×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

VW Concept Microcar Gets 235 MPG

CowboyNeal posted more than 5 years ago | from the expensive-ways-to-save-at-the-pump dept.

Transportation 507

Hugh Pickens writes "Volkswagen is bringing new meaning to the term 'fuel efficiency' with a bullet-shaped microcar that gets 235 mpg. Called the One-Liter, because that's how much fuel it needs to go 100 kilometers, the body's made of carbon fiber to minimize weight and the One-Liter makes extensive use of magnesium, titanium and aluminum so the entire vehicle weighs in at 660 pounds. Aerodynamics plays a big role in its fuel economy, so the car is long and low, coming in at 11.4 feet long, 4.1 feet wide and 3.3 feet tall with a coefficient of drag of 0.16, a little more than half that of an average car. The One-Liter could have a sticker price of anywhere from $31,750 to $47,622, and VW plans to build a limited number in 2010."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

507 comments

built-in coffin (5, Funny)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066333)

So small, light and snug (from the picture), that when you get knicked by a Toyota on the autobahn, it can substitute as your coffin too! Now THAT's eco-friendly.

Re:built-in coffin (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066503)

Surprisingly the name in germany is "totencrappen" which is the german word for "suppository coffin", but the english translation was too long, so they went with one-liter.

photo not yet slashdotted link (4, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066667)

The main article is slashdotted, here's the summary article [wired.com] for the "Totemcrappen" which has a picture. Notice the priceless licensence plate which is Leet speak "Wobbly".

Interestingly the car was desinged 6 years ago but the 2012 was the release date as the prices would fall far enough to manufacture it. But they decided to roll is out 2 years early.

Re:built-in coffin (4, Interesting)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066569)

This is reminiscent of the car built by Messerschmidt after WWII [youtube.com]. It was really an enclosed motorcycle with exactly the same form factor.

Re:built-in coffin (4, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066793)

Good catch! the Messerschmidt got 125 miles per gallon and carried 2 people (top speed was 50, but that was cookin' back then, and still is plenty in the city).

Re:built-in coffin (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066773)

Yeah, and consider it has a certain stability problem at higher speeds -- it is the "WOB-L1"...

Big Deal! (2, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066349)

In 2006, this vehicle [gizmodo.com] got 3,145 miles per gallon, and some high-school students last year won a mileage contest by creating a similar vehicle that got mileage in the 1000-mpg range.

If VW want to impress, they will have to do a hell of a lot better than that.

Re:Big Deal! (5, Insightful)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066453)

You do realise that while there a some things that both cars have in common there's quite a lot more that differs between a ultrahigh mileage experimental vehicle and a road-registerable car usable in everyday traffic. Things that come to mind is having: a performance in both speed and acceleration that doesn't make it a slightly mobile roadblock, safety regarding both collision and usability, and comfortable enough to actually be usable.

What year? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066563)

Due to mileage demands, the quality of vehicles that are "road legal" has been decreasing every year. Where I live, it is now legal to drive those stupid "mini-motorcycles" on residential streets, even though they don't have turn signals or even brake lights, and (because of the position of the rider) are inherently less safe than a kid's unpowered scooter.

Those "experimental" vehicles did not look so UN-roadworthy, in comparison.

Re:Big Deal! (2, Insightful)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066465)

Wow man, you're hard to impress. Considering that most cars on the road only get about 20 - 30mpg I would say 235mpg is still pretty good. The article also points out that that they could produce 1,000/year of these to start with if they wanted to, whereas the vehicle you linked to seems to be no more than than a one-shot trophy winner. Don't get me wrong, they're both very cool concept cars, but I don't think one should be sneered at just because it doesn't meet your particular standard.

Also, is it just me or do both of these look like something someone could buy at the local adult store rather than drive down the street in?

Re:Big Deal! (4, Funny)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067065)

This is Slashdot. If you can't do better in every possible way than every single thing that has ever been done before, then you're worthless.

Re:Big Deal! (0, Troll)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066485)

How about making a high MPG gar that is road legal, and not liable to outright try and murder you at any chance it gets in the real world?

Re:Big Deal! (4, Funny)

Typingsux (65623) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066489)

In 2006, this vehicle [gizmodo.com] got 3,145 miles per gallon, and some high-school students last year won a mileage contest by creating a similar vehicle that got mileage in the 1000-mpg range.

If VW want to impress, they will have to do a hell of a lot better than that.

The problem with your post is that all of those kids are probably mysteriously dead.

