Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Alliance group launches in Bristol!

We're very happy to announce yet another Alliance group. Bristol officially launched on Saturday 27th January on the College Green. Over 20 supporters attended the event.
David Rose, the group's organiser, commented: "The question is this - are we as a society doing anything meaningful to slow down climate change when you can still legally park and drive a huge, fuel-inefficient Range Rover in Clifton, just for shopping trips and the school run?"
Well, we certainly don't think so. We find it ironic how many 4x4 drivers write to tell us all the good things they are doing for the planet. Hmmm...they just don't get it, do they!

Friday, January 26, 2007

What is wrong with 4x4s?

We got this passionate email from Michael C., who lives on the Isle of Man.

"We are all quite rightly told to our bit to help the environment, yet car manufacturers still produce these apalling vehicles and everyday they are advertised on TV and there are more and more turning up on our roads everyday.

I live on the Isle of man which is 37 miles long and 12 miles wide and we have something like 6 to 7 cars out of 10 with extremely large engine capacities and people come here from all over the world for tax reasons, bringing these dreadful vehicles with them. Our population has increased drastically and our roads are getting worse!

I have always been close to nature from walking in parks to the countryside and i see changes, not just in our climate but in the plants and animals, particularly the birds and none of what i see is good. I see trees becoming increasingly mossy where birds used to nest and now there is no nests.

I honestly believe we are destroying our world and we need to do something about it before it's too late.I believe reducing engine sizes would be a great step forward and would be very easy to do. But for reasons unknown to me, no one will take the iniative to do it. The only thing i can think of is possibly protecting the revenue gained from selling more petrol or diesel. As far as i can see they will keep on producing these dreadful vehicles for generations to come, assuming the generations survive what is clearly coming with regard to climate change.

The only people i can think of that may need a 4 wheel drive are the emergency services like mountain rescue or the coast guards, not people picking there kids up from school or going shopping, or going to work. What is wrong with people? Big Vehicles have the disadvantage of:

1. A person in a smaller car, stuck behind one of these can't see to the left or right because of their width, or in front of them because of their height thus they cause blind spots and jeopardise road safety.
2. The volumes of pollution have been linked to childhood asthma.
3. The volumes of pollution are bound to affect climate.
4. If you park 3 of these big vehicles in a street they take up the same space as about 5 smaller cars, and many places have a car parking crisis as it is.
5. If these large vehicles hit a child or a pedestrian, they don't stand much chance of surviving.
6. If these large vehicles are in collision with a smaller car, the driver of the smaller car usually sustains the most injuries.
7. Due to their lower milage ratings, the have a bigger drain on the earths oil resources.
8. They cost a lot more to run, insure and tax.
9. The tyres are so big they use more rubber to make them ( This again is a waste of earth resources)
10. Their weight damages road surfaces, causing more expense to people paying taxes.
There are more, but the point is these cars are unnecessary and thats a high price to pay.

Basically the main reason people buy these large vehicles is to make themselves look better than anyone else. it is used as a fashion accessory at the expense of the children's health, the climate and the earths resources and the air we breathe! Can anyone tell me if i'm wrong about this?"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How Reliable Are 4x4s, Really?

Well, in another blow to the 4x4 industry, a new survey by Warranty Direct reveals that 4x4s aren't really that reliable. Off-road specialist, Jeep, has come bottom in arguably the world's largest ever study into car reliability, just ahead of another 4x4- maker, Land Rover.

Almost one in every two (46 percent) of the American 4x4 giant's models recorded a mechanical failure during a given twelve-month period. That figure was nearly six times worse than Mazda, which topped the table with a frequency of failure of just 8.04 percent.

The study by the independent automotive warranty specialist looked at more than 450,000 vehicles, across 33 manufacturers, from the UK and the USA. Only two non-Far East manufacturers made it into the top ten - the BMW-owned, but Oxfordshire-built, MINI, and French player, Citroen, scoring ninth and tenth places respectively.

The unique Warranty Direct reliability league table was based on the number of failures reported for every 100 policies sold to owners of vehicles aged 3-9 years old. Vehicles analysed were available in both UK and US markets.

Korean manufacturer, Kia, proved that budget does not necessarily mean corner cutting when it comes to reliability. The rising star of world motoring was fifth in the table with an incidence rate of 17.4 percent.

BMW (18th) was placed at the head of Germany's 'Big Three' of Mercedes (20th) and Audi, which was languishing in 27th spot.

