Spare tires ditched as automakers seek efficiency

Tue Nov 8, 2011 4:21pm EST
 
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By John Crawley

(Reuters) - Automakers are losing weight by shedding that spare tire.

More passenger cars are rolling off assembly lines with no jack, wrench or fifth wheel in the trunk as the U.S. government seeks more aggressive fuel economy targets and consumers demand savings at the pump.

"There are increasing pressures to find alternatives," said Dave Cowger, group manager of tire engineering at General Motors.

The spareless effort, for now, is playing out predominantly at GM where most of its nearly two dozen car and crossover models in the United States do not offer spare tires as standard equipment.

But the trend can also be spotted industrywide, mainly on overseas models and frequently on cars designed for increased efficiency.

"For customers who want an extra wheel, they can get a compact spare as an option. That's the way we try to package it," Cowger said.

Virtually all cars had spares just a few years ago.

That has changed as 20 percent of the 1.2 million sedans, compacts and other passenger cars sold in the United States this year through October came without spares as standard equipment, according to data from online buyer research group Edmunds.com.   Continued...