May 30, 2005

Chelsea Tanks

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Just sent this off to the Coventry Observer in response to a letter claiming that the use of 4×4 cars was safe and responsible, That followed a protest against them, in which I took part, at Bablake School Coventry on 12 May.

Despite being a supporter of the protest against big 4×4s used on the school run, I accept that not all 4×4 cars are bad. The Fiat Panda, for example, seems a reasonable sort of car. But large 4×4s are far too big for urban use. Many are only bought as fashion statements by people who never drive off road and don't want to know about the environment or other road users' safety. A tall flat fronted 4×4 striking a child not only hits them on the leg but also on the body and probably on the head as well. Perhaps not so much a Chelsea tractor as a Chelsea tank.
Compare cars from the same manufacturer. The Ford Focus out-performs the Ford Land Rover in every environmental category from fuel consumption, through air pollution to noise. For more details see link

Still it's tough being a parent in these days of pester power. One month your kids want you to drive one sort of car "cos it's sooo cool", the next month the fashion's changed!

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  1. In the real world I live in London (not in Chelsea, mind you), and they are not Tanks!

    It's the Chelsea Tractors!

    Because 4×4s belong on the Farm!

    30 May 2005, 14:00

  2. Some points:

    1. 4×4 refers to a drivetrain configuration. You have at least acknowledged this by suggesting that vehicles such as the Fiat Panda (others include various Mitsubishi and Subaru saloons, Audi Quattro vehicles and the Jaguar X-Type). To say that 4×4s belong on a farm is grossly inaccurate

    2. Your comments on pedestrian safety are also inaccurate. Some off-road vehicles are indeed very bad on pedestrian impact. Even the worst ones however are no worse than many modern normal cars. An Audi A3 for example (probably a vehicle you might approve of, considering it's high fuel economy in 2.0TD form – I have a friend who gets close to 50mpg with his from driving it normally, and will easily hit 60 when driven gently), compact size and low emissions, yet it scores no better in NCAP pedestrian safety tests than a 2002 Range Rover. This suggests that it is a design problem and not a fundamental flaw with the off-road concept, which can be solved by imposing stricter regulation. In any case, it's people that cause over 90% of accidents, so educating both drivers and pedestrians better would perhaps be another way of having a dramatic effect on road deaths.

    3. Your comparison of the Ford Focus and Ford (sic) Land Rover (which Land Rover!) is grossly flawed. The vehicles are entirely different. The Land Rover (whichever one you picked) is likely to have more space (the Discovery has 7 forward facing occupant seats with seat belts, which I'm sorry to say DOES actually make it better for the school run as you can transport 50% more people. The Land Cruiser from Toyota has more seats still, so surely using one vehicle instead of two is a better idea?!). Also, the Land Rover is much more capable for applications like towing. I am involved in a competition called Formula Student, and only a couple of weeks ago a team in America were using a mini-van to tow their car. A gust of wind caught the trailer, the vehicle went out of control into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the highway, and a number of people got killed. If a vehicle such as a Land Rover had been used (most of them have a rated towing capacity of 4 tonnes, the Discovery weighs 2.7 tonnes making it an excellently stable towing vehicle) the accident would likely not have happened. Also there is a huge amount of luggage space in a Discovery, so again you can make one trip instead of two.

    There are many other points I haven't really covered here (for a better analsis check this on my blog, includes some links in the comments which are helpful), but fundamentally, your victimisation of a vehicle because you don't like what it stands for is crass and deeply flawed. Personally, if life has gotten so good in this country that you resort to complaining about how many wheels of someone's car recieve power from the wheels, and protest to other people based on what car they choose to buy, then I think this reflects well on how comfortable society has developed, and badly on your need for an exciting hobby.

    30 May 2005, 14:50

  3. If 4×4s posed no greater risks to other road users, took about the same roadspace and created no more pollution than other cars, I wouldn't complain about them. But they do. This would not be much of a problem if their use was limted to those people who really needed them (e.g. farmers) but that's just not the case.

