Toyota (Yaris), Honda (Fit), and Nissan (Versa) are all coming ashore. I'm certain the U.S. automakers will have some top brass fellow say something stupid or arrogant about the category of vehicle, only to eat their words later after they lost yet another 250,000 vehicles a year in sales to the Japanese, who will ultimately own the segment.
lwsst: Toyota (Yaris), Honda (Fit), and Nissan (Versa)--if you read the specs, US-destined shipments are all in the high end of the manufactured engine displacement range. I suspect there are several factors in their calculus including: - Americans won't buy them now - Americans WILL by them later - the good old American car company "planned obsolence" scheme
And then there is, as you point out, the American safety perception. Education is needed there - perception is not always reality. States and Feds could also develop a rational transportation plan the would segregate vehicles by curb weight in the highest risk areas - small car to small car accidents certainly reduce the risk with today's' safety designs.
In truth, we will get US micro cars if/when the proper economic incentives are in place (market or regulatory - take your pick - either could do it). A return to Hitlers "People's Car" (Volkswagen in German), arguably the most successful car in automotive history.
But China is going to have a big effect on the micro car situation at least as far as automakers in general *producing* them. Perhaps we could coin a knew phrase: "Benevolent Totalitarian Socialist-Capitalist State". Here's the NYT version showing their China's latest transition toward adapting capitalist incentives:
The biggest commercial effect of the new taxes is likely to fall on sport utility vehicles and luxury sedans. China is **reducing** its tax on vehicles with engines of 1 to 1.5 liters to 3 percent from 5 percent, while leaving the rate unchanged for slightly more powerful engines. **The tax rate will rise to 20 percent, from 8 percent now, for vehicles with engines larger than four liters.**
The taxes are likely to affect foreign automakers, especially American manufacturers, more than Chinese companies, which tend to make models with smaller engines.
The big question for automakers is how much of the tax to pass on to consumers, since **the tax is collected from the manufacturers**. With a week and a half remaining until the new tax takes effect, marketing executives scrambled on Wednesday to assess the impact and no automaker immediately raised prices.
I guess they will own the segment, because stupid gm is not even competing in it!
The excellent gm AVEO is made in Korea, but gm seems to hide it from view. It's a tiny car, about the size of a Corolla, maybe smaller. gm could make an efficient car, if it wanted to; it has, or had, a lot of clout in the Bush and other administratins.
Andy Card, for example, was gm's chief lobbyist AGAINST electric cars!