Automakers are currently fixated on curbing weight and improving fuel economy. This trend has brought numerous changes to new cars, but one trend that’s raising eyebrows is the ditching of the spare tire.
Manufacturers are doing away with spare tires to reduce vehicle weight, improve gas mileage, and to shed a few dollars off their costs. According to Fort Mill Hyundai, to compensate for the lack of a spare tire, automakers are equipping more new cars with run-flat tires, or they’re including flat repair kits in the trunk. While this trend has its advantages, many car buyers are concerned by the spare’s absence.
Some feel that a spare gives greater peace of mind, but the spare’s absence is nevertheless catching on. According to the Los Angeles Times, 13% of the more than 1 million vehicles sold last month in the U.S. did not offer an extra tire as standard equipment. And, since regulators don’t consider spare tires as essential safety features, automakers are free to do away with them.
“Manufacturers do a lot of little things to squeeze more of the last bits of toothpaste out of the tube. Weight reduction is just one of them, and spare tires are a tempting target,” said Don Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for auto information company Edmunds.com.
Automakers contend that the benefits of doing away with spares outweigh concerns for greater peace of mind. Already, technical improvements have made flat tires less common and many motorists rely on roadside assistance services in the event of a flat.
“All manufacturers are looking at this,” said Alan Batey, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet sales and service. “This is one opportunity to get weight out of vehicles and make them more fuel efficient…It will take some time for people to understand this technology.”
Aside from weight savings and boosted fuel economy, the move makes financial sense for automakers. Hyundai estimates that scuttling the spare saves the company $22 per vehicle. The Korean automaker expects to sell 200,000 Elantras this year, so the seemingly modest savings could add up to $4.4 million overall.
While some motorists still feel better when they see a spare tire, car buyers will need to be more aware of this trend. Luckily, technology has helped mitigate the likeliness of a flat or blowout, and tire pressure monitoring systems now help alert drivers to potential problems before they occur.Image credit: zappowbang