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  • In this low-lying car I drive in, I've been noticing something lately.


  • When I'm sitting in traffic, I either can't see past the cars in front of me or the cars around me are towering over me.


  • And it turns out there's a big reason for that.


  • The production of passenger cars like sedans and wagons for sale in the US has been in freefall since 1975, and in their place has been the steady growth in the production of SUVs.

    自 1975 年以來,美國銷售的轎車和旅行車等乘用車的產量一直在直線下降,取而代之的是 SUV 產量的穩定成長。

  • Last year, SUVs and trucks made up 80% of all new car sales, compare that to 52% in 2011.

    去年,SUV 和卡車佔所有新車銷售的 80%,而 2011 年這一比例為 52%。

  • The fact that Americans like big cars probably won't shock anyone.


  • They are everywhere, even in my parking-scarce neighborhood in Brooklyn.


  • But the reasons behind this transformation are more than just cultural.


  • It all goes back to a 50-year-old policy that would kick off a huge shift in the way US cars are designed.

    這一切都可以追溯到一項已有 50 年歷史的政策,該政策引發了美國汽車設計方式的巨大轉變。

  • So I'm driving from my home in Brooklyn, New York to a beach in Rhode Island for a summer vacation.


  • And along the way, I'm going to piece together why big cars took over America.


  • New York was the 45th state to officially succumb to the takeover of SUVs and trucks in 2014.

    2014 年,紐約成為第 45 個正式被 SUV 和卡車佔據的州。

  • According to this Washington Post analysis, Alaska was the first state to go big car dominant in 1988.

    根據《華盛頓郵報》的分析,阿拉斯加州於 1988 年成為第一個大型汽車主導的州。

  • So I'm wondering if you have any advice for things that should look out for while I'm on the road.


  • Anywhere that you stop, count the number of SUVs versus the number of passenger cars.

    無論你停在哪,請計算 SUV 的數量與轎車的數量。

  • Ok.


  • In the Costco parking lot, filled with suvs. 123456789, 10,11 SUVs in a row. I think that is my new record.

    Costco的停車場停滿了SUV。 123456789,10,連續11輛SUV。 我認為這是我的新紀錄。

  • So once you learn about how much big cars dominate the road, it's like you can't unsee it.


  • People have lots of reasons for choosing a big car and certainly the infrastructure in the US supports that choice.


  • Unlike a lot of other countries, our built environment revolves around cars.


  • We have wide roads and wide plentiful parking spaces and homes with plenty of parking.


  • I arrived in Connecticut, a state that succumbed to light truck dominance in 2016 and pulled into a rest stop where I interviewed Thomas Bochenek.

    我抵達康乃狄克州,這個州在 2016 年屈服於輕型卡車的統治地位,我把車停在一個休息站,在那裡我採訪了托馬斯·博切內克。

  • He was on a cross-country road trip with his wife.


  • It's very comfortable to drive.


  • Well, I think the bigger the car, the more you have a feeling of security.


  • You know, the smaller the car, you know, the more likely I think about getting into an accident and being hurt.


  • It has no trouble pulling this almost 7,000-pound (3,175 kg) trailer.

    開這輛近 7,000 磅(3,175 公斤)重的拖車毫無困難。

  • In other countries, one deterrent for big cars is that they cost so much to fill up with gas.


  • But due to low taxes on gas in the US, fuel is extremely cheap compared to other countries.


  • But there's another overlooked bias towards big cars related to why SUVs exist in the first place.


  • In the 1970s, there was a shortage of foreign oil in the US.


  • "1973 dramatized US dependence on foreign oil."

    「1973 年美國對外國石油的依賴更加突出。」

  • So the US government set rules for automakers to start making cars more fuel efficient to lessen our dependence on the whims of the global oil market.


  • By 1985, new cars had to get 27.5 miles per gallon or roughly double their fuel efficiency.


  • These new rules applied to cars like sedans and station wagons under a category known as passenger cars.


  • But there were types of vehicles the US government exempted from these rules.


  • Things like pickup trucks, which everyday drivers weren't really driving at the time.


