Green Update: No Market for Small City Cars in the U.S.?
CNNMoney ran a recent piece on six Detroit dinosaurs that are, or should be, on the way out. They included truck-platform SUVs like the Tahoe, muscle cars like the Mustang, all Lincolns and the Chrysler 200. Yes, send them all to the cruncher.
One of the cars on their list was the Chevy Volt, whose sales are ridiculously low and whose price is ridiculously high. Since GM totally bungled the production and marketing of this car, maybe the concept can be rethought and reduced in size and price. There is no way this car in its present form can take on the Prius.
American carmakers are still fighting to preserve the past in some of their offerings, and to be sure, the U.S. market will not change overnight. But why can’t some of the decent, long-tested small cars of Europe be brought here—at least to the urban car market?
The new Panda, showing at Frankfurt in September, has fairly low-power, high-mileage (64-70 mpg) engine choices, including diesel. But do you really need more than 68 hp in the city? Do you need to fit more than five people in a flexible interior package?
Audi went a little crazy with its Urban eTron Concept electric (31-37-mile range), and it has produced several computerized iterations (one shown here). There are shots of this dune buggy in disguise driving the streets of Berlin. With tandem seats and a power source still unknown, Road & Track guesses it will use a small diesel feeding an electric motor.
Which will make it totally impractical for anything but taking your chica to the nearest watering hole.
And finally, what might be the true successor to the Beetle is apparently going to be built. It’s called the Up! (right) and even though it’s a front-driver, the car comes close to a modern-day version of a low priced, well-thought out people’s car.
Again, the engines are low-power and high-mileage, and an electric e-Up! is due in 2013. The car is sharp-looking, with lots of trunk space and plenty of standard stuff like stability control. Three trims will be offered, and we predict VW will sell a lot of them.
Says TopSpeed: “The Up! manages to come across as a heavily designed compact car that takes elements from traditional Volkswagen styling while also crafting a personality all its own.” Cost is still to be revealed.
If Volkswagen sold the Up! in the U.S., would you be interested in buying one?