Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Are all 4x4s the same?

We receive many emails from 4x4 owners who have been ticketed. Most are strongly defensive about their 'freedom' to buy and drive whatever they want, as if their materialist value was a democratic right. Some people argue that they have a genuine need for 4-wheel drive, and were wrongly ticketed. And some criticize us for 'tarring all 4x4 owners with the same brush'.

So, the question is, are all 4x4s the same? Should we in fact be recommending one 4x4 over the others based on it's environmental or safety credentials? This was the question posed to us last month when we were invited to visit Honda's environmental manager. John Kingston wanted to discuss the new generation (cleaner and greener) Honda CR-V. Their position was not all 4x4s are the same and the CR-V was the best one. And would we please remove any mention of the CR-V from our parking tickets (mentioned in the emissions table)?

Interestingly, we had gone wanting to find out why Honda was one of the auto manufacturers suing the State of California for introducing new legislation limiting CO2 emissions. You see, our argument is: If an auto manufacturer wants to be seen as green, then it's important that as a whole they reduce the overall CO2 emissions of their car fleet. You can't simultaneously promote more 4x4s that emits 220 gmCO2 /km and hope to reduce your overall fleet emissions to 120 gmCO2/km with a few hybrid sales (which emit around 108 gmCO2 /km).

The argument we make is this. Based on the overwhelming and urgent scientific evidence about climate change, and including the findings in the Stern Report this week, and remembering that all of the manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to reduce their CO2 emissions to 120gm/km by 2012, why are most auto makers continuing to agressively advertise 4x4s which emit from 220 up to 380(gm CO2/km)? Their fundamental integrity has to be questioned.

We need solutions to our environmental crisis if we are going to survive as a species. We have to put aside our fairytale dreams and face the facts.

Needless to say, Honda is apparently supplying new CR-V's with a windscreen sticker that says something to the tune of 'Please don't ticket my Honda - Not all 4x4s are the same'. Well, aren't they?