Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Strap *this* to the back of your cat.

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Standardized Car

A Single-Model, Low-Cost, Low-Emissions Vehicle
  (+14, -8)
(+14, -8)
  [vote for,

This may sound kinda socialist, but it'd be good for the environment, so what the heck...

The government could challenge all the major car manufacturers to come up with a design that is best in all of the following catagories: fuel efficiency, lowest emissions, lowest overall cost, reliability, and cheapest parts and maintenance. "Green" fuels such as electric, methanol, and hybrids would be encouraged.

Once all the designs are tested and one is chosen as the best, that model could be mass-produced to such an extreme that it could be considered the "standard car". Any factory could be contracted to build and sell the car. (For example, several different companies make the M-16 A2 rifle which is standard issue for the U.S. military, but each rifle is identical regardless of manufacturer.) Because there would be so many of them, the car would be dirt-cheap, and parts would also be very cheap. As an added incentive, the government could offer tax breaks on fuel, insurance, etc. for those who are driving the "standard car".

This would also allow people who otherwise would not be able to afford a car (but need one to get to work,etc.) to have their own means of transportation.

I realize the importance of capitalism, and how this idea could be seen as unfair to certain companies, but that's the whole point. The idea is to discourage gas-guzzling SUV's and giant pickup trucks that are never used for what they were designed for to begin with. Ultimately, it's about environmental protection.

nathandrea, Jul 19 2001

The Smart Cars http://www.smart.com/
Capitalist standard cars. [Aristotle, Jul 19 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Henry T. Ford http://us.history.w...ist102/bios/24.html
Fascist maker of standard cars. [Aristotle, Jul 19 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

The Morris Minor http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/2639/
A classic standard car made in the UK designed to be built from standard parts. [Aristotle, Jul 19 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

History of the 2CV http://www.leglessf....co.uk/history.html
A fairly lively history of the 2CV. [Aristotle, Jul 19 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Enfield Bullet http://www.royalenf.../Bullet/india.shtml
[hippo, Jul 19 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Picture Gallery of Humvees http://www.amgmil.c...20copy/gallery.htm.
Here are all the variations of the Humvee, all of which are essentially the same vehicle. [nathandrea, Jul 19 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

the "halfbakery" article http://www.thecarco...p?article=3658&pf=1
[mihali, Jul 19 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

AUTOnomy http://www.sciam.co...80-90FB809EC5880000
vroom vroom [rapid transit, Oct 17 2004]


       Half-baked: the original design concept for the VW (and, allegedly, for the Lada).
angel, Jul 19 2001

       This could make the car a commodity item rather than a possession that often estabishes the driver's status.   

       Something that got me thinking is that a standard popular car could have features built in (such as compatability with systems for rapid loading of standard cars onto ferries and trains) that could take advantage of an increased adoption of car standards.
Aristotle, Jul 19 2001

       Obviously you don't like cars much nathandrea. For a great many people, cars are a lot more than just a means of transport. I can't see this standardised car idea working any better than having everyone dress exactly the same or live in exactly the same houses. Sure, standardised weapons work in the military, but society at large is not (thank god) like the military, unless you live in a facist state. Which is, not conicidentaly, the environment in which this "standardized car" idea was actually baked - nazi Germany, where the VW bettle was produced to almost exactly the brief you describe above.
BertieWooster, Jul 19 2001

       BertieWooster: Standardised cars are not just the fascist phenomena you seem to suggest. The 2CV was developed in France for peasant farmers, the Morris Minor as a cheap standard car for the masses and the Smart car was developed to produce a car well suited to urban life with the premise that 2 could share a parking space.
Aristotle, Jul 19 2001

       In India, the Enfield Bullet has become the standard motorbike. Whereas modern Japanese motorbikes require special knowledge and tools to repair them, every Indian village has someone who can strip down a Bullet with a couple of spanners.

Trivia: One of the design criteria for the 2CV was to be able to "carry four Frenchmen across a ploughed field".
hippo, Jul 19 2001

       even though this idea is half-baked and baked, i'm still giving it a pastry. why? because i love the idea of changing the social status of a car to a tool for transportation rather than a symbol of wealth or importance. too many people consider driving to be an inalienable right, rather than the privilege that it is, and this is especially evident while reading many of the "speeding" ideas here on the 'bakery, and in various people's driving behaviour on the roads, as we have all been witness to at on time or another. we need another iacocca to bring back the k-car (a nice reliant automobile) but in an updated form for the 21st century.
mihali, Jul 19 2001

       How does standardizing the design of a car make it a better tool? For the tool to be useful to me, it must (among other things) be a fairly large station wagon with a good-sized fuel tank and power-steering. Those criteria may make it totally unsuitable for someone who needs a small two-seater for the shopping trip. I don't regard my large car as indicative of my 'social status', merely of my transport requirements.
angel, Jul 19 2001

       angel: It doesn't make it better. It makes it cheaper.   

