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
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
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.