We continue to discuss car problems. We started the first part with the physical drawbacks of this type of transport and with which we will end in this part and will sum everything up.

Same as in the previous part, where physical drawbacks of cars originated from the irrationality of their size or their use, today’s drawback also falls under the irrationality of use.

Traditionally, the description of the car starts with the engine, top speed, acceleration to 100 km per hour, power, volume, torque, horsepower and other technical details. As an example we can take the Russian Nissan Almera, whose characteristics are fast and easy to find on the site:


Main engine characteristics: volume, horsepower, torque, top speed


More detailed features include technical and speed-concerned details at the top of the list (in red) and the three fuel types of fuel consumption are listed at the bottom (green)

As seen, fuel consumption in the traditional positioning of cars is in the last place.

If we go more to the West and take a look at the Polish Nissan Note, we will see that the situation in Poland is roughly the same as in Russia, even the site design is the same. At the same time, if we visit an even more Western country, for example the Netherlands, the situation changes completely: a different website, different accents during the car presentation. For example, consumption and emissions are located right away on the main page of the model:

Even more detailed specifications of the engine have fuel consumption and atmosphere emissions at the top of the list, which of course is good news:


It is clearly seen that the more economically developed is the country, the stronger the positioning of the vehicles has shifted from technical characteristics to environmental and others like: security, compactness, comfort. In other words, cars are not valued for their speed and power, but for some semblance of a “smart” car of the future. However, the very first search request “Nissan Note review” gives us Top Gear, which presents us a more traditional table with acceleration to hundred and horsepower, although it also presents consumption and atmospheric emissions:


After seeing the characteristics, let’s move to the interior of Almera from the Russian site of Nissan and of Note from the Dutch site. We are interested in the speedometer. Almera, to begin with:

The maximum value is 205 kilometers per hour. Note’s speedometer:

This one has 220 kilometers per hour. The problem here is not even in the fact that these are two (relatively) low-cost city cars with a top speed of 175 or 185 km per hour, which is significantly below the shown numbers on the speedometer, and not in the fact that the maximum speed probably might be limited electronically to a much lower value than stated, as it is the case in modern cars. The main problem is that it is not clear where to apply these numbers.

Here are the maximum speeds on motorways (roads specifically designed for car traffic):


It seen from both graphs that the maximum speed of 140 kilometers per hour is very rare — in Europe it is present only on Polish roads (and also in two more countries), in the Americas such speed is permitted only in Texas, USA.

The world has only two exceptions — one Australian state and Germany, where there are no speed restrictions (on highways). And this situation is not as bright as it might seem: it is under constant debate to reduce the speed in Germany to 120 and a significant number of German highways already have a speed limit.

In general, European roads have a variation from 110 to 140 kilometers per hour, not including Germany. North American roads have a speed between 100 to 140 kilometers, which, in principle, is not much different from Europe.

At the same time it is important not to forget that these were only special road sections, that is, not every road that is outside a city can be driven 120 or 130 kilometers per hour. Examples of speed in some European countries:


The Netherlands, Germany, Poland

It turns out that on most the roads the driver will go much lower than that of the highway speed, and in the cities the speed will be just 50 kilometers per hour!

Let’s come back to what we started: why would a person, who will drive 50–100 kilometers per hour, get a car that has a maximum speed of 175 km per hour which can only be realized on a German Autobahn? Or, put another way: why city cars, that will be most of the time by the majority of the people used in the city or on low-speed roads outside cities, have pre-installed speeds that will never be reached by the majority of the drivers? Why would a car, that is positioned as an economical compact city car, have a speedometer with 220 kilometers that is more than 100 kilometers more than the maximum permitted speed on highways?

For a greater simplicity let’s draw an analogy. In today’s world we are only beginning to understand the ideology of living according to our needs, but in such things as clothing and shoes people were always eager to get the best cut that would perfectly fit their body size. At this moment, the situation with car capacities looks like this:


Or even so:

Ridiculous: after all, it is clear that the shoes are not the right size, same as the city cars, which are obliged to drive 50 kilometer per hour with a speedometer equal to 220.

The most important drawbacks of cars are discussed in this and the previous article, and, therefore, it would be a good idea to sum everything up, since the next part will be devoted to a different topic:

  • Excessive Capacity. Cars are in general designed for a large number of passengers, although they usually carry one or two (and this number is decreasing) instead of the planned 4–5 people. As a result, a great amount of unused space in cars, meanwhile the number of cars is constantly growing.
  • Car Size. Since the existence of cars the road infrastructure of countries and cities (especially cities) has improved significantly. Even Russian cities have relatively good roads, not to mention Western Europe and North America. At the same time the size of cars has increased, as paradoxically as it is. As a result, in addition to the growing number of empty cars with 1–2 passengers, these same cars became several times larger, thereby creating a set of socio-economic problems.
  • Positioning Problem. Basically, the modern driver is an office worker or a tourist, who is not a racer and who simply cannot physically reach these maximum speeds that are installed in the cars by their manufacturers and speedometers. There is nothing bad that most of the people are not professional racers, but due to overcapacities cars are loaded with additional potential that is never realized. As a result, instead of concentrating on ecology, economy, comfort and safety, automakers stuff cars with additional powers, which, of course, take up the extra space in the car, make the engine bigger and so on. Also, such pre-built power tempts the drivers to “race” a bit (especially drunk drivers), while no one sees them in the deserted roads, thereby exposing themselves, their property, the state property and the surrounding people to additional risk.

The next part will analyze the socio-economic problems of cars which are a result of their physical drawbacks and which are in general the problem of private transport.


Stefan Vanli