May 16, 2005

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

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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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  1. Of course, these people are extremists, and on the simplest level, you should never judge a group by its extremes, only. But some analysis:

    The increase in weight reduces fuel consumption, and requires larger engines to extract acceptable levels of performance

    WTF? The increase in weight surely increases fuel consumption, because of the requirement from larger engines.

    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.

    In a way, the extremist actions can be rationalised. (Not, the following does not imply I agree with what they do.)

    We can simplify, and divide the 4×4 driving group into two general categories. People who need 4×4s – i.e. farmers, rural dwellers, and the like. And people who want 4×4s – typically urban, typically wealthy, typically never towed anything or even filled all 7 seats in their entire life. Obviously, anything done to Range Rover's image will not affect the first group, and environmentalists don't tend to target them.

    With the second group, however, it is true that the general 'macho' image of the 4×4 is part of what contributes to their sales. If they associate a negative image with such vehicles, then at least some people will stop buying them for fashion reasons. If they attract enough publicity that people start thinking about fuel consumption, and manufacturers get embarrassed about selling them, then their tactics are working. We certainly do not want to be in the situation of the US where SUVs are viewed as popular, and their sale is actively promoted by manufacturers.

    Oh yeah. 4×4s pose a greater threat to the safety of other road users. They are heavier, and bigger, so they obscure the view of other drivers more and hurt more when they hit something. It's also been well documented that driving larger cars tend to promote a sense of over-confidence.

    If you don't like that taste, then tough.

    That would be an argument only if we are talking about banning them. (Which, though, is not without precedent. You can get ASBOs for noisy neighbours with 32" TVs, and I don't suppose you think we should let people drive fully armed tanks on city centre roads…) What we are talking about is essentially advertising. (OK, let's just ignore the criminal aspect.) Range Rover, for example, also does not like their customers' default taste. So they use advertising, sales dealerships, PR consultants and so on to change their image. The fact that people have the right to do what they want within the law is itself besides the point. In a democracy, we are meant to advocate our own values, to encourage people to change their views.

    You can't blame the protesters for disagreeing with you. You can only really blame them for their methods, which are, in the minds of most people, going too far. As for not targetting large saloons… Well, presumeably, that would be next.

    16 May 2005, 19:30

  2. First of all, yes that was a typo. It has been duly edited…

    But my point is, even if they stop buying off-road vehicles (please stop calling them 4×4s! Sorry, but I'm a pedant) then they will go and buy vehicles that burn just as much fuel – luxury saloons. Environmentalists not targetting farmers? I know personally people who go around ripping up farmers crops in protest of modern farming methods, and that's just as bloody disgraceful. The safety argument is one I haven't covered here – the heavier and bigger argument is to an extent valid, but the mass difference can easily be compensated for with modern vehicle design. The main safety issue with off-road vehicles is that of compatability. Without getting too technical, an off-road vehicle's chassis (the hard, rigid structure) is much higher up, a necessity of ground clearance. Manufacturers are working towards removing the problems of compatability and making off-road vehicles much safer in collisions. It's a current problem that is being solved, so I didn't see the necessity to include it.

    As to the noisy neighbours with 32" TVs and ASBOs… Well the thing is, a driver of an off-road vehicle is not making a public nuisance. He's just burning more fuel (and, like I keep saying, many other cars do this too! And, again, not all off-road vehicles get that bad fuel economy. A diesel Freelander for example is quoted at 37.2MPG on the combined cycle… I'd hardly call that gas-guzzling. A Honda CR-V diesel gets 42.2MPG. To associate all off-road vehicles with high fuel consuption is just false. And to return to the nuisance point – if a specific driver is making a nuisance of himself on the road by driving agressively, then he should be prosecuted under motoring law. The same as the TV owner would get an ASBO. The solution in the TV case is not to ban all televisions. It's to ensure that no-one is being overly anti-social in a product's use. There's a difference.

    As I said, I don't blame protesters for disagreeing with me. They're entitled to do that, although their arguments, as I've pointed out, are presented in a flawed manner. Yes, I do blame them for both their methods and their incorrect presentation of facts and propaganda. And are you suggesting with your last sentence that a campaign should also be started against luxury saloons? Why?

    16 May 2005, 20:04

  3. John Dale

    Fuel consumption isn't really the issue here; obviously there are some off-road or SUV vehicles that are economical (Honda CRV diesel, for example) and some economical-looking cars that have terrible fuel economy (eg. Mini Cooper S). in any case, fuel economy is self-policing; you buy an uneconomical car, you buy more fuel, you pay more duty. So that isn't really the problem.

    The real issue with off-road vehicles being used where there's no real need is that they're dangerous both for the occupants and for other motorists and pedestrians. That's what's objectionable about them. Stopping distances, cornering ability, pedestrian impact safety and visibility for other road users are all worse in off-road vehicles. There's a good article about this with some statistics by Malcolm Glidewell and the canonical book on the subject is High and Mighty (Its sub-title is "The world's most dangerous vehicles and how they got that way" :-)

    The NTSA has some statistics showing that off-road vehicles are about 18% more dangerous to child pedestrians than conventional cars. They also show that SUVs roll over in 37 percent of fatal crashes, compared to a 15 percent rollover rate for conventional cars. And NTSA also examined the design of various SUVs in 1999 and estimated that 2,000 people (five percent of the country's traffic fatalities in a year) would have survived if their accidents had involved a car rather than an SUV, and that light trucks and SUVs are twice as likely as a smaller car to cause a fatality in the struck car.

    16 May 2005, 21:46

  4. But my point is, even if they stop buying off-road vehicles (please stop calling them 4×4s! Sorry, but I'm a pedant) then they will go and buy vehicles that burn just as much fuel – luxury saloons.

    That's what my last statement is addressing. Firstly, I presume these car owners don't want to maintain an equal level of fuel consumption, they just don't know/don't care. If the protesters manage to drive through their reasoning in that direction (excuse the pun), then they win big. Secondly, there has been no statement of approval towards large saloons etc. When you are running a campaign, you focus your efforts on vulnerable targets first. It seems certain that once the protesters think they've won with regards to range rovers, they will move on to other issues. Assuming we are focusing on the fuel consumption argument.

    It's a current problem that is being solved, so I didn't see the necessity to include it.

    Well, eventually, we will find a cure for heroin addiction. But until then, using heroin is a bad idea, yes?

    16 May 2005, 22:00

  5. I fully agree on the danger aspect. But the problem of off-road vehicle safety is a technical one that is being solved by modern engineering – most modern off-road cars have lower centres of gravity to increase stability and reduce roll-overs; they are working towards improving crash compatibility with other road vehicle types, developing pedestrian-friendly bonnets etc. Stopping distances aren't a huge amount different – the off-road car is heavier, but has wider tyres and bigger brake discs. The continual improvement of all vehicle safety aspects is an issue which no-one is in dispute about, and the car manufacturers especially are keen to develop and promote.

    But fundamentally, if it's not a fuel consumption problem, then why is the primary objection to the off-road vehicle based on fuel consumption and environmental damage? If they are unsafe, then it is surely safety that should be the main thrust of the anti-off-roader campaigner. And it would be road safety lobbies, not environmental lobbies, invading factories in unlawful protest…

    16 May 2005, 22:00

  6. No, owners aren't specifically looking to burn fuel! But it's a necessary side-effect of owning large, heavy vehicles – bigger engines are required to overcome increases in air resistance and rolling resistance, and to maintain acceleration. Luxury vehicles need to be big to provide space for occupants, and need to be heavy to provide ride comfort. A sports car is light and hard-riding – very tiring on a long journey. This is of course partly due to suspension set up. But superminis are pretty much as uncomfortable, fidgety and tiring on long journeys. Larger cars ride better not primarily because of superior suspension arrangements, but because of an increase in mass of the vehicle body, which stabilises the ride.

    16 May 2005, 22:05

  7. A few comments, although I don't know much about the technical arguments.

    Regarding your title, I don't think this is a good reason to view the green movement in a negative light. I'm not sure what liberal has to do with it, surely liberals would be against having restrictions on what car you could drive?

    I assume the green argument is that all cars which have poor fuel economy are bad. They would like people who do not need a car which has this poor fuel economy to get a more appropriate one. As the stereotype goes: you don't need a 4×4 (call it whatever you like) to pick up the kids from school.

    You address the argument to a certain extent "If you don't like that taste, then tough." The point is that the greens are opposed to exactly that attitude of do what you want and fuck the environment. And, since this point of view is implicit in laissez faire capitalism, the greens are necessarily opposed to this too.

    This isn't a ridiculous point of view. Murder is illegal because of how it affects other people. Similarly, you can make a case to say that polluting the environment (common property) beyond what is necessary should also be illegal because of how it affects other people.

    17 May 2005, 02:42

  8. John Dale

    On the question of why Greanpeace chose to protest at the Land Rover factory, I think there are two reasons:-

    1. The message that some SUVs, some big cars, some small cars, some MPVs, etc. all have poor fuel economy is a diffuse one and therefore difficult to sell. Getting somebody chained to every assembly line making a vehicle with sub-25 mpg economy (say) would be logistically challenging and arguably less effective as a protest.

