Moving from A to B affects people’s lives significantly all the time. In sparse areas and bad weather, the microcar would be a rather obvious solution for commuting. But it has never really struck through. Why?
Have the microcars been bad? Has there been some kind of social issue with it? Has the market always changed (general income level after the war, price of gasoline after the oil crisis) so that people would just revert to the “default”, normal cars.
In a sense though, European cars have looked like minicars compared to American ones, especially in the fifties and sixties. American cars have become smaller since, and European ones have grown so the difference isn’t as marked anymore today.
Microcars could make a resurgence now again. Lithium batteries and brushless permanent magnet motors have changed the technical assumptions significantly. If the oil price rises again to over $100 per barrel, there might be a business case. Or, if the recession continues or deepens, people could switch to vehicles that have much lower owning and operating costs than regular cars, just to hold on to their apartment for example.
I have a bunch of solutions for designing a micro vehicle avoiding the problems of the above, but writing about them will be left for a later day.
You projecting your emotions about cars onto other people. You assume that because you look at cars rationally as transportation machines that others do as well. In reality, the car is the perfect Freudian device. It is a giant penis to the those outside it, and loving mother to the person in it.
Look at SUV adds. It’s BIG, STRONG, TOUGH, AGGRESSIVE, DOMINATING (the penis) but at the same time it “Cradles you in safety,” “Protects you” “dual airbags” “keeps you safe” “always there for you” (the mother)
If people were rational they would want transportation machines. People are rationalizing. Not rational.
That could be a question of marketing as well. You could find at least some rather large niches for different microcars.
Actually the projecting is only part of a mirco-cars problem. Being lighter they are harder to control in weather. wind has been a bane of the micro-car for a long while has buffiting and swaying from interaction with larger vehicles on the road. Safety issues are also paramount because there is less “car” between you and potential injury.
Having been in more than one accident where MY car was hit, in one case rather hard (first impacted stopped vehicle at light, impacting car hit me at 45mph, I impacted the car ahead of me so hard it hit the trailer in front of it shoving it under the towing vehicle and moving the vehicle 30 feet into the intersection.
My car was a 2000 VW Beetle and despite the impact(s) none of the airbags deployed, but the construction of the car (especially the seats) absorbed all most all the impact energy. (My drivers seat had actually ‘wrapped’ a bit around while absorbing the impact) When anyone arrived and looked at my car they would ask if the driver had been already transported to the hospital and what kind of condition they were in. “I” would usually be the one answering that I was ok and had not been transported anywhere :o)