The Rightsize Grassroots Movement: A Quiet Vehicle Revolution

Posted on 14 March 2013

Cities around the country rightsize streets to make them compact and efficient. New Jersey has experienced ‘rightsizing’ with government budget cuts while citizens are downsizing their spending and their homes. Whether it is a progressive movement or result of financial set-backs for businesses and governments is debatable. But at the forefront of the movement, the automotive industry stands as one of its strongest supporters.


What is Rightsizing?


It depends who you ask. The definition would like be different for consumers than for local municipalities or small businesses. Essentially, rightsizing is the opposite of ‘bigger is better.’ It’s the consolidation from excess to need. This reduces costs for businesses and consumers and promotes sustainability because less capital is used to create a product.


Auto Manufacturers Find the Right Size


During the past decade auto manufacturers have released more compact versions of previous models and have created new, smaller makes that promote efficiency. The introduction of the Fiat and Smart Car to US markets symbolized a major shift in consumer attitudes. While popular models like the Ford Focus have gradually been redesigned to be more compact and fuel efficient.
Smaller size also means smaller manufacturing and selling prices. According to Automotive, Ford Focus is one of the more popular redesigns, with a starting price of $16,200. The Fiat 500 starts at $16,000 and the tiny Smart Car at only $12,490.
In 2008 Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally told USA Today in an interview that “Americans’ switch to buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles is permanent, not a temporary shunning of big SUVs while they wait for record fuel prices to drop.”
Consumers like compact vehicles because they are easy to drive while fuel and maintenance are cheaper. Auto manufacturers like them because they cost a fraction of what a full-size sedan would cost to make. It’s important to note the comparisons between the consumer and automotive industry’s economic experience with the rise of compact, fuel-efficient vehicles that are cheaper to produce, buy and maintain.
Businesses are encouraged to rightsize their fleet vehicles. The Alternative Fuels Data Center notes that businesses can reduce fuel cost and emissions with a switch from 6-cylinder to 4-cylinder engines and that fuel economy is improved 2 percent for every 100 pounds reduced from a a vehicles size.

Resizing in the Works

New York City plans to transition its iconic taxi cabs to the NV200 later this year. The Taxi of Tomorrow project plans to create a more fuel efficient and compact vehicle that promises to be comfortable, safe and green. In 2010 Fed Ex announced that it would start the use of all-electric delivery trucks and since has continued a global  ‘cleaner delivery’ campaign.

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