    2. So if you're going to pick out one example of a poor-economy vehicle, what should you choose? Greanpeace could have invaded the Aston Martin plant, but they didn't, because (I think) they rightly guessed that most peoples' reaction would have been "Aston Martins are for rich assholes; I'll never have one, so this protest is nothing to do with me." But Range Rovers are an example of a type of vehicle which is aspirational for many people – SUVs are a growing market segment, and Range Rovers are a good exemplar for the category. So I can see why they chose them.

    17 May 2005, 08:30

  9. Sure I can see why they chose the Range Rover, it's an ideal vehicle to make their point simply because it sits right on the border between expensive niche and mass market. Interesting that they chose the Range Rover rather than the heavier, thirstier, more mass market Discovery 3 though. I suspect it makes a better heading to stop a £60k vehicle production line than a £30k vehicle line.

    With regard to Off Road Vehicles being dangerous, I think on the whole I'd dispute that. 2 Tons of metal will kill at 50mph whether its shaped like a Range Rover or a BMW 7 Series. The claim that because off roaders have a higher CofG they are more dangerous, I'm afraid is all a matter of driver perception. You don't drive an Off Roader like a Sports Car, you can't, if you try a corner at the same speed it will tip over, that's the physics of it. People who attempt this DO from time to time roll their RR, but from time to time people roll a Daewoo Matiz too. The stopping distance for a RR Sport in the latests issue of What Car? was quoted as 54.5m while an X5 stops in 48m (both from 70mph). By comparison the Citroen C4 stops in 52m, while the Ford Focus in 48.5m from the same speed. Hardly a difference, in fact the BMW weighs more and stops better.

    Visibility for other road users is not an issue with Off Roaders any more than it is for Lorries, Vans and MPVs. If you are following an X5 and you can't see round it you know what that means??? It means you are driving too damn close to the car in front. If you are only looking at the car in front then you don't have time to react in any way other than to brake. It is perfectly possible to drive from Leamington to Campus without breaking save for traffic lights by any of the routes (Stoneleigh, Kenilworth, A46, Ashow, Cubbington and more). That's how you get 60mpg from a 2.0 Turbo Diesel car weighing 1.4 tons.

    Of course the trouble with statistics is you can prove anything with them. I can prove Off Roaders are no thirstier than a large saloon and no worse at stopping than a small hatch, while John can detail off roaders rolling over more (which I fully believe I might add, it's a CofG thing). I can also defend on tenuous grounds, a mother taking her child to school in an Off Roader (assuming it's a distance of more than a couple of miles). It's easier to get a child in and out of a car seat at that height than it is one in the back of a Focus.

    I also agree the principle arguement is that of fuel consumption and environmental damage. Oddly enough the RR TD6 emits the same amount of CO2 as a Mazda RX8 does, except the RR carries 5 in comfort while the Mazda carries two. Also the so oft claimed thoughts that nobody ever gets near the book figures for their car. It's all a matter of driving style. Even in London I can get book figure for my car by driving carefully with lots of anticipation. Equally I've seen Audi RS6s with trip computer read outs that make the RR fuel consumption look positively superb.

    17 May 2005, 09:53

  10. Clarification for the pedants among you: Yes I know the RX8 will seat 4, but it won't seat 4 in the comfort of the RR and I know which I'd rather get out of after a 300 mile journey.

    17 May 2005, 10:08

  11. Mr Goodman:

    The point is that the green movement is responsible for this sort of behaviour. It is only the extreme factions, but by their actions they are giving the whole movement a bad name. And, in my experience, members of the green movement are associated with the liberal movement as well, hence further association.

    I accept that the green party are opposed to any car that has bad fuel economy. But their campaign does not reflect this – it is currently specifically targetting all off-roader sales in urban areas. I made some points before about the practicality aspects of off-road vehicles (the school-run argument is a popular one, but many of the off-road vehicles with 7 seats are actually very practical for this purpose). I've yet to see a single comment, for example, that compares fuel economy etc on the basis that a 7 seat off-roader is transporting 50% more passengers than a family saloon when full.

    Mr Dale:

    That argument may well be a diffuse one, but it is the argument to which the green party should be truly allied. As such, scapegoating one specific vehicle market sector in which many sales are not environmentally unfriendly is unjust. The campaign should be centred around fuel economy, not vehicle type. Then it can be properly explained to green campaigners that large vehicles which are fuel-inefficient are necessary in the luxury sector for space and ride comfort, powerful engines are necessary in the sports-car sector in order to get performance, and that heavy weight high ground clearance designs are necessary in off-road vehicles. The green movement universally fails to recognise that not everybody's needs are met by Toyota Priuses. Many people need more space, more ride comfort, or want more luxury and performance.

    And if any protesters are thinking of invading the Gaydon plant of Aston Martin, I will personally shoot them. I don't know necessarily that Range Rovers are any more aspirational than Aston Martins anyway, what with the DB9 currently being viewed by many in the motoring press as the most desirable and best vehicle in the world…

    And thank you for that clarification Chris, before I get all pedantic :-) Conversely of course, an RR TD6 will only hit 60 in in agonising 13.4 seconds, whereas the RX8 will do the same in 6.4 seconds

    17 May 2005, 10:10

  12. Somehow I don't think that most green people are concerned with performance though Chris…

    The Prius fits a specific type of person (my uncle has one) who needs a car with 0 driver involvement, 0 real world benefit in fuel economy/emissions over a comparable quicker diesel car. Don't even get me started about comparing a Prius with something like a (shudder) Audi A2 which carries the same amount, and does nearly 65mpg too with the same performance.

    17 May 2005, 10:18

  13. I recall Audi were claiming up to 80mpg in the extra-urban cycle for the diesel A2 at one point?

    No green people aren't concerned with performance, but then they aren't concerned with luxury or convenience either, hence their suggestion that we should all use buses and trains. I, however, am concerned with performance and luxury, like the majority of the driving population of Britain. And I refuse to take steps backwards. Don't even get me started on Concorde etc…

    17 May 2005, 10:23

  14. I've come late to the party but I hope I can join in ;-)
    I've specifically answered some of the points raised below, but my general viewpoint is that – while I disagree entirely with Greenpeace's means – we're talking about marketing and design decisions, and whether car companies should be doing more (even more, if you prefer) to make economy improvements. British Leyland produced a car 35 years ago that could do 100mpg: introducing this kind of technology and consumption is merely a matter of desire, which comes from the demands of the market, the law… you've done Alan Cartwright and Karen Bradbury's modules, you know what the influencing factors are.

    'The green movement' as a whole is responsible for invasion of industrial plants to the same extent that 'the car movement' as a whole is responsible for Darren Bloggs of Canley chavving up his Nova and then crashing into some kiddie doing 45 in a 30.

    You get lots of estates with seven seats and a sensible amount of ground clearance, and anyway I expect the average time for which seven-seaters run with any more than four passengers is substantially under 1%.

    2.5 litre diesel good for the environment Siggy? Maybe, but not as good as a 1.9, or a 1.4. It may not out-accelerate a standard Ford Focus with a smaller engine, but so what? I'm sure it would comfortably and safely keep up with traffic (especially if one is using proper anticipation when driving). As Chris H said, you don't drive SUVs lke sports cars, so why make them as fast?

    If a Range Rover's consumption "isn't that much worse" than an A8 or XJR (both, I might add, over-engineered but at least much more fun to drive, and as comfortable), then getting every Range Rover owner to switch to an A8 would make a noticeable dent in national annual emissions. Not a very pro-British-industry argument, but as I say we're talking about influencing the direction of future marketing and design, both of which British industry is very good at.

    A bigger, heavier, taller car will always be less safe in a crash. You can throw as much engineering at it as you like, but it will still have a higher CofM (better engineering term than CofG) and more momentum at any given speed, and hence more injury/damage and rollover potential. Work is being done on the problem, but it is with all types of car – by the nature of their design, SUVs will always lag behind. I bet rollover rates for SUVs are much higher than for the Daewoo Matiz.

    As for bonnet heights, unless they take the same profile as normal saloons (which would look silly), they will always be more dangerous to pedestrians. The bonnet of a Discovery is about head-height for a generic 'child' who would have been collected upwards by the bonnet of a Focus, dissipating impact energy more gradually (which is why the stuntmen do it that way). Even an adult wouldn't escape a full-on abdominal blow from the car – the bonnet's just too high for them to be deflected anywhere else.

    Either SUVs don't add to congestion, or you need to hang back further from them in order to be able to drive safely. You can't have it both ways! What occurs in reality, of course, is a combination of the two – so both arguments are true, and both are negative points for SUVs.

