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Car companies ditch the spare, roll with extra airbags

Thursday - 6/23/2011, 5:32am  ET

spare tire (Thinkstock)
Changing a flat can be done, if your car has a spare. (Thinkstock Photo)

Michelle Basch,

WASHINGTON - Today's car features everything from voice-activated controls to infrared night vision, some even park themselves.

But some new cars are missing a basic emergency tool that drivers don't think about until they desperately need it -- the spare tire.

The Los Angeles Times says skipping the spare is growing trend among automakers looking for ways to save money and reduce weight to improve fuel economy.

Many drivers never touch their spare tires, and simply call for roadside assistance when they get a flat. Some cars now come with fix-a-flat patch kits, or so-called "run flat" tires instead of a spare tire.

Cars without spares include Chevy's Cruze and Malibu, as well as the Hyundai Elantra. Among 2012 models that will only come with four tires instead of five are the Buick Regal GS and certain Kia Optimas.

Meanwhile, there appears to be another transportation trend involving airbags.

It used to be only high-end cars came with loads of airbags, but the 2012 Chevy Sonic will have 10.

The car goes on sale this fall at a starting price of just under $15,000.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)