       Is is just me or is this heading towards an open-source car design. We could call it licar.   

       <pet topic="on">Could we make it hydrogen fueled? Oh go on. Pleeeease.</pet>
st3f, Jul 19 2001

       [st3f]: [mihali] seems to be suggesting that standardizing the car would make it a tool, rather than a status symbol. I am saying firstly that, for me, a car standardized for someone else would probably be a useless tool, and secondly that, again for me, my car is not a status symbol. I don't care how cheap it is, a VW Bug/ Morris 1000/ Lada/ 2CV would not be any use to me.
angel, Jul 19 2001

       angel: i never said it's a better tool. a standard car could be used for commuting, which, i think most of us would agree, covers the largest chunk of the average person's car usage. what's the point of commuting in a car that costs $50K rather than one that costs $20K? they both get you there, have pretty much the same amenities (i.e. power steering), and, considering the rush-hour traffic these days (not to mention speed limits), will get you to work in roughly the same time. if you need a station wagon, then maybe the standardised car should come in small, medium, and large sizes, to suit more of the population.
mihali, Jul 19 2001

       And presumably the various sizes for the standard car would share as many parts as possible.
Aristotle, Jul 19 2001

       waugs: How about the Mini and the original VW? I agree the idea's been done before (never open-source, though). Let's do it again.   

       Where's Sir Alec Issigonis when you need him?
st3f, Jul 19 2001

       An open source car sounds much better, and it's sort of what car manufacturers are moving towards. By reducing the number of "platforms" on which different models of cars are built, car makers reduce their costs. Maybe instead of a standardised car, we need easily interchangeable standardised car parts
BertieWooster, Jul 19 2001

       The idea to post this was most likely subliminally influenced by a book about the history of the Morris Minor that I read a few months ago. However, I wasn't exactly picturing the Minor, of course - probably something more along the lines of a Honda Civic.   

       Throughout the reign of the Morris Minor, many variations of the original design were spawned. There were two-door and four-door varieties, convertibles, station wagons, milk trucks, and pickup truck types, all built on the same chassis.   

       A modern equivlent (back to the military again) is the HMMWV, or Hummer as it's called in the civilian world. They come in every flavor the military needs (see link). The principle is the same - efficiency, which is what the military is all about. (<-- retrospect: last sentence stupid. what I was thinking?)
nathandrea, Jul 20 2001

       [nathandrea]. You may be the only person on the planet that believes the military is about efficiency. If they're `about' anything, it's performance at all costs, which is more or less the opposite of efficiency.
td, Jul 20 2001

       Why not just leave it up to the car buying public to decide? If they all want the same car, they can buy it, and if they don't, they'll buy different cars. Isn't capitalism great?
BertieWooster, Jul 20 2001

       [Mephista]: What I *have* is a 1992 Vauxhall Carlton (Opel Omega / Holden Commodore VP) which replaced my '88 Carlton, which replaced my '84 Carlton. I've also had two Triumph 2000 / 2500 wagons.
angel, Jul 20 2001

       [Meph]: Would you also question the judgement of my friend who has a new Nissan Terrano (2.7 litre 4x4) which he uses to carry his family and tow his caravan? Apparently, it's suitable for *his* situation.
angel, Jul 20 2001

       hey all, check out the link i posted! it's an article from the car connection featuring petersealy, centauri, thumbwax, potatostew, monkfish, and starchaser. they all get honourable mentions as people who seem to be 'baking all the time. apologies if this has been posted before, i just thought it was quite funny.
mihali, Jul 20 2001

       I like this idea. What have you got against socialism? In small amounts it is not a bad idea...   

       Just out of interest -"What’s off-putting about it is that the idea received enough positive attention to warrant 3 œ croissants" - is this a mistake or was their a time when you could get 3.5 croissants for an idea?
RobertKidney, Jul 20 2001

       While I'm all for interchangable automotive parts, I'm not sure I want to make cars more affordable (which only leads to more cars on the road).   

       What I would like (and perhaps someone with the inclination could post this idea) would be to build/order my car online. I realize this is semi-baked if I want to spend 100,000USD+ - but I don't.
phoenix, Jul 20 2001

       RobertKidney, no, she probably just counted the number of graphics <3> and noticed one was half, thus '3.5'.   

       Bedamn, she actually not only spelled my name right, but put in the correct capitalization...
StarChaser, Jul 21 2001

       Not necessarily inconsiderate...some people just don't notice, or it's hard to put a capital letter in the middle of a word. I've talked to her a little bit <two emails> and she seems like she'd fit in here...
StarChaser, Jul 22 2001

       "What have you got against socialism? In small amounts it is not a bad idea..."   

       Socialism is a disease. If it is tolerated in small amounts, it will spread and consume all wealth, health, and happiness (which is dependent on capitalism.)   