    Chris H mentioned the Mazda RX8 and Audi RS6 as comparators for emissions. The RX8 and RS6 are both marketed very much as sporty, high-performance cars which, as you said Chris, isn't what Range Rover drivers are after specifically – so moving into a comfortable saloon would, again, save a little fuel consumption, a little CO2, a little safety fator and a little less wear and tear on publically funded roads. It all adds up (oh, and wear-and-tear is proportional to the 4th power of axle weight, so a small decrease makes a massive difference).

    17 May 2005, 10:46

  15. So they shouldn't try to convince you otherwise? That just because they are a minority viewpoint, (like, for example, conservatism in the UK) they should just shut up about it?

    Again, your argument will only make sense if they are actually getting in the way of what you want. If we ignore the criminal nature, then what they are doing is simply advertising their view, and trying to change the emphasis put on 'luxury' and 'convenience'. You argument basically boils down to 'I dislike the green movement', because they dare disagree with me, and dare to disagree vocally. Which is simply silly.

    Concorde failed because of lack of demand. There are generally nothing wrong with demand based approaches. Trying to change people's demand systems is the very essence of a reasoned debate. Didn't you say:

    Now, I have nothing wrong with people who disagree with my opinion.

    17 May 2005, 10:55

  16. I agree the RR will use more fuel. They aren't substantially thirstier than A8s because all A8s are Quattro, and I believe 4WD is the main enemy of fuel consumpy and one of the reasons why the 4WD 3.0TDI A8 does 33mpg while the 2WD 730d and S320CDi managed near 40mpg. People need to be educated about decent engines. If the RR were to be fitted with the 2.7TD Jaguar engine it is likely that the RR would easily get to 28mpg on the Govt cycle being lighter and mildly more aerodynamic than the Discovery3. I can't condone a car that drinks for the sake of drinking, and I believe the RR is one of the best SUVs you can buy, but if I were buying an SUV I'd be buying an X5 because it drinks 1/3 less, and I wouldn't be taking it majorly off road beyond the odd farm track here and there.

    17 May 2005, 10:56

  17. Also looking back again. Of course the SUV will be more dangerous to a pedestrian, probably less so than an HGV but nobody wants to stop deliveries of food. On the other hand mile for mile any vehicle does many millions more miles without an accident than with one. With regard to hanging back, I would suggest people need to hang back more anyway in order to achieve a more economical forward looking driving style. Few people look ten cars ahead. I tend to spend the entire journey from the "Leamington" sign to the Stoneleigh Road roundabout on the overrun in 6th looking way ahead not at the bumper of the car in front.

    17 May 2005, 11:03

  18. Ok, ok, so my association of extremists with the entire movement is a little unfair :-) But then, as a driver who exceeds the speed limit and likes powerful cars, I'm associated with killing people, causing accidents and destroying the planet. If they're going to play unfair, no reason why I'm not going to either!

    Yes you do get lots of estates with 7 seats – tiny, piddly little things that they are, far too close to the back for maximum child damage in a rear impact. And you lose all the luggage space. With an XC90, you don't.

    I honestly can't believe that you of all people are arguing for smaller and smaller engines in cars! First of all, many small engined cars are so slow under acceleration that they really are dangerous. If you think it's acceptable for a smart car to accelerate from a blind junction on a fast road with it's 0–60 time of 18.3 seconds, then you truly surprise me. I feel pretty uneasy about such manouevers at times, and my car will do the sprint in almost half the time. The RR isn't made as fast as a sports car, we've established this. 13.4 seconds to 60 is pretty damned slow. Even the 4.4 litre V8 only manages 9.2 seconds, which is hardly rocketship.

    I still don't see the safety aspect as being that far behind. Yes, the CofM is higher, but conversely the averave off-roader has a much wider track than a Daewoo (Chevrolet now) Matiz. The Smart car as well, has a horribly high CofM compared to it's width of track, and really does always look like it's about to roll over.

    As to this pedestrian safety argument… Well it's besides the point, but people shouldn't be in the road anyway. Roads are defined as a place for moving motor vehicles… But assuming that we are going to continue hitting people stupid enough to try and remove themselves from the gene pool by getting in front of an oh-so-easy to miss Range Rover (small and discrete vehicles as already discussed), well I don't see why they will always be less safe. Because the bonnets are much higher (and the engines are monted relatively low in the structure), there is an awful lot of space for bumpers and bonnets to deform before they will come into contact with hard points (the engine block). This is similarly effective at dissipating crash energy, and I don't see how it will "always" be less safe.

    You don't need to hang back further from an off-road vehicle. People drive too close to cars normally. If you're sticking to the 2 second rule on a road, you should be able to see round a car or an off-roader just as easily. Off-roaders don't add to congestion. Fact.

    What would you suggest we compare a Range Rover TD6 with then Simon? I'd suggest a 4.0 TDI A8, which gets 28,8 mpg as opposed to the Range Rover's 25. And that's with an older design BMW engine in the Range Rover…

    17 May 2005, 11:15

  19. You exceed the speed limit?? So you're a criminal then.

    17 May 2005, 11:19

  20. Zhou, I don't have a problem with people who disagree with my opinion. They can disagree all they like, they're not going to change my point of view until they come up with something far more weighty than the clap-trap they've provided this far. But I dislike being made out as some evil figure because of what I enjoy. I don't see how it's unreasonable to dislike someone who tells me that I'm all bad, because I happen to be into cars. Furthermore, I dislike the green movement because its propaganda is factually inaccurate. Not because it doesn't agree with mine.

    17 May 2005, 11:20

  21. Yes I do exceed the speed limit. In doing so, I get from A to B quicker. Should I get caught, it's entirely my fault and the repercussions of my actions will affect me alone. I am not affecting anybody else's life by exceeding the speed limit. It's my risk to take as regards getting caught, and that's why I don't see it as a problem. The entire process affects me and me alone, and as such is my decision to take, as my criminal activities have no effect whatsoever on the rest of mankind.

    17 May 2005, 11:22

  22. "But I dislike being made out as some evil figure because of what I enjoy."

    errr… in itself that's a meaningless statement, I'm sure many criminals enjoy what they do.

    "Furthermore, I dislike the green movement because its propaganda is factually inaccurate. Not because it doesn't agree with mine."

    errr… Of course you pointed out how inaccurate it was in that really well researched article on climate change a while back, didn't you….. except that article was picked to pieces repeatedly and on many different points, so I wonder who's "factually inaccurate" around here?

    17 May 2005, 11:23

  23. but you are a criminal? You admit this.

    you have broken the law, on numerous occasions, and you admit it.

    17 May 2005, 11:25

  24. You know what Damian… every single motorist on the roads is a criminal. There is not a motorist alive who has not as some point fractionally exceeded the speed limit. I view that as a good thing because the driver who is going to hit a child, be it in a smart car or a range rover, is the one who is concentrating on the keeping the dial on the dash at 30, not the one doing 35 but fully aware of what's around

    17 May 2005, 11:26

  25. Driving a fuel-inefficient car is not a criminal activity, and as such that statement has relevance. I accept that some of the green movement's points are accurate, but others are not.

    17 May 2005, 11:26

  26. Greenpeace are a bunch of idiots. Not long ago they tried to invade an oil-trading floor. This is what happened: link. Serves them right, arrogant twats.

    I'm pro-car, and think people should be allowed to drive 4×4s in towns and look complete arses if they want, but there is a big safety issue here. If I were to hit you with my Fiesta at 30mph, you would roll across the bonnet and the impact would be relatively spread out (except on your legs, which would probably break). If it happened with an 'ooh-look-my-kids-are-spoilt-my-husband-can't-satisfy-me-and-I'm-so-small-I-can't-see-over-the-wheel' SUV, you would take the full impact in the body – BANG.

    I'm essaying at the moment, haven't explained it very well, but hopefully I've made the point,

    17 May 2005, 11:26

  27. "every single motorist on the roads is a criminal"

    that's a good one, you got me rolling on the floor with that one.

    "Driving a fuel-inefficient car is not a criminal activity"

    – no, but speeding is, and you've admitted that.

    17 May 2005, 11:28

  28. "It's my risk to take as regards getting caught"

    I wonder if that's how Charlie Manson thought??

    17 May 2005, 11:29

  29. Yep that I have. But I'm victimised for using a car as much as I am for speeding. The former is just plain unfair. And Charles Manson was a serial killer who quite blatantly affected the lives of other people!

    17 May 2005, 11:32

  30. "But I'm victimised for using a car as much as I am for speeding."

    that's a bit strong isn't it! I'd hardly say you've been victimised for using a car, that's absurd.

    17 May 2005, 11:34

  31. It isn't though! I get abuse from a lot of people simply because I drive a lot. And my aspirations of owning better cars, which just happen to be fuel-inefficient, are abused a lot by my peers.

    17 May 2005, 11:36

  32. Damian,

    Every driver on the roads IS a criminal, if we are going to classify speeding as a criminaal offence. Of course you didn't choose to define the margin by which it is an offence. Exceeding the speed limit by the speed limit is unquesitonably an offence, is exceeding it by 5mph at 40mph really??? Anyway this debate is not about speed but about environmental protests

    17 May 2005, 11:37

  33. I hardly think people saying that fuel-inefficient cars are bad because of the damage to the environment counts as being victimised. I think you'd really struggle in a situation where you actually were victimised if this is how you react to a few posts on a blog.

