Car makers deserve to go under

Car manufacturers are going under.

It is late in 2010 and the motor industry has seen enormous changes.

Consolidation is the new way to survive in the motor industry, with many large car makers joining forces.

Making more brands and producing more makes will be the way forward for a few big survivors who divest themselves of low profit makes and models as fast as they can.

Motor companies such as Ford selling Jaguar to an Indian manufacturer is an example of where the industry is heading.

They will eventually wake up to the fact that most of their high fuel consumption vehicles are carrying around an oversized motor that uses more fuel than it can justify.

The rest of the world is taking action on energy use across the board, yet many car manufacturers,  although going broke world wide are still focused on horsepower and acceleration figures from 0 to 100 mph as a means of marketing their latest models!

Directly associated with the excessive horsepower is extra weight that would be unneeded otherwise, extra metal that could be saved for other uses,more wear and damage to road surfaces and billions of dollars lost as a result.

We all know we have to use less fuel and lower pollution in our cities from motor vehicle emissions, even to continue being able to breath the air in some cities now, yet new car models are still promoting speed and acceleration as the major factors in their sales pitch along with emission control systems that comply until they stop functioning properly becoming a bigger emission contributor long term than if they were not even fitted.

Understand I am the last person to be critical of the modern engine design, it is brilliant with variable valve and ignition timing, belt driven overhead camshafts, brilliant computer driven engine management systems all contribute to better fuel economy, reliability and long life.

Motoring writers have said little about reducing the engine size to take advantage of the better power to weight ratio's made available by the combination of this technology.

They are more interested in which car is the fastest in it's market segment, yet this performance based marketing is responsible for keeping fuel consumption massively above what it would otherwise need to be.

Update. GM Holden are offering a new 3 litre option in their line up. It looks like a nice little motor, I will update when I get hold of one.


Economical cars are not a new idea.
Economical cars are not a new idea.

36 HP air cooled Volkswagen "Beetle"

1958 Volkswagen sedan would return 40mpg lightly driven, and was a real attempt at a 4 seater with good economy.
1958 Volkswagen sedan would return 40mpg lightly driven, and was a real attempt at a 4 seater with good economy.

100mpg?

To achieve a one mile per gallon improvement car makers are spending millions, when the answer should be obvious even to Freddo the Frog that a drop in engine size could achieve as much as a 40% reduction in fuel consumption.

Imagine the advantages to the environment if you could pull consumption back so that your 5 seater could return 100 mpg, or your 2 seater was returning 120 mpg or better? The loss of horsepower would have little effect on the day to day use of vehicles with traffic and road conditions being the way they are.

There is little if any opportunity these days to use more than half the horsepower most vehicles have. In fact when travelling in the city about 7 horsepower is all that is needed to travel in heavy traffic at slow speeds in a 2.4 litre 1 tonne ute,

Slow heavy traffic driving is where most of us use our vehicles most of the time driving at 30 miles per hour or less. I contend that a well designed modern motor of 600cc or just over half a litre will cover this job and carry up to 5 passengers in air conditioned comfort at a top speed of 60 mph which is more than enough speed even on the highway.

Daihatsu Mira

659cc with airbags and airconditioning shows it can be done!
659cc with airbags and airconditioning shows it can be done!

Daihatsu manage to do this very well with their small outside large inside Mira model with a 3 cylinder motor with a 659cc engine.We have a 5 year old one in our family that is still going strong so the motor is up to the job without killing itself!

The Daihatsu runs air-conditioning and carries 2 airbags standard, so it does tell us that we can do better with the latest in technology when this little car works so well despite high equipment levels lifting the weight of the vehicle somewhat.

V12 putting out over 500 HP. This one goes in a 2 door coupe!
V12 putting out over 500 HP. This one goes in a 2 door coupe!

When you do need horsepower.

Many people live in locations and have occupations that require them to own a large vehicle to carry loads, tow trailers and horse floats etc.

