Small Car of Your Future? Small Home of Your Future?

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One thing the recession has made clear: Living large is totally not necessary. The waste and added expenses of huge cars and enormous homes seem silly right about now. For many people, downscaling may literally mean shrinking the size of those two mainstays, cars and homes.

Perhaps sometime in the near future you’ll be driving a Fiat. The NY Times highlights how the automaker, which basically took over Chrysler, is efficiently pumping out tiny, affordable Fiat 500s at a huge plant in Poland. Right now, Chrysler’s smallest car is 1,000 pounds heavier than the Fiat 500. Fiat wants to start making subcompacts in the U.S.—perhaps the 500, perhaps a slightly different model.

GM’s hopes for the future are in the hands of eight models due to be released in 2010, including the small, battery-powered Volt, which may be cheap to power but certainly isn’t cheap to buy.

Meanwhile, the LA Times hosts a photo gallery of Eagle Rock, a very industrial-looking assemblage of “almost-townhouses.” They’re super environmentally friendly, with living space starting at around 1,300 square feet and starting prices in the high $400s, which apparently is good for going green in Los Angeles.

Far more affordable, though, are Clayton Homes pre-manufactured houses. This could be the answer to the McMansion for the cheapskate and the eco-conscious—two groups who are of the same mind, more often than not. If the Jetsons lived in a trailer park, they might like in an i-house, which is what Clayton calls its product. Using solar panels, heavy insulation, a rainwater catching system, and other green technologies, each home’s heat and electricity bill amounts to about $1 per day, as the AP and Engadget reveal.

A 1,000-square-foot unit goes for $140,000 completely furnished, and Clayton sold some 30,000 units last year. This year, mind you, there’s a tax credit up to $8,000 for first-time buyers.