    The vast majority of 4×4 owners never take their vehicles off road. And they seldom tow things. Which is just as well as:-

    • motor vehicle use on off-road public rights of way is a menace to the peace and tranquility of the countryside and thus harms other users.
    • the roads are congested enough already without drivers towing stuff.

    15–20 years ago the only people who used them were "Sloane Rangers" – the London upper class who either did own agricultural land or liked to pretend they did. Now like designer clothing, every middle/working/chav class "Mr & Mrs. Bucket" wants to pose.

    30 May 2005, 16:58

  4. Ok then, not farms!

    But what really pisses me off is when the larger 4×4s, those that are not used outside of cities, haven't taken their bullbars off!

    If they (god forbid) had an accident at hit a child, then the injuries suffered by the child would be so much more severe than if that bullbar had been removed! There is no need for them in cities.


    30 May 2005, 17:03

  5. Bullbars, while not illegal, have long since been removed from the options list of pretty much every modern off-road vehicle. As to pollution/road space, again you are making two errors – firstly, that all off-road vehicles take up a lot of space on the road (vehicles such as the Honda FR-V and Suzuki Jimny for example are hardly lumbering hulks), and secondly that a large off-road car is any worse than a large saloon car (it isn't really). As an example, compare a BMW 730d to a X5 3.0d. They use the same three litre turbodiesel engine, and the fuel economy is about 2mpg different. Hardly the end of the world! And the footprint of the car on the road isn't that much different either. You consistently make the error that everybody wants a small car, or that everybody's needs can be met by a small car - they can't. If you actually ban Range Rovers along with all luxury off-road vehicles, the first place that all the customers will go is to the Jaguar Dealership for a nice little XJR or something. Which is fine by me really, I love the XJR, it's a fantastic vehicle, but it's not really any smaller or more economical than the Range Rover. You're not going to convince people to buy a Toyota Prius or similar vehicle in place of a good one. You just aren't going to convince people to take a monumental step backward in their lives by getting a crap car instead of a good one. Your arguments are therefore deeply, deeply flawed. Can you really not see this?

    And erm, tranquility of the countryside? You've really never been there have you? Poor, misguided soul…. You really should, it's so lovely. And yes, at times it can be gloriously peaceful and tranquil. However, to suggest that it's all torn up by a little bit of off-roading is, quite frankly, absolute nonsense. There's more than enough countryside for everyone to enjoy it, and in any case I can guarantee you that a Range Rover is far quieter and more economical than what I go off-roading in the countryside in from dawn till after dark every day that I'm at work.

    30 May 2005, 17:47

  6. When I was an engineer I once came across the saying

    an engineer does for a penny what any fool can do for a pound

    This thought intrigued me. Can a software engineer do in a megabyte what any fool can do with a gigabyte? Can an electrical engineer do with a watt what any fool can do with a kilowatt?

    Can an automobile engineer do with a hybrid what any fool can do with a gas guzzler?

    31 May 2005, 10:42

  7. To cut a long story short… No. The laws of physics you see determine what is possible. I'm sure you appreciate this Mr Riches if you used to be an engineer. Thus, if a car is deemed necessary to accelerate from 0–60 in 5 or so seconds, and hit a top speed of 155mph, then a great deal of power is needed, as the car's size is governed by the amount of space the occupants demand. As people and luggage aren't getting smaller, there isn't much scope for reducing the size of cars all that much. While it is possible to make a car the size even of a Jaguar XJ or a BMW 7 series very light, to do so has very adverse effects on stablility with respect to aerodynamics – gusts of wind etc. Thus, you can't really make large, stable and light cars. Power is therefore needed, as the fundamental laws of acceleration are governed by mass. Furthermore, the aerodynamics of a car, while a lot better than they were, are still again governed by the vehicle size, which as discussed can't really get smaller. Thus, hybrid powertrains need to be a lot more powerful than they currently are if they are to fulfil the requirements of the automotive industry (and let us not forget, hybrid powertrains themselves by their very nature are much heavier anyway, having adverse effects on performance, so you need even more powerful hybrid power trains, and also on vehicle handling). In short, hybrids are not a solution for a proper road car. A city car perhaps, but not one designed for extra-urban environments. I'm sure as an engineer you can appreciate this.

