With the Detroit automakers struggling, the Obama administration wants to wean them from big SUVs to smaller, green cars for the future. But why are SUVs and vans such a big part of the inventory of our automakers?
How about a little government intervention?
As the safety requirements have added up, the cars driven in the 60s and 70s couldn't cut it. You couldn't pile the kids into the back of the station wagon since everybody needed seat belts and eventually car seats.
With vans and then SUVs, customers had the space they needed to comfortable carry their two kids and their stuff around. The cars were bigger than the 70s and the families likely smaller, but parents felt safer driving these cars.
When we found out our second child was coming, it was off to Toyota to buy a van. With only one child, we could get by with a two-door Toyota Paseo with no passenger side air bag to cart him around town. Add a second child and it would have been a major pain to strap the infant in a rear-facing seat in the small back seat that car offered. If we put the infant seat in the passenger side front, the older child would have had to go through the driver's side door to get to his booster seat.
The Democrats think increasing the mileage of cars would help the automakers survive. But that's piling on another burden to the long list of requirements already there. GM and Chrysler look unliking to handle the extra weight without collapsing.