Minimum performance requirements for new cars?

As a hypothetical case, TwitCo Industries is developing a new car for the U.S. market. This car is designed for basic, no-frills, urban transport at minimal expense. This is a very small car with a very small engine. Obviously there will be minimum safety and environmental requirements to be met but are there any legally required minimum performance requirements? Something along the lines of zero to 100 KPH in under thirty seconds? Minimum top speed of 120 KPH? I’m sure there would have to be a maximum allowable braking distance from highway speed but what would it be?

Just wondering about what the facts of the matter might be.

I don’t think there’s any legally-mandated minimum performance standards. You might get delaying tickets if you’re taking too long to get up an onramp though. Peruse US car regulations here:

The car you describe doesn’t sound too different from some of the earlier air-cooled VW’s. Some of the early camper vans had a 0-60 time of infinity becuase they couldn’t get up to 60! Before they started getting the bigger engines in the late-60’s, even the Bugs and Ghias had 0-60 times right around 30 seconds. But cars with 0-60 times in that range weren’t all that uncommon, and trucks and busses were much, much slower than they are now, so such a slow car being introduced to the freeways of today might not go over so well.

What’s this KPH stuff? This is the U.S. you’re talking about. You need to switch everything to MPH. :stuck_out_tongue:

There’s no minimum speed requirement that I’m aware of, but many roads have minimum as well as maximum speed requirements. If the car can’t maintain 45 mph it won’t be allowed on most interstate highways, for example.

I don’t think there are minimum acceleration requirements, but as a practical matter the car needs to be capable of climbing the Appalachian and Rocky mountains. The U.S. standard is a maximum of a 6% grade in mountain regions, so to be used on American highways the car would need to be able to maintain 45 mph on a 6% grade.

Braking requirements fall under safety requirements, and those are very strict. If I’m reading the table that I googled correctly (which I may not be, because the copy I’m looking at is very small and fuzzy) then for a typical car the stopping distance from 60 mph is 216 feet.

I am not sure if the 77 Chevy LUV I am still driving can do an under 30 second 0-100KPH. However I do run it on the Interstate where the speed limit is 70MPH. I have no trouble merging onto the road even in heavier traffic and keeping up with traffic.

As for being underpowered for driving the mountains, that may not be important for a car built for city use. Most cities aren’t in the mountains. I have never driven in San Francisco, but have driven in Pittsburgh including in my old truck.

Yes cars with the LUV’s performance or worse might bog traffic down a little. However, How many larger trucks at their licensed load limit can exceed those limits? 6%. That may be the standard for the Interstate, but I am sure many city streets and ramps are much steeper. There are also bicyclists freely encouraged to use most of our urban streets.

So I am more worried about where we will continue to get our gasoline than problems with small, underpowered cars. Have you been keeping up with the international news?

In any case, the cost of the engine and the brakes will only contribute minimally to all of the other requirements you must satisfy.