Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spare Me, Please!

Is .5 mpg Worth This?

If you are one of the more than one million people in the United States who bought a new car last month, check the trunk! You might be surprised to find that there is no spare fact, 13% of all new cars sold in this country last month did NOT have the accessory most of us feel comforted having. Fact is, spare tires are not required by federal regulators because they are not considered an "essential safety feature." Who knew? I'll bet most people didn't who bought that dream car lately.
This is not necessarily a new idea. My 2006 Mazda Miata does not have a spare tire. It has what the manufacturer calls a "tire inflation kit" which is becoming the new standard, it appears. The "kit" includes a can of sealant that a stranded motorist sprays into the tire through the valve stem...fixing the hole but not permanently...strictly an emergency fix. There is a small electric air pump to re-inflate the tire. Then, of course, one has to purchase a new can of sealant. "So, why are the manufacturers doing this to us?" I hear you protest.
It's simple, really. Three factors enter into this, and you can rank them in any order of importance you wish:

1. Gas mileage. Even half a mile per gallon saved means the auto maker can bump up the fuel efficiency rating to the next whole number. (and you were thinking they were doing this for YOUR benefit?)

2. Tires are made to be more efficient theses days with fewer flats a result.

3. More people simply have roadside insurance, either through the manufacturer, their dealer, or their insurance company.

4. Not having a spare saves the customer money. Hyundai which has no spare in its Elantra model, estimates that putting a spare tire in adds another $22. to the cost of the car. Multiply that by the number of Elantras the company expects to sell this year, and the savings are substantial: something like $4 million.

Hyundai is not the only manufacturer rolling out production sans spare tires. Should you be interested in a Chevy Cruze or Malibu, you will find no spare in either of those models (and probably others, as well). Buick also favors the tire inflation system, but the article in the LA Times that I used as my source today did not mention any specific Buick models as recipients.
Of course, we already know that cassette players are no longer available in the auto industry. After spare tires, what comes next?
Your guess is as good as mine, but this also begs the question: what will I use for self-defense when I'm broken down on the highway with no lug wrench?
Perhaps this was the thought behind all the concealed/open carry firearms laws enacted recently.


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