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Obesity and the Automobile

It is forecast that obesity in the human race will be a major problem in the twenty- first century. Obesity impinges on the automobile in two ways, the first is the size of automobile people buy and the second is obesity in automobile design.
The first of these statements is easy to explain. If due to obesity people cannot fit into a small car they purchase a larger car. Its got so bad that in some countries in the western world a large part of the population own two-ton pickup trucks just to go to the local mall.
The second statement needs a little more explanation. I will use an example to explain. Due to the nature of the national geography the drivers in the United Stated found that a moderately large cars was the best choice, an example being the 1930 Chevrolet AD Universal model at 2,195 lbs (996 kg). By 1975 a representative Chevrolet model the Bel Air weighed in at 4,179 lbs (1895 kg), now that's obesity for you.
It is not only in the USA this happens. In almost sixty years of production the VW Beetle only increased in weight by 9 % from 750 kg at birth in Germany to 820 kg for its final years in Brazil. The first VW Golf has not kept its weight in control so well; it weighed in at 820 kg and by the mark 3 was up to 960 kg. The latest model of the Golf is bigger and heavier again. Ford has the same problem with its European cars. The original Cortina the Mark 1, made in the UK in 1962 weighed 794 kg. But by 1976 and the Mark 4 model the weight of a Cortina had gone up to 965 kg, an increase of 21 %. If you consider the Mondeo as the latest successor to the Cortina, at 1300 kg it is 64% heavier. If you consider the Focus to true successor to the Cortina, it is also 44 % heavier at 1145 kg. Other Ford examples are the Escort and the Fiesta. The Escort Mark 1 of 1967 a rear wheeled drive car weighed 744 kg. The Mark 2 version of that car weighed 836 kg. The new front wheel drive Escort Mark 3 of 1980 was lighter at 830 kg, but by the time we get to the Escort Mark 6 the weight is up to 1008 kg. A rise of 35% over the original Mark 1 Escort. If you think the Focus is its successor you get a weight rise of 54 %. As the Escort increased in size and weight Ford slipped in a new model the Fiesta, which at 741 kg was 3 kg less than the Mk 1 Escort. This was in 1976. It was lively car and by the standards of its time I remember it was fun to drive. The next version came alone in 1983 and had only put on 19 kg. A new Fiesta was introduced in 1989 and that now weighed 794 kg, but by 1995 was up to 939 kg. The new Fiesta for 2003 is even heavier at 1045 kg, that is 41 % greater than the original model. Ever the 1.3 Ka the lightest car Ford make today, at 890 kg is almost a hundred kg heavier than the origin Cortina. The Ka is a super-mini but the Cortina was a successful family size car.
It's not only the Ford and Volkswagen cars that grow this way. The first modern BMW the 1500/1600 weighed 1060 kg and their latest equivalent model the 1600 Three series weighs 1300 kg. The only other car that can be compared to the Beetle in production life is the Jeep. The first Jeep produced for the civilian market was the Jeepster. That was in 1947 and it weighed 1119 kg. It's latest descendent the Jeep Wrangler is now 1605 kg, a rise of 43 %. Where does all that extra weight come from?
One of the most extreme examples of two different cars given the same name is the case of the Mini. The original BMC Mini was an outstanding minicar and weighed 626 kg in 1959. The rather plump super-mini now produced by BMW and badged "Mini"; weighs in at 1040 kg, 66 % heavier than its namesake. Now that is obesity.
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