When it comes to automakers around the world, everyone wants to break into the American market, who can blame them? On average, before the recession hit in 2008, Americans in any average year bought about 17 million new cars a year. Now, can you imagine how many cars Tata Motors of India or BYD Motors of China could sell if they offered their models here anywhere close to the prices these cars sell for abroad? Let’s talk.
The Tata Nano (small mini-minivan) sells for around $ 3,500 and BYD’s small vehicles sell for less than $ 4,000. How the hell can they sell them so cheap? Well, they don’t have close to the regulations in those countries like we do here in terms of safety features; no airbags, which in the US adds no less than $ 1200 per car, usually a lot more. Also, the cars don’t have safety glass or crash tests to deal with. But even if they had those things, those cars could still perhaps sell here for just over $ 10,000 – a lot less than, say, a cute little Smart Car of similar size and performance.
Recently, in December 2012, several Toyota Prius models scored very low in crash tests. Personally, I’m not surprised, there’s a lot of momentum and mass inside those cars, think about the weight of the battery, which is just a huge amount of weight. The car crashes and everything else goes on, alas. Now keep in mind that the US Department of Transportation crash tests are incredibly strict, primarily due to US automakers and lobbyists in the late 70s and early 80s, while that Honda, Nissan, and Toyota were bringing small, fuel-efficient cars to compete.
By making regulations difficult for crash tests, some models stayed out to give Detroit’s biggest cars an advantage with lousy mileage. I recommend reading the book; Edwin Black’s “Internal Combustion” to better understand that last comment.
Now, hybrid cars have batteries that, if they break down during a crash and put toxic chemicals on the road, are not good, plus these cars weigh more, so the full weight of the batteries wants to continue when the vehicle goes down. get involved in a traffic accident. Still, it seems we need to readjust safety regulations and grant exemptions to these hybrid cars, just so they can compete at the same level of safety standards. But if we’re willing to do that, why not let Tata Motors and BYD Motors enter American markets and give the consumer a break, cars that cost less?
“Oh please, auto workers unions would never allow that,” you’re thinking, sure that’s true, so you get my point here. We have a set of double standards in the auto industry and either we have to remove some of these rules and regulations, or they should all play on a level playing field. But I ask my reader to make the call. Consider all of this and think about it.