Re:Big Deal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066577)

The VW car is a big deal as the car built by high-school students is built exclusively for winning a contest, while the VW one is production ready. The difference between the two is enormous: the students' engine is way too small to supply good accelaration, cruising speed, heating/ac, electrical wiring, battery, crash safety, etc., all of which add weight to the car, leading to higher fuel consumption.
        I doubt if those school kids design would win the auto x-prize since it needs a production ready car. Unfortunately, even the VW wont qualify, as x-prize does not allow tandem seaters.

Re:Big Deal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066617)

Yeah, but that was on a flat test track driving at a low, constant, maximum-efficiency speed. VW's figure is presumably the optimistic but theoretically "real" mpg quoted by all manufacturers. Also that vehicle is in no way road legal, allowing them to save a lot of weight.

Re:Big Deal! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066663)

A better picture [physorg.com] might help put things into... perspective.
There's no way in hell something like that will ever be able to enter regular traffic.

Vaporware? (1)

weissr (1074967) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066353)

These cars are great if they ever come to market and if people will buy them. We keep hearing about these new and revolutionary cars, but nothing ever makes it to the showroom floor.

When some new gas saver comes out (like the smart4two), do people really line up to purchase it?

Also, I really wonder if a car made from carbon fibre, magnesium, titanium & aluminum will really hit the market starting at $31,750? In addition, what would my insurance be on this?

Re:Vaporware? (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066493)

These cars are great if they ever come to market and if people will buy them. We keep hearing about these new and revolutionary cars, but nothing ever makes it to the showroom floor.

I find it depressing that the concept cars are still mainly petrol-driven. When I read Poul Anderson's Harvest of Stars [amazon.com] in high school many years back, I was enthralled by his view of a future where hydrocarbons had been surpassed as motorists' fuel by a more efficient use of hydrogen (elaborately described in a character's monologue I now recognize as clunky). But even the most whizbang concept car doesn't go too far. Solar vehicles are completely on the fringes even when in some markets they would be quite useful.

Re:Vaporware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066603)

The freaking car weighs just 660 lbs and you want to carry a heavy hydrogen cylinder in it? May as well leave the passenger at home. :)

I'd like to see this car redesigned as a 2-seater side-by-side configuration and powered by ultracapacitors. Oh, and a trunk to carry items would be nice.

Re:Vaporware? (3, Insightful)

MonorailCat (1104823) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066779)

I don't find that depressing at all. As nice as H2 sounds on paper, when it comes down to it, we're already using the ideal fuels for transportation. Liguid hydrocarbons have far superior energy density compared to other options, they're liquid at room temperature, stable, require no special containment, are basically insensitive to temperature extremes, and very scalable.

Until there's and alternative that does nearly as well in all these categories, i think the most feasible eco-solution is finding ways to displace conventional petroleum (biofuels and whatnot)

Re:Vaporware? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066863)

The Smart4two is a small 2 seater with room for very little other than passengers, and in the gasoline version it gets 36 MPG, which is shit considering the car that comes with it. There are several competitors in the 36 MPG range that have 4 seats and room for luggage and groceries and diaper bags and such.

The diesel version is a slightly different story but then, so is the diesel version of everything else.

Re:Vaporware? (4, Interesting)

petecarlson (457202) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067033)

When some new gas saver comes out (like the smart4two), do people really line up to purchase it?

The waiting list for the smart is close to a year.

1978 Called... (1)

dohzer (867770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066379)

They want their futuristic car design back.

Re:1978 Called... (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066427)

And I want my FLYING CAR! I'd FLY something this small to keep out of the way of 18Wheelers, etc.. But Drive it, Don't think I'm brave enough to take it on the avereage road around here.

I call Gimmick (1, Insightful)

Xiph (723935) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066387)

3 points.

1 - It's a 1 person car
2 - It's going into limited production
3 - Marketing is talking about it 2 years in advance

It's a gimmick to make the company appear eco-friendly, without actually offering anything for the average consumer.

Apparently they don't want to massproduce this, just enhance their brand, without actually jeopardizing their relationship with Big Oil(TM)

Re:I call Gimmick (3, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066429)

Well it's actually a two-seater, though the person in the back seat isn't going to have a lot of leg-room I'll grant you...

Re:I call Gimmick (2, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066477)

Looking at the photo of the cockpit [wired.com], there seemed to be some "foot-pegs" on the side walls of the car *in front* of the drivers seat. So perhaps the passenger actually straddles the drivers seat? In that case the passenger would have a lot of leg room length. But still .. mighty uncomfortable for a long trip.

Re:I call Gimmick (1)

ZeroFactorial (1025676) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066601)

Actually, VW hired some contract Polish employees to work on this one, and that's the latest in Polish engineering:

Hand-powered accelerators. One for each wheel.

