Microcar vs. Hybrid on MPG and Safety

Suzuki debuted their Q concept vehicle this past week at the Tokyo Motor show.  The Suzuki Q is essentially a microcar taken to the next level.  While this vehicle is truly novel in appearance, and probably ideal if you ever have to park inside of a closet, it seems like a bit of a Johnny come lately.  The microcar had its day, or almost had its day, but it never really picked up steam, and gradually faded into obscurity.  But why did the microcar not take off as many had predicted it would only a few short years ago?  And why has the hybrid filled its place entirely in the eco-green market?

The first reaction when seeing a smart car or any other microcar on the street, or perhaps I should say the first two reactions, are…

1: Wow, that thing must get 900 miles to the gallon!


2: That is the last car I would ever want to be inside of in the event of an accident.

Both of these reactions are fair, and the assumptions that are underlying those reactions are fair, given the smart car’s diminutive appearance.  But is a micro car better than a standard hybrid on either count?  Well, lets take a look at both issues and compare the facts…

MPG:   The average microcar gets roughly 40 mpg city and 45 mpg highway.  Not bad…compared to a monster truck.  The current 2011 model Toyota Prius averages over 50 combined mpg, and the 2012 Prius C is estimated at an over 60 mpg rating, both without asking you to sacrifice leg room or storage space.

Safety:  This one is fairly intuitive, at least the first part:  Yes, smart cars are not great in accidents.  What many do not know is that a hybrid is even safer than a regular vehicle.  While many will say “Yes but that is only because hybrid drivers drive slower and pay more attention to the road for a variety of  reasons…” so on and so forth.  But the fact is that, even when driving habits are taken into account, fatalities in vehicular accidents are reduced by 25 percent for drivers and passengers inside of a hybrid vehicle.  Why is this?  Technology is heavy.

The very same heavy technology that makes a hybrid larger than a smart car is the same heavy technology that makes it both more fuel efficient and more safe.  The bottom line: The hybrid wins.


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