    31 May 2005, 13:03

  8. if a car is deemed necessary to accelerate from 0–60 in 5 or so seconds, and hit a top speed of 155mph….

    It's quite inappropriate to use a vehicle capable of 155mph for travel in cities or on rural back roads. Walking or cycling makes much more sense.

    Most people have more than one set of clothes, why not use more than one mode of transport?

    31 May 2005, 16:19

  9. Well you could use that argument I suppose. Have a city car and an extra-urban car, and an off-roader for the country. However, that's then three times as many vehicles to manufacture (the energy costs alone of vehicle manufacture are huge), and the amount of mileage you get from each vehicle before you have faults will decrease, and the vehicle will last a lot fewer number of miles in it's lifetime, because it's life is in part governed by factors like environmental corrosion. Furthermore, using a car once every few months is exceptionally bad for it, as you leave the gearbox sitting around and the oil sinks to the bottom, so when you do go to use the car wear rates increase on these sorts of items. Plus you then have three times as many cars to tax and insure, so from a consumer point of view that does make a most unattractive proposition.

    31 May 2005, 16:37

  10. Why a motor vehicle (as opposed to a bicycle) for journeys of less than five miles?
    Why a vehicle at all for journeys less than a mile?
    Why your own motor vehicle (as opposed to bus or train) for journeys well served by public transport?

    So just using a car for longer journeys, where public transport is inconvenient or where loads have to be carried.

    31 May 2005, 17:15

  11. Simple answers Mr Riches – time, luggage, effort, weather. Why use a car instead of bikes or walking? Well you're exposed to the elements when on a bike. Personally I'd rather not turn up to work/university with my clothes ruffled, possibly dripping wet, and all sweaty and exhausted. Also, what if you have things that you want to take with you, say laptops, briefcases etc? It would take the best part of half an hour to walk a mile or ride 5 miles, I can do those journeys in a car in 2 minutes or 10 minutes max respectively. Commuting by train, if it takes you from near your home to near your destination at the required times makes a bit more sense – commuting by train is a good idea in my opinion. But again, with anything more than a couple of items of hand luggage, trains become insufficient too. And that's only where public transport works conveniently and efficiently – in my entire life, I have yet to live anywhere that has anything like adequate public transport provisions, and the public transport that is provided is cramped and uncomfortable – I much prefer my car seat to a bus seat to be honest, and I don't have to sit next to a nutter with beer on his breath. Admittedly I've always preferred to live in rural areas (where if sufficient bus services were provided, I'm willing to bet it would create probably more pollution than the cars it would stop anyway), but even when I lived in Coventry the nearest bus stop was 15 minutes walk away, then you have to wait for one to turn up, then it takes 10 minutes to get to university in uncomfortable seats with poor ride quality. I could do the same journey in under 5 minutes by car. It's a real no-brainer really…

    31 May 2005, 17:50

  12. Well getting back to the issue of the school run in an urban environment, many of the journeys between home and school are quite practical by foot or cycle.

    But often the kids don't use their feet, which they would like to, and thereby getting some exercise for free, because their parents think the traffic is too dangerous.

    See link

    PS I live in Coventry, 6 miles from Campus. In rush hour the journey takes about 30 minutes whether by bicycle or car. No sweat. I've a briefcase which fits on the back to carry the books. A lot of students would cycle from Leamington if Warwickshire County Council would get off its backside and provide decent cycle tracks alongside the A452 between Leamington & Kenilworth.