Re:I call Gimmick (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066433)

Yeah, and considering this probably has about the same amount of carrying capacity as a scooter/motorcycle, there is even less reason to shell out the money for one. I guess it could do better in snow, but that remains to be seen....

Re:I call Gimmick (0, Redundant)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066499)

2 - It's going into limited production

That's a good thing: would you like it if this car would be produced in unlimited quantities? Filling up the oceans, and covering the surface of the planet with a 5-meter layer of cars, none of which were able to move?

Re:I call Gimmick (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066581)

still, i wonder, i bet they could make a standard 2-seater with this concept and still get in the upper 100s for gas mileage

Re:I call Gimmick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066735)

1 - It's a 1 person car

Which is how many people are generally in cars (at least in the US). This is a perfect commuter car.

Re:I call Gimmick (2, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066861)

1 - It's a 1 person car
2 - It's going into limited production
3 - Marketing is talking about it 2 years in advance

1 - No. Its a two-seat car. You know. Like all those other penile extensions out there.
2 - You did get that one right. Still... Again with penile extensions. How many Porsches and Ferraris are made each year?
3 - Actually - it is 4 years in advance since they were planing to push it out in the market in 2012. But carbon fiber price dropped enough so they can start making it 2 years earlier.

Apparently they don't want to massproduce this, just enhance their brand, without actually jeopardizing their relationship with Big Oil(TM)

You do realize its the same company that made those small economic VW Beetle cars?
And all those Golfs later on...

Why not just make it a moped? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066455)

It's hardly shocking that if you strip the weight off a passenger car you can run up the mileage.

The reason these things don't usually make market is that

A) you can't make them that small and have them meet passenger car safety standards

B) you end up using a lot of exotics in your design to strip weight down and that runs the price up

End result is you end up with a "car" that's roughtly the mass (and passenger capacity) of an oversize motorcycle, but costs as much as a mid range luxury car. Hardly an appealing prospect for all but the most dedicated mileage enthusiasts.

Re:Why not just make it a moped? (4, Interesting)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066507)

A moped with rider has a much, much higher coefficient of drag, probably more frontal area, and no protection from the elements, to boot.

Also, here in Ohio, a moped is legally defined as a motorized bicycle limited to 20 MPH, with a maximum of 1 hp and 50 cc displacement. This has almost 9 hp and 300 cc displacement, and is designed to go a lot faster than 20. ;)

Re:Why not just make it a moped? (2, Informative)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066845)

End result is you end up with a "car" that's roughtly the mass (and passenger capacity) of an oversize motorcycle

"Oversize" in the motorcycle world would be more along the lines of a Honda Gold Wing, which weighs 400 pounds *more* than this car. The car is closer in weight to a full-size cruiser like a Harley Softail or Yamaha Raider, and even then the car is *still* about 10% lighter.

Oh boy! (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066459)

I'm going to be quite honest here. I hate it when company's do this. The media will make a big habub about it and then everyone will forget. When I saw concept car in the title I immediately stopped caring. Unless this car goes into mass production and I can buy it at my friendly neighborhood car dealer then it's useless.

concept vaporware (3, Funny)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066521)

By the time this car makes it into regular mass-production, (if it ever makes it at all), it'll look just like every other car on the road.

Re:Oh boy! (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066545)

To be fair, the big hubbub they're making this time around is that they are planning on putting it into production in 2010 - last time they showed this car was in 2002. But, if you live in the US, chances are you won't ever be able to buy it at your not-so-friendly neighborhood VW stealership - this will never meet US safety regulations, even if it *IS* actually safe.

660 pounds (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066469)

Some Americans weigh that much!

How much does it cost??!! (0, Redundant)

kiwioddBall (646813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066473)

I think someone dropped the ball there. Its a nice idea but it costs too much - they won't sell enough to make a difference to the planet. It needs to be cheap too, so punters will buy them.

Re:How much does it cost??!! (2, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066535)

you think $30,000-$40,000 is too much for a car that gets 235 mpg??? Do you realize how much money you'd save in fuel costs each year? It would quickly drop down to probably less per-year over a 10 year span to own than a Civic (hybrid or non).

Re:How much does it cost??!! (1)

kiwioddBall (646813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066615)

Yes, you're right if you take that in isolation. But, you have to come up with the $$$ up front, which is always the problem if you're not on a high income.

Secondly the thing is small and low, and holds only one man. Not even remotely practical. Nobody is going to spend $30-40k on a one man tiny car.

Re:How much does it cost??!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066631)

Secondly the thing is small and low, and holds only one man.

Wrong. You didn't even read the article, did you?

Re:How much does it cost??!! (1)

kiwioddBall (646813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066659)

Correcting myself, it has two seats. But is still impractical, And I bet the mpg drops substantially when there is a second passenger.

