All entries for Monday 16 May 2005

May 16, 2005

This is why I view the green and liberal movement in a negative light

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4550593.stm

This was headline news on Midlands today at 6:30…

In case you can't be bothered to click the news link, Greenpeace invaded Land Rover's production line today and chained themselves to some of the vehicles on the line, halting production and causing a great big publicity mess. Now, I have nothing wrong with people who disagree with my opinion. That's why I debate things. I respect other people's viewpoints. But this kind of unlawful protest is not on, and does nothing at all for the protesters' image in the public eye (few rational people I think would condone unlawful behaviour such as this) and, more importantly, nothing for Range Rover. It creates a negative public image which is very hard to shake. And who benefits from this? Builders of the prius you might think? Not at all. People who will buy a 4×4 are spending £60k on a Range Rover will still spend £60k on a luxury 4×4, because that's what they want and they aren't going to be persuaded otherwise by a bunch of nutcases in orange boiler suits. They'll just go elsewhere to a company with a better public image if they get supply problems with their cars. So the only people that benefit from it are the likes of BMW, Mercedes etc.

So really, what's it all for? Well, the environment lobby have long had a war on the motorcar, and in recent years their scapegoat has been the 4×4. Now, put aside all your preconceptions for a moment if you will, and observe the following points:

  • 4×4 has got nothing to do with a vehicle's emissions. It is in fact the referring to the vehicle's drivetrain. The Audi A4 quattro is a 4×4. I don't have a figure to hand but I'm sure Chris will come up with some very environmentally efficient figure to prove the 2.5 litre diesel engine is a relatively good engine for the environment
  • Off-road vehicles have to be higher up than standard vehicles for ground-clearance. This makes them less aerodynamic, as they have more air resistance. Also, due to their rugged construction, complex drivetrains etc, they weigh considerably more than a standard saloon car. This makes them heavier. The increase in weight increases fuel consumption, and requires larger engines to extract acceptable levels of performance
  • While you can argue successfully that it is not necessary for many people to have an off-road vehicle, this is besides the point. It's not necessary for someone to have a 32" widescreen TV instead of a 14" TFT one, which would use far less electricity, but that doesn't mean that we should all buy 14" TFTs. The fact is, it's a matter of personal choice and taste. If you don't like that taste, then tough. It's someone else's right to buy a product legally available on the marketplace
  • The suggestion that off-road vehicles add to congestion is absurd. A big off-road vehicle has the same sized footprint as any large car. A small off-road vehicle takes up about as much road space as a smaller car – I wouldn't call a Suzuki Jimny a road hog
  • The fuel consumption of many off-road vehicles isn't that great. Fact. See above for reasons why. But that doesn't make all off-road vehicles fuel inefficient. And a large Range Rover isn't going to get that much worse economy than a large saloon like an Audi A8 or Jaguar XJR - do you really think someone with money and taste is going to buy a Prius instead of a Range Rover Vogue if they're banned? No. They'll go straight to their nearest Mercedes dealership and get an S-Class, or equivalent product
  • The advantages of off-road vehicles are rarely mentioned. They are high-up (many prefer this driving position), many are spacious (the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 both have 7 seats for example), they make exceptionally good towing vehicles due to their power and weight, the ground clearance is good for speed humps, the ride comfort is generally very good, many of the more expensive vehicles are offered with fantastic levels of luxury and build quality… The point is, many people like off-road vehicles for their plus points. Some of them can be met by other cars (which aren't a whole lot cheaper or more efficient anyway), some can't. Stop waging your unjust war by scapegoating a product range unfairly, specifically giving a British industry a bad name, and endangering British jobs in the process.

All reasoned comments welcome :-)


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