    31 May 2005, 18:40

  13. Well the school run debate isn't one I really feel I can knowlegably enter, as I don't have to do it. When I was at school, I was 6 miles away from my primary school, so my mum drove me every day. Once I got to secondary school, there was a school bus arranged specifically as the school was again about 6 or 7 miles away. Once I went to college (10 miles away) I had to get mum to give me a lift to the next village (a couple of miles) to then catch a very poor bus service, until the day I passed my test, after which I drove every day. And I live 17 miles from Campus, in Bishops Itchington. Trust me when I say using the bus isn't practical from here! It takes me about 20 minutes by car (from Leam it's only about 10 minutes, I lived in Kenilworth for part of last year and that journey was a bit under 10 minutes or about 20 to 25 during rush hour). I deliberately avoid rush hour because I cannot stand being held up by/in traffic, but if I do have to drive during rush hour then it takes about 45 minutes from here. And it would take me the best part of 2 hours at least to cycle each way, at which point I'd be dead.

    31 May 2005, 18:43

  14. Chris May

    …if a car is deemed necessary to accelerate from 0–60 in 5 or so seconds [...] then a great deal of power is needed…

    Sure. For a 100KG occupant, the amount of power that's needed, as far as phsyics is concerned, is 9.6 horsepower. The rest is down to the quality of the engineering. (Physics, of course, doesn't care at all what top speed you want, so long as it's less than c; after all, you're already doing 150 thousand MPH relative to the galaxy's centre when you're sat at a red light).

    My point being that the laws of physics, you see do not determine what's actually being done now.

    They might, in some theoretical way, determine ultimately what's possible, but right now it's the constraints of engineering that determine what's actually done. If there was a will to do it, then hybrids, or completely electric cars, or monorails, or any number of other ideas could work more effectively than the current model; the reasons they aren't in use now are political* and not scientific.

    * small-p politics: I'm not talking about what happens in Westminster or Washington

    31 May 2005, 18:44

  15. I make it 10.3 horsepower Mr May but that's academic… You neglect the fact that aside from the need to impart kinetic energy to, say, 5 occupants and their luggage (by which time we're talking more like 600kg), we also need to surround them all in a structure that protects them from the environment and crashes (a lot of the weight in a car now is down to the need to make car bodies stronger), gives them sufficient room, transmits all the forces generated by the tyres effectively (this is referred to as a vehicle's torsional rigidity), overcome the resistance to motion from the air and rolling resistance, and of course the powertrain has to lug itself along. Personally I think the fact that Jaguar can make a spacious, stable vehicle that performs well, transports its occupants in extreme comfort weigh only 1,615kg and yet perform well in a crash something of an achievement. Of course, with further advances in materials and techniques we may be able to reduce this weight yet further. However, looking at the achievement that has already taken place, and the amount of money and technology involved in car design (the aforementioned XJ has even gone to the great trouble of using aluminium as it's construction material in a bit to reduce weight and improve torsional rigidity), I think to suggest that the cars are poorly engineered is a bit of a laughable suggestion. And I come back to my point that cars need to weigh a fair bit, otherwise they would be too unstable!

    31 May 2005, 19:03

  16. Chris May

    Your comments demonstrate exactly what I'm talking about:

    Need a stronger structure to protect them from crashes: how about engineering some systems to prevent them from crashing?

    Transmit all the forces from the tyres: Who said anything about needing tyres?

    Overcome air resistance: Are you aserting that cars represent the most aerodynamic shape possible? Of course not.

    Lug its own powertrain: Why not have the road/rail/transport-surface-of-choice provide the power ?

    …and so on. And of course, we haven't even begun to examine whether or not the current 20% efficiency of an IC engine could be bettered in some way that perhaps isn't such a slave to the Carnot Cycle – so that a 100BHP engine didn't consume 500BHP's worth of fuel.

    I come back to my point that cars, as currently constituted, represent engineers doing their best to make the best of a fundamentally poor method of making the right goods and people be available in the right place at the right time. That's certainly not the fault of physics.