Re:How much does it cost??!! (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066807)

You'll lose some of that playing relay-games dropping off one kid at a time to school, plus three or four trips to the grocery store. Calculate the extra time spent vs. the value of your time.

This is too expensive to be a practical solution. It might be a nice solution for areas like Los Angeles (where people routinely drive 60+ miles to work -- alone in their car), but it's a hell of a lot easier on the average worker's car budget to lease a modest economy car which gets 30+mpg.

Something like this would be useful as a single-person commuter car at half the price. Otherwise, it's an expensive "toy" that someone with a lot of money can buy to show off how "eco-friendly" they are.

Re:How much does it cost??!! (4, Informative)

maeka (518272) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066907)

you think $30,000-$40,000 is too much for a car that gets 235 mpg??? Do you realize how much money you'd save in fuel costs each year? It would quickly drop down to probably less per-year over a 10 year span to own than a Civic (hybrid or non).

Let's discuss the hypothetical non-hybrid Civic DX sedan with 34mpg @ $15,010 and the American average 12,000 miles a year.
$24,706 dollars spent in fuel over ten years at $7 a dollar gasoline.
total cost = $39,716
Not to mention the Honda Civic can haul you, your family and your stuff at that price, this VW? Nope.

We won't even get into the cost of money and the lost value of paying the high up-front charges of the VW option.

Re:How much does it cost??!! (4, Informative)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066917)

That's where the fallacy lies - do the math.
How about we actually put pen to paper on this one and figure out exactly how much money we would save in fuel costs each year :

I am going to be generous and work with easy numbers - $4 gasoline, 1,200 miles per month.

Start with a relatively easy to find 40 mpg car :
1,200 miles / 40mpg = 30 gallons * $4 = $120 per month.

Crank that up to one of those Volkswagon TDI or a hybrid getting 50 mpg :
1,200 miles / 50mpg = 24 gallons * $4 = $96 per month. Saved about $25 per month.

And now for this ultra-cool one man car made of recycled SR-71 parts at 235 mpg :
1,200 miles / 235mpg = 5 gallons!
5 * $4 = $20 total fuel costs for the month. Which sounds great, except it's only saving about $75 per month, assuming the production models get the same mileage as their hand made prototype - which isn't going to happen.

Let's pretend they get them in viable quantities getting 120mpg, which is still crazy good, right?
1,200 miles / 120mpg = still only 10 gallons, which is only $40. Pretty awesome!
Except compared to a current Prius or a VW TDI, you're only saving $55 a month.

It's because of the way the 1/x curve flattens out on the tail end, after about 40-50 mpg it really doesn't make much of a difference. The dollar difference between 40mpg and 120mpg is the same dollar difference between 17mpg and 21mpg, again - because the curve of 1/x is so high below 20mpg. Get down into the 9mpg-11mpg range and difference for every 1mpg = $40.

Want to make a killer difference in our gas consumption, engineer a way to make the current 500 million cars already on the roads today get 3 more mpg, because I figure 1/3rd of the cars on the road are in the sub 20mpg range.

I already figured that one out too - tire pressure during the winter. I used to think that the gas stations used different formulas in the winter (which they probably do) which is why my gas mileage went from 21 in the summer to 17 in the winter (which wasn't why.) My most recent car has air pressure sensors on the tires so I noticed that during the winter months the air pressure in the tires dropped from 35psi to about 28psi (cold air shrinks) - when I pressured up my tires to the suggested 35psi, my gas mileage went right back to 21mpg. How many people go the entire winter without adding air to their tires (well ... it doesn't look flat and it had plenty of air in August, air isn't leaking out ...) and spend their entire lives thinking the reason they get crap gas mileage in the winter because of the 'winter gasoline formula'? Bingo.

Re:How much does it cost??!! (1)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067073)

Do you realize how much money you'd save in fuel costs each year?

I haven't had any experience with Civics, but my brother and my dad drive standard a Corolla (new) and standard Tercel (old) and get 40-50 miles per gallon (they drive on the highway, mostly). At 45 miles per day (roughly what I drove before I moved to the bus-filled city), that's all 1 gallon = 4 dollars per day at current prices. So instead of buying almost 1 500USD of fuel per year, they'd be buying around 300USD, saving 1200USD/year, or 12 000USD over ten years--assuming gas prices average 4USD.

A NEW (and why buy new? Unlike the VW, there are used ones around.) Toyota Corolla costs about 15 000USD. Approximate total savings: 15 000 for the Corolla - 35 000 for the VW + 1 5000 for the Corolla's gas + 3000 for the VW's gas = NEGATIVE 8 000. They break even over ten years if it hits around 5.50USD/gallon average or they drive more. (Or the VW gets really good highway.)

