Chelsea Tractors - the end?

As hateful as I find the stupid SUVs, the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s seem to be taking the piss a bit. They’re campaigning against the housewives who ponce around in their stupid SUVs, apparently on the grounds of the environment and safety.

Living in London as I do you see more and more 4x4s on the road — and as a driver of a smaller car (well, lower to the ground, anyway) — having a dirty great big car cut you up, or obscure your view on a roundabout is a right pain. Plus, who really needs a SUV in bloody Edgware? It’s daft, a poncy status symbol that’s almost as poncy as the plethora of personalised registration plates around here. (Except that hateful as personalised plates are, they don’t actually cause me grief directly).

The AAU4 seem to be on another planet though. Their militant style is frankly appalling and huge sweeping claims like :

I drive a ‘fuel efficient’ diesel 4x4 - You may do less damage to the climate and your pocket than other petrol guzzling 4x4s, but you produce several times more smog and illness-causing NOx and PM10 emissions. 24,000 people die from the effects of poor air quality in the UK every year.

So…fair play a 4x4 might well produce more smog and NOx and all that, but so would any other diesel car, surely? And there’s no link there between the emissions they quote, and the 24,000 people dieing from poor air quality, which no doubt takes into account every source of air pollution, not just 4x4s.

The conclusion? Well, I reckon presenting clear, unbiased data on 4x4 safety, emissions etc, is a good start. The “Mission Statement” has some fairly sound-looking comparisons between normal family cars and 4x4s, fair enough. But the ranting on other pages seems outrageous, or at least as applicable to many other types of car too. And some claims like “It is not just our air quality that suffers. Storm water runoff from our road network is polluted with oil and rubber from traffic and ends up polluting our waterways.” apply to absolutely every car ever made! No attempt is made to say ‘and it’s worse for 4x4s’ — it’s just anti-car full-stop.

Certainly, the ‘bull-bar’ on the front of the 4x4s seems like a damn foolish thing in the context of London, where a kid running out in front of you is always a possibility. But, as annoying and contemtible as 4x4s are, the owners should be able to make their own mind up with factual data, not mythical sensationalist stuff like this.

Filed under: Blog
Posted at 19:58:40 GMT on 25th January 2005.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.