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What would Jesus drive?

By neilb@uk ·
Last night on the UK?s Channel 4 we had a TV documentary that was part of a series covering global warming. This particular hour covered the love of Americans for the car and, in particular, the current craze for "gas-guzzling" SUVs. During the program we had interviews with the committed on both extremes of the SUV-lovers spectrum but very little from those in the middle.

The programme pointed out that In the US, by the end of the 20th century, overall vehicle economy had dropped to its lowest level in 20 years. "Two decades of fuel-saving technologies, that could have helped curb carbon dioxide emissions, have instead gone into increasing vehicle weight and performance".

To my amazement, I learned that the US government waves them on with tax breaks. This is because SUVs are modelled on the frames of commercial vehicles. In other words, as far as the US taxman is concerned, they're really trucks.

They are unsafe ? at least to any car or pedestrian that they crash into. Like an arms race, as more drivers choose heavier and heavier SUVs, those who choose lighter cars are in more danger and, as SUVs are classed as trucks, they don?t have to pass the same safety checks as a normal car. The narrower SUVs roll over four times more easily than a normal car, for instance.

SUVs - 4WD over here - are getting popular here with the middle classes and are starting to cause resentment amongst some groups. London?s Mayor is trying to charge them extra to get into the centre of London (we already pay ?5 per day for driving in the city centre), Paris has declared them ?totally unacceptable? and Rome is to treble the permit rate for SUVs to enter the city. The only reason that we don?t have as many 4WDs as the US is that it costs $90 or more to fill a fuel tank on one.

Eleven percent of world oil consumption is to provide gas for US cars.

I know there are some people who regularly write on this forum who do not believe in Global Warming ? or at least in Man?s contribution to it. However, just in case they are wrong, isn?t there a good case for the US to try and reduce gas consumption as it would have a number of good effects:

Reduce your balance of payments.

Reduce your reliance on Middle East oil.

Reduce carbon emissions ? just in case!

Make the rest of the world like you a little more after Kyoto.

It?s generally believed in the UK that the US, generally, cares very little about the environment and global warming. However, I?m not after a flaming and I?m just asking for some input. Is our perception justified? Was the program right in its conclusion that US gas consumption is spiralling out of control ? possibly taking the Earth?s climate with it?

Thanks

Neil

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In the immortal words of

by maecuff In reply to What would Jesus drive?

The Screaming Blue Messiahs... Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge..

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Jesus would ride his bike more often!

by Jessie In reply to What would Jesus drive?

As an American, I don't hate SUVs, they have their place. I just hate the people who drive them because they're the current status symbol. I'm not a "tree hugger" by nature, but I see no reason to purchase a vehicle that gets at best 20mpg on the highway, when all you're going to do with it is haul the kids to soccer practice and haul your groceries home.

As far as I'm concerned, it's like using a sledge hammer to pound in a thumbtack... it's overkill.

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Economics

by JamesRL In reply to What would Jesus drive?

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the cost of fuel in UK and the potential for that to be one of the deciding factors.

In Canada, despite the fact we are a net exporter of gas, we put a lot of taxes on gas, and its somewhat more expensive here than in the US. So while we have much of the same geographic drivers as the US, we tend to have more economy cars and minivans versus SUVs. This despite the fact that the "average" Canadian experiences more snow than the "average" American.

You will find that if you look at sales figures, the ultra guzzlers like the Expedition and the Suburban are descreasing in sales, while the smaller SUVs with 4 cylinders are increasing (Honda CRV, Toyota RAV 4 etc). Thats in response to the spike in prices due to the Iraq war, so its too early to see if its a long term trend.

And hybrids like the Prius also have very long waiting lists in the US and Canada.

So its not as bleak as that program portrays. But perhaps its not improving as fast as I might like.

James

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Americans are not a single person

by Dennis.Rhine In reply to What would Jesus drive?

It is interesting to see how people are perceiving the American public with regards to the question of environmental protection and transportation. We get a lot of bad press - justifiable - for not signing on to the Kyoto Accords. We are known for driving SUV's that get terrible fuel economy. However, at this year's Detroit Auto Show there were more hybrids and alternative fuel cars than ever before. Trying to purchase a hybrid car often takes months due to the number of people waiting in line to buy.

Odd, isn't it? It seems that people gathering at the poles in this question of transportation. I would prefer to see us develop a better public transportation system for local transport. I would also like to see us sign on to the Kyoto accords (and a few other UN sponsored treaties).

Just remember when you are watching the news - there is a whole range of people in all countries, including the US :)

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I'm not judging any of you

by neilb@uk In reply to Americans are not a singl ...

I merely wanted to find out if the program was showing the real picture or was slanted.

To borrow some more ammunition from channel 4, surely simple economics states that if you can't buy a hybrid/alternative car then you aren't making enough. Is is that (maybe) most of them are Japanese. Perhaps US manufacturers are not yet tooled up for this type of car and don't have the designs and don't perceive the need?

If I, as a dealer or manufacturer, were able to make/sell a hulking great Hummer or some sort of baby Honda car that ran on cooking oil then which would I choose?

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Comments

by JamesRL In reply to I'm not judging any of yo ...

Its true that Japanese manufacturers are ahead in Hybrid technology. They tend to make the best conventional cars in terms of mileage as well.

Ford is selling an SUV hybrid - the Ford Escape - which gets good mileage. GM is selling "mild" hybrid pickups which get slightly better (10%) mileage - but if everyone got 10% better mileage the world would be a much better place.

There are alternatives to buying a new hybrid. A new Toyota Echo gets great mileage. The New Jeep Liberty Diesel will get outstanding mileage for an SUV.

And dealers will sell what the consumer is buying. Right now Hummers are not selling well at all.

James

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Neil after working for a car maker

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I'm not judging any of yo ...

They would chose the one which made the most money for them.

All manufactures are greedy Bar stewards!

But the Japanese Hybrid cars are really nothing new as Dr Porsche developed this type of thing prior to WW11 to drive a lot of the German Military equipment around. Even today all the heavy earthmoving equipment used in Europe has to be electrically operated for pollution reduction purposes. But really they can have smaller motors that are more fuel efficient and still get the same job done.

If you like I can send you a picture of a machine that is used to remove earth in massive amounts it has 16 buckets on it which each pick up 20 cubic feet of soil at a time and the head spins at about 2,000 RPM's. The thing is truly massive and is used quite a lot in Europe. It has 4 little cranes on its sides which are only capable of lifting 40 tons each.

Col

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Of course you're judging

by maxwell edison In reply to I'm not judging any of yo ...

.
Don't be silly. Of course you're judging those people in the United States. Otherwise you wouldn't have made the comments that you did -- especially taken out of the full context.

You were especially judging with your self-righteous "abundance" comments.

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I wasn't originally

by neilb@uk In reply to Of course you're judging

But I am now.

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Generalization

by jdmercha In reply to What would Jesus drive?

Here is what I think the general American perspective is. (Not necessariliy my opinions.) And yes it varires widely from one individual to the next.

"Reduce your balance of payments."
Wouldn't you drive a large car if you could afford it? There's nothing like the sound and power of a good old American V8.

"Reduce your reliance on Middle East oil."
We can buy gas 24 hours a day. We have some of the lowest gas prices in the world. By the time it becomes a serious problem here, we will just convert to natual gas or fuel cells.

Reduce carbon emissions ? just in case!
Can't see it, it doesn't exist.

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