Oh, I just realised the VW is diesel. Diesel recently increased in price because they took out the sulphur, right?

Re:How much does it cost??!! (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066553)

I think someone dropped the ball there. Its a nice idea but it costs too much - they won't sell enough to make a difference to the planet. It needs to be cheap too, so punters will buy them.

I tend to agree. At that price, only the quarterbacks and wide receivers will be able to get them. Maybe a running back, if he's really good.

Solve engineering challenges of tomorrow (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066605)

It's impossible to solve all the engineering challenges of tomorrow all at once. I think VW wants to learn the engineering lessons from creating the car as much as introduce consumers to something that at least some will think is really cool.

I doubt anybody at VW thinks that they are saving the world with this new model.

Once we all start driving fuel efficient cars.... (1)

ZeroFactorial (1025676) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066483)

Gas companies will start charging $235/g to compensate.

What we need is not more efficient gas-powered vehicles.

What we need is new technology entirely. Clean, efficient, cool technology.

It's really quite sad that we've gained such vast scientific knowledge this past century and we're still using the same basic idea (albeit with more precision) that they were using roughly a century ago.

Re:Once we all start driving fuel efficient cars.. (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066573)

This isn't gas-powered. It's diesel-powered. Can you say "biodiesel?"

Also, maybe we're using the same basic idea because it actually works well?

A "Manhattan Project" (4, Interesting)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066637)

What we need is new technology entirely. Clean, efficient, cool technology.

I totally agree.

Neal Boortz, a local talk show host that tends to sway conservative where I live, keeps railing on how the U.S. needs to have a "Manhattan Project" to explore for oil and develop domestic resources. He says that within three years, if we really focus our time, effort, energy, money, and our brightest minds on it, we could wean ourselves off dependence on foreign oil by replacing it with oil from domestic sources.

I can't help but think, if we're going to gather our time, effort, energy, money, and brightest minds, why can't we come up with a "Manhattan Project" to wean ourselves off of oil entirely?

I'm so tired of the U.S. taking a technological back seat to the rest of the world, but it looks like we're about to yet again. Let other countries develop, test, and build the products while we sit back and get further behind. That way, we'll have yet more industries we can't compete with and yet a higher trade deficit.

Re:A "Manhattan Project" (2, Insightful)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066893)

OK we have a problem it's not really oil but we need cheap to free energy. Look at it this way most 3rd world countries want to have an American or eu standard of living, and there is no way without destroying/subjugating them you can stop them from trying to get there since it's driven by the desire to have your children better off than you were. What does that boil down to energy use per capita. At present fission is our only known method to get that energy without oil. Other methods are fine spend plenty of time researching them etc etc etc. But start building hundreds of cookie cutter fission based power stations.

Re:Once we all start driving fuel efficient cars.. (3, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066651)

Yep you nailed it. The gas prices we're seeing have less to do with scarcity, and more to do with a captive market - well, that and the fact that the majority of oil producing countries are literally overrun by the OPEC cartels, which is what inevitably happens when you stick a trillion-dollar business in a 3rd world country.

I agree, we don't need fuel efficiency, we need a whole new form of fuel. One that doesn't shackle every civilized nation to every uncivilized oil producer.

In other words (5, Informative)

shvytejimas (1083291) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066495)

It weighs 300 kilograms, and the dimensions are 3.47x1.25x1 meters. With that, it would qualify for a microcar [wikipedia.org] class. In some places you wouldn't even need a licence to drive it..

Metrics please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066537)

Gallons? Miles? Pounds? Dollars? What is all that?

4-5 year old car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066557)

this car was announced and driven from munich to 100km away like 4-5 years ago. Why is this news again?

Another link? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066591)

Does anyone have another link? This one is blocked at work because blog is in the url, and I don't have any access to the internet other than work here in Iraq. And I'd really like to see the article! :(

Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (4, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066649)

I look at a vehicle this small and wonder what would happen if it was hit by a 3000lb vehicle. Even if it has a crumple zones, I could see it being sent flying across the road like a hockeypuck, or it's lack of mass being unable to stop the forward progress of the impacting vehicle after the impact.

What arguments does one use to convince laymen that these tiny vehicles are safe? My gf wants to get a volvo SUV, but when I even mention a Corolla/Tercel/Yarvis, she likes that they are fuel efficient, but is concerned about being hit by any full size vehicle (not just a Hummer/SUV).

I recently rode in a coworkers SmartCar, and while it seemed like a great car, I realized that if were were rear ended, we'd be killed. There's about a foot between your back and the back of the car. Less than that of a Jeep Wrangler. My biggest fear would be having to stop quickly on the highway and the guy behind me doesn't stop in time.

