Headline, November 01 2023/ EUROPE : ''' CARS CROWNING CAPS '''



A FAREWELL TO FIESTAS : ADIEU TO SMALL CARS - the industrial icons that put Europe on wheels.

PLACING A PEUGEOT 208 - EUROPE'S  BESTSELLING CAR last year, next to a Ford F-150, its American counterpart, is like comparing a Chihuahua to a Great Dane. Both have four wheels and typically serve the same purpose :

To ferry a single driver from one place to another. Beyond that they have little in common. The F-150 weighs over two tonnes, twice as much as the lithe Peugeot. The driver in the American pickup truck sits half-metre higher than the tarmac scraping Frenchman in his family compact.

Forget the flat bed attached to the back of the Ford - its interior alone feels roomier than the entire European car. A Parisian driver ever-confident of his parking skills might well attempt to squeeze his vehicle inside the cab of the America behemoth.

When it come to motoring, Europeans long felt that size did not matter. The continent was woven together by poly cars powered by engines that would have been shamed by American lawnmowers.

Yet what European autos lacked in cylinders they made up for va va voom. The Fiat 500, Volkswagen Beetle, Austin Mini, Citroen 2CV and even the drab drabants of East Germany all become pop-culture icons, as core of the idea of what Europe stood for a as Nouvelle Vague cinema or riding on a vespa while smoking a cigarette.

Alas these industrial gems are heading to the scarpheap. Since the start of the century cars sold in the EU have gained over 200kg on average - a third of an original Fiat500. 

They have grown taller, wider and longer while legally carrying no more passengers.  Sports-utility vehicles [SUVS], hunks of automotive manhood tailor-made for the American plains, increasingly rule cityscapes from Helsinki to Athens.

EUROPE'S CRAMPED cars were a feature of its history, geography and economics. Whereas America was happy to remodel cities and suburbs to accommodate roomy Chevrolets, Europe stuck with its medieval streets and built its cars to fit [just] .

Fuel duties were high in Europe [ which imports most of its oil ], so drivers preferred wimpier engines. Americans drive fast distances for work and leisure; Europeans sometimes settle for buses, bikes and trains instead. 

Perhaps most important, Europe embraced mass motoring in the lean decades after the second world war.

People craved the freedom personal motoring provided, and didn't mind if their heads stuck out of the sunroof while they were afforded it.

Europe even turned its reputation for the bijou motors into a marketing asset in 1959 an ad for the Volkswagen Beetle urged Americans to ''Think Small''.

For decades the replacements of these pint-sized wheels kept their ethos. No longer. Sales of small cars in the EU have fallen by nearly half since 2011 even as those of SUVS are up threefold.

These days, booster-seats are compulsory but try latching down a toddler in the back row of a two-door car.

Couples that used to have a main motor and a runaround have sometimes replaced the smaller ones with an electric bike to zip around cities, as many mayors took to throttle car-driving.

The vehicles remaining on the road are thus larger - despite attempts by policymakers to slow the march of size with taxes on heavier models.

'' Ciao, Cinquecento '' : Ultimately, fatter cars in Europe are a consequence of fatter wallets. ''People buy as much car as they can afford,'' says Pedro Pacheco of Gartner, a research firm.

'' As long as it is within their budget, bigger is always better. '' The arc of automotive progress is long, but bends toward duller bigger wheels.

Europe should look in the rear-view mirror and realise that it is losing a slice of its heritage, the very thing that made the continent what it is. Some of this is nostalgia, a remembrance of motoring past.

Charlemagne grew up squabbling with his brother in the back of the family Mini as it navigated the streets of Paris. Later, a comically underpowered Peugeot 106 struggled to drag him and his new bride up hills in Portugal on their honeymoon.

For all their flaws, those cars had a certain  je ne sais quoi. These days such journeys would take place aboard cookie-cutter SUVS : roomy, plush - and destined to be forgotten.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on World on Wheels, continues. The World Students Society thanks The Economist.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See You all prepare for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society :  wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter X - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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