Supersizing the American Car… Will It Happen Here Too?

So lately I’ve been thinking about the problems the US faces with emissions and large cars.  Energy guzzlers like SUVs (and even minivans) are exceptionally commonplace in the US. As a result, the American government seems to come up with new ideas of ways to incent people to use smaller, more gas efficient, less waste producing cars.  They use hybrid deductions and other plans.  Somehow, I think they’ve lost sight of the fact that they caused, in part, this upswing in car size.  Wondering how?  I’m glad you asked ;).

Here in Jordan, there are far fewer SUVs, minivans, and other large vehicles and far more wee ones.  The family sedan (midsize) is most popular.  This is especially interesting in light of the fact that El 3atal and I  with our 3 Beans (a semi-large family in the US) have a small family in Jordan.  I mean really.  I can only think of one or two friends who have fewer kids and can think of oodles who have more.  So, clearly, in Jordan you would expect to find more people in larger cars, right?

Well, here’s where the government came into creating the large-car problem in the US.  In Jordan, your children have to be safely secured into the car until the age of… of wait.  In Jordan, there are no car seat laws.  No child is required to be in a car seat and most are not.  Using car seats with infants is becoming slightly more common among wealthier Ammanis.   We Beans are freaks.  We have out big kids in booster seats.  Yes, even ButterBean is in one.  So, in Jordan, a care of 10 can easily fit in a small family sedan,  You put Dad driving, Mom and two kids on her lap, then the remaining five in the back bench seat.  You think I’m kidding don’t you?  I’m definitely not.  I will admit that it’s more often the family of 7 or 8, but still.  They are squeezed in like sardines.

In the US, once you hit 3 kids, you are likely going to buy a minivan or SUV.  If your car isn’t big enough for 3 car seats across the back (or if you ever have guests visiting and prefer not to take 2 cars everywhere you want to go), you’ll have to graduate to more seats.  This is why you see behemoths like the Ford Excursion.  And it’s why there’s such a huge explosion of minivans.  The first Beanmobile minivan was purchased once the twins outgrew their infant seats.  Before that, we could fit ButterBean and the TwinBeans across the backseat of our largest car (actually it was a small SUV, but let’s not go there).  They wouldn’t fit in my car, but they did in the slightly larger family car.

Once the TwinBeans moved to forward facing big-kid car seats, we couldn’t fit more than 2 on a row.  So, we graduated to a minivan.  And we only have 3 kids.  Imagine families with more…  So, when the US starts thinking about ways to decrease the carbon footprint of American families, they need to give serious thought to decreasing emissions rather than decreasing car size.  Because, unless we want to go back to the free-for-all 1970s where your beetle could fit 10, supersized cars are here to stay.  And, as for Jordan, it’s another thing to consider as you think about how to make children more safe.  Safety comes at a price, both a short term and long term one.  Both require consideration… after all large cars will mean no more mini-parking spaces…

Happy Clown Cars!


8 thoughts on “Supersizing the American Car… Will It Happen Here Too?

  1. And smaller cars sure are nice. I really like mine, even though it DID fit 3 forward facing car seats in the back. But it still could only handle 5 people, one in each seatbelt in the front and the 3 beans in the back! All in the car being seat belted is the law in this state, though, so there was no choice. But being able to get into the smaller spaces, and the way the car sits down on the road and just walks on out there, are sooo nice. Thanks for this interesting post!

  2. Ford Excursion hasn’t been produced in a long, long time….since the dinasaurs were around 😉 A lorry got better gas mileage that it’s paultry 9 MPG, ouch! The monthly gas, was probably more than the car note and insurance combined.

    It’s the cheap gas prices that have supersized the car and driven up demand! The government has even added a gas guzzler tax and luxury tax….even with $4.00 gas prices, people are still buying millions of SUV & Crossovers and 8 cylinder cars and trucks. Land Cruiser, Sequoia, Land Rover, Durango, Explorers, F150, 250 and 350 are all over the place. People need somthing to tow their various toys camping or to the lake…and $500 to fill up your boat for a day of fishing or waterskiing, doesn’t stop anyone. I actually think Americans are driving more these days for pleasure than ever before. Families are still taking 14 state trips over two weeks during the Summer like they did when gas was 1.10 per gallon.

    I think gas is like cigarettes, no matter the price/tax people are still going to buy it.

    • Anon, well, the Excursion is in a class all its own… But, honestly, cheap gas prices, I think, have less to do with it that space needs. Back in the day it was those wood-paneled station wagons. But, you know, the back rear-facing seats can’t be used with car seats. And they couldn’t haul as much gear. Oh, and I think most people that drive SUVs do not, will not, in fact will never actually have anything that needs towing ;). Teehee.

  3. I hope they don’t decrease emission by making cars lighter and less safe. We need some sort of magical NASA composite that is as strong as steel and light as a feather. Oh well.

    Anon, Americans I know are driving less, especially around town, and using bikes in a rural area we lived in. If driving more on vacation they may be flying less.

    • I don’t think they’ll be decreasing emissions by dealing with weight. But a new NASA composite would be cool. And Kinzi, whether people are driving more or less often comes down to where you live. Everywhere I’ve lived, it’s more not less. I do think they’re flying less…

  4. You are right, but you forgot to mention that sometimes one of the kids sits in the drivers lap,
    It is realy sad to see that:(
    I have my two girls in there car seats, when you get used to car seats and seat belts you cannot sit in the car without using them, it is like you cannot leave the house without shoes
    I think if people will start to buy bigger cars we will have a biiig problem, we had a very bad traffic in the last days so what do you think will happen if people upgrade there cars, where are we going to park?
    Inshallah our government will find a solution that will make driving easier and safer for all of us.

    • Nadin, I agree with you on all points. This is a coming issue to contend with. My kids hate when they have to ride without car seats these days. The seat belts cut into their necks and leave them whining ;). Parking, well, that’s a very different issue… Sigh.

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