Anybody have any good arguments for justifying these ultra-light cars (VW, SmartCar) to those that do equate a certain size=safety measure?

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (1)

bonkeroo buzzeye (711311) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066749)

"Volkswagen is bringing new meaning to the term "fuel efficiency" with a bullet-shaped microcar that gets 235 mpg...the entire vehicle weighs in at 660 pounds."

VW is bringing new meaning to the phrase "squish you like a Bug". ;)

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (5, Interesting)

llaman (1285898) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066799)

Because, often, being able to avoid an accident is just as important as being able to survive one. This article [gladwell.com] from the New Yorker is a pretty enlightening read.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066919)

Because, often, being able to avoid an accident is just as important as being able to survive one. This article from the New Yorker is a pretty enlightening read.

So when someone runs a red light and broadsides you, the car will automatically detect this incoming vehicle and accelerate out of the way? Or when you are stopped in traffic, it will someone avoid being rear ended by the guy using his cellphone?

Avoidance is great when you have the space/time to avoid the object (tree, other car).... Just like having a motorcycle.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066811)

Why don't you just buy a Truck so? People have to stop driving those large SUV if they want to have a live in the future, and damn you americans, so worried about been hit by war tanks within your small 3.000 people cities.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066865)

Well, for one thing, it's no less safe than riding a motorcycle and more fuel efficient to boot. I ride a yellow sport bike with a yellow reflective jacket and yellow reflective helmet and I've never even had a close call. If I were going to buy this car, I certainly wouldn't get it in silver - the color of the road. That's extremely hard to see in low light, fog, rain, etc. Get it in orange, yellow, bright green, etc and being seen on the road should be much less of a problem. As long as there's few of them on the road, and before the novelty has worn off, people won't be able to take their eyes off the orange bullet. That and some well-placed airbags would be enough to convince me.

Besides, getting a bigger vehicle for safety reasons is only excaberating the problem, because now you're the big vehicle on the road everyone else is worried about.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (4, Informative)

novakyu (636495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066873)

Even if it has a crumple zones, I could see it being sent flying across the road like a hockeypuck, or it's lack of mass being unable to stop the forward progress of the impacting vehicle after the impact.

Why does it need to physically stop the other car? I don't think I'd mind being sent across the road like a hockeypuck, as long as each change in velocity (... probably collision-induced) is gentle enough to prevent damage to my body. I couldn't care less if the truck that hits me has enough forward momentum to go across America.

As long as it has crumple zones (remember---what you really care about is the acceleration of your own body (which gives the force on you), and that's inversely proportional to the distance you have to travel, given an initial and final velocity), I don't see how it's any less safer than a bulkier car with identical length of crumple zone.

I recently rode in a coworkers SmartCar, and while it seemed like a great car, I realized that if were were rear ended, we'd be killed. There's about a foot between your back and the back of the car. Less than that of a Jeep Wrangler. My biggest fear would be having to stop quickly on the highway and the guy behind me doesn't stop in time.

That should be fine---with your small mass, the other guy will simply end up pushing you forward.

Now, it's a different question if you were stopped right in front of a cliff (either one that stands as a wall or one where the ground disappears beneath you), but in the normal traffic conditions, you will either get pushed forward by yourself, or as you are pushed forward, you will hit the car ahead of you. In either case, assuming that the passenger compartment is strong, the mass of your car itself has no bearing on safety.

Anybody have any good arguments for justifying these ultra-light cars (VW, SmartCar) to those that do equate a certain size=safety measure?

Well, tell them about how "safe" SUVs are, with its frequent rollovers. If that doesn't convince them bigger != safer, well, I do think the gene pool would benefit from their decision.

No Problem (4, Insightful)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066897)

Simply kick all the senseless SUVs, Trucks, Offroaders and so on off the streets.
If there are only light cars around, no one get's hit by a 2.5 ton doctor's wife with her Porsche Cayenne.
It's really time for it. And by the way, if your car is extremely light, an much heavier opponent in an accidend would push your micocompact away instead of crushing through it. Especially if the microcompact is made of an robust security cell (see the Samrts Tridion Security Cell) or a Formula One like cage of carbon fiber like the VW 1L. I assume there are almost no more secure big cars around as these compacts are.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066899)

People are killed all the time in big vehicles. My grandmother was crushed to death by the F250 she was ridding in. If a person is concerned with safety in a vehicle they should probably not drive. Sure you're safer in some vehicles in some sorts of accidents but you can be killed in a Hummer as easily as you can be killed in anything else...a big strong vehicle is a false sense of safety.

smart car safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066921)

You ride within a steel cage. If you hit a wall at 70mph head on the cage stays intact. Mind you, your organs turn to mush.

