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Motoring Insanity

I got up early this morning and managed something I rarely do these days – read the paper from cover to cover. One item that caught my attention was a feature showing a new Lotus – the “Eagle” capable of doing 160mph and accelerating from 0-60mph in under 5 seconds.

My gut reaction was “that looks nice” – I’ve always been a fan of Lotus and it sounds like a lot of fun… but then it occurred to me how irresponsible in an age of dwindling, increasingly expensive fuel, to be designing, never mind actively promoting such vehicles – surely, it occurred to me, our car designers should be spending their time coming up with innovative ideas for making more efficient, not faster cars.

With speed limits in Europe generally around 70mph to 85mph and with UK law offering, at least most of the time, instant loss of licence for anyone travelling over 100mph, what on EARTH is the point of getting the British public enthused about a car that does 160MPH.

Don’t get me wrong, I get into trouble for speeding all the time – anyone who travels the M6 regularly will know that average speeds there are nearer 90mph – and I don’t have trouble with that personally – I like to get there quickly as much as the next person – but knowing as I do how car efficiency drops as the speed goes up, I cannot imagine what benefit there is – apart from to racing drivers, of making a car do 160mph. Lotus are not alone – and indeed demand for fast cars is apparently as high as ever.

For once I’m hoping the government WILL have the guts to force people to take a more sensible route – no matter how much money they have. I have a Mercedes diesel – it is fast and modern – and manages 40mpg without difficulty. Surely the goal would be to make all cars handle this level of fuel efficiency or better? If it were up to me, car tax would be based purely on the number of miles per gallon with a very STEEP climb for those cars that simply throw fuel away – that would safeguard the public against the current government’s far-left tendencies (taxing 4-wheel drive cars mainly to get at the middle class rural folk they so despise) while ensuring that over a period of time, only efficient cars were allowed on the road – and the more efficient the better. It really doesn’t matter what size or shape a car is – miles per gallon (or litre if you want to be confusing) is all that really matters.

If you’re interested in the science of cars, you’ll remember an Indian company is producing air-powered cars with a range of 100 miles – well, it looks like the Californians are on the ball at last – there’s a car coming out next year which runs on air – with a petrol engine compressing the air for long journeys and a more useful range of 800 miles… but, of course, pollution-free during inner-city travel and with the ability to fill the air tanks from mains electricity overnight. This kind of technology, properly developed and funded could make a major difference to the amount of fuel we consume – but continuing to feature glossy ads for supercars really does not help put is into the mindset for a private-transport future that will be very different to that enjoyed in the 20th century.

Wouldn’t it be nice if British car manufacturers were once again first at something like this instead of trailing behind?

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