Smaller Cars Bringing Bigger Technology

You may have already noticed that cars seem to be getting smaller and smaller. But what you might not know is that they’re not only getting tinier, they’re getting techier as well. All kinds of pint-sized electric and compressed air cars will be showing up on our streets before long. And if you’re into innovative solutions to old problems, that’s a good thing.

But where are these smaller cars coming from? And what makes them so technologically advanced? Glad you asked.

Back to the future with BMW’s i3

Back in the early 1950s, Iso, an Italian company that made refrigerators (among other things), decided to get into the urban car market. The result was the Isetta, a 3-wheeled 2-seater that became known as the “bubble car.” The vehicle was eventually licensed to a number of companies, including BMW. The little Isetta was enormously popular for a while, but ultimately couldn’t compete in an era known for big, brawny cars. Within 10 years, it was out of production … though not without leaving its mark on the world of carmakers.

In fact, it’s likely the Isetta inspired BMW’s i3, the company’s first zero emissions car, which will go into production next year. The i3 will initially launch on the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Compressed air cars

One of the newest contenders in the green car arena is the AIRPod. Developed by Tata Motors in India and Motor Development International in Luxembourg, the AIRPod runs entirely on compressed air. The car can go 43 mph and has a range of 125 miles. Though those aren’t great stats, the upside is that filling the tank takes just 2 minutes and costs about $1.25. And for you old-school video game lovers, the car is controlled with a joystick rather than a wheel.

Sounds cool, right? Don’t rush out to buy the AIRPod just yet though. For all its appeal, the compressed air car has been on the drafting board for a long time. Experts say that if you’re seeking a green alternative to a gas engine, electric and hybrid vehicles are much more efficient at this point. But as technology continues to push the bounds of what’s possible (and efficient), all that could very well change in the future.

Origami: not just for paper anymore

With any luck, we’ll someday see the Hiriko CityCar on our streets. This 2-seater car is being developed by MIT’s Changing Places Group and DENOKINN (the Basque Center for Social Innovation). An electric vehicle, the Hiriko has a near-zero turn radius — something we city dwellers will no doubt appreciate.

Perhaps best of all, by eliminating a gas engine and drive train, the Hiriko’s engineers were able to design a car that’s not only 100 percent electric but also folds up when your park it (a folding mechanism tucks the rear of the car under the chassis). Now if only they can get it to fold into different shapes, say a flower or a swan, they’ll really be onto something.

Small, smart, and electric cars

Back in the late 1990s, when the smart car was initially launched, we caught a glimpse into the future of compact city cars. Since then, the MINI Cooper and the smart fortwo have taken urban areas by storm.

Since there isn’t much room for cars to get any smaller, they decided to get techier instead. BMW is currently experimenting with the MINI E, the first 100 percent electric, zero-emissions MINI. And the 2014 smart fortwo will come in gas, diesel, and electric variants.

Insurance for the modern world™

While it may be tempting to insure your futuristic compressed air car before even buying it, we suggest you wait until you’ve got the keys. In the meantime, you can get a quote for your (current) modern ride.

U.S. Cities with the Safest Drivers (and the Most Dangerous)

Esurance is all about safe driving. So a report by Allstate, our owner, on the U.S. cities with the most dangerous and safest drivers, really caught our eye.

The survey looked at Allstate’s property damage claims over a 2-year period to see which city had the most claims and which had the fewest. For the fifth year in a row, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, took the top spot. (Is it a coincidence that our customer service center is located in Sioux Falls? Perhaps not.)

Allstate’s list includes nearly 200 cities from around the country. And the results may (or may not) surprise you.

Cities with the safest drivers

There’s just something about the Midwest. Maybe it’s the slower pace of life or the wheat-filled diets. Whatever it is, it’s full of safe drivers.

Here are the cities with the safest drivers, starting with the cream of the crop.

  1. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Fort Collins, Colorado
  4. Madison, Wisconsin
  5. Lincoln, Nebraska
  6. Huntsville, Alabama
  7. Chandler, Arizona
  8. Reno, Nevada
  9. Knoxville, Tennessee
  10. Springfield, Missouri

If your city’s on the list, then all we can say is keep it up!

Cities with the most dangerous drivers

While many of the cities in the bottom 10 are lovely in other regards — an iconic bridge (and Esurance headquarters), an historic bell, and a hub of democracy — when it comes to road safety, let’s just say there’s room for improvement.

Here are the top 10 most dangerous driving cities (from least safe to … er … slightly safer).

  1. Washington D.C.
  2. Baltimore, Maryland
  3. Providence, Rhode Island
  4. Hialeah, Florida
  5. Glendale, California
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  7. Alexandria, Virginia
  8. Newark, New Jersey
  9. Miami, Florida
  10. San Francisco, California

If you happen to live in any of these cities, cheer up. There’s no place to go but up!

Safest cities by size

To be fair, small cities are likely to pose fewer road risks than their more frenetic urban counterparts. Allstate took this into account and also rated cities by size. Here are the cities that took the top safety spots by population size.

  • More than 1 million people: Phoenix, Arizona (for the eighth year in a row)
  • 750,000–1 million people: Indianapolis, Indiana (they’re probably not counting Indy 500 wrecks)
  • 500,000–750,000 people: Tucson, Arizona (nice work, Arizonians!)
  • Less than 500,000 people: Lincoln, Nebraska (down 2 spots from last year, but still a good showing)

Everyone benefits when you drive safely

No matter where you live, safe driving is smart driving. So, start setting a good example in your city — buckle up, avoid the cell phone, and slow down — it could save a life (and save you some money on car insurance).

Want to learn more about safe driving? Check out our safety articles for a wealth of tips and stats.

Related links

Find out where your city ranks on the safe driver list
What’s the maximum speed limit in your state?
Check out our drinking and driving stats
Esurance is an Allstate company. Find out what that means.