    31 May 2005, 19:44

  17. Systems to prevent cars from crashing – well to truly do that, you'd have to have a serious jump in technology and it's fail-safeness. And even then, I'm pretty certain I wouldn't want it. Driving is about the driver being in control, not R2D2.

    If you don't have tyres, unless you have no contact with the ground at all (at which point you have an aeroplane, and I don't think everybody in a plane is a good idea) then you need some other form of contact with the ground. Round contact devices that rotate are by far and away the most efficient method of contact with the ground, and rubber provides low rolling resistance and a very high grip. You could of course change to magnetic levitation roads, but the problems here are both the expense of building and powering such a road network (horrendously unpractical) and the fact that wherever you don't have a track that's powered you couldn't drive your car.

    Cars are actually pretty aerodynamic. The cross-sectional area is governed by the shape and preferred seating of ocupants (and in the case of off-roaders, ride height). The best cars now have a drag co-efficient of less than 0.3. You're going to struggle to beat that significantly with any shape that's practical.

    Powered roads – we come back to the point about freedom of movement of the vehicle being restricted to where an expensive powered rail has been installed.

    IC engine thermal efficiency is closer to 40% for the best diesels and about 30% for petrols. If you can think of a better cycle than the carnot cycle then please let engineers know after you've patented it for a large sum of money, but more efficient cycles (Stirling engines for example, which are actuially external combustion engines) tend to be large and heavy, and thus not suited to transport. Electrical power generation with the very best steam turbine technology is still only at about 30% efficiency once you take into account transmission losses etc; this fact is rarely acknowledged when discussing electric cars.

    If you think that cars and IC engines are a fundamentally poor method of solving the personal transport problem, then by all means share a better one with us. However, the basic principles of thermodynamics and such that give us ideas like the Carnot cycle are well-understood and developed. New forms of engine are being developed all the time – the current industry investigation includes stratified charge Gasoline Direct Injection, engines that can run on the two or four stroke cycle depending on whether the driver requires power or not. I feel that you've insinuated that engineers are somehow lazy or unimaginative in what they do and I feel put out by that. Please correct me if I'm wrong. My suggestion before you are so critical however is to properly think through how you might do a task better yourself.

    31 May 2005, 20:20

  18. Cars are a mature technology, it's no use hoping for dramatic improvements. If we are going to cut congestion, emissions, energy consumption or deaths we have to change the way people use cars.

    Somehow journey lengths have to be cut.

    31 May 2005, 21:39

  19. Journey lengths have to be cut? You suggest everybody lives closer together? I'm sorry but I'm confused by that…

    01 Jun 2005, 00:22

  20. In aggregate, people make much the same number of journeys today as they did 50 or hundred years ago. To work, shops, places of education or entertainment etc. But steadily the lengths of these journeys has increased.

    Most people walked to work 100 years ago, a lot did 50 years ago, but some had moved further from their work and used bicycles, buses or trams. Nowadays a lot of people live in some anonymous suburban sprawl and work in another anonymous suburban sprawl 50 miles away.

    The same process can be seen with schools. When I were a lad, in London, the overwhelming majority of my class mates arrived at school on foot or by public transport. I'm sure today loads come by car.

    I can think of three ways to make transport less of a burden on the environment, none of which is sufficient on its own:-

    1. Cut journey lengths, by placing workplaces and schools etc. closer to where people live. For example if the areas of Coventry adjacent to Warwick University were made more attractive to students, the proportion of students living a few walking/cycling minutes away from campus would increase.
    2. Make the more environmentally friendly modes of transport more attractive. In particular walking, cycling and public transport. Making cars more environmentally friendly comes in here, although I'm skeptical about the practicality of making much improvement.
    3. Substitute electronic communication for the movement of people.