       This is an over-simplification, but in this forum it pretty much has to be. (Apologies to Vernon) =P
VeXaR, Jul 28 2001

       But how could I judge my self-worth relative to those I see around me. If I didnt have a particular brand of car, Id have to rely on things like character, personality, or actual (as opposed to imaginary) size of my private parts.
MichaelW, Feb 04 2002

       This idea completely ignores the demand side of the equation.   

       You can mass-produce all you want, but if the demand isn't there, it's pointless and a big waste of resources and money.   

       Capitalism IS efficiency.
seal, Feb 04 2002

       Recently in the supermarket I found the range of breakfast cereals too confusing. I think the manufacturers should simply standardize on a single type and label it "CEREAL". Would probably be cheaper too.   

       As if that weren't bad enough, I then wandered into an aisle with all manner of pain relievers, ointments, herbal remeties, etc. Horribly confusing, and many of them were very expensive to boot. I think they should just have a single item labeled "DRUG".
supercat, Feb 05 2002

       Rent "Repo Man".
jutta, Feb 05 2002

       Wow, people really went off on this idea. I don't see anything in the description that indicates the suggested automobile be produced to the exclusion of any other model.   

       [supercat] I bet you could go to your local supermarket and find generic cereal. Generic aspirin, cough medicine, dandruff shampoo and sodas, too.
phoenix, Feb 05 2002


       One of GM's long term plans is to manufacture a fuel-cell "skateboard" standardized for every vehicle. On top of this, though, you could put any body you wanted, with any sort of layout. Contradicting what you might think, by standardizing everything, you unlock the potential for complete novelty in every car. (see link)
rapid transit, May 18 2003

       I've read of the "skateboard" concept awhile ago. Not quite so keen on it as some people, though.   

       Among other things, I've not seen anyone address the facts that (1) The skateboard design would increase the minimum seating height of the rider by 12"-18". For a mini-van-style body, this would be fine, but not for a low-riding car. (2) The body, frame, and engine work as an integrated system to make crashes survivable. If a skateboard car hits the back of a semi, there's not going to be much of anything between the driver and the underside of the trailer.
supercat, Sep 27 2003

       Here we go again. Another socialist tree-hugger telling me what I need to drive. There was a brilliantly sarcastic post above pointing out the simple truth that this would be akin to everybody wearing the same clothes, the same glasses, the same shoes, etc. I have never bought a car as a status symbol. I also do not see cars as merely a mode of transportation. My wifes Hyundai would fit the "standard" car mold fairly well. It's cheap, it's economical, and it's fairly "green". It is also a certifiable death trap. You cannot possibly drive this car with any feeling of security. A good sized puddle will send the car almost out of control thanks to the wonders of front-wheel drive, and the sight of a deer on the side of the road is enough to cause panic knowing that a collision with Bambi would total the car and possibly cause me significant damage. There is no room for any cargo, and I wouldn't force my worst enemy to sit on the shelf they call a back seat. Then there's the fact that I am 6'2" and weigh about 325 pounds (about 1.88 meters and 148 kilos for fans of the metric system) which makes the seats quite uncomfortable and headroom scarce. MY car, on the other hand, is a 1968 Ford fullsize stationwagon. It's bigger than most of the much-maligned SUV's and weighs more than all but a select few of them since they still made cars out of steel back then. I could run over Bambi and his mother and not even notice, rain puddles are inconsequential, I have more than enough room to be comfortable in either the front or back seat, and I can carry full lengths of lumber in the back if I need to. It burns copious amounts of fuel, and I'm sure birds fall out the trees dead when I drive under them, but so what? The car cost me $800 and about $30 each month for insurance. There's not a new car available that gets good enough mileage to counter the added cost of ownership. If you never leave the city limits, never carry anything more than a few bags of groceries, and don't have any friends to ride with you, a standard car would be just fine. I think I speak for all those who need a car with more capability than a moped when I say "Shut up and let me drive what I drive"
WikdWaze, Oct 04 2003

       I am suprised by the number of people who have gone "evil socialist, baaad", simply because someone suggested pooling designers ideas. Car companies continualy waste resources by redoing research that other car companies have done, wheras if all of their research in a single area was combined, the car produced would probably be better than all the competing designs. However, I am aware of the danger in forcing companies to give away their research, (such as companies trying to do as little research as possible in the areas they are coresearching with competitors) and I would also suggest that the conditions are changed so that safety and handling are included so that the car can be the best car for its type, rather than meerly the cleanest. You could include a royalties system so that any company whos research is used for the standard gets a small % of the sale price. This would encourage competition and give companies an incentive to research and design. I still have my reservations over whether it would work, what with the international cooperation required to make it a truely standard car as opposed to a Europian or American one. But its certainly more sensible than what is going on at the moment.
psudoparagon, Nov 13 2003


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