Amory Lovins Was Right. Small Cars Deemed Efficient, Safe


Photo of crashed cars via Mr Wabu @ flickr.

Swedish cars have long been cherished for their supposed safety - think of those tank-like Volvos serving as soccer mamas' kidmobiles. And of course, Volvo has delicately played on consumer anxieties and charged a premium for supposed safety - SUV makers, too. Now Swedish insurance carrier Folksam says that modern fuel-sipping economy and eco-cars test just as safely as a 13-year-old "safer" Swedish-made competitor. Small cars have gotten safer in the last 20 years, Folksam shows.Take the Bus. It's even safer.
Ecoprofile blogger Eric Sandblom says it is ten times safer to take the bus than to drive your own car. It's even safer, he says, to take the train than either driving or busing. This is according a Danish study from 2007 which also found it is a little more dangerous to walk than to cycle (the Danes and Dutch have the lowest cyclist mortality rates) with the absolutely 'riskiest' way of getting around per kilometer traveled being a moped. That's the risk you pose to others as well as to yourself.

What does this have to do with Amory Lovins?
Well, Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute, has long been a proponent of building lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles with carbon composite materials in order to cut our use of oil. He says "normal-sized" family cars can get 100 mpg without compromises for consumers. He also advocates "feebates" a combination of fees and rebates to help get the greenest cars out onto the roads.

Detroit has argued that CAFE and efficiency standards would make car consumers less safe. Consumers may have the perception that big cars are safer. Now Ford has indicated that it plans to cut 500 to 750 pounds of flab from each automobile it redesigns.

Via: Folksam and Ecoprofile
Note: The cars used in Folksam's test were a 13-year-old Volvo 945 and a Toyota Yaris. The head-on collision was at 64 kilometers per hour. Folksam's top recommendation for cars combining efficiency and safety for 2009 are all Toyotas.

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Tags: Driving | Transportation