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Old 15th January 2010, 20:31   #1
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Default Ever wondered why Jap cars are light, American cars heavy? etc etc..

Over the years since the automobile was invented, there have been a lot of perceptions built around the country/region that has manufactured them. There is definitely a genuine reason behind why a certain country is associated with the type of cars it manufacturers.

Am creating this thread to get an answer to these questions. Would request everyone to provide serious answers to them.

Q : The Japanese are always associated to light and reliable cars. Their cars are more fuel efficient due to the light weight. Whats the reason behind this?
A: One of the reasons behind this was some government programs which were introduced after WW-II wherein they urged domestic companies to re-build the automobile market. This was to be done in a way that the cars are affordable to the domestic market and fuel-efficient. That explains why Japanese cars are very light and fuel efficient.
With regards to reliability, we all know the Japs are obsessed with perfection and fear failure and embarassment. Thats the reason why Japanese car manufacturers go through a lot of Quality and Reliability Check processes before selling them.

Anyone care to provide answers to the below. Please also post in any other perceptions you may have here.
- Why are Eurpoean cars supposed to be one of the best handlers?
- Why dont the American cars not handle as well as the Europeans or the Japs?
- Why are most of the American cars on the bigger/heavier side?
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Old 15th January 2010, 20:35   #2
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Regarding the handling, Europe has twistier roads. American roads are rather flat and straight. I think that's why the handling is so much better on European cars.
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Old 15th January 2010, 20:40   #3
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Very much true McLaren_Rulez.

USA is a very big country and to connect various states, there could be nothing better than straight roads. American roads are straight for miles and miles and the cars are built for these straight roads. Even the fast / supercars are built to tackle these roads (in a straight line).

Europe on the other hand is made up of lots of small countries and mountainous too. The cars are designed and built to take on these twists without going off it. Thats the reason they handle well on twists and bends.
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Old 15th January 2010, 20:54   #4
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This is new to me. thanks for the information.
But I still cannot figure out why American cars are Heavy/bigger and most of their cars are MUVs and SUVs. It is just if they have big families but most American families are small.
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Old 15th January 2010, 21:04   #5
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I too am not sure of the reason for their cars being BIG. My thoughts are :

The reason could be due to wide and long roads. Inter-state distances could be very long and to make the ride more comfortable, the Americans built bigger cars. Bigger would also mean more luggage space for long distance travelling.

The car was also built to seat six adults (3 front and back) and hence they were wider than most European cars. The boot was big to accomodate the luggage and the bonnet was long to accomodate a BIG engine to move the BIG car.
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Old 15th January 2010, 21:06   #6
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when americans celebrate a success, they talk of making it big. Americans by nature love big and heavy things and it reflects everywhere. it's quite usual to be able to sell a camera or phone or a pepper grinder for that matter with a good grip and weight when compared to a miniature version.

On the other hand, Japanese (and Chinese) love small things. I have read that their women keep wearing same shoes till adulthood so their feet are small because small feet are considered beautiful.

Even the houses we live in reflect the same mentality. Americans don't mind installing a 50 gallon water heater (mine will probably be installed in next month LOL) while Japanese will find a way to use a 5 litre water heater efficiently, even if at a cost of convenience. I think it also has to do with abundance of natural resources.

All this is reflected in the cars as well. A typical exmaple of japanese efficiency is honda fit/jazz which will not do as well in american markets because small is just not appreciated.

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Old 15th January 2010, 21:19   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivekiny2k View Post
when americans celebrate a success, they talk of making it big. Americans by nature love big and heavy things and it reflects everywhere. it's quite usual to be able to sell a camera or phone or a pepper grinder for that matter with a good grip and weight when compared to a miniature version.

On the other hand, Japanese (and Chinese) love small things. I have read that their women keep wearing same shoes till adulthood so their feet are small because small feet are considered beautiful.

Even the houses we live in reflect the same mentality. Americans don't mind installing a 50 gallon water heater (mine will probably be installed in next month LOL) while Japanese will find a way to use a 5 litre water heater efficiently, even if at a cost of convenience. I think it also has to do with abundance of natural resources.