    17 May 2005, 11:38

  34. exceeding a 40mph speed limit by 5mph is exceeding it by more than 10%, which is a reasonable margin of error

    17 May 2005, 11:41

  35. Would you say people on the street hurling abuse at you, gobbing on your car, and covering your car in propaganda counts as being victimised? This has happened to quite a few people I know who own cars like Range Rovers, and will doubtless happen to me too. Hasn't put me off them in the slightest – if only some form of James Bond style electrification of the car chassis were legal…

    17 May 2005, 11:42

  36. "if only some form of James Bond style electrification of the car chassis were legal…"

    so you condone murder?

    17 May 2005, 11:43

  37. Speedos are often out by as much as 10%, even on modern cars. The generally accepted rule is 10% + 2mph. But if you go by the statement that anyone exceeding the speed limit is a criminal, then someone doing 71mph on a motorway is a criminal.

    17 May 2005, 11:43

  38. "Would you say people on the street hurling abuse at you, gobbing on your car, and covering your car in propaganda counts as being victimised?"

    but you say this hasn't happened to you, so you haven't been victimised. If this happens let us all know.

    17 May 2005, 11:44

  39. Not at all. Who said anything about muderous levels of electrification? Just an unpleasant electric shock, like an electric fence used to control cattle. With proper warning that the car is in fact electrified of course…

    17 May 2005, 11:44

  40. "The generally accepted rule is 10% + 2mph"

    so that would be 46mph, rather than 45mph. Big difference

    17 May 2005, 11:49

  41. The principle that if you break the speed limit at 41 mph then you would be branded a criminal stands.

    17 May 2005, 11:52

  42. "The principle that if you break the speed limit at 41 mph then you would be branded a criminal stands"

    so, is that the law, or is the 10%+2 the law. You've confused me here.

    17 May 2005, 11:54

  43. The law is that if you break the speed limit then you are a criminal. But prosecution is generally accepted at being at the 10% +2mph threshold. This is not in law though, so zero-tolerance policing of speed limits is in theory completely legal under UK motoring law.

    17 May 2005, 11:56

  44. John Dale

    Yes I do exceed the speed limit. In doing so, I get from A to B quicker. Should I get caught, it's entirely my fault and the repercussions of my actions will affect me alone. I am not affecting anybody else's life by exceeding the speed limit.

    Unless you hit somebody, of course. There is an association between speed reduction and crash reduction – every 1 mph reduction in speed is accompanied by an average 5% decrease in crashes and a 7% decrease in fatalities where crashes occur, according to the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (1996). If you're a pedestrian or a cyclist who's struck by a car, your chances look like this:-

    • 20 mph, 95% chance of surviving
    • 30 mph, 45% chance
    • 40 mph, 5% chance

    Still sure that speeding affects you alone? Is this true for everyone who speeds? Driver error is found to be a contributory cause in over 90% of accidents according to the DETR Speed Policy Review Discussion Paper in August 1999.

    17 May 2005, 12:09

  45. Yes I am still sure that speeding affects me alone. I'm not in the business of hitting other people, by accident or on purpose. There's a difference between speeding sillily and driving in excess of the speed limit where it is safe to do so. Driver error is a contributing case in most accidents sure, but speed the main factor in only 7%.

    17 May 2005, 12:13

  46. May I add my verdurosexual's tuppence? Chris (Sigournay) writes 'few rational people I think would condone unlawful behaviour such as this.' I quote a high court judge from a landmark constitutional ruling from 1994 [R v HM Inspectorate of Pollution ex parte Greenpeace] 'I reject the argument that Greenpeace is a 'mere' or 'meddlesome busybody…' I regard the applicants (Greenpeace) as eminently respectable and responsible, with a genuine concern for the environment.' Granted, the judge was speaking in general terms (the facts of that particular case revolved around Greenpeace's opposition to an application by British Nuclear Fuels to discharge radioactive waste from its Sellafield plant). My point is, however, that Greenpeace (who, btw, Chris, are not associated with, though may share, the same values as the non-activist liberal Green Party) are, as Mr Dale has alluded to, an extremely well co-ordinated and structured international organisation with the capacity to undertake sound scientific research (their chief executive director is a former government adviser) and make strategic publicity stunts, now largely accepetable in the public's view. The fact that they are a non-profit organisation largely dependent on volunteers underlines the judge's assertion that they are genuinely concerned about enivironmental issues such as climate change (which according to the WHO, directly causes 150,000 deaths p.a. and according to the New Centre for European Studies – funded by the EU - 30,000 died as a result of the 2003 heatwave in Europe, alone) If Greenpeace are 'propagandists' what motivates them to promulgate such 'propaganda?' Certainly not profit. Greenpeace has also won a significant number of court battles. Though they may have broken the 'blackletter' law, I loosely agree with Zhou – if no laws had ever been broken society would never have evolved. I do not condone breaking the law per se but Greenpeace's incursion was, according to the Midland's Police 'peaceful' (the right to peaceful demonstration is guaranteed by art. 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and, to be candid, it is hardly going to warp Range Rover's annual turnover.

    17 May 2005, 12:16

  47. "Driver error is a contributing case in most accidents sure, but speed the main factor in only 7%."

    but, as John shows, the speed drastically affects the chance of death. Is it worth killing some kid in the road to get somewhere 5 minutes earlier? I think not

    17 May 2005, 12:18

  48. Replies…

    Chris H: 28mpg as a possible goal, for a car that takes as long as mine (half that consumption) to get to 60? Hmmm, great.

    You can't deliver 20 tons of frozen food in a Ford Ka. You can swap your SUV for an A6 and get a car that's nicer, safer, quicker and more economical for the same comfort. I agree that people should hang back more in general – and however far back you should be for a car, you need to be slightly further back to see past an SUV.

    Siggy, comment 18: Is a BMW 5-Series estate a "piddly little car"? (I won't pretend I think the Fiat Multipla is a realistic solution to anything).

    I'm not arguing for smaller and smaller engines per se, I'm arguing for intelligent engineering rather than the philosophy being imported from America of making cars, all cars, heavy and then throwing a big engine at them. The history of the British car industry is one of making clever, lightweight, nimble cars that comprehensively outperform big horrible fuel-drinking American equivalents. 18.3 seconds to 60 isn't good or desirable, of course (but then the Smart's designed to operate in 30 and 40 limits anyway – it's very much a "city car"). You don't need to get to 60 in 7 seconds though – I've rarely needed more acceleration than I have, which is the same as your quoted time for the Range Rover with 3 times better consumption.

    Do a CofM/track calculation and I guarantee that SUVs will be at the top end of that. As for the Smart, I doubt many if any cars roll over in 30 mph accidents. The Smart never gets much faster than that anyway!

    "People shouldn't be in the road"... what? They don't need to cross the road, cycle in it, kids don't run out after the clichéd football, cars never mount pavements,...? I'd like to see how much you think a bumper/bonnet deforms when hitting a person. you'll get f\*ck-all deformation before your ribcage meets your spine. That's just a bad argument I'm afraid.

    Treating the 2-second rule as absolute is like treating the 30 limit as an indication of what is safe. If you don't adjust your safety envelope according to the type of vehicle you're following and the available visibility, you're not thinking enough. As I said above, if an SUV is bigger than a car (which it is), you need to be a bit further back to be able to see as much paast it. Obvious and unarguable.

    OK, let's compare the TD6 with the A8, a car with a FOUR-litre engine, 0–60 in 6.7 seconds, £59,600! The TD6 (the same price, give or take) has half the acceleration and 15% worse fuel economy!

    17 May 2005, 12:21

  49. So you've got your 10% to allow for speedometer accuracy, then 2mph to allow for your own ability to maintain a constant speed. In a 40mph zone your speedometer should never exceed 42mph.

    Is that right? I mean, if you have a calibrated speedometer or a Doppler radar, should you drive at 46?

    17 May 2005, 12:22

  50. …continued.

    Siggy, comment 21: You know my opinions on over-policed, over-the-top and counter-productive speed limits (which is not to imply they all are). I know I'm a good driver but I know many others aren't, hence speed limits. There are many intelligent, informed ways to argue against certain over-prescriptive speed limits, but your comment was none of those. The limits are there for a reason, which is that there is a higher chance of doing more damage with an accident that is less easily avoided. As a result, it does affect others, not just you. It's not a game between you and the police.

    26 : Ed's right.

    43: It's what Chris says, Damian – the legal limit is the legal limit, therefore you are technically breaking the law at 40.5mph in a 40. The prosecution limit is a matter of choice for police forces, and for individual policemen who can see the context of the offence. Many police forces are reducing the margin of error they allow, in order to generate more cash revenue for their activities.

