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Discussion Starter #1
I was thinking about the rising oil prices that have seemed to shoot through the roof this past week. On the news, people were saying that there's less oil to meet demand and that the oil will be gone in the next 20 years if we don't start using it more wisely.

So, my question and concern is this: why are vehicles getting bigger and bigger if we need to start thinking about conserving oil? I'm a happy sedan driver who feels like the runt of the litter on the road, and I don't understand why people feel the need to drive "buses" around. And, unfortunately, those families who buy SUVs to fit the "whole family in" usually only do that once or twice on the weekend and maybe to and from school. It's mostly one person in the vehicle: the driver...driving around doing errands. What a waste of gas and space!

I just don't understand. Why do you need an Expedition or a Hummer (or any other 6-seater) to drive around by YOURSELF? The occasional family trip is not reason enough, in my opinion. If it is for recreational use (oh, yeah...THAT's what SUV's are for!!! 8O), what can an Expedition do that an Explorer can't? Really. Why do people need such large vehicles (a SPORT UTILITY vehicle) to tote their groceries and drive their kids to school?

While some of us are actually trying to use as little gas as possible (I use 11 gallons every 2 weeks), so many people are 30 gallons every week! Yes, I blame those 30-gallon hogs for rising gas prices! Can we please start making changes in our everyday behaviour to try to have a larger impact?! Just like with too many things, it will probably take a crisis for that to happen.
 

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I am an environmentalist. My fiance owns a SUV. I don't like it, but I am okay with it for two reasons:

1. It protects us from drunk drivers (we know people who had been hit by drunk drivers and died). We both live next to alcoholic bars so safety is very important to us (especially since I still don't have any health insurance). My fiance actually got hit once by an 19-year old, but he didn't get hurt at all...so that was very comforting.

2. I get carsick all the time. I generally start puking if I sit in a car for more than an hour. The only vehicle in which I don't get carsick in is my fiane's SUV.


I don't like the fact that we actually need an SUV, but I don't know what to do without it.
 

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This annoys me so much, my mum has a normal sized car in the UK and it was fine for driving the family around in even when we were kids!

Why would anyone even want to have an SUV when gas is this expensive, some SUVs get as little as 12mpg compared to cars at an average of 25mpg... because you want to pay double for the gas to make the same trip?

It really annoys me when I am sitting in traffic with probably only 10% of the vehicles being 'normal' cars and its the smaller cars that have 2+ people in them - not the SUVs.

Fair enough if you actually do have a family big enough that you need more space... but families that have 2 SUVs when they could have a smaller car for the person not taking the kids?


Shengmei, there is a lot of evidence that proves that SUVs are not safer to be in during an accident, and actually cause more deaths than cars in accidents.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said:
The propensity of sport utility vehicles to roll over is major safety concern. Sport utility vehicles are more than three times more likely to roll over in crash than normal passenger cars. The higher roll-over propensity may also lead to higher fatalities.

SUVs are heavier and ride higher than regular cars. The high ride contributes to a propensity of SUVs to roll over in accidents. According to NHTSA, SUVs rollover in 37 percent of fatal crashes, compared to a 15 percent rollover rate for passenger cars. Rollover crashes accounted for 53 percent of all SUV occupant deaths in single vehicle crashes in 1996. Only 19 percent of occupant fatalities in passenger cars occurred in similar crashes

Smaller SUVs - with a wheelbase of less than 100 inches - had a disproportionately high incidence of fatal rollover crashes. Small SUVs were involved in rollover crashes more than four times as often as the average passenger car.
Gillis said:
The truck, van and 4x4 book[/u].]SUVs do not have to meet the same safety standards as passenger cars. The double standard exists due to arcane federal rules classifying SUVs as light trucks. Less rigid rules mean occupants of SUVs are not protected by the side-impact crash safety standards or strength requirements for bumpers required on standard passenger cars.
There is also plenty of information on the environmental impact of SUV's here: http://www.suv.org/environ.html
 

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lolakitty23 said:
So, my question and concern is this: why are vehicles getting bigger and bigger if we need to start thinking about conserving oil?
Stupidity? Class status? Decadent and conspicuous 1st world consumerism? Lack of education and sensitivity about our environment and dependence upon fossil fuel sources?

Our car is slightly over 3 years old and we have less than 16K miles on it. We walk, carpool, use public transportation, or rent more economical vehicles for lengthy road trips. When we need to run errands and visit our local grocer, we plan it out in advance so we can get most (if not all) of it done in one trip instead of running several solo trips.

This isn't the first time the USA has dealt with a supposed oil shortage and its respective outrageous oil pricing. It happened in the late 1970s...considering the value of the dollar then and now, the prices were higher then than they are now. Gas was rationed and sold on odd or even days (last digit of plate; vanity plates were one or the other, but not both)...there were long lines of cars waiting to buy half a tank, if that. I lived in Los Angeles at the time and Los Angeles county (back then) was a single-person commuter culture by virtue of how the area developed.

