where is the one-person commuter car?

while driving an hour to work each day I’ve been obsessed with this for the past few weeks — why don’t we have a one person (perhaps a two-seater; one driver plus minimal storage) car that gets 100+ mpg?  it should be pretty easy, shouldn’t it?

I mean, nobody wants to squeeze more than two people into a sub-compact for a commute of any significant length — I only begrudgingly get in the backseat of a Mini for a Chipotle-run because it’s, well, Chipotle.  so if you’re going to get four people inside in comfort, it’s going to be in a 25-30 mpg car (which is 100-120 miles per person, a better measure).

so get rid of the backseat, get rid of the trunk, get the gross vehicle weight down around 1500 lbs, put a small but torque-y engine in it… better yet, an electric engine (I only need 125 miles per charge, and would love to pull it from clean nuclear energy) or even some reasonable veggie-diesel thing…

long story short: a vast majority of the cars I see on my daily commute have only one person in them; so instead of trying to put more people in each vehicle (which seems to be a losing proposition), why not build the car around the commuter?



Filed under I believe the children are our future

7 responses to “where is the one-person commuter car?

  1. Karen

    It would be the SMART car, if it got better mileage and had some more pickup. Although the thought of getting on I-95 with everyone else going 80+ in that thing is a little daunting…

  2. Bryan H

    My cousin asked why I didn’t buy the Smart car instead of the CR-V we recently purchased. He seems a bit obsessed with it because he finds it fascinating that it is so small. It seems pretty cool and on the right track, but I have no idea what kind of mileage it gets. I agree though st4bux there has to be a better mousetrap out there.

  3. We were going to get a Smart Car, but the Jeep died before they were ready. The problem is making a car which meets safety standards and still gets super mileage. The quick answer to your question? A bike.

  4. Rob

    I, the “scientist” am experimenting with Fusion…

    seriously though, after being in two wrecks… I personally need enough mass surrounding me to just give me peace of mind… the air bags, crumple zones, door beams, etc. give me the confidence to brave the roads… which are full of day dreaming, cell-phone talking, cheese burger eating, stereo fumbling nut jobs…

    could they all get better mileage? absolutely, I think there is probably technology sitting on a dusty shelf in the back of an old R&D warehouse somewhere in Michigan… more than likely fossil based, but, just like the truth, I’m sure it’s out there…

  5. Gregg Weber

    I also have been thinking of this and remember something back in 1971 when I bought my first real car, a new british racing green MGB. In the phamphlet I read, it said that the average number of people in the commuter car was 1.9. I asssume that means that there were 9 cars with two people and one with just one and not 10 each with one of the two shortened at the neck. I see many with only one person because of the flexibility of having a person car so you can do things on the way to or from work.
    I would like to see something like the later british Elva cars with the internal configuration something like the 1967 STP turbine indy racer with the fuel and engine beside the driver. There would be a trunk in the back. I believe that that was 4 wheel drive but this would be rear wheel drive as a good sports car should be.
    It certainly shouldn’t be as wide as a Porche 914 so it could take a corner at a reasonable angle to straighten it, instead of being forced to keep the corner as it was laid out. Before you real mini (the originals) and Saab Sonnet people get mad, remember where I started from (MG). Talking and arguing isn’t as definitive as the second click of a stop watch.
    Getting two people in a commute car won’t work because each loses the flexibility of doing what they want on the way and the feeling of being in control.
    The problem I am looking at now is the offset drive shaft but that probably can be done. It might even allow some gear reduction at each turn.
    Who wants to show up at work all sweaty after a bike ride? The only good commuter bike is a cheap one, like a Solex or other moped. But they are expensive and the city government needs tax money.

  6. That’s a pretty great article, i was studying something related on another blog not too long ago that basically said the same thing although yours is clearer, plus its good to have some validation on seeing two sources agree.

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