Friday, April 3, 2009

Auto Rant

uglycarWhat is it with Americans and their giant cars? What possible purpose is there in the huge boxes that are the current fad? I'm not merely talking about hideous cars such as the Honda Element, the Scion, or the really horrendous Nissan Cube, but the pseudo-jeeps, hummers, and all terrain vehicles like the SUV and the honking great huge pickup or the family van.

There are a few people that are exempt from my derision at owning these vehicles in these times of rising oil costs (environmental and out of pocket) and these exemptions are: contractors, military personnel (and only if your vehicle is standard military issue), farmers, and moms with giant broods. The rest of you are just wasting gas and wasting space on the road. There is no sane or rational use for a Hummer on a regular road (though I'm thankful to be able to use Arnie's in my post-apocalyptic zombie novel over on Pan Historia) when there aren't hordes of ravening zombies you need to drive over in a hurry.

Perhaps I'm particularly bugged about it at the moment because I have moved onto a tiny winding road into the hills where parking is a premium and even passing another car going the other way involves complicated maneuvers and often a handbrake start. Half the people on this road are hogging the space with vehicles so wide that they have to dangle half off a cliff to fit. By law you need a 12 foot clearance for emergency vehicles to get by, but with a gigantic extra-wide gas-guzzling GMC pickup there barely room for my Honda Accord to get by and I still get briar burn.

With the guys I used to assume it was to make up for some imagined (or real) inadequacy but these days it's just as likely to be a woman driving a tank around, hogging the road, and paying at least twice at the pump just for the privilege of polluting the planet. I managed to get around San Francisco a couple years ago in the car poll lane with great ease because no one else was using it. These enormous cars are mainly empty. Few of the trucks are carrying load and the SUVs have just one passenger. The European Smart Car, which you would think was a no-brainer with its fuel economy and the ability to park in half a parking space or even nose to the curb, is a tough sell to Americans.

I'm not saying anything new here. I'm venting - but having moved to the Hippy and Eco-Friendly Capital of the Universe I'm having a hard time dealing with the fact that my aging hippy musician neighbor who talks to his trees and won't allow anything but organic in his yard drives a massive SUV, and no, it's not a hybrid. Does he really carry that many instruments around for when he busks?



L. Diane Wolfe said...

I completely agree with you! That Americans continue to stubbornly hang on to their gas-guzzling beasts boggles my mind. And where I live in the South, seems everyone has a big truck!

L. Diane Wolfe

Helen Ginger said...

Back when I was looking for a car, I happened on the lot right when the Scions were arriving. They had a couple parked and as we walked by, I stopped and said to the salesman, That's the ugliest car I have ever seen; who would buy it? And he said, young people, they love it. I rolled my eyes, but sure enough folks bought it and it's still selling.

Texas may be the worst for big trucks. In our defense, we do have a lot of ranches and farms and we're a huge state with no rail system. But, trust me, half the trucks and SUVs on the road do not belong to farmers and ranchers.


Pan Historia said...

Oh I trust you, Helen. Most of those trucks have lovely clean beds that still look like when they first came off the assembly line.

The first Scions were dreadful but that salesman was right - so right that other car manufacturers jumped right on. The Nissan Cube has got to be the ugliest car I have ever seen.

I like my cars with curves.