We’ll all be driving one soon

May 9, 2008

I notice Ran is enthusiastically predicting the demise of the SUV but I’m not sure I share his faith in this particular prediction. In fact I’m going to leap in and mount a defence for the not-so-humble SUV.

I admit that it feels slightly strange to be doing so but it all started when I drove my uncle’s SUV – which doubled as a farm work vehicle and family car, but was lent to us one week while our old house bus was in for repairs. Because I’d just been driving a bus around the SUV didn’t feel particularly large – even if that is their most obvious feature as far as drivers of other vehicles are concerned. What I did notice though, was that obeying normal conventions like driving only on paved or carefully gravelled surfaces was no longer necessary.

Please don’t get the idea that I blundered round driving over footpaths, picket fences and old ladies’ garden patches. Nothing of the sort happened but there was this sense of freedom driving in an SUV that I didn’t normally experience in a car (and especially not in a bus). Even if I didn’t actually do it, the fact remained that there were now a lot more places that I could drive to, or over, should I want to.

This would be of no real consequence to this blog except for how it coincides with the future that regular readers of doomer, peak-everything blogs are all, by now, expecting.

From a long and interesting series of comments by a resident of Argentina we have this possible future scenario for SUV drivers.

I would have bought a 4×4, even though I live in the city. A 4×4 allows you to dive over the sidewalk or through wasteland, away from roadblocks or riots. I’ve see those that have 4x4s simply go off road, climb over a boulevard and leave while the rest of us poor car owners have to stay.

A 4×4 truck also has more mass and power in case that someone tries to cut you off or rams you with the car. It’s less likely to stop running if you hit someone or several people (in a riot situation) since it’s prepared for cross country use and the engine is much more protected.

And a little more mundane but almost guaranteed to be relevant to your life and mine; the issue of declining road standards, or for that matter driveway standards.

As councils and other road maintenance bodies find their funds drying up I’m sure we’re going to find ourselves driving down roads that consist mostly of pot-hole. Already it only takes a bad winter to make some rural roads nearly impassable to normal cars, how much worse will this be when there aren’t the funds to bring in earth moving machinery to sort it out?

And what about your driveway? If you’ve got concrete your driveway will no doubt outlast your car and you’ll probably end up smashing it to bits at some stage, so that you can enlarge your garden space. There are less permanent driveways though and even if we drive less in the future, cars will still be useful for carting large items about the place for some time – if only we can actually get from A to B.

As a New Zealander though the real clincher is the fact that in this country at least most SUV’s are diesel and almost all cars are not. They sure burn dirty at the moment but they’re going to be really nice running on the various concoctions of bio-fuels that people are going to be trying in them. I’m no expert so don’t quote me but Rudolf Diesel did intend that his engine could run on vegetable oil. I don’t believe that it is so easy to throw any old thing into a petrol vehicle. Feel free to correct me on this though if you have more than my minimal understanding of this situation

Next week; I’m coming to the defence of the suburbia!

And the week after that I’m going into bat for civilisation itself. Maybe.



  1. I should point out that this is not a call for everyone to go out and buy an SUV. I’m sure we’ll all be able to pick one up cheap in a few yars.

  2. Replacing 4×4 with bicycle:

    A bicycle allows you to dive over the sidewalk or through wasteland, away from roadblocks or riots. I’ve see those that have bicycle’s simply go off road, climb over a boulevard and leave while the rest of us poor car owners have to stay.

  3. There’s a fella here doing good things with alternative fuels for diesels, rather than modify the fuel as with bio-diesel, he modifies the fuel system to allow any vegetable / used cooking oil to be used as is. http://www.vegiecars.com/

  4. Steve, I get the feeling from the rest of that article I quoted that the author would consider biking too dangerous because of the possibility of being mugged – but I get your point.

    I also think horses will prove popular for the same reason and that in fact there will be a variety of methods of coping with the loss of cheap oil. For instance it seems likely that if people get to the point where they only use a motor vehicle for carrying large items (as I suggest) that they might hire, borrow or share a vehicle instead of keeping one for occasional use.

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