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Discussion Starter #1
No, I didn't drive my Insight here but I wanted to make some observations. I'm here for a 3 month stay, and I've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of small cars here in Brazil. It's so refreshing! You can actually see the traffic ahead of you because 95 percent of the people are driving small cars, many smaller than the Insight. I wish I had my car here, since my rental car is really low on power!

What's also great is the way people merge here. It's controlled chaos. I know not everyone on InsightCentral is from the U.S., but this is what drives me crazy back home: people freak out when you come even slightly close to their car. Here in Brazil, as with many densely populated nations, the lanes are a lot more open to interpretation, and since this is the norm, people don't honk bloody murder if you happend to merge into their lane once in a while. Brazilans are good drivers. Some drive fast, but it's not nearly as bad as back in the Bay Area, CA, where I'm from. If someone is driving an SUV 95 mph it's like a bomb about to explode. Here, SUVs practially don't exist! I feel safer here, strange as that may sound...

Anyway, just wanted to share some thoughts. Also, here's a question. Will my Insight start up when I return after 3 months? Anybody leave their car idle for this long and have problems?
 

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If your 12 volt battery is OK it should start up without trouble. If someone back home has a key it might help to start it up and let it run for ten minutes. Worst case scenario is you will have to charge the 12 volt battery. The IMA batteries will be fine.
 

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surfseeker7 said:
I've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of small cars here in Brazil.
Where have you been? The majority of the world drives small cars, it's been like that for decades. It's mostly the USA that had this big car thing. But I'm glad to see things have been getting smaller over the years.
 

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Australia is similar to the US in its love of big cars - although there is some justification given the long distances that may have to be covered in this big and (outside the cities) relatively sparsely populated contry. But even so Australia is one of the most urbanized countries in the world (not often known) so that most people do not need the big, powerful cars that they drive.

SUV's are also very popular here - and getting more so as the level of comfort and "car like" driving characteristics get higher. We also have the same arguments as elsewhere about SUV's being dangerous to their occupants (roll-overs and impacts with solid objects) and to other road users and the inappropriateness of their use in the suburbs and for the school run. As they say - most of these trucks will never get off the sealed road.

Even worse - import tarrifs are lower for SUV's. It's a hangover from the days when SUV's (until recently referred to as "four-wheel-drives") were mostly used in industry or on the farm. The tariff differential (since the beginning of 2005 only 5% but 10% for years and even greater a while ago) had a significant impact in Australia where car prices are relatively high and this type of vehicle was not made locally.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What interests me is fairness on urban roads. It seems like in countries where all the cars are big, like the U.S., you have to protect yourself (and your kids, many argue) by buying a bigger vehicle. This ends up being a false choice people discover SUVs are more dangerous than their smaller counterparts.

Of course, people argue that car companies are "only responding to the market", which ignores the ads that feed the impression that SUVs are safer. Here in Brazil, and yes, other countries, I'm sure people would love to have larger cars and SUVs if they could afford them. Especially for trips to rural areas and during inclement weather, they are great. But if everyone has them, and people stick to using them in crowded cities, problems arise, like parking, head on collisions, drivers untrained in handling large vehicles (maybe SUVs should require a separate license?), and pollution.

Urban design and density will ultimately require smaller cars, if cities in the U.S. and Australia are wise. Smaller streets, more pedestrians, apartment buildings with thousands of people needing parking, will eventually help bring back the small car. It's already happening.
 
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