Video of smashing into other car [youtube.com]

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (4, Insightful)

mickwd (196449) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066947)

How big is a Formula 1 car, and what does it weigh?

Ever seen some of the crashes that those F1 drivers just walk away from?

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066959)

There are certain advantages to being lightweight, but protection isn't one of them.

I expect that any serious commercial adaption will have something like a roll bar built into it for additional protection to offset its light weight, as i expect it would get flung around a fair bit, even strong winds could present dangers if its too light.

Saying that, i doubt there is anything you can do to justify it currently. The good news is that SUVs are a dieing breed currently, and as more people shift into lighter vehicles, the safety concerns of driving in such light weigh vehicles will be alleviated.

A point to note for international readers, America is unfortunately a nation that love their SUVs. It'll be quite a while before anyone with safety concerns drives that around there. As much as i hate SUVs, even i wanted to drive one so i had protection from the other SUV drivers while i was visiting there. In my experience, about every other vehicle is an SUV or equivalent there. (as opposed to about 1/10 here in New Zealand)

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066969)

Options:
a) Stop being so scared all the time and upgrade to a gf with a brain. Buy the small car.
b) Buy an M81 abrams so that You'll Be Safe. Also, never drive when it's raining, foggy, snowing, or dark.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (1)

jt2190 (645297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066985)

If you look at "safety" as only one dimension (weight) than is an SUV really that much "safer?" What if you're rear-ended by a 40,000 pound tractor-trailer? Or worse, T-boned? Of course the SVU is "safer" than a car by this measure, but by how much?

If you take a more holistic view of safety and include the vehicle's manuverability (ability to avoid and accident), plus the driver's skill level, small cars may actually be just as "safe" or even "safer" than an SUV. Inexperienced drivers have a MUCH higher incidence of accidents than experienced ones, and sports cars can corner more sharply and come to a stop in a much shorter distance, whereas SUVs take a much longer distance to come to a stop, and have a nasty tendency to roll if they corner too sharply.

So, take the extra money you're going to have to spend on an SUV and sign-up for some defensive driving classes.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (1)

dh003i (203189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066987)

Well, keep in mind that the size/safety argument is relative. How safe would that 3000 lb vehicle be if it was hit by a tank? ;-)

Granted, I get the point; most cars in the US are a certain size. Cars significantly smaller than that are in danger of being flung around like a hockey puck if hit by those bigger cars.

However, the flip-side is that a small car like this is likely to be more maneuverable, and more able to squeeze into tight space; hence, easier to avoid being hit in the first place...right?

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (4, Interesting)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067027)

I've been in a full-on frontal collision between my smart roadster and a e-class mercedes. Both were totaled, and the resulting minor injuries were about equal on both sides. Construction is a lot more important than size and weight.

Re:Convincing one of safety of small vehicles. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24067095)

Anybody have any good arguments for justifying these ultra-light cars (VW, SmartCar) to those that do equate a certain size=safety measure?

The altruistic argument: By riding in a smaller vehicle, you reduce the likelihood of injuring or killing other people you may hit.

The "overly trusting of the marketing department" argument:"Volkswagen says the One-Liter Car is as safe as a GT sports car registered for racing. With the aid of computer crash simulations, the car was designed with built-in crash tubes, pressure sensors for airbag control and front crumple zones."

The appeal to economics: With all the money you save on gas, you can buy a really bitchin' health plan.

My "gut reaction" argument: Suck it up and quit perpetuating the ridiculous culture of fear in this country. If gas was still 99 cents a gallon, we'd all be riding in tanks right now in a perverse highway arms race waged between every motorist on the road. As it stands, people are now buying scooters and motorcycles in record numbers due to gas prices. This vehicle is hardly near the two-wheelers in terms of risk.

So in a car wreck (1)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066677)

In one corner: Soccer Mom talking on her cell phone in her Hummer H3. In the other corner: Driver in the VW One-Liter. Guess which one they give up counting body parts on, and which one they're trying to pull out of the vehicle because she's still talking on her cell phone.

Re:So in a car wreck (1)

StarfishOne (756076) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066853)

When these VW become more dominating on the road, the H3 Soccer Mom will become extinct because of the high fuel prices I guess. ;)

Re:So in a car wreck (3, Funny)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067009)

Does that mean in 65 million years, we'll have cars powered by extinct soccer moms?

Danica Patrick (1)

lazyDog86 (1191443) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066785)

At 660lbs, the driver's weight has got to be a significant factor in the final mileage. Sure, Danica Patrick might get that kind of mileage (her driving habits aside), but I wonder what a fat coach potato such as myself might get - should I be able to fit my ass in the driver's seat at all?