    01 Jun 2005, 09:27

  21. Chris May

    I'd add a fourth way, though it's really just a fancy variation on your first point; cut down the distance that goods travel during production and retail – less of the spanish strawberries, or bikes where the frame is made in taiwan, the gears in germany, and the whole thing assembled in canada before being shipped to the UK. The problem is that that almost certainly implies a reduction in choice and an increase in price, and so far not very many people are willing to make that sacrifice.

    01 Jun 2005, 09:57

  22. The problem is, centralisation is efficient from a business point of view. Something like a school has something that could be approximated as a critical mass of say 200 students at a primary school, usually about a thousand students at a secondary school, and so on. When you factor in things like choice (different schools cater for different people – I went to what is now a science specialist school; had I been an artist I may have chosen to go to a different school that's 10 miles in the other direction). The same is true of businesses – centralised workplaces are just more efficient, especially with things like design/administration/manufacturing type jobs. When you take into account that the choice of place of habitation is now relevant for both parties in a couple, as both are more likely to be in employment, and also for schools for children as well, this journey length increase is inevitable. People want a job which might only be availiable in a couple of areas, but on the other hand might want to live somewhere else completely. I'd love to work for Jaguar as a design engineer, but I wouldn't want to live within 10 miles of Coventry. I'd be interested to hear your proposals on point two (making other modes more attractive). Working from home could be a partial solution, but for the majority of people because of the nature of their work it's not really an option. And as to the fourth way Mr May, that would require something akin to an import tax, which directly contravenes the principles of free trade.

    01 Jun 2005, 12:09

  23. Chris May

    We don't have free trade now, so it's only an evolution of the current state of affairs.

    But the problem, as I outlined and as you've alluded to, is that people are in general very reluctant to accept a reduction in their freedom of choice in return for a benefit to society. So, for example, you'd like to be able to choose to live somewhere distant where you work, and you'd find it unreasonable to be told that wasn't acceptable.

    It's a slightly odd situation; 50 years ago, as George outlined, the vast majority of people would have considered a 100 mile daily commute patently absurd, rather as we might now regard someone wanting to commute from New York to London every day. But now that we have that freedom, removing it is considered unthinkable – to tell people that if they want to work in Coventry, they have to live there? Can't be done.

    Of course, this isn't restricted to transport – the same is true of our freedom to do more or less anything. Once it becomes acceptable, it's tremedously hard to revoke that privilege again. Not impossible, though – we've given up our freedom to interact anonymously with others (think CCTV, think RIP act), and we've given up our freedom to do some things which are judged unacceptably damaging to society (smoking in public places, drink driving). I don't have any suggestions as to what one should do with that information, I just think it's interesting to note that many of these freedoms of choice that we hold so tightly to are pretty recent innovations that perhaps haven't yet had time to take effect.

    Centralisation is efficient from a business point of view in part because the 'business point of view' rarely takes the full end-to-end costs to society into consideration, largely because those costs are hard-going-on-impossible to calculate. If I buy a bike that's been hand-crafted by a bloke in a shed in Halifax rather than one bolted together on a production line in Taiwan, I'm paying more but I'm getting a product I value more highly, and the bloke in the shed is getting to do a job he loves, rather than having to endure some crappy call-center existence. On the other hand the guy in Taiwan who looks after the production line is out of a job. It'll take a pretty complex ROI model to work out which one of those two possibilities is really 'more efficient' to society as a whole.

    01 Jun 2005, 14:07

  24. Ideas on making other modes more attractive… I really only know about cycling issues. Evidence of the potential for improvement is giving by the fact that the proportion of journeys made by cycle is far greater in countries such as Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland than here.

    A lot of people are put off cycling by the real and perceived dangers of the road network:-

    • As far as the road network is concerned, see link
    • As far as what's in people's heads is concerned, I think cycling training is a good idea. It reduces danger and builds confidence.

    Then there's measures against theft and showers for longer distance commuting.

