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Monsters of the road: what should the UK do about SUVs?

Interesting piece in The Guardian about SUVs.

Quote:

Sold as a means of escape from the concrete realities of the modern world, a symbol of individualism and the pioneer spirit, the SUV represents instead a uniform kind of selfishness, a collective indifference to community to which, alas, we are all more or less prone.

 

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144 comments

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marmotte27 replied to mattw | 5 months ago
4 likes

For the last twenty-odd years I've been driving a Golf IV, smallest petrol engine, 1.4l, 75hp. I've got two kids, and a part from doing the daily transport in it (less and less now, as we more and more get around by bike and public transpport), we've gone on holiday in it, all over the place (I'm at 320.000 km now...). For the last 15 years of those, I've always taken a bike with me, when I had a road bike it went into the roof box, the Rinko Randonneur now goes into the boot. So luggage for four, plus a bike, no problem.
Or skiing in the mountains, five people, skis in the roof box, winter tyres of course and a set of chains that I've never needed.
Lately I transported a load of planks, up to four metres in length, on the roof carrier. Ok, I had to go twice, as there were to many of them, but that would have been the same with any other car as well.

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ktache replied to marmotte27 | 5 months ago
2 likes

My parents took us on lond distance drives, for 2 week self catering beach holidays in an original VW Scirocco.

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ktache replied to ktache | 5 months ago
0 likes

By us, my brother and I.

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bikes | 5 months ago
7 likes

How about taxing cars based on size and weight. I think local councils should charge larger vehicles more for parking permits as well.

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mattw replied to bikes | 5 months ago
2 likes

I've argued for VED proportional to the 4th power of the axle weight since that is the same as damage done to the roads. It's DVLA not Councils though.

That would leave a 2500kg SUV at about 1.66^4 x the VED on a normal 1500kg car, which is about 7.6x as high a VED.

So it would be something like £300-500 for a 1500kg car per annum, and £2300-£3800 for a 2500kg SUV per annum.

To me that feels about right. 

If someone can afford a £50-100k plank tank, they can afford £3k a year VED.

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BalladOfStruth replied to mattw | 5 months ago
0 likes

mattw wrote:

If someone can afford a £50-100k plank tank, they can afford £3k a year VED.

My only issue with this is rual areas where people:

  1. Actually need big 4x4s.
  2. Are far from rolling in it.

People who can drop £100k+ on a luxury SUV can afford £3k VED, so it won't get them off the road. People who've scraped together £3k to get the only thing that allows them to get on/off thier own property can't, so they're buggered. This is why I suggested managing it in a similar way to a firearms licence - apply for a special 4x4/towing licence that doesn't cost much, during the process of which you need to reasonably prove that you need such a vehicle.

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bikes replied to BalladOfStruth | 5 months ago
2 likes

A big car tax might incentivize other solutions though. At the very least, it might make you buy the lighter / smaller 4x4. You might choose to spend more on making your driveway more manageable, or whatever the problem is, rather than on a big vehicle.

At the moment there seems to be the opposite incentive, eg the proliferation of pick up trucks. These can be written off as a business expense but then they're clearly being used for a lot of driving with no tools or materials in them and on normal roads. In fact, I've NEVER seen one with anything in the bed! And there are a lot in my area. I have seen them parked up on the pavement completely blocking the way plenty of times though.

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BalladOfStruth replied to bikes | 5 months ago
2 likes

bikes wrote:

A big car tax might incentivize other solutions though.

Maybe. I’m just pointing out the issues that I can see with such a scheme. I’ve said throughout this thread that almost no one needs an SUV, but some people actually do, and if you’re going to tackle the influx of big SUVs you do need to be careful of how you go about it.

 

bikes wrote:

At the very least, it might make you buy the lighter / smaller 4x4. You might choose to spend more on making your driveway more manageable, or whatever the problem is, rather than on a big vehicle.

A few things I’ll say to this in no particular order are:

Proper 4x4s that you can get equipment/tools/a family in (so, not silly FWD crossovers that are just not capable off-road) don’t really get that small – the only thing I can think of is the Jimny, which is basically a two-seater with no luggage space which has been discontinued in the UK. So, the smallest vehicle that can do this sort of terrain might actually still be quite big.