    This is why many speed cameras are so stupid – they won't catch you doing a very dangerous 28 mph (or even 33) past a school at kicking-out time, but you'll lose three points for doing 85 down a clear motorway in the middle of the day. To pre-empt one possible argument, a 15 or 20 limit outside schools (or indeed down motorways) is not a practical answer, as it's probably perfectly safe to drive past that same school at 35 on a Sunday afternoon in the summer holidays.

    John: I could argue that if you're doing 40, you'll normally have braked to a lower speed by the time you actually hit the poor unfortunate. The counters to that, of course, are that stopping distance from 30 is the same as the braking distance from 40–30 mph (I've seen this demonstrated in real life – and this is braking distance, not total stopping distance)... and of course that in that case you might be lucky enough only to cripple the pedestrian rather than kill them. Great. Both your 90% figure, and Siggy's 7%, are accurate.

    Siggy, comment 45: don't be bloody stupid! Find me one driver who is willing to state "I am in the business of hitting other people (although only by accident)".

    Alexander: Greenpeace's exact status makes no difference. The Mosnter Raving Loonies aren't in it for profit (nor are the BNP). The right to peaceful demonstration does not extend to trespass on private property, let alone the dangerous environment of a car production line. They were quite welcome to stand outside the gates for a month, had they so wished.

    17 May 2005, 12:22

  51. I agree with all you say Si, however I would like to see you use your 306 to tow a large trailer weighing almost 2 tons with a glider in it, or to bowl down a farm track to a house on a poorly maintained private road at 40mph. As you know I drive a car that gives me good economy and good performance, but if I wanted to tow a big horsebox or something would not be that suitable. I believe the best compromise is the one that suits you personally best. This is probably why I see the 40mpg, 6.5s to 60, 155mph limited BMW 535d in my future.

    17 May 2005, 12:29

  52. Damian – while I no means am necessarily supporting this analysis, consider the following…

    Say that you do 5,000 motorway miles a year. A 200 mile journey at 70 mph takes 2 hours 51 minutes. At 85 it's 2 hours 21 minutes. On those 5,000 miles a year, you're wasting a day every 2 years by driving slower. In 40 years that's 3 weeks of your life. Give those 3 weeks to 10 million motorway drivers and that's 8,000 70 year lifetimes. How much economic activity does that represent? Now, judge that figure against the fact that only 200 people are killed on motorways each year. It's a cold statistical calculation sure, and one which I am by no means all-out convinced on. But it is an alternative way of looking at it.

    SiY: An A6 is not more comfortable than a Range Rover. Whether it's nicer or not is a matter of opinion – I certainly prefer the Range Rover to the A6 anyday.

    Yes, the BMW 5 series estate is pretty piddly compared to a Range Rover. Far less room. Of course I support intelligent engineering – I'm an engineer! – but vehicle weight is something that you just have to live with if you want space, comfort, safety and luxury. This can be reduced via clever engineering and materials use, but the fact remains that superior cars in terms of luxury and space will always be heavier.

    I did concede that my people in the road argument was besides the point. And bonnets and front-end structures are now specifically being designed to deform when hitting people. This is something common to all vehicles these days, but particularly in off-road cars there is more room for bonnet deformation, so they can be made weaker safely without worrying about hardpoints.

    The absolute treatment of the 2 second rule is as you point out simplistic. But the "seeing past" distance is much less than the "safe thinking and stopping distance" at pretty much any speed, so I don't see how your argument is valid.

    And as to the A8, even the poverty spec 3.0 TDI only hits 32.8 mpg

    17 May 2005, 12:36

  53. Mr Young – Are you seriously comparing Greenpeace to the Monster Raving Loony Party and the BNP. Added to which you know perfectly well if they had stood outside the gates for a month they would have got drenched instead of the publicity they were seeking.

    17 May 2005, 12:37

  54. John Dale

    I'm not in the business of hitting other people, by accident or on purpose.

    In 1998, 10,481 pedestrians and 3,312 cyclists were killed or seriously injured by motorists. A third of these people were children. None of the drivers were "in the business" of causing those accidents. And yet…

    Perhaps you're a special case, with a cast-iron guarantee that you will never be involved in an accident. But I see no convincing proof of that argument.

    17 May 2005, 12:40

  55. John Dale

    Yes, the BMW 5 series estate is pretty piddly compared to a Range Rover. Far less room.

    Range Rover: 535 litres (min) – 1756 litres (max)
    BMW 5 series touring: 520 litres (min) – 1650 litres (max)

    17 May 2005, 12:46

  56. Mr March – the point is that the police are generally open to reason on this and so allow a reasonable margin of error, which is the 10% +2mph rule. This is not bound in law, and certainly setting an accurate speed-calibrated car at 45mph on the cruise control in a 40 zone is not the attitude to take (although I suspect many do

    Mr Dale – I never said I was a cast-iron case. I just have enough belief in my ability to drive safely at all times, regardless of what a blanket case speed limit might say. This may be percieved by many as arrogance, and probably is, but no-one would convincingly argue that a speed limit set in stone everywhere is the precise safe speed. The safe speed is variable on many factors including driver reactions (my reactions are above average, fact), vehicle, weather conditions, state of repair of the road, traffic conditions, environmental factors such as pedestrians/school children… The speed at which you are safe is heavily dependent on these factors, not a state-set limit, and as such I believe it is safe for me to break speed limits where appropriate. And those figures are relating to boot space alone, not occupant space.

    17 May 2005, 12:47

  57. A8 3.0TDI is NOT poverty spec (or slow)... trust me I've driven all except the 6.0W12

    17 May 2005, 12:49

  58. By poverty spec I mean basic Chris. As in, cheapest of range. And as an aside with all this fuel consumption figures flying about… BMW X5 3.0d is 32.8 mpg (so presumably Range Rover would achieve similar with the same engine), same engine in a 7 series is 34.4 mpg. Please compare same classes of car…

    17 May 2005, 12:54

  59. I'd laugh my head off if you ended up getting banned for speeding. If that ever happens can you please post it up here?

    17 May 2005, 13:13

  60. I'm sure you would. If it ever happens, it will probably end up becoming public knowledge by way of me jumping off of something very tall… I'm sure you'll be laughing all the way to the obituary column. And in any case, this post was about off-road vehicles, not speeding, so can we please get back to the point?

    17 May 2005, 13:19

  61. "they make exceptionally good towing vehicles due to their power and weight"

    how many people who use big vehicles actually ever tow anything?

    17 May 2005, 13:19

  62. I'm very much in favour of increasing the motorway limit to 85 or at least 80 – studies show this could be significantly safer – coupled with an increase in variable speed limits to tell people things about the conditions that they're too stupid to see for themselves (especially those self-congratulatory drivers who do 69.8 mph in the middle lane). When the national speed limit was introduced, most cars could barely reach 70. Now they can cruise comfortably at 100 or so.

    Chris H – I don't have a glider, neither do I want to do 40 down a farm track. Nor do 98% of SUV drivers (number is figurative only). For the 1.5+% of those who do, but do so very rarely (once or twice a year), why not hire an SUV to do the towing with all the money saved on driving a more fun, less obnoxious car for the rest of the year? Everyone else may keep theirs. I think a 535 sounds quite nice, eminently practical, lots of fun, designed as a driver's car! and still twice the fuel economy of a big ol' Range Rover.

    Back to Siggy – the 5 Series Touring is piddly compared to a Range Rover but a very good size compared to anything else on the road. The days of afterthought-quality parcel shelves in the boot masquerading as sixth and seven seats in the middle of a crumple zone are long, long gone. To keep building cars stronger and stronger perpetuates some kind of Safety Cold War, where everyone has to keep buying heavier and heavier cars which are being engineered against being hit by heavier and heavier cars. the loser in this is the pedestrian/cyclist, who is becoming slightly more overweight but no more crash-proof.

    Speaking of which, the bumper may deform, but it still won't throw the pedestrian clear owing to the shape & height of the bonnet – and if it did they're thrown a lot, lot higher, so coming down will hurt a lot more – so they'll still take all of the impact. All things are relative, and "bumper deformation" is certainly one of these – it's still not going to be pleasant being hit by one, and the energy in the crash will still be greater with a heavier car (more so with a speeding driver who "doesn't do hitting people"). With completely soft bumpers, the radiator is the first thing the pedestrian would encounter, and that will feel enough like a "hardpoint" even at 10 mph.

    Even adhering to the two-second rule (which few do), the gap to the car in front becomes less than overall stopping distance above about 50 mph, assuming you happen to be paying attention to that gap and the car-in-front's back bumper at the time. You should be looking up the road, not at the gap immediately in front of you.

    32.8 MPG (your A8 "poverty spec" vehicle, which is still a much better car than 95% of the population can ever dream of) represents an economy saving of more than 30% – that's huge! Think how great it would be to improve every car's fuel economy by that much at a stroke! I'd save hundreds of pounds a year.

    Interesting that the X5 can produce the same economy figure – if that's the case, it proves the need to press Range Rover, even over other SUV manufacturers (let's face it, 32mpg is still pretty crap compared to what's possible) on the need for thinking about fuel economy in their design, which brings us back to the original point. I'd say that's pretty much QED.

    17 May 2005, 13:20

  63. "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."

    errr – I don't think that the protestors were in any way concerned about it being positive for range rover – that was the point.

    17 May 2005, 13:22

  64. Damian – quite a few people tow things with their off-roaders. And of course they weren't aiming for positive PR on Range Rover, but they didn't do anything for themselves either, in my opinion anyway.

    Simon – To your final point, it is interesting that it's actually BMW's fault! Because they are responsible for the current Range Rover (both design and engine), but no longer own the company, they are still supplying Range Rover with the older design engine because obviously it doesn't help their competitive edge in the market to be selling their latest stuff to competitors with a better product. Once the supply contract is up, and Land Rover start fitting the Lion Diesel engine (the 2.7 litre V6 PSA unit), we should see some real improvements… I fully support the use of more modern technology to reduce fuel consumption, and yes it is equally important to press manufacturers for this! But don't think that they don't want to anyway – it's a good USP to be able to say they sell efficient products. Obviously!

    And to your suggestion that the 5 series is a better car all-round – well if that were the case, why do people still choose to buy Range Rovers? Answer – because it evidently has features that the 5 doesn't (high up driving position may be preferred, towing capacity, increased luxury, superior ride comfort, prestige) – not everyone wants to rocket around, as everyone is so keen to remind me. Some people prefer the less attack, attack approach to driving and instead like the high-up and stately cruise experience of a Range Rover. Hence people buy them!

    17 May 2005, 13:31

  65. "And of course they weren't aiming for positive PR on Range Rover, but they didn't do anything for themselves either, in my opinion anyway."

    I don't think they were after your approval either

    17 May 2005, 13:33

  66. "quite a few people tow things with their off-roaders"

    do you have some statistics?

    17 May 2005, 13:34

  67. I highly doubt it, but then again, I'm hardly after theirs Damian. So they can go stuff off in my opinion.

    17 May 2005, 13:34

  68. "So they can go stuff off in my opinion"

    ? That's not a very good sentence.

    I'm going now.

    17 May 2005, 13:36

  69. What's wrong with that sentence? They aren't seeking my approval, I'm not seeking theirs. No, I don't have any facts about towing with off-roaders. I can confirm that when I'm on the roads, I see many caravan owners or those with large trailers transporting things like boats, cars, horses, or anything else that one puts in a trailer, using off-roaders as the towing vehicle. I do not have access to exact statistics; this is a personal judgement based on what I observe and also from those who I know with off-road vehicles.

    17 May 2005, 13:40

  70. The main things the RR offers over the 5-Series are increased tow capacity, off road capability and a high up driving position. Ride is probs not that different (don't know, haven't driven either). However both are excellent cars and I would consider either. One I will be able to consider sooner though as one uses half the fuel of the other and will be more fun with it. I think the current RR is a gorgeous car, but I couldn't justify one for every day use for myself, when I could have the same toys and more fun for less money in the d, lest we forget I can buy two 535d for the same money too.

    17 May 2005, 13:43

  71. John Dale

    Yesterday's Dilbert cartoon:-

    17 May 2005, 13:47

  72. What do you scientists think about hybrid off round vehicules – powered by a combination of a petrol engine and an electric motor? (A minimus incipe). Btw. the contradiction in terms – referring to cars such as the Range Rover when used in urban areas as 'off-road' – drives me to uproarious distraction.

    17 May 2005, 13:57

  73. Typo – that was meant to read off road, of course

    17 May 2005, 14:05

  74. Personally I'm not in favour of current hybrid technology (as in, commercially available automotive systems), even as a stop-gap while fuel cells etc. are researched and brought to market. Economy advances are still being made in internal combustion engines, especially diesels. Installing a second power source in a car, together with its energy storage devices, etc., adds a lot of weight, engineering effort and extra "embodied energy" (which is energy used in production of the car from extraction of raw materials onwards). The picture will be very different in two or three years when more serious savings are available, and a few years after that when automotive hydrogen "fuel cells" become a realistic and marketable propect.

    As for the "off-road" bit of your question… I think we've already dealt with my opinion of those adequately!

    17 May 2005, 14:13

  75. Ah yes, of course – the automotive hydrogen fuel cell – I shall certainly anticipate their becomming a realistic and marketable prospect with glee… Is it Brazil where 90% of cars are fuelled by ethanol? Without straying too far off road, I shall make passing reference to fusion power, which is of course, also just around the corner. (Btw. I think I might have confused people – a minimus incipe was my school motto – it means 'little things come first')

    17 May 2005, 14:22

  76. It is Brazil – the only resource Brazil doesn't have in great quantity is oil, so rather than import it they make their own automotive fuel instead from cane. I would like to add at this point that my personal vision for future transport is in bio-fuels, and I fully support investment in this area. Fusion power is still some 50 years off at best (unfortunately that's not really "just round the corner"!, and current investment is far less than should really be put into it. My grandfather worked at Jet for many years as an engineering consultant, and thought very highly of the project, but current plans are far from rapid!

    Like Simon, I think hybrid powertrains are far too heavy and complicated, and do not deliver economy benefits over current efficient standard I.C. engines, except for some in urban driving. Out in the wide world, where the vehicle requires significant levels of power to move it, hybrids suffer efficiency-wise. Vehicles such as the Prius are a marketing gimmick, not a solution to transport problems. More benefit may be achieved from the widespread adoption of variator infinitely variable transmissions (for more technical info if you're interested, check out Torotrak )

    Interesting that you're a fuel cell advocate Si…

    17 May 2005, 14:44

  77. Why so?

    (I really shouldn't be getting involved in more debate here! but hey…)

    17 May 2005, 14:49

  78. Because I don't see it as being an efficient way of powering cars! Electricity still has to be generated somehow to make hydrogen in the first place, which is a very low density gas unless you supercool it and pressurise it, which is lethal in crashes unless you make a huge heavy tank. Unless you have other storage methods (chemically or physically on a molecular level), which seems to be pretty heavy to me too. Then you need platinum catalysts for the fuel-cell stack, and then on top of all that you need some big heavy electric motors. And on top of all that, it still doesn't go very fast. Sounds like an awful lot of effort to me, when we already have the much lighter I.C. engine solution that you can run on 100% carbon neutral bio-fuels

    17 May 2005, 15:13

  79. A fair point. I'm fairly interested in the bio-fuels approach too.

    Really, really work-time now, cya later.

    17 May 2005, 15:28

  80. Let's just sum up.

    Reasons why you view them in a negative light.
    1. They ignore the advantages of 4×4s/Off roaders. Well, duh. But issues like luxury and convenience are obviously a matter of opinion. They believe that the damage such vehicles cause outweighs any advantage. That's their personal opinion. And you said you don't blame people for disagreeing with you. Read over the comments thread here, and just count the instances of 'I' and 'you'.
    2. They engage in criminal acts. Well, ok, no one argues with that. But not every environmentalist or liberal breaks the law.
    3. They make people who drive off roaders feel bad. Well, if their tactic is working on you, if you care that much what people think of you, then maybe you shouldn't drive off roaders? Discrimination based on what people are – things like race and stuff, is obviously bad. But it's perfectly okay to judge people based on what they do. Society wouldn't work without that.
    4. You think they are factually inaccurate because (a) there are low consumption off roaders, and (b) there are high consumption non 4×4s. (a) is moot, because they aren't protesting outside the factories where they make the Audi A4 Quattro or whatever low consumption vehicle it is. And further, low consumption off roaders are low consumption despite, not because of their 4×4 capability. By reasons of pure physics, an equivalent 4×4 will consume more fuel than a 2 wheel drive car. (b) is a strawman, because they never argue that only 4×4s are bad – you said that, not them. Just because they are focusing on one case at a time doesn't make them inconsistent.
    5. You think it can have no positive benefits. Again with the focusing on one issue at a time thing, and the changing demand thing. But also, think about the message it gives to the Range Rover bosses: People actually care about fuel consumption and safety! People might stop buying our 4×4s! If we make our vehicles more efficient and safer, then these activists will stop complaining about us, and we will make more sales! At worst, environment lobbies will achieve nothing. But there is no possibility of them making the situation worse, and a good chance of them causing real, quantifiable improvement.

    17 May 2005, 15:45

  81. I live in the United Kingdom, which to the best of my knowledge is a democracy. This means that people have the right to hold (and express) an opinion on anything they like (up to a point).

    I think Greenpeace are a bunch of hippies whose sole purpose is to annoy the hell out of people. Have a look around the internet for some news articles about them – you'll find items regarding them sailing into Alaskan territorial waters to protest about logging without filing the necessary environmental papers regarding oil spillage cleanups and suchlike. Which is more damaging, several thousand tonnes of diesel fuel spilling into the ocean, or some people chopping down trees in the middle of nowhere? Also, there was another article regarding them running through a French yacht purely because it was sponsored by a company who used nuclear power. The best thing the French have ever done in my opinion is blowing up Rainbow Warrior…

    Now, on to 'SUVs' (for want of a better term). A further property of this democracy is that I can choose to drive whatever vehicle I like. My family are now on our second Land Rover Discovery, and it's great. It'll out-corner and out-brake an awful lot of vehicles on the road, and it'll still do upwards of 30mpg on a motorway run. Land Rover employ directly over 10,000 people in the Midlands alone, and indirectly, through suppliers and agents, over 100,000 in this country alone, and many hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. That's quite a lot of people without jobs if Greenpeace get their way. OK, that's not sufficient argument in itself. I note that Greenpeace's press release states that they 'did not halt production of the Defender because it's mainly used for legitimate agricultural and military purposes'. Nice sentiment, but they really haven't done their research – Defender is effectively built at a loss, as it still uses similar production techniques to the original Series I from 1948. Sales of Freelander, Discovery and Range Rover vehicles fund the deficit in producing Defender.

    For those of you genuinely interested, take a look at 4x4 Prejudice for our side of the story.

    17 May 2005, 16:10

  82. Hmm, I'm sure there was an extra paragraph there a minute ago…

    Our Discovery is what gets me from Cornwall to Coventry and back. All of my assorted junk fits quite comfortably in the boot. To carry this amount of stuff in a 'normal' car would be impossible, so we'd end up either having to hire a van or a trailer. A Transit has a comparable engine to our Disco's Td5 2.5 litre 5 cylinder unit, and accordingly gets a similar number of miles to the gallon, so there's absolutely no advantage to us or the environment there. And have you looked at economy figures for an 'average' passenger saloon car towing a caravan? Most struggle to hit the 30mpg the Discovery does solo, and end up working far harder. Further, the brakes have a much heavier train weight to stop, even factoring in the trailer brakes, so the safety element is also completely gone. So, in this situation there's no disadvantage whatsoever to us using a 4×4, and in fact there are a large number of advantages.

    Our Discovery has been used to get down farm lanes to visit elderly relatives, to tow out bogged cars at traction rallies and shows and to pull a caravan. Also, I don't know how many of you have ever been to Cornwall, but if you're ever off the main drags on the back lanes, you'll realise how poor visibility is with all the hedges, walls and fences. The high driving position of the Discovery allows you to spot hazards and dangers much, much earlier, and consequently stops a LOT of accidents. I'd much sooner drive a 4×4 and not career into a tractor on a lane than drive a Smart car and kill myself…

    17 May 2005, 16:20

  83. Good luck with the work Si…

    And thank you Sean – all valid points.

    Zhou – to quote your own words: "But it's perfectly okay to judge people based on what they do". Well on that basis, why is it wrong to judge people based on their religion, or their sexuality? I would like to emphasise, before anyone jumps on me for this, that I condemn prejudices of all forms, including those against sexuality and religion. But nevertheless, judging someone for example on their religion (something an individual chooses) is no different from judging someone on their choice of transport.

    Luxury and convenience are partly opinion based. But things like ride comfort are actually quantifiable – many people who buy luxury cars cover a lot of miles in them (executives that rack up high business miles for example). Ride comfort reduces fatigue significantly, and so reduces both the discomfort of the driver and the chance that he will have an accident. This makes comfort at least a significant factor when discussing this topic.

    17 May 2005, 16:27

  84. John Dale

    A further property of this democracy is that I can choose to drive whatever vehicle I like.

    That's not really true. You can't for example drive a vehicle that makes too much noise, or which has no type approval or MOT, or no lights, or bald tyres. You aren't at liberty to fit twin spikes to your car's front bumper and then drive it on the public highway.

    What all these things have in common, of course, is that they've been legislated against because they're anti-social; they are dangerous or unpleasant for other people. What's interesting is that society's concept of what constitutes anti-social changes over time; a few years ago, bull-bars were regarded as acceptable, but now manfuacturers have voluntarily withdrawn them from sale on new cars. Five years ago new cars didn't have to have high-level brake lights; now they do. Forty years ago cars didn't routinely have seat belts.

    So who knows what will be regarded as anti-social in the future? Right now global warming isn't causing enough serious consequences for (western) society to feel the need to try and control emissions, but a few big weather-related disasters affecting the US or Europe, and who can say? If oil becomes scarce because of consumption or geo-political difficulties then there may well be legislation prohibiting the sale of vehicles with poor economy. "Whatever vehicle I like" only really means "Whatever vehicle I like that's currently socially acceptable".

    17 May 2005, 19:47

  85. It's quite possible that you are right Mr Dale. If there comes a time when driving a nice car is anti-social and legislated against in this country, I'm off! Go to one of those lovely middle-eastern countries that's so well known for lacking in freedom, where oil is cheap and cars are allowed :-)

    17 May 2005, 20:04

  86. Cool, Mr Butler-Lee I think few people are objecting to owning and using 4×4 off-road vehicules when one lives in rural Cornwall, notwithstanding the fact that 95% of the UK population lives in urban areas. What do you mean by 'sailing into Alaskan waters to protest about logging without filing the necessary paperwork regarding oil spillage cleanups?!' The last time I checked Greenpeace was not in the business of navigating oil tankers. And I take strong objection to your belligerent comments about the Rainbow Warrior – someone was killed as a result of that explosion (I think I will add this to my growing list of reasons to dislike the French).
    Chris (I am not jumping on you – from behind or otherwise ;-)), and I welcome the fact that you condemn prejudice on the grounds of sexuality – I just wish to correct you because you have again implied that sexuality is something people do. This is certainly true with religion, and to a much lesser degree with transport (not everyone can afford a RR or a Jag E Type for that matter). However, whereas, yes, people can chose whether or not to lead active sexual lives, or to repress their feelings and cause psycological damage, no one consciously (i.e. using their pensive mental faculties) decides who they are attracted to, which is the definition of sexuality. I did not choose to be attracted to men any more than you decided to point your Cupid's arrow towards women (or petrol consuming vehicules). Sorry to beat on about that… I wish I was less besotted with debating. I will get stuck back into revision.

    17 May 2005, 20:09

  87. John Dale

    This is a very formal thread what with the "Mr Dale", "Mr Butler-Lee" and all. Did WB get overtaken by a sudden fashion trend for Victorian manners when I wasn't looking? "John" is fine for me. :-)

    17 May 2005, 20:23

  88. Is it really 95%? That's shocking…

    Mr Butler-Lee is referring to this incident Alex. The vessel they were in charge of, as the article says, had over 70,000 gallons of petroleum products onboard at the time. I don't condone the killing of protestors in the slightest, accidental or otherwise, but they were asking to be taken out – the French have a much better attitude to dealing with these things on the whole, in that if they need to get something done (such as nuclear testing, which I think is what the Rainbow Warrior affair was about, correct me if I'm mistaken), then they get on with it. It's personally something I admire them for…

    I apologise that my comment could be interpreted in such a way that I was referring to sexual attraction as a subject of choice. What I meant was, as you identified, whether homosexuals choose to act on their attractions to lead an active sex life or not. In the same way, I just happen to be drawn to certain types of car (not on a sexual level here, but all the same it's a draw which is not concious), and can choose (assuming I have funds) to either actively go and buy it, or force myself against my will to go and buy something else which would be better for the environment. I am not saying for one moment that this draw to material objects is anything like as strong or important as sexual attraction (well not for most people anyway) but by my way of thinking the principle loosely stands; the only difference being that due to the relative weakness of one's attraction to a material object this can be subject to influence and change, whereas one's sexual orientation is not. I am discussing prejudice on people's actions, not thoughts and feelings.

    And sorry John, I tend to refer to people on family name terms until I've gotten to know them a bit on here. It's part of the old-fashioned upbringing I'm afraid :-)

    17 May 2005, 20:28

  89. Sean's fine for me ;)

    John, I think it was relatively clear that I meant 'within the constraints of the law' – that proviso could be added to practically anything said here. As yet there is no law against 4×4s, and as far as I can see there are no grounds for coming up with one, therefore my statement holds in this case. I don't see that there will ever be grounds to ban SUVs, it's just not possible to come up with any quantifiiable measurement of what an 'off-roader' is. Take a look at the 4×4 Prejudice link I gave earlier – a Discovery is smaller than a Rover 75 in both length and width, and uses less fuel than a delivery van, so what would your condition on what vehicles to ban be?

    I seem to recall a certain incident in the runup to the Iraq conflict where Greenpeace blockaded military vessels in port; the police ended up taking out a high court injuction and cutting the anchor chain on their ship to tow it out of the way. Personally, I'd take the view of the Americans – if they obstruct a military vessel, enter restricted waters and refuse to surrender when ordered, they should have been torpedoed out of the water. I have no problem with their 'passive protests', but if they choose to obstruct people with the ability (and justification, both moral and legal) to move them out of the way by force, they get all they deserve. I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. The usual 'in my opinion' caveats apply of course…

    17 May 2005, 21:53

  90. I said:

    "I'm pro-car, and think people should be allowed to drive 4×4s in towns and look complete arses if they want"

    Just realised, Chris S, you live in the countryside don't you? Hence the complete arse comment doesn't apply to you :), hope there wasn't a misunderstanding.