"The performance of some of the worlds largest manufacturers in terms of reliability is there for all to see," said Duncan McClure Fisher, managing director, Warranty Direct. "Off-road may mean rugged, but the data suggests that it may not always stand for reliability if you consider the specialists."

"This is unique data based on real cars, driving real miles, over the past five years. It is the kind of information manufacturers would probably rather you didn't see."

The reliability of the UK's top five selling makes does not necessarily reflect their status amongst the car buying populace. The nation's number one choice, Ford, was 14th, followed by Vauxhall in 19th, Volkswagen in 23rd, Renault in 29th and Peugeot the best of the bunch in 13th.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New MySpace Page - It's My Choice mp3

Have you ever wondered what we do with all of the negative, pro-4x4 emails we receive? Well, we recycle them. Late last year we picked 10 winners and put them to spoken word in regional dialects. Andy produced them with some hip swaying beats to dance to. You can now listen to 4x4 drivers defending their freedom of choice on our new MySpace page. Feel free to play it at parties. We'll even be happy to send you the file if you want it for your phone.
If you want to produce another mp3 for us please reach out to us as they say in the USA. We want to get as many people involved and spread the message.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why we should support emissions-led parking rates

As a co-founder of the campaigning group Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, and a Camden resident, I welcome the news that Camden Council is making plans to charge highly polluting cars more (Come in 4x4s, your time is up, Camden New Journal, 11 Jan). There has been so much news coverage about climate change and how urgently we need to tackle it sooner rather than later. And yet it seems like everyone is either waiting to be told what to do, or once told, we are quick to point our finger at someone else, or we’re decidedly not bothered one way or the other. This is therefore a heroic decision on the Council’s part, and we should support them.

It’s interesting to see the similarities between America and the UK in their response to dealing with climate change. In America, over 358 cities have signed up to the US Mayor’s Climate Change Initiative, agreeing to meet the Kyoto goal by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 7% by 2012. Meanwhile, the Bush Government has poured money into research and believes technology will solve the problem (while at the same time arguing that taking action now would lead to higher energy prices and the loss of 5 million jobs).

Similarly, in the UK it is the Councils who are beginning to show real leadership. For example, Woking Council reduced their CO2 emissions by 77% by switching to locally produced distributed energy systems. The engineer in charge, Alan Jones, was so successful that Mayor Livingstone pinched him from Woking to work on reducing the CO2 emissions in London. Similarly, Richmond Council passed a resolution Monday night to change their parking permits so that now they will charge residents on a sliding scale according to the level of CO2 emissions their car produces. Residents will also be charged more for parking a second car. This emissions-led parking initiative puts the responsibility for climate change squarely in the residents’ hands. If they decide to drive a larger, less efficient vehicle, then they must also accept responsibility for the CO2 that their vehicle choice produces. If they choose to drive a smaller, more efficient vehicle, then they will pay less. There are real rewards for those brave enough to drive an electric car. As more residents decide to drive smaller cars, the Council’s CO2 emissions will decrease. Besides Camden, this plan is also being discussed in Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Islington, and Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, following my USA-UK analogy, there has been a real absence of any significant action by the Blair government to tackle transport, which accounts for 25% of our UK CO2 emissions. Transport is the only sector where CO2 levels are on the rise. And yet the government wants to build more roads and expand the airports. The Prime Minister and Gordon Brown say that they want to protect the economy. But I find this approach worrying. Even the Stern Report, commissioned by the UK Treasury last year, found an economic case for acting now, even if it was costly, because the costs of doing nothing will be far greater in the future.

This brings me to business and the auto manufacturers. There is a real push in the EU now to put binding regulations on the auto industry so that they design and build more efficient cars which produce less CO2. The manufacturers often counter by saying there isn’t a demand for efficient vehicles. The demand is for heavier and more powerful cars, such as 4x4s. Of course, we don’t see much advertising being splashed around making small efficient cars sexy, rugged and cool, but maybe we should if we want to save the planet. Maybe car manufacturers need to take more risks, be more creative, and think outside the ‘internal-combustion’ box.

With Richmond’s lead, and the Mayor’s proposed Congestion Zone charges based on CO2, we may well see people changing their lifestyle choices. And while we may not feel that Camden Council’s decision to charge more for gas-guzzlers is fair, I think it’s important to remember that there is a bigger picture called climate change which needs all of us to do all that we can.