In response, the auto industry focused on fuel-efficient models and designs. Today, trucks and luxury SUVs are excessivly large, as you so aptly point out. GMAC has been running that employee discount sale to include all consumers...hmmm...imagine that. I noticed Saab has followed their lead. I wonder who is next? These are telling times that inform observers of one's priorities.

We're waiting for a hybrid CUV that won't break our bank...I hope it comes our sooner than later!
 

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The dirty secret is that the automakers COULD make internal combustion engines considerably more fuel efficient...even the large higher-horsepower ones. They just don't want to invest the resources needed to make it happen unless they're forced to do so by regulation. :?

I'd prefer to drive a pickup truck....I just can't justify the higher purchase expense and depreciation of the vehicle combined with the higher operating costs. The reasons I'd prefer to drive one are strictly utilitarian. Ego has nothing to do with it.
 

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xilt said:
lolakitty23 said:
So, my question and concern is this: why are vehicles getting bigger and bigger if we need to start thinking about conserving oil?
Stupidity? Class status? Decadent and conspicuous 1st world consumerism? Lack of education and sensitivity about our environment and dependence upon fossil fuel sources?
Brilliant post, xilt. Up until last December, we had a 1990 Geo Metro. We drove it from Ohio to Minnesota and back several times, and each time it carried all three of us and a whole carload of stuff. Once, it also held my cello. (It rode in the back seat next to the kiddo, like another person. :lol: )

Quite frankly, I think it's all about arrogance and a ridiculous sense of self-entitlement. Sadly, I think it's an American epidemic - and I say this as a lifelong American and patriot. We are, as a nation, environmental idiots who have trouble seeing past next year. Thank goodness that foreign manufacturers, such as Toyota and Mercedes, are taking such an active role in producing more efficient vehicles, because we certainly couldn't lead the charge.

I'm eternally annoyed by the fact that some efficient vehicles have a hard time getting introduced in America. Europe and Canada have had the Mercedes SmartCar 'fortwo' for years. It's a brilliant vehicle, tiny and tough as a much larger sedan. It gets better mileage than a Metro and looks a far sight cuter. It also runs on diesel, which bodes well, as biodiesel is attempting to make a comeback. This vehicle has not yet been introduced in America, and it is an illegal import. They are planning to bring the SmartCar over... but only the 'fortwo's bigger counterpart, the 'forfour'. This American version of the 'forfour' gets worse mileage, is twice as large, and runs on unleaded. How interesting. (she says, eyes rolling.)

I'm hitting my stride now. Time to step away from the keyboard.
 

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And here's another dirty secret about high oil prices: the government continues to purchase more oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Why couldn't they just cease buying until prices come down? Typical government....buying something they need regardless of the cost. This is something they could do anytime...they don't need to do it right now.
 

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Yet one more dirty secret about high gas prices. There's plenty of crude oil. The problem is refinery capacity. There hasn't been any new refinery built in this country in 40 years. And between NIMBY and government restrictions, paperwork, environmental impacts, etc, etc, it takes 20 - 30 years to built a new one. So, folks, this problem is only going to

get worse before it gets better
 

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Let's not forget the other culprits, commuters!
I'm guilty of it. I live 30 miles from work.
If we didn't have so many bedroom communities, you'd also have people driving less.
Regardless of the size of the car, it's still the amount of driving that is a problem.
With my car, I get decent gas milage, but I still probably use more gas than someone in an SUV that only has a 5 minute drive to work.
Plus, lets face it, we've become a driving society-especially in the US. How many people here live within walking distance to places that they drive to for convenience?

And Tim has a good point. We've got lots of oil resources all around us that are not being used. Granted, I'm not for drilling in most of these new places, and I definately don't want a refinery in MY backyard. But, it is as much the fault of people like me that choose to live where I have a long commute, or choose to drive to the grocery store instead of walk.

I had a friend visit Austria a few months ago, and she has a college friend who lives there. That was the one thing that they noticed right away is that people there walk EVERYWHERE.

Jennifer
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Do any of you live in areas where bio-fuels are being marketed? I saw this on the news the other day...mixing fuel with chicken fat to make more efficient, cost-effective and cleaner fuel.
 

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Also, just wanted to add that the new prices are a shock to everyone.
It's been on the news a few times about how people are downsizing vehicles.
One guy was being interviewed about how he had a customer come in and exchange a Big Dodge pickup truck (I don't remember which one, but the big one) for a Saturn. The salesman commented on it, and the guy said that he couldn't afford the gas anymore.
So, people are downsizing, it'll just take some a little longer than others.
Which reminds me, it's not just the SUVs, it's also the big pickups, but for some reason people always pick on the SUVs.

Jennifer
 

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lolakitty23 said:
Do any of you live in areas where bio-fuels are being marketed? I saw this on the news the other day...mixing fuel with chicken fat to make more efficient, cost-effective and cleaner fuel.
You have to have your engine converted. If you put this into a normal engine it will be bad, very bad.
They have a few bio-fuels at the stations around here. I think there are 2 in ABQ and a few in Santa Fe.