    17 May 2005, 23:05

  91. John Dale

    Sure. My point is that vehicles which are currently legal may not always remain so. For example you could in principle legally require vehicles to achieve certain:-

    • fuel economy
    • standards of manoevreability
    • weight liimits
    • crash test performance against a range of other vehicles
    • pedestrian impact safety performance

    I agree that it would be difficult to ban one particular class or style of vehicle such as SUVs whilst not banning any other vehicles. But I didn't suggest that. What I assert is that many current SUVs would fail any reasonably stringent version of one or more of the above tests, so if social norms (and thus legislation) change in the future to impose those kinds of requirements, SUVs will be among the affected vehicles.

    One interesting example of this has already been legislated for. To improve pedestrian safety, new vehicles will soon be required to pass a series of new crash tests. There are two phases, the first starting on 1 October 2005 and the second – with more stringent pass criteria – on 1 September 2010. The tests are designed to measure the impact on a person's legs or head when they are struck by the bumpers or bonnets of a vehicle travelling at 40 km/h. Car fronts will have to be constructed in such a way that certain limit values are not exceeded upon impact. New vehicles which do not meet these criteria may not be sold after the cut-off dates for the two testing phases – 31 December 2012 for phase 1 and 31 December 2015 for phase 2. In order to achieve this, frontal design will almost certainly have to change in several ways:-

    • Bumper foam needs to be 20–40mm thicker and may need to be bigger in the vertical direction.
    • A low level foam-covered beam is needed to reduce rotation of the knee joint.
    • Lights should be kept below the upper leg crush zone
    • Under bonnet clearance should be at least 75mm
    • Bonnet leading-edge height needs to be no more than 800mm and possibly as low as 650mm.

    So by 2015, the current design of SUVs will be largely untenable as being incompatible with these constraints. It's quite possible, I think, that other constraints affecting other aspects of design and performance will emerge in the coming years too. I don't think SUVs will be targeted per se, but that doesn't mean that they won't be affected.

    17 May 2005, 23:06

  92. Edward – no offence taken :-)

    John – I would hope that the implementation of any of those rules you gave first off would take into account vehicle functionality – for example, if people did need to tow big loads, or if a vehicle can transport more than 5 people. Otherwise of course, it's just plain daft. And yup, pedestrian impact safety rules are going to totally screw up current car design. This has long been known! Numerous ideas are floating about, such as cars with pedestrian safety mechanisms like bonnets that spring up when pedestrians are struck, raising the bonnet away from engine hardpoints and dissipating the energy of a crash much smoother. I don't know that the specific dimensions you've given are a rigid technical legal framework; and as such I think it might be possible to engineer around the problem. Certainly bumper foam and under bonnet clearance are not difficult to solve with off-roaders, although the bonnet height could be an issue. Out of curiosity, I doubt that such laws are necessary for trucks and buses….

    17 May 2005, 23:19

  93. I come back to the Ford Transit once again – the backbone of Britain if Ford are to be believed! The wedge shape of the nose end has to have at least the same effect as that of, say, a Range Rover. Let's face it, cars just aren't good things to be hit by, full stop.

    Let's look at this pedestrian safety rubbish another way though. If I put my hand in a meat grinder, it will be mangled. If I jump off a tall building, I will at the minimum break some bones, and probably do a lot worse. If I stand on a railway line, chances are I'll be killed by a train. That's what happens when you do stupid things. However, have we made meat grinders illegal? Is there legislation in place to limit the height of buildings? Are we going to ban all trains unless they're made of foam and powered by happy thoughts? I think not. So, why is it that the way to stop children from being hit by cars is not to educate children better that the road is not a place to play, and rather to place the liability and blame on motor manufacturers and drivers?

    17 May 2005, 23:52

  94. Chris – corrigendum: the urban population of the UK is more like 89% (source – the UN link). We are ranked 12th in the world for urban population. I don't know what criteria they use but presumably if its the UN the statistics are based on international standards. I intially tried and failed miserably to find this information on the 2001 Census website. Blogging can be so educational… I've learnt what an SUV is, the mpg efficiency of the RR and what a chassis is. And that was comment #93, I wonder what the record number of comments is for any one entry.

    17 May 2005, 23:59

  95. Damn you Sean!I was going to be comment #93!

    18 May 2005, 00:01

  96. That's a bit harsh, it's only a number…

    18 May 2005, 00:17

  97. Excuse me: that was meant to read: damn you Sean! I was going to be comment #93! :-) … Only three away from 100… Goodnight, all and sundry!

    18 May 2005, 00:25

  98. Just thought of something else too. Any future changes in legislation will be published long before they're brought into effect. Take the EU emissions directives. From launch, the Td5 engine was EU2 compliant (in fact, Td5 so far exceeded the EU2 requirements that at launch, it didn't even require a catalytic converter – the benefit of a catalyst on a cool-burning diesel which doesn't really get it up to operating temperature is a whole other debate however). In 2001, the EU3 standard was brought into force, and so Td5 was re-engineered to meet the new standards. They increased the injection pressure, added inlet idle throttling, modified the EGR system to force more exhaust gas back through the combustion process at idle, and made a few other changes as well.

    My point is that when legislation is brought into force, production vehicles will comply with it. 10 years ago, it was unthinkable that a diesel engine would ever comply with the standard now known as EU3. 2 or 3 years ago, no engine could ever comply with the EU4 standard which comes into effect soon – manufacturers have developed post-combustion burn technology to reburn particulate emissions, and now it's possible for current engines to meet and exceed these requirements. What makes you think that any future legislative requirements will be impossible to meet when they come into force?

    18 May 2005, 00:26

  99. John Dale

    Let's look at this pedestrian safety rubbish another way though.

    At this point, I leave the debate. If you really think that pedestrian safety is "rubbish", and that the right way to solve the problem of pedestrian injuries is to remove all pedestrians from the roads then we have no more common ground to discuss, and I'm disappointed that an interesting discussion has descended into arrogant stupidity.

    18 May 2005, 09:17

  100. No, you've misinterpreted – I didn't say pedestrian safety was rubbish, I meant this particular piece of legislation was pedestrian safety rubbish.

    Removing pedestrians from the road does seem like an ideal solution to the problem quite frankly, however it's not practical. A far better solution is, as I suggested, to focus far more on educating people that roads are dangerous places for walking around. When I was at school, I think we had one assembly once on crossing the road safely, and that's about it. I guess the owness is placed on parents.

    You can impose as much legislation as you like on car manufacturers, but the things you've suggested are completely impossible for the likes of lorries and buses; I should say being hit by a bus is probably worse for you than being hit by an SUV even with the current design of vehicles.

    18 May 2005, 12:02

  101. Holy Crap!

    18 May 2005, 12:34

  102. "I'm disappointed that an interesting discussion has descended into arrogant stupidity."

    John – I thought that was how the argument started, nevermind ending up here!

    18 May 2005, 12:35

  103. Sean – some more good points. The pedestrian safety issue is a bit of a contentious one, and you are quite right to point out that we should be looking to educate people better to avoid pedestrian collisions as well in the first place. However, the fact that the accidents shouldn't happen doesn't mean that they will stop. In the same way, manufacturers are continually making vehicles safer with air bags, crumple zones etc, although accidents are mostly caused by human error. From the weblink you gave, it is shown that some off-roaders are pedestrian friendly, more so than many cars, and so the problem is one that can be solved by design. We should therefore not have much to fear from any legislation. You also rightly point out that manufacturers will have adequate time to adapt their products to encompass new regulations.

    Alex – we all continue to learn things every day! Interesting stats on urbanisation… 89% is still quite high, although given that over 10% of the population are in one city alone I can quite easily believe it. Poor souls, you don't know what you're missing in the lovely countryside ;-)

    John – if you have truly left this debate, then I'm sorry to see you go. I was quite enjoying your contributions. I'd urge you to reconsider if you are reading this, because I don't think Sean's slightly dubious wording was meant in the way you read it (see comment #100).

    18 May 2005, 16:05

  104. On a final note:


    21 May 2005, 17:28

  105. Haha! :-) Whatever floats your boat Zhou. Always been a bit weak for ladies myself, but who am I to judge others? ;-)

    21 May 2005, 18:11

  106. Read your link Zhou and it all sounds rather exhaust-ing…...

    21 May 2005, 21:50

  107. Matt, I know you still have two exams which you're concerned about and so you're probably not in the best frame of mind right now, but all the same that pun was absolutely inexcusable!

    21 May 2005, 21:54

  108. By the way Alex, in reference to comment #94, I reckon this has to be in the running for most comments! Though why people continue to bother to comment on it still is beyond me… Inane drivel that most of the comments are.

    23 May 2005, 15:13

  109. Great balls of… gigantic galactic infernal stellar incandescence!

    23 May 2005, 20:15

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