Trucks and other large commercial vehicles need to be redesigned to use smaller motors with better transmissions that use a better spread of gearing to produce better economy and performance.

Just follow Toyota folks! The new Prada will drag a big caravan with a full load of passengers yet still return a passenger car fuel economy of around 21 miles per gallon fully loaded.

Mitsubishi has an even more economical model in it's latest line up, although I prefer the Prada.

The secret to fuel economy with larger vehicles is turbo diesel or diesel with gas injection diesels up to this point.

I hate the sound of modern diesels! they keep telling me how quiet they are, and I keep hearing those metallic slaps alongside me when I take off from the traffic lights from new diesel cars and FWDs!

They are very well made, last quite well and deliver enormous amounts of low down torque, but I still don't like them.

Dumb solutions.

For reasons best understood by marketing types, instead of addressing the elephant in the room, namely wasted horsepower, we have electric cars, hybrids and other even less viable ideas such as compressed air driven cars being developed. (see my hub on the air driven car.)

The electric car would be great if it was not in reality being fuelled by filthy brown coal, the compressed air idea is a misunderstanding of basic science and hybrids are massively too heavy and complex as well as being expensive and difficult to repair. (See my hub on hybrids)

How would you like to own a 10 year old hybrid? New batteries? You will probably not be able to find a battery that will integrate with your out of date technology as electric motors develop to use a battery differently and the cars are designed around the power source or battery itself as batteries change size shape and methods of delivering power to the motor through the development of newer and better ceramics and other power delivery control methods.

Fuel smart.

Some manufacturers have done well in making fuel smart compact 5 seaters but more needs to be done in this area. There is some good design coming out of the Japanese manufacturers such as the 3 cylinder Daihatsu Mira, the 5 seat 1.3 litre Jazz from Honda, the Suzuki and some other offerings from Hyundai Korea that make some sense.

1968 Renault 10.
1968 Renault 10.

What about old cars?.

There are 600 million petrol driven vehicles already on the road, many of them will last another 30 years, all using massive amounts of petrol.

We can convert many of these vehicles to run on natural gas,  a cleaner fuel with vast reserves, but this only solves some of the problems. Even if adapted to alcohol supply is still a problem as pastoral land would need to be given up to grow the source.

I believe we must find a workable after-market multi fit device to reduce fuel usage. This once extremely difficult task gets closer as electronic devices that are already capable of switching solenoids and other devices which could alter fuel usage. There would be a sacrifice in horsepower of course, which a large percentage of the owners of this fleet would barely notice!

I am currently working on an electronic/mechanical idea that still has more problems than I care to mention, but if you can keep a motor balanced and running well while reducing fuel input you have a workable idea, and that my friends is all that is needed!

No fuel is saved by any fuel conversion methods such as water/hydrogen so far, and we should not be surprised to discover that all the hundreds of fuel saving devices tested by government departments around the globe have confirmed this.(See my hub on running your car on water)

One of the fuel "pill" directors is before the courts as I write.

Fuel saving devices are fraud folks, but that certainly does not mean we should stop looking for solutions, after all, the oil is getting more expensive to find and harder/deeper to recover, and we need what we have left for plastic and other oil/chemical products, we do not want to use all those much needed oil deposits until we find an alternative to such heavily used products.

After market and other solutions.

There has been some attempts to find a way to reduce fuel usage on larger motors with cylinder shut down systems being incorporated in some new models, but no viable solution for the existing world fleet has emerged that I know of yet.


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Comments 41 comments

Candie V profile image

Candie V 6 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Yep Yep Yep! It's all a matter of profits for the stock holders and as long as that's their focus.. well, things probably won't change too much.. too fast (or fast enough). Writers probably won't change if the main contributor to their paper/magazine is car mfg. money. People have a lot power with their pocket books, so if they purchase according to their beliefts, we'll see action! Well said Ernest! Thank you!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Great comment Candie V. I have some engineering ideas of my own on this subject as well, and will include them in this or another hub. I see what you mean about motor writers! I wrote for a motor magazine for a few years off and on. They only ever published the positive reviews I made!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia

earnestshub, great Hub on an important subject. I see that the VW Golf has just won the prestigous Wheels Car of the Year award in Australia.

