Taking issue with CAR's columnist

4 November 2005

Gavin Green, CAR magazine’s best columnist, this month has a typically pithy thing or two to say about the lamentable lack of progress towards an affordable and usable environmentally friendly vehicle. The gist is good, but the details are patchy, however.

He takes the Frankfurt motor show to pieces and mentions the moronic me-too moves of European makers that ought to know better: “Take Audi, one of the most technically progressive makers of the late 20th century. Its latest take on Vorsprung durch Technik was a vast, fuel consumptive SUV, the Q7.” No argument there.

He then goes on to bash hybrids. “I know hybrids are clever ... but these ‘green machines’ are less efficient than a normal car on a motorway or country road (did you not realise, pious Prius driver, that you are lugging a redundant electric engine and an adult-sized stack of batteries – also redundant – when you ply the M1?)”

I’d argue that neither the motor nor the batteries are redundant. He neglects the notion of regenerative braking, which must surely come into play on a country road, particularly for that increasingly common breed of driver that feels a desperate need to brake for every single bend in the road.

And on the M1 too, it’s not exactly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to find yourself driving along a motorway at walking pace or less, stuck in a tailback, when again the hybrid is more virtuous than conventional equivalents.

It’s easy to say that a hybrid is less efficient in these circumstances, but some evidence would be welcome.

He wraps up by asking “Where was the single- or two-seater city vehicle, narrower and smaller (so two road lanes can become three) and far less fuel consumptive than today’s ‘small’ cars?”

Well, it may not have been at Frankfurt, but that particular recipe sounds like a lot like the Tango from Commuter Cars.

Next » « Previous Home