  • And the idea was if these are working vehicles used by farmers, construction crews companies that are hauling freight,


  • those vehicles need to be able to do their job without being choked by emissions controls and without being held to unrealistic fuel economy standards.


  • So passenger cars got one set of strict rules and this other category called light trucks got another set of more relaxed standards.


  • This regulation created an incentive for carmakers to transform light trucks into a vehicle for everyday use.


  • Put in a radio, lots of cargo space and comfy seats and voila.


  • That's how we got the SUV.

    所以我們才有了這種 SUV。

  • "Ok, girls, we're up in our new Jeep Cherokee."


  • "Behind that classic appearance, it's rugged and powerful."


  • An automaker needs to spend less money and less time on fuel economy and emissions improvement if they're making and selling an SUV, because it falls under a category that is less stringently regulated.


  • We had the Wagoneer, but it was very low volume very bespoke, very expensive.

    我們有 Wagoneer,但產量很低,非常定製,價格昂貴。

  • So only a very few people bought it.


  • People that lived in Manhattan would go to the Hamptons or go to northern New York State to go skiing.


  • And that's how the SUV started off life.


  • This is Ralph Gilles, head of design at Stellantis, a conglomerate of car companies that includes Jeep.

    這是Ralph Gilles,Stellantis的設計主管,該公司是包括吉普在內的一家汽車公司集團。

  • One of the early SUVs was the Chevy Blazer, built on the frame of the Chevy S-10 truck.


  • This is the traditional definition of an SUV.

    這是 SUV 的傳統定義。

  • If it was built on the frame of a truck, and to meet the legal definition of a light truck it had to have some clearance angles and dimensions just right.


  • Taking a utilitarian vehicle and turning it into an almost premium luxury device that happened to be utilitarian. Then comes the Grand Cherokee.

    將一輛實用的車輛變成一種近乎高級的豪華設備,而且恰好是實用的。 然後是吉普切諾基。

  • The Jeep Grand Cherokee was built the way passenger cars are in one piece or unibody.


  • These two types of car construction, frame-based and unibody, today form the distinction between traditional SUVs and the new, increasingly popular category of crossover.

    框架式汽車和一體式車身這兩種汽車結構如今構成了傳統 SUV 與日益流行的新型跨界車之間的差異。

  • They're more efficiently packaged. You don't have the frames.

    它們的包裝更加有效率。 沒有框架。

  • The Grand Cherokee was part of the early success story of SUVs in the '90s and 2000s. One that continues today.

    切諾基是 90 年代和 2000 年代 SUV 早期成功故事的一部分。 一直持續到今天的一款車。

  • This bias towards light trucks is why a company like Volkswagen, which once sold primarily passenger cars has discontinued a lot of them today like the Passat in favor of SUVs and crossovers.

    這種對輕型卡車的偏好就是為什麼像大眾汽車這樣曾經主要銷售乘用車的公司如今已經停產了帕薩特等許多車型,轉而轉向 SUV 和跨界車。

  • And they've stopped producing all of their wagons, including the Jetta Wagon I'm in.

    他們已經停止生產所有貨車,包括我搭乘的 Jetta Wagon。

  • And a company like Ford has stopped producing all of their passenger cars except for the iconic Mustang.


  • Ok. I'm gonna see if anyone at this car dealership will talk to me.

    好的。 我想看看這家汽車經銷店是否有人願意跟我談談。

  • Buick was always car, really.


  • It was mostly sedans and then just with the market shift, we actually don't even sell a Buick sedan anymore. They don't even make a Buick sedan.

    主要是轎車,然後隨著市場的轉變,我們實際上甚至不再銷售別克轎車了。 他們甚至不生產別克轎車。

  • It's all, it's all crossovers.


  • When was the last time you guys carried like a Buick passenger car?


  • It was like three or four years ago.


  • And how many did you have on the lot?


  • Like 1 to 100 of, you know, SUVs.

    例如100 輛 SUV 中的一台。

  • We're here to sell cars. We want to sell what people want. If they were here, if people didn't want them, I'm glad they're not here anymore, you know?

