Blog: Anti-SUV campaigning
Dave Leggett | 7 February 2007
Hardly a day goes by without hearing, somewhere in the media, an ill-informed cliche that implies SUVs are almost single-handedly killing the planet. I'm no particular fan of the SUV genre myself, but pillorying a vehicle and its owner because of the vehicle's body style alone seems grossly unfair. Drive a small Land Rover around London - the Freelander, say - and you may well be targeted for a bit of abuse from well meaning campaigners who have you marked down as some sort of environmental anti-Christ.
But maybe, just maybe, you are an off-duty farmer from the country and visiting your Aunt in Chelsea. There are four passengers and the Landy's luggage area is packed with organically grown produce that will mean your Aunt doesn't have to trek to the nasty supermarket run by MegaCorp and buy all that pre-packaged stuff that was originally flown in from all over the world blah, blah, blah. Okay, unlikely. But how do the campaigners know that because you drive a Land Rover or Mitsubishi Shogun you are necessarily therefore obviously sporting a Carbon-Big-Foot-Print? They don't, of course.
To be fair, the eco-campaigners have to keep their message simple or they'll confuse themselves and the people they are trying to get through to. 'Down with large and heavy passenger vehices (except buses)' may be more intellectually accurate but it isn't quite as catchy or as rousing for the troops as '**** Chelsea Tractors'.
But it's not that simple.
On average CO2 emissions, the 2.2-litre diesel Freelander yields 194g/km. That's not too bad. For comparison, the 2-litre petrol engined Passat with automatic transmission works out at 206g/km, according to figures I have just been looking at. And the Lexus GS 450h with its green halo and London congestion charge exemption is not exactly out of the ball park at 186g/km.
Are the purveyors of SUVs in Europe worried by image problems for the vehicle class as a whole? I see Landy is setting up a carbon offset programme, which to me suggests a defensive reaction of sorts. But Mitsubishi Motors UK managing director Jim Tyrrell is having none of it, believing that reports of the sector's impending demise in Britain are exaggerated. Click the below link to read his comments on that subject, made after some other interesting remarks about the funky little 'i' car.
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