Jennifer
 

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Here's a map of biodiesel locations, but it's not anything about chicken fat. This is vegetable product. Buying Biodiesel

There's also information about Ethanol and E85 - unleaded hybrids - both of which are VERY big in Minnesota but you don't see much of in Ohio. Crying shame, if you ask me.
 

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jennifer2 said:
I just remember that we did a bio-diesel study at work, and it's not as harmless environmentally as it seems. At least not as an inhaled product.
It emits more NOx but cuts down on other emissions, plus it's entirely manufacturable. No Middle East needed. I think it's a winner. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #16
jennifer2 said:
Which reminds me, it's not just the SUVs, it's also the big pickups, but for some reason people always pick on the SUVs.

Jennifer
It's because, with pickups, you fit 2 people, sometimes 4 like normal cars. With SUVs, they are built to fit 6-8 people, but there is usually only 1 person in them. That's the main difference.
 

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lolakitty23 said:
jennifer2 said:
Which reminds me, it's not just the SUVs, it's also the big pickups, but for some reason people always pick on the SUVs.

Jennifer
It's because, with pickups, you fit 2 people, sometimes 4 like normal cars. With SUVs, they are built to fit 6-8 people, but there is usually only 1 person in them. That's the main difference.
But oil consumption is oil consumption. You could fit those same 2 in a little car with better gas mileage. Most people don't NEED pickups anymore than they NEED SUVs.
 

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I cut pickups more slack because I see them towing more often than I see SUVs towing. That doesn't mean there aren't pickup owners who don't need them, but they seem much more functional than SUVs, in practice.
 

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aphrodeia said:
jennifer2 said:
I just remember that we did a bio-diesel study at work, and it's not as harmless environmentally as it seems. At least not as an inhaled product.
It emits more NOx but cuts down on other emissions, plus it's entirely manufacturable. No Middle East needed. I think it's a winner. :D
Overall it's not as bad as I remembered. I was only in on the very early part of the study. It's basically okay, but there are some adverse effects at the higher exposure levels to rats that were exposed.
There is increasing interest in diesel fuels derived from plant oils or animal fats ("biodiesel"), but little information on the toxicity of biodiesel emissions other than bacterial mutagenicity. F344 rats were exposed by inhalation 6 h/day, 5 days/wk for 13 wk to 1 of 3 dilutions of emissions from a diesel engine burning 100% soybean oil-derived fuel, or to clean air as controls. Whole emissions were diluted to nominal NO(x) concentrations of 5, 25, or 50 ppm, corresponding to approximately 0.04, 0.2, and 0.5 mg particles/m(3), respectively. Biologically significant, exposure-related effects were limited to the lung, were greater in females than in males, and were observed primarily at the highest exposure level. There was a dose-related increase in the numbers of alveolar macrophages and the numbers of particles in the macrophages, as expected from repeated exposure, but no neutrophil response even at the highest exposure level. The macrophage response was reduced 28 days after cessation of the exposure. Among the high-level females, the group mean lung weight/body weight ratio was increased, and minimal, multifocal bronchiolar metaplasia of alveolar ducts was observed in 4 of 30 rats. Lung weights were not significantly increased, and metaplasia of the alveolar ducts was not observed in males. An increase in particle-laden macrophages was the only exposure-related finding in lungs at the intermediate and low levels, with fewer macrophages and fewer particles per macrophage at the low level. Alveolar histiocytosis was observed in a few rats in both exposed and control groups. There were statistically significant, but minor and not consistently exposure-related, differences in body weight, nonpulmonary organ weights, serum chemistry, and glial fibrillary acidic protein in the brain. There were no significant exposure-related effects on survival, clinical signs, feed consumption, ocular toxicity, hematology, neurohistology, micronuclei in bone marrow, sister chromatid exchanges in peripheral blood lymphocytes, fertility, reproductive toxicity, or teratology. This study demonstrated modest adverse effects at the highest exposure level, and none other than the expected physiological macrophage response to repeated particle exposure at the intermediate level.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... query_hl=3

I was also directly involved in other engine emmisions studies and let me tell you, gasoline is WAY worse than diesel!
 

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aphrodeia said:
I cut pickups more slack because I see them towing more often than I see SUVs towing. That doesn't mean there aren't pickup owners who don't need them, but they seem much more functional than SUVs, in practice.
Not around here! I can't remember the last time I saw a pickup or SUV towing anything.
The people that I know that have SUVs do a lot of camping and they need the 4-wheel drive as well as the storage space.
I think it's SUVism :lol: They both have horrible gas milage, and most people don't need them functionally. If you live out in the country or where there is a lot of farmland, okay, I can see your point. But go to any major city and you will see as many SUVs as Pickups that are just used for day to day stuff that a normal smaller car can be used for.
 
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