Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Cars That Can Only Go 34 mph Max??"

Try suggesting to people that all cars, trucks, and civilian vehicles (police and fire excepted) be physically modified, or originally created, so that they would be physically restrained to a top speed of 34 mph (55kmph) in order to solve a vast selection of problems.

Man, get ready for the wild verbal breakdancing. Whoa, whoa, whoa!

"I'd rather switch to Islam".

That "switch" idea was the most original reaction. Somehow, being a Moslem gets you access to unlimited fuel! And thus, drive anything, any speed, you want!

The usual reaction is simple disbelief: "You're joking.... right??!"

"Impossible." "That is the nuttiest idea I've ever heard."

Most Americans don't realize that in Japan, the "Kei" classification of cars has been in existence for many years... since 1949! At the time of the original car, engine size was restricted to 150cc's (about 9 cubic inch displacement!) Since then it has been raised to 660 cc's. The basic restriction imposed upon Kei cars is their size: about ten feet long, and 4.5 feet wide...max. The small 660 cc engines (about 38 cubic inches) do not have power restrictions, so "stock" engines of this size can be sixty-plus horsepower out the factory door. Check wikipedia for "Kei" car history and particulars.

Of particular interest to me is that Kei cars have a favorable "crash" history compared to deaths and injuries associated with larger vehicles. Typically-produced "kei" cars in the 1990s weighed about 1600 lbs., about half the weight of typical small American passenger cars.

Lighter cars get better mileage. Inertia (getting the speed from zero to thirty) consumes about 60% of the fuel used in urban driving. Reduce the weight, reduce the gallons of fuel used.