Sorting out a drive/track is a little more expensive than you might think. We have a section of our drive towards the top where it’s still “ours” but others have right-of-access on it. This means that there are tractors being driven over it all day and it’s in a right state. We've had people out to give us a quote on soring this section out – as it turns out, leveling it, digging channels, adding drainage, adding a camber (so the water goes into the dranage), adding a substrate, and properly tarmacking it would cost nearly £300k. So were just going to try and level it ourselves and pour some gravel on it.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who lives in the countryside is a tweed-clad millionaire. Most people are just working-class who’s families have been here for generations. Saying to these people “hey, that old beater 4x4 you have, which is just about the only thing that will get down your drive/shared lane in the winter, is now going to cost you 15-20% of your annual income in tax”, is just going to utterly screw them over. Bearing in mind that these people can be 30 miles from the nearest population centre with available employment and there is no public transport of any sort. This is the same reason I'm adamantly against LVT whenever it gets brought up - you can have 20 acres out here and be poor as dirt, and if you sold it all, you couldn't afford a studio flat in London.

The sort of people buying luxury SUVs (and even the non-luxury ones – you can spend like £70,000 on some Korean Family SUVs now) aren’t going to blink at £5k in additional VED – especially the sort who’ve just spend £200k on a Range Rover/Bently/Urus/etc. So, the “tax them” off the road approach might not even solve the problem in urban areas in the first place.

 

Personally, I think it’s fairer to regulate them off the road with exemptions that you can apply for if you live/work somewhere remote/hard to get to.

bikes wrote:

At the moment there seems to be the opposite incentive, eg the proliferation of pick up trucks. These can be written off as a business expense but then they're clearly being used for a lot of driving with no tools or materials in them and on normal roads. In fact, I've NEVER seen one with anything in the bed! And there are a lot in my area. I have seen them parked up on the pavement completely blocking the way plenty of times though.

That I fully agree with. They need to get rid of the whole notion of a pickup counting as a van and being a tax write off.

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hawkinspeter replied to BalladOfStruth | 5 months ago
3 likes

I was under the impression that SUVs became popular in the U.S. as they overly tax small vans (possibly due to them being imported) and so SUVs exploit a loophole of being like a van, but not taxed like one. However, outside of the U.S., small vans are better in just about every way than an SUV if you want to shift stuff around - probably not as good for signalling your wealth status though which is probably the only reason that people want them over here.

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BalladOfStruth replied to hawkinspeter | 5 months ago
2 likes

Not sure about the USA, though I do remember seeing in a Not Just Bikes video that the influx of SUVs and Trucks had a lot to do with tax.

Here though, pickups are classed as LCVs in the same way as vans, and therefore are VAT exempt (technically reclaimable). I'm not 100% on exactly how it works, but a lot of self-employed business owners (or people related to them) will get double-cabs as their personal "daily" for essentially a 20% discount. I used to know a load of builders in a previous life and they almost all did this - my best friend still drives a massive Navarro he got through his dad's building company. I think VED works differently for them too. Honestly, 90% of the immaculate, clean double-cabs you see with nothing in the bed are probably there for this reason.

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bikes replied to mattw | 5 months ago
1 like

I agree with the tax by weight idea. But why not councils and parking permits as well though? If one car takes up 1.5x the amount of space, why not charge more? And also, aren't local councils responsible for road repair budgets, so they would be keen to minimize the expense that heavy cars cost them?

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to bikes | 5 months ago
0 likes

bikes wrote:

I agree with the tax by weight idea.

Excellent idea, that will be one way of relieving electric car owners of their saved cash from reduced taxed EV's and saved fuel costs. I'm all for that. 

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wtjs | 5 months ago
6 likes

Time for more petrol duty, to discourarage these horrifyingly wasteful guzzlers.

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chrisonabike replied to wtjs | 5 months ago
4 likes

wtjs wrote:

Time for more petrol duty, to discourarage these horrifyingly wasteful guzzlers.

