[urq] Ever wonder why the newer Audis (and other cars) are

Louis-Alain Richard laraa at sympatico.ca
Tue Aug 1 23:33:32 EDT 2006

> Hell, the new Rabbit (positioned as cute, nimble, young, whatever)
> darn near 3,000 pounds!  It's insane.
> John

I guess that weight increase is directly related to the relative low
cost of manufacturing of some formerly "luxury" components. Take the
window lifts or the electrical seat adjusters, they are now quite
inexpensive but they weight a lot more than their mechanical
counterparts. And how many airbags we find in a new car ? 4? 6? More ? 
Some Renaults have 10 airbags and 6 seat belts pre-tensionners !!! That
means we need to include 16 reinforced areas to attach all these
exploding devices... 

The second culprit is related to the actual wave of "powerful" engines.
Now, after 100 years of refining the same design, we can extract huge HP
from a small and simple mechanical assembly like the modern multivalve
engines. And since they are built in huge quantities, they are not so
expensive for the mainstream cars. But then, if you have HP, you need
big tires for traction, then big wheels to keep the low aspect ratio,
then big suspension components (because of the high grip these tires can
produce), then big brakes to stop all that mass in motion. More, the
structure of the car needs to be beefed up just because you want to keep
an acceptable ratio between the mass of the car and the unsprung weight
components (darn vibrations...). It all adds up very fast... 

You can also blame the twin mufflered exhausts that we see on every car
now, from a lowly Altima to the new Outback. Check this one to the
designers that put these big coffee cans on each new concept.

And then, just because there are so many SUVs and minivans on the road
now, the newer cars are taller and bigger than their predecessors just
to follow the new trend. Look at a Matrix or a Corolla or even a Ford
500, they are so tall and voluminous, this also means weight (more
window area need more structure).

But the final question is : is all that weight a real demand from the
customer ? Or this is a consequence of the -formerly- low fuel prices?


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