something is, the better it is. In the automotive kingdom, some vehicles not only adhere to this philosophy, but redefine it. We aren’t talking the puny realm of offerings like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or even Dodge Charger. No, this is for the serious four wheeled hippos. The cars where it is more fun to be in the backseat than the front seat.
If you have more money to burn than the average NFL Quarterback, then there are some serious vehicles you can buy that are seriously long. How about the 220.9-inch Phantom Coupe? Not long enough for you? You could upsize to the 239.8-inch Phantom extended-wheelbase sedan, or maybe the 242.7-inch Maybach 62?
But for the rest of us mere mortals, there are some sizable vehicles out there under $100,000. Heck, two of the top ten are even under $30,000. So we will now present to you the top ten vehicles that are longer than The Hobbit.
It created a lot of buzz when it was unveiled at Frankfurt back in September, yet the F-125! concept, besides showcasing possible future technologies such as a hydrogen-fuel cell powertrain, exotic construction materials and onboard telemetry, might also point to the direction large, executive cars may actually go if increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions standards remain on the cards.
Further emphasizing the fact that the F-125! might actually hint at future Mercedes S-Class models, Dr. Thomas Weber, head of R&D at Daimler AG (pictured with it above), said, in reference to the F-125! “this research car was built with the perspective of what does a car in 2025 look like?”
That’s far beyond the projection of most modern concept cars, which tend to either be trial balloons for upcoming production models, or hint at vehicles five to 10 years down the road.
However, given that the European Union, in it’s infinite wisdom, seems almost hell bent on outlawing large, gasoline engined cars (proposed smog standards for 2020 include a limit of 95 grams per km (5.4 ounces per mile – contrasting with around 154 g/km today) the F-125! could represent what you might get when walking into a Mercedes showroom and purchasing a S-Class, some two decades from now.
There’s no question, that in order to meet these ultra tough smog standards, electric drive and fuel cells will be part of the equation, though to meet the demands of future S-Class customers, particularly those of range and performance, Mercedes understands that new, unproven technologies will have to be employed.
One of them includes using a new Kevlar like material to store hydrogen in the vehicle’s body cavities instead of a conventional cylindrical tank, improving onboard capacity and help boosting the car’s range.
Yet another is using a lithium-sulphur battery to increase energy density and also boost performance and range. However, at present such technologies are very much in the infant stage, though Weber says that lithium-sulphur batteries might become more prevalent toward the end of the decade, even thought at that point, they’ll probably be relegated for use in small items, like power tools.
However, Tim Urquhart, a London based analyst with the firm IHS Global Insight, says that the F-125! doesn’t as much showcase the future of big cars, but rather how uncertain automakers are about them.
“Sometimes when an OEM is talking about these things, you take it with a pinch of salt,” he said. “In this car [the F-125!], I think they are trying to imagine what a vehicle of this type would be like in the long-term future.”
He also went on to state that for performance models and long legged GT cars, current thinking regarding EV technology simply isn’t the solution. “You’re not going to get a lithium-ion powered EV with internal combustion engine power and range. The chemistry won’t allow it.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Americans don’t buy small cars because we’re too damn fat. There. It’s what we’ve all been thinking all along. And now a report comes by to confirm our deepest suspicions: we buy SUVs and avoid small cars because our posteriors can’t fit comfortably without lumbar support.
A report from AOL Autos reveals that there’s a connection between our rapidly-expanding obesity rate and a struggle for manufacturers to sell small cars. The number of people defined as obese is expected to increase from 40% to 43% by 2018, according to statistics from Dan Cheng, vice president and partner at business consulting firm AT Kearney. Similarly, sales of small cars like the Mazda2 have dropped 2% since 2008, that terrible year when gas prices were $4 per gallon. They’re at 26% now, and unless people start losing either weight or money (to the gas pumps), they’re not likely to increase soon.
Correlation may not imply causation, as you learned in Freshman Philosophy and a million Internet arguments, but the statements of self-acknowledged obese people drive home the connection. “I want to be environmentally friendly,” said Karen Steelman, a mother whose body-mass index is above the commonly-defined obesity rate, “but unless I am in an SUV these days, I find no pleasure or comfort in driving.”
Another driver surveyed was Robert Dean Cole, who is 6 foot 7 inches and 240 pounds, with a six-year-old son who is nearly 5 feet tall. “Obviously, little cars are not going to be in our future,” he said. “And even if I could actually fit under the steering wheel of the car my next worry would be surviving a car accident. Good chance I won’t be surviving due to my size.” Cole drives a Ford F-150.
Carmakers are working on making their cars more accessible to larger drivers, regardless of size. Ford, for example, is updating their database of human dimensions to include obese adults. Interior design teams use this data to determine key factors such as center console placement, seat controls, roof lines, and sunroof controls, among others. In the end, as well-packaged cars like the Honda Fit can attest, it’s the cleverness of interior packaging that will haul our muffin tops down the road to freedom!
[Source: AOL Autos]