What about electric ones?  If it's a really heavy vehicle with a high front that you can't see out of very well and takes up lots of space it might be slightly better for being "emit elsewhere" but that doesn't fix the other issues.

Yes, I know, ain't nobody (yet...) voting for / voting in a Westminster government that is terribly interested in fixing those problems.

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andystow | 5 months ago
1 like

What should the UK do? Hopefully better than Australia.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/15/australia-may-inc...

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momove | 5 months ago
3 likes

Obviously there's always this https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/news

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Left_is_for_Losers | 5 months ago
2 likes

SUV's are simply the equivalent of riding around on a WT level super expensive bike. You don't actually need one, it does the same as a £1.5k (or less) bike and it's usually only a way to pretend you're affluent and show off. 

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the little onion replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 5 months ago
18 likes

Except WT bikes are not statistically far more deadly, polluting or damaging than normal road bikes. That's the issue

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mattw replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 5 months ago
1 like

No - they are shown to be more dangerous, especially to other people, by studies.

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levestane | 5 months ago
2 likes

Given the technofanaticism of contempory society hopefully all motor vehicles will become autonomous and AI will be better at driving than most.

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marmotte27 replied to levestane | 5 months ago
2 likes

Which solves exactly what as regards SUVs?

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levestane replied to marmotte27 | 5 months ago
1 like

SUVs are the same as every other vehicle, it's the 'squidgy things' that tend to choose the SUV lifestyle statement that are the issue. Once all vehicles are autonomous they will hopefully all be driven similarly.

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Rendel Harris replied to levestane | 5 months ago
11 likes

levestane wrote:

SUVs are the same as every other vehicle

They're not though, are they, the higher bonnets make it much more likely that anyone they hit is going to go under the wheels rather than over the bonnet. That's the reason that children hit by an SUV are eight more times likely to die than those hit by ordinary saloon cars.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022437522000810?...

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wycombewheeler replied to marmotte27 | 5 months ago
1 like

marmotte27 wrote:

Which solves exactly what as regards SUVs?

reduces the number of people killed  or injured by them

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HoldingOn | 5 months ago
4 likes

I'm not sure SUVs are the problem, I think the squidgy things that drive them badly are the problem.

If SUVs were banned, they would just drive something else badly.

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the little onion replied to HoldingOn | 5 months ago
14 likes

I disagree - an idiot driving a hatchback is not as dangerous as an idiot driving a SUV. Basic newtonian physics, when dealing with a larger, heavier vehicle. Plus basic biomechanics of a higher, squarer bonnet

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chrisonabike replied to the little onion | 5 months ago
7 likes

OTOH as the speed goes above e.g. 20mph it rapidly becomes moot if you're a vulnerable road user.  I bet they do more damage when they are driven into houses though.

SUVs are a gigantic scam on us all in many ways (lengthy video but definitely worth the time).  While I've read that they've patched around a few of the safety issues* for one they still have reduced visibility (closer to them, A pillars) relative to other cars.

* Such as the one where they were considerably more dangerous to their occupants than other types of cars.

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Adam Sutton replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
3 likes

The video like many arguments against is very US centric. Any debate on SUV's as the grauniad article hints needs to properly define SUV, as in Europe they term is applied to a broad spectrum of vehicles and intermixed with the crossover term. There is for example a huge difference between something like a current Land Rover defender or BMW X(whatever the biggest one is) and something like, say a Hyundai Kona, which is little more than a slightly taller hatchback. Even a lot of European "SUV" including thise with AWD capability actually share a platform with saloon counterparts and in term of footprint are maybe a few mm bigger.

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marmotte27 replied to Adam Sutton | 5 months ago
3 likes

Strawman!

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Adam Sutton replied to marmotte27 | 5 months ago
3 likes

Bless. Try again.

Edit: A strawman would be trying to equate American vehicles to the SUVs on British roads.

Taking the example I gave a Hyundai Kona is sold as an SUV, yet it is 4350mm long and 1825mm wide. A focus hatchback is 4397 long and 1844mm wide.

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