Another benefit from a reduction in HorsePower would be the saving of Human live and suffering from the obvious reduction in speed and Hooning (perhaps) :-)


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Hi agvulpes! The golf probably won because of it's fuel economy. They have had so many electronic and mechanical problems in earlier models, I am surprised that did not go against them.


The Rope profile image

The Rope 6 years ago from SE US

Great hub ES! I read several years ago that it takes 10 years to get a car from the first drawing to the showroom. In today's world that has been shortened but is obviously still too big and cumbersome of a system for american car makers - and their unions. Their inability to accept, embrace and maximize their efforts to make a radical change would seem to me to be the problem. Here's to reality checks for EVERYONE, not just the little "guy"!


Candie V profile image

Candie V 6 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

LOLOL!! What is "Hooning"?? Ernest - are you going to make an ErnMobile?


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thanks The Rope, I feel they are also afraid to take the buyer in another more desirable direction!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

"Hooning" is street racing, wheel spinning, doing "wheelies" on motorbikes etc and generally being thick and dangerous!

I have built one Ernmobile from the ground up for myself, and built a "custom fit" motorcycle some years ago.

You are close though! I am currently drawing up a fuel restriction system for cars. I will try it on my ute first. I love my motor engineering!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

A great Hub. I gave away my last car years ago and really have not missed it. I have borrowed a car twice and rented one three times (for a day or two)in the past four years. I walk, I catch public transport and feel no loss. I think of the money I save. If there were more who took this choice then this would move us a long way towards a cleaner planet...plus, as you suggest, gas powered cars and more research.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Good move Peter! That is the best way to solve the problem if one lives in circumstances of public transport and reasonable proximity to facilities. Most of us in larger cities should follow your fine example!


Mexican Haciendas 6 years ago

Interesting Hub there mate. I found the part about a 600cc motor pulling 5 people easily very interesting.

When I was looking for a car I found the smaller engine models were often the poorest equipped as well. Like id i got the 1.8 it had steel wheels and if i got the 2.0 rs it had fancy rims, and other extras - needless to say i went for the fatser "jazzier" model - I am a guy after all! :))


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

It all comes down to markets and marketability. As with anything in the free markets I think it's important to let the markets decide what is and what is not acceptable, saleable, or practical. I've written many blogs and at least one hub on Ford—I think they've got the reign on the American market. They are going to focus on brand development, styling, and even making better fuel efficient cars. Look at the new Fiesta. It's small, and it's actually pretty damn good looking.

GM and Chrysler have myriad issues attached to them. The foreign car companies, while they do make good cars and I can't deny that, can't be the only good car maker there is. I say test drive a Ford. See what they have to offer. Test drive a smaller engine Ford like the Fiesta. Make your decision based on price, performance, and practicality.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Being a keen motor man, I would have chosen the 2 Litre over the 1.8 as well. Often you find cars with 1.8 litre are so damn heavy they need 2 Litres to be more fuel efficient dragging that around. You are correct in stating most small cars look and feel cheap inside too. With a few exceptions poor seats and carpet is common.Still lots of room for improvement. Thanks for your comment.


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 6 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Good Hub, Earnest - I fully agree about the HP reductions.

My Brother-in-law just bought a 1.4 litre Skoda Fabia and it handles the steep mountain roads in Greece with no problems. It also runs on a thimble-full of fuel - a very good vehicle, even if it is not the prettiest car around.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Hi Springboard! I agree Ford is in the box seat in America. I would like to think Ford Australian would build something here with a smaller engine. I have driven the new European Focus, and all models of our local Ford Falcon but not the Fiesta. Although cheap here, the early ones were so crook to drive I shudder remembering them. I will be brave and drive a new Fiesta!

