Anorak News | Horse Power

Horse Power

by | 28th, February 2006

‘WE’RE not yet advanced enough in the pollution debate to equip all family salons with a pair of oxen, but animals have entered the transport debate.

In an interview with the Times, Malcolm Wicks, the Energy Minister, employs raw hot air to say that from 2010 all cars will become less polluting. Plans are afoot to force all suppliers to produce 5 per cent of transport fuel from renewable sources, like Mr Wick’s wind, soya beans and animal fat.

As we say, the ox may still be the stuff of futuristic fantasy, the last word in green machines, but while we wait for its arrival we can sit on some ox-skin leather seats and burn ox fat in our internal combustion engines.

“We have to look at increasing the proportion to far more than 5 per cent after 2010,” says Wicks, which surely points the way to new and imaginative ways of blending animal and machine in the name of cleaner fuels.

And it’s not just the suppliers who are under the cosh. This is a stick and carrot approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

One method of cleaning up the planet involves charging motorists £8 a pop to drive into the centre of London. Coupled with a hard line environmentalist policy enforced by the likes of Westminster Council and their ecology-minded traffic wardens and the world is inching closer to safety.

But this might not be enough. The stick is beating the drum of progress, but the carrot – using the public transport system – is about as tempting as, well, a carrot.

So there’s another plan. This one’s even more ingenious. The Times says the Government is thinking about charging drivers of cars that produce more than 250g of CO2 per kilometre a higher rate of road tax. The mooted figure is £200 for the year. (Currently, vehicles producing over 185g of CO2 pay £170.)

It could be a nice little earner for the Treasury. As the report says, 187,000 4x4s were sold in the UK last year alone.

For those of you that like to keep abreast of such things, the most popular urban tank is the Land Rover Freelander, followed by the Honda CR-V, the Toyota Rav4 and the Land Rover Discovery.

If you want to see these off-roaders in action, we advise that you position yourself somewhere in the Hampstead area of North London around school dropping off time. See which SUV mounts the kerb with minimum pupil roll, and pay special attention to wing mirrors – not because they are especially interesting, it’s just that being so very high up one could take your head clean off.

And while you’re watching, see if you can spot anyone driving a Toyota Prius hybrid. The ministry’s Mr Wicks has one. And you too could get one of these so-called green vehicles, made from reconstituted paper, egg shells and human hair – all cunningly disguised as metal and plastic.

Get a load of the blurb on the car’s official, non-fossil fuel burning w ebsite: “The forward-thinking 2006 Prius with Hybrid Synergy Drive® combines a gas engine and an emissions-free electric motor to achieve amazing fuel economy and an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) rating [2] – all with the performance of a conventional car.”

Quite so. That being a conventional car that’s as stylish as cheese; a conventional car with a standard petrol engine and an electric motor; a conventional car that, according to the BBC’s Top Gear website, is slower than a diesel car and for which “the petrol consumption is awful”.

You may think that driving one of these big ugly people movers is saving the planet, but you’d be wrong. It’s just producing less CO2 and making you look worthy. And, given the option of looking green and worthy in your androgynous Prius or monied and gargantuan in your SUV, there is no contest.

Prius might mean “to go before”, but the mum piloting the huge petrol-burning car in front isn’t really interested – she’s too busy trying to get pass the loaded hooray Henrietta on her hi-tech horse…’

Posted: 28th, February 2006 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink