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TRIZ Puzzles and Examples: Part 1: The Tiny Car

TRIZ Puzzles and Examples: Part 1: The Tiny Car

| On 16, Sep 1998

Jacob Skir

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of TRIZ Puzzles and Examples that has been offered to The TRIZ Journal by Jacob Skir. We will publish the case one month, then the answer (or several answers, from readers and from the author) the following month, and a new puzzle. Send your solutions to


When you have a long car, you have a certain opportunity in a crash (may you not need it): there is “crush space” that absorbs energy in a road accident. But the today’s tendency is shortening a car for some understood reasons (parking, etc.). Then you have a problem: the short overall length eliminates much of the “crush space” that in longer cars absorbs energy in a crash.

So, the contradiction looks as follows:

  1. A long car absorbs energy in a collision but has “clumsy” dimensions.
  2. A short car has convenient dimensions but doesn’t absorb energy.

Believe it or not, there is a new generation of “tiny cars” and one of them is a two-seater less than 5 feet long which claims to retain the crashworthiness of a full-size sedan. (This claim is made despite the installation of the powerplant in front of the driver, which usually endangers him in a collision. I myself heard of an accident where the motor of the car entered inside the body of the car and smashed everything.) But in the “tiny car” the motor remains a motor and the passenger and driver remain in their places.

Surely, a certain modification has been done, but the frame or the car uses no special “fantastic” materials for absorbing energy. It simply uses one of the Inventive Principles.

Could you in a few minutes conceive its main idea?

Remember: Send your analysis and solution to this problem to . We’ll publish readers’ answers and the author’s answer next month, along with a new puzzle.