Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

On Ford, SUVs and pollution

Yesterday, some Greenpeace protesters blockaded the Land Rover plant over its latest model, the Land Rover Sport. The protest was over its aggressive advertising campaign, its poor fuel efficiency and high emissions, and its parent company Ford’s attempts at blocking legislation that would force it to make its cars more efficient.
While I cannot condone the direct action taken by Greenpeace, they do have a point. This new vehicle does a pathetic 12mpg in traffic (compared to 55mpg in a Toyata Prius), and releases high amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Proposed EU regulations on CO2 emissions would mean this car would produce more than double the limit set in the guidelines, which Ford are refusing to accept. It is also involved in a court case in California where legislators are trying to cut car emissions.
It would be great if we could all just suddenly abandon our cars and jump onto public transport, but that’s not about to happen. Cars are a necessary evil, and therefore we need to be doing more to make them more efficient. After all, more efficient cars are cheaper to run as well as more friendly to the environment. The manufacturers need to be under more pressure to produce more efficient vehicles, and consumers need more incentives to buy more efficient models – maybe a 25% markup on more polluting models with the proceeds going into public transport or subsidies/rebates for more efficient models.
Marcus Brigstocke also writes about 4x4s in a column (half-way down the page) about how we should tackle the problem. Marcus is guest-presenting Have I Got News For You on Friday, which should be worth watching – he’s very good on The Now Show on Radio 4.


  1. While I agree with you that it would be great if all cars were more efficient, there is one aspect of this that people rarely think of: the economy.
    It’s fairly straight forward – the more efficient cars are, the less fuel people are going to be buying. This has a knock-on effect, that oil companies and fuel retailers are forced to increase their prices to counteract the drop in sales, in order to keep making money. So what happens is, you end up using less fuel in your new highly-efficient car, but you end up paying more for the fuel for that very reason.
    Catch 22.

  2. How un-enlightened you really are.
    Quoting wonderful stastics distorted by the leaf eating facists to twist it for their own means.
    The prius does not do 55mpg, ask any owner and they only get 45mpg. Why? The batteries (which contain corrosive and environmentally harmful chemicals, so how you going to get by that one when it comes to disposal time?) create a weight disadvantage thus increasing fuel consumption to maintain the same velocity.
    Its all very nice believing that lovely friendly green (relatively) euro-boxes are the answer, but the production and destruction of one vehicle causes far more pollution than it will produce in the whole of its lifetime. Manufacturers are churning out thousands of eco euro-boxes causing far more harm than all the V8 Range Rovers on the planet could ever do.
    All vehicles are damaging to the environment, never mind pollutants, what about tyres? engine oil? parts?
    These are facts (unlike the dire drivel churned out by morons like Marcus Leafboy who writes for the Left wing facist communist rag that is the Guardian.
    Greenpeace have scored an own goal (again). Sad, I used to respect their efforts on banning whaling and other wonderful causes they fought for in the 80s and 90s. Facist attacks on the choice of personal transport is boring, and ultimately self destructive.

  3. The statistics are official ones from the manufacturers, I believe.

  4. I happilt fork out for my cars lack of fuel economy – as I love to drive.
    I dont want electric hybrid power – I want a V8!
    I have no love for 4×4’s, but I want to defend my right to have a car with performance.
    Left to their own devices grrenpeace would have us all on electric buses – at which point a lobotamy would help me cope!
    My current public transport options to work would be 2 hours, bus -> train -> train -> bus, which is rather worse than my current 30 min commute.

  5. As far as I can tell from the official site the figure of 11.5 for the Discovery is in Litres per 100 km. The mpg figure is about 24+.
    Not perfect, but not that bad. If Greenpeace wish to argue this particular case they should ensure they get their facts right.

  6. In response to John Blackburn’s post above, I really want to know how he figures that.
    You are suggesting that the economist’s “law of demand” does not apply in this market, which is something that, if true, would really be interesting and warrants more than a paragraph’s time.
    I suppose the demand for gasoline is rather inelastic- by in large, people don’t affect their driving all that much as price changes. But even still, a supplier could not *increase* their price, because we are assuming competition. Certainly retaliers are not price-setters, they are price-takers, and they will sell at the market price, which has to either stay the same or go down.
    Maybe what you’re suggesting is that the oil industry isn’t perfectly competitive, and that it better represents an oligopoly. This is true, but not at the retalier levels. I’m sure OPEC could respond by cutting production to raise costs and ensure their profits- but to the extent that gas would become more expensive, despite the lesser demand? I would be amazed.
    A cite would be nice.