I have a problem with some aspects of your free market ideas when the sell has always played to the lowest common denominator.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Hi Sufi. I reckon being smart must run in your family! over 60 mpg from their new 1.4 diesel, and 80hp is plenty.

I have a tiny Honda that is very frugal on the juice too it is only 40hp.


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 6 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Not so much smart as on a budget - taxes on fuel and large engines are high in Greece.

He actually purchased the petrol model - Diesel engines are not allowed in Athens (the emissions dissolve the Acropolis!), so diesel cars are rare over here.

80hp is plenty - the roads to the village are steep and full of twists, but the car has no problems handling them.

Greeks also have a habit of holding onto cars - still lots of MKI and MKII Ford Escorts around. Truly pieces of motoring history!


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

The tide will turn eventually. Oil is becoming more expensive, and stocks are dwindling fast. Eventually the petrol-head manufacturers will realise that fuel economy is more attractive to the average punter than speed and acceleration. Problem is that lots of them will have gone under before they finally figure it out.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Yes, the Fiesta originally was really more of a Volkswagen Rabbit in disguise. My first car was actually a 1980 Ford Fiesta. They appear much sharper now, at least of the photos I've seen.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

That is very interesting Sufi. I did not know about the diesel thing!

Skoda have been making simple motoring solutions for a long time. I remember the early ones did not even need a water pump.They designed them to circulate through the radiator without one.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

True Amanda, they have been amalgamating many brand names under the major players for years now. The market should be led by common sense, but the car makers are not leading the way.

Apart from the job losses, I believe we have far too many makes and models as it is.


citizen monica 6 years ago

hahaha, great post. Very enlightening. Could it be that more horsepower = more manly? I believe that is the shtick they use for geting men to buy cars. Buy more horsepower get laid faster.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Hi Monica! How very observant of you! Funny how things change. My 21 year old son impressed his girlfriend by owning a mini cat that has better fuel consumption than her car!


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Well put Earnesthub, I look to you for the skinny on the future of combustion engine use. It's statements like these, that amplify your credibility:

"Understand I am the last person to be critical of the modern engine design, it is brilliant with variable valve and ignition timing, belt driven overhead camshafts, brilliant computer driven engine management systems all contribute to better fuel economy, reliability and long life."

I just went from a 10 mpg Ford Ranger to a 25/35 mpg Toyota Corolla, wish it was 100! I will look to Ford and Toyota for new ideas in the future.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Ben thanks for a great supportive comment! I am currently looking at designing a variable computer controlled device to limit induction.

It may be fitted to a new invention by Briggs and Stratton, the big stationary motor manufacturer.

Their invention would allow a variable orifice to be fitted from the outside to the induction manifold via an accessible insert.

I assume the same system can be applied to rack injection, but newer induction methods may make it useless except on older cars.


Mortgagestar1 profile image

Mortgagestar1 6 years ago from Weirton,West Virginia

GMC ( Government Motors Corp ) has been like the Obama Administration, ignors the people and think they know better than the consumer. GM hasn't built a TRUE American styled car since the 1980s, now they look foriegn with UAW quality, which is why Toyota, Honda, ect is cleaning our clocks.

Ford is in a better position for a simple reason. Family owned! While Mopar and GM is run by board members with golden parachutes. The UAW had stripped GM of R&D and quality control. Repeated strikes and labor blackmail doomed GM & Chrysler. Now, Obama has given the UAW part ownership so Guido, Knuckles, and the mob will be more involved in product design and cut corners to line thier union bosses coffers.

I personally know many people who were loyal GM owners now vowing to buy either Ford or foriegn over the unethical moves from GM and other bailout companies.

I enjoy collecting old cars from the 1960's thru 1970's especially the Pontiac Grand Prix, Olds Cutlass, Buick Regal, and Chevy Monte'Carlo body styles. American metal and carb. Definately all American signature styling.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thanks for the comments Mortgagestar1.

So far it is not looking at all good for GMC. I do not know how they are going to innovate while being run by the bureaucracy. They would hardly be in a free thinking mind set!

