I recently read a study that found the average American is getting significantly bigger. In the past 25 or so years the average height has grown by a little over an inch. However the average American’s weight has swelled by 25 pounds. The average guy is 5’ 10” and 175lbs. that’s a 17 percent gain for those of you keeping score.
In 1980 the average American's car weighed in at 2870 pounds and the current average car is 3563. Keep in mind this is for cars and not vehicles classified as light trucks, which includes pick-ups and SUVs. That is close to a 25 percent gain in weight, and it doesn’t take into account the huge boom in light truck sales we have had in that time.
Most people will blame this on the advent of more and better safety equipment. Some will point to the increase in overall vehicle size, while even more still, the majority, won’t even care.
Well as most enthusiasts will tell you, weight is the enemy of vehicles. Weight is bad for everything; acceleration, braking, turning, you name it; if you add weight to a vehicle it will perform worse. The odd thing is that it is not just enthusiasts who care about vehicle weight. Those of us who care about the environment should care also. Weight is a prime factor in fuel consumption. Obviously the more mass you have, the more energy it takes to accelerate it.
So if car lovers and car haters both agree that weight is bad, why do cars keep getting heavier?
Well the average commuter is to blame. The average soccer-mom and dad that doesn’t care any more about performance than they do about the environment is the real problem. For some reason they have been convinced that they need every luxury imaginable stuffed into their personal conveyance. I will admit; it is tough to live without a stereo, heat and air conditioning. Do I really need a one thousand watt stereo, four zone climate control, heated and cooled seats and power operated sunshades? No I don’t, and neither does anyone else. The average persons argument will be; why do car enthusiasts need 700hp and 12 inch wide tires. We don’t, we need light weight enthusiast cars with small efficient engines.
It is time for enthusiasts to lead the charge to more efficient cars rather than turning a blind eye and saying that non-enthusiasts should do something. The ones committed to the long term viability of cars should be trying the hardest. I want a car in my garage for the rest of my life and I intend to do something about it.