Nifty... (1)

mpaque (655244) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066789)

Be sure to let us know how the NHTSA tests go for this vehicle.

If the vehicle needs to be modified to pass the tests, what sort of milage do you expect to see? I suspect it would wind up with an EPA rating around 60 MPG.

"I'm doing what I can, Michael; (1)

Zwicky (702757) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066821)

the feed is disrupted."

Does anyone sense a new Knightrider remake in the offing?

Seriously though, if I was allowed to drive on the public roads with 'normal' folks I wouldn't be ashamed of driving this thing, which is more than I can say for many (not all) other gas/energy/whatever-saving vehicles that have been developed so far.

If they can get people to actually want to own one of these instead of an obnoxious gas-guzzler then they'll come out of their niche and enter the mainstream. That would be neat.

The small matter of a lack of storage space would still put many off, I fear, but that's easily solved [iwt.co.uk] :)

A "Smart" Move (1)

Kensai7 (1005287) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066831)

With petroleum galloping over $140/barrel, it's great news that automakers finally start designing cars that are meant for the real everyday traffic.

The Smart bubble car by Mercedes-Benz was a success because manufacturers took into consideration that in day-to-day commuting less than 2 seats [on average] are occupied, at least in the bustling European cities.

It's good that VW is creating nimble cars with just two positions (the driver and just one "passenger of fortune": spouse, kid, cowerker, grocery). A light design and economic engine complete the picture. I wish we could see more of these little cars, especially with hybrid engines, if that is possible.

Diesel-hybrid would be much more appealing (1)

sonofabeach (1168325) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066881)

I don't understand why they would even bother with making a few of these by 2010 when the appeal of the diesel hybrid Golf [wired.com] seems so much more apparent. Bring out the diesel hybrids already!

Re:Diesel-hybrid would be much more appealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24067071)

Yes, how dare they work on new materials and structural changes when it's directly competing with new engine technology research!

real car anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24066927)

These feats with tiny cars and even using the word "car" in the same sentence as 235mpg is a fantasy I do not need to see or hear again. Has anyone made a car, with all the years of knowledge learned about efficiency..without the alice in wonderland? I know of one..it starts with a 3 main bearing boxer 4 engine, and uses your typical gas station...and its 50 freakin years old. IDIOTS.

I'd rather an improved Volkswagen GX3. (3, Interesting)

amper (33785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066933)

I'd rather see VW work on an improved version of the GX3 concept. If they enclosed it for better aerodynamics and reduced the engine power from the concept's 125 bhp, they'd be able to eke out much better mileage than the measly 46 mpg of the prototype. There really wasn't any need for a 1.6 L engine in the GX3. They could have gone with the engine from the Lupo 3L, which was a 1.2 L inline three cylinder TDI engine that made 61 bhp.

Of course, the first thing they should do is bring the Lupo 3L back to life and bring it to the US.

The Lupo 3L weighed about 1830 lb, and the GX3 weighed about about 1260 lb, so you can see that the Lupo 3L engine would still give quite interesting performance in the GX3 chassis, and the fuel consumption, with a new aerodynamic, enclosed chassis for the GX3 should enable that configuration to easily reach at least the ~80 mpg of the Lupo 3L, and probably even better that figure by a good margin, while offering the advantages of side-by-side seating.

Gets 235 mpg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24067035)

Or 38.4 mpg with an American behind the wheel.

Roll-over escape? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067047)

I think this is a great design, but the canopy leaves me with one concern. How would you get out of the car if it rolled over? With the one-piece canopy door, you could easily end up stuck inside the car if it were flipped or rolled. And there's so little space inside, you likely wouldn't be able to kick out the glass, since you probably wouldn't have space to retract your legs to make a strong kick.

That said, I think it would be great for over 90% of commutes.

Europe is not the US. (5, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067063)

Something Americans just do not get is that these vehicles are to a greater or lesser extent motorcycle replacements. If you visit the rainy Stuttgart area you will rapidly see that the Smart is often used there where in warmer, drier countries you would use a motorcycle. This VW concept is basically what a well off German with eco credentials might want to show off with where his US counterpart might buy a Harley or a Gold Wing.

More people in the world with high disposable incomes drive on roads where American SUVs are in a small minority. Here in the UK SUVs have been making inroads which have come to a sudden halt as fuel approaches $3/liter. On the other hand, the sales of class A,B and C vehicles - microcars, minis and superminis - are rising fast. Expect European roads to look rather different in 2010, when the first of the new technologies really start to reach the market.

The guy who wrote the article did not get this - quoting US gallons is pretty irrelevant. 1 liter/100km, or miles per UK gallon, are appropriate because that is where they will be used.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...