All this is reflected in the cars as well. A typical exmaple of japanese efficiency is honda fit/jazz which will not do as well in american markets because small is just not appreciated.
May be due to cheap gas prices as well?
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Old 15th January 2010, 21:34   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
May be due to cheap gas prices as well?
That is definitely one of the reasons. Till about a year or two ago, the Americans never bothered about gas prices until the recession hit them big time.
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Old 15th January 2010, 22:55   #9
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BIG IS BEAUTIFUL - is what American's swear by.
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Old 15th January 2010, 23:25   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivekiny2k View Post
when americans celebrate a success, they talk of making it big. Americans by nature love big and heavy things and it reflects everywhere. it's quite usual to be able to sell a camera or phone or a pepper grinder for that matter with a good grip and weight when compared to a miniature version.
Quote:
Originally Posted by oss View Post
BIG IS BEAUTIFUL - is what American's swear by.
These lines just made me go lol.


On a serious note, If you notice. In the detroit show, there have been a lot of Hybrid/electric showcases. Maybe its time for them to Downsize?
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Old 15th January 2010, 23:39   #11
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Americans travel and they do it a lot (who wouldn't, I have seen most of U.S on roads but yet to see even 1/10th of India). So, for them a big car thats stable and moves comfortably is priority. Add to this the cheap gas.
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Old 16th January 2010, 02:47   #12
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OT but i've seen many american movies where people eat a large tub of ice cream or a large bowl of pop corn, the quantity is so much that 3-4 indians can be satisfied with one large ice cream or pop corns.
They're just lovers of BIG things.
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Old 16th January 2010, 03:25   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivekiny2k View Post
All this is reflected in the cars as well. A typical exmaple of japanese efficiency is honda fit/jazz which will not do as well in american markets because small is just not appreciated.
Honda Jazz/Fit is a huge success in USA. a good example for small is not good would be Smart for two or chevy aveo hatchback a.k.a u-va
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Old 16th January 2010, 03:46   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chevelle View Post
Honda Jazz/Fit is a huge success in USA. a good example for small is not good would be Smart for two or chevy aveo hatchback a.k.a u-va
that's the effect of recession and high gas prices.

I was contrasting innovation in small vs comfort in big. and I should have said "would" instead of "will".
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Old 16th January 2010, 04:17   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v12 View Post
Anyone care to provide answers to the below. Please also post in any other perceptions you may have here.
- Why are Eurpoean cars supposed to be one of the best handlers?
- Why dont the American cars not handle as well as the Europeans or the Japs?
- Why are most of the American cars on the bigger/heavier side?
The last question has a clear answer in my mind. Even the americans who drive a Smart or a mini cooper have a huge second car.
  • Many americans have more than one pet/dog.
  • Not uncommon to have 3 or 4 or even half a dozen kids.
  • They are warehouse/wholesale shoppers. Buy 50 pound bags of dogfood, rice whatever, 20 roll bags of toilet paper, etc. (shops like Metro)
  • Many tow boats, campers, dirt bikes
  • big market for cheap, big, & heavy(not by design) utilitarian vehicles. Even Toyota sequoia, Landcrusier, Nissan Armada, Range Rover HSE are typical american gas guzzling SUVs.
BTW, We have a Toyota 4runner that constantly overflows when we go warehouse shopping or camping (4 bicycles on a rack, 4 sleeping bags, stove, tent, chairs, 1 dog, dogs bed.... you get the idea). End up using a roof carrier. There is no way I can fit these in a BMW X5.

In Europe, even the small cars sold by Ford (Focus) used to have better quality parts, & much more expensive, compared to the same small car in the US(targeted for school kids). The twisty small town roads need better handling small cars. Europeans historically have been paying more for everything built there. So the buyers will expect more as well. If americans were offered the same better handling car for the same cheap price, they would certainly gobble it up. The cheaper american cars just dont allow for cars with the superior handling.
-Prasadee
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