    我們是來賣車的。我們想賣人們想要的東西。 如果他們過來,表示不想要這種車,我很高興他們不再在這裡,你知道嗎?

  • So this chart starts to make a lot more sense.


  • 1975 was the year these fuel economy standards for stands and wagons were passed, the same ones that didn't apply as strictly to SUVs and trucks.

    1975 年,這些針對展台和貨車的燃油經濟性標準獲得通過,但這些標準並不嚴格適用於 SUV 和卡車。

  • It's a little bit of a chicken and egg thing because the automakers have been marketing SUVs more preferentially than passenger cars.


  • They've been putting more research and development into creating more models that fit into the SUV category.

    他們一直在投入更多的研發來創造更多適合 SUV 類別的車型。

  • And they've made it so that it's an easier decision to get into an SUV than it is to get into a passenger car.

    他們已經做到了,讓人們更容易決定乘坐 SUV 而不是乘坐轎車。

  • As of 2016, our fuel economy standards shifted. Vehicles are still separated by the stricter standard for passenger cars and looser standard for light trucks.

    自 2016 年起,我們的燃油經濟性標準發生了變化。 車輛仍轎車標準較嚴、輕卡標準較寬鬆劃分。

  • But within those categories, there are more breakdowns.


  • Regulators multiply a car's wheelbase length by its width to get a footprint.


  • And larger cars within each category get weaker rules.


  • That means that carmakers are not only incentivized to phase out passenger cars in their fleet, but they are pushed to make each category bigger.


  • The Toyota Camry got both longer and wider and the Toyota RAV4 did too.

    豐田 Camry 變得更長更寬,豐田 RAV4 也是如此。

  • I've now reached Rhode Island, the very last state in the country to go light truck dominant.


  • We have started the inevitable transition to electric vehicles.


  • But...


  • If you're still talking about a larger vehicle with higher ground clearance, that's heavier and taller, it's still going to be less energy efficient.


  • Whether it's an electric car or an internal combustion powered car.


  • One sobering impact of big cars is the threat it poses to pedestrians.


  • One study found that replacing the growth in SUVs with cars would have averted over a thousand pedestrian deaths.


  • People on foot get hit higher and in more vulnerable regions when hit by an SUV, or a truck rather than a passenger car.


  • Before hitting the beach, I stopped at my friend Kevin Wright's house.


  • He's bucked the SUV trend and drives a Honda Fit, a car that was discontinued in 2020.

    他逆勢而上,開著本田飛 Fit,這款車已於 2020 年停產。

  • We had our daughter about 17 months ago, just kind of making sure that everybody has enough space to be comfortable as well as being safe.

    大約 17 個月前,我們有了女兒,為了確保每個人都有足夠的空間,既舒適又安全。

  • It gets good gas mileage and thinking about long term, you know, climate change is happening.


  • What can we do to minimize our carbon footprint as much as we can?


  • So we were thinking about the second car, you know, maybe getting an SUV in that situation, but ultimately decided to kind of go the other direction and got an E-bike.

    所以我們正在考慮第二輛車,你知道,在這種情況下也許會買一輛 SUV,但最終決定走另一個方向,買一輛電動自行車。

  • "You have arrived."


  • Even though we're in Rhode Island, which was the last holdout for SUV dominance, there is still a lot of SUVs here.

    儘管我們身處羅德島州,這裡是 SUV 統治地位的最後一個堅守者,但這裡仍然有很多 SUV。

  • I'm curious if you think there's any political will or urgency to change this trend towards bigger cars.


  • You know, that's something that has environmental concerns.


  • It's something that has economic concerns with how much we are reliant on oil.


  • It also has to do with safety, you know, pedestrian safety, cyclist safety.


  • So there is a desire among younger people and more politically active people to try to make it so that an SUV is not the default vehicle choice for American families.

    年輕人和更多政治活躍人士希望努力使 SUV 不再成為美國家庭的默認選擇。

  • The US is unlikely to become a small car country anytime soon.


  • But this dramatic transition to big cars wasn't just about consumer choice, it was enabled by policy choice.


  • So if we want our roads to look different, we could try and start there.


In this low-lying car I drive in, I've been noticing something lately.


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