When buying a new car or truck, gasoline economy was a key factor for at least one-third of American car buyers. Because of the preoccupation today with smog, global warming and America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil, it’s actually shocking to learn that as long ago as 1992 a car that got 100 miles to the gallon was built by General Motors. There was also a car that looked a lot like the Geo Metro and weighed 1000 pounds, which boasted 75 miles per gallon gas mileage. Regrettably, as a way to meet American safety regulations, the 3-cylinder vehicle required reinforcement weighing 200 pounds, which resulted in further development being discarded.
This was not the only prototype developed by GM which ended up on the scrapheap. These vehicles include the GM Lean-Machine in 1982 at 80 MPG, and the GM Ultralite which got 100 MPG. As soon as Honda in 1992 reached 50 mpg with the Civic VX, GM was selling cars that got 20 mpg, while in the background they had vehicles capable of 100 mpg. Clearly this begs the question that explains why these cars that are capable of 100 mpg are not available to the public.
Why are traditional vehicles sold in the US, while at the same time, the same companies are selling different vehicles far away in other countries? Cars that achieve more than 70 mpg have been sold in Europe and Japan for a lot of years. The Lupo, a Volkswagen, is a perfect instance of a car that gets 78 MPG, but has never been sold in the US. Honda introduced to the US sector in 2007, a car called the Fit, but known as the Jazz in other parts of the world. The Jazz in Japan has ways to increase fuel economy and a smaller engine, but for the US, the Fit doesn’t even use a smaller engine as an option.
The auto companies tell Americans that they love big cars, and that is what they want to create big cars. Building a small commuter type vehicle doesn’t make the manfacturer big money, unlike with a large SUV. A Tank on Wheels is the thing to own – that’s the sales message that the commercials beguile the American public with. The reality that options have never been provided reveals where the big companies have their interests. Instead of being synonymous with SUVs, GM today could have been recognized as a leader in fuel-economic vehicles. Americans weren’t denied merely by GM, but also by all of those other manufacturers who have developed fuel-efficient cars.
American automakers haven’t ever given the US people an opportunity to acquire a fuel-efficient car, despite the world having been embroiled in oil wars and being severely polluted. The question comes up: how many Americans would have appreciated the option of getting a car with good gas mileage but weren’t ever offered it? Possibly the moment has come to restore building those cars that were developed only to be abandoned all those years ago.