    01 Jun 2005, 14:16

  25. As for subsiding the transport of goods by not charging the transporter the cost of the damage made to the environment see link

    01 Jun 2005, 14:18

  26. James Ayley

    I've just stumbled upon this forum by mistake, but I couldn't help reading some of the absolute rubbish that has been written here.
    If (heaven forbid) I walked out in front of a car doing 40 mph, let us say a ford focus, then i would end up with my head smashing onto the bonnet and then hitting the windscreen thus resulting in a massive head trauma and therefore killing me.
    If i stepped out infront of a range rover doing 40, i would catch the impact in my torso, massive organ trauma – death! Same out come!
    To say that real 4×4s take up more space is also rubbish, i drive a land rover 90, and can fit it in smaller spaces than alot of other small cars.
    One more point, how many people do you know that have been hit by a lorry while driving their small car and survied to tell the tale? An artic lorry hit my old 110 land rover and i drove it home! They are safe, this is why they are so good for the school run.

    16 Jan 2006, 12:49

  27. It's not exactly the 4×4 bit that's the problem. It's the size – usually they are bigger than most cars and so hog precious city space, it's the low fuel consumption and the lack of visibility. Often the drivers have obstructed vison and can't see the child they reverse into.

    16 Jan 2006, 13:20

  28. I would contest all of your points though George; for a start the points you criticise 4×4s for are far from universally applicable to them. If you check the sales figures, you'll see that some of the biggest selling 4×4's are unsurprisingly the cheaper ones, such as the Honda CRV and Land Rover Freelander. As an example, the CRV has a wheelbase of 4615mm against, say, a 5 door mondeo's length of 4731mm, so I hardly see an argument that they take up more space on our roads than equivalent conventional car counterparts. Fuel economy too you're on shaky ground – there's less than 2mpg difference between a 7-series and an X5 on official combined cycle figures (34.4 vs 32.8) with an identical 3 litre diesel engine fitted. If you compare like with like on all of the engineering, market and function grounds there is relatively little between the 4×4 or conventional car. And I'd say that visibility from a tall Range Rover with large glass areas is better than modern saloons with chunky A, B and C pillars, shallowly raked windscreen and rear window, and low down seating position.

    16 Jan 2006, 13:36

  29. I'd bow to your greater knowledge about cars. I must admit I have trouble telling one from another.

    There's a sense in which the campaign against 4×4's was a sort of "shot across the bows" of the motor industry, warning manufacturers that if the label "environmentally / pedestrian unfriendly" could be made to stick on their products they'd be in trouble.

    16 Jan 2006, 19:21

  30. It's interesting to hear you say that. I'm actually a lot more concerned that it signifies that the movement of those campaigining for "social justice", who wish to enforce their ideals on the world, have finally found that hiding behind the banner of environmentalism allows them to pick up a lot more support than they would otherwise. I remain convinced that the real driver (pun not intended) behind the anti-car, and in particular anti-SUV movement is driven not by those with environmental ideals, rather people to which the image of the SUV or luxury car as a statement of wealth and class is vulgar and unpalatable. The SUV has taken the biggest hit so far because of it's sheer presence and statement of wanton consumption is the easiest to target and ridicule from a variety of perspectives.

    16 Jan 2006, 20:00

  31. I've never heard of anyone dying due to someone else's consumption of fine food and wine. People are killed by other people's use of cars.

    The consumption of some products doesn't seem to have much direct impact on anyone but the consumer, but the consumption of other do. It's all about what economists call social costs.

    As for this class thing – perhaps for some it is a way of sneering at Chav aspirations! Chunky jewelry – chunky cars!

    16 Jan 2006, 20:47

  32. Are you suggesting that because I aspire to own a raft of great cars I am in some way associated with Chavs? Hmmm, not sure I like that!

    16 Jan 2006, 21:15

  33. Student

    I go to the school that the protest was held and i noticed that you where stoppin 4×4 that have lower fuel consumptions than the mini cooper e.g. BMW X3 and you did turn the turning circle into a small traffic jam.

    06 Mar 2006, 20:25

  34. It goes on and on … see link

    11 Mar 2006, 14:14

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