Thursday, August 23, 2007

Please send Us More Anti-SUV songs!

You know, we are always on the lookout for more songs about SUVs. We've posted a few on our myspace page, sent by friends who find the large gas-guzzlers equally insane.

The latest is sent by Russ Buchanan and is titled 'Me and My SUV'. We like his style - he writes about his encounter over dinner with a couple who were proud of buying a Hummer:

" I'm eating dinner at a friend's house when another guest starts talking about how much he loves his new Hummer -- the feeling of safety he gets behind the wheel, how surprisingly well it handles, how "babes dig it," and so on. The other guests continued to eat and nod politely, seemingly uninterested in Mr. Hummer's glowing SUV report. But I was getting agitated, not only by his choice of vehicle, but by his assumption that we would all think driving a gas-swilling Devil-mobile was a swell thing to do. In fact, it was almost like he thought his testimonial might even prompt some of us to rush out and buy one after dessert. I was a guest, though, and it wouldn't have been fair to my host if I had confronted the guy about his idiotic choice in automobiles before the main course had even been served. As it turned out, however, I was powerless over my rage. I guess I had just seen one too many of these beasts careening through L.A.'s yellow haze, burning oceans of $3.00-per gallon gasoline, while listening to the radio in my Corolla tell me about freak tornadoes, melting ice shelves and U.S. military invasions of oil-rich countries.

I waited until he finished his ode, then I washed down a mouthful of pasta, looked at him and his wife across the table and said, "What in God's name makes you think it's OK to drive something so selfish and destructive?" His jaw dropped. "Y'know," I continued, "I really believe that people who drive Hummers or Escalades or any of those monstrosities can be divided into two main groups, people who are dumb as asphalt and people who don't give a shit and are just plain selfish." (There is actually a third group -- people who really need a giant, powerful four-wheeler for work or to haul around large, very fat families who live on mountain tops, but their percentage is so small they don't really qualify as a group) Somebody mumbled, "C'mon, Russ, we're trying to have dinner, for God's sake," but I think most of the group actually wanted to hear how Polution-boy would respond. So did i. He still looked dumbfounded but his wife was starting to look a little homicidal around the eyes. I continued my assault. "It's not like global warming, rising gas prices and smog are big secrets these days, huh? And when you throw in other little tidbits like nobody being able to see around your giant butt, and the fact that your behemoth-on-wheels will make pudding out of anybody unlucky enough to be hit by it -- well, you tell me, is that the automobile of a caring, smart person?" "Hey, it's none of your business what we drive," growled the wife. She was ready to rumble. But her husband's expression, which had gone from surprise to one of hurt and self doubt, is what finally made me shut up. The awful realization hit me. This guy, apparently bright, professional -- this new commander of eight thousand pounds of testosterone-replacement therapy -- was now, for the very first time, entertaining the thought that purchasing and driving a Hummer might not have been the best choice. And the weird thing was, he really seemed to care..."

Maybe if more of us had the courage to confront others instead of being polite we could make a real difference?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New C-Charge Consultation in London - Charge Gas Guzzlers More

You may have seen / read an article over the weekend, or in yesterday's Evening Standard about the new Emissions-influenced Congestion Charge Proposal for London.

At the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, we wholeheartedly support this proposal. We submitted a report to the GLA last summer recommending this move to CO2 emissions, rather than try to pick out 4x4s alone. We also believe there is strong support for the new measure. When we conducted a poll in 2005 with Greenpeace, we asked over 5,400 people, 'Should large Gas Guzzlers be charged more (£20)?', and over 85% responded yes!

The new C Charge proposal is thus:

* To switch the C Charge from a system based on engine size to one of CO2 emissions. This would follow the established VED tax bands. It would also follow the lead from several London councils switching their annual parking rates to a system based on carbon emissions.

* Vehicles in the lowest bands A-B would be allowed in to the zone for free. Currently only electric and 'alternatively powered vehicles' are allowed in free.

* Vehicles in Bands C-F would continue to be charged a daily rate of £8. Pre-2001 vehicles under 3000cc would be charged similarly at £8

* The most polluting Band G vehicles (which includes the majority of new 4x4s) would be charged £25 per day.

