Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A particularly captivating episode of Brian Dunnings' Skeptoid podcast entitled 'SUV Phobia' (transcript available on the linked page) kick-started my rusty neural cogs. The crux of his argument is that it's fallacious and naive to scapegoat SUVs for their supposed poor fuel efficiency and excessive output of carbon emissions because many of them "are mechanically identical to conventional cars"; they are manufactured by slapping an overbearing, gangster-bling style shell over the top of the chassis of a typical family car. This really surprised me because until now I'd allowed myself to be hoodwinked by the shallow aesthetics of these performance hulks.

Brian goes on to apply the same logic to GM's H2 Hummer as it's essentially a cosmetically tarted up Yukon, but in defending SUVs in general, I think he skirts over the critical fact that the Yukon is far from an eco-friendly springboard on which to build a mechanical sheep in wolf's fur. I won't pretend I know the first thing about cars - I Googled the Yukon because my stubborn preconceptions wouldn't let me acquiesce to the possibility that Humvees may not be the vehicular incarnation of pure, unadulterated depravity.

A comparison chart of 1042 vehicles ranked in order of fuel efficiency compiled by Corporate Knights Inc., a Canadian corporate responsibility watchdog, seems to confirm this. Re-sort the Excel data in order of annual fuel consumption and the various Yukon models emerge as some of the worst offenders, occupying positions 788, 821, 875, 881, 897, 934, 949 – 951, 979-983, 1004, 1005, 1022 and 1034-1038.

So while Brian's other unduly slammed candidates mostly fair exceptionally well in the low emissions/fuel consumption stakes I uphold my recommendation that all Hummers, military spec or otherwise, be banished from civilian roads, crushed and dispatched to Room 101 in gleaming, miniature, cubic parcels festooned with pretty, little bows. Environmental considerations aside, we all know the caliber of low-lifes who drive these road-hogs, and this alone should be just cause to obliterate them (the vehicles, the owners, or both - I'm not going to quibble over the minutia).



So the data says the SUVs are about the same efficiency as the model he claimed it was built from or just that the model he claims is inefficient anyway? Is he just making it all up?

Or course the not at all aerodynamic shape of an SUV would give a lower economy when driving at any speed so his point is wobbly anyway.

Then there's another aspect to me. They greatly block view of traffic and pedestrians which is a road safety issue.

I think you're being prejudiced about the drivers. There may be more wankers driving them but I'm sure there's plenty of exception there.


He seems to be taking the stance that what's under the bonnet of these SUVs falls within the boundaries of an acceptable environmental pollutant. I don't know where you draw the line personally - is relativity a reasonable get-out clause?

Good points. People who buy these contraptions are putting image before practicality and the safety of other road users. They put me in mind of those who buy Rottweilers and Bull Mastiffs for the same reason.

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