Smaller Vehicles Designed for Maximum Utility

We are at the last in our series. The purpose of a car is to move passengers and their cargo. If we can design the smallest, lightest car that does this, we will get better fuel economy. However to meet standards of comfort and provide sufficient cargo capacity it is not possible to just miniaturize everything. The idea is to rearrange the interior space of the car to make the space inside as usable as possible while keeping the overall shape as tightly fit to the interior as possible. Some of the techniques that can be used are illustrated in the Mazda Washu concept.

The Washu has features such as steer by wire, which allows reduction of the steering column. Additionally the steering wheel can stow away to provide even more space when parked. The beltline is widened outwards to give more interior space. The feel of roominess is enhanced by putting windows everywhere possible. The rearmost seats can be efficiently folded down to carry long cargo. The rear cargo door consists of a combination of a hatchback and a tailgate that slides straight down vertically (instead of swiveling on a hinge to be parallel with the ground) to make it as easy as possible to load bulky freight. The cabin roof is arched to open up a little more volume.

Design attention like this can open up more space for passengers and cargo without needing to make the overall vehicle larger. This means that there is less structure per usable functionality, and that in turn means carrying around less metal with you. The result is a savings on gas.

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