Monday, March 30, 2009

Why SUVs are a difficult topic and easy to hate

I am not an SUV enemy, though, I would never buy one, I guess. But sometimes it's easy to really get upset about these SUV drivers. And maybe, statistically, it's not the case that they park illegally more than others. But often it feels like this.
No there are many other points to think about if you are looking for disadvantages of this type of cars. It's really not that easy to understand why people buy them assuming they are not living in the mountains and are not working in the forrests.

One big disadvantage is certainly fuel economy. Despite the fact that SUVs have been modernized a lot over the last years they are still quite heavy and especially large. Also aerodynamics never has been a high priority on the requirements list. And the big wheels don't help either.

What people often forget about are the disadvantages these cars have for other cars. For example it's impossible to see the breaking lights of the car in front of an SUV when you are queuing. Why have we all invested in mid mounted breaking lights when the light chain stops at the SUV because of its height?
And, if you ever bump into one of these SUV, you better don't drive a Fiat 500 or a flat sports car. You don't stand big of a chance.
So, why do people still buy these cars? It seems to be a mixture of the "Marlboro" effect (outdoor feeling) and the good visibility from higher up. And they are good vehicles to pull a trailer, but many other more normal cars can do that too. The current discussions around fuel economy and co2 emissions will probably reduce the attractiveness of this car category and maybe we should store some for the future so that we can remember them in 50 years.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moving car spare parts through half of Europe

Sometimes ideas turn out as being quite inferior. When I decided to drive to London with my car and a trailer I imagined this being a good cost saving approach compared to having roughly a ton of car spare parts transported by a logistics company. Well, on Thursday this week I started and drove roughly 1'000 km to London, took a ferry at Dover and crossed half of London - not the best idea either given the trailer behind my car. But I got there on time, didn't miss the ferry, got the stuff loaded into the trailer, drove back to Ashford, slept in a nice country hotel and then drove again to Dover the next morning. The rest of the day was spent crossing the channel and driving across France. At around 8 pm I crossed the boarder to Switzerland and still got all the stuff unloaded the same evening. So, what did I learn?
  1. Pulling a trailer really slows you down significantly, you feel more like a truck driver, trying to run as smoothly as possible.
  2. Don't trust your satnav (GPS), it will lead you through very difficult to cross territory and of course it doesn't know that you have a trailer behind your car
  3. If you want to drive economically, then forget the "tempomat", rather go slower up the hill and leverage the gravitation going down. This can save you 20-40% with a trailer, but of course is also true without it. The trailer makes it of course worse, having the aerodynamics of a cube and being almost as big as a house. It roughly doubles the fuel consumption in my case.
But, anyway, it was like an adventure and despite all the things that could have gone wrong, everything worked like a charme.