* Significantly, large hybrid 4x4s that still emit over 200 gm/km CO2 would be charged as a Band F vehicle, rather than being allowed in free, as they are currently.

You can read more about the proposal on the TfL website.

If you would like to submit your views on the proposal, you can do so online.

In case you happened to read the negative comments in yesterday's Evening Standard from the Green GLA member Jenny Jones, the criticisms can easily be dismissed. Her views are not reflective generally of other Greens and environmental groups, by the way.

Jenny reportedly suggested that allowing band B vehicles in for free would encourage more travel and make Central London more congested. But I've checked. Sales of the small band A and B vehicles account for only 3-4% of the market sales in the UK. Admittedly this was nearer to zero % a few years ago, and both the concern for alternative vehicles with low CO2 emissions and better fuel efficiency, as well as discounts for traveling into the C-Charge zone, has increased sales. The other point is that in the real world, people will not simply give up their cars. We need to understand how people change. What is needed now is a real carrot and stick approach that provides incentives for would-be buyers to purchase smaller, lighter and less damaging vehicles. At the same time we need more clear measures to discourage the manufacture sales and purchasing of larger, heavier, thirstier and more polluting vehicles. The new C Charge proposal offers both - simultaneously continuing to address congestion whilst also addressing a real need to reward people for making smarter choices.

Next we need to see better and cheaper public transport. And possibly a rebate for cycling in to London regularly?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

4x4s Are Depreciating Faster Due to High Volumes

4x4 Volumes lead to reduced demand and faster depreciation.

30th July 2007 (Source: CAP )

Retail demand for used 4x4s is flagging, while new figures show that depreciation has been significantly steeper than in other vehicle sectors over the past two years, according to new research by CAP.

It means that the typical 'heavy' off-roader registered three years ago has lost an average 33 per cent of its value over the last two years, compared with less than 25 per cent for an average medium-sized family car.

Smaller 'lifestyle' 4x4s - the so-called 'soft-roaders' - have fared even worse, with average depreciation of 35 per cent over the period, according to CAP Black Book, the benchmark used car values guide used by Britain's top dealer groups, 48 out of the 50 biggest fleets and the major financial institutions.

Contributing to the tougher market conditions for 4x4s are increased fuel costs and taxation changes but dealers also identify the decline in demand for off-roaders this year as due to a growing image problem brought about by negative media publicity.

Every used car dealer questioned in research during July reported reduced demand for secondhand 4x4s this year, compared with 2006 and universally attributed the reduction to 'negative publicity'. But CAP believes this is just one of a range of factors, led by high volumes which have reduced the image of exclusivity enjoyed by many off-roaders.

CAP's figures show how large and smaller 4x4s have performed in comparison with other vehicle sectors over the past two years(Sector, Avg. July 05, Avg. July 07, %Movement):

Lower Medium 6,291 4,750 -24.49%
Mini MPV 6,714 4,769 -28.97%
MPV (All) 8,589 6,428 -25.16%
Small Exec 13,722 10,283 -25.06%
Super Mini 4,405 3,509 -20.34%
Upper Medium 7,265 5,356 -26.27%
Small 4x4 10,651 6,876 -35.44%
Large 4x4 18,511 12,396 -33.04%

Taking a one year old car in July 2005 and tracking its depreciation over the following two years, CAP analysts demonstrated that 4x4s have lost their value more quickly during the period than any other sector.

Many used car dealers are currently reluctant to acquire 4x4s speculatively for stock and prefer to have a retail customer already lined up before buying one in the trade.

Although it is tempting to attribute the under-performance of 4x4s in the current marketplace to changes in taxation announced earlier this year, CAP believes that the chief reason is supply outstripping demand.

Black Book Valuation Relationship Manager, Robert Hester, said: "The taxation issue is something of a red herring. These vehicles enjoyed huge popularity in recent years and now that many are returning to the used market there is insufficient demand to keep prices strong. There is also something of an image problem for off-roaders in our cities but in general the issue is volume. They have gradually lost their image of exclusivity and have therefore become victims of their own success."