Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The 4x4 Industry is on the Defensive

Autocar today released a statement on 4x4 cars which illustrates the poor standard of motoring journalism today.Far from busting myths, the report by Autocar wheels out out the same weak arguments the motor industry has been giving us for years. Their statement tries the old trick of naming a couple of examples of 4x4s that 'aren't too bad'and takes no account of recent evidence that the increasing number of big 4x4s on our roads is causing real problems.Alliance spokesperson Sian Berry said, "Autocar shows whose interests it serveswhen it says 'The SUV is an important product for the motor industry'. It is true that the profit margin on a 4x4 is far higher than for a normal car,but speaking for the manufacturers isn't Autocar's job. They should be standing up for consumers, who deserve cleaner, safer and more economical cars, and wantto hear the truth from the motoring press."Unlike Autocar, the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s has no vested interests, apartfrom being concerned about safety and the environment, and there are very goodgrounds for criticising urban 4x4s on both these issues.There have been two recent reports from official Government sources that haveshown clearly the damage the rising popularity of 4x4s is doing.- In March, the Transport Research Laboratory blamed the increasing mismatch between the size and weight of vehicles on the road for a 1% rise in peoplekilled in accidents last year, reversing a long-term decline in road deaths.The report directly attributed the deaths of 20 people a year in small cars tothe fashion for big 4x4s. Last week, the Office for National Statistics announced there hasbeen a 50% rise in carbon dioxide emissions due to transport in the UK since1990. They said this can largely be blamed on increased car use and the trendtowards larger and less efficient cars such sa 4x4s. Also this week, Government advisers the Energy Saving Trust proposed much higher road taxes for polluting cars and a new tax band G for vehicles that emit morethan 210 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. The Alliance Against Urban 4x4sis also calling for a new band G (for Gas-guzzler) and almost all 4x4s would fall inside this new band. Every model of 4x4 is now in the existing band F,which is for cars that emit more than 185 g/km of carbon dioxide.