Designing cars that don’t do everything

American cars will get a needed boost in fuel economy, but they may not have the size, speed, and acceleration that many Americans consider important, according to Energy Outlook’s Rethinking Fuel Economy.

What about designing cars for someone without those expectations? It turns out that the Vehicle Design Summit is on the job, planning for India.

Indian traffic
Indian traffic jams are more common high population to street ratios in Indian cities.

Designing transportation systems for India and much of the rest of Asia requires more than supplying better cars. Europe has a better bus system in part to protect the fragile inner city. This is even more of a problem in Asia, where the infrastructure does not allow American levels of car use. Hypermotorization, it’s called, and it’s one of Lee Schipper’s projects at EMBARQ. What’s true for Asians is also true for us: the imminent increase in fuel economy is only a part of the solution.

On a related topic, Virginia and David Lockett moved to Vietnam to help motorcycle accident victims, who often suffer brain injuries because they ride without helmets. Their site, Steady Footsteps, talks about their experience. Today, helmets are compulsory there.

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