What cars are chosen as family
More than 80 years have passed since the time of Yevgeny Ilf and Ilya Petrov, who proclaimed through the mouth of his literary hero, the great combinator, Comrade O. Bender, that “a car is not a luxury, but a means of transportation”. And over the years, the car really managed to turn from an inaccessible object of veneration of relatives and the envy of neighbors into a practical and completely ordinary way of moving oneself and loved ones from point “A” to point “B”. It is not surprising that the most common reason for buying a car today is the need for convenient, safe and economical transportation for the whole family. But how families differ, so do the concepts of a “family” car.
From small to large
Today, a family car is usually understood as a compact hatchback or station wagon (“small middle class” in the Russian classification). The authoritative British magazine What Car? defines such a car as “used for daily driving: take children to and from school, get to work, and on weekends – put all their belongings in order to leave the city” and gives Ford Focus, VW Golf, Skoda Octavia as examples and as a premium option – Audi A3. All these cars are quite roomy, but at the same time compact in size and economical..
However, the perception of the car as a family transport was not always so unambiguous. The first car in the world that was eligible for family status was probably the famous Ford T. “Tin Lizzy,” as they called the most massive car of the first half of the twentieth century (from 1908 to 1927 16.5 million copies of various modifications were produced – in In 1914, 9 out of 10 cars that ran along the roads of the world were “Fords”) in 1920, it cost $ 395-500, about half the average annual teacher’s salary. It is not surprising that the Americans massively transplanted to the “iron horse”.
To fit the whole family, however, was problematic – it was characteristic that the back seat of some modifications with a runabout body (preserved in the part of the A model variants) was called by the people a “mother-in-law place”. Nevertheless, the Fords in touring bodies with a convertible top and a completely closed Tudor provided a sufficient level of comfort and luggage space for a family of four (with or without mother-in-law).
“Mother-in-law’s place” lasted until 1949 in automobiles (the last car with such a folding chair in the trunk was the British Triumph 1800 Roadster), and the role of the family car in the 1960s was first taken by three-volume sedans (the legendary Fiat-124 and all its variations, including our Lada), and then station wagons and hatchbacks. However, there were unexpected attempts to rethink the trend.
So, in the late 1990s, AZLK designers, responding to a proposal to produce a “people’s” car, presented the Moskvich-2142S0 Duet coupe based on the representative Ivan Kalita (front of the body) and Prince Vladimir (rear). The entire cycle from the project to the first prototype took only two weeks, and soon the “car for a young family” was presented to the authorities. Journalists mocked the strange creature with might and main, and only a dozen cars were sold – fortunately, the Duet cost three times more than the usual Svyatogor hatchback.
Change of landmarks
Most car manufacturers still meet the real wishes of customers and create family cars for five to seven people in hatchback or station wagon bodies that are already familiar to this purpose. It is worth noting that the station wagon in Italy, for example, is generally known as Familiare, the “family”. According to the data of Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, in most European countries, small cars with petrol engines are most in demand, with the exception of Latvia and Ireland, where diesel cars are leading (74 and 71 percent of new registrations in 2015, respectively). The percentage of cars with large engine displacement bought for family use is high only in wealthy countries outside the European Union – 23 percent of new cars purchased in Liechtenstein and 17 percent in Switzerland.
The Russians recently also sought to buy a large family car. But, according to the Avtostat Info agency, the number of D-class cars purchased for the whole family is rapidly falling: in the first quarter of 2017, sales of such cars decreased by 12.6 percent. It is characteristic that the leaders were not Korean cars that were relatively affordable, which showed maximum growth in the same period last year, but premium Japanese cars. Thus, the demand for Mazda products increased by 48.8 percent in this segment, and Infiniti more customers by 40.1 percent. German brands show a drop, with the exception of the Mercedes C-Class, demand for which grew by 16.5 percent.
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