SUV versus hybrid

On the way to work today, I saw a couple of Hummers. I had my usual reaction of vile disgust at anyone who so obviously favors conspicuous consumption over the more enviro-friendly alternatives. This got me to thinking about the automobile and whether other cars are somehow better. I mean, let’s face it: All cars pollute a lot, compared to the alternative of not driving.

According to the EPA Web site, based on the average American’s driving habits, the Hummer gets 13 [miles per gallon] in town 16 highway and emits 13.1 tons of CO2 per year. The beloved yippie Subaru Outback that can be seen clogging the parking lot at Greenlife gets a sad 18/24 and emits 9.2 tons per year—hardly better than the despised Hummer. What about the earth-loving eco-chic Prius? At 48/45 and emitting 4.0 tons CO2 per year, it seems a lot better. But is a little over three times better than the antithesis of environmental awareness (the Hummer) good enough?

If we believe in global warming and are tired of the disgusting air quality in our rapidly deteriorating environment, then we need to live our beliefs and walk, bike or take the bus to work, the store or anywhere else we may be headed. And if that doesn’t seem possible, then maybe we should reevaluate the need to go places.

— Joseph Crawley
Emma

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14 thoughts on “SUV versus hybrid

  1. Joey

    During my last visit to Los Angeles the first thing I noticed was that there were hardly any Hummers, trucks, and SUV’s compared to my visit two years earlier.

    I try not go to LA unless absolutley neccessary. However, Angelinos for all their lame glory, do have a habit of jumping on the environmental bandwagon.

    Come on Asheville! Try to stay with the trends!

  2. Kriss

    I doubt that it’s so much jumping on the environmental bandwagon as it is just trying to survive in a place that has some of the highest gas prices in the U.S. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone in L.A. is rich and famous, and economic realities drive markets there as much as in other places.

  3. Joey

    People who can afford Hummers and gas guzzling vehicles are hardly at the bottom of the economic chain. They are not driven by “economic realities”.

    Of course there are economic realities for the working class. However, those who live in the city are very aware of their environment and they are quick to jump on “environmental bandwagons”.

  4. I ain’t selling my SUV; I NEED it, there are places in these mountains I have to go on business where only 4wd will get me there. So don’t just sneer at us SUVers, some of us know what we’re doing, eh?

  5. Kriss

    But when those “environmental bandwagons” are not affordable, no amount of awareness of the environment will change purchasing habits. Certainly those who live in the city of Los Angeles are very aware of their environment, but that’s out of the reality of living in such a densely populated area that’s environmentally very unstable and fragile.

    And I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to compare L.A. to Asheville. There’s a lot more differences than similarities. For example, just to try to get some kind of Apples to Apples comparison, Los Angeles County has over 6 times as many people per square mile as Buncombe County does. If Buncombe County, or Asheville, had that kind of crowding, I think there would be a lot more concern about the air, water, and other resources that we have to share with our neighbors.

  6. joey

    I wasn’t sneering either. Just an observation about people who can actually afford the hybrid vs. the Hummer.

  7. Kriss

    Joey, I wasn’t disagreeing with you at all. Just making some observations since I’ve lived in Southern California as well as Asheville (I’m an Asheville native, btw). I still think it’s much easier though for high-income people to adjust their lives to be more environmentally friendly than for most working folks. Unfortunately, some of the most gas-guzzling, polluting vehicles are the cheapest to buy. I’m not sure what the short-term solution to that is, but I do know that California has a program where the State will actually buy an older car from the owner for $1,000 if it fails to pass certain smog tests and is determined to be a “gross polluter.” This gets the car off the road without so much of a financial loss to the owner. Of course, who pays that in the long run? The taxpayer.

  8. “I ain’t selling my SUV; I NEED it, there are places in these mountains I have to go on business where only 4wd will get me there. So don’t just sneer at us SUVers, some of us know what we’re doing, eh?”

    Personally, if I see mud on an SUV, you get a free pass from me. You are using it for what it’s made for.

    My first experiences with Hummers are when I worked on Music Row during the early 90s heyday. They were everywhere, and I couldn’t understand why these transplanted L.Aliens needed such a huge vehicle in a mild weathered, flat city. Soon I began to equate Hummers with everything that was wrong with the music industry. I quit my job soon afterwards…

    marc

  9. Pasadenan

    Hi everyone, I’m a native Angeleno although my paternal roots are in Clyde. I just traded in my Toyota Highlander the other day for a used VW New Beetle. I was so sick of taking up space in such a crowded town and putting gas in more often then I care to admit. The cheapest gas in my neck of the woods is $3.27 for the low octane. Yes, the Highlander was very comfortable and powerful, but I was really feeling guilty driving it! I love my Beetle, I’ve driven all over L.A. and have only used a 1/4 of a tank! We also have an old ’72 Bug for local trips.
    I see a lot of Land Rovers, Hummers, and other large tanks in L.A. Down in uber-rich Laguna Beach, every other car is a Hummer or an Escalade. When you are that wealthy the price of fuel just doesn’t affect you I suppose. Also, people ( or as I like to call them, “sheeple”) have to follow the trends and jump on the suv bandwagon. This is one of the things I cannot stand about L.A., the status seeking phony people that populate a good portion of our city. Believe it or not, we are not all like that here! :-)
    Have a beautiful Fall day Asheville, hope to visit next year sometime!

  10. Dionysis

    So there are a few people who can make a reasonable claim to actually using their SUV for a ‘legitimate’ reason (how did they ever manage before these road yachts were marketed?). The majority of such owners, however, seem to be those who value trying to be ‘trendy’ over any other concern, least of all environmental impact. Fine. Levy a HUGE impact fee on those who purchase such vehicles, and use the funds to support clean mass transit, towards more alternative energy R&D;or some other desireable end. And it would not hurt if those who drive such gas-guzzling, high-polluting beasts earned a negative stigma from society in general. They deserve to.

  11. Road yachts, Dionysis? Nah, they are smaller and more nimble than most full-sized or even mid-sized cars. And hardly road yachts — they are OFF-road vehicles. Ride with me each week on “Rapid Ralph Rides the Roads” (URTV, Mondays at 7pm) and I’ll show you the glory of the SUV.

    As to impact and clean mass transit, lemme you see you get to Shelton Laurel via mass transit, bubba. ;-)

  12. Cheshire

    There are SUV’s and there are SUV’s. I had to trade in my Subaru that got 28 mpg for a RAV4 due to permanent injury sustained last year. Believe it or not, the smaller SUV’s have fuel economies comparable to small sedans. Mine is doing better than my old Subaru…which puts it just under a Honda Civic: well-known for good fuel economy.

    The thing people need to look at is what they use the car FOR, not what it compensates for. Mine holds my wheelchair nicely, carries the cargo I have to move beautifully, and doesn’t make me cry at the pump. I run that car at 75% of its full potential most of the time. If you’re only using less than 50% of your car’s potential most of the time, I think you should look at downsizing.

  13. 21Yearshere

    This is quite a civil conversation given the topic. I grit my teeth when I see some gigantic vehicle taking up two parking places, and people who are already lousy drivers have an especially difficult tome piloting them on some of our mountain roads. What really bugs me is when SUV owners whine about the cost of fuel and expect the government to give them some relief, like they have a right to be compensated for extra costs that they take on voluntarily by driving such beasts.

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