If truthful they would name their next model the "panic"

Do you have any ideas for throttling back the old carby models to use less fuel?


MOrtgagestar1 6 years ago

Yes I do. Please email me at

mortgagestar1@yahoo.com


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

lol. I love that. I can't wait to see what kind of marketing that would go along with that. "The all-new 2010 Chevy Panic."

Oh boy. :) You know, hmmm. Nah.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

I thought they could rename the Volt! lol


Karina S. profile image

Karina S. 6 years ago from USA

Interesting hub and comments.I am ready to buy my first Prius, to save money and environment.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thanks for looking in Karina.


Wealthmadehealthy profile image

Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

Very good hub on a really weighty challenge. We all seem to require one of these "metal beasts" to accomplish our daily tasks, yet few people are ready to give up the glamor for a more economical standard to save fuel...Fast is not better, it uses up more energy which we need to conserve right now...Great hub.....enjoyed it!


Dao Hoa profile image

Dao Hoa 6 years ago

We are also looking at the hybrid Prius, but just thinking of the cost of replacing the battery would make me change my mind. In addition, the fast pace of technology makes me afraid to buy it. I may have to buy a new car sooner than I want because the unavailable of a new battery for my then old car!

We are still driving our 20 years old Pathfinder which gives us about 20 miles per gallon of fuel!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

I would agree it is a good idea to wait a little longer, even though the pathfinder is a bit thirsty, better solutions than the Prius are on the way, and with all the Toyota recalls I would not touch a Toyota at this time. I fear they have a computer error that they may not find easily! The accelerator problem makes little sense if it is not from the computer.


donotfear profile image

donotfear 6 years ago from The Boondocks

It's like I used to say when I was in sales: "Flash" sells! Heck, I could care less about 0-100 mph in a flash. Just give me ole reliable & I'm happy. You got it right for sure.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Flash does sell, especially when the psychologically trained marketers in these companies insist on appealing to the lowest common denominators like greed and superiority! Well said!


Norah Casey profile image

Norah Casey 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

Hi earnest, great hub! I must respectfully disagree with one of your primary points. I've spent most of my life with people building cars, or building them myself. An old Camaro I restored just after I graduated high school averaged over 35 mpg city/29 hwy out of a carb'd 305 V8, and it wasn't a slow car by any means. Not all new, six cylinder cars can achieve 30+ mpg, so GM *once* got something right, long long ago... :)

The real problem, in my opinion, is that the combustion engine is a dinosaur. It is unbelievably inefficient. The average n/a engine uses about 20% of the energy it generates for propulsion (charged air engines are usually more efficient); the other 80% is wasted as thermal energy. As you noted, battery powered cars are not a silver bullet. The batteries have to come from somewhere, the technology is no where near stable enough to anticipate a battery pack used today will be here tomorrow.

I sincerely believe this issue can only be solved if the "best and brightest" can be attracted to research, rather than working as wall street trade software engineers or the like. A lack of innovation in engines is a symptom of fundamental flaw in the modern US, rather than an independent problem. Corporations will always care more for the bottom line than investing in long-term research.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thanks for the comment Nora, Many of the early motors were reasonable on fuel because they did not try to produce too much horsepower. What concerns me most is how we can fuel what is out there now. there are approximately 600 million of em, and they will not efficiently convert to anything other than natural gas so far.


Norah Casey profile image

Norah Casey 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

I think a good first step is to try to coax people into not driving so much. It sounds really simple, but not everyone needs to drive to the movie theater, corner store, or to their kid's school. I love cars and I love driving, but I take public transportation to work everyday and walk to the store whenever it is reasonable to do so. That would certainly alleviate some of the issues.

However, a solution for the 600 million cars that already exist is out there. I insist that without a focus on independent research in this country, we'll never find that solution.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Good ideas norah, and very responsible of you to consider alternative transport where possible.

I agree